West Hollywood restaurants to visit
To get in the right frame of mind for this modern French-Mediterranean restaurant, you must be willing to try absolutely anything. Chef Suzanne Goin is fantastically inventive, using obscure ingredients in exuberant and unlikely combinations. Fill the center of your table with appetizers and then order a main dish or two. The lunch and Sunday-night prix fixe menus are among the best deals in town.
Michael Voltaggio is LA's most avant-garde chef, and when it comes to "cooking" with liquid nitrogen, nobody in California does it better. Sugar snap peas arrive at the table smoldering. At first glance, they appear to be steaming hot. But when you pierce one of these peas with your fork and bring it to your lips, it delivers a shocking icy blast. Beef tartare brings together hearts of palm and horseradish in ways that you wouldn’t normally imagine, while a dish of soft-shell crab plays it fairly straight. The menu might say "corn," but what actually shows up on the plate is a few strands of corn silk curled into a beehive and fried to a crisp. It’s a riot of fun, and stunningly delicious.
Despite being on the Sunset Strip—home to many restaurants that give off a tourist-trap vibe—the Eveleigh is in a class all its own. Duck confit with lentils, pappardelle with pork ragu, hanger steak with romesco sauce—the kitchen keeps it simple and gets it right. Brunch is a relaxed affair frequented by people who probably never visit the Strip at night. Most of the seating is outside, either on the front patio, which is covered in shaggy Astroturf, or the enclosed back terrace that offers views of the city.
Cecconi's is a classic Italian restaurant in West Hollywood serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as cicchetti (Italian tapas), seven days a week. Specializing in Northern Italian cuisine, the menu covers everything from pizza to fish to exemplary pastas—and even a "secret steak." The wine menu is just as diverse: choose from more than 50 varieties on hand (hint: test the waters at Cecconi's happy hour, serving $4 to $7 bites and drinks).
Good-looking people, a beautiful atmosphere, gorgeously plated food: Ysabel is that woman you see on the street who straight-up stops you in your tracks. Thankfully, there's more to this West Hollywood restaurant than twinkling tea lights and Prada clutches. Chef Alison Trent spent time at Bouchon, French Laundry and Providence before making her way to Ysabel, and her culinary pedigree shows. Tuna crudo is accented by thin curls of cucumber and a sprinkling of cilantro, grilled flatbread comes topped with green mole and queso fresco, and a fantastic steak tartare is only made better with a heaping pile of perfectly crisp French fries beside it. Pasta is made in-house, so you'd be wise to order the squid ink spaghetti carbonara (far better than the one you might find at your neighborhood trattoria) or a sweet butternut squash variety. The only better way to finish off the meal is with dessert—maybe a banana bread pudding—and a hundred selfies taken on the see-and-be-seen staircase outside.
The lofty seafood eatery from chef Michael Cimarusti lies in the heart of West Hollywood, and features alfresco dining with seating outdoors and indoors—grab a seat at the raw bar where you can order oysters, clams, lobsters, crabs, shrimp and spot prawns. Two-fisters include the lobster and clam rolls, served on a griddled top-split bun, or you could opt for classic seaside plates like grilled or steamed lobster served with drawn butter, fried clams served with tartar sauce and fries, and a clam bake with steamed potatoes and corn. Domestic craft brews are offered on tap and by the bottle, as well as a California-centric selection of reds and whites by the glass, carafe and bottle.
Simply put, Crossroads is a high-end vegan restaurant for carnivores. Plant-based chef to the stars Tal Ronnen—he counts Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres as clients—reinvents meat-free meals with flavorful and imaginative dishes that are reasonably priced and served in a cozy, white-tablecloth Melrose Avenue dining room. Grab one of the comfy round booths and dig into artichoke oysters layered with pureed artichoke, a fried oyster mushroom, kelp caviar and a drizzle of yellow Bearnaise, or lasagna made with layers of slightly overcooked noodles, creamy almond ricotta cheese and a faux tomato marinara. At brunch, you'll find faux chicken and waffles, along with Jann's Bagel—a phenomenal spread of almond cream cheese, carrot lox, capers and onions on an everything bagel.
Michael Voltaggio has transformed ink.sack into Sack Sandwiches, a stand-alone sandwich shop offering inventive combinations between two slices of bread. You'll find reimagined classics like a spicy tuna sandwich with dynamite sauce and nori, along with wholly original creations like the cold fried chicken with ranch cheese, lettuce, pickles and hot sauce. Breakfast sandwiches come dripping with egg, and a couple vegetarian options are available as well. To drink, organic milkshakes, nitro coffee and Boylan soda are on the menu.
It should be said right off the bat that Gracias Madre is beautiful. A cross between Mexican chic and Palm Springs casual, the vegan Mexican restaurant is decorated with festive cushions and tiles, a gorgeous courtyard and, inside, high ceilings and a comfortable bar. Wherever you choose to sit, order the guacamole—it is truly fantastic. The sopes con piña, looking like mini savory quiches, are two masa cakes piled high with pineapple salsa, cabbage, beans and guacamole. It is a necessary reminder that vegan doesn't have to mean void of flavor, and that Gracias Madre has arrived as an ethically-conscious alternative to LA's growing haute Mexican scene.
Night + Market is easily one of the best Thai restaurants in LA. Chef/owner Kris Yenbamroong serves a menu like none other, inspired equally by the night market street foods of Bangkok and the rustic cooking of rural northern Thailand, where he still has distant relatives. The moo sadoong (“startled pig”) is a phenomenal dish, a fiery, sinus-jolting, tear-jerking slap in the face that tastes a lot like grilled pork with lemongrass, fish sauce and a fistful of Thai bird chiles. And nobody makes a better crab fried rice. Period.
At the Church Key, you may find yourself snacking on pig ear “Cheetos” dim sum or sucking on alcoholic ice pops frozen right at your table by a Pan Am flight attendant. The menu offers a number of shareable plates that run anywhere between $6 and $30, but don’t forget the dim sum carts floating around, which serve a spectrum of small bites—from sashimi to falafel—that cost between $5 and $9 each. As for drinks, the house specialties cover the gamut with gin, vodka and whiskey. Try the Shot in the Dark, a frothy, slightly sweet cocktail that’s almost too easy to drink with the amount of bourbon it contains.
The Hudson is West Hollywood's answer to an elevated gastropub: a spacious white marble-top bar, comfy industrial-craft stools, upholstered banquettes and Edison lighting. Chef Conrad Woodul's comfort fare satisfies across the board, like the crispy chicken sliders served on soft mini-buns with aioli and housecured pickles. Seasonally appropriate cocktails offer plenty of fresh citrus, herbs and warm-weather fruits, along with eight draft beers, 11 bottle selections and a number of red, white and sparkling wine options by the glass. Stopping by for happy hour (4-7pm daily)? That'll get you $3 drafts, well cocktails and wine, and $6 snacks. Call ahead for a table or secure a place at the bar while you wait.