On Our Radar: LA

NOW THAT WE’RE BACK IN TOWN AND BACK TO WORK, HERE ARE THE PLACES THAT HAVE OUR FULL ATTENTION.

With the official start of fall behind us, we’re settling back into our routines and taking a closer look at what all of you might have missed while sailing the Amalfi Coast or jet setting to Mexico this summer (or, if you’re like us, simply drinking homemade margaritas in our friends’ kiddy pools). From excellent Italian to charming Mediterranean, here are the newest Los Angeles gems that have our full attention.

1. Uovo

From Sugarfish co-founder Lele Massimini comes Uovo, a new pasta bar in downtown Santa Monica. Dedicated to purist, no-frills classics like cacio e pepe and tortellini crema di parmigiano, the joint flies all of its noodles in from Bologna, where they’re hand-made and hand-cut just days before. Each dish is categorized by the region it comes from— Bologna, Roma, etc.— and while Uovo isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, it’s certainly making a strong case for simple and authentic food done well. Come to think of it, isn’t that exactly what its sister sushi joint is all about too? (SEE IT, FIND IT)

2. Mh Zh

Of course, Sunset Junction is having its “moment in the sun”— the area seems to sprout a new, ready-to-Instagram business every day— which is precisely why we appreciate Mh Zh so much (FYI, it’s pronounced “Mah Zeh” which roughly translates to, “What is it” in Hebrew). The vegetable-forward, Mediterranean café opened with no phone, no website and no pay-to-play press. Instead, it hoped the neighborhood would eventually take note of its artfully-plated (reasonably priced) small plates and its mostly-sidewalk space, and grow to love it all on their own. Spoiler alert: that’s exactly what happened. Serving up delicious bites from the lighter hummus with pickled veggies to the more substantial charred potatoes with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary, and its infamous “lamb ragoooo,” a tahini-based stew to share, Mh Zh is the kind of neighborhood standby we live for. (SEE IT, FIND IT)

3. Alta

Sure, our Editorial Director Alexandria Geisler is married to a Swede so we may be biased, but she’s also married to a Swede which means her standards for Scandinavian cooking are pretty high (just ask her about gravadlax which, in her opinion, is only made perfectly in one spot in Stockholm). Suffice it to say, we were all pretty excited to learn that Chef Christer Larsson— arguably New York City’s greatest Scandinavian chef— was opening a casual, Scandi spot in LA. Now open, Alta Nordic Kitchen offers traditional bites like gravlax with dill and toasted brioche (made in-house) and Danish meatballs in a mushroom gravy and topped with plum compote. The early word has been extremely positive. (SEE IT, FIND IT)

4. Felix

Couple a former Rustic Canyon chef with a glowing Jonathan Gold review and a space on Venice’s Abbot Kinney and you’ve got yourself the new hottest ticket in town. Felix, an Italian trattoria, is like the sexier, chicer counterpart to Uovo’s relaxed, no-frills fare. It has a lively cocktail bar that pours excellent Negronis while you wait for your table and once seated, you can dine on everything from country sourdough with goat’s milk butter to fried artichokes with lemon and mint to homemade pastas that change frequently. There are wood-fired pizzas and rotating main courses like brisket and swordfish too. It’s hard to go wrong here no matter what you choose, but as Gold singled out the artichokes as possibly, “the best version of the dish I’ve ever had in Los Angeles,” we’d highly recommend ordering at least one for the table… OK, maybe two. (SEE IT, FIND IT)

5. Great White

Speaking of great neighborhood spots, Australia seems to have the formula down pat— airy, light-filled spaces complete with good (or even great) coffee and healthful plates at any time of day. Some of our all-time favorite spots are the Aussie cafés tucked in downtown NYC (we’re looking at you, Two Hands and Ruby’s). Serendipitously, we’ve finally found our Aussie fix on the West Coast too: the new Great White, now open in Venice. Featuring a facade that completely folds open to the sidewalk and light, art-minded décor, it’s the kind of place that just makes you feel good. Pop in for a quick coffee (their beans come from the Australian brand Vittoria) or for a full meal (the menu runs the gamut from breakfast burritos and burgers to turmeric-spiked shakes, avocado toast and fish tacos)— either way, you’ll leave happy. (SEE IT, FIND IT) CP

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