10 Best Restaurants in Silver Lake

Dining room at L&E Oyster BarEXPAND
Dining room at L&E Oyster Bar
Anne Fishbein

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A few years back when I first compiled a list of the best restaurants in Silver Lake, it was not an easy task. There simply weren't that many great restaurants to choose from. These days it's a different story. The neighborhood's dining options seem to be catching up to its hungry, moneyed residents, and new options are popping up monthly. In the past year, two of the city's best chefs have set up shop in Silver Lake. This new list was hard to put together, not for lack of options but because there is now too much to choose from. 

We managed to whittle it down, though. Here's a look at the new, improved restaurant scene in Silver Lake through its 10 best restaurants.

Lobster roll at Knuckle & ClawEXPAND
Lobster roll at Knuckle & Claw
B. Rodell

10. Knuckle & Claw
Knuckle & Claw is the work of Chloe Dahl and Nikki Booth, who previously sold their rolls at the Brentwood and Beverly Glen farmers markets and now aim to bring the feel of a New England seafood shack to the heart of Silver Lake. To that end, they've done a swell job of making this little slot of a space next to a car lot feel very much like a sunny beach eatery. The walls are a pleasing dark blue, and the nautical prints on them and the wood-benched patio create a distinctly oceanside vibe. The lobster roll itself is a purist's dream. As the restaurant's name implies, it serves only knuckle and claw meat — no tail — dressed incredibly simply. There is a light smear of mayo on the bread itself, and the meat is drizzled with butter. There's a sprinkle of spice mix, the contents of which the owners won't reveal, but it's subtle enough that my guess is the main spices are salt and pepper. You get a couple of lemon wedges for squeezing, and that's it. No celery, no filler. Just lobster and bread. It's a sweet, bouncy experience to eat one of these things, and it makes you realize how much obfuscation is taking place with so many other lobster rolls. This generosity and purity will cost you: A lobster roll here is $19. You can get a mini version for half the price, but it's barely a few bites' worth. There's a shrimp roll for $9 if you're slumming, and a Dungeness crab roll for $22 if you're feeling flush. 3112 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 407-6142; knuckleandclaw.com.

Lechon asado at El CochinitoEXPAND
Lechon asado at El Cochinito
B .Rodell

9. El Cochinito
As an antidote to the hipster explosion that's happened along the rest of Sunset Boulevard, you could do worse than stop by for a meal at El Cochinito, the Cuban cafe that's been operating in a strip mall since 1988. Chef and owner Gladys Gutierrez grew up in her father's cafe in Havana, and the cooking here has all the love of a multigenerational family business. The Cuban sandwiches are great, and the specials board often has tempting offerings, but the must-have dish here is the lechon asado, a pile of grilled pig that's juicy but also gloriously crisped at the edges. Along with fluffy white rice and hearty black beans, it's one of the most comforting meals the neighborhood has to offer. 3508 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 668-0737.

Chicken liver crostini at Blair'sEXPAND
Chicken liver crostini at Blair's
B. Rodell

8. Blair's
Blair's, the pretty storefront bistro across the street from the neighborhood elementary school, never seems to change much, though it did get a new flashing arrow sign this past year. But the menu, of classic New American and Italian dishes, keeps delivering on its promise of high-quality, upscale neighborhood dining, night after night. The pastas are delicate, the fish is cooked perfectly, and the creamed greens under the roast chicken is as good as ever. It's also a great, laid-back place to stop in at the bar and drink a glass of wine and eat a few deviled eggs topped with fried capers and paprika, or a classic chicken liver crostini. How it survives in such a low-key manner is a bit of a mystery, but we're glad it does. 2903 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake; (323) 660-1882; blairsrestaurant.com.

Tonkotsu at Silver Lake RamenEXPAND
Tonkotsu at Silver Lake Ramen
B. Rodell

7. Silver Lake Ramen
When driving past Silver Lake Ramen, you may be shocked to see a line out the door more in keeping with ramen joints on Sawtelle. But no, this is Sunset Boulevard, and yes, folks line up for ramen here, too. When the place opened, many of us said, "It's pretty good ramen ... for Silver Lake." Now we say, "Damn, this is some of the best ramen around." The bowls are exceptional, with thick slabs of chashu in a glossy, rich tonkotsu broth, spicy chili paste that packs a very nice kick and beautifully chewy noodles. Is it worth lining up for? Absolutely. 2927 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 660-8100.

Anne Fishbein

6. Barbrix
All neighborhoods deserve a Barbrix: a casual neighborhood spot with fantastic wine, a pretty patio and fun food for grazing. Barbrix is the spot you go to when you just want some cheese and charcuterie for dinner, along with a great bottle of nebbiolo and a waitress who can discuss that nebbiolo intelligently. It's the spot you take out-of-town guests for a hungover brunch — not the impress-the-New Yorkers with our L.A.-glam brunch (we enjoy the low-key brunches far more than the glam ones anyway). Creative vegetable sides, Mediterranean nibbles and fresh, delicious pastas are available if you want a more substantial meal. The food here is good. The hospitality, atmosphere and wine are even better. 2442 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake; (323) 662-2442; barbrix.com.

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