Despite its rich history, myriad entertainment venues and symbolic significance as the glitzy and glamorous entertainment capital of the world, Hollywood has seen some ups and downs as a neighborhood over the past century. But now the swath of Los Angeles that spans from Western Avenue on the east to North Fairfax on the west is experiencing a new culinary revival. The neighborhood's oldest hangouts are cherished with a new appreciation for nostalgia, while brand-new spots emulate the old with fresher, more innovative flavors. All the while, L.A.'s most celebrated chefs continue to keep the bar high with some of the nation's best restaurants right here in Hollywood.
Here are some of our favorites:
The only thing fussed over more than the guests at Providence is the fish. Chef Michael Cimarusti’s obsession with sourcing the highest quality, most sustainable seafood is obvious in every bite. He cherishes each piece, using gentle cooking techniques that coax the flesh, leaving melt-in-your mouth texture along with revelatory flavor combinations. Co-owner Donato Poto glides through the dining room overseeing the attentive service team. When the time comes, he gracefully prepares tableside Santa Barbara prawns. After many courses of Cimarusti’s creations, a serious-faced fromagier pushes a large, glass-enclosed cheese cart in front of you. Desserts are whimsical and live up to everything that came before.
5955 Melrose Ave., Hollywood. (323) 460-4170, providencela.com.
Brothers Luke and Curtis Stone’s glimmering luxury meat haven on Sunset Boulevard proves once again that chef Curtis does not rest on the laurels of his celeb status. The in-house butcher shop coexists with a lavish dining room where guests can see meat carcasses hanging in clear view. The slightly more appealing spectacle at Gwen is Curtis Stone himself. The tall Aussie can be seen preparing the five-course tasting menus in an open kitchen, often sporting barbecue goggles on his head. Several menu items are cooked over an open flame, giving the room a wonderfully smoky smell that adds extra anticipation to the restaurant's main draw: meat.
6600 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 946-7512, gwenla.com.
Musso and Frank
While many newer establishments attempt to emulate vintage Hollywood glamour, Musso and Frank actually embodies it. Opened on Hollywood Boulevard in 1919, the wood-paneled, leather booth–lined restaurant has been feeding movie stars, locals and tourists for almost a century. Fortunately not much has changed in that time. And though actually ordering throw-back menu items such as grilled lamb kidneys with bacon, calf’s liver steak or a smoked tongue sandwich would be only for the novelty of it, other classics like gooey Welsh rarebit, lobster thermidor and a variety of steaks and chops are safe bets. Nothing beats drinking a well-stirred martini while nestled in a cozy booth where Humphrey Bogart likely once sat.
6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 467-7788, mussoandfrank.com.
In a small storefront inside a strip mall near the 101 Freeway, chef Jordan Rosas prepares locally sourced vegetables from local farmers like Weiser and Flora Bella in an open kitchen. Rosas, who worked previously at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon and Marcel Vigneron’s Wolf, recently took over for chef Tim Carey, who is now at Lost at Sea in Pasadena. The menu format at Papilles matches the bistro’s interior: small and simple yet thoughtful and refined. The regularly changing, seasonal three-course prix fixe offers first-course starters such as carrot ginger velouté or romanesco salad and heartier mains like braised beef cheeks or a pork loin with sweet potatoes. At $38 per person, it is a steal. And just when the little unlikely bistro couldn’t seem any more charming, Santos Uy’s selection of natural old-world wines validates the meaning of the restaurant’s French name: tastebuds.
6221 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; (323) 871-2026, papillesla.com.
The Hungry Cat’s location in the heart of Hollywood, a stone’s throw from the ArcLight Cinemas, has made it an ideal pre-movie dinner spot for the 11-plus years since it opened. But after imbibing any of its farmers market–inspired cocktails and tasting chef David Lentz’s locally sourced, seasonal seafood creations, moviegoers are likely to forgo any screening for another round of local beer, kumquatinis and oysters. The Hungry Cat is a destination on its own. Lentz’s Maryland roots shine through in towering, multitiered platters of shellfish such as clams, marinated mussels, shrimp, snow crab and lobster. Dishes such as whole grilled orata with sunchoke purée, chanterelles and salsa verde are hard to forget, and the clam chowder is easily the best in town.
1535 N. Vine St., Hollywood; (323)462-2155, thehungrycat.com.
Paley, the shiny restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard in the new Columbus Square complex, aims to channel the Gilded Age of Hollywood with its midcentury-inspired dining room and serious service. It succeeds at channeling Old Hollywood without actually being old. Despite the traditional menu format, starters such as hamachi crudo and mains like king crab and Santa Barbara uni spaghetti with saffron and chives exhibit modern flair. With its lavish interior and welcoming bar, Paley is versatile as both a special-occasion destination and a casual meet-for-a-drink spot. It's open for lunch and dinner along with brunch on the weekends.
6115 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 544-9430, paleyhollywood.com.
At Baroo, the strange little fermentation-centric restaurant in a rundown strip mall, there is no table service and no alcohol. But we don’t go there for that. We go to Baroo because noorook, a bright pink koji beet cream risottolike plate of fermented grains, has a wonderfully chewy texture. We go there for faux oxtail “ragu” pasta that makes actual oxtail ragu seem unnecessary. Chef Kwang Uh (who interned with René Redzepi at Noma) has made Baroo famous with his esoteric process and fascinating food. Though Uh has left for Korea for a few months while co-owner Matthew Kim takes over, Baroo is as worthy of a visit as ever.
5706 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 929-9288, baroola.strikingly.com.
Peruse the menu at Petit Trois and you’ll see some traditional French bistro fare: escargot, steak tartare, a croque madame, steak frites. It’s the kind of simple food that would seem unexciting if Ludo Lefebvre weren’t cooking it. It’s not that Lefebvre is doing anything imaginative with the omelette or French onion soup at the tiny strip mall, counter seating–only bistro. It’s that he’s doing the classics in the way only a true French chef who trained with the best in France and Los Angeles can do: perfectly.
718 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 468-8916, petittrois.com.
Have we tired of Trois Mec? Has the novelty of eating in a tiny room behind the guise of a Raffalo’s Pizza sign worn off? Does the food seem less thrilling, the concept less fresh? Not a bit. If anything, recent meals have been more exciting and more innovative than when Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo first won our hearts three years ago with their weird experiment of a restaurant. Over five glorious courses, you’re likely to find delicious oddities such as brightly acidic beet tartare with horseradish crème fraiche and a wedge of latke-like potato pancake, or tender chunks of bay scallop and foie gras swimming in a matsutake mushroom and miso broth that’s flecked with pickled sunchoke and hazelnut oil. With almost every dish, a new discovery is made, taste itself feels new and vibrant again. The experience will cost you around $100 per person, including tax and tip (bought ahead of time as a nonrefundable ticket), the music will be loud, there are no menu choices. Which still feels as vital and riveting as it did from the get-go. —Besha Rodell
716 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. troismec.com.
Since making the switch to a daily breakfast-lunch-and-dinner routine, Salt’s Cure has become a glorious model for the next-generation diner, a small, all-day operation that serves as a sunny spot where you can meet over some of the city’s best oatmeal pancakes, or indulge in the simple but stunning smoked fish on toast (smoked in-house, of course). There’s a killer burger at lunch, or a classic chopped salad, and the vibe is laid-back and friendly — just what you hope for in a neighborhood hangout. At night things turn a little more serious, with big hunks of meat (all animals are bought whole from local farmers and butchered in-house), or beautifully cooked fish prepared simply and thoughtfully. The space is barely more than a room with a kitchen in its center, and eating here can feel like strolling into someone’s storefront living space. But order a glass of odd wine, look to the blackboard for guidance, and know that just about anything you order will be better than you imagined. —B.R.
1155 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 465-7258, saltscure.com.
CORRECTION: An early version of this article stated that Paley is open for three meals a day. In fact, it is currently open for lunch and dinner as well as brunch on the weekends.