Do you even know the difference between West Hollywood and Beverly Grove? Like many L.A. neighborhoods, the boundaries are confusing, and most people think of this area as West Hollywood. When looking to put together a list of great West Hollywood restaurants, we kept coming across things we assumed were in West Hollywood but are actually in Beverly Grove. Yes, we know West Hollywood is its own city. But this is a guide for great dining when you're in the area, and so we've included both 'hoods in our list.
Which is all the better, because there is some great dining in this part of town. This list skews a little more high-end than many of our neighborhood guides, but hey — this is a tony part of town. From East Coast seafood to avant-garde dining to gourmet vegan, these are the best eats you can find along some of our most vibrant streets.
It’s amazing that it took as long as it did for a truly trendy, upscale vegan restaurant to emerge, one with great cocktails, a killer wine list and an atmosphere to match its swanky Melrose Avenue location. In the two years since Crossroads opened, chic vegan restaurants have become a bit of a trend, with even a couple of meat-loving chefs jumping on the bandwagon. But Crossroads remains the standard-bearer, the place you take your meat-free friends on their birthdays and secretly enjoy your meal every bit as much as you would if it were sprinkled with bacon. Chef Tal Ronnen and crew focus on the vegetables themselves rather than messing around too much with fake meat (aside from a couple of “comforting classics” for the vegan desperate for veal scallopini), and each dish is a fully realized composition, making for a meal that’s far more compelling than the usual grain bowl or collection of sides. Your rapini might come with black garlic and toasted hazelnuts; your “crab cakes” made from hearts of palm might make you swear off the fishy version for good. 8284 Melrose Ave., Beverly Grove; (323) 782-9245, crossroadskitchen.com.
It bills itself as a “modern chophouse,” but Suzanne Tracht’s Beverly Boulevard restaurant, Jar, encompasses all that’s great about steakhouses, both the old- and the new-school versions. This restaurant exudes midcentury charm — it’s a room to get dressed up for, just for the fun of it. The clubby bar serves bracing martinis, there’s a maitre’d who might be wearing a purple suit, and the creamed spinach thankfully has lost nothing to modernity. But say the idea of kimchi in your Brussels sprouts intrigues, or that instead of a hulking wedge salad you’d like black mussels with ong choy (water spinach) and lobster Béarnaise. Jar can accommodate those needs as well. On a recent Friday evening, the chef strode through the dining room feeding a bottle to a diner’s baby as moguls moguled, dates swooned at one another, and families celebrated. Jar takes everything that was great about old Los Angeles glamour and blends it seamlessly with much of what we love about modern dining. The steaks are pretty awesome, too. 8225 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove; (323) 655-6566, thejar.com.
Chefs have long been playing in the fun space between California cooking and the grand French brasserie, but with Terrine it feels as though Kris Morningstar has finally hit on something solid, something more than playtime. His take on the French classics is stunning: The French onion soup is as deep and rich and laden with cheese as any you could find in Paris, and his grand charcuterie plate is a thing of wonder. But he's also inventing classics of his own. The crispy pig ears served in strips with aioli on the side are like frites from piggy heaven. The garbure, a stew of duck confit and white beans, expresses the very quintessence of duck, its deep brawny soul, its particular gamey perfume. The room, with its burnished mirrors and heavy silverware, feels exactly classy enough (without ever veering toward stuffy), and the back patio with its glorious Javanese bishopwood tree is one of L.A.'s loveliest outdoor dining options. The cocktails are great, the wine list is fantastic, and service has just the hint of formality you'd expect from the charming Frenchmen, Stephane Bombet and François Renaud, who oversee it. 8265 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove; (323) 746-5130, terrinela.com.
7. Connie & Ted's
If you grew up, as Michael Cimarusti did, fishing in the Atlantic and dining on the bounty of the great Northeast, you’ll understand the chef’s nostalgia for the brine and comfort of that type of seafood. Connie & Ted’s is Cimarusti’s ode to New England, and he’s created a restaurant that would be utterly at home on Boston Harbor but also feels exactly right for West Hollywood. The large dining room is an immensely convivial place to scarf down chowder and lobster rolls and fried clams, and the bar is one of the best places in town to watch the Dodgers while slurping on oysters from the massive raw bar. On top of all this is Cimarusti’s dedication to only the freshest, most sustainable seafood, so you can rest assured that not only is your meal enjoyable but it’s also entirely ethical. 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 848-2722, connieandteds.com.
6. Son of a Gun
If Son of a Gun could sing, it would sing some sort of hipster sea shanty, a rollicking, jaunty tune that, once examined, would reveal incredibly intelligent lyricism beneath all that salty fun. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo's quasi-Southern, seafood-focused restaurant is somewhat less frenzied than Animal, their other, more famous business, or Jon & Vinny's, their newer business. Here, the room is quieter and the crowds less pervasive. Wood-paneled walls and beach-house tchotchkes set the stage for Shook and Dotolo's riffs on the fish house of their dreams, one where oysters reside on the menu next to crudo, and raw king salmon comes with jerk spice and kiwi fruit. There's fried decadence here, in the form of the much-celebrated, outrageously rich shrimp toast with Sriracha mayo, and the even more celebrated fried chicken sandwich. But there's also a lot of delicacy — Son of a Gun's uni with burrata and yuzu, eaten at one of the restaurant's relaxed lunches with sunshine streaming in through the windows, is music to our mouths. 8370 W. Third St., Beverly Grove; (323) 782-9033, sonofagunrestaurant.com.
Now that A.O.C. has moved to its charmingly bustling new location, and Tavern is the lively, beautiful cavern it’s always been, Lucques is the last Suzanne Goin restaurant left where you can go for the quiet, civilized, gracious meal at which she excels. From the comforting fireplace that greets you upon arrival to the back patio with its vine-covered walls, everything about the place oozes calm and refinement. Here dishes are classics spun on their heads to become something that seems even more classic than the original. Local albacore tuna served over braised leeks and potatoes with Dijon mustard and salsa verde seems like a warm, Californian riff on Niçoise salad, minus the anchovies and olives. Boudin blanc is served here over an almost Alsatian setup of cabbage, butter and dried fruit, with nods to France, Germany and Louisiana all on one plate. Here is a restaurant for special occasions and romance, for quiet conversation and a fine bottle of wine — it’s a dying breed, but no less thrilling for being so. 8474 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 655-6277, lucques.com.
4. Salt's Cure
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 and 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) and 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. (Note: Salt's Cure is planning a move to a new Hollywood location sometime in the near future. At the time of this writing, it's still operating in West Hollywood.) 7494 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 850-SALT, saltscure.com.
Four years after opening, Michael Voltaggio’s ink. has lost a little bit of its foreboding, serious-chef overtones and is now just one of the most giddily enjoyable places to eat in town. Is this because Voltaggio and crew have lightened up? Or because we have? It’s hard to tell. But try not to smile when your plate of potatoes arrives, looking like lumps of coal (and tasting not far from it, if lumps of coal were starchy and salty and smoky and delicious, perked up with black vinegar), or when your strips of lamb belly come with tufts of “mushroom hay” arranged like spiny coral poking out of the ends of the dish. That the food might make you giggle becomes beside the point when you taste it — despite appearances, it’s engineered for taste above all else. There are cocktails made from carrots, wines from regions you’ve never heard of and a general feeling that you’re here to experience newness and whimsy, so why not just go all in? Go ahead. Have a blast. 8360 Melrose Ave., Beverly Grove; (323) 651-5866, mvink.com.
2. Night + Market
All restaurants reflect to some extent the personality and passions of their owners and chefs, but Night + Market is an extreme example, in the best possible way. Chef-owner Kris Yenbamroong combines a passion for the food of his Northern Thai heritage, his love of funky wines and his somewhat wonky art-house sensibilities. This original location (there's a newer branch in Silver Lake) started out as a sparse room attached to his parents’ more conventional Thai restaurant, but he's recently taken over the entire space, transforming it into a large funhouse of fantastic eating and drinking. What makes the food here so exceptional is the extreme care taken, the roasting of chilies, the layering of flavors. Behind the bravado is a thoughtful, delicate touch with even the spiciest, stinkiest dish. 9041 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 275-9724, nightmarketla.com.
Since moving up the street to a larger, more festive location, Suzanne Goin and Carolyn Styne’s A.O.C. has become a kind of archetype for the modern Californian restaurant. What does that mean, exactly? It means big, flavorful seasonal salads, crispy focaccia topped with goodies such as chevre and house-made lamb bacon, beautifully balanced and inventive vegetable sides and big, generous platters of Euro-Cali cuisine to share with the table. It means one of the best wine lists on the coast, inclusive of our state’s viniferous bounty but with a focus on France and fun asides, like selections from Slovenia and Hungary. It means a gorgeous indoor-outdoor dining room that positively thrums with good energy, and plenty of bar seating for the casual diners and serious drinkers among us. Oh, and behind that bar is Christiaan Rollich, one of the country’s most promising up-and-coming crafters of cocktails. It means an utterly homegrown restaurant we can be immensely proud to call our own. 8700 W. Third St., Beverly Grove; (310) 859-9859, aocwinebar.com.