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StarChefs
Features Los Angeles-San Diego Restaurant and Bar Guide
 
TRAVEL ARCHIVE
Los Angeles – San Diego Travel Guide: Where to Eat, Drink, and Stay in Southern California
March 2010

The LA dining scene has evolved in recent years and while restaurant goers there are as trendy and fickle as ever, LA is getting to a place where it can hold its own against the other great culinary cities in the country. If there is one area where LA is ahead of the rest of the country, it’s in pastry. From the rustic Italian desserts of Pastry Chef Dahlia Narvaez of Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza, to the baked goodies of Zoe Nathan at Huckleberry, to the uber-modern creations of Jordon Kahn, the Los Angeles pastry scene runs the gamut.

LA’s vibrant, burgeoning mixology scene is also impressive. The speakeasy trend has finally moved west with mixologists like Eric Alperin of The Varnish, Joel Black of The Doheny, and Damian Windsor of The Roger Room leading the charge. Seasonal, farm-to-drink cocktails are also big as mixologists like Danielle Motor at Hungry Cat and Julian Cox at Rviera take advantage of the beautiful local produce. Many great sommeliers are also now calling Los Angeles home, and we’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of incredibly talented professional oenophiles on our trips.

Just a little further south, San Diego also has a lot to offer and is becoming a culinary destination in its own right. Being so close to the border Mexican influences can be felt in the food and cocktails. But don’t box these chefs in—from casual comfort food to five-star fine dining, there’s a cusine and restaurant type to suit every palate. The culinary community in San Diego is incredibly close-knit, partially due to chef club organizations like Cooks Confab, which brings together local chefs and pastry chefs to participate in events.

From Los Angeles down to San Diego and everywhere in between, the culinary scene is blossoming. Many restaurants are adapting to the economy with lower price points or more casual food, and diners are responding positively to the change. And with the fresh, local produce readily available from farms and farmer’s markets, the sustainable seafood in their backyard, and a growing community, Los Angeles – San Diego chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists will undoubtedly continue to thrive.

   

Los Angeles
Animal
Bar Pinxto
The Bazaar
Beechwood
BLD
Bond St
Bouchon Bistro
Cache
Charlie's Malibu
Church + State
Cut
Drago Centro
Eva
Fig
Ford's Filling Station
The Foundry
Grace
Huckleberry
Jin Patisserie

Joe’s
Kogi BBQ

Melisse
Osteria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza
Providence
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Sashi
Sona
Spago
Street
Tavern
Umami Burger
Water Grill
Wilshire

Orange County and Pasadena
The Dining Room at the Langham
Mar'sel
Pizzeria Ortica
St. Regis Dana Point
Studio at Montage Laguna Beach
Vertical

San Diego, Del Mar & La Jolla
1500 Ocean
Addison
Cucina Urbana
George's California Modern
JRDN
Jsix
Market Restaurant and Bar
Nine-Ten
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Whisknladle
Wine Vault and Bistro

 
   

Los Angeles
The Bazaar
Café Pierre
The Doheny
The Hungry Cat
Rivera
The Roger Room
The Tasting Kitchen
The Varnish

San Diego and La Jolla
George's California Modern
Nine-Ten
Whisknladle

 
 
   

Los Angeles
Andaz West Hollywood
Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows
Hotel Oceana
Luxe Hotel Sunset Boulevard
Sunset Marquis

Orange County
Montage Laguna Beach

San Diego and Del Mar
Grand del Mar
Hotel del Coronado
Sé San Diego
Tower 23

 
 

1500 Ocean
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118
(619) 435-6611
www.dine1500ocean.com
Hours: Tue-Sat 5:30pm-9pm

Set in the luxurious and classic Hotel del Coronado, 1500 Ocean is a modern Italian restaurant that caters to the upscale hotel clientele and locals alike. Chef Brian Sinnott has a knack for inventive, highly seasonal flavor combinations like the unlikely pairing of pomegranate and fennel with yellowtail crudo. Though the chef’s entire arsenal is impressive, his passion lies with making pasta. Chestnut tagliatelle is tossed with squash ribbons and topped with black truffles for an indulgent, highly successful dish. Sommelier Ted Glennon has fun with his pairings, serving not only wine but also carefully chosen sake and cocktails to elevate the dining experience

Recommended Dishes:

  • Hiramasa Crudo: Raw Australian Yellowtail, Pomegranate, Fennel, Espelette
  • Chestnut Tagliatelle with Butternut Squash Ribbons, Red Spinach, Shaved Black Truffle, Pancetta, and Buerre Fondue
Chestnut Tagliatelle with Butternut Squash Ribbons, Red Spinach, Shaved Black Truffle, Pancetta, and Buerre Fondue
+ Click image to enlarge

Addison
5200 Grand Del Mar Way
San Diego, CA 92130
(858) 314-1900
www.addisondelmar.com
Hours: Tues-Sat 5:30pm-9pm

Set in the Grand Del Mar Hotel, Addison is a fine dining French restaurant with local California influences. Rising Star Chef William Bradley who is self-taught and has been cooking since he was 16, was inspired early on by the work of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Alain Passard. Today his dishes reflect these influences, displaying all the elegance and sophistication that he learned from studying the masters. Bradley utilizes a range of ingredients that marry to create layers of flavor in every bite, as in a simple Dover sole that is thoughtfully combined with Meyer lemon and Vin Jaune. What sets Addison apart, though, is the relationship between Bradley and Rising Star Sommelier Jesse Rodriguez who work together in such an impressive way that while each dish and glass of wine is superb on its own, together the food and pairings not only shoot for, but reach the stars.

Recommended Dishes:

  • English Dover Sole with Dutch Asparagus, Vin Jaune, and Brioche “Crotté”
  • Moulard Canad “Rotie,” Crystallized Ginger, Chicory, and Port Wine Glacage
Moulard Canad Rotie, Crystallized Ginger, Chicory, and Port Wine Glacage
+ Click image to enlarge

Animal
435 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-9225
www.animalrestaurant.com
Hours: Sun-Thur 6pm-11pm; Fri-Say 2pm-2am

Rising Star Chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook met in culinary school in Florida and have been partners ever since. They have forged their own path to culinary success, throwing the standard script out the window. After working in a number of restaurants across the country together, Dotolo and Shook started a catering company, starred in their own food television show, and wrote a cookbook before opening their first restaurant. Now at Animal, the duo has become known as chefs’ chefs for their no-frills preparations that highlight meat and showcase off-cuts (you’ll be hard-pressed to find any vegetarian items on the menu—bacon even makes an appearance on the dessert menu). Even something as simple as poutine is taken to a new level with fries that manage to stay unbelievably crispy under a mound of tender oxtail gravy and curds of Cheddar cheese.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sweetbreads with Creamed Spinach, Capers, and Hen of the Woods
  • Poutine with Oxtail, Gravy, and Cheese Curds
Sweetbreads with Creamed Spinach, Capers, and Hen of the Woods
+ Click image to enlarge

Bar Pinxto
109 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-2012
www.barpintxo.com
Hours: Mon-Thur 12pm-10pm; Fri-Sun 12pm-12am

Between the beach and the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica is Bar Pinxto, Chef and Restaurateur Joe Miller’s comfortable tapas bar. The restaurant has tall bar tables, outdoor seating for sunny days, an open kitchen in the front, and wine bottles lining the walls. Chef de Cuisine Rob Trestor cooks straightforward Spanish food that hits the spot, from simply prepared Santa Barbara Prawns to classic, well-executed paella. Bar Pinxto offers a number of interesting Spanish wines, including a nice selection of Txakoli and Albarinos, to match the food.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Paella with Jamon Iberico, Scallops, and Piquillo Peppers
  • Gambas al Ajillo with White Shrimp, Garlic, Parsley, and Lemon
	Paella with Jamon Iberico, Scallops, and Piquillo Peppers
+ Click image to enlarge

The Bazaar
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 246-5555
www.thebazaar.com
Hours: Sat-Sun 11am-5pm; Sun-Wed 6pm-10pm; Thurs-Sat 6pm-11pm

Meant to feel like an outdoor bazaar in Spain, The Bazaar by Jose Andres is an eclectic, fun to explore space. Each room has a different theme that influences the design and the menu: Roja is modern, Bianca is traditional, and then there’s a patisserie and a bar. Chef de Cuisine Joshua Whigham executes his 80 menu items in true Jose Andres fashion so that each dish, whether they be traditional or modern in inspiration, have some fun and whimsy. Take for example the Modern and Traditional Olives, which feature Olives Feran Adria next to Olives with Anchovy and Piquillo Pepper. The two versions are served side by side to show the merging between classic flavors and new techniques. Pastry Chef Michael Gillette also draws on the entire spectrum of traditional to modern, serving everything from classic flan to Nitro Coconut Floating Island that is prepared tableside with liquid nitrogen.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Oven Roasted Cipollini Onions with Clementines, Passionfruit, and Pumpkin Seed Oil
  • Arctic Char with Chick Pea Cake and Cucumber Tzatziki
  • Bon Bon Candies
  • Nitro Coconut Floating Island with Passionfruit and Vanilla
	Nitro Coconut Floating Island with Passionfruit and Vanilla
+ Click image to enlarge

Beechwood
822 Washington Boulevard
Venice, CA 90292
(310) 448-8884

www.beechwoodrestaurant.com
Hours: sun-Mon 5:30pm-11pm; Tue-Sat 6pm-11pm

California natives and 2004 Rising Star Chefs Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts are co-owners at Beechwood in Venice Beach, which offers a lively bar scene complete with a fire pit. They continue to cook the comforting food that we fell in love with all those years ago when they were at Amuse Café. Prices are pleasantly reasonable, and the Spartan but tastefully decorated dining room, with its hardwood floors and breezy blue curtains, gives off a clean, homey vibe. But unlike at home, breakfast is served all day!

Recommended Dishes:

  • Duck Leg Confit
  • Portobello Mushroom Soup


BLD
7450 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036    
(323) 930-9744
www.bldrestaurant.com
Hours: Sun-Wed 8am-10pm; Thur-Sat 8am-11pm

BLD, which stands for “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner,” is a comfortable neighborhood spot full of locals, regulars, and chefs. The sister restaurant to 2004 Rising Star Chef Neil Fraser’s Grace is helmed by 2010 Rising Star Chef de Cuisine Diana Stavaridis, who has worked closely with Fraser for the last eight years. Stavaridis has learned a lot from her mentor, but every menu item at BLD has Stavaridis’ personal stamp and each dish is made with heart and soul. Her food is comforting and extremely well executed, and her simple flavor combinations are exquisite. Dishes range from a creative, colorful squash salad with pumpkin seed pesto and ricotta to mammoth Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes that are light and fluffy. Stavaridis puts herself on the plate, and reminds us that sometimes simple is better.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Warm Kabocha Squash Salad with Wild Arugula, Shaved Fennel, Dried Cranberries, Ricotta, Pumpkin Seed Pesto, and Maple Balsamic Dressing
  • Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes with Berkshire Maple Syrup
	Warm Kabocha Squash Salad with Wild Arugula, Shaved Fennel, Dried Cranberries, Ricotta, Pumpkin Seed Pesto, and Maple Balsamic Dressing
+ Click image to enlarge

Bond St
9360 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 601-2255
www.bondstrestaurant.com
Hours: Mon 7am-10pm; Tue-Thur 7am-11pm; Fri-Sat 7am-12am

The ultra hip Thompson Beverly Hills is home to the West Coast’s first outpost of the popular New York BondSt. Chef Brian Redzikowski has worked in some of the best restaurants in the country (including Alain Ducasse, Joel Robuchon, Le Cirque, and Nobu) and his pedigree shows. The training that most stands out is his time at Nobu, which comes out in the contemporary Japanese-inspired cuisine (as in the hamachi sashimi suspended in sushi rice-flavored gelatin). Redzikowski is very playful and creative and likes to have fun with his food, as in an elegantly deconstructed “Meat and Potatoes” that features Australian wagyu, creamy potato cubes, and Brussels sprout leaves.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sashimi of Hamachi Belly, Skeena River Salmon, and Alaskan King Crab
  • "Meat and Potatoes:" Australian Wagyu, Potato Cubes, Brussels Sprouts, and Soy-Garlic
	Sashimi of Hamachi Belly, Skeena River Salmon, and Alaskan King Crab
+ Click image to enlarge

Bouchon Bistro
235 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 271-9910
www.bouchonbistro.com
Hours: Daily 11:30am-2:30pm; Daily 5:30pm-10:30pm

After paying his dues at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York, 2010 Rising Star Chef Rory Herrmann was tapped to be the opening chef de cuisine at the Los Angeles outpost of Bouchon Bistro (following locations in Yountville and Las Vegas). As a bistro-style restaurant, the dishes are humble at heart with lavish touches that suit the Beverly Hills locale, like a soft-boiled egg served with lentils, sausage, and Bordelaise sauce topped with a luxurious spoonful of foie gras mousse. Pastry Chef Scott Wheatfill prepares impeccably executed classic desserts worthy of any bistro in France, as in a super silky Crème Caramel that has just the right texture. The immensely talented sommelier, Alex Weil, carefully selects beverages to go with each dish, from Blue Apron Ale (brewed specifically for Bouchon by Brooklyn Brewery) to Grenache Blanc. “My job,” he says, “isn’t to shock people with pairings they haven’t seen, it’s to source the best wines to go with the food.”

Recommended Dishes:

  • Oeuff Poche: Soft-Boiled Hen Egg with Braised Lentils du Puy, Sauccison a l'Ail, Foe Gras Mousse, and Sauce Bordelaise
  • Herb Roasted Veal Rib-eye, Crispy Sweet Breads, Celery branch, Celery Root, glazed Chestnuts, Perigourdine
  • Crème Caramel
  • Tarte Tatin
	Herb Roasted Veal Rib-eye, Crispy Sweet Breads, Celery Branch, Celery Root, Glazed Chestnuts, Perigourdine
+ Click image to enlarge

Cache
3110 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 399-4800
www.cacherestaurant.com
Hours: Sat-Sun 11am-2pm; Sun-Wed 6pm-10pm; Thur-Sat 6pm-11pm

Cache is the sister restaurant to Chef Josiah Citrin’s Melisse. Also located in Santa Monica, Cache, with its hip garden lounge and modern furnishings, is more casual than its Michelin-starred sibling. Chef de Cuisine Nyesha Arrington worked with Citrin at his other two restaurants before being tapped to take the lead at Cache. Drawing on her own multicultural background, Arrington’s cuisine is eclectic, ranging from Asian-inspired Alaskan king crab with yuzu to wood-fired flatbreads. Arrington’s shining dishes, though, is a kurobata pork chop and side of roasted cauliflower with Middle Eastern and Moroccan flavors that is rustic in presentation and bright in taste.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Kurobuta Pork Chop with Pineapple Chutney and Mint
  • Roasted Cauliflower with Curry, Cilantro, Currants, and Garbanzo Beans
	Roasted Cauliflower with Curry, Cilantro, Currants, and Garbanzo Beans
+ Click image to enlarge

Charlie's Malibu camera
22821 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265         
(310) 456-3132
www.charliesmalibu.com
Hours: Mon-Thurs 5pm-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11:30pm; Sun 5pm-10pm

Right on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway in laid back Malibu, Charlie’s Malibu has white tablecloths and leopard-print chairs. This mix between upscale and casual carries throughout the restaurant to the service and the food. Chef David Linville’s food is homey and comforting in taste but sophisticated in presentation, as in salmon that is embellished with freshly foraged mushrooms and truffles. Sommelier Caitlin Stansbury brings her wealth of knowledge and passion for wine to the table with pairings that are out of the box and spot on.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tomato Polenta, Cahill Porter Irish Cheddar
  • Pan Roasted Loch Duart Salmon with Hand-Forested Mount Washington Mushrooms, Truffles, Heirloom Beurre Blanc
	Pan Roasted Loch Duart Salmon with Hand-Forested Mount Washington Mushrooms, Truffles, Heirloom Beurre Blanc
+ Click image to enlarge

Church + State
1850 Industrial Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 405-1434
www.churchandstatebistro.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; Mon 6pm-9pm; Tue-Thur 6pm-10pm; Sat 5:30pm-11pm; Sun 5pm-9pm

Church + State is situated in a former warehouse loading dock on a cobblestone-lined industrial street in downtown LA. The restaurant design echoes its location, with lofted ceilings, exposed pipes coming down from the ceiling, and brick walls and floor. The décor is reminiscent of a French bistro, and 2010 Rising Star Chef Chef Walter Manzke’s food fits the scene. His simple, straightforward food makes him a real chefs’ chef, but he remains humble and unassuming despite his acclaim. At Church + State Manzke takes the best quality ingredients and lets them shine by leaving them virtually unadulterated. In Manzke’s dishes the ingredients scream through the plate, like Santa Barbara spot prawns that are simply cooked with brown butter, lemon, and capers. Manzke takes incredible pride in making everything himself—from the impressive charcuterie to the boards they’re served on.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Moelle de Boeuf: Roasted Marrow Bone
  • Gambas a la Grenobloise: Santa Barbara Spot Prawns with Brown Butter, Lemon, and Capers
	Gambas a la Grenobloise: Santa Barbara Spot Prawns with Brown Butter, Lemon, and Capers
+ Click image to enlarge

Cucina Urbana
505 Laurel Street
San Diego 92101
(619) 239-2222
www.sdurbankitchen.com
Hours: Tue-Fri 11:30am-2pm; Sun-Mon 5pm-9pm; Tue-Thur 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm; Pizza and Bar Fri-Sat 10:30pm-12am

We first visited the restaurant at 505 Laurel Street when it was Laurel, a fine dining, special occasion Italian restaurant. When the economy slumped, owners Tracy Borkum and Ben Kephart decided it was time for a new concept, and with the help of Chef Joe Magnanelli they redesigned the space and the menu. As soon as they (re-) opened their doors, Cucina Urbana was a success. The new stylish wine bar-style décor is hip and welcoming and draws a young crowd from all over San Diego. Chef Magnanelli has maintained the quality of his food while making it slightly more casual and comfort-driven, like a chicken liver pate ravioli and whole roasted trout. Ben Kephart, who is also the general manager and sommelier, pairs unusual, interesting wines to match the food, like a sweet Fattoria di Felsina Vin Santo with the Ravioli Fegatoni.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Ravioli Fegatoni with Shallot Marmalade and Bresaola
  • Whole Roasted Brook Trout with Lemon and Herb Bread Crumb
	Whole Roasted Brook Trout with Lemon and Herb Bread Crumb
+ Click image to enlarge

Cut
9500 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 276-8500
www.wolfgangpuck.com
Hours: Mon-Thur 6pm-10pm; Fri 6pm-11pm; Sat 5:30pm-11pm

Wolfgang Puck’s upscale, updated Beverly Hills steakhouse is a large, lofty space decorated with oversized portraits of famous faces ranging from President Obama to Kate Blanchet. Chef de Cuisine Ari Rosenson has worked with Wolfgang Puck since he was a kid (no joke—Rosenson first met the star chef when he was 10 and got a job as a prep cook with him when he was 16). The steakhouse fare is elegant (like a creative bone marrow flan dramatically presented in the bone) and Chef Rosenson does comforting classics extremely well (like the addictive cavatappi macaroni and cheese). Pastry Chef Nicole Lindsay has trained under master baker and confectioner Sherry Yard and creates desserts that fit the philosophy of the restaurant, like a rustic Apple and Fennel Crumble that hits the spot. Sommelier Dana Farner is one of the most talented young sommeliers in Los Angeles, pairing carefully thought out, unusual, predominantly California wines with an emphasis on small producers that work with the food and elevate the overall dining experience.

Recommended Cocktails:

  • Bone Marrow Flan with Mushroom Marmalade and Parsley Salad
  • Cavatappi Pasta Mac & Cheese with Quebec Cheddar
  • Apple and Fennel Crumble with Weinchaummeis
	Apple and Fennel Crumble with Weinchaummeis
+ Click image to enlarge
 

The Dining Room at the Langham
1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91106   
(626) 568-3900
www.thediningroom-langham.com
Hours: Tue-Sat 6:30pm-9:30pm

Rising Star Chef Michael Voltaggio’s inventive, out of the box food is well worth the trip to Pasadena. Located in the palatial Langham hotel, The Dining Room at the Langham looks like a hotel restaurant (it is about to undergo a renovation) but the cuisine draws diners from across Los Angeles. Voltaggio is grounded in classic techniques but has fun with his food, often deconstructing familiar dishes and flavors and presenting them in new forms. A pastrami sandwich is reimagined as pastrami of pigeon with sauerkraut jelly, puffed Swiss cheese, and mustard greens in place of the traditional mustard. 

Recommended Cocktails:

  • Langoustine and Porcini Lasagna with Bisque and Porcini Cracker
  • Miso-Cured Halibut Cheeks with Scrambled Cauliflower and Lemongrass Scallion Froth
	Miso-Cured Halibut Cheeks with Scrambled Cauliflower and Lemongrass Scallion Froth
+ Click image to enlarge
 

Drago Centro
525 South Flower Street, Suite #120
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 228-8998
www.dragocentro.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; Mon-Sat 5pm-10:30pm; Sun 5pm-9pm

Located in the financial center of downtown Los Angeles, Drago Centro is an upscale contemporary Italian restaurant that caters to a business clientele. Pastry Chef Jashmine Corpuz’s desserts are highly creative and take familiar elements and twist them into something new with beautiful presentation to whet the palate. Each of her desserts has a savory element (often an herb or a cheese) to balance the sweetness, like a walnut tart served with an umami-rich Parmesan gelato. 2008 Las Vegas Rising Star Sommelier Michael Shearin recently relocated here from Vegas and is working with the impressive wine list.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Housemade Dessert Cavatelli with Diced Empire Apples, Rosemary Caramel, Fried Rosemary, Spiced Gelato, Pine Nuts, and White Chocolate Shavings
  • La Crostata di Noci: Walnut Tart with Grapes, Muscat, Marsala, Parmesan Gelato, and Parmesan Crisp
	La Crostata di Noci: Walnut Tart with Grapes, Muscat, Marsala, Parmesan Gelato, and Parmesan Crisp
+ Click image to enlarge

Eva camera
7458 Beverly Boulevard       
Los Angeles, CA 90036 
(323) 634-0700
www.evarestaurantla.com
Hours: Tue-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; Tue-Thur 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; Sun 3pm-9:30pm

Chef Mark Gold is all about fish and is obsessed with getting the best product at a reasonable price point. To do this he goes to the farmers market at 5am to line up with the sushi chefs to get great fish. Gold has an eye for presentation as well, balancing colors and textures on the plate with clean, simple lines. An uber-fresh Japanese bonito was paired with sea urchin, creamy whipped tofu, and crisp pieces of cauliflower for a dish in which the different flavors on the plate marry.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Wild Japanese Bonito, Sea Urchin, Whipped Tofu, and Cauliflower
  • Burrata Ravioli with Butter Glaze, Summer Truffle, and Corn
Wild Japanese Bonito, Sea Urchin, Whipped Tofu, and Cauliflower
+ Click image to enlarge

Fig
101 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 319-3111
www.figsantamonica.com
Hours: Daily 7am-2pm; Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm

Fig is set in the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica but don’t be confused—this is no hotel restaurant. Guests in the know can request food from Fig in their rooms, but for the most part patrons have to dine in the stylish restaurant to experience Chef Ray Garcia’s exceptionally seasonal, local cuisine. In a region that has a strong focus on seasonality, locality, and sustainability Garcia stands apart and is making an effort to pass that message on to his diners. The menu includes a section that reads “Just Arrived,” “In Peak Season,” and “Coming Soon” with the produce that has just arrived, is in its prime, or will be in soon. Fig recycles, composts, filters their own water, and are working on turning their fryer oil into hand soap. The restaurant also valets bicycles to encourage local customers to bike instead of drive. And on top of Garcia’s commitment to sustainability, he also makes killer food, from a seasonal red quinoa salad to a devilish Bacon-Wrapped Bacon that can only be described as a deconstructed (and much more sophisticated) BLT.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Warm Quinoa Salad
  • Chef's Salad Braised Bacon Wrapped in Bacon with Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Mousse
	Warm Quinoa Saladm
+ Click image to enlarge

Ford's Filling Station
9531 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 202-1470
www.fordsfillingstation.net
Hours: Mon-Sat 6 pm-11pm

Chef Ben Ford’s restaurant is a no-fuss bar-and-grill establishment that takes product seriously, as evidenced by its affinity for seasonal produce and house-cured salumi. The kitchen, with its wood-burning stove, is open to the dining room. The décor is warm and inviting, with dark wood and brick walls.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sweetbreads



The Foundry
7465 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 651-0915
www.thefoundryonmelrose.com
Hours: Sun 5:30pm-10pm; Mon-Sat 6pm-11pm

The Foundry is comfortable neighborhood spot with a serene outdoor dining room. Chef Eric Greenspan’s personality is larger than life and his love for food his contagious. He cooks simple, comforting food with fun touches. His thick Potato Soup with Leek and Bacon Bread Pudding, Gruyere, and Fried Egg is rich, creamy, and highly satisfying. And his award-winning Grilled Cheese with Taleggio, Braised Short Ribs, and Apricot-Caper Puree on Raisin Bread is an unusual combination of ingredients that results in an addictive sandwich.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Potato Soup with Leak and Bacon Bread Pudding, Gruyere, and Fried Egg
  • Grilled Cheese with Taleggio, Braised Short Ribs, and Apricot-Caper Puree on Raisin Bread
	Potato Soup with Leak and Bacon Bread Pudding, Gruyere, and Fried Egg
+ Click image to enlarge

George’s California Modern
1250 Prospect Street
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 454-4244
www.georgesatthecove.com
Hours: Mon-Thurs 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sun 5pm-10pm

Chef Trey Foshee is one of the most respected mentor chefs in the San Diego area whose protégés represent the pinnacle of local culinary talent. At George’s California Modern he incorporates Mexican influences for a distinctly Southern Californian cuisine with modern touches and updated techniques. Foshee is a big proponent of local ingredients, and has a particular passion for local seafood. Grilled sardines are served with crunchy, flavorful basil breadcrumbs, tangy pickled shallots, sweet baby beets, and bitter arugula for a well-balanced dish. Pastry Chef Trang Huynh prepares Mexican-inspired ingredients that integrate familiar elements, as in a Mexican Chocolate Pot de Crème with Churros, Tequila Whipped Cream, and Almond Croquant.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Fish Tacos with Yellowfin Tuna, Fried Avocado, and Corn Nuts
  • Grilled Sardines with Basil Bread Crumbs, Pickled Shallots, Baby Beets, Arugula,  and Aioli
  • Mexican Chocolate Pot de Crème with Churros, Tequila Whipped Cream, and Almond Croquant
	Grilled Sardines with Basil Bread Crumbs, Pickled Shallots, Baby Beets, Arugula, and Aioli
+ Click image to enlarge

Grace
7360 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 934-4400
www.gracerestaurant.com
Hours: Tue-Thur 6pm-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm; Sun 6pm-10pm

At 2004 Rising Star Chef Neal Fraser’s venerable restaurant, Grace, the talented mentor chef reminds us why he was a Rising Star. All of Fraser’s dishes have the mark of excellence, but where he shines is with game meat—Scottish hare and wild boar are the stars of the menu, elegantly presented with unusual accoutrements like black rice and violet mustard sauce. Sommelier Eduardo Caro—who has been tasting wine since he was a baby—is one of the most talented young wine directors in the city. He’s always on the hunt for the next value-oriented, lesser known wine region and selects gutsy pairings with Fraser’s food that complement each element on the plate.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sauteed Saddle of Scottish Hare with Black Rice, Poached Pears, and Sesame
  • Grilled Tenderloin of Wild Boar with Brussels Sprouts, Herbed Yukon Gold Potato Spaetzle, and Violet Mustard Sauce
	Sauteed Saddle of Scottish Hare with Black Rice, Poached Pears, and Sesame
+ Click image to enlarge

Huckleberry
1014 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451-1322
www.huckleberrycafe.com
Hours: Tue-Fri 8am-7pm; Sat-Sun 8am-5pm

Huckleberry is that ideal neighborhood spot everyone wishes they had around the corner. It is comfortable, cozy, and welcoming due largely to the husband-and-wife duo who run the bakery, 2010 Rising Star Restaurateurs Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan. Nathan, who also heads up the menu at Huckleberry, included lots of familiar elements to make her dream bakery feel like home: her mother did the art on the walls and the bud vases are just like the ones she grew up with. And it worked—both sets of parents come to the bakery daily and see it as a place to congregate with friends and family. From the warm breakfast dishes to the impeccable baked goods, the food is as wonderful and comforting as the space and keeps customers coming back for more.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Cinnamon Roll, Plain Croissant, Peach and Blueberry Crostata
  • Green Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham
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Jin Patisserie
1202 Abbot Kinny Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-8801
www.jinpatisserie.com
Hours: Tue-Sun 10:30am-7pm

Jin Patisserie’s afternoon tea was inspired by the British tradition, but the atmosphere is more like a Japanese tea garden offering perfectly presented French-inspired bites. These desserts tantalize and surprise, but even the simplest tart is made into a little slice of heaven under the creative eye of 2006 Rising Star Pastry Chef Kristy Choo, who was born in Singapore.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Meringue with Passion Fruit, Mango and Strawberry
  • Mascarpone with Banana, Pistachio and Lemon Juice
 Meringue with Passion Fruit, Mango and Strawberry
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Joe’s
1023 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-5811
www.joesrestaurant.com
Hours: Tue-Fri 12pm-2:30pm; Sat-Sun 11am-2:30pm; Tue-Thur 6pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm

Set in hip, casual Venice Beach Joe’s is a Michelin-starred neighborhood restaurant with fine dining service. Chef Joe Miller has been a major player in the LA dining scene and has passed on his skill to protégé and Chef de Cuisine Kris Tominaga, who is now at the helm of the talented kitchen. Tominaga is definitely a young chef to watch—at only 22 years old he already has the refined palate of a more seasoned chef. He beautifully marries delicate flavors for harmonious, sophisticated dishes and his elegant plating follows suit. Grilled Spanish mackerel is served with an unlikely combination of pickled Asian pear, white red radish, white garlic and concord grape gastrique for a dish that is enticing and satisfying.

Recommended Dish:

  • Grilled Spanish Mackerel with Pickled Asian Pear, Red Radish, White Garlic, and Concord Grape Gastrique
	Grilled Spanish Mackerel with Pickled Asian Pear, Red Radish, White Garlic Concord Grape Gastrique
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JRDN
723 Felspar Street
San Diego, CA 92109

(858) 270-5735
www.jrdn.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun 9am-4pm; Daily 5pm-10pm

Located in the Tower 23 Hotel, JRDN is a smartly designed restaurant that focuses on sustainable seafood and meat and locally grown organic produce. Chef David Warner utilizes these high quality ingredients and lets them shine on the plate, like a simple arugula, strawberry, and hazelnut salad with goat cheese and fun touches like “strawberry jello.” Other dishes are straightforward but equally satisfying, as in a classic dish of white wine-steamed mussels with chorizo.

Recommended Dish:

  • Arugula, Hazelnuts, Strawberries, Strawberry Jello, Creamy Goat Cheese, and Strawberry Vinaigrette
  • Steamed Mussels with Chorizo, Tomatoes, Garlic, Herb Butter, and Chardonnay
	Steamed Mussels with Chorizo, Tomatoes, Garlic,  Herb Butter, and Chardonnay
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Jsix
616 J Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 531-844
www.jsixrestaurant.com
Hours: Daily 7am-2:30pm; Sun-Thur 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm

Located in the Gas Lamp district of downtown San Diego, Jsix is a chic restaurant with an open kitchen, stone walls, and funky lamps. Chef Christian Graves takes inspiration from the Slow Food movement and emphasizes hand-crafted techniques as well as local, seasonal produce and sustainable meat and seafood. The restaurant’s rooftop garden supplies many of the herbs Graves uses in his comforting cooking. Dishes like butterfish with tender braised short rib, fresh spinach, and squash risotto hit the mark.

Recommended Dish:

  • Pan Seared Butterfish, Braised Short rib Sauce, Red Wine, Wilted Spinach, and Yellow Squash Risotto
	Pan Seared Butterfish, Braised Shortrib Sauce, Red Wine, Wilted Spinach, and Yellow Squah Risotto
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Kogi camera
Kogi at the Alibi Room
12236 Washington Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 390-9300
www.alibiroomla.com
Hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-12am

Kogi BBQ Truck
Locations and hours vary
www.kogibbq.com
www.twitter.com/Kogibbq

Although Kogi BBQ Truck is a Los Angeles phenomenon, its influence has been felt across the country. The brainchild of Le Bernadin-trained 2010 Rising Stars Community Chef Roy Choi, Kogi has captivated culinary imaginations, thanks largely in part to the successful application of social media tools like Twitter. The concept of serving Korean tacos out of a truck may not seem mind blowing but the effect has been far-reaching, both from a culinary and a community perspective. With four trucks that rove the city—Verde, Roja, Azul, and and Naranja—Kogi serves its urban street food to neighborhoods across LA, from Hollywood to Orange County. And if you don’t want to hunt down a truck, Alibi Room has Kogi on the menu. Choi makes everything for Kogi from scratch and wants to change the paradigm of how people—especially urban youth—eat. Choi believes that Kogi can make a difference by having the food “speak to them on the same level their skateboards speak to them.”

Recommended Dishes:

  • Black Jack Quesadilla
  • Mini Short Rib Tacos
	Mini Short Rib Tacos
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Market Restaurant and Bar
3702 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
(858) 523-0007
www.marketdelmar.com
Hours: Sun-Thur 5:30pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm

Market Restaurant and Bar is an upscale, fine dining restaurant with all the flourishes of white glove service. As the name indicates, the cuisine is market-driven with all local produce. Chef Carl Schroeder cooks creative food like a Gorgonzola and Blue Cheese Soufflé with Local Strawberries that is served as a savory dish but could just as easily be dessert. Wine is an integral part of the program at Market and Sommelier Brian Donegan draws on the impressive list to pair wines that not only complement the food but enhance it.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Gorgonzola Blue Cheese Soufflé with Local Strawberries
  • Cabernet-Braised Prime Beef Short Ribs, Sweet Onion-Potato Puree, Pattypan Squash, Spring Peas, Morels, Sherry-Glazed Cipollini Onions, and Tomato Confit Jam.
	Gorgonzola Blue Cheese Soufflé with Local Strawberries
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Mar'sel
100 Terranea Way
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
(310) 265-2701
www.terranea.com
Hours: Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm

Located in the Terranea Resort in Racho Palos Verdes, Mar’sel sits on a cliff dramatically overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Chef Michael Fiorelli keeps a garden adjacent to the restaurant and has a knowledgeable gardener teaching him the tricks of the trade so he can go from earth to table. Fiorelli cooks Italian food that is very simple and rustic at heart but elegantly plated, as in Nine Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Duck Salami, Joaya Buratta, and 20-Year Balsamic Vinegar. Incredibly tender grilled Wagyu ribeye cap is served with an oversized creamed chard tortelloni that serves as a replacement to traditional creamed spinach and starch. Fiorelli uses the best ingredients and lets them shine for dishes that are satisfying and delicious.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Nine Roasted Autumn Vegetables, Duck Salami, Joya Buratta Cheese, 20-Year Old Balsamic Vinegar
  • Grilled Wagyu Ribeye Cap, Creamed Chard Tortelloni, and Roasted Baby Carrots "Sicilian Lifeguard Style"
	Nine Roasted Autumn Vegetables, Duck Salami, Joya Buratta Cheese, 20-Year Old Balsamic Vinegar
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Melisse
1104 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-0881
www.melisse.com
Hours: Tue-Thur 6pm-9:30pm; Fri 6pm-10pm; Sat 5:45pm-10pm

One of the only restaurants in LA to boast two Michelin stars, Chef Josiah Citrin’s acclaimed Melisse is a Santa Monica destination. The fine dining restaurant has a peaceful interior, chic décor, and white tablecloths for an environment that is elegant and upscale without being stuffy. Citrin’s young protégé, 2010 Rising Star Chef Ken Takayama, has been with his mentor for the past nine years (he first showed up on CiItrin’s back door and was turned away three times before finally getting a chance in the kitchen). His dishes are elegant in presentation and flavor, as in Serrano-Wrapped Monkfish with Maitake Mushrooms, Celtuce, and Mustard Sabayon. Takayama is shy and soft-spoken, and his food is similarly delicate with sophisticated touches.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Serrano-Wrapped Monkfish, Maitake Mushrooms, Celtuce, Mustard Sabayon
  • Japanese Wagyu Beef Filet, Braised Short Rib, Cote de Boeuf, Bone Marrow, Red Wine Herb Jus
	Serrano-Wrapped Monkfish, Maitake Mushrooms, Celtuce, Mustard Sabayon
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Nine-Ten
910 Prospect Street
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 964-5400
www.nine-ten.com
Hours: Mon-Sat 6:30am-2:30pm; Tue-Sat 6pm-10pm

Nine-Ten is a quaint restaurant with a lovely outdoor patio located in the Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla. We’re always on the lookout for chefs with soul, and Jason Knibb pours his heart into combining flavors and textures in each dish he cooks. He even infuses soul into his whimsical presentations, which conjure images like a meandering path through a forest or a garden, a la Michel Bras. Born in Jamaica and raised in Southern California, Knibb is now the chef at Nine-Ten in La Jolla, CA where he is also responsible for supplying the food to the adjacent hotel. His Jamaican background shines through in dishes like an exciting modern rendition of Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly incorporates classic Jamaican flavors with cutting-edge techniques. Pastry Chef Jack Fisher plates up tasty desserts with delicate touches and an emphasis on seasonal produce, like a Rosewater Panna Cotta with Vanilla-Poached Rhubarb, Lychee-Raspberry Sorbet, and Pistachio.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sea Scallops with Peas, Favas, Famps, White Asparagus, and Green Asparagus
  • Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly with Baby Carrots, Swiss Chard, Plantains, Black-eyed Peas, Spicy Jellies, and Sweet Potato Puree
  • Rosewater Panna Cotta with Vanilla-Poached Rhubarb, Lychee-Raspberry Sorbet, and Pistachio
	Sea Scallops with Peas, Favas, Famps, White Asparagus, and Green Asparagus
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The Oceanaire Seafood Room
400 J Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 858-2277
www.theoceanaire.com
Hours: Sun-Thur 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm

The Oceanaire Seafood Room is a dark, masculine restaurant with the feel of a brasserie in downtown San Diego. Although it’s a multi-unit operation that can be found across the country, the only item that each menu has in common is the signature Crab Cake. Beyond that each chef at each restaurant has the freedom to design a seafood menu that fits with the region. Being in Southern California, Chef Brian Malarkey embraces the vast selection of fresh, local seafood that is available. A past Top Chef contestant, Malarkey is an ambitious young chef who is sure to go far. Each of his dishes is creative and boasts incredible depth of flavor, as in Prosciutto and Basil-Wrapped Tahitian Turbo Tuna with Braising Greens, Melted leeks, and Cognac Demi-Glace. An impressive wine selection complements the menu and gives guests a wide variety to choose from.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Oven Roasted Alaskan Halibut with Rock Shrimp, Del Cabo Sweet Tomatoes, Fennel Confit, and Tartufo
  • Prosciutto and Basil-Wrapped Tahitian Turbo Tuna with Braising Greens, Melted Leeks, and Cognac Demi-Glace
	Prosciutto and Basil-Wrapped Tahitian Tombo Tuna with Braising Greens, Melted Leeks, and Cognac Demi-Glace
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Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 866-5300
www.mozza-la.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 5:30pm-11pm; Sat 5pm-11pm; Sun 5pm-10pm

Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton’s LA outpost, Osteria Mozza, is all about rustic regional Italian food. Chef de Cuisine Matt Molina has come up through the Batali ranks, working at TKTK before landing at Mozza. He is a wealth of knowledge about Italian cuisine, from the shapes of pasta to classic Umbrian techniques and is passionate about the food he is cooking. Each of Molina’s dishes is unfussy and done well, like a Grilled Quail Wrapped in Pancetta with Sage and Honey.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Grilled Octopus with Potatoes, Celery, and Lemon
  • Grilled Quail Wrapped in Pancetta with Sage and Honey
	Grilled Octopus with Potatoes, Celery, and Lemon
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Pizzeria Mozza
641 North Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0101
www.mozza-la.com
Hours: Daily 12pm-12am

Located next door to Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza is Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton’s rustic, comfortable pizzeria. The pizzas are a slice of heaven with Silverton’s touch on the light, airy dough. Pastry Chef Dahlia Narvaez prepares rich, rustic, Italian desserts that fit with the restaurant. Butterscotch Budino with Maldon Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies is a decadent end to the meal with the ideal balance of sweet and savory. The luscious pudding is cut with creamy, slightly tangy whipped crème fraiche and maldon sea salt and savory rosemary cookies are served on the side for a crunchy, herbal counterpoint.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Pizza Margharita
  • Butterscotch Budino with Malson Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies
  • Fritelle di Riso with Banana Gelato and Nocello Raisins
	Fritelle di Riso with Banana Gelato and Nocello Raisins
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Pizzeria Ortica
600 Anton Boulevard
Costa Mesa, CA 92626    
(714) 445-4900
www.pizzeriaortica.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; Mon-Thur 5pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm

Both Ivy League graduates, Zachary Pollack and Stephan Samson first met while working with Chef Neil Fraser at BLD and later worked with Chef David Myers at Sona. Samson recognized great potential in the younger chef and the two became chef-partners when Myers and Samson launched their pizzeria concept in Costa Mesa. Now the pair are an unstoppable duo, cooking rustic Italian food, including pizzas with imaginative toppings, impeccably prepared pastas, and well-executed house-cured meats. Samson channels his Italian heritage and Pollack draws upon his time spent in Italy to create dishes that are comforting, done well.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Guanciale, Ricotta, e Cipollotto: Fresh Ricotta, House-Cured Pork Cheek, Scallions, and Fennel Pollen Pizza
  • Tortelli di Pere e Pecorino al Burro e Salvia: Pear & Pecorino Tortelli, Brown Butter & Sage
	Guanciale, Ricotta, e Cipollotto: Fresh Ricotta, House-Cured Pork Cheek, Scallions, and Fennel Pollen Pizza
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Providence camera
5955 Melrose Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(323) 460-4170
www.providencela.com
Hours: Fri 12pm-2:30pm; Mon-Fri 6pm-10pm; Sat 5:30pm-10pm; Sun 5:30pm-9pm

A meal at Providence is always memorable. Chef Michael Cimarusti reminds us why he was a 2004 Rising Star with imaginative, fun, impeccably executed dishes. Cimarusti is always one step ahead of the culinary curve and constantly in pursuit of excellence, which is evident on every single dish he serves. 2010 Rising Stars Pastry Chef Adrian Vasquez shares a culinary philosophy with Cimarusti and employs equally sophisticated techniques and flavor combinations. Vasquez is constantly searching for new and exciting flavor combinations and techniques to refresh the palate. His Kalamansi Gelee with Lychee-Shiso Sorbet, White Chocolate Coconut Soup with Tapioca Pearls, and Chocolate Nougatine brings together fun and varied textures with surprisingly complementary flavors. And with a list of over 400 bottles and 30 wines by the glass, Sommelier Drew Langley has an impressive variety of some of the world’s great wines at his disposal. He is known for introducing diners to exciting new wines by way of unexpected pairings, and as a sommelier he is engaged with the pairing process from the diner’s point of view as much as the chef’s.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Uni Two Ways: Uni with avocado and smoked sesame and uni with champagne and caviar and crème fraiche.
  • Tenderloin of Veal on Crushed German Butterball Potatoes, Spring Onions, Hazelnuts, Roasted Garlic,  Veal Jus, and Purslane
  • Kalamansi Gelee with Lychee Shiso Sorbet, White Chocolate Coconut Soup with Tapioca Pearls and Chocolate Nougatine
  • Café in Bordeeaux
Kalamansi Gelee with Lychee Shiso Sorbet, White Chocolate Coconut Soup with Tapioca Pearls and Chocolate Nougatine
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Rivera
1050 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 749-1460
www.riverarestaurant.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sun 5:30pm-10pm

Rivera is a sleek downtown hotspot helmed by Chef John Sedlar. Each of his thoughtful dishes include provocative, politically-focused messages that are meant to inspire dialogue amongst the diners. Employing what he has termed “Spiceology,” Sedlar uses relevant spices to create actual messages on the plate, like his rendition of Chili Relleno that features a border crossing caution sign prominently stenciled at the top of the plate. Beyond the message, Sedlar’s innovative Latin cuisine incorporates playful ingredients that marry on the plate.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Chili Relleno with Smoked Chicken Salad, Red Chili Mayo, Tomato, and Poblano Chili
  • Arabesque: Seared Scallops with Eggplant, Curry, and Preserved Lemon
	Chili Relleno with Smoked Chicken Salad, Red Chili Mayo, Tomato, and Poblano Chili
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Rustic Canyon
1119 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-7050
www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com
Hours: Sun-Thur 5:30pm-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm

Rustic Canyon is a comfortable neighborhood restaurant that is a regular destination for Santa Monica locals. 2010 Rising Star Restaurateurs Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan are co-owners and an unstoppable husband and wife team. Loeb takes care of the business and the wine list, Nathan handles the pastry, and Chef Evan Funke is in control of the menu. The cuisine is Italian-influenced and—as the name implies—rustic. Funke takes great care in procuring the best produce (which is facilitated by his proximity to the best farmer’s market LA) and expertly preparing house-made pastas.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sweet Corn Agnolotti with Carmelized Corn
  • Whole Roasted Trout with Escarole, Currants, Pine Nuts, Chilies, Lemon, and Bread Crumbs
Sweet Corn Agnolotti with Carmelized Corn
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Sashi
451 Manhattan Beach Boulevard
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 545-0400
www.sashimb.com
Hours: Mon-Sat 5pm-10pm, Sun 5pm-9pm

Chef Makoto Okuwa is a 2006 New York Rising Star who migrated West to open Sashi in Southern California. From the omakase bar of Morimoto to the shores of Manhattan Beach, Chef Okuwa cooks extraordinary, high concept Japanese cuisine that is outside of the box yet approachable. Using incredible technique and unusual Japanese ingredients Okuwa pushes the envelope to create dishes that come together. Following in the footsteps of Chef Okuwa Pastry Chef Kei Hasegawa integrates Japanese ingredients with modern French techniques. He makes the most delightful, delicate Green Tea Macaroons we’ve had—they are light and airy with a subtle flavor.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Flash Frozen Sea Urchin and Scallion with Sesame Seed Furikake, Chorizo Fried Rice, and Mushroom Miso with Homemade Tofu.
  • Aged Sake and Yuzu Kosha Pepper Poached Sonoma Duck Foie Gras Torchon with Japanese White Break, Black Olive Soil, and Sweet Plum
  • Green Tea Macaroons
  • Calpico Frozen Yogurt with Peach Compote and Raspberry Frozen Disc
	Flash Frozen Sea Urchin and Scallion with Sesame Seed Furikake, Chorizo Fried Rice, and Mushroom Miso with Homemade Tofu
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Sona
401 N La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 659-7708
www.sonarestaurant.com
Hours: Tue-Sat 6pm-10pm

2004 Rising Star Chef David Myers set the bar for LA dining many years ago and has spawned many a talented cook and executive chef, not only in Los Angeles, but across the country. Rising Star Chef Kuniko Yagi is one such protégé who now runs the kitchen at Sona—an impressive feat for someone who just six years ago was a banker in Japan and had never set foot in a professional kitchen. Now, having moved up the ranks at Sona under Myers’ tutelage, Yagi has upheld the standards that her mentor set and found her own voice that sets her apart. Pastry Chef Ramon Perez integrates unusual combinations of Japanese ingredients into his technique-driven desserts. Sommelier Mark Mendoza’s approach to pairing is creative and opening minded—he’ll even pair a dish with a cocktail if it suits the flavor profile. Mendoza’s wine list at Sona displays a balance of Old and New World wines, and his pairings intermittently play with complimentary and contrasting flavors.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sake and Harissa-Marinated Cod with Sunchoke Puree, Dehydrated Black Olive, Cippolini Onion, Shishito Pepper, and Crystalline
  • Foie Gras with Corn Puree, Roasted Plum, Pineapple, Green Tea Mochi, and Okinawan black sugar
  • Black Sesame Sponge Cake with Lemongrass Ice Cream and Passionfruit Sorbet with Praline and Mustard Seed
  • Poached Figs with Buckwheat Sablis, Shiso Ice Cream and a Yuzu Marshmellow
	Foie Gras with Corn Puree, Roasted Plum, Pineapple, Green Tea Mochi, and Okinawan black sugar
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Spago
176 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 385-0880
www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/fine-dining/3635
Hours: Lunch Mon-Sat 12pm-2:15pm; Dinner Daily 6pm-9:30pm

Lee Hefter’s Spago has been a tried and true Los Angeles institution for almost 30 years.  Chef de Cuisine Thomas Boyce carries on that legacy with sophisticated, beautifully plated contemporary American dishes with French flourishes. Luscious Chestnut Marscapone Agnolotti is decadently showered in fresh Italian white truffles for an indulgent dish. Pastry Chef Sherry Yard continues to impress with her Americana-inspired desserts that bring diners back to their childhoods. 2010 Rising Star Sommelier Christopher Miller ensures that every pairing complements the food in flavor as well as taste, often selecting funky, unusual wines to match the upscale French-inspired cuisine.  

Recommended Dishes:

  • Chestnut Marscapone Agnolotti with Italian White Truffles
  • Toad in a Hole: Toasted Brioche with Quail Egg and Shaved Truffle
	Toad in a Hole: Toasted Brioche with Quail Egg and Shaved Truffle
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St. Regis Dana Point
1 Monarch Beach Resort
Dana Point, CA 92629
(949) 234-3200
www.stregismb.com
Hours vary

Pastry Chef Nathaniel Reid is responsible for the pastry at all of the St. Regis Dana Point’s multiple outlets, which range from a café to fine dining. As such, he prides himself on his extreme versatility, making bon bons, chocolate showpieces, plated desserts, baked goods, and any other confection imaginable. With an emphasis on classic French technique Reid takes his pastry seriously but has fun with flavor combinations, like a Bananas Foster and Rum Bon Bon. And this young pastry chef takes his talent on the road, competing in national and international pastry competitions.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Palet Chocolate
  • Bananas Foster and Rum Bon Bon
  • Teccino
	Palet Chocolate
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Street
742 North Highland
West Hollywood, CA 90038
(323) 203-0500
www.eatatstreet.com
Hours: Sun 11am-2:30pm; Mon-Wed 12pm-10pm; Thur-Sat 12pm-12am; Sun 5pm-10pm

Inspired by Chef Susan Feniger’s extensive travels around the world, Street draws on home cooking and street food from across the globe. The dual-level space is large and bright with a welcoming outdoor patio and striking graphics that echo their logo across the walls. Chef Kajsa Alger (who has been working with Feniger since she snuck into her kitchen to work the line as a teenager) prepares dishes from her and Feniger’s repetoire that are meant to be casual comfort food. From Ukrainian peirogies to Indian Paani Puri the dishes range as much by country as they do by ingredients.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Kaya Toast: Toasted Bread with Coconut Jam, Softboiled Egg, Dark Soy and White Pepper
  • Paani Puri: Spiced Potato, Chutneys, Sprouted Beans Enclosed in Crispy Puffs of Dough Dipped in Yogurt-Cilantro Water
	Paani Puri: Spiced Potato, Chutneys, Sprouted Beans Enclosed in Crispy Puffs of Dough Dipped in Yogurt-Cilantro Water
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Studio at Montage Laguna Beach
30802 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651 
(949) 715-6000
www.studiolagunabeach.com
Hours: Wed-Sun 6pm-10pm

Studio is located in the luxurious and grand Montage Laguna Beach hotel overlooking the ocean. Chef Craig Strong draws diners from near and far with his sophisticated, French-inspired cuisine. Grab a seat at the chef’s table if there’s room to watch the well-orchestrated chefs dance in the extraordinary kitchen or sit in the well-appointed dining room to enjoy the four-star service. Strong is a multitalented chef and cooks excellent savory dishes (like scallops with sunchoke crème) but also does all the desserts on the menu, which are equally as good.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Nantucket Bay Scallops w Sunchoke Crème, Braised Cardoons, Hand-Rolled Pasta, and Truffle Sauce
  • Toasted Merengue with Banana Fritter and Passionfruit Banana Sorbet
	Nantucket Bay Scallops with Sunchoke Crème, Braised Cardoons, Hand-Rolled Pasta, and Truffle Sauce
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Tavern
11648 San Vicente Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 806-6464
www.tavernla.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-2:15pm; Sat-Sun 10am-2:15pm; Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10pm; Sun 5pm-9:30pm

Suzanne Goin’s newest restaurant, Tavern, was modeled after New York’s Balthazar to be a neighborhood bakery and restaurant that people come back to again and again. The space is large with a boulangerie in the front and restaurant in the back. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Tavern is a neighborhood restaurant that is packed day and night. The food is homey, nourishing, and well-executed, like a spicy and cheesy Kabocha Squash Gratin.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Pork Confit with Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Bacon, and Romesco
  • Grilled Quail, Farro, Roasted Squash, Cavolo Nero, and Pomegranate
  • Kabocha Squash Gratin with Rajas and Queso Fresco
	Grilled Quail, Farro, Roasted Squash, Cavolo Nero, and Pomegranate
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Umami Burger
850 South La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 931-3000
www.umamiburger.com
Hours: Daily 11am-11pm

4655 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 669-3922
www.umamiburger.com
Hours: Daily 11am-12am

1520 North Cahuenga Boulevard, #7
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 469-3100
www.umamiburger.com
Hours: Daily 11am-11pm

The concept of Umami Burger is fresh, exciting, and thoughtful. 2010 Rising Star Concept Award Winner Adam Fleischman started out in wine and owned his own wine business before his entrepreneurial spirit led him to open Umami Burger, which now has three locations throughout Los Angeles. Inspired by umami—the concept of the fifth sense—Fleishman wanted to introduce the concept to people using common American foods that were already umami-rich, like burgers. He uses modern techniques and applications to get the burgers just right like adding sodium nitrate to cheese to make the texture like that of American cheese and using C-Vap combi ovens to cook the burgers. He has recently expanded the concept to include cocktails as well. 2006 Rising Star Pastry Chef Elizabeth Belkind’s Cake Money provides desserts that fit with the concept, like grown up ding dongs and yodels.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Umami Burger
  • The Manly Burger
	Umami Burger
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Vertical
70 North Raymond Avenue            
Pasadena, CA 91103       
(626) 795-3999
www.verticalwinebistro.com
Hours: Tue-Thur 6pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 6pm-10:45pm; Sun 5pm-9:30pm

Vertical is a hip wine bar located up a flight of stairs in downtown Pasadena. The restaurant offers small plates as well as more substantial fare and a list of over 400 wines. Chef Doug Westin prepares California-inspired cuisine that is wine-friendly. Managing Director David Haskell does double duty as a talented sommelier and works closely with Westin to create a wine and food program that is in harmony. Haskell goes far outside the box, often offering two pairings to demonstrate the distinct influence that wine and food have on each other. Sake, Tequila, and beer are all in Haskell’s ammunition of potential beverages to pair. Ask him to try the red wine with Skittles for a fun exercise that shows how much what you’re eating can change the wine you are drinking.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Escolar with Spinach Pesto, Black-Eyed Peas, and Fin Herb Veloute
  • Crab Cake with Cilantro Puree, Chanterelle, Pickled Fennel, and Old Bay Cream
	Crab Cake with Cilantro Puree, Chanterelle, Pickled Fennel, and Old Bay Cream
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Water Grill
544 South Grand
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 891.0900
www.watergrill.com
Hours: Mon-Tues 11:30am-9pm; Wed-Fri 11:30am-10pm; Sat 5pm-10pm; Sun 4:30pm-9pm

For excellent service and food inspired by the sea, there is no better place in Los Angeles than the Water Grill. The restaurant is in downtown, so it’s usually packed with theatergoers and downtown businesspeople having a working lunch. 2006 Rising Star Chef David LeFevre’s plating is harmonious and simple, as are the flavors.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Hand-Cut Blue Fin Tuna Tartar with Avocado, Red Radish and Green Peppercorn Vinaigrette
  • Slow-Poached Wild Columbia River Sturgeon with Roasted and Puree of Red Beets, Spinach, Red Radish and Horseradish-Celery Sauce
Chef David LeFevre's Scallops
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Whisknladle
1044 Wall St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 551-7575
www.whisknladle.com
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm

Whisknladle in La Jolla is a cute restaurant with outdoor tables and a porch where diners can people watch. Chef Ryan Johnston is all about sustainability, house-made charcuterie, and cooking good, straightforward food. His cuisine is homey and unadorned, and is reminiscent of what your mom or grandmother would serve. Crispy sweetbreads are served with a soul-satisfying combination of sprouts, lentils, and bacon for a warming, nourishing dish.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Seared Scallops with Indian Spices and Raita
  • Crispy Sweetbreads with Sprouts, Lentils, and Bacon
	Seared Scallops with Indian Spices and Raita
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Wilshire
2454 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 586-1707
www.wilshirerestaurant.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; Mon-Sat 6pm-10pm; Sun 5:30pm-9:30pm

Wilshire inhabits a large, chic space in Santa Monica that includes a bar, traditional dining room, large outdoor patio, and tree house-like private dining area. Chef Andrew Kirschner draws on an eclectic array of cuisines with a large Asian influence to create fun dishes with a global influence. In his signature dish Thai snapper is dramatically presented sitting up on the plate, face in tact, with a side of soda noodles to round out the meal. General Manager Nick Felding, who we first met at Little Palm Island in Key West, Florida, also knows the wine list up and down and will gladly suggest pairings to complement Kirschner’s food.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Duck Breast with Wild Rice, Chestnuts, and Dried Cherry Chutney
  • Thai Snapper with Soba Noodles
	Duck Breast with Wild Rice, Chestnuts, and Dried Cherry Chutney
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Wine Vault and Bistro
3731-A India Street
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-3939
www.winevaultbistro.com
Hours vary

Open only three nights a week for dinner service, Chef Bobby Matos of Wine Vault and Bistro designs his weekly changing tasting and prix-fixe menus around the ever-shifting wine offerings, turning out dishes that are specifically created to pair well with that night’s featured wine flight. On Thursday and Friday nights, Wine Vault offers guests a $20 three-course prix-fixe menu that may be paired with an optional red, white, mixed, or featured wine flight, each of which usually comes in at under $20. Saturday night’s offerings include a chef’s five-course tasting menu for $30; each course is designed to pair with a wine or liquor on Saturday’s special wine flight, priced at a mere $20. The brainchild of Owner and Sommelier Chris Gluck, Wine Vault and Bistro is an innovative concept that other chefs and restaurateurs can learn from.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Wild Ramp-Buttermilk Biscuit and Acacia Honey
  • Sweet Pea Agnolotti with Ham Hock Broth
	Sweet Pea Agnolotti with Ham Hock Broth
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The Bazaar
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 246-5555
www.thebazaar.com
Hours: Sat-Sun 11am-5pm; Sun-Wed 6pm-10pm; Thurs-Sat 6pm-11pm

The hip and happening bar at Jose Andres’ highly modern The Bazaar is as much a draw as the restaurant. Mixologist Lucas Paya mixes drinks that are in line with the restaurant, bringing together classic flavors with modern techniques. For example, The Bazaar has taken the concept of a roving caipirhina bar and revamped it with the help of liquid nitrogen to make tableside Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinhas. The space is as fun as the drinks, with video screens embedded in the bar, a real bazaar that patrons can browse, and multiple rooms to drink and dine in.

Recommended Drinks:

  • Liquid Nitrogen Caipirhina
  • The Ultimate Gin and Tonic
	The Ultimate Gin and Tonic
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Café Pierre
317 Manhattan Beach Boulevard   
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266      
(310) 545-5252    
www.cafepierre.com
Hours: Sun-Wed 5:30pm-10pm; Thur-Sat 5:30pm-11pm

Mixologist Tristan Price is a recent transplant from the west coast and a New York Milk & Honey alum. He’s revamped the cocktail menu at Manhattan Beach’s French bistro Café Pierre where he’s introducing the vodka martini-loving beach crowd to the concepts of craft cocktails and spirit-food pairings. Price bases his cocktails on classics and adds his own touches, like a gin martini that he infuses with Earl Grey tea and finishes with foamy egg whites. And his take on a Whisky Smash couldn’t be simpler with bourbon whisky, mint, simple syrup, and lemon wedges and reminds us why it’s a classic.

Recommended Drinks:

  • Pimm's Cup
  • Earl Grey Tea Infused Tanquerey Gin Martini with Egg Whites
	Earl Grey Tea Infused Tanquerey Gin Martini w Egg Whites
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The Doheny
714 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angles, CA 90013
www.thedoheny.com

The Doheny is Cedd Moses’ exclusive, members only club hidden (literally) in an office building in downtown Los Angeles. Dark, wood-paneled walls, leather booths, and a cozy patio with built in fireplace fit the underground hideout feel of the lounge. Mixologist Joel Black mixes classically inspired cocktails served in vintage glassware for his discerning clientele. His Fields of Gold cocktail combines house-made honey syrup with bourbon whisky, orange, and lemon for a masculine drink with a hint of sweetness that goes down smooth

Recommended Drinks:

  • Fields of Gold
  • The First Word
	The First Word
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George’s California Modern
1250 Prospect Street
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 454-4244
www.georgesatthecove.com
Hours: Mon-Thurs 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sun 5pm-10pm

Although George’s California Modern is known by most as a restaurant, their bar program should not be overlooked. Mixologist Frankie Thaheld can be found tending bar around town, and is heavily influenced by the classics. He’s not afraid to play around with ingredients, as in the refreshing, sweet and sour Bee Sting Cocktail that combines rye whiskey with blood orange, house-made Buddha’s hand syrup, and Angostura bitters. Kumquat is the main flavor in this bright red drink with honey smoothing over the sour of the lemongrass and spice of the ginger.

Recommended Drinks:

  • Bee Sting
  • Brooklyn Buddha
	Bee Sting
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The Hungry Cat
1537 Vine Street
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 462-2155
www.thehungrycat.com
Hours: Mon-Wed 12pm-11pm; Thur-Sat 12pm-12am; Sun 11am-11pm

At The Hungry Cat in Hollywood, Danielle Motor muddles and mixes fresh, organic, local produce to create specialty cocktails with oddball flavor combinations frequently inspired by people—both patrons and movie characters alike. Her Coolidge cocktail, for example, is based on the various kooky characters of the actress Jennifer Coolidge and The Second Act is inspired by a burlesque dancer. Motor carries over a lot of flavors from prior kitchen experience in New York (at city hot spots Balthazar and Prune) to her liquid concoctions.

Recommended Drinks:

  • Second Act
  • Black Heart
	Black Heart
+ Click image to enlarge

Nine-Ten
910 Prospect Street
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 964-5400
www.nine-ten.com
Hours: Daily 11am-10pm

At Nine-Ten in La Jolla, Mixologist Mike Yen slings drinks in his own fun, adventurous style, unbridled by any old-fashioned cocktail conventions or etiquette. A molecular mixologist at heart, Yen’s favorite source of inspiration is Grant Achatz’s Alinea and his favorite tool is a syringe. His Smoked Turkey cocktail hits the bar literally smoking (thanks to a small chip of dry ice) and he legitimizes the jello shot, offering it in a trio of Key lime preparations that include the use of molecular staples like Ultratex 3 and carrageenan.

Recommended Drinks:

  • Purple Rain
  • Smoked Turkey
	Smoked Turkey
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Rivera
1050 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 749-1460
www.riverarestaurant.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sun 5:30pm-10pm

Working behind the bar at Rivera, a contemporary Latin restaurant in downtown LA, 2010 Rising Star Mixologist Julian Cox has mastered incorporating Mexican and Southwestern ingredients into cocktails. His concoctions highlight fresh, often savory, ingredients and combine unusual flavors for drinks that go down easy and often pack a little heat. His Barbacoa Cocktail includes mezcal, chipotle puree, agave nectar, and ginger syrup and is garnished with a large piece of beef jerky. And much like Chef Jon Sedlar’s dishes, Cox often has a story behind his cocktails: The Donaji was inspired by an ancient Oaxacan cocktail that was originally made for an Aztec princess who threw herself off a building because she couldn’t marry the man she wanted. For the finishing touch, Cox rims the glass with chapulin salt, which is made from a combination of salt and roasted crickets.

Recommended Drinks:

  • Blood Sugar Sex Magic
  • Barbacoa
	Barbacoa
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The Roger Room
370 North La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 854-1300
Hours: Daily 6pm-2am

One of the few serious cocktail spots outside of downtown Los Angeles, The Roger Room is a hip, intimate speakeasy. Australian-born Damian Windsor serves fun cocktails that range from classics to combinations completely out of his imagination. In his variation on a Mule, Windsor serves the drink in a Pilsner glass garnished with candied ginger from Australia (which Windsor declares to be the best source of candied ginger). A simple syrup spiked with vanilla, nutmeg, and ginger combined with the spicy Sailor Jerry Navy Rum delivers punch and vigor. His Four Aces cocktail is less about warm spices and more about being refreshing with basil, white grapes, vodka, Domaine de Canton, lime juice, and a splash of club soda.

Recommended Drinks:

  • Four Aces
  • The Spice Mule
	The Spice Mule
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The Tasting Kitchen
1633 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291  
310.3926644
www.thetastingkitchen.com
Hours: Daily 6pm-11pm

At The Tasting Kitchen in Venice, Mixologist Devon Espinosa dabbles in house-made liquid accessories, like tonic and bitters. His Venice Cure-All is your basic brown spirit cocktail flavored with Fernet-Branca and made special with his cherry-anise bitters and a house-made allspice syrup. In his own words, Espinosa claims that he’s “a sucker for anything brown with bitters.”

Recommended Drinks:

  • Bitter Rose
  • Easy Drinker
	Easy Drinker
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The Varnish
118 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 622-9999
www.thevarnishbar.com
Hours: Mon-Tue 8pm-2am, Wed-Sun 7pm-2am

Since migrating from New York to LA three years ago, 2010 Rising Star Mixologist Eric Alperin has been a key player in the revitalization of the burgeoning classic cocktail scene in downtown LA. He got his start mixing drinks at The Screening Room and Mario Batali’s Lupa before going to work for mentor and friend Sasha Petraske at Milk & Honey and Little Branch. He and Petraske, along with LA cocktail maven Cedd Moses, opened up speakeasy-style cocktail lounge The Varnish in 2009. There Alperin brings his own touch to classics, like a cozy, wintry Hot Buttered Rum and a Gin Fix prepared with house-made seasonal pomegranate grenadine.

Recommended Drinks:

  • The Gin Fix
  • The Holland Razor Blade
	The Gin Fix
+ Click image to enlarge

Whisknladle
1044 Wall St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 551-7575
www.whisknladle.com
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm

At La Jolla’s popular Whisknladle restaurant, Mixologist Ian Ward (who was named Best Mixologist in San Diego in 2008) serves fun cocktails with a spicy kick and Mexican influence. Ward uses only fresh, local produce in his creative cocktails that include creative combinations. Maria’s Sangria is made with coriander-infused tequila and roasted red peppers and London’s Burning is made with jalapenos, avocado, and gin.

Recommended Drinks:

  • London’s Burning
  • Maria’s Sangria
	London’s Burning
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Andaz West Hollywood camera
8401 West Sunset Boulevard                         
West Hollywood, CA 90069       
(323) 785-6090
www.westhollywood.hyatt.com
Rooms start at $196

Conveniently located right on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, the stylish Andaz is great as a base for travel to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Downtown.  The boutique hotel has lots of modern touches like motion sensitive bathroom lights and ipod docks in the gyms’s cardio equipment. There is no front desk; instead the helpful hotel staff come to you and check in with a laptop. The rooms are stocked with complementary snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, morning coffee and pastry is available in the lobby, and  they offer wine to guests in the lobby after 5pm. A sexy rooftop lounge and pool area offers panaramic views of the city. In the hotel’s RH Restaurant Chef Sebastien Archambault cooks food inspired by his homeland of France, like the decadent Perigourdine-Poached Egg with Field Mushrooms, Foie Gras, and Summer Truffle.

	Andaz West Hollywood
+ Click image to enlarge
 

Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows
101 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(319) 899-4129
www.fairmont.com/santamonica
Rooms start at $299

The Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows is an oasis where guests can get away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles or venture out into quiet, walkable Santa Monica. Located on the corner of Wilshire and Ocean, the luxury hotel is across the street from the ocean and a quick stroll to the bustling Third Street Promenade. The villas that surround the stunning pool are well appointed with luxury linens and amenities and offer private patios adjoining each room. Visit the highly rated Exhale Spa to relax in the steam room and sauna, choose from a range of spa therapies, or take a fitness class like yoga or the challenging Core Fusion. Have a glass of wine in the stylish lobby bar or grab a bite at Fig, where 2010 Rising Star Sustainability Chef Ray Garcia cooks creative food with an emphasis on local, seasonal produce and sustainable meat and seafood. 2006 Rising Star Chef Sean Hardy is now the GM of the hotel, and brings his background in food and beverage to the expert managing of the property. The staff at Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows are incredibly welcoming and helpful and are quick to do anything that will make your stay more pleasant.

	Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows
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Grand del Mar
5300 Grand Del Mar Court
San Diego, CA 92130
(858) 314-2000
www.thegranddelmar.com
Rooms start at $345

Tucked away amidst the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in Del Mar, the palatial Grand Del Mar is a luxury resort that combines old-world charm with modern elegance. The hotel has only been open since 2007 but has already received numerous praise and accolades, including the AAA Five Diamond Award. The Grand del Mar offers complimentary fitness classes, transportation within 14 miles, and wireless internet in each room. The hotel places as much emphasis on being environmentally friendly (they maintain wetland areas, have a resort-wide recycling program, and turn green waste into mulch) as they do on providing a luxury experience (they offer a world-class spa and stunning pool). One of the biggest draws of the hotel, though, is Addison, the five-star restaurant where 2010 Rising Star Chef William Bradley and Rising Star Sommelier Jesse Rodriguez are an unstoppable duo, working together to give guests the best food and wine experience possible.

	Grand del Mar
+ Click image to enlarge
 

Hotel del Coronado camera
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118
(619) 435-6611
www.hoteldel.com
Rooms start at $355

Staying at the Hotel del Coronado is like going back in time. The iconic hotel is a Coronado landmark that was built in 1888 and has retained its classic architecture, while the rooms have received makeovers to give them modern, luxury touches. The Hotel del Coronado may be most recognized for its starring role in the 1958 Marilyn Monroe film, Some Like It Hot, which was filmed on site. Today, that classic feel remains with old-fashioned elevators that are manually operated by uniformed bellmen, dark wood walls in the lobby, and those easily identifiable red turrets. In the winter time a massive Christmas tree decorates the lobby and an ice skating rink is set up right on the beach. There is also a swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and shopping area for guests to enjoy. The restaurants at the hotel are some of Coronado’s best, including 1500 Ocean where Chef Brian Sinnott cooks Italian-inspired California cuisine.

	Hotel del Coronado
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Hotel Oceana camera
849 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 393-0486
www.hoteloceanasantamonica.com
Rooms start at $350

The Hotel Oceana features stylish suites right across from the beach. The stylish swimming pool and lounge area sit in the center of the hotel and act as the central communal area. The large rooms are homey and very comfortable with a separate living room complete with couch, coffee table, and desk. The hotel’s restaurant, Ocean Lounge is located just off the pool and provides guests with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. German-born Chef Joseph Feldman prepares a range of dishes, from an elegant Fig Canape with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese and Balsamic Reduction to bistro classics like Steak Frites.

	Hotel Oceana
+ Click image to enlarge
 

Luxe Hotel Sunset Boulevard
11461 Sunset Boulevard 
Los Angeles, CA 90049 
(310) 584-1939
www.luxehotelsunsetblvd.com
Rooms start at $209 

Although the Luxe Hotel Sunset Boulevard is situated in the city between Brentwood and Bel-Air, the seven acres of property it sits on make it easy to forget all that. With an outdoor heated swimming pool, tennis court, spa, and fitness center, guests don’t have to leave the hotel unless they want to. The 160 spacious guest rooms are smartly decorated and fitted with luxury linens and amenities.  


 

Montage Laguna Beach
30802 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651 
(949) 715-6116
www.montagelagunabeach.com
Rooms start at $500 

Situated on a cliff overlooking 30 acres of beach and the Pacific Ocean, Montage Laguna Beach is a luxury resort with high end amenities. The feathertop beds have 400-thread count bed linens and goose down pillows, and the rooms have ocean-view balconies and oversized bathtubs. A large pool sits at the center of the complex and the hotel boasts a world class spa and state of the art fitness center. Chef Craig Strong is at the head of the fine dining restaurant, Studio, located on the hotel grounds. 

	Montage Laguna Beach
+ Click image to enlarge
 

Sé San Diego
1047 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 515-3000
www.sesandiego.com
Rooms start at $250
 

Guests enter the Sé San Diego through the dramatic, massive bronze pivot door into a chic lobby with cushioned lounges and lamps suspended from the ceiling that resemble jellyfish. There are other fun decorative touches: objects (including lamps and the front desk) covered in stingray skin, a sand dollar motif, and ceramic fins. The comfortable rooms have floor to ceiling windows, plush beds, and luxury amenities. A rooftop pool doubles as a hip bar and lounge in the evening. Complementary coffee is offered in the hotel lobby each morning, or guests can take breakfast in the hotel restaurant, Suite and Tender

Sé San Diego
+ Click image to enlarge
 

Sunset Marquis Hotel
1200 Alta Loma Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 657-1333
www.sunsetmarquishotel.com
Rooms start at $295 

Since 1963 the Sunset Marquis Hotel has attracted celebrities, rock stars, and Hollywood’s elite. Besides the usual hotel amenities, the Sunset Marquis also boasts a state of the art recording studio. Lounge with the stars at the stunning outdoor pool or visit the spa for a manicure to clean up those kitchen hands. Private villas are the size of apartments with a separate living room, up to 1,000 square feet of space, large freestanding tubs, and beds that you sink into. Walk along the serene, jungle-like path over a stream and foot bridge to visit Chef Guillaume Burlion at Restaurant to sample decadent, French-inspired dishes like Osetra Caviar with Crème Fraiche and Belinis, Poached Scallops Napoleon, and Poached Alaskan King Crab.  

	Sunset Marquis Hotel
+ Click image to enlarge
 

Tower 23
4551 Ocean Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 270-2323
www.tower23hotel.com
Rates start at $199 

Tower 23 Hotel is a luxury hotel situated right on the beach (the name comes from lifeguard tower 23, which is near the hotel). Conveniently located between La Jolla and downtown San Diego, the hotel is perfectly situated to explore either both beach communities and urban centers. The guest rooms are sleek with a minimalist aesthetic, modern furniture, and private balconies. Bathrooms feature chromatherapy bathtubs, step in rain showers, and Egyptian cotton bath towels. And be sure to stop by JRDN to check out Chef David Warner’s market-driven cuisine.


 

 
 
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