While the past decade has seen a surge in fab local dining, it has not seen the return of the prestigious restaurant-rating Michelin guide to Los Angeles. (Rumors are swirling, however, that it will be coming back.) Whatever, Michelin guide people. We’re eating world-class meals at these restos, which have opened since your list left town in 2009. (Our list is of newish restos, but by no means let us discourage you from dining at Melisse, Providence, Spago or Urasawa, Michelin star awardees of old.) Book a table at one of these ASAP—because you don’t need no stinkin’ star to be assured you’re eating at the center of the food universe.
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Eclectic vegetable-forward dishes are the draw here, as dreamed up by chef Juan Pablo Torre, who trained with Michelin chefs in Europe and is inspired by his global travels. That means Peruvian-style branzino that is fried in olive oil and served with ramen, a jicama and papaya salad and a sweet-and-spicy orange yuzu dipping sauce. Its skin is scored to encourage diners to eat in the style of Peruvian street food (i.e., with your hands).
820 S. Spring St.; 213-947-3815 or bargarcia.com
This new restaurant-within-a-restaurant (the Bazaar by José Andrés is a ten-seat counter where you watch chefs prepare your 20-course tasting menu. With wild molecular gastronomy and inventive presentation, the two top chefs’ training at Catalonia’s legendary three-star Michelin restaurant El Bulli is obvi. (Get a load of the truffle-scented caviar served like snuff on a wooden hand.) Bonus: Each seat has its own overhead light for your perfect food shot.
SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, 465 S. La Cienega Blvd.; 310-246-5543 or sbe.com
Imagine Rick Owens’ luxe goth designs as a meal, and you’ve got Vespertine. As much an art installation as a restaurant, everything from the wavy iron architecture of the building to the uniforms of the servers is thought out by chef Jordan Kahn (alum of Chicago’s three-star Alinea), whose 18-course tasting menu has drawn raves from critics and lay foodies alike. But remember, it’s meant to be dramatic, so no giggling when you’re served courses of fruit leather or a dollop of cream of smoked duck liver, carob and hyssop.
3599 Hayden Ave., Culver City; 323-320-4023 or vespertine.la
Vegetables warmed with goat’s butter and turbot prepared with ham and parsley are two of the delicious dishes on the current spring menu at Maude. This beloved restaurant from Curtis Stone (acolyte of mercurial three-star Michelin chef Marco Pierre White) reinvented itself in January, using wine as the inspiration for its four seasonal menus a year. Currently, the wine is French Burgundy, but starting in July, we’re anticipating great things from the wines of the “American Riviera,” the California Central Coast.
212 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills; 310-859-3418 or mauderestaurant.com
Sushi Ginza Onodera
This global powerhouse chain operates in Hawaii, Paris, Shanghai and New York City (where it just garnered a Michelin star). Shortly after its recent L.A. opening, it became the last word in $400-per-person multi-course fish dinners. From each course’s iPad-assisted explanations to the chef's knife skills, the little details as well as the focus—wild catch flown straight from Japan—are going to give any sushi lover something to long remember.
609 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood; 323-433-4817 or onodera-group.com
In his praise-studded mini empire of fried-chicken joints and French bistros, Trois Mec is chef Ludo Lefebvre’s crown jewel. The Frenchman’s time with three Michelin-starred French chefs is apparent in the exacting technique he brings to bear on dishes such as black pepper honey duck with squid ink, foie gras butter, eggplant and red shiso. But the business sense (you have to buy tickets so that even if you miss your reservation, he’s not out of pocket) and location (hidden speakeasy-style in a strip mall) are pure Cali cool. Trust us—for spectacle, deliciousness and value, a $150 seat here is money well spent.
716 Highland Ave.; 323-484-8588 or troismec.com