We might not have L.A.’s consistently pleasant weather (or its actually-kinda-affordable rent), but New Yorkers no longer have to hop on a flight to scarf down some of the country’s most Instagrammed burgers or partake in one of the freshest (and most affordable) omakases. In recent years, West Coast restaurants have been arriving in droves—and we, for one, don’t hate it. Read on to discover some of our favorite imports, plus a few spots we’re still trying to convince to set up shop out east.
9 Beloved L.A. Restaurants That Made the Jump to NYC (and 3 We Wish Would Open ASAP)
While the flagship of this buzzy Italian chain owned by Soho House & Co. is in London, its West Hollywood location has long been known as a haunt of the glitterati. Its newest outpost, located in Dumbo, is no less glamorous, featuring exposed brick walls and stunning views of the water. Standout menu items include the creamy ricotta served with truffle honey and perfectly crispy wood-oven pizza with toppings like black truffle and zucchini blossom.
55 Water St., Brooklyn; 718-650-3900 or cecconisdumbo.com
One of the newest Angeleno imports, this Mediterranean small-plates restaurant opened late last year inside the Mondrian Park Avenue. While the spot’s impressive art collection is worth a visit alone, Cleo is most famous for its tagines, which combine both traditional and modern ingredients (and are served in very Instagrammable hand-painted Moroccan cookware). We recommend the meatball version, served with a soft egg, tomato and piquillo peppers.
444 Park Ave. S.; 646-948-2370 or sbe.com/restaurants/locations/cleo-new-york/
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s Beverly Hills steakhouse is among the most famous in the country. His New York location, which is actually the chef’s first restaurant in the city, is already a legend in the making. Located inside the sleek new Four Seasons Hotel, the all-day spot features a whopping ten cuts of steak, from USDA Prime from Kansas to Japanese Pure Wagyu. Don’t skimp on dessert, either: The Baked Alaska for two is worth wearing stretchy pants.
Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, 99 Church St.; 646-880-1995 or wolfgangpuck.com/dining/cut-new-york/
Gjelina (opening 2018)
This perpetually packed spot in Venice Beach has been working on opening an NYC location for about two years—and New Yorkers are pretty excited about it. The all-day restaurant will operate as a bakery and café during the day, with the menu shifting over to its signature farm-to-table cuisine at night. Think dozens of grilled veggies, hearty salads and pizzas that manage to impress even skeptical East Coasters. While the original spring 2018 opening may be delayed, we hope to be chowing down on mushroom toast before the end of the year.
45 Bond St.; gjelina.com
Billing itself as the original hand roll bar, this mini chain opened in NoMad last year to great acclaim. With fast service, high-quality fish and a tantalizingly low price point (six hand rolls for $28!), it’s no wonder this sliver of a restaurant has become one of the neighborhood’s mainstays. Bonus: The to-go set menus are perfect for satisfying a sushi craving on-the-fly.
15 W. 28th St.; 347-594-5940 or kazunorisushi.com
KazuNori’s big sister is this extremely popular sushi omakase spot, located just a few blocks to the south (look for the line stretching around the block). This import caused waves in NYC for good reason: Its $39 “Trust Me” set menu features some of the freshest sushi in the city at a price point that’s nearly unheard of. Looking to avoid the wait? Try going at lunch, when the crowds can be a little less overwhelming.
33 E. 20th St.; 347-705-8100 or sugarfishsushi.com
This upscale sushi spot in Greenwich Village (with a satellite branch in Midtown East) offers only two seatings and one menu: a $200 omakase that features fish hand-selected that morning by the chefs. But the price is well worth it: Even the rice is far from ordinary, soaked in a mixture of special vinegars and served at “body temperature” to be the perfect vehicle for the fish. Owner Keizo Seki opened two locations in L.A. before his New York outposts but garnered his first Michelin star right here in Manhattan.
88 W. Third St.; 646-405-4826 or sushizo.us
With a cooking style known as elevated comfort food, this L.A. chain arrived in Flatiron two months ago, much to the delight of office workers in the ’hood. Featuring a menu of colorful salads and grilled meat plates, each location is run by a classically trained chef who also creates a signature dish of the day. A recent special? Seared amberjack salad with strawberries and tangelos. Not too shabby.
900 Broadway; 212-339-7425 or tendergreens.com
“Umami”—which means something akin to “savoriness” in Japanese—is the founding principle of this L.A.-based burger chain, which has now opened two locations in New York. You can expect all the umami flavor bombs here, including roasted tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and caramelized onion. And vegetarians, rejoice: It even serves an “Impossible Burger,” a 100-percent plant-based patty that is as close to the real thing as it gets.
225 Liberty St., Suite 247; 917-728-4400 or umamiburger.com
And We're Still Waiting For…sqirl
Any New Yorker who says she doesn’t want to taste this East Hollywood café’s ricotta toast is lying. It’s called “Famed Ricotta Toast” on the menu for a reason. Alas, there are no plans yet to open a New York branch, but chef Jessica Koslow did do a pop-up at the Seaport Food Lab last summer…so we’re not giving up hope.
720 N. Virgil Ave. #4; 323-284-8147 or sqirlla.com
With over two dozen locations in California, this fast-casual concept features salads filled with crisp veggies, savory poké bowls and, of course, really delicious lemonade. The watermelon-rosemary recipe is almost enough to make us consider moving. Almost.
Multiple locations or lemonadela.com
Do we really need to explain this one? We didn’t think so.
Multiple locations or in-n-out.com