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A photo collage of various sandwiches, pasta dishes and vegan meals
Clockwise from top left: pork al pastor gringa from Atla; roast beef and horseradish sandwich from Tre Mani; spaghetti alle vongole from Mona Pasta Bar; breakfast sandwich from Denae’s Diner; selection of vegan plates from Justine’s Wine Bar.
(Collage by Brandon Ly / Los Angeles Times, photos by Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times, Denae’s Diner)

The best places to eat and drink in L.A. right now, according to our food writers

September is a month of transition. School is back in session and, at least according to the calendar, summer turns to fall. Elsewhere that might mean bringing out cozy clothing and peeping the fall leaves, but here in Southern California, the arrival of autumn only indicates more stubbornly high temperatures and an anxiety-provoking fire season. At the same time, just like a kid when the last bell rings, it’s hard to not want to break away from your desk and take on the city at the end of a work day, to savor those long, balmy evenings while you can.

The silver lining of our endless summer? It’s always the right time for ice cream. L.A.’s best ice cream parlors include a century-old soda fountain, a hip-hop-themed creamery, a gelato vending machine and much more, while soft serve spots range from smashburger joints to creamy vegan goodness to New Zealand-style ice cream. In the Food section’s recent ice cream package, we highlight our favorite restaurant desserts and vegan milkshakes and give guidance on everything from the best ice cream scoopers to use at home to a ranking of every paleta flavor at Mateo’s Ice Cream and Fruit Bars. We even spotlight the figures behind our favorite frozen delights, like the Latina woman who’s infusing cultural flavors into her ice cream while promoting mental health and the fascinating characters behind neighborhood ice cream trucks.

And if you’re looking for something hearty or savory before or after dessert, our writers have you covered there too. This month’s dining hit list includes a vintage-inspired diner in downtown L.A., a sarcastic scoop shop in Echo Park, new sushi and BBQ vendors in Grand Central Market, a long-awaited pizzeria in Culver City and much more.

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A pizza with a cocktail and other dishes on a wooden table
(Pascal Shirley / Best Bet)

Best Bet

Culver City Pizza $$
A highly anticipated pizzeria has debuted in a vintage A-frame building that once housed an IHOP on the edge of west Culver City, courtesy of the Rose chef-owner Jason Neroni and his wife and business partner, Jennifer Horan. The menu at Best Bet fuses Italian cuisine with California seasonality, including a section that highlights of-the-moment produce in current dishes such as coal-roasted stone fruits with pistachio puree and Murray Farms yellow crimson watermelons with pickled jalape?o yogurt and chicharron. Naturally, there’s plenty of pizza — three styles, in fact. The montanara is a Naples-born creation where the pizza dough is fried before it’s slathered in toppings like sheep’s milk ricotta, guanciale, peaches, olive crumble and Persian mint. Cast-iron-baked foccacia pizza is also available, including a white carbonara pie with crescenza cheese, 24-month-aged Parmesan, smoked bacon and a poached egg. Finally, those who prefer New York- and Neapolitan-style slices will find several options, ranging from a meaty Godzilla pizza with garlic sausage, pepperoni, bacon and black garlic sauce to another option called David Foster with lobster, ‘nduja vodka sauce, sliced garlic, breadcrumbs and mozzarella. There are also a handful of dips available to order alongside your pizza. Roasted garlic knots, starters, pastas, large-format dishes and desserts including house-made burrata gelato round out the menu. Plan ahead to snag a reservation at what’s proving to be one of the most popular summer openings on the Westside.
Read about the highly anticipated pizzeria from chef Jason Neroni.
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An overhead photo of pho beef carpaccio on a round white plate
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Di Di

Beverly Grove Vietnamese $$
As TikTok and other social media platforms continue to influence dining habits, driving users to flood restaurants for specific dishes or to catch a certain vibe, the chef personalities behind those accounts also are entering L.A.’s restaurant scene. In West Hollywood, Di Di, a Vietnamese restaurant from digital creator Tue Nguyen — also known as @twaydabae — holds up to the hype, featuring staple dishes like sesame noodles, shrimp toast, spring rolls and a rendition of her stepfather Kevin’s pho that includes Wagyu and bone marrow. Nguyen also gets inventive with plates such as a Caesar salad that swaps croutons for crispy chicken skin, Wagyu beef carpaccio with pho spices and bánh xèo where the crispy rice pancake gets the taco treatment with a crunchy coconut crepe. The tuna tartare is another standout with tubes of tuna, jicama, cucumber and avocado in a tamarind and pickled garlic vinaigrette, served with a giant rice cracker puff that’s dusted with makrut lime powder.
Read about Tue Nguyen’s debut restaurant.
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A trio of herb-topped jollof arancini in a black bowl from Ubuntu restaurant on Melrose
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Ubuntu

Fairfax West African Soul Food $$
James Beard semifinalist Shenarri “Greens” Freeman, behind New York’s Cadence restaurant, has opened Ubuntu, a seasonally minded, plant-based restaurant that draws upon West African ingredients and cuisine. The plush, jewel-toned interior is the perfect backdrop for date night, with a creative menu that pulls influences from across the African diaspora. Think: crispy arancini bursting with curried jollof rice, a savory empanada-like pie stuffed with Lion’s Mane, a charred okra salad with pigeon peas and a palm bisque. African- and Black-led liquor, wine and beer labels contribute to the beverage list, with standouts such as a sobolo sangria. Nonalcoholic options are just as complex, like the sobolo mule with hibiscus, grains of paradise, pomegranate, coconut water, ginger and seltzer. Freeman hopes to introduce a Soul Food Sundays dinner series in the near future.
Read about Shenarri Freeman’s first L.A. restaurant.
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A selection of small plates including scallops on a white marble tabletop, with a glass and bottle of wine
(Stan Lee / Xuntos)

Xuntos

Santa Monica Spanish Tapas $$
Fans of chef Sandra Cordero’s Spanish-hued Gasolina Cafe in Woodland Hills can now find a casual tapas sibling in Santa Monica with Xuntos. The restaurant name translates to “together” and fits the intimate, moody space that features maroon and gold accents and a wall of stacked scallop shells. The shareable menu includes gazpacho, croquetas de jamón, two empanada options, cheese plates and jamón Iberico, gambas al ajillo, squid ink pasta and more, with a selection of conservas. On the beverage side you’ll find Spanish and California wines, sherry, vermouth and a few low-ABV cocktails.
Read about Sandra Cordero’s new Santa Monica tapas bar.
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An overhead of a spread of food and glass of wine on the Justine's Wine Bar patio: croquettes, shishitos, Moroccan cigars
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Justine's Wine Bar

Elysian Valley Wine Bars $$
Sneak behind Justine Hernandez’s vegan Frogtown bakery and slip into her vibrant new neighborhood wine bar with a jewel-toned, jungle-inspired mural and velvet, bubble-gum-pink seats. Similar to Hernandez’s Just What I Kneaded bakery, all of the food here is vegan. Just What I Kneaded staffer Simone Schlanger is leading the kitchen and putting Hernandez’s dough knowledge to use with a selection of 10-inch pizzas dressed with soy- and nut-based cheeses and vegetable toppings. Moroccan cigars with Impossible ground beef served with mint yogurt and cheese croquettes with saffron aioli are just a couple of the shareable dishes. Wines run the gamut from European and Californian labels to Old World and funky, new styles.
Read more about Frogtown’s new vegan wine bar.
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A br?léed banana split and platter of frozen grapes on a cowhide booth at Echo Park's Fluffy McCloud's
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Fluffy McCloud's

Echo Park Ice cream $
From Nick Fisher, the owner of El Prado bar that’s just across the street, Fluffy McCloud’s is a quirky new scoop shop with fun design details like a glowing installation of the planet Saturn that hangs next to the cash register, a gumball-style machine that dispenses Lactaid and a vat of hot fudge that’s labeled “bean soup.” Flavors such as Pistachiyoyoyoyo, Strawberry Swan and vegan chocolate cashew can be ordered on their own, in a banana split with br?léed fruit or on a float, in addition to half-pints and pints. Coffee drinks including an affogato are available, as well as cheese and ham-and-cheese sandwiches, frozen grapes served on a silver platter and teas.
Read about Echo Park’s newest scoop shop.
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Two stacked halves of a roast beef sandwich with radicchio and horseradish cream on a white plate
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Tre Mani

Santa Monica Italian $$
Stop by Santa Monica’s wood-fired pizzeria Ghisallo during lunchtime to enjoy enormous Roman-style sandwiches designed by chef Travis Passeroti (the Tasting Kitchen) with bread from Jyan Issac Horowitz’s bakery, which also shares the space. Find options such as mortadella with fennel and provolone, roast beef with horseradish and balsamic onions, and smoky eggplant with Calabrian chile, mint, tomato and burrata, all served on fluffy, chewy schiacciata flatbread. Tre Mani is open for lunch Tuesday through Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m.
Read about the lunchtime sandwich shop in Ghisallo.
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Al pastor gringa with pineapple butter at Enrique Olvera's Atla
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Atla

Venice Mexican $$
Mexican chef Enrique Olvera has opened a new location of Atla, his popular New York restaurant, in a large, breezy space next to Evan Funke’s Felix on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Expect casual, everyday dishes headed by Marisol Corona, who also led the kitchen in NYC; most menu items are pulled from the original menu, with a few exclusive-to-Venice plates including a lobster burrito and a bright and citrusy carrot salad tossed in a turmeric dressing. Favorite items that have made the journey from East to West Coast include tacos with fillings like Brussels sprouts tossed in spicy peanut butter and juicy suadero with avocado and salsa cruda, potato and cheese flautas and barbacoa with consommé, plus an array of agave-based cocktails; agua frescas with seasonal flavor combinations like palo santo, cucumber and yuzu; and churros or tres leches cake for dessert.
Read about Enrique Olvera’s latest opening in Venice.
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French fries, a sandwich in a bun, French toast and a mimosa
(顿别苍补别’蝉)

Denae's Diner

Downtown L.A. American $
What once was a happening hangout with an infamous rooftop pool has reopened as the Delphi hotel, a sleek, jade-hued destination. While future plans include a new rooftop space with a secret garden and pool, Denae’s, a retro diner with indoor and outdoor seating, has opened on the ground floor. Open from 6:30 a.m. to midnight seven days a week with an all-day menu, stop by for breakfast items like a croissant B.E.C., a stack of pancakes, chilaquiles and brisket hash; handhelds like a mushroom melt, a fish taco with tempura cod and a turkey club on pretzel bread; plus salads and four different potato options that can be dialed up with a combination of chili, cheese, bacon and/or caramelized onion. Shakes, puddings and pies comprise the dessert section, or you can go glam with caviar service that includes mini pancakes, chives, eggs and crème fra?che. The beverage list offers wine, beer, seltzer and cocktails, including frozen options.
Check out the new hotel diner in downtown L.A.
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Meat on skewers, cucumber chunks, a pyramid of rice and other dishes on a round plate
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

LaaLaaPan

Woodland Hills Indonesian $
Lili Wnahyu opened her LaaLaaPan restaurant in Woodland Hills in June, serving dishes inspired by the ones she grew up watching her grandmother make in her restaurant in North Jakarta, Indonesia. Food columnist Jenn Harris recommends the nasi goreng, which Wnahyu prepares the same way her grandma did, with bitter sator beans, cabbage, peppers and diced chicken stirred into a platter of rice with a fried egg on top and a giant shrimp chip tucked alongside. Harris also advises getting the nasi tumpeng mini, which acts as a combo plate featuring the best options from the menu, including beef rendang, two chicken sate skewers with peanut sauce, stir-fried noodles, orek tempeh and tendrils of an egg omelet, with pickled cucumbers, a dash of sambal and a tower of turmeric coconut rice in the middle.
Read about the new wave of Indonesian restaurants in L.A.
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A paper barbecue tray of ribs, brisket, pickles, sauce and onions with mac and cheese from Maple Block Meat Co.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Maple Block in Grand Central Market

Downtown L.A. Barbecue $$
The historic food hall Grand Central Market has been bustling since 1917 but never proves stale, with new vendors cycling in all the time. Culver City barbecue staple Maple Block Meat Co. has just opened on the patio in the space formerly occupied by Horsethief. Expect wood-smoked meats slathered in red, spicy red or white barbecue sauce that’s served simply with sides like mac and cheese and coleslaw, stuffed into sandwiches, piled onto seasonal salads or over French fries that are also slathered in cheese sauce and other toppings. House-made sodas, lemonade and a couple of desserts including smoked chocolate chip cookies round out the menu.
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Cher's new gelato truck offers cups and cones, including a gold-coated cone.
(Cherlato)

Cherlato

Hollywood Ice cream $
A roving gelato truck is now cruising Los Angeles thanks to actress and pop star Cher, who collaborated with Giapo Grazioli of New Zealand’s Giapo gelato shop on the sweet new venture Cherlato. “Normal ice cream is boring” is the tagline for Grazioli’s shop and an ethos that’s brought to Cherlato, along with a focus on local purveyors. Flavors like SoCal’s Coldest Avocado on Toast feature avocados from Ventura County and Bill’s Bees avocado blossom honey; Breakfast at Cher’s Coffee and Donuts is made in partnership with Alana’s Coffee Roasters in Venice. Get your selections in a cup or a cone or take your treat up a notch with a gold cone that’s rolled in a secret gold-chocolate recipe. The truck is stopping at different locations every week; check the website for the schedule.
Read about Cher’s gelato truck.
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A plate of spaghetti alle vongole, clams front and center, from wine bar and restaurant Mona Pasta Bar.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Mona Pasta Bar

Downtown L.A. Italian $$
A stylish new Italian-leaning restaurant with house-made pastas has arrived in the former 9th St. Ramen space from downtown resident Devin Carlson, whose design agency also outfitted the blush pink and white-tiled space. Executive chef Freylin Morales (All Time, Café Stella, L&E Oyster Bar) is behind dishes like a pappardelle Bolognese with veal and prosciutto, fried calamari and veal chop Milanese, and the wine list is almost entirely Italian bottles, with an emphasis on low-intervention wines.
Read about downtown’s new Italian restaurant.
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Red and yellow storefront of Mr. Charlie's new bricks-and-mortar in Venice Beach.
(Danielle Dorsey / Los Angeles Times)

Mr. Charlie's Venice

Venice Vegan Burgers $
Mr. Charlie’s, a vegan fast-food spot with locations on La Brea and in San Francisco that plays on McDonalds iconography with a bright ketchup-and-mustard storefront and “Frowny Meals” in place of Happy Meals, has just opened a new location on the Venice Boardwalk. The growing brand from Charlie Kim has a simple menu, including Not a Hamburger with an Impossible patty, Not a Cheeseburger with vegan cheese and the same patty, the Big Chuck modeled after a Big Mac with three buns and two Impossible patties, a Not Chicken Sandwich and Not Chicken Nuggets, plus French fries. Kim hopes to get more people eating plant-based food and also partners with organizations like the Dream Center to staff Mr. Charlie restaurants with people who are transitioning out of homelessness or incarceration.
Read about the new Mr. Charlie’s location in Venice.
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A nigiri sampler on a cardboard tray with one salmon temaki from Grand Central Market vendor Sushi Rush
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Sushi Rush in Grand Central Market

Downtown L.A. Sushi $$
Joining Maple Block Meat Co. at Grand Central Market is Sushi Rush, a new fast-casual concept from Tomohiko “Tomo” Kawamura (Katusya, Jinpachi) and Nao Kikuchi that specializes in nigiri and open-topped hand rolls they’ve dubbed “Rush rolls” (available a la carte or in sets). Yellowtail carpaccio, edamame, sashimi and yakigori flesh out the rest of the menu, along with shaved ice for dessert.
Read about the newest sushi vendor at Grand Central Market.
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Alameda Supper Club exterior at the ROW DTLA
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Smorgasbar

Downtown L.A. Global Bar/Nightclub $
Popping up at what was formerly Alameda Supper Club’s exterior bar is Smorgasbar, bringing a bar-focused version of the Sunday Smorgasburg market to the Row on Thursday and Friday evenings. Fernando Lopez (I Love Micheladas, Guelaguetza) oversees the bar with micheladas, cocktails and local craft beer, while his sister Bricia Lopez (Guelaguetza) curates the tequila and mezcal selection and nearby bottle shop Flask & Field provides wine and additional spirits. Favorite Smorgasburg vendors will pop up weekly; August vendors included Evil Cooks, Cali Dumpling and Dulanville. Smorgasbar runs from 4 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays until Nov. 10.
Read about the new bar popping up at the Row this summer and fall.
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Vegan burrito with scrambled tofu and refried black beans, wrapped in foil and cut in half, open to the camera
(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

Wake and Late Pasadena

Pasadena Breakfast $
One of the city’s best breakfast burrito spots has expanded to a new location in Pasadena, offering juice, tea and coffee drinks in addition to its signature burritos. Order a thick, foil-wrapped cylinder filled with proteins like bacon, steak or pastrami, plus pasture-raised eggs and tater tots, with a vegetarian option that adds pickled jalape?os and avocados and a completely vegan burrito that substitutes vegan American cheese, tofu scramble and refried black beans. The Pasadena location also has debuted “Rip and Dip” bagels, featuring boiled and baked bagels with house-made cream cheese. Additional locations in Santa Monica and Hollywood are projected to open before the end of the year.
Read about Wake and Late’s expansion to Pasadena.
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A shallow bowl of dumplings with chopsticks resting next to it
(Shutter Kitchen / Bafang Dumpling)

Bafang Dumpling Gardena

Gardena Taiwanese $
The Taiwan-based Bafang Dumpling chain continues its growth across Southern California with a new restaurant in Gardena, following locations in the City of Industry, Chino Hills and Temple City that opened earlier this year and served as the brand’s first U.S. outposts. Expect the signature dumplings as well as noodle dishes, soups, chile pepper fried chicken and a pork chop, plus boba teas and frozen dumplings to cook at home.
Learn about the new Bafang Dumpling location.
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Nasi kuning komplit from Wayang restaurant in Alhambra.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Wayang

Alhambra Indonesian $
In Alhambra, Wayang is another stop on columnist Jenn Harris’ Indonesian food tour. The small kitchen is helmed by Kadar Wati, who was a private celebrity chef for years before opening her restaurant last November. Most days, Wati is in the kitchen by herself, though she hopes to hire more staff soon. Be patient and order dishes such as nasi kuning komplit with rich and aromatic rendang and ayam kremes, or fragrant, herbaceous fried chicken with sambal, online to reduce your wait.
Read about two of L.A.’s newest Indonesian restaurants.
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