Inventive LA Newcomers Meet Diverse Hotspots and a Classic in NYC

A James Beard Award-winning chef brings modern California cuisine to LA’s Downtown Arts District and Eataly’s Terra lands to delight in Century City, while Manhatta is perched in the clouds for a scenic meal and Le Bernardin continues to define world-class dining in New York



Santa Monica

At newly opened Élephante, guests are treated to inviting cuisine, a chic atmosphere, and a stunning ocean view. Restaurateur Nicholas Mathers of Goldie’s and Eveleigh in West Hollywood has moved to the Westside to create this welcome addition to Santa Monica nightlife, as well as a popular lunchtime gathering spot. Start with the whipped eggplant, served with puccia bread straight from the oven. The savory dip is creamy, and the bread is topped with flaky finishing salt. Or enjoy the Manilla clams with pancetta, orange wine, scallions, and toast in a light but flavorful broth. Grass-fed Aspen Ridge Ribeye is the star of the show and so juicy that you’ll want to come here every time you crave steak. A side of broccolini with cashew pesto, crispy shallot, and chili oil is a healthy but tasty side. End the meal with the seasonal crostata and one more lingering peek at the sparkling-blue Pacific.– Brittany Fuiz

Indulge in an oceanside breeze while sipping craft cocktails at Élephante (Photo Credit: Connie & Stuart Uy)

Hand-woven African plates decorate the walls

Broken Spanish

Downtown Los Angeles

Chef Ray Garcia has come into his own at Broken Spanish, a modern take on Latin American flavors, located just steps away from the Staples Center and L.A. Live. Start with one of the handmade cocktails, many made with tequila. The Mayahuel, served with serrano-infused tequila blanco, pineapple, fresh lime juice, and canela bitters, is surprisingly smooth, while the Oaxacan remedy with mezcal, fresh ginger, honey, and lemon is breezy and refreshing. Order the handmade tortillas right away, as you’ll want to enjoy them with the rest of the dishes. The spinach tamale brings green garlic, cucumber, green apple, pistachio, celery root, and feta cheese together for a turn on a classic dish. Pollo prensado presents a juicy and crispy chicken thigh with guajillo chili to pack the heat. For a main, the barbacoa is tender and rich, with short ribs, sangre de toro beans, bacon, and chipotle, and the side of esquites is a delectable choice with bone marrow, chile guero, cotija, and epazote.– BF

Broken Spanish has an authentic, homestyle feel (Photo Credit: Broken Spanish)

The chicharron is made with elephant garlic mojo, radish sprout, and herbs


Arts District 

This downtown newcomer is dressing things up as James Beard Award winner Jessica Largey serves modern California cuisine in a historic building most recently utilized as a photography studio. The space was redesigned to be lofty yet warm. Bespoke brass lighting, concrete floors, and antique mirrors contribute to an atmosphere that feels Art Deco with a touch of industrialism. The food is familiar with a contemporary flair. A grilled Caesar salad is a new take on traditional, using brassicas (a cruciferous veggie) as the base instead of romaine. Charred squash elevates a simple zucchini with macadamia salsa and nectarine over a bed of creamy parsnip puree. Ricotta gnudi are pillow-like morsels in a bed of grated tomato with guanciale and micro basil. Sturgeon is a delicate presentation of the mild fish, with blistered shishitos in a simple broth. End the meal with a whimsical cocktail in Duello, the front bar, tended by Ian McPherson, who shares the history of the Arts District through libations. – BF

Low lighting and close seating at Simone give an intimate vibe
(Photo Credit: Rob Stark)

Burrata with plum confit, nigella, purslane, and mint, paired with crispy bread

Terra at Eataly

Century City

Eataly comes to Los Angeles by way of New York and Chicago. Its latest restaurant, Terra, is the new place to be at the redesigned Westfield Century City mall. Make your way up a winding staircase to the roof deck, which boasts views of Beverly Hills and open wood-fire cooking. The simple but excellent rustic Italian fare and an expansive drinks menu are inspired by “earth, gin, and fire,” enjoyed next to firepits. Start with smaller plates, like a chargrilled artichoke or a delicate tuna crudo with shishito pesto. Make your way to one of the pastas, authentic and loaded with flavor, like the bolognese made with pappardelle or garganelli with mushrooms. The wet-aged porterhouse is around 32 ounces and perfect for sharing. Be sure to save room for dessert as the gelato cart is a showstopper. Fior de latte gelato comes out piled a foot high and is scooped tableside with your choice of nuts, cookies, hot fudge, cherries, sea salt, or olive oil toppings. A classic tiramisu with sweet mascarpone, layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, and cacao is an excellent version of the Italian staple. – BF

The new Terra is perched atop Eatly in Century City
(Photo Credit: Elizabeth Daniels)

Bar Botanico on the terrace boasts expansive city views



Financial District 

Union Square Hospitality Group’s newest venture, Manhatta, atop the 60th floor of a skyscraper on Liberty Street, is an upscale and minimalist spot for an exceptionally scenic dining experience. The floor-to-ceiling windows and optional, open-kitchen-counter seating lend a relaxed but not overly casual feel. The prix fixe-style menu, with simple yet elegant dishes, ranges from a bright, tasteful first course of silky foie gras to a creative and balanced dessert of chocolate crémeux with caramel-miso ice cream. Other first-course offerings include the boldly flavored escargot and tender, chive-laden cervelle de veau. When ordering your main, don’t skip Manhatta’s succulent and lightly crispy crescent duck. Finish with sticky and sweet date cake, delicate vanilla soufflé, or a quince sorbet with poached pears. If you prefer savory over sweet, a refreshing and tart Leonora goat cheese, imported from Spain, is an ideal third course. Although you surely won’t want to leave the expansive view of the city’s (and Brooklyn’s) glittery night skyline, when time to head out, your departure will go smoothly: Manhatta is a no-tipping restaurant, so once you’ve paid, you’re free to enjoy your evening. – Michele Raphael

Executive Chef Jason Pfeifer brings international inspiration to the menu (Photo Credit: Daniel Krieger & Emily Andrews)

Manhatta’s vanilla soufflé drizzled with butterscotch sauce

Henry at Life Hotel


James Beard Award-nominated chef Joseph “J. J.” Johnson brings the African Diaspora to Midtown-meets-Downtown Manhattan with Henry at Life Hotel, inspired by Pan-African, Latin, and Caribbean regional specialties. Choose two or three dishes from Henry’s 15-dish dinner menu, or all 15 with “It Was All a Dream” for sharing with your tablemates. Start with a textured tuna tartare or the searing and rich shrimp-and-pork dumplings with Harlem curry. Continue your culinary journey with the salmon noodles, laced with bok choy and edamame for an Asian twist. Or try the pan-roasted scallops, served with hominy stew and braised pork. If sharing, it’s a must to order the braised short ribs, which draw influences from several cultures, with BBQ hoisin sauce and accompanying roti. Enjoy a cocktail or two, composed of house-made syrups and ingredients by mixologist Pamela Wiznitzer. For dessert, choose from a selection of cardamom-infused chocolate mousse, purple yam sweet potato pie, dulce de leche popsicle–or the foie gras crispy treat, a spin on a kids’ classic.– MR

Henry’s bone-in beef shortrib with wok millet, roti, black beans, and hoisin BBQ sauce (Photo Credit: Beatriz da Costa)

The warm atmosphere is perfect for a cozy, winter meal or drinks at the upstairs bar

The Whirlwind blends scotch, peanut, concord grape, lemon, and egg white



Italian fare with an upscale flair is on the menu at the casual yet hip Scampi, owned and operated by executive chef P. J. Calapa. For lunch or dinner, you can start your meal with the tuna acqua pazza, a tartare enhanced with Calabrian chiles. The endive with parmesan, brussels sprouts with ricotta salata or beets with sheep’s milk ricotta balance flavors such as pistachios or fried capers with the creaminess of the cheese and umami from the vegetables. For an entrée, the mezzaluna-braised pork ravioli is a favorite, as is the langoustine scampi, with a delicate nod to the restaurant’s namesake. To cap off your meal, order the panna cotta with grape granita; since grape ice cream is nearly impossible to make, this granita is the closest thing to it that you’ll find in the city, as well as being a sweet and refreshing finish. Bring a credit or debit card for a smooth exit, as Scampi is a cashless restaurant. – MR

Tuna acqua pazza garnished with Calabrian chiles for a kick (Photo Credit: Evan Sung)

Open communal seating creates a friendly feel

Scampi’s grilled beets paired with sheep’s milk ricotta, pistachios, and dill

Le Bernardin

Theater District 

Gourmands from around the globe have made the pilgrimage to Le Bernardin for a truly memorable meal with a price tag to rival their airfare. Led by James Beard Award-winning head chef Eric Ripert, this impeccable three-star Michelin-rated destination restaurant, recently lauded as No. 2 in the world, continues to live up to its stellar reputation under the direction of co-owner Maguy Le Coze. Le Bernardin’s prix fixe-style menu gives a variety of options: Choose lunch, dinner, vegetarian tasting, chef’s tasting, Le Bernardin tasting, or City Harvest–or order à la carte from the lounge menu. Enhance your selection with a glass or two from Le Bernardin’s impeccable wine list, curated by Wine Director Aldo Sohm, to complement the French and Andorran influences in Chef Ripert’s dishes. Sohm was named the 2008 Best Sommelier in the World, so you can rest assured that whatever he chooses will be the perfect accompaniment to each course, whether you begin your meal with the expertly executed seared langoustine with foie gras crouton and balsamic-truffle vinaigrette, or a classically elegant celeriac velouté. Take note that if you decide on one of the tasting menus, your companions must order the same one, as they are per table only, but sure to delight all.– MR

Fluke-Enoki mushroom spring roll with Junmai-Shiso-infused tomato water (Photo Credit: Daniel Krieger)

The four-course prix-fixe offers an exceptional baked lobster with butternut squash manicotti

Le Bernardin remains at the height of style with its classic dining room