If you thought 2019’s restaurant scene might take a breather after the onslaught of new spots that 2018 gave us, think again. This year’s launches are already running at warp speed—in fact, one restaurant on this list just opened Wednesday—and you’re going to need a primer to keep it all straight. Here’s our guide to 10 of the biggest Los Angeles restaurant openings to keep an eye on in 2019, so you can land a table when the time comes.
See Also: The Best New Bars of 2018, the Best Dishes and Drinks of 2018, the Best L.A. Cookbooks of 2018, Restaurant Revamps We Loved This Year, Our Top 10 Food and Drink Stories of 2018 and the Best of 2018.
If you didn’t make it to Chad Colby’s preview/pizza/focaccia-sandwich stall in the Fields LA last fall, might we direct your attention to his Instagram account? This is where the former chi SPACCA chef has been posting photos of his absurdly good Italian food, as well as progress he’s made on his forthcoming K-town restaurant, Antico, at 4653 Beverly Boulevard. That progress includes some serious restoration work on the vintage equipment he’ll be using in the kitchen—but the wood-fired oven will be what we really keep an eye on, as it’s central to Antico’s concept. Well, that, and just about every kind of meat that hits our table; in addition to churning out excellent pasta and focaccia, Colby is a charcuterie master and we can’t wait to enjoy some at his first standalone restaurant.
Anticipated opening: by spring
2. Birdie G’s
In just a few months, Rustic Canyon’s Jeremy Fox will make yet another move in his continuing domination of the Santa Monica dining scene. Built as somewhat of a 120-seat warehouse space at 2421 Michigan Avenue, Birdie G’s is set to bring modernized American classics to the Bergamot Station complex. It is, essentially, what one could probably have expected from a Midwest native who also happens to be one of the country’s most vegetable- and California-inspired chefs: grilled daikon radish piccata; whole roast chicken with a dilly matzo ball soup; half-pound Dungeness crab cakes; upscale blue-plate specials; and even a Texas Toast-inspired menu that includes toppings like Santa Barbara uni and wood-grilled sweetbreads.
Anticipated opening: spring
3. Whatever Enrique Olvera is opening in the Arts District
Mexican food is integral to Los Angeles, yet even in the last year we’ve seen the shuttering of some of the city’s more modern and earnest spins on the cuisine. But if anyone can open a contemporary-Mexican restaurant with staying power, we’d put our money on (and into) Pujol and Cosme’s Enrique Olvera. As first reported by The World’s 50 Best, the currently-unnamed project will be a collaboration with James Beard Award Rising Star Daniela Soto-Innes. “Obviously in California the connection to Latin and Mexican roots is stronger than [at Cosme] in New York,” Olvera told Food & Wine. “The approach will be the same, but the result will be different.” According to Eater, we can expect a focus on seafood and vegetables, with inspiration lifted from L.A.’s diverse dining scene and a few of his other spots: Pujol, Cosme and Manta.
Anticipated opening: summer, possibly July
As if last year’s openings and some of the city’s modern stalwarts didn’t make the Arts District cool enough, this summer, we’re getting a restaurant from the James Beard Award-lauded Stephanie Izard, who also happens to be an Iron Chef winner and the first woman to ever take the Top Chef title. The backbone of Izard’s Chicago restaurant empire is the Girl and the Goat, a family-style–ish restaurant with a menu centered on wood-grilled vegetables, seasonal seafood and roasted meat, including an entire section of the menu devoted to goat. This year, L.A. lands its own Girl and Goat in the Mateo development project, and we’re getting a mix of Chicago dishes and “lighter, a little brighter” fare. We caught up with Izard last year; for more on what to expect, click right this way.
Anticipated opening: summer
5. Gusto Green
We don’t know much about the new restaurant from the group that brought us Felix, but what we do know about Gusto 54 Restaurant Group’s new project is that it will most likely involve fewer carbs than its Venice sibling. According to Eater, who has a bit more on the backstory of the opening, Gusto Green will focus on clean eating and open at 718 South Hill Street in DTLA. And, at least for now, it doesn’t appear that Funke’s joining the restaurant in any capacity. The Canadian restaurant group’s preexisting concepts of course include Felix, and a contemporary bistro, and even a modern Jamaican concept. If we can glean anything from stalking Gusto Green’s Instagram page, it looks like toasts, communal dining and adaptogens are all on the menu.
Anticipated opening: sometime in 2019
David Chang and the rest of the Momofuku team have been tight-lipped about their first West Coast Noodle Bar, but we’ve got our fingers crossed for the pork bao and the fried chicken with caviar when the restaurant finally lands in West Hollywood at 514 North La Cienega Boulevard. “This will be our first Noodle Bar on the West Coast,” a Momofuku representative told Time Out L.A. in October. “The restaurant will be informed by the DNA of Noodle Bar in New York but uniquely built for Los Angeles.”
Anticipated opening: sometime in 2019
One of the year’s biggest openings is already here, and it should come as no surprise that tables for Mei Lin’s flagship are already hard to land. Nightshade opened at 923 East 3rd Street in the Arts District on Wednesday, a plant- and brass-adorned space with plates that are even prettier to look at than the charming setting. The Top Chef winner uses her world travels to inform the Chinese-leaning menu and always with an eye for aesthetics: An herb-topped square of mapo tofu-inspired lasagna tucks pork ragu and tofu cream in between its layers, while the classic shrimp toast gets an update with three rows of prawn toast atop Cantonese curry. Time to reserve a table.
Anticipated opening: now open
There’s a good chance that Louis Tikaram’s 50-seat café and coffee shop will be the most casual opening on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. The Australian and Fijian chef—plus the restaurant group—behind WeHo’s E.P./L.P. are launching a sunny spot across from their vibrant and eclectic space. There aren’t many details as to the menu but we do know that Strings of Life, located at 8535 Melrose Avenue, will serve coffee from California roasters.
Anticipated opening: summer, though The Botanical Group’s website also mentions a spring launch
The ROW’s Manufactory includes multiple concepts you should get excited about, including the highly anticipated touchdown of San Francisco’s Tartine. But this isn’t a Tartine solely from Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt—it’s Tartine Bianco, because Pizzeria Bianco’s Chris Bianco is also part of the equation (so we’re expecting some phenomenal pizza, in addition to the upscale café fare, pastries and loaves of bread). The chefs will also launch a dinner-only restaurant, Alameda Supper Club, plus a bakery and an ice cream window. There’s even a a coffee roastery and lab—complete with cupping classes—from Coffee Manufactory and more. If you’d like more detail on every concept at the Manufactory, we’ve got you covered.
Anticipated opening: January or February (hopefully)
10. Yu Bo’s tasting-menu restaurant
No one’s entirely certain of what to expect from acclaimed Sichuan chef Yu Bo and his first, as-of-yet-unnamed Los Angeles restaurant, but if it’s anything like the R&D tasting menu that Food & Wine sampled last fall, we’ll be refreshing the restaurant’s reservations page every five minutes until we land a table. Will the full meal proceed in a succession of Chengdu-inspired bites? Will some courses be shared? Where will the restaurant even be? Unfortunately we don’t know, and until we do, we’ll be dreaming of crab-filled custard and the tongue-numbing mapo tofu from one of China’s top chefs.
Anticipated opening: sometime in 2019, if we’re lucky—keep your fingers crossed