Jean-Georges at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills + the Restaurants You Must Try Now

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten

World-famous French Chef and three Michelin star holder Jean-Georges Vongerichten finally opened the doors to his first eponymous eatery, Jean-Georges (9850 Wilshire Blvd), in L.A. at the new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills in June. “I knew instantly that this was the perfect location for my first West Coast restaurant,” Vongerichten says. The 150- seat, indoor/outdoor fine dining restaurant serves up a compilation of his gourmet favorites, as well as items from his more low-key ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina, a farm-to-table, locally sourced menu chock full of South American flavors, European classics and local SoCal-inspired fare. Expect to find a wide range of gourmet items—such as Meyer lemon gelée with caviar and crème fraîche and toasted egg yolk caviar with herbs, Santa Barbara sea urchin, Veal Milanese and Maine lobster presented on custom-designed Bernardaud dinnerware, alongside Christofle cutlery and Luigi Bormioli glassware. You’ll have to be staying at the hotel, however, to experience his three other on-property spots (to the ‘minimal’ tune of $800 per night, no less), including Rooftop by JG, a more casual spot that overlooks the hotel’s pool and offers panoramic views of Beverly Hills. There are additional dining options in private cabanas on the roof, as well as in-room eats for guests below. Another couple of standouts are the Jean-Georges Beverly Hills Bar, a relatively casual affair for cocktails and shared plates, and the Lobby Lounge, a three-story Art Deco space enhanced by French flair.

The TAO Group has also brought not one, but three, of its most popular concepts to the City of Angels. Drawing strong inspiration from TAO Downtown in Manhattan, TAO Los Angeles (6421 Selma Ave) is a dynamic two-level space, complete with four private dining rooms and a large bar. A grand, custom staircase and an interior that includes round banquettes and Chinese daybed- influenced sofas connects ground and lower level seating, creating the ultimate platform to see and be seen. As in New York, a 20-foot tall Quan Yin statue stands atop a koi pond; Rockwell Group’s LAB designed subtle animations that bring it to life using 3D projection mapping technology. Chef and partner Ralph Scamardella, meanwhile, developed the menu with a diverse selection of Asian-inspired specialties, focusing on Chinese, Japanese and Thai techniques and ingredients. Signature dishes like miso-glazed Chilean sea bass with wok vegetables and spicy stir fry complement a range of fresh sushi options and dim sum, spicy tuna on crispy rice, and lobster wontons with shiitake ginger broth. Then, the third installation of Beauty & Essex (1615 Cahuenga Blvd) occupies 10,000 square feet of space on North Cahuenga Boulevard. Step into what appears to be a music shop and you’ll find a wonderland that includes a courtyard and second- level patio. Not to be outdone, the double- height main dining room offers natural light from a 20-foot oval skylight, while an opulent 30-seat private dining room allows for a more intimate experience. Menu items courtesy of chef Chris Santos include multi-ethnic dishes such as grilled cheese and tomato soup dumplings, tuna poke wonton tacos, oven braised chicken meatballs, and tomato tartare. Avenue (1601 Cahuenga Blvd), the West Coast outpost of a sought-after New York City late-night haunt, is a 4,000 square foot space that evokes the intrigue of a grand estate frozen in time and re-appropriates traditional lounge elements in unexpected materials and forms. As innovatively designed by the Rockwell Group, guests enter through a custom glass and metal greenhouse before gradually descending into an intimate club space that connects to the semi-exposed outdoor patio, both of which have lounge seating. And thanks to a state-of-the- art sound and lighting system, this may very well become your go-to spot to see your favorite big-name DJs… or to indulge in some serious celebrity spotting.

Moving on, Alimento chef Zach Pollack has final- ly opened his highly anticipated second restaurant, Cosa Buona (2100 W. Sunset Blvd), in Echo Park. Here, he celebrates Italian-American cuisine and the modern pizzeria, focusing on expertly crafted antipasti, salads and pizza, as well as a selection of classic and playful interpretations of Italian sandwiches, all with mindfully-sourced ingredients from local artisans and growers. Pollack’s offerings pay homage to the humble tradition of old school neighborhood pizza joints and red checkered tablecloth destinations that were popularized in the mid-century. Highlights include smoky mozzarella sticks marinara, chick- en wings with his red hot gorgonzola dip, spicy octopus arrabiatta with gigante beans, calzones and white clam pizza oregano with mozzarella and garlic. To complement the dishes, Cosa Buona features a beverage program focused entirely on natural wines from Italy and France, made by winemakers committed to the purity of wines and biodynamic processes. In line with the eatery’s celebration of traditional Italian- American cuisine, they eschew convention to best express their place and story. Three wines will also be served on draft, including a Prosecco and Grüner Veltliner. Housed inside the former Pizza Buona space—dat- ing back to 1959—on the corner of Sunset and Alvarado, Cosa Buona of- fers a convivial atmosphere designed in partnership with architect Ana Henton. The restaurant’s throwback design is modernized by the work of local collaborators, like millwork from Frank Durgin, handmade tiles from Mel Needle, tables by Winston Morris and reworked chairs original- ly crafted by designer James Mont. Coincidentally, chef Steve Samson—who partned with Pollack to open Sotto in 2011—has also opened his long-awaited second Italian eatery in Rossoblu (1124 San Julian St), an homage to the food he grew up with in Bologna and its region of Emilia-Romagna.

Rossoblu showcases the re- gion’s ‘cucina della nonna’—namely, dishes such as tortellini in brodo, tagliatelle al ragu and milk braised pork. All pasta is freshly made by hand in the eatery’s Pasta Room, while the kitchen features a large, wood-burning hearth powered by oak coals and outfitted with a spit for roast- ing. Fresh sausages and aged salumi are mostly produced in-house. The downstairs Butcher Box, housing the butchering and preparation of the meats, is on display for guests in the private dining room via a connecting glass window. Wine directors Jeremy Parzen and Christine Veys curate a list of Pan-Italian vari- etals, eclectic Californians and natural wines, while the open 60-seat patio serves as a Lam- brusco garden and features the city’s most complete selection of the refreshing red spar- kler. Craft cocktails by director Brynn Smith (also of Sotto) at the bar celebrate Italian spirits and seasonal ingredients, as well as a curated selection of beers. Located in what was once the oldest wholesale produce mar- ket in Los Angeles, the eatery evokes a mod- ern sensibility and understated elegance. A hearth-like open kitchen sets the stage in the center of the vaulted dining room, punctu- ated by industrial concrete columns and a sprawling, serpentine bar made of brass and marble. These details are softened by long couch-like banquettes printed with comfort- ably familiar ‘nonna’ lace details and table- tops that casually fit together like puzzle pieces when pushed together, plus a large- scale mural by CYRCLE, an L.A.-based street art collective, that spans the eastern wall. Tallula’s (118 Entrada Dr, Santa Monica) is a fun and fabulous Mexican restaurant from the Rustic Canyon family, who also owns Huckleberry Bakery & Café, Milo & Olive, Sweet Rose Creamery, Cassia and Esters Wine Shop & Bar. The sassy spot, named after partners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan’s daughter, debuted just in time for the summer—making it the perfect, vibrant set- ting for post-beach drinks on the patio or dinner after work with friends in the airy dining room. Executive chef Mario Alberto’s dynamic, yet accessible, menu reflects the rustic Mexican home cooking of Los Angeles with fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients, many of which are sourced from the nearby Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. It includes sustainably- sourced seafood and meat, heirloom grains and seasonal, organic produce, with all the tortillas, chile pastes and moles made in-house. Some of the highlights are grilled market fish tacos with black bass, Mexican sauerkraut, malt aioli and epazote on house-made blue corn tortillas; roasted half chicken with mole casero, masa- ricotta chochoyotes (dumplings); and large- format dishes like three different sal-sas, pickled onions, cabbage and tortillas. Wine director Kathryn Coker curates an eclectic wine list from boutique producers around the world, while Rustic Canyon and Esters bar manager Aaron Ranf crafts the beer selection and a cock- tail menu that ranges from traditional margari- tas and palomas to more playful, beachy iterations that all rely heavily on house-made syrups and seasonal produce. Desserts, as conceived by Zoe, include a tres leches cake with honey, chamomile and fresh market berries, as well as pan dulce with candied cocoa beans and a cup of raw drinking chocolate made with stone- ground choccie from Los Angeles’ ChocoVino. Its setting—originally, a Japanese restaurant built in 1984—with dark green pagoda exteri- ors is the perfect place for a beach day, thanks to the complementary design elements. Dark wood-paneled ceilings, rustic columns, ornate Hawaiian Koa wood banquettes re-upholstered in cerulean vinyl, vintage orange glass lanterns, terra cotta floors, and a color palette of pink sunsets, green palms and blue waters all lend to the atmosphere.


Mood lighting at Slipper Clutch
Mood lighting at Slipper Clutch

Despite a ton of new spots always opening locally, there are a select few of these delightful drinking dens we’re currently obsessed with. We’re discrimi- nating, OK? The first is The Slipper Clutch (351 S. Broadway) from the 213 Hospitality team behind Seven Grand, The Varnish and The Walker Inn. located in the back of Downtown L.A.’s European-leaning Bar Clacson, this new boîte steps back in time to vintage-era, punk rock New York City—in fact, its décor is reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s 1973 classic film, Mean Streets. The bar boasts a number of refurbished classic pinball games, such as Dr. Dude, Future Spa, Paragon and Spiderman, along with old-school arcade fixtures Pac-Man and Frogger. There’s also live music to accompany a unique cocktail program of re-inspired highball classics.

Meanwhile, the joke’s on you if you don’t hit up our second pick, Prank (1100 S. Hope St), a space that’s the perfect balance of warm and comfortable, yet full of excitement, mischief and positive energy. With two levels and a stunning bar that abuts the outdoors, the highly visible location at the corner of 11th and Hope makes it the place to grab dinner and drinks before an event at Staples Center or Microsoft Theater since you can stroll up right off the sidewalk and order directly at the counter. Truly L.A.’s first ‘walk-up’ bar, it’s also the first to incorporate cured terpenes—which are derived from cannabis, but contain no CBD or THC—into a handful of select cocktails. The environment has fun pink restrooms, a dog-friend- ly patio, live music every Thursday to Sunday, and karaoke disguised as an old phone booth on the first floor. A word of caution though: anything can happen to patrons when they belt out tunes (the name of the bar is Prank, after all).