Los Angeles restaurants continued to open (and close) in great numbers in 2014. With this year's restaurant openings came new trends, new cooking styles, new ingredients and new locations to eat. Here's my year in review of the 2014 Los Angeles restaurant scene (click on the highlighted links to read the full reviews).
Farm Fresh Food
I couldn't be more excited to see the strong food trend of using fresh, local ingredients. I don't think the can opener got a lot of love this year. I'm personally happy to retire mine and just eat the freshest products growing from the ground.
Luckily in Los Angeles we have access to a lot of great produce all year around, but some restaurants have been using their own gardens for a little while now like Post and Beam and Willie Jane's. In 2014 Wille Jane also started hosting culinary evenings in their garden with food and wine pairings to consume while wandering through the greenery.
After foraging with Pascal in the morning, I had one of the most unique meals afterwards, featuring his locally acquired ingredients in one amazing dinner. All products, including the salt, were foraged within a 10 mile radius.
Roy Choi also took to the garden with the opening of Commissary, a vegetable-focused menu served on a rooftop greenhouse.
Curtis Stone launched his first restaurant in Los Angeles, Maude, featuring a rotating monthly menu highlighting a specific seasonal ingredient. June's 9-course morrel tasting menu was memorable in every way.
While it was sad to bid adieu to Campanille, we were rewarded with Walter Mazke's French bistro fare at Republique. He knows how to serve a proper roast chicken and some quality vegetables to match.
While Los Angeles has been fairly vegetarian friendly, 2014 saw the launch of several higher end Vegan restaurants.
Philip Lee from omnivorous Scratch Bar doesn't feel the need to call his new vegetable focused restaurant, The Gadarene Swine, vegan, but he doesn't in fact, use any animal products outside of honey. The food stands on its own, without meat, and is a truly fresh and inventive dining experience.
A more casual plant based restaurant opened on Lincoln in Santa Monica, Satdha, serving Thai vegan food like Meang Kham, rainbow chard wrapped around cashews, coconut, shiitake and herb taramind chutney. A great choice for takeout.
You can add these restaurants to Crossroads in West Hollywood, which opened in 2013 by Former Oprah chef Tal Ronnen. They do use some faux meat, but go strong on the veggies as well.
So many neighborhoods received a new restaurant infusion this year.
Downtown Los Angeles has been on fire for a while now and in 2014, the new restaurant openings didn't die down. Josef Centeno added to his Bar Ama and Baco Mercat empire with his price fixed only menu at Orsa & Winston.
Faith & Flower's gorgeous dining room has proven a hot spot for carefully crafted cocktails and great small plates with one of my favorite bites of the year, steak tartare.
For the best bone marrow of the year, and perhaps ever, Bestia has my heart with its scoop and stir method over spinach gnocchetti. They opened at the end of 2013, but most of us didn't get there until 2014 with their still difficult to come by reservations.
Grand Central Market also continued to grow with Bon Appetit including it in its Best New Restaurant list for 2014. It has an amazing range of food vendors from pupusas to Mexican and heavy hitters like Bel Campo, Egg Slut and Wexler's.
Playa del Rey got on the restaurant map in large part to Brooke Williams expanding from her one neighborhood staple, Triple, to her new multi-complex restaurant, bar and cafe, Playa Provisions.
Bacari PdR also took up residence beachside, serving casual and well-priced small plates with an interesting rotating list of wines.
Just off Main St., Rose Avenue continued to build on its own restaurant revitalization with its lynch pins Hostario del Piccolo, Venice Beach Wines, Oscar's and Superba Snack Bar, not to be confused with the newly opened Superba Food & Bread, serving solid cafe fare around the corner on Lincoln Boulevard.
Alimento also brought strong Italian fare to Silver Lake and another reason for me to travel east next year!
Mixologist is now a regularly used word in our restaurant vocabulary as most hot spots have someone behind the bar who spends as much time crafting cocktails as the chef in the kitchen does creating the meal.
Overall, I'd say it's been a good year for Los Angeles restaurants. There's a great variety of food choices for every palate, in many neighborhoods across town with no signs of slowing. Many more restaurant openings are on the horizon so finish digesting 2014 and get ready for another banner year for Los Angeles restaurants.