[RESTAURANT REVIEW] 2016 Restaurants in Review

Larchmont Avenue was fairly quiet in 2016, after the big arrivals of Vernetti the year before and Salt and Straw and Go Get ‘em Tiger before that. Asian and Mexican flavors were more popular than ever, while the latest crazes for poke, fried chicken and Instagram-friendly interiors made appearances throughout the neighborhood.

Just around the corner from Larchmont on Melrose, former pop-up Kali Dining brought a modern California-French tasting menu-focused restaurant, to the location of the short-lived Midtown Bar and Kitchen. Kali landed on several best-of-the-year lists, and Jonathan Gold and other reviewers were enamored with the beautifully composed plates and attention to detail; stay tuned for the Larchmont Ledger’s review.

On La Brea, longtime favorite Luna Park transformed into Pata Salada, featuring Mexican seafood and a full bar and Commerson opened on S. La Brea with the promise of keeping the kitchen open until 1 a.m., long after most L.A. restaurants have stopped serving. La Carmencita opened just before year’s end in The Corner’s spot on Highland, bringing Baja-style seafood–like marlin tacos accompanied by a Michelada–to the area. On Larchmont itself, Sweetfin Poke added to the selection of casual spots.

Koreatown was on fire, with Here’s Looking at You from Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta offering excellent cocktails and creative dishes inflected with Asian flavors like wakame and smoked soy. Terra Cotta next to the Wiltern, Horse’s Mouth and the casual Middle Eastern spot Halal Guys also landed in the Koreatown area. The Country Club Park neighborhood got a welcome jolt of spice with the opening of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken from Tennessee.

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2017. The owners of The Larchmont are opening Le Marche, a marketplace with attached restaurant and on Melrose and El Centro, in the new LC apartment building.

On Larchmont Ave., the wildly popular San Francisco bakery Mr. Holmes Bakehouse will bring the cruffin (a croissant meets a muffin, of course) and that insane caramel pretzel monkey bread. Meanwhile the beloved Cat and Fiddle Pub, an L.A. institution since 1982, is set to re-open in the former Mud Hen spot on Highland Ave. (Anyone remember Highland Grounds?).

Rising rents and changing tastes made it tough for some restaurants to make it. Two Spanish spots, Smoke.Oil.Salt on Melrose and Moruno in the Original Farmer’s Market, both threw in the towel. But one thing is for sure, the Larchmont and surrounding mid-city area will continue to see lots of changes in the coming year.

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