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The Foodie 50

For this, our highly anticipated annual Restaurant Issue, we’ve put our tasting toques on to bring you L.A.’s most exciting new eateries and the chefs who helm their kitchens, cooking up culinary majestry from hand-cut pasta to fried peach pie. Visits to our well-known faves confirm they haven’t lost their fire, and our burgeoning craft cocktail scene makes our already hip town, well... hipper. Have a seat, settle in, and sip and savor—proof, as always, is in the pudding.

Inside Bestia’s bustling dining room

10 MOST EXCITING NEW RESTAURANTS

1. Trois Mec
Vinny Dotolo, Jon Shook and Ludovic Lefebvre opened this culinary endeavor with a corner address in a Hollywood strip mall, a five-course menu that changes about once a month, and a prepay reservation system. Every seat in the small house gives ample view of the cooks, including Lefebvre, plating some of the most beautiful dishes we’ve seen this year. 716 N. Highland Ave., L.A., troismec.com

2. Chi Spacca
Scuola di Pizza, the kitchen-theater space next to Mozza2Go, is now a haute house for chef Chad Colby’s incredible house-cured meats and charcuterie. The grill churns out offerings like the 42-ounce tomahawk pork chops and massive bistecca Fiorentina, but there are also beautiful salads and sides, an excellent wine program (this is Mozza, after all) and gorgeous desserts. 6610 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.297.1133, chispacca.com

3. Bestia
Hidden in a dark corner of downtown L.A.’s Arts District, this industrial-chic space sets the scene for chef Ori Menashe’s soulful, rustic Italian cuisine. His capicola, cóppa di testa and other salumi and charcuterie is rivaled by few, the pizzas have just enough wood-burned char and handmade pastas—like saffron tagliatelle with Calabrian sausage ragu and local sprouted arugula—are masterful. 2121 7th Pl., L.A., 213.514.5724, bestiala.com

4. Petty Cash
Taqueria Chef Walter Manzke (Bastide, Church & State) brings aguachiles (chilled raw seafood, similar to ceviche, in housemade Clamato juice), carne asada tacos and pig ear nachos to the former Playa space, which features communal-style picnic tables, a cool mural by street artist RETNA and funky beats from in-house DJs. Look for agave spirits like sotol and raicilla and a tequila-based Old Fashioned served on tap. 7360 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 323.933.5300, pettycashtaqueria.com

5. The Hart and the Hunter
This fun spot oozes Southern charm and SoCal panache. Chefs Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga bring country ham and biscuits, chicken cracklins with hot pepper vinegar, and lemon icebox pie to Melrose. At chatty capacity, the tiny, delightfully adorned room gets loud, but breakfast, lunch and brunch are quieter. Biscuits and coffee are great anytime. 7950 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.424.3055, thehartandthehunter.com

6. A.O.C.
Our love affair with Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s small-plates restaurant continues with A.O.C. 2.0. The relocated operation exudes California splendor with a lovely sage and cream palette, fresh seasonal cocktails, and a gorgeous patio with a roaring fireplace. With Goin’s Cal-Med menu (Spanish fried chicken, clams with green garlic and sherry), Styne’s fantastic wine list and the open room, it’s quintessential L.A. dining. 8700 W. Third St., L.A., 310.859.9859, aocwinebar.com

7. Superba Snack Bar
This Rose Avenue addition hits it out of the park with its mostly outdoor space—courtesy blankets are strewn about for chilly nights—and chef Jason Neroni’s passion for pasta, pig and produce (fresh, of course). While most pasta is seasonal (corn agnolotti with crab for summer; spring peas and poached shrimp for spring), the smoked bucatini carbonara should never go away. 533 Rose Ave., Venice, 310.399.6400, superbasnackbar.com

8. Fishing with Dynamite
Though playfully named, this compact, salt-air-scented space is completely serious when it comes to quality seafood. From the raw bar, chef David LeFevre (M.B. Post) dishes out piles of oysters, Santa Barbara sea urchin and plump shrimp. The menu, a collection of new- and old-school favorites, features everything from grilled octopus to Thai shellfish and coconut soup. 1148 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, 310.893.6299, eatfwd.com

9. Bar Ama
Josef Centeno, our Best Chef of 2012, scores with his take on the Tex-Mex fare of his youth as seen through the tequila glass of a Californian. The space, a tortilla’s throw away from Bäco Mercat, fills with downtowners craving full-flavored bowls of chorizo-studded queso, pork barbacoa puffy tacos, tart and tangy ceviches, Frito pie and fun sides celebrating local seasons and farmers. 118 W. 4th St., L.A., 213.687.8002, bar-ama.com

10. Bar Nozawa
Walk into the newest SugarFISH outpost in Beverly Hills, pass the sushi bar and find Bar Nozawa, an omakase-only experience created by Osama Fujita (Sushi Nozawa), featuring an epic 15-plus courser with offerings like Dungeness crab; bluefin toro, uni and scallop sushi; and miso-glazed monkfish—or, whatever Fujita and owner Nozawa find at Japanese fish markets that morning. 212 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills, nozawabar.com

Click here to read more of "The Foodie 50" in the digital edition of Angeleno!