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Spot Check: 20 New Restaurants, Pop-Ups, and Finds to Try In L.A. and Beyond This Week

3:33 PM PDT on March 14, 2023

Spot Check! Welcome to L.A. TACO’s latest column, where we bring you the latest and most exciting openings, pop-ups, finds, and food events around all of Los Angeles this week. Because the newer the spots, the downer the food...

Weaf restaurant is a new takeout concept offering West African cooking, with delivery available through apps like DoorDash and GrubHub seven days a week. Dishes include grilled fish and attieke inspired by the Ivory Coast, Mali's chicken mafe, and Senegalese chicken yassa.

El Chavelon Tacos

Next time you're heading into the mountains, or simply looking for a good taco in San Bernardino, check out El Chavalon Tacos from Pomona-born, Tepic, Nayarit-raised 26-year-old Jonathan Jesus "El Chavalon" Godinez. The taquiza caterer sets up in front of his house on Fridays and Saturdays when not booked for a private gig, serving tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and quesatacos with birria, asada al carbon, lengua, and al pastor, as well as "Dino Dogs," freshly squeezed cantaritos. and fresh aguas, and soon, Nayarit-style mariscos. 981 W. 7th St. San Bernardino, CA 92401

Holbox is briefly moving its operations into a food truck, as its popular Mercado Paloma seafood destination is currently closed for the next four weeks to undergo a big renovation, including the addition of more counter seating. The truck will be found outside of Mercado Paloma in Downtown starting tomorrow at 11:30 am and closing at 8 pm.

East L.A.'s Birria El Vago is having a $10 breakfast burrito pop-up on March 23rd, taking orders now by DM for curbside pickup in the City of Bell. The burritos are packed with birria de res, a fried egg, cheese, and proprietary fried "frijoles birrieros" using a dark red adobo made by the chefs' parents, all with salsa picante on the side.

Tickets are now on sale for the March 26th dinner-and-show from Topless Tapas L.A., which will feature cooking from All Day Baby chef/co-owner Jonathan Whitener behind a selection of passed small plates at Tenants of the Trees in Silver Lake. Daisy O'Dell will deejay while dancers such as Naomi Dangerfield, Scarlett Kapella, and Izzie Pop will perform. Then, after the show is the after-party.

Quesadilla with al pastor at Tacos El Chino

Tacos El Chino, known for serving its Tijuana-style tacos in Huntington Park and Wilmington, recently opened a new location in Koreatown. Find them on Vermont Ave. with $2 tacos, a big old trompo of al pastor, and a plancha full of handmade tortillas a-puffing. 162 S. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90004

Supita Tarts Specialist is now open on Sawtelle Boulevard, serving a rainbow of Hong Kong-style tarts with scattered Portuguese influences, as well as breads, cakes, and savory pies. Favorites of the house: sun spot-specked Portuguese egg custard tarts, egg white tarts, curry pork pies, milk tea, and sweet black sesame soup. 2008 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025

The Golden Skewer is bringing its Cambodian street food, found every Sunday at Smorgasburg, to a pop-up in its hometown of Long Beach. Catch them every Saturday in March at Beechwood Brewing, serving charcoal-grilled beef skewers, as well as their own coconut-infused take on elote that will work for vegans.

Who's to say it's not ice cream weather? Especially when you've got Hokey Pokey hanging out in Westfield Century City, serving New Zealand-style soft serve? We have two rules in life: Never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city. And never look aslant at a chocolate mousse milkshake covered in crumbles of golden toffee crunch. And that's what it's all about. 10250 Santa Monica Blvd. Ste. 2625, Los Angeles, CA 90067

Oaxaca on Wheels' new Artesia restaurant Oaxaca Village has a nice new surprise for us: an avocado filled with crispy fried chapulines.

Sendero's Dia de Muertos dessert: a white chocolate skull filled with milk chocolate mousse and passionfruit surrounded by pepita brittle and cacao nibs. Photo: Katrina Frederick

Chef Kevin Luzande has opened Sendero, a multi-restaurant concept on the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Downtown that traces a culinary journey down the "Pan-American Highway." The first two restaurants are now open: Corteza, which revels in the seafood of the Sea of Cortez and dishes like arepas with duck carnitas, aged sea bream zarandeado with nixtamal tortillas, and mushroom-and-huitlacoche tamales. Then there's Leña, an Argentine-influenced steakhouse with table-side ojo de bife Wagyu tomahawks, indulgent seafood platters, and the country's melted cheese classic of provoleta. Agave Library will open this month, and an eight-person chef's table concept called Volante will come later this year. Luzande previously worked at John Sedlar's Rivera and Playa in L.A. (as chef de cuisine) and Acre in San Jose Del Cabo, where he was exec chef. Reservations here.

San Juan Capistrano's The Ecology Center is now holding weekly Community Dinners every Friday through May on its 28-acre regenerative farm. The 72-guest, family-style dinners feature guest chefs who center their meals on using ingredients from the farm, preparing them over an open fire, and will feature four sections: Market Garden showcasing vegetables, herbs, and flowers; Milpa to highlight the farm's corn, squash, and heirloom beans; Forest fruit focusing on its seed, fruits, and berries; and Cover Crop, with plants like grains and legumes that help restore the soil. Schedule and reservations here.

Bar Cou Cou is opening this Thursday, March 16, in Venice, urging French oyster bar vibes to mingle with California coastal seafood, golden age cocktails, traditionally braised British pork sausages, and a live fire grill, from Bouchon vet Jacob "Cal" Wetherington "and his dog, Spot." 218 Main St. Venice, CA 90291

It wouldn't be, couldn't be Saint Patrick's Day in L.A. without tacos and punk rock. Taco Punx has you covered with a hardcore show in Upland this Friday, in which they'll handle taco duty as bands like Barrio Slam, Cinderblock CA, and Hollow Points rip it up.

Kanpachi crudo with serrano kosho, lime, pineapple, mint, and shiso, photo: Jakob Layman

Emmanuel "Manny" Cadnego joined Atrium in Los Feliz as its new executive chef at the start of the year. Cadnego was raised in the States and spent his high school years in Monterrey, Mexico, where he began cooking at 12 for his tia's taco truck, later serving as a world-traveling executive chef for Matthew Kenney's plant-based restaurant empire, and as executive sous chef at Michelin-starred Maude in Beverly Hills. His menu includes asparagus with a walnut mole blanco, wild mushroom, truffle, and sunchoke gnocchi, and pan-roasted, Northern California-farmed sturgeon with a pimentón crust and borlotti beans a la charra. For dessert? Chivo-rich chevre with raspberries and an orange-caramel-cinnamon flan. 1816 North Vermont Ave. Los Feliz, CA 90027

ROCA's Pizza Amatriciana, photo: Wonho Photo

First, he co-endowed the world with California Pizza Kitchen. Then he did other stuff, presumably. Now Rick Rosenfield has opened ROCA Pizza in Pacific Palisades, home to Roman-style pies, available by the cut, half-pan, or full pan, made with a dough that is cold-fermented up to 72 hours and baked in Italian ovens. Options include Thai Brussels sprouts, suppli (cheese and/or sausage stuffed rice balls), hot honey and pepperoni pies, and amatriciana pizza with guanciale (pork cheek), among the many. A Marina del Rey location is next, and if our wishes come true, a collaboration with the Gracias Senor truck.

Niku Nashi's meatless nigiri at APB

Jeffrey Best and Ken Jones' APB, a plant-based sushi restaurant, is opening on March 20 on Melrose Avenue, with cocktails from acclaimed barman Julian Cox. Dishes include vegetarian udon, tempura oyster mushrooms, nigiri with Nikunashi's meat-free salmon, tuna, and eel, and jackfruit karaage. Cocktails include the "Bruce Banner," with Tequila, green juice, and bird's eye chile. 7302 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036

Holey Grail Donuts has brought its Hawaiian-inspired pastries to a new location in Larchmont Village. To celebrate this second L.A. address, they've created a collaborative donut with Kauai's Sunrise Shack called Blue Dream with banana, mango, blue majik spirulina, granola, coconut flakes, fresh strawberries, and local honey, available from March 5-April 2nd at both Holey Grails, part of its Breaking Bread series. 148 N. Larchmont Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90004

Tacos Al Tiro just came back for the first time in 2023 and will be popping up in Woodland Hills tonight for anyone seeking to pick up their Cajun-style Baja fish tacos.

Modern Korean restaurant Hanchic is popping up at Good Clean Fun in Downtown on March 26 and 27, pairing their take on bar food with wines from the shop. Dishes include fish cake soup, corn cheese toast, and soba noodle salad. Reservations are here, with a required $20 deposit. 868 S Olive St. Los Angeles, CA 90014

In Westminster, Aloosh has turned into Sawani House, offering Middle Eastern/Mediterranean specialties such as tuhal (spiced, stuffed lamb spleen) and chicken or lamb mandi, along with falafel, shawarma, kebab, and tahini-baked kofta. 7032 Hazard Ave. Westminster, CA 92683

Oaxacan barbacoa pop-up Xnana is now selling big containers of its salsa picante made with avocado leaf, available via DM.

Former Alinea and Next chef Dan Perretta is now the executive chef at Etta in Culver City, according to an announcement by the restaurant. He is so committed to the job, he even has the restaurant's name in his own.

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