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Spot Check: 15 New Restaurants and Pop-Ups to Try in L.A.

11:57 AM PST on March 7, 2023

Spot Check! Welcome to L.A. TACO's latest column, where we bring you the latest and most exciting openings, pop-ups, and food events around all of Los Angeles to check out.  

The electrically delicious Holy Basil in downtown Los Angeles is starting a seafood-only dinner series starting this Thursday through Sunday, and every other Thursday through Sunday after that. Everything will be $8 and chef Deau confirms to L.A. TACO they will only work with fresh and sustainable seafood, like local sturgeon that others are known to throw away after harvesting caviar. The idea is to take it back to Holy Basil's roots when they used to have a pop-up called Yum Los Angeles. "No courses, we are basically trying to bring affordable seafood parlor-style in Thailand," says Deau. Reserve your spot via DM on Instagram to the restaurant directly.

718 S Los Angeles St space A, Los Angeles, CA 90014. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 33, 51, 55, or 92 - “Main/7th.”

photo via El Muelle 8

El Muelle 8 is now open in Downey for Culiacan, Sinaloa-style mariscos. We're talking about hulking molcajetes of chile-dusted bulbous scallops, plump shrimp, and pulpo from the barra fria side, as well as steak-and-shrimp surf n' turf tacos, salmon zarendeado, and camarones roca from the barra caliente front.

8659 Florence Ave. Downey, CA 90240. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 111 or 266 - “Florence/Lakewood.”

The owners of West L.A.'s Oaxaca on Wheels truck have soft-opened Oaxaca Village in Artesia. The menu includes chapulines served inside an avocado, mole-loaded nachos, "giant" tacos, and barbacoa plates, while a large brunch selection includes tasajo and eggs any style, and huevos revueltos con chorizo Oaxaqueño.

11824 Artesia Blvd. Artesia, CA 90701. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 62 - “Pioneer/Artesia.”

Nostalgia Gorditas

Nostalgia Gorditas has opened a brick-and-mortar in Lakewood, serving all flour-based gorditas handmade by owners Arlae and Javier Chio, based on family recipes from Torreon, Cohuila. Guisos include chicharron en chile verde, puerco en chile rojo, picadillo, chicken tinga, calabasa con elote, and rajas con queso.

5835 Bellflower Blvd. Ste. C Lakewood, CA 90713.

via El BaBa Grill

Where has El BaBa Grill been all our lives? Apparently, in Anaheim, preparing Egyptian-style charcoal-grilled beef liver, tarb (kofta wrapped in lamb fat), sausage, and spiced minced meat-stuffed Hawawshii sandwiches and pita sandwiches out on the sidewalk. 1330 Magnolia Ave, Anaheim, CA 92804

Pizza Polo

Pizza Polo is that rare L.A. restaurant serving pizza and Iranian bandari sandwiches, kebabs, and the occasional serving of lamb brain-addled kaleh pacheh in Woodland Hills for breakfast. Around for about a year, the two influences do unite in options like ghormeh sabzi or koobideh pizza.

21604 Ventura Blvd. Woodland Hills, CA 91364. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 150, 161, or 244 - “Ventura/Canoga.”

via African Chop

The African Chop truck announced its return to L.A.'s streets last week, serving West African staples such as suya (spiced, grilled meat), jollof rice, fish-fried plantains, puff-puff (beignets), and grilled fish.

Heng Heng Chicken Rice

Heng Heng Chicken Rice is open in Hollywood for khao man gai (Thai-style Hainan chicken, available both fried and steamed) on garlic rice, zaab crispy rice with chicken, pork belly, or fish, chicken noodle pho, and add-ons like chicken liver and gizzard. Chicken wings, French fries, dumplings, and fish and chips are also offered as appetizers.

5420 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro B Line or Bus Lines 180, 207 or 217 - “Hollywood/Western Station.”

L.A. Tacos and More

The Los Angeles Tacos and More truck is now open in Downey. The menu includes tacos, mulitas, and quesadillas on handmade tortillas with chorizo, chicken, and al pastor, along with vegan-friendly versions featuring mushrooms. Additional options include burritos, asada nachos, and chili cheese fries.

Hapa Meals' smoked pork belly tacos on yellow and blue masa tortillas

Locally raised chef Michael Kitano's Hapa Meals pop-up is back, appearing next at Syncopated Brewing in Long Beach on March 25 from 4-9pm and Absolution in Torrance on March 26 from 12-4pm. Kitano describes Hapa Meals style thusly: "cuisine inspired by the vast flavors of Southern California, with an island twist." Recent dishes have included smoked pork belly tacos on tortillas combining blue and yellow masa, Korean barbecue chicken wraps, and combination chicken teriyaki and pork bulgogi rice bowls.

Chato's Taqueria is now open in Sylmar for self-described "Guatemalan and Mexican family recipes." Dishes include birria de res made from short ribs, tacos de asada, pollo, and pastor topped with entire pineapple slices, and arroz con leche.

13983 Polk St. Sylmar, CA 91342. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 234 or 690 - “Foothill/Polk.”

photo via Tacos Mesita

Taco Mesita is now open in Old Town Tustin for refined, mostly wood-fired Mexican fast food from Taco Mesa and Taco Rosa founder Ivan Calderon, his son Nico, and partner-designer Max Moriyama. Tacos and burritos include options like charred skirt steak, rotisserie chicken, and al pastor with pineapple-cactus relish, as well as blue corn tamalitos with a mole recipe, passed down through the family and "White Gold" horchata with tiger nut. All corn and flour tortillas are all fresh-pressed using nixtamalized heirloom masa and milled flours. And there's also a drive-through! 765 El Camino Real Tustin, CA 93063

Toucana

Be on the lookout for Toucana, a new ceviche/Southern food pop-up from South Carolina chef Tyler M. Naughton. Recent menus have included crab imperial, BBQ pulled pork carnitas sandwiches, tiradito, and mushroom ceviche.

Flor y Solera

Flor Y Solera is now open Downtown from the owners of Officine Brera and Factory Kitchen. Barcelona-raised chef Mònica Angelats is in the kitchen preparing traditional tapas, fideo with clams, and dishes like migas camperas, bacalao al pil pil with braised leeks, mandonguilles amb sepia (pork meatballs w/ cuttlefish), and ajiblanco with the addition of lobster as a nod to our coast. Also, if you're into sherry, you'll be very happy here.

1335 E. 6th St. Los Angeles, CA 90021. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 18 - “6th/Mateo.”

Bar Monette

And if you're seeking Spanish food on the Westside, Bar Monette is now open in Santa Monica and we want this jalapeno tonnato you see above.

109 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro E Line - "Downtown Santa Monica Station" or Bus Lines 4 and 33 - “Broadway/Ocean.”

While over in Brentwood, Teleferic Barcelona just opened its lively first L.A. location, featuring classic like gambas al ajillo, Galician octopus with pimeton potato puree, croquetas, and numerous styles of paella, with the option of ordering it socorrat.

11930 San Vicente Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90049. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 602 - “Sunset/Kenter” or Bus Line 720 - "Wilshire/Barrington."

TABLE SCRAPS

We're stoked to see Metztli's pop-up is coming back after a short hiatus. Catch its modern taqueria concept on March 9 and 10 at Melody Wine Bar in Los Feliz with Cold Hearted Gelato on dessert duty.

Sabina Bandera, the founder of legendary La Guerrerense in Ensenada, will be bringing her mariscos to brunch at Downtown's Damian on March 25 as part of the month-long re:Her campaign. The restaurant promises, tostadas, tacos estilo Ensenada, cazulea de maricos, and more surprises, with reservations on Resy.
Jeffrey Undiarto's Iki Ramen has a new location on Sunset Bouelvard in Hollywood. And if you don't already know, it's great. 740 S. Western Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90005
Fish n Chips and fried chicken pop-up Fishpop is back on the scene, promising a "new and improved" recipe for crispy fish and chips, wings, and a spicy "jeon on fire." Find it Tue-Sat at Rollypop in Koreatown for pickup, delivery, and dining in. 3446 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90005
Pablito's Peruvian Tacos is now offering tortas on wood-fired bread at its North Hollywood and Chinatown locations. And damn they look good.
Check out Mirame's El Chicano Burger, featuring papas, pickles, cheddar, house "mil islas" (1,000 Island), and a teeny tiny Mexican flag, available at brunch and lunch at the Beverly Hills Mexican restaurant.
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