Chowhound LA’s Top 10 New Restaurants for 2012

Despite the depressed state of the economy, one look at the Los Angeles food scene this year testifies that restaurants are booming. And for the past 12 months, Chowhounds were busy reporting on which new kitchens were worth a visit. Here, in alphabetical order, are 11 new restaurants we couldn’t stop talking about.

1. ALMA RESTAURANT
952 S. Broadway, Los Angeles
213-444-0984

Chef Ari Taymor arranged beautiful, textured plates of seasonal fare at his brick-and-mortar shop downtown. Both Chowhounds and Jonathan Gold fell in love.

2. EMPEROR NOODLE
800 W. Las Tunas Drive #300, San Gabriel
No phone
This Shanghainese outpost served some seriously tasty dishes, like shen jian bao and yellow fish noodles.

See also: Top 10 Chowhound Finds in Los Angeles in 2012

3. FREDDY SMALLS BAR + KITCHEN
11520 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-479-3000
The Brussels sprouts with cider glaze and smoked goat cheese were the year's must-try. We stuck around to throw back some of the great spirits, cocktails, and tap beers.

4. NONG LA
2055 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-268-1881
We were thrilled when this Vietnamese place opened its doors in West LA, making authentic and delicious bun, pho (pictured above), and banh mi, without making us drive miles and miles from LA.

5. PLAN CHECK KITCHEN + BAR
1800 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-288-6500
We headed here for the smoky fried chicken, then came back to devour the amazing burgers.

6. ROC STAR DUMPLING HOUSE
2049 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-235-2089
When this dumpling house opened, word spread quickly that serious scallion pancakes, rice cake, glass noodles, and xiao long bao had finally arrived on the Westside.

7. SYCAMORE KITCHEN
143 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles
323-939-0151
The dynamic duo of Hatfield’s were at it again at this casual bakery with killer pastries, sandwiches, and salads.

8. TAR & ROSES
602 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica
310-587-0700
The delicious lamb belly, skewered chicken oysters, and gnocchi made braving the raucous dining room totally worthwhile.

9. TASTY DINING
301 W. Valley Boulevard, 
Suite 101, San Gabriel
626-570-1234
This place treated us to traditional dishes from Wuhan, China. We loved the hot-dry noodles, fish hot pot, and, yep, even the griddled bullfrog.

10. YOJISAN SUSHI
260 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills
424-425-3799
We were skeptical, but this upscale restaurant created incredible Italian-Japanese fusion dishes, including hotaru iku and uni risotto.

Editor's note: The original version of this post included Ratata, which is now closed.

Photo from Nong La