Summer calls for grilling, gathering with family and friends while the kids take cannonballs in the pool or just running under the sun, playing ball in the park. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and steak are all in heavy rotation, whether they’re to savor or completely devour. These indelible scenes are synonymous with summer, but sometimes, it’s easier to just let restaurants handle the prep, grilling, and clean-up. Learn about 10 of the best places to enjoy grilled birds, fish, meat and vegetables in Los Angeles, and which plates to order.
Bavel Oyster Mushroom Kebab
Bavel, the modern Middle Eastern restaurant from Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis in the DTLA Arts District, centers on an open kitchen where cooks stoke a hearth’s flames that feast on white oak and cherry woods. Thanks to the talented couple’s approach, ingredients, and equipment, Bavel produces some of L.A.’s boldest food. For their signature Oyster Mushroom Kebab ($20), the team simply seasons floppy mushrooms with salt, olive oil and tangy sumac and sears on the wood grill until folds and edges become crispy. For dramatic effect, servers slide the contents from the stainless steel skewer tableside, plating atop a bright, beautiful green lovage & cardamom puree.
Cassia Sunbathing Prawns
Chef Bryant Ng and Kim Luu-Ng earned national acclaim at the late, great Spice Table before teaming with Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan on Cassia. Their ambitious Asian brasserie that occupies an Art Deco building in Santa Monica that dates to 1937. The back bar offers the warmest setting in the multi-faceted space, including decorative birdcages from The Spice Table days and a radiating warmth from a grill that feasts on almond wood. Vietnamese “Sunbathing” Prawns ($24) are flash-grilled, chilled, and treated to judiciously spicy Fresno chiles, garlic, and Vietnamese hot sauce. Whole Grilled Sea Bass ($43) is another dish that graces the grill’s grates, a butterflied fish that’s luscious and smoky, dressed with turmeric, dill, and lime, and reminiscent of the signature (and only) dish at Ha Noi’s iconic Cha Ca La Vong.
Coni’Seafood Pescado Zarandeado
Connie Cossio and daughter Bianka Córdoba expanded their Acaponeta, Nayarit-style seafood restaurant from Inglewood to Del Rey in 2017, relying on family recipes from Connie’s father Vicente “Chente” Cossio. Pescado Zarandeado ($30 per kilo) is Coni’Seafood’s showstopper, starring a massive butterflied and grilled snook that’s marinated in a beguiling “house sauce” that supposedly includes soy sauce, spices and mayo. Combine pieces of flaky white fish with sweet caramelized onions and warm corn tortillas to form delectable tacos.
CUT Beverly Hills USDA Prime New York
L.A. culinary legend Wolfgang Puck took the city’s steak scene to new heights in 2006 by opening CUT inside the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. The luxury steakhouse now has eight global locations, including cities like Las Vegas, Singapore, and Doha, Qatar. The original outpost remains relevant thanks to an exhibition kitchen, art-lined white walls, and some of L.A.’s best meat. Servers present an impressive raw steak tray tableside, flaunting Japanese Wagyu at the base, and a filet mignon crown. CUT sources steak from across the U.S. and Japan. American Wagyu Ribeye from Idaho’s Snake River Farms is a great choice, but I’d suggest corn-fed, USDA Prime New York sirloin from Nebraska that dry-ages for 35 days, concentrating flavor. The 14-ounce cut grills over American white oak and mesquite charcoal and finishes in a 1200-degree broiler, resulting in an impressive outer sear while maintaining a rosy center. Sauces like Armagnac peppercorn and Argentinean chimichurri are available, but when meat’s this good, simply using sea salt is hardly a sin.
Dha Rae Oak Smoked Duck
An oak tree logo greets diners at Dha Rae Oak, a Korean restaurant from Chef Chung Mi Rae and husband Kim Gil Rae that specializes in duck. The family-run spot where Dha (everyone) Rae (gathers) in the Oak (house) is well known for a whole bird baked in a clay oven that requires four hours notice and comes bursting with glutinous purple five-grain rice, ginkgo nuts, assorted seeds, sweet potato, chestnuts and walnuts. Their charcoal-grilled duck skewers, which require sitting at special tables, are also pretty damn good when dipped in salt and pepper or soy sauce with spicy mustard. Smoked Duck ($65) features a heaping helping of rosy, fat-rimmed breast meat arrives sliced with spicy slaw, slabs of grill-ready sweet potato, and pickled daikon that practically begs to be used to wrap the duck. The meat’s already smoked and ready to eat, but it’s best to finish the slices on convex tabletop grills, which add tantalizing sears. Each order, which is good for 3-4 people, comes with a dish of sea salt and pepper, mustard sauce, and a dish of savory “spicy sauce” piled with a mound of mashed garlic and ginger.