[RESTAURANT REVIEW] The Year in Eating and Drinking

forkThe greater Los Feliz-Silver Lake-Echo Park area continued to be red hot in 2016, making it a full-time job to keep up with openings and closings.

A few longtime favorites closed up shop, leading to many comments of “The old Silver Lake is gone.” The sting of Casbah Café on Sunset closing at the end of 2015 was still fresh when other old-timers like El Chavo and Cha Cha Cha ended their long runs, signaling the end of an era.

And Silver Lake’s first lobster roll specialist, the year and a half old Knuckle and Claw, closed abruptly in December after an ambitious expansion into Santa Monica.

One of the year’s top openings was Salazar, which opened between Atwater and Frogtown in May, bringing Mexican grilled meats, handmade tortillas and delicious cocktails to the shell of a former auto mechanic.

Packed all summer long, the mostly outdoor restaurant was clearly the casual, stylish spot that local families, and pretty much everyone else, had been waiting for.

The other major news in the area was the transformation of a tired Ralph’s market on Glendale Blvd. into 365 by Whole Foods, the first of the chain’s outposts that feature a stripped-down, industrial aesthetic, a streamlined selection, and lower prices with an adjoining vegan café, By Chloe.

The Sunset Junction area got a shot of fresh energy from the addition of Sawyer and Kettle Black in the long-closed Tantra space.

Sharing a kitchen, Sawyer’s seafood-focused menu and Kettle Black’s thoughtful Italian dishes quickly became lively additions to the neighborhood.

Silver Lake was introduced to the wonders of gourmet soft-serve ice cream when Magpie’s opened in June, and more ice cream appeared with an outpost of McConnell’s on Hollywood Blvd.

Next door to McConnell’s, Go Get ‘Em Tiger was the most prominent of several coffee shops to open in the area, offering a full menu, excellent coffee and unusual drinks like an almond macadamia latte.

At the very end of the year, Fat Dragon appeared in the Trois Familia mini-mall with modern Chinese fare. The area also got its first Burmese restaurant—one of the few in the entire city—with well-reviewed Daw Yee Myanmar next door to Rambutan, which changed over to a more wine-focused Thai spot called Same Same.

In Echo Park, Winsome was the neighborhood’s most prominent opening, offering a sleek destination for brunch, lunch and dinner, while the venerable Pizza Buona vacated its prime spot and moved down the street to make way for a new Italian concept coming soon from the Alimento folks.

Atwater also went for casual Asian with the addition of Ozu East Kitchen.

What’s the takeaway from this incessant activity? Ice cream is in. There is somehow still a thirst for more coffee. And although white tablecloth dining is pretty much reserved for other neighborhoods, Eastsiders hunger for all kinds of Asian cuisine, Mexican, Italian, and anything healthy and fashion-forward.

 

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