The Best New Restaurants Of The Week: Otium, Mr. Taka Ramen

13 new restaurants to add to your must-try list

New York City

Arepa Factory: Caracas has long reigned supreme in the East Village's arepa scene, but newcomer Arepa Factory is offering some healthy competition. The team offers four types of arepas (masa, spinach, oatmeal and chia flaxseed) and heaps of different fillings and sauces, letting diners choose their own adventure—or at least arepa.

Service Station: Gas station dining meets the 21st century. The crew, which includes Forcella pizza master Giulio Adriani, has converted an old Mobil gas station into a restaurant—complete with a retractable glass garage door. Adriani's legendary fried montanara-style pies are on the menu, alongside Neapolitan ones.

Mr. Taka Ramen: There's no shortage of excellent ramen in NYC these days, but Mr. Taka is a welcome addition even so. Chef Takatoshi Nagara, whose last job was working at the Michelin-acclaimed Bigya ramen spot in Tokyo, runs the show, serving bowls of ginger shoyu, miso, tonkotsu and several other types of ramen including two veggie options.

Mr. Purple: Snack on neighborhood favorites like Il Laboratorio gelato, knishes from Yonah Schimmel, cheese from Beecher's and bites from Russ & Daughters, while enjoying the view from this sleek, 15th-floor bar and lounge. There's outdoor space, too, for when the weather warms up.

Los Angeles

OtiumFormer French Laundry chef de cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth is going beyond barbecue (Barrel & Ashes) with his solo project next to the The Broad museum. Here, at one of the season's biggest openings, he's cooking inventive rustic fare, like tri-tip with kimchi fried rice, bucatini with eggs and even kale with quinoa. It's serving just lunch and brunch on the weekends for now, but dinner should make its debut in early December.

Van Leeuwen: Brooklyn-based ice creamery Van Leeuwen has been trolling the streets of L.A. for over a year in a truck, and now the team has finally gone brick-and-mortar in the Arts District. They're serving Toby's Estate coffee, sundaes and 23 flavors, including their exceptionally decadent vegan salted caramel, which is made with cocoa butter and cashew milk and will single-handedly change the way you think about vegan dessert.


Queen Mary Tavern: Shore up to the bar at this British navy-themed spot from the crew at Heisler Hospitality (Trenchermen, Pub Royale), named for longtime neighborhood resident and building owner Mary Kafka. After a night of Navy Strength Old Fashioneds, you might find yourself walking home with sea legs.

Sparrow: Stepping into this restaurant is like entering a 1940s Havana-style hotel. Expect craft cocktails and plenty of rum, including house spiced rum and rum cream liqueur, from the bartenders behind sausage-heavy Bangers & Lace.

Vivial: Nick Spencer's reimagined his Jolly Posh Foods as comfort food spot Vivial. Aviary alum Garrett Christiansen is in charge of the menu, serving à la carte options like beer and cheese soup, duck confit with Southern-style baked beans and spring rolls made with pork sausage, miso, onion and citrus soy. There's also a five-course prix fixe menu.


Symon's Burger Joint: You can buy new boots and score a juicy burger at the same time at top chef Michael Symon's new spot, which is also home to Urban Outfitters and the new Pizzeria Vetri. It's open late on weekends, so you can get drive-in classics like fries with queso and milkshakes until 2 a.m.


TEN 01: The family that owns longtime joint Ben's Chili Bowl is back with a rustic new neighborhood spot. There's a rooftop terrace for year-round outdoor dining (heaters included), where you can snack on seasonal small plates like root vegetable risotto with pumpkin butter and pickled beets.


Rustika: There's a new location of this beloved bakery, which has been baking custom cakes (and delicious empanadas) for 20-plus years. Find the second outpost of this family-run business in the underground tunnels Downtown.