Bird Dog’s chef Robbie Wilson honed his skills working with superstar chefs like Thomas Keller, Tom Colicchio and Nobu Matsuhisa—and it shows. The daring and inventive menu is broken up into three categories: raw items, proteins and vegetables/grains. This includes multicultural dishes such as the Yeasted Waffle with uni cream cheese (aka sea urchin) and bone marrow, fried chicken thigh with smoked oyster and green curry and a carrot dish with chai flavors and pineapple. The decor is sleek, simple and ultra-modern. Leave the kids at home and bring only your coolest vibe. 420 Ramona Street, open Monday through Saturday from 5PM-10PM; Sunday from 5PM-9PM.
Seiya’s dark, intimate decor gives the place an exclusive feel. While the extensive menu includes plenty of sushi, nigiri and items from Seiya’s Kurobuta grill, it’s the less conventional signature dishes that will surprise you. Try the Asari Butter Sakamushi (steamed manila clams in soy sauce, sake broth and butter), Mentaiko Spaghetti (pasta with spicy fish roe, grilled Hokkaido scallops and shiso) and the Seafood Cigar (scallop, shrimp and sea bass rolled in salmon skin, grilled and then tempura-fried). It’s the perfect restaurant for a romantic meal or a classy girls night out. 741 Laurel Street, open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday from 11:45AM-2PM; for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30PM-9PM, Friday and Saturday from 5:30PM-10PM; closed Sunday and Monday.
A family-friendly, Michelin Guide-recognized restaurant isn’t always easy to find, but Pausa is just the answer. Everything from the friendly service to the daily changing menu warrants its Bib Gourmand accolade. Be sure to try something on their extensive charcuterie menu with dried meats cured in house for years. Other highlights include the house-made pastas and pizzas. On my last visit, it was the perfectly-prepared pork chop entree that stole the show. The space is modern yet unpretentious, so it’s nice enough for a casual first date but comfortable enough for a family dinner. 223 East 4th Avenue, open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30AM-2PM; for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5PM-9:45PM, Friday from 5PM-10:45PM, Sunday from 5PM-9PM.