Chinese chicken salad on the new lunch menu at Cassia in Santa Monica.

Each week we spotlight top Los Angeles restaurants, dining and drinking experiences you need to try.

By Christina Xenos

Bull & Barrel at Alexander’s Steakhouse
The intimate bar within the restaurant gives you access to a special menu, not available in the main restaurant. The focus at Bull & Barrel will be bar manager Erik Lund’s newly expanded cocktail menu an expanded social hour food menu (full menu is available, too) from Executive Chef Matt Bata. Dine on items like the Wagyu burger, hamachi lumpia and imperial Wagyu pastrami. Lund’s extensive cocktail list is whiskey forward with selections from the US, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, India, France to perfectly pair with the meaty options on the menu. 111 N Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, 626.486.1111.

If you spend a disproportionate amount of time pondering Chef Bryant Ng’s Vietnamese Pot au Feu served at Cassia, you can delight in the Santa Monica restaurant’s new lunch menu that offers lunch fare as well as dinnertime favorites. Dive into new dishes like the Vietnamese French dip sandwich; Spice Table-turned-Cassia burger with ground short rib, and topped with shallot mayo, sambal, curry-pickled cucumbers, lettuce, and tomato, with the option to add American or Cheddar cheese; Chinese chicken salad and more. Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. 1314 7th St., Santa Monica, 310.393.6699.

The new Hollywood dining destination helmed by Chef Greg Bernhardt (Church & State, LudoBites, Grace) serves an exciting menu of modern California cuisine with influences from LA’s multicultural heritage—now offers weekend brunch. Highlights include Bernhardt’s take on avocado toast (grilled Avocado with mustard greens, served on bâtard bread); a Britt Benedict with tomato and asparagus on brioche; and the Paley Plateau with a house selection of seafood specialties. Sip on juices, smoothies and brunch cocktails. An while many LA restaurants offer mimosas, Paley turns up the volume with a mimosa flight with four juice flavors—orange, mango, apricot, peach and raspberry. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. 6115 Sunset Blvd., L.A., 323.544.9430.

The Guild
The new progressive American restaurant in the former historic Screen Actors Guild headquarters offers a three-course dinner featuring pairings from Portuguese winemaker Luis Duarte in the intimate 30-seat space. Dine on dishes like ceviche paired with Monte Do Carrapatelo 2014, Vinho Branco; wild mushroom bruschette paired with Agusti Torello Mata, Sparkling Rosat 2009; and Game of Thrones lamb chops paired with Rapariga Red Reserva 2012, among others. Many of Duarte’s wines have been named Top 100 wines of the year or Top 100 Best Buys by Wine Enthusiast. 8741 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 424.279.9601.

The hotly anticipated shared plate and craft cocktail bar from Mozza alum David King opens in Little Tokyo on Monday. Expect globally inspired plates from Executive Chef Duke Gervais like seared polenta bites with wild mushroom ragu; grilled baby octopus and cipollini onion toast points; Natchitoches meat pie with spicy buttermilk dip and more. All of Baldoria’s cocktails are made in-house and either offered on-tap or by the bottle, and range from the Gin Sling Sling (gin, maraschino infused liquor, lime, David’s house made ginger beer) to the Barrel Aged Tour Eiffel (xo cognac, suze Cointreau, absinthe aged on American white oak). 243 S. San Pedro St., downtown.

Knuckle & Claw
The Silver Lake lobster mecca opens its second outpost a few blocks from the beach in Santa Monica. Come for some of the best lobster rolls in the city, and stay for an expanded selection of oysters and new additions like housemade whoopie pie, blue crab bites and a seafood-topped salad. Grab a seat at the oyster bar or at one of the picnic tables in back back garden where you can also play classic Martha’s Vineyard games. 2715 Main St., Santa Monica, 310.399.9939.

Swell Session at Santa Monica Yacht Club
Make your week a little happier at SMYC’s new happy hour. Find food specials like $10 burger with fontal cheese, pickled onion and arugula; a half dozen oysters for $12, in addition to $6 beers, $7 wine and well drinks and $8 speciality cocktails. Tues.-Fri., 5:30-6:30 p.m. 620 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, 310.587.3330.

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