Address: 9411 Culver Boulevard
Both a chef-driven serious restaurant and a laid-back gathering place, Fraîche seems to capture a new attitude in L.A. dining. The spacious, union hallsized restaurant from chef Jason Travi and front man Thierry Perez combines modest prices, a bustling atmosphere, and cooking that's personal, rigorous, and confident. The wood-beamed ceiling and rough stone walls give off an ancestral quality, while the sidewalk terrace is perpetually filled with groups chatting over tiered seafood plates. Travi's lusty dishes reflect an appreciation for Italian traditions and ingredientsstandouts include passatelli in brodo, a regional specialty. Desserts from his wife, Miho Travi, shine: A dreamy Paris-Brest is a wonder of puff pastry and praline cream curlicues (entrées, $21$26).