fundamental LA

A new chef dives even deeper into seasonal California comfort food

By Joshua Lurie

In the ever-changing culinary jungle of LA, restaurants that don’t evolve are in danger of losing relevance. Thankfully, fundamental LA has a track record of looking forward, even when faced with major turning points—like chef changes. And now that owners Woogene Lee and Jeff Faust have chef Nick Erven on board at their Westwood restaurant, the food is as compelling as ever, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients remaining the central theme.

Snacks like pull-apart Parker House rolls (pictured), dusted with Old Bay seasoning and served in a skillet with savory shrimp butter get dinner started off on the right foot, while highlight starters include a vibrant kale and avocado salad with toasted sesame, pickled radish, and punchy ginger vinaigrette. Purple sweet potatoes lend an earthy contrast, with crispy coats, molasses-lime cream, and charred scallion chimichurri. And perhaps the best starter of all is a play on shrimp and grits, with plump shellfish plated on popcorn grits with chile butter, a soft egg, and nori strands.

For mains, don’t miss the boneless fried chicken thighs. Coated with cornstarch, rice flour, all-purpose flour and panko, the tender meat is then fried and plated with cornbread puree, escarole, bacon, and red eye gravy. To drink, Fundamental LA pours select craft beers, but Alicia Kemper’s wine list is the lynchpin in the restaurant’s beverage program, featuring selections like Ridgeview chardonnay from England and showcases of Madeira and Sherry in comparative flights.

Finish big with the black sesame donut, coated with shredded coconut, filled with tart passion fruit curd, and plated in squiggles of white chocolate ganache. There’s nowhere else in LA that you can find a donut like this—nor a restaurant like this.


Dinner: Tue-Thu 5:30 PM–10 PM; Fri–Sat 5:30 PM–11 PM
Lunch: Tue¬–Fri 11 AM–3 PM
Closed Sunday and Monday

price range

$15 (burger) to $23 (salmon)