06/14/2012 02:12 pm ET Updated Aug 14, 2012

LA's 10 Hottest New Restaurants of 2012.. So Far (PHOTOS)

We're only six months into 2012 and we've already seen our fair share of restaurant closures and changes -- the shutter of Palate Food & Wine and The Tar Pit, and Lou Amdur's departure from Lou on Vine -- but there have been quite a number of notable openings across town. And there's so much more on the horizon: Spago closing for renovations, Jason Neroni's Superba Snack Bar coming to Venice, and not one but two new spots for Tasting Kitchen's Casey Lane, among others.

What's hot now: The most popular spots have a more relaxed aesthetic and vibe -- think gastropub, but taken to a whole new Los Angeles level. Our chefs are redefining what it means to cook 'California cuisine,' and it's usually very seasonal, global-hopping and personal. Sharing is encouraged; using utensils is optional. Here are the 10 hottest openings so far this year, from Downtown to Santa Monica and everywhere in between.

10 Hottest New Restaurants