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