As an eating destination, Los Angeles has long (arguably) played second fiddle to its rival to the north, San Francisco, where finding a great place to dine is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Geography is possibly the biggest challenge to the establishment of a strong dining culture in SoCal. Simply put, getting anywhere is such an ordeal—so many miles, so much traffic—that many Angelenos tend to hunker down at the end of the day and patronize local establishments or camp out safely at home. But a robust food culture is taking hold in L.A., thanks to some pioneering iconic chefs who mentored a second generation of talent; the next generation of chefs is responsible for an ever-expanding variety of hip and mainly casual eateries designed to complement the region's laid-back lifestyle.

Here's a sampling of the more noteworthy additions to the mix.

Bucato

A modern eatery in the Helms Bakery District of Culver City, Bucato’s menu features market-driven, handcrafted Italian choices, particularly pasta. Chef Even Funke, a Rustic Canyon alum, eschews mechanical pasta production in favor of pasta fatto a mano, basically elbow grease combined with simple hand tools. A dedicated “pasta lab” above the dining room is temperature controlled to duplicate the seasonal climate of Bologna, Italy, where Funke learned how to make pastas by hand—something he demonstrates in this video: