$ = Spare change.
$$ = Stop by the ATM.
$$$ = Whip out the plastic.
$$$$ = Expense it.
The Abbey (692 Robertson Blvd.; 310-289-8410), a perfect place to gather for coffee, sandwiches, salads and fresh pastries. Full bar. $
Ambrosia Café and Juice Bar (9107 Sunset Blvd.; 310-247-1112) is very popular with the lunch bunch for its custom-blended smoothies, sandwiches and salads. $$
Asia De Cuba (8440 Sunset Blvd.; 323-848-6000) contends for our chi-chi award, but its calamari salad fried calamari, mixed greens, hearts of palm, bananas and peanut sauce dressing are to die for. $$$
Astro Burger (7475 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-874-8041), popular for its fries, shakes and 50s feel, and best of all, its veggie and turkey burgers stack up well against the beefy originals. $
Barneys Beanery (8447 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-654-2287) has a roadhouse feel that takes you back to the days when the Doors and Van Halen roamed the Strip. Its bodacious selection of beers and world-famous chili is second to none. $$
Basix Cafe (8333 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-848-2460) is best for breakfast, but the grilled pizzas and chicken are cant-miss picks for lunch or dinner. Even better is the strategically placed patio, so you can see and, most importantly, be seen. $$
Benitos (7912 Beverly Blvd.; 323-938-7427), open 24 hours and always jumpin, serves the quickest burrito in town. We call it heaven sent after a night of clubbing. $
Benvenuto Caffé (8512 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-659-8635), an exceptionally quaint little place tucked away from the boulevard, is famous for bottomless bowls of fresh homemade pastas and wood-fired pizzas. $$
Bossa Nova (685 N. Robertson Blvd.; 310-657-5070) uses only the freshest ingredients for Brazilian favorites like plantains, grilled lamb, coxina and a variety of authentic salads and soups. $$
Bouchon (7661 Melrose Ave.; 323-852-9400) serves delectable French bistro cuisine like whitefish dumplings and lobster sauce, or rillette de lapin (bunny paté) with croutons. $$
Bourbon Street Shrimp (8454 Melrose Ave.; 323-653-2640) always is busting with ambiance. Grab a seat on the porch and enjoy authentic, spicy Cajun cookin and a couple of cold ones. $$
Bristol Farms (7880 Sunset Blvd.; 323-874-6301), the place to go if fresh herbs, flower bouquets and a tempting pinot noir are on your list. Then pick up a fresh salad or sandwich at the deli. $$
Café Med (8615 Sunset Blvd.; 310-652-0445) serves a Southern Italian/Mediterranean hybrid of pizzas, salads and pastas, and is a wonderful place to watch the "in" crowd passing by on the plaza. $$$
Cajun Bistro (8301 Sunset Blvd.; 323-656-6388) is a good choice for a quick lunch on the enclosed patio or inside the dining room. Order half a "beer can" chicken or the house specialty: of course, jambalaya. $$
Carls Jr. (1111 La Brea Ave.; 323-851-3199) invites you to stop in around 2 a.m. after a night of clubbing, grab a seat by the window, enjoy a delicious burger, and take in the local color. $
The Cash Cow Cafe (8301 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-822-0671) is high on our list of favorites because of its reasonable prices and helpful, happy servers. Grab a juicy turkey burger or angel-hair pasta with fresh tomato and basil. And remember cash only. $$
Chef Mings (8100 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-654-3383) offers traditional mom-and-pop Chinese fare that is always fresh and piping hot. $
Chin Chin (8618 Sunset Blvd.; 310-652-1818) stands at the gateway to Sunset Plaza Drive, serving posh California/Chinese cuisine. Theres also a take-out section in back, so you can pick up dinner in your sweats without committing fashion suicide. $$
Clafoutis (8630 Sunset Blvd.; 310-659-5233) translated means baked custard with cherries and crème Anglaise. For us, however, it means fine French cuisine like filet mignon in red wine sauce and "duck of the day." $$$
Cobalt Cantina (616 N. Robertson Blvd.; 310-659-8691) offers patrons a vibrant space, and its colorful cocktails complement the sweet-potato tamales and Mexican pizzas. $$
Cynthias (8370 W. Third St.; 323-658-7851) truly delights on an avenue of attitude, serving contemporary American comfort food like fried chicken and dumplings and meat-loaf dinner. Just remodeled; now with full bar. $$
Cyrano (8840 Beverly Blvd.; 310-271-4193) serves one of the best filets in town by day and a schmoozing scenesters dreamland by night. $$$
Dan Tanas (9071 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-275-9444), a celebrity watchers paradise, is the home of L.A.s, best steak, and the houses traditional Italian fare is outstanding as well. $$$$
Diaghilev (1020 N. San Vicente Blvd.; 310-854-1111) has been described as "the best ethnic restaurant in all of California," with palate-pleasing Russian/French specialties like salmon filet wrapped in sturgeon mousse and flaky filo. $$$$