Alejo's Presto Trattoria
8343 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester
4002 Lincoln Blvd., Marina del Rey
You can almost hear gondolas gliding through canals here. Alejo's serves homemade Italian dishes that are sure to bring out the romantic in you. Gaze into your beloved's eyes, fork-feed a morsel of tender veal parmigiana or spicy shrimp al diablo (both $10.95) and watch him/her melt with delight. Continue the sensuous feast with homemade cheesecake ($1.95) and a steaming cappuccino. At the Westchester location, paella ($10.95) is featured on Friday and Saturday nights. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine (Westchester only); takeout. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
22821 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu
Allegria is an Italian café that has brought all the flavors of the motherland to Malibu, with wide selections of sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and salads. On the lunch menu, try a delicious panini like the focaccina con verdure porto (grilled mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, caramelized onions, arugula and garlic goat cheese on homemade focaccia, $8.50) or something lighter like the insalata Allegria (salad of watercress, arugula, pine nuts, hearts of palm, endive and avocado in a Parmesan dressing, $7.75). Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking. AE, MC, V.
1028 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
Unwind with a late-night breakfast burrito, wake up to a vegetarian Sunday brunch ($7.95), or sip a delicious coffee drink while enjoying live folk music. With its antique European chandeliers and attractive velvet couches, Anastasia's is an inviting place for relaxed dining. The full breakfast menu is available all day, and features fluffy scrambles filled with cheeses and fresh vegetables ($6-$7). Don't pass on the vegetarian lasagna ($7.25) or the spinach-feta pot pie ($6.50). Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days, brunch on weekends. No alcohol; takeout; catering; parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
7013 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood
Stately columns and arches line the interior of this fine Indian restaurant, which has been on Melrose since 1983 and prides itself on a mastery of age-old food-preparation techniques. There is nothing better than the Bombay lobster soaked in Anarkali's delicious "secret sauce" ($19.95, $23.95). If you haven't got a taste for seafood, try the eggplant bharta sautéed with onions and spices ($5.95, $8.95) or the mixed tandoori grill ($12.95, $15.95). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
Arirang Korea Restaurant
114 W. Union St., Pasadena
With its palace décor, showcase antiques and inset barbecues at every table, Arirang offers a royal dining experience. Everyone raves about the boolgogi gooi ($13.50), thinly sliced beef marinated in a sweet sauce and served with six side dishes that change daily but always include the essential kimchee, a pickled Chinese cabbage. Vegetarian entrées are also available. The menu is hefty — 50 selections — and the portions are generous. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; delivery; catering; valet parking; weekend reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, MC, V.
Baja Bud' s
11205 National Blvd., West L.A.
1315 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
10850 Pico Blvd., West L.A.
20044 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills
8575 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
21801 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills
In an increasingly crowded market, Baja Bud's stays true to its original vision: good food, good service, and fresh California/traditional Mexican fare. Grilled chicken, beef and red snapper are the basis for food that is healthy and delicious. Fresh daily: handmade corn tortillas and no-lard flour tortillas (lower in fat than the other guys’), served on real plates with real silverware (think of all the plastic you won't be adding to the landfills!). The catering menu will economically feed eight to 80. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer; takeout; catering; parking. DIS, MC, V.
10835 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles
Bamboo Restaurant is a picturesque, casually inviting Caribbean restaurant with the minimalist's feel of simplicity. The menu here is anything but simple, though, as it features exquisite dishes from various cultural influences, all brought to Bamboo from seasoned culinary veteran Jose Mendoza. Highlights from the lunch menu include the Cancun Steak ($11.75), the seafood paella ($14.75) and the mango curry chicken (10.75), while the extensive dinner menu has a churrasco steak ($13.75) and a mouth-watering barbecue pasta ($11.75). There are no duds on this menu. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; delivery (10 or more meals in the order only); takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
606 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica
The owners refer to it as a "Thai temple with a French twist." And under the placid gaze of a 6-foot golden Buddha, you can feast on a Bangkok roll, mixed greens with tofu and a special sauce ($4.95 small, $7.25 large). Such specialties as the filet mignon with red wine and ginger Thai sauce and the halibut with macadamia nuts (both $18) are truly fulfilling. Stop in on weekends and enjoy exotic traditional Thai music or jazz along with your meal (spring and summer only). Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; street parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.