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Where to Eat Now 

Wednesday, Apr 24 2002
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Zankou. The chicken sandwiches are good at Zankou; so are the falafel and the shawarma carved off the rotating spit. But the spit-roasted chickens, golden, crisp-skinned and juicy, are what you want. Such chicken really needs no embellishment, but a little bit of Zankou’s fierce, blinding-white garlic sauce couldn’t hurt. 5065 Sunset Blvd., East Hollywood, (323) 665-7842. 1415 E. Colorado Blvd., Glendale, (818) 244-2237. 5658 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys, (818) 781-0615. 1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 405-1502. 10 a.m.–mid. seven days. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Entrées $2.25–$7.50. Middle Eastern/Armenian. JG ¢ *

 

Mid-Wilshire/Koreatown
Central Los Angeles

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Bu San. Korean-style raw sea cucumber is like nothing you’ve ever tasted before, and Korean-style sashimi, which you wrap in a lettuce leaf with raw garlic, sliced chiles and bean paste, is a revelation. The chefs are fond of converting live fish from the tanks into a meal’s worth of demonstrably fresh sashimi. Raw squid, luxuriously creamy, with a small bit of crunch at the center, only tastes alive. Although almost alarmingly so. 203 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 871-0703. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Beer and wine. Lot parking. MC, V. Entrées $25–$30. Korean. JG $$

El Cholo. Even in the ’20s, Angelenos vaguely remembered that the area used to belong to Mexico, and there have always been Mexican restaurants here that catered to American taste. The emblematic cuisine of these restaurants is embodied in the Number Two Dinner, the eternal combination platter of chile relleno, enchilada, rice and beans bound together with cinctures of orange cheese. And El Cholo’s green-corn tamales have been a rite of spring in Los Angeles since the days when Bob Hope was actually funny. 1121 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 734-2773. Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. to 11 p.m., Sun. to 9 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $6.95–$13.50. Mexican. JG $ ¨

Guelaguetza. Oaxacan restaurants are flourishing at the moment, and at the best of them, Guelaguetza, you’ll find the sort of Oaxacan dishes you’ve only read about in magazines. Of the classic seven moles of Oaxaca, dark, complex sauces flavored with seeds, nuts, herbs and chiles of every description, you will usually find at least three. The black mole, based on ingredients the restaurant brings up from Oaxaca, is rich with chopped chocolate and burnt grain, toasted chile, and wave upon wave of textured spice — it’s as simple yet as nuanced as a great old Cote Rotie. 3337½ W. Eighth St., (213) 427-0779. Open daily 8 a.m.–11 p.m. No alcohol. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $5 to $8.50. Mexican. JG ¢

Nyala. The central fact of Ethiopian cuisine is injera, the sour, pale, platter-size pancake that acts as plate, utensil, condiment and bread, and also as an ingredient in about half the stews. At the vegetarian-friendly Nyala, there is a fine version of the chicken stew doro wot, thick with hot spice and glistening with butter; minchetabish, which tastes like a fiery Ethiopian take on Texas chili. 1076 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 936-5918. Mon.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. Full bar. Street parking. AE, CB, DC, MC, V. Entrées $7–$12. Ethiopian. JG $ H

Oki Dog. Immortalized by the Descendents, beloved by the Germs, the original Oki Dog, long since closed, was to the original ’70s punk-rock scene in Los Angeles what the Brown Derby was to 1940s filmdom. The most famous creation here at the stand that remains is the eponymous dog, a couple of frankfurters wrapped in a tortilla with chili, pickles, mustard, a slice of fried pastrami and a torrent of goopy American cheese — a cross-cultural burrito that’s pretty hard to stomach unless you’ve got the tum of a 16-year-old, but strangely delicious nonetheless. 5056 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 938-4369. Open seven days 9 a.m.–10 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Entrées $4–$5.50. American Cross-Culture. JG ¢ *

Papa Cristo’s. At Papa Cristo’s, tucked into a corner of Los Angeles’ oldest Greek market, eight bucks buys a whole grilled fish, or a plate of spaghetti plus half a garlicky, crisp-skinned roast chicken. Eight bucks will also buy three lamb chops, four if you’re lucky, steeped in garlic and oregano and grilled quickly over a hot fire. These aren’t the thick, prime loin chops you’d find at Michael’s or Campanile, and they are usually cooked somewhere on the far, far side of rare, but it is hard to imagine more flavorful meat. 2771 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 737-2970. Lunch Tues.–Sun. Beer and wine. Lot parking in rear. AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $6.99 to $9.99. Greek. JG ¢ *

Soot Bull Jeep. Soot Bull Jeep may be the best of L.A.’s 100-odd Korean barbecues, noisy, smoky, with all the bustle you’d expect in the heart of a great city, a place to cook your own marinated short ribs and baby octopus, pork loin and tripe, above a tabletop heap of glowing hardwood coals. If you are new to this sort of thing, a waitress will return periodically to make sure that your ignorance of cooking times injures the meat no more than absolutely necessary. 3136 Eighth St., Los Angeles, (213) 387-3865. Open daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Beer and wine. Street parking. MC, V. Entrées $15–$30. Korean. JG ¢

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