Where to Eat Now 

Wednesday, Apr 24 2002

Page 9 of 12

Joe’s. Recently enlarged from cramped tables in hallways to actual restaurant proportions, Joseph Miller’s beloved Venice venue is now like, well, a real restaurant, with a real dining room, a larger wait staff and — inevitably — a certain loss. Miller’s clear-flavored California-French cooking can still graze perfection, but the overall focus in both the cooking and temper of the place seems fuzzier and the bill seems significantly higher. And yet I still love his three- and four-course prix-fixe menus. 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 399-5811. Lunch Tues.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.; dinner Tues.–Fri. 6–10 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 6–11 p.m.; brunch Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $10-$25, plus $38-$45 prix-fixe dinner. California. MH $


Studio City

Location Info

Out Take Cafe. From won tons to lamb shank, there’s something for everyone at this too small, often packed eclectic café. And you can order a terrific meal of vareniki ä (sturdy Polish dumplings topped with caramelized onions and sour cream) followed by a bowl of beefy, vegetable-rich hot borscht. 12159 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 760-1111. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. $11–$16. Polish/Eclectic. MH

Spark Woodfire Cooking. What happens when a sophisticated regional-Italian restaurant like Alto Palato marries a mass market Cal-Ital coffee shop like Louise’s? Well, Spark — a cheerful Cal-Ital Valley girl with corporate polish and flickerings of soul. Thin-crust Roman pizzas and pressed Italian sandwiches share a menu with creamy coleslaw, and rotisserie meats, including porchetta, a fabulous herb- and pepper-encrusted pork leg. Spark’s second, larger, more thoroughly Italian incarnation is seaside, at the Pierside Pavillion in Huntington Beach. 11801 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 623-8883. Lunch Mon.–Fri.; dinner seven nights. 300 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-0996. Lunch Sat.–Sun.; dinner seven nights. Full bar. Valet parking. Entrées $8.95–$22.95. California Italian. MH $


South Los Angeles

Phillip’s Barbecue. Crusted with black and deeply smoky, the spareribs here are rich and crisp and juicy; the beef ribs are meaty as rib roasts beneath their coat of char. They are the best ribs in Los Angeles, perhaps the only ribs that can compete on equal terms with the best from Oakland or Atlanta. And the extra-hot sauce is as sweet and exhilarating as a classic O’Jays LP. Tucked into a mini-mall between a liquor store and the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, Phillip’s might be a little hard to spot from the street, but if you keep your window open, you should be able to sniff it out from half a mile away. 4307 Leimert Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 292-7613. Mon.–Wed. 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Thurs. to 10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. to mid. No alcohol. Parking in lot. Cash only. Entrées $4.75–$10.50. American. JG ¢ *


East Los Angeles

Ciro’s. Stylistically, flautas can range from the greasy taquitos your college dorm used to serve, to the giant, tasteless roll-ups served by certain upscale Mexican chains. Located just down the street from El Tepeyac, beloved by local families and cops, Ciro’s is known across all East L.A. for its flautas, tiny things that come six to an order, tightly rolled and very crisp, sauced with thick, chunky, fresh guacamole and a dollop of tart Mexican cream. 705 N. Evergreen St., East L.A., (323) 267-8637. Tues.–Thurs. 7 a.m.–8 p.m., Fri.–Sun. 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Beer only. Street parking. Cash only. Mexican. JG ¢ *

El Tepeyac. The burrito is a symbol of abundance, the humble taco transformed into a plump, overstuffed creation. At El Tepeyac, the legendary East L.A. stand whose name has practically become synonymous with the burrito, the Hollenbeck, named after the local East L.A. police division, is more or less an old-line Mexican restaurant’s entire menu wrapped into a tortilla the size of a pillowcase — rice, beans, stewed meat, guacamole and lakes of melted cheese. 812 N. Evergreen Ave., East L.A., (323) 267-8668. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Wed.–Mon. No alcohol. Street parking. Cash only. Entrées $3.75–$12. Mexican. JG ¢

Tacos Baja Ensenada. Entire religions have been founded on miracles less profound than the Ensenada fish taco. In most of Mexico, the words estilo Ensenada signify just one thing: fish tacos, specifically the fried-fish tacos served at stalls in the fish market down by the docks. In East L.A., you will come no closer to the ideal than these crunchy, sizzlingly hot strips of batter-fried halibut, folded into warm corn tortillas with salsa, shredded cabbage and a squeeze of lime, sprinkled with freshly chopped herbs and finished with a squirt of thick, cultured cream. 5385 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 887-1980. Lunch and dinner daily. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Entrées $3.99–$10. Mexican. JG ¢ *

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