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West Hollywood and Vicinity 


Alto Palato. The main dining room with its sky-high ceilings and roomy tables has the lofty ambiance of a European railway station — and the service can be European, too: maddening. But the cooking is authentic regional Italian; try the wafer-thin pizza and the best gelato outside of Rome. Every Wednesday night features a special, reasonably priced regional dinner. 755 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 657-9271. Dinner Tues.–Sat. 6–11 p.m., Sun. 5–10 p.m. Closed Monday. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $12.95–$22.95. Italian. MH $$

Bliss. Once you find it, Bliss looks like a place the devil might like — a vast, cavernous club with womb-red walls, gas fires, and enormous sculptural paper lanterns that look like licking flames. (There’s no outside signage or address, but it’s just south of Melrose Place.) There are two bars, and curtained "boxes" where you can have both privacy and a great view of the goings-on below, which are mostly dressed-up people drinking and eating. The New American club fare is a mix of comfort food, fusion and meat. 650 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 659-0999. Dinner Wed.–Sat., from 7 p.m. Closed Sun.–Tues. Full bar. Valet parking. Entrées $25–$39. American. MH $$$ ® H

Cheebo. Why aren’t more restaurants like Cheebo — a smart, fun, clattery café where the food is mostly organic, very fresh, modestly priced and prepared with an in-arguable flair for flavor? Try the halibut on smoky white beans, the slow-cooked pork, the chewy, thin-crusted pizza topped with house-made sausage and fennel. Sandwiches are assembled with — or, for you carb-a-phobics, without — house-made bread. Salads are diverse and luscious (try either chopped, the city’s best caesar type, or a hippie-dippy sprout mélange, to name but a few; all of them are composed, like the restaurant itself, of countless small intelligent details). 7533 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 850-7070. Lunch and dinner, seven days, 8 a.m.–midnight. Beer and wine. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Entreés $12–$18. Organic Italian. MH $$

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The Griddle Cafe. On a Sunday morning, the Griddle is really loud: clattering pans, a hundred shouted conversations, amplified rock & roll bouncing off the high ceilings. Coffee comes to the table in squat plunger pots, and the jumble of bottled condiments on each table could stock a supermarket shelf. And the woman next to you at the counter is eating a stack of berry pancakes so large that it looks like a movie prop, like three large pizzas piled on top of one another and smothered in powdered sugar. The enormous pancakes are available blanketed in cinnamon streusel, or spiked with Kahlua and Bailey’s, or smothered under an improbable mass of whipped cream and crumbled Oreos, and they are not the best pancakes in Los Angeles, but they are good enough. 7916 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 874-0377. Breakfast and lunch, Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Beer. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, D, MC, V. Food for two: $12–$18. American. JG $ *

Irv’s Burgers. Across the street from Hamburger Mary’s, Irv’s Burgers is a patch of unreconstructed California in the epicenter of sleek West Hollywood, Since 1950 it has been a redoubt of hand-cut French fries and double cheeseburgers, pastrami sandwiches and Denver omelets, onion rings and tuna melts, root beer and egg salad, and its fans seem almost to live at the place, reading the trades, meeting with groups of friends, stapling up posters advertising readings at A Different Light and Fatboy Slim CDs. Irv’s current proprietor, Sonia Hong, is nice — just totally, manically nice; she personalizes almost every paper plate and to-go bag with scrawled notes. The hamburgers are totally, infinitely customizable, and if you’ve been going there a while, you probably have a variation or a private sandwich configuration named after you, a sandwich that is irrevocably yours. To the utter horror of locals, Irv’s Burgers is set to be bulldozed out of existence — to be turned into a branch of Peet’s Coffee & Tea. More than 1,400 neighbors signed a petition of protest (1 in 40 citizens of West Hollywood, as one petitioner puts it) and a group calling itself the Burger Brigade has been holding rallies in front of the restaurant — rallies, it goes without saying, fueled by some pretty good hamburgers. I haven’t seen this level of community support for a doomed restaurant since developers threatened to raze the Formosa a decade or so back — and the Formosa still stands today. 8289 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 650-2456. Open Monday–Saturday, 7:30 a.m.–8 p.m. Cash only. No alcohol. Difficult street parking only. Lunch for two, $8–$12. American. JG ¢ *

The Ivy. The patio here is a New Yorker’s perfect dream of Los Angeles, splashed with sunlight, decorated with amusing American kitsch, populated with lunching actresses, agents, and New York magazine editors in town to take the pulse of the city. The food is acceptable though expensive, down-home food at uptown prices. But the Ivy’s definitive corn chowder, concocted by a practically teenage Toribio Prado before he decamped to found the Cha Cha Cha empire almost 20 years ago, sizzles with gentle chile heat. 113 N. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 274-8303. Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.–11:30 p.m., Sun. 10:30 a.m.–11 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, CB, DC, MC, V. Entrées $25–$39. American. JG $$

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