Downtown Los Angeles/Highland Park
Patina, Disney Hall. Patina’s dining room in Disney Hall is arguably the most important restaurant space in California, and when Joachim Splichal concentrates, as he has so many times before, he can be among the best chefs in the United States. The restaurant is known for the offhand complexity of its presentations, and a bowl of soup I tasted there may have been among the oddest of all: The raw flesh of a Santa Barbara spot prawn shared space at the bottom of a bowl with fresh coconut, threads of slivered lemongrass and tart, juicy flecks of chopped citrus. It was frosted with flakes of dried bonito — a stunning composition. 141 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn., (213) 972-3331. Dinner daily 5 p.m.–11 p.m., Lunch Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Beer and wine. Valet parking. AE, D, MC, V. French contemporary. JG $$$?b?
TV Café. If you were the kind of artist who mounts big shows at Ace or Gagosian, merits retrospectives at MOCA, or knows the meaning of the term “catalogue raisonné,” you may well sip old Bordeaux among the Grahams and Diebenkorns at Michael’s. If you are the other kind of artist, you probably already know the mammoth vegetarian burritos, serviceable hamburgers and bowls of cocido at this 24-hour entrepôt in the industrial district south of downtown. Are you dissuaded by the noisy Pac Man machine and the often-questionable clientele? Welcome to L.A. 1777 E. Olympic Blvd., L.A., (213) 624-1155. Open daily, 24 hours. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Mexican. JG ¢b?
Silver Lake/Los Feliz/Echo Park
The Kitchen. Here is the quintessential Silver Lake canteen. Its former subtitle — “Lunch to Late Night” — reflects the circadian rhythms of its neighborhood clientele. The interior is early East Village — deep colors, battered tables, crumbling cement, loud music. The service tends toward the casual and offhand, which belies the big-hearted, darn good food — try a bowl of quite viable cioppino. 4348 Fountain Ave., Silver Lake, (323) 664-3663. Mon.–Thurs. 5 p.m.–mid., Fri. 5 p.m.–1 a.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-mid., Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $10–$18. American. MH ¢?
Millie’s. As several generations of Silver Lake hipsters can attest, Millie’s was designed to cure hangovers the way that penicillin was designed to cure syphilis, a hot, crowded, underventilated slice of culinary purgatory that cuts straight to the heart of the problem. Swear by the grease antidote? Millie’s chicken-fried steak with 40-weight gravy is there for you. Believe in a shock to the system? An extra-spicy Devil’s Mess omelet, which comes with antitoxin doses of everything in the kitchen, may do the trick. Bacon and strong coffee the ticket? You’ve come to the right place. For better or for worse, Millie’s cooks breakfast like your dad used to make. And as they say, Father knows best. 3524 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 664–0404. Open daily, 7:30 a.m.–4 p.m. V, MC only. No liquor. Street parking. Takeout. American. JG ¢b
LA9905 Geisha House. It would be impossible, I think, for someone in the restaurant business to visit Geisha House without seeing dollar signs dancing before his or her eyes — the bottles of champagne and expensive sake that ornament each table, the pricey plates of raw fish, the vast, two-story space teeming with light, color and horny 25-year-olds with working American Express cards. You have never seen so many people at one time focused on getting fed, tipsy and laid — Geisha House is like a giant orgone box fueled by strong drink and raw fish, and its happy vibrations radiate in concentric circles across Hollywood. Have you seen this menu before? Of course you have, at Koi: tuna tartare troweled onto crispy-rice sushi; hamachi with jalapeño; seared albacore with ponzu; cowboy rolls stuffed with grilled steak; soft-shell crab tempura. But it’s a happiness explosion, dude — you’re right in the middle of it. And the food is awfully tasty too. 6633 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd., (323) 460-6300. Dinner nightly 6 p.m.–2 a.m. Two full bars. No takeout. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Sushi/Japanese. JG $$$Â?
Los Balcones del Peru. The ceviches at Los Balcones are very good, not just the camarones a la piedra but also the tart assemblages of marinated raw fish and shellfish and purple squid tentacles garnished with puréed sweet potatoes, onions and marble-size kernels of the imported Peruvian corn called choclo, which are alarmingly large the first time you run into them. And then there are those warm marinated shrimp. I have never seen camarones a la piedra outside the pages of a Peruvian cookbook — Los Balcones’ owner swears that the dish is unavailable anywhere else in the United States — and I wonder where it has been hiding all my life. 1360 N. Vine St., Hlywd., (323) 871-9600. Sun.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Validated parking at ArcLight Cinema. AE, MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $18–$28. Peruvian. JG $b