Downtown Los Angeles/?Highland Park
Angélique Café. Down in the garment district, where Spring and Main streets converge, there’s a two-story café with a mansard roof and a patio that would be at home in any French town. Owner Bruno Herve Commereuc and his wife, Florence, make their own charcuterie — excellent rillettes, jambon persillade, pâté, andouilette à l’ancienne. Angélique is open for traditional French breakfasts (bread and pastries from Commereuc’s brother’s bakery, Pain du Jour) and for lunch, featuring a great selection of salads (try the cured salmon), hot entrées (try the roasted chicken) and vegetarian dishes (try the summery eggplant-and-tomato casserole). A homesick Frenchman I know swears that Angélique is the only place that eases his malady. 840 S. Spring St., downtown, (213) 623-8698. Breakfast and lunch Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–3:30 p.m., 8 a.m.–4 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $6.45–$8.95. French. MH ¢b
Langer’s. The best drive-thru food in Los Angeles? If you remember to call a couple of minutes in advance, somebody at Langer’s Delicatessen will be standing outside for you with the finest pastrami sandwich in the nation, steaming hot, hand-carved to order if you specify it that way, and odiferous enough to fog up your windows in a flash. Why settle for a hamburger when you can have Langer’s pastrami? 704 S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles, (213) 483-8050. Lunch and dinner, Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Wine and beer. Lot parking. MC, V. Pastrami, $9. Deli. JG ¢b
LA99 Water Grill. The Water Grill is a big-city fish restaurant, a redoubt of oysters and fresh scallops, sparkling fish and sea creatures we can’t even pronounce, in one of the busiest commercial corridors of downtown. It was widely assumed that the restaurant would wither into irrelevancy when former chef Michael Cimarusti left to open his own place last year (the brand-new Providence), but it is possible that the kitchen is even sharper under David LeFevre, who has added a certain global-Gallic sensibility to the seafood cuisine — which includes a beautiful peeky toe crab salad and perhaps the only local tuna tartare we would dream of ordering a second time. Extremely expensive and quite formal by Los Angeles standards, but you knew that. 544 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 891-0900. Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m., Sat. 5–9 p.m., Sun. 4:30–9 p.m. Full bar. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $25–$50. Progressive American. JG $$$b
Silver Lake/Los Feliz/Echo Park
India Sweets & Spices. The basic unit of consumption at IS&S is probably the $3.99 dinner special, a segmented foam tray laden with basmati rice, dahl, tart raita, pickles and a vegetable dish of some kind, ladled out cafeteria style from tubs in a long steam table and crowned with a whole-wheat chapati that hangs limply as yesterday’s tortilla. For an extra buck, you get a leaden, potato-stuffed samosa and a crunchy papadum; for an extra two, an Indian dessert and a mango lassi. The dinners are cheap, filling and tasty. But while the steam-table food (unless you catch it just right) is basically steam-table food, not especially different from what you’d find on any local Indian buffet, the made-to-order dishes are delicious: freshly fried bhaturas, balloon-shaped breads, served with curried chickpeas; the thin pancakes called parathas, stuffed with highly spiced cauliflower or homemade cheese; the South Indian lentil doughnuts called vada, served with a thin curried vegetable broth. 3126 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 345-0360. Lunch and dinner seven days, 9:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Food for two, $8–$12. Also at 1810 Parthenia, Northridge, (818) 407-1498; 9409 Venice Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-5286; 2201 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, (818) 887-0868. Indian. JG ¢b[
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. Open Mon.–Thurs. 5 p.m.–mid., Fri. 5 p.m.–1 a.m., Sat. noon–2:30 a.m., Sun. noon–10 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $10–$18. American. MH ¢?
LA99 Chameau. Chameau, which is more midcentury modern than a garden of earthly delights, may describe itself as French-Moroccan, but the food is quite different from both the plain cooking you’ll find at the fashionable couscous slingers in Paris’ Marais and the new-style cuisine you’ll find in restaurants that happen to feature a tagine or two on their menus. Chef Adel Chagar’s flavors may be modern, lightened and fresh, but his techniques, many of them, come from the traditional Moroccan kitchen, whose methods tend to be fairly languid: chicken-stuffed b’stilla made with incredibly time-consuming warka, couscous made by hand, and lamb shoulder tagines cooked until the meat almost dissolves into a lamb-scented cloud. 339 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 951-0039. Dinner Tues.–Sun. 6–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Street parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $42–$66. Moroccan.JG $$