Downtown Los Angeles/Highland Park
Beverly Soontofu. The tofu casserole, soontofu, comes bubbling and sputtering, splattering the paper place mat with a fine red mist, forming a burnt crust on the rim of the red-hot cast-iron bowl in which it is served. 2717 W. Olympic Blvd., No. 108, downtown, (213) 380-1113. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days, 9:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. MC, V. Korean. JG ¢?b[
Birriera Chalio. If you’re in the mood for a lot of goat, practically goat by the yard, it might be difficult to do better than a long, goaty lunch among the mounted animal heads at the original Birriera Chalio on Calle Primero, where the waitresses will bring plate after plate of the restaurant’s signature Zacatecas-style birria — chewy riblets and soft chunks of shoulder and muscley knots of leg meat — until you practically have to beg them to stop. Birriera Chalio on Calle Primero, 3580 E. First St., Los Angeles, (323) 268–5349. Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–8 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. Takeout. Latin. JG $b
LA99 Chichén Itzá. This place may have the most serious Yucatecan cooking in town, its menu a living, chile-intensive thesaurus of the panuchos and codzitos, sopa de lima and papadzules, banana-leaf tamales and shark casseroles that make up one of Mexico’s most thrilling cuisines. In Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 741-1075. Sun.–Wed. 8 a.m.–6:30 p.m., Thurs.–Sat. 8 a.m.–8 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Yucatecan. $$
LA99 Ciudad. Cuchifritos at happy hour. Fatally strong mojitos. Peruvian-style ceviches and Bolivian-style tamales, Caribbean paella and a classic pescado Veracruzana, Bahia-style moqueqas and a fritanga that would knock them silly in Managua. 445 S. Figueroa St., downtown, (213) 486-5171. Mon.–Tues. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Wed.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sat. 5–11 p.m., Sun. 5–9 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, D, MC, V. Pan-Latino. $
Silver Lake/Los Feliz/Echo Park
The Kitchen. 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 ¢?
Pattaya. First, it has a parking lot, a true boon in this bustling, ever-hippifying neighborhood. Second, it opens daily at 11 a.m. for lunch, and stays open nightly until 4 a.m., which means that you can get an excellent curative hot pot of chicken soup before you call it quits on a long evening out. 1727 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. (323) 666-0880. Open seven days 11 a.m.–4 a.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $10 & up. Thai. MH $Â[?
Rambutan Thai. Many Thai restaurants cater to timid American palates, playing down the chile heat, eschewing the fish sauce, and sweetening dishes. But the Rambutan kitchen refreshingly and correctly assumes that its hip Silver Lake clientele has the sophistication and ability to appreciate the full Thai flavors. 2835 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (213) 273-8424. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., dinner Sat. 5p.m.–mid., Sun. 5–11 p.m. Beer, wine and sake. Lot parking. Entrées $8–$14. AE, MC, V. Thai. MH $ [
Say Cheese. The lunch menu features salads, sandwiches, quiche and the house specialty, tartiflette (baked diced potatoes with onion and bacon topped with melted reblochon cheese and served with a mixed green salad). 2800 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake, (323) 665-0545, fax (323) 665-6465. Open Mon.–Sat. 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m (store open until 6:30), Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m . No alcohol. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Sandwiches $8–$9.50. MH ¢b
LA99? Cobras & Matadors. This dark, buzzy tapas parlor is teeming with olive oil and garlic, octopus and cured pig, grilled meats and pungent concoctions of seafood and paprika and beans rushed to the table still crackling in unglazed crocks. 7615 W. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 932-6178. 4655 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz, (323) 669-3922. Dinner Sun.–Thurs. 6–11 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 6 p.m.–mid. BYOB. Valet parking. MC, V. Spanish. $ JG $Â
El Coyote. Many restaurants resemble this place — from the cheap margaritas, to the “Mexican pizza” available in the ever-crowded bar — but I could pick an El Coyote combination plate blindfolded out of 100 others, and most of the regulars could, too. 7312 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 939-2255. Lunch and dinner Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. MC, V. Mexican. JG $bÂ
Grub. Try the Mt. Olympus, a platter mounded with wild-mushroom couscous, lemony hummus, a mash of sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled feta, artichoke hearts, and an unseen but powerfully present mass of garlic — all to be scooped with warm, soft, oily pita chips. Or the decadent After School Special, a grilled cheese sandwich made with Cheddar and Swiss, on sourdough and fried in, oh, maybe a half-stick of butter. 911 Seward St., Hollywood, (323) 461-3663. Breakfast Mon.–Fri. 8–10:30 a.m. Lunch Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Brunch Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m.–2 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout daily, delivery Mon.-Fri. Street parking. AE, D, MC, V. American. Nancy Rommelmann $b[