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Where To Eat Now 

Tuesday, Oct 3 2006
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Downtown Los Angeles/Highland Park

 Chichén Itzá. The community-run market La Paloma is everything a shopping center should be in Los Angeles, a collection of shops selling art and artisanal products, a bakery, and a food court representing the gamut of Mexican regional cooking in Los Angeles: a Oaxacan juice bar, a Michoacán-style taqueria — and Chichén Itzá, which 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. 3655 S. Grand Ave., downtown, (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. JG $b

Haru Ulala. Los Angeles is in the middle of an izakaya renaissance, an explosion of intimate, beer-soaked taverns flipping out beakers of sake, small plates of tofu and braised seaweed, and small, oily grilled fish of every description. Haru Ulala, a neighborhood izakaya affiliated with the nearby Go-55 sushi bar, may have neither the encyclopedic sake list nor the fancy seafood selection of some other restaurants, but the steamed cow tongue, yellowtail with daikon radish, and simmered Kurobuta pork belly are delicious, the green-tea noodles are soothing, and the restaurant is open very late on weekends. 368 E. Second St., downtown, (213) 620-0977. Mon.–Thurs. 6 p.m.–mid., Fri.–Sat. 6 p.m.–2 a.m. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Japanese. JG $$

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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., downtown, (213) 624-1155. Open 24 hours, seven days. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Mexican. JG ¢

Silver Lake/Los Feliz/Echo ParkEdendale Grill. Housed in an old firehouse and named for Los Angeles’ first movie studio, Silver Lake’s Edendale Grill is a bit of set-dressed history. Craftsman-era lighting fixtures with mica shades cast a warm, golden glow in the dining room. The kitchen serves up its own brand of culinary nostalgia for midcentury Midwestern American cooking: oysters Rockefeller, caesar salads made tableside, Green Goddess salad dressing, sand dabs, steaks and chops, even a beet-red velvet cake from the Waldorf. 2838 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake, (323) 666-2000. Dinner Sun.–Thurs. 5:30 p.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5:30 p.m.–11 p.m. Sunday brunch 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Full bar. Complimentary valet. AE, DC, MC, V. American. MH $$

Gingergrass. Gingergrass, a sleek Vietnamese bistro in Silver Lake, is probably the polar opposite of a place like Golden Deli, citified where the San Gabriel noodle shop is rustic, timid where the food at the other roars with flavor. There is pho, but it’s not really the point here. And the spicy fish steamed in banana leaves, the shrimp in fishy Vietnamese caramel sauce and the lemongrass chicken tend to be sluiced down with basil-spiked limeade instead of, say, salty lemonade or tepid tea. But the chef, Mako Antonishek, tends to cook in a way not unfriendly to wine (the restaurant has a symbiotic relationship with Silverlake Wine Merchants across the street), and her multicourse Mako Monday blowout dinners are legendary in the neighborhood. 2396 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 644-1600. Sun.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. & 5–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. & 5–10:30 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, D, MC, V. Vietnamese. JG $Vermont. Anchoring the ever-new hip commercial corridor of Vermont Avenue north of Sunset, Vermont (always lowercase) is like a stalwart, reliable friend. The owners often wander through the dining room, with its palmettos and pillars and gentle lighting, and they always like to chat. You may not be bowled over by anything you eat, but you’ll be back. Plus, the stylish bar is one of the neighborhood’s few upscale spots for cocktails. 1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz, (323) 661-6163. Lunch Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. ­Dinner 5:30–10:30 p.m. (until 11:30 p.m. Fri.–Sat.). Full bar. Parking in rear. AE, MC, V. California. MH $

Hollywood/Melrose/La Brea/Fairfax Citizen Smith. Your opinion of Citizen Smith probably has a lot to do with whether you think it’s amusing or insulting to be offered a bottle of Mickey’s Big Mouth with your fried chicken, whether you’d enjoy a live DJ with a fondness for Foghat and ELO, and whether you’d be comfortable in a restaurant whose ­specialty is probably giant onion rings, stacked on a plate like so many snow tires in a garage — the dining room feels like a lavish backstage party after a Strokes concert, although probably with less vegan food. 1600 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 461-5001. Lunch Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner nightly 6 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. American. JG $

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