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Where to Eat Now 

Tuesday, Nov 13 2007

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Downtown L.A./Chinatown/WestlakeKim Chuy The basic deal at this noodle shop is, of course, the noodles: slippery rice noodles or firmer, square-cut egg noodles, submerged in broth, garnished with things like boiled duck legs and sliced pork. At Kim Chuy, the special noodles include duck and shrimp, squid and cuttlefish, and four kinds of fish cake; also floppy, herb-spiked won ton. The Chiu Chow beef-stew noodles come with melting shanks of tendon and hunks of long-simmered chuck. Chiu Chow spiced beef noodles come in a gritty, spicy demicurry, almost crunchy with ground nuts (another missing link between Chiu Chow cooking and Thai). 727 N. Broadway, No. 103, Chinatown; (213) 687-7215. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Food for two, $8–$10. Cash or AE, MC, V. JG

Pete’s Café and Bar Pete’s has classic bar-’n’-grill good looks. There’s also a hint of contemporary clubbiness. The food is a functional, midpriced take on New American cooking: mac and cheese, a gilded burger (fontina, tomato aioli), steaks, bread pudding. Highlights include the martini glass heaped with shrimp, yellow and orange baby heirloom tomatoes, and green guacamole, all doused in citrus salsa. A house specialty, blue-cheese fries, is sinful, potatoes tossed hot with the sharp salty cheese so they’re limp yet crisp and chewy. 400 S. Main St., downtown, (213) 617-1000. Lunch and dinner Sun.–Wed. 11:30 a.m.–mid., Thurs.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m., breakfast Sat.–Sun. from 11:30 a.m. Entrées $10–$24. Full bar. Lot parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. American. MH

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Silver Lake/Los Feliz/Echo Park

Canelé In Bordelaise dialect, a canele is a dense, fluted cylinder of pudding edged with crisp beeswax. In Atwater Village, Canele can feel a lot like an ongoing dinner party that just happens to tolerate strangers at its tables, with oddly minimalist décor, menus illegibly scrawled onto chalkboards, and friendly but puzzled waitresses who aren’t quite sure why you’ve stumbled into their domain. The chef/owner is Corina Weibel, a Nancy Silverton protégée who also cooked for a while at Lucques, and she works the farmers-market-driven urban rustic side of new Los Angeles cooking: the Provençal onion tart ­pissaladière and an austere green salad with crème fraîche; rare roast lamb with Israeli couscous and beef bourguignon with noodles; steak with potatoes Anna; and an honest flan. This is cooking worthy of the good china. 3219 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village, (323) 666-7133. Tues.–Sat. 5:30–10:30 p.m., Sun. 5–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Street parking. AE, MC, V. French. JGIndia Sweets & Spices The specialty at IS&S is probably the lentil-cheap dinner combination, a segmented foam tray laden with basmati rice, dahl, tart raita, pickles and a vegetable dish of some kind, ladled out cafeteria style. 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., L.A., (323) 345-0360. Lunch and dinner daily, 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

Hollywood/Melrose/La Brea/Fairfax

Carlitos Gardel The most famous dish here must be the baked-garlic appetizer, a naked halved bulb on a plate, ready to pulp onto the house’s quite decent bread. As with most Argentine restaurants, Gardel revolves around its parrillada, a cavalcade of grilled meats — sweetbreads, blood sausage, skirt steak, short ribs, Italian sausage — served on a smoking iron grill, accompanied only by a small bowl of well-garlicked chimichurri and a large plate of mashed potatoes. 7963 Melrose Ave., L.A., (323) 655-0891. Open for lunch, Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & for dinner, Mon.-Sat. 6-11 p.m. Sun. 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Dinner for two, food only, $25–$45. Beer and wine. Live music. AE, DC, MC, V. Argentine. JG

Hungry Cat To aficionados, Hungry Cat’s Crab Day is an annual event up there with Christmas and the Fourth of July, a chance to take a mallet to as many spicy boiled crustaceans as they can hold. Somebody call the mayor: It is an occasion worthy of a city holiday. But even on the other 364 days, The Hungry Cat is a civic treasure, a place to drop into for a dozen oysters or a bowl of shrimp, a crab cake or a bowl of chowder. The primary object of desire here is the lobster roll, an abstracted rendition of the New England beach-shack standard transformed into a split, crisp object about the size of a Twinkie. In Maine, the $20-plus it costs would buy you a lobster the size of a small pony. But we are in Hollywood, where the next ­acceptable lobster roll may be 2,800 miles away. 1535 N. Vine St., Hlywd., (323) 462-2155 or www.thehungrycat.com. Mon.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. & 5:30–11 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. & 5–9:30 p.m. Full bar. Validated parking. AE, MC, V. Seafood. JG

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