Best of L.A.

Best Of 2011

Neighborhoods

  • + Beverly Hills
  • + Burbank
  • + Central California
  • + Central San Gabriel Valley
  • + Chinatown/ Elysian Park
  • + Crescenta Valley
  • + Culver City
  • + Downtown
  • + East L.A.
  • + Echo Park
  • + Foothill Cities
  • + Glendale
  • + Hollywood
  • + Inglewood
  • + Koreatown
  • + Long Beach
  • + Los Feliz
  • + Malibu
  • + Melrose/ Beverly/ Fairfax
  • + Mid-Wilshire/ Hancock Park
  • + Monterey Park/ Alhambra/ S. Gabriel
  • + Northeast L.A.
  • + Northern California
  • + Orange County
  • + Out of Town
  • + Pacific Palisades
  • + Pasadena and vicinity
  • + Pomona and beyond
  • + Riverside County
  • + Rowland/ Hacienda Heights
  • + San Bernardino County
  • + San Diego County
  • + San Fernando Valley
  • + San Francisco
  • + San Francisco Bay Area
  • + San Jose
  • + Santa Barbara County
  • + Santa Clarita and Beyond
  • + Santa Monica
  • + Silver Lake
  • + South Bay
  • + Southeastern Cities
  • + USC to South L.A.
  • + Venice/ Marina del Rey
  • + Ventura County
  • + West Adams/ Crenshaw/ Baldwin Hills
  • + West Hollywood
  • + West L.A.
  • + Westchester/ LAX
  • + Westlake
Map It

Arts & Entertainment

Bars & Clubs

Food & Drink

People & Places

Shopping & Services

Sports & Recreation

MORE

Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Belly-Dancing Brunch
Burger Continental

Most people don't realize what's behind the doors of Burger Continental in Pasadena. Not only is the restaurant's name painfully generic, it hardly describes the vibe inside — or the food, for that matter. This charming hideaway comes with a sprawling patio that looks a little like the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland. Burger Continental specializes in pita sandwiches, kebabs, falafel, gyros, baklava and other forms of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. There are burgers, too, but with such a banquet of exotic dishes, it's not usually the first thing people choose to eat. Be sure to try the Sunday brunch, an all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet with stations that dole out generous portions of omelets, Belgian waffles, meat and Mexican food. There are also the trademark foreign specialties, including some pretty unusual morning entertainment — namely, belly dancers. As part of its Sunday brunch, Burger Continental features live music along with rapidly gyrating, undulating women decorated with coins. Because who doesn't need a little shimmy with their toast and coffee? 535 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena. (626) 792-6634, burgercontinentalpasadena.com.

—Tanja M. Laden

535 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, 91101
MAP
626-792-6634
Best Afternoon Tea
Langham Huntington Hotel

Augustus Gloop would never make it out alive. What makes Pasadena's Langham Huntington Hotel the best choice for afternoon tea can be summed up in one word: chocolate. On Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., the hotel's regular tea service, smashing in itself, is replaced by an all-chocolate afternoon tea. The selection of savory tea sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream, fruit tarts, mousse torts and crème brûlées all contain different chocolate essences. A chocolate fountain is the focal point of the afternoon ritual, with surrounding chocolate sculptural art. Beverage choices include three selections of pure liquid chocolate, Champagne and a variety of the finest teas. Among the offerings are a foie gras mousse profiterole sprinkled with chocolate dust and a white chocolate–and-avocado mousse with vanilla-marinated shrimp sandwich. An epic 16 choices are offered in the "pastry presentation," including a cocoa-nib macaroon with Earl Grey butter cream; milk-chocolate orange gateau; and a white-chocolate green tea panna cotta. Dipping choices for the chocolate fountain include peppermint and lemon marshmallows, nougats, fruits and cakes. It feels a bit incongruous to gorge on so much chocolatey goodness in such a refined, elegant setting as the Langham. Just remember to daintily dab the corners of your mouth with your fine linen napkin lest you emerge with an unsightly chocolate ring around your lips. That would be gauche. 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena. (626) 585-6218, pasadena.langhamhotels.com.

—Samantha Bonar

1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena, 91106
MAP
626-585-6218
Best Hotter 'n Hell Pizza
Lucifers

If you like life on the dark side, you'll love pizza from Lucifers, a tiny storefront that could be easily overlooked if it weren't for the orange flames painted on the façade. There, you can customize the heat/spice intensity of your pizza by specifying zero, medium, fiery or blazing. But watch out: Blazing necessitates keeping a pitcher of ice water at the ready should you require emergency cool-down procedures — which you will. The idea for this "damned good pizza," as their slogan goes, comes from New Zealanders, cousins Adam and Milan Borch. "It's dark in our country, and we like the dark side of things," says Milan. "The idea of hell goes hand in hand with our concept." Even without what he calls their "secret sauce," all the pizzas are devilishly unique, such as Roast Pumpkin & Prosciutto; the Zucha, with pumpkin, olives, feta and spinach; and gluten-free and vegan cheese options. To die for: The R.I.P. club entitles you to one free pizza after your 10th. 1958 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz. (323) 906-8603, luciferspizza.com.

—Heidi Dvorak

1958 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, 90027-2722
MAP
323-906-8603
Best Old-Fashioned Taco Sauce

Without the kick to qualify as hot sauce, the tomato-based, sugary-yet-smoky topping that is the staple flavor of this decades-old gringo taco joint is simply "taco sauce," given in generous handfuls of packets with every order and even sold separately for the condiment's numerous cult followers. Taco Lita, the retro stand, is a slice of Americana: bright colors, cheerful servers, a no-frills menu with greasy combo burritos, and rumors of a ghost that haunts the men's restroom. This spot isn't for al Past whores, so don't try ordering it — refried beans and shredded cheddar can be found in virtually all menu items, which can and should be doused with their signature sauce, so addictive you will find yourself hoarding the packets in a jar at home, and returning for more on your next calorie binge. 120 E. Duarte Road, Arcadia. (626) 445-2889.

—Hunter Haney

120 E. Duarte Rd., Arcadia, 91006
MAP
626-445-2889
Best Buy-It-Before-It-Expires Deals
Fresh and Easy

Fresh and Easy markets have popped up all over Southern California. Promising fresh, wholesome food and a quicker shopping experience than a typical supermarket, they offer a wide selection of groceries and prepared meals. Their most notable offering is the "Today's Specials" section, which stocks items about to hit their sell-by date at prices up to 50 percent off. Stop in on your way home, check out the items about to, well, check out, and voila, instant dinner inspiration. With ever-changing options, you have no excuse for making the same old mac 'n' cheese from a box ... again. freshandeasy.com.

—Lisa Horowitz

7021 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028
MAP
323-466-0097
Best Giant Pizza for Under $20
Caruso's Pizza

A great pizza is a work of art. And a great pizza for under $20? A masterpiece. The Pizza a la Andro at Caruso's is a masterpiece. Named after one of the owner's sons (son Lucas also has his own), the Pizza a la Andro comes only in "giant" size: 16 inches across, producing 12 decent-size slices. Its chewy, medium-thick crust bears generous amounts of pepperoni, sausage, fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil, in addition to deliciously gooey cheese (romano and mozzarella). The best part? It costs just $18.95. Caruso's has a full menu of delicious Italian food, including pastas, calzones and meat dishes; it also offers a full bar, a lunch buffet and even live music. But when you can get a terrific pizza, why order anything else? 13737 Foothill Blvd., Sylmar. (818) 367-7766.

—Lisa Horowitz

13737 Foothill Blvd., Los Angeles, 91342
MAP
818-367-7766
X

Best Belly-Dancing Brunch: Burger Continental

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >