Aging to Perfection
GOURMET COFFEE WAREHOUSE
671 Rose Ave, Venice
The motto here is "Wholesale to the people," and if the rock-bottom prices don't lure you, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee will. Everyday folk get the same deal as the business buyers: five-pound bags of high-end coffee at an average price of $6.20 per pound. Also available are bulk teas, chocolates and mugs. Feeling peckish? Dunk some house-baked biscotti in a fresh brew of potent, dark-roasted black gold, and then tuck a roasted red pepper sandwich ($2.50) in a bag for later. Open seven days. Parking available. AE, MC, V.
THE GREAT GREEK RESTAURANT
13362 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks
Whether going on a date, taking out Mom and Dad or throwing a party, The Great Greek Restaurant is a mouthwatering, cheesy, garlicky place for the occasion. Sit down to a delicious dinner of moussaka while watching your waiter dance a Zorba around the table that would shame Anthony Quinn. The festive atmosphere is embellished with live music from a Greek band. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
GREAT STAR OF INDIA
4059 W. Third St., L.A.
If you're in the mood for something spicy, hot and cheap, Great Star of India could be for you. At both lunch and dinner, you can enjoy delectable food for a reasonably low price. At lunchtime, try the tandoori chicken ($5.95) or lamb, and for dinner, you'll flip over the byrani ($5.95), which includes a choice of lamb, chicken, beef, shrimp or vegetables with tons of curry and green tamilin sauce. Open seven days. No alcohol; takeout; delivery; valet parking. AE, MC, V.
THE GREEK BISTRO
17337 Ventura Blvd., Encino
With its mirrored walls, artwork and fine dishes, this place is a favorite for those who love their food Greek. Try saganaki ($6.95), pan-fried cheese set ablaze at the table, then lay into a heavenly lamb tenderloin ($21.75), marinated and charbroiled to perfection. The Greek Bistro Feast, featuring 16 delicious items served in four separate courses ($21.95 per person), is just the thing for a party. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
8385 Beverly Blvd., L.A.
Although the sushi and noodles are delectable, Hirozen's real thrills are in its constantly changing specialty dishes. Traditional Japanese appetizers like fresh oysters ($6.50) complement inspired creations such as chirashi with miso soup ($8.50), sashimi with three kinds of fish ($15) or the custom-made "Hirozen course" ($38 a person gets you an appetizer, soup, sashimi, a main dish and a dessert). Lunch Mon.Fri., dinner Mon.Sat. Beer, wine and sake; takeout; catering; reservations accepted weekdays only. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
HOUSE OF BLUES
8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
With five bars on the restaurant level, live music nightly and a dazzling collection of Southern folk art, this is a party palace extraordinaire. The signature dish is a spicy Creole jambalaya, made with rice, shellfish, spicy sausage and ham and spiked with potent habanero peppers ($10.95 lunch, $13.95 dinner). From the back-yard smokehouse come Southern-style ribs ($12.95 lunch, $14.95 dinner) and smoked half-chickens with Barq's root-beer gravy ($14.95 dinner only). Lunch Mon.Sat., dinner seven nights, gospel brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, Disc., V, MC.
5947 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.
It's like being in India, only a lot cooler. (Yes, that's temperature-wise.) The specialties here are succulent lamb chops, prepared in the traditional tandoori style by marinating and cooking in a clay oven ($12.95) and delectable fish tikka kebabs ($7.50). On Sunday, stop by for the champagne brunch, and stuff yourself like a goose for just $6.95. Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch Sun. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; delivery; parking; reservations accepted. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
8711 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
Walk in here, and you will feel as though you've entered the Bahia region of Brazil. The "Baiana" ambiance is artfully evoked by traditional musical instruments and images of orixas (Afro-Bahian spirits) on the walls. Settle in with some moqueca, Brazilian stew with dashes of tomato and coconut milk. The shrimp-laden Moqueca de Camarao ($15.95) is tasty, but the lobster stew, Moqueca de Mogosta ($17.95), is heaven-sent. Brazilian vocalists and guitar players perform on select days. Dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
260 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills
This stylish Japanese restaurant has it all, from classic dishes like the teriyaki and tempura combo ($12.80), served with salad, miso, rice and fruit, to the ornate Tekkadonna meal, featuring slices of fresh tuna in a lacquered bowl of sticky white rice, garnished with sea urchin, crab, salmon eggs or mentaiko (spicy cold eggs), with pickled vegetables and miso ($14). Lunch Mon.Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout. AE, DC, MC, V.
738 Rose Ave., Venice
Outside you can enjoy an eye-catching fountain and garden, inside you can watch tortillas being made before your very eyes. Anywhere you sit here, it's like you're on vacation. The fish tacos are a popular staple ($7.75), as are the chile rellenos ($2.95), perfect for munching on while cooling off with one of the -- count 'em -- 18 margarita varieties. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days, brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; catering; parking; reservations suggested for large parties. V, MC.
12625 Sierra Hwy., Saugus
It's like a dream -- you drive outside the city to a castle in the woods, sit on a patio surrounded by oak trees, and settle down to a classic French meal. Inviting entrées include ostrich medallions with shiitake mushrooms ($22.50), shrimp escoffier in a garlic cream sauce ($19.50), filet mignon au poivre ($18.50) or rabbit moutarde ($16.95). They're all creamy, rich and waiting for you, along with a bottle of fine red wine. Dinner seven days, brunch Sun. Full bar; catering; parking; reservations essential. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
LOCANDA DEL LAGO
231 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica
Before a movie or that special date, stroll on into this open-air trattoria. An inviting freshwater menu includes the troella al burro e salvia, fillet of trout sautéed in sage and butter ($14.95), and the alborelle fritte, freshwater smelt lightly battered and fried crisp ($6.95). Select a wine from the award-winning list, or share sips from the friendship cup -- a flaming Italian Grolla ($9 per person), concocted with espresso, grappa, brandy and spices. Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch weekends. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.
342 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills
10645 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A.
264 26th St., Santa Monica
1430 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach
232 N. Larchmont Blvd., L.A.
1008 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
7505 Melrose Ave., L.A.
130 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale
4500 Los Feliz Blvd., L.A.
11645 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood
12050 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
28 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
23630 Valencia Blvd., Valencia
Italy may have gondola rides, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Coliseum, but Southern California has Louise's Trattoria. Enjoy fine Italian-California cuisine featuring chef's specials, seafood, steak and your favorite pizza or pasta. Freshly baked foccacia complements every meal. Don't forget the tiramisù. Prices range from $5.95 to $13.95. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; parking. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
665 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood
If you like music and delicious European and Asian dishes, then this is the place for you. On the menu you'll find filet mignon, spicy salmon, crispy shrimp, ginger wontons, pine-nut ravioli, and banana tempura with chocolate-butterscotch drizzle. Go bar-hopping before the meal; there are three on-site to choose from. Dinner Tues.Sat. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
10351 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City
A mix of southern French and northern Italian traditions, Provençale cuisine is known for its pungent, light flavors, and nobody prepares it with more elegance than Lunaria. For lunch or dinner we recommend the braised Chilean sea bass with potato fennel purée, tomato, green onion, black olives, capers and basil ($13.60 lunch, $21.50 dinner). Each night, a wall between the lounge and the restaurant opens, allowing live jazz to further scintillate your senses. Lunch Mon.Fri., dinner Tues.Sat., Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
611 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.
Mandalay offers the simple elegance of French-Vietnamese cuisine in a tropical, romantic milieu. Chef Dihn Vu's Saigon-style specialties include such appetizers as spicy tempura-battered shrimp in coconut-vinegar sauce ($9) and main courses like Vit Quay, a savory dish of roasted duck marinated in sesame and garlic-ginger sauce ($15). Unwind with a drink at the newly decorated cocktail lounge, The Pearl, or quell early- and late-night cravings with the fresh fish at the sushi and oyster bar. Dinner seven nights. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
8393 Beverly Blvd., L.A.
Menjin specializes in preparing noodle dishes from all over the Far East -- and they're nutritious, delicious and ready in a snap! Warm up on shyumi dumplings ($4.50) with pork, shrimp and green salad. Then try an order of mie goreng ($4.95), Indonesian-style noodles with chicken and shrimp, or the Hong Kong crispy noodles, with shrimp, squid, scallop, and Napa cabbage. Lunch and dinner Mon.Sat. Takeout; parking. AE, Disc., MC, V.
1147 Third St., Santa Monica
Renowned for its award-winning wine list and elegant dishes ($17$31), Michael's is the legendary birthplace of California cuisine. Try the pan-roasted blue-nose bass with saffron couscous, spring forest mushrooms and Provençal herb purée ($26.50), then treat yourself to a tantalizing Madagascar vanilla-bean crème brûlée with fresh berries ($8.50). With three private rooms, this is the place for that special dining occasion. Lunch Tues.Fri., dinner Tues.Sat. Full bar; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
8009 Beverly Blvd., L.A.
Be among the first to sample the fruits de mer at this stylish French bistro, which opened its doors less than two weeks ago. Its romantic, flower-strewn patio is the perfect place to share a sizzling plate of crab, oysters or lobster. Sample the shrimp-cocktail appetizer --14 types of shrimp in a giant martini glass ($12). With a wide price range ($10$53) and a variety of veggie dishes, Mimosa will satisfy both diet and budget. Lunch Mon.Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; catering; valet parking; reservations accepted. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
THE MINT SUPPER CLUB
6010 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. (323) 954-8241
The Mint welcomes all music lovers to its new addition -- the supper club. Chef extraordinare Rob Kamm rocks in the kitchen while tunes rock the dining hall. Start the evening with an order of bruschetta malcesine ($8), an herb-roasted pizza bread with tomato, garlic, basil and cheese. When the headliners hit the stage, it's time for wild-mushroom ravioli, with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and portobello mushrooms ($11). Dinner seven nights. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations essential. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
2000 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A.
Shabu shabu translates as "swish swish," the sound made when a diner sloshes chopsticks in a boiling pot of water filled with paper-thin pieces of beef, chicken or veggies. Japanese goma (sweet sesame) or ponzu (citrus soy) sauces and a heaping bowl of steamed rice accompany the main course. The lunch menu offers a choice of beef, chicken or vegetarian shabu shabu ($7.95$9.95). It's a perfect treat for a weekend afternoon in Westwood. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and sake; parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
7166 Melrose Ave., L.A.
After pounding the pavement on trendy Melrose, rest your tired feet and revive your dulled senses with Mumtaz's complex Indian spices. Start off with curried mussels in garlic sauce ($5.50) or, for the more adventurous, there's tandoori quail ($4.95). All tandoori dishes (dinners of lamb tikka or fish tikka include soup, rice, naan, and rice pudding for $11.95) are marinated in yogurt and spices for a full day before being cooked to tender perfection in the traditional clay oven. Specialties for two, like the King Prawn Masala dinner, start with samosas and onion pakoras, then finish up with dessert and coffee -- all for $25.95. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
MUSSO & FRANK GRILL
6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
Few things in this city are older than Ed McMahon, but this venerable restaurant can proudly boast of being one of them. Tradition prevails here, where the menu has changed imperceptibly in the years since chef Jean Leon Rue took the helm back in 1922. Nothing tugs at the heartstrings so much as the daily specials -- corned beef and cabbage, chicken pot pie, braised short ribs of beef with vegetables, among others -- which hearken back to the days when most leading men weren't millionaires, and meals were hearty, flavorful and full of steam. Lunch and dinner Tues.Sat. Full bar; parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.
1621 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
The North Indian Mughlai cuisine served here has the simmering heat of an L.A. summer day and the spice of an exotic night. Start with a papad roll ($6), then try the chicken vindaloo ($12), a searing curry cooked with potatoes and vinegar, or the karahi gosht ($13), lamb stir-fried with tomatoes, onions and bell peppers. A lunch buffet is available daily ($9 weekdays, $12 weekends). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking; reservations accepted. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
11651 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.
Tranquil as a Zen monastery, Nishiki transforms the high-pressure business lunch into a gratifying massage of the mind -- and taste buds! Choose the soba or doughy udon noodles, hot or cold, for a mere five bucks; or add sushi to the meal (prepared before you at the bar) as a combo ($13.50). There are few things more refreshing on a steamy summer day or evening than cold, thin soba noodles. Beer, wine and sake; takeout; valet parking. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
1076 Fairfax Ave., L.A.
Wot's for dinner? Yup. Soak up some wot (stew) with a piece of injera (fluffy, pita-like bread) at this cozy establishment. Carnivores and herbivores alike can chow down on exotic combo plates (lamb, chicken and beef in an battery of sauces for the former; or lentils, split peas, carrots, potatoes, collard greens and more). Many dishes are spicy, so quench the fire with African beer ($5) or Ethiopian honey wine ($3.75). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
THE PARK GRILL RESTAURANT
2151 Avenue of the Stars, Century City
A sophisticated yet comfortable ambiance complements the Cal-Asian cuisine served here. The duck-in-cellophane-noodle spring roll ($9) or the oysters on the half shell ($13) are good for starters. Follow with grilled veal chops served with smoked new potatoes, sautéed spinach, enoki mushrooms and gorgonzola cheese ($30). Forget the calories and treat yourself to a slice of cheesecake for dessert ($6). Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; parking; reservations recommended. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
THE RED LION TAVERN
2366 Glendale Blvd, Silver Lake
Step into some lederhosen and out to this 40-year-old slice of Deutschland, where the beer (nine drafts, seven bottled) is shipped in barrels directly from Europe. Sit in the upstairs patio and let a dirndl-clad waitress bring you schnitzel and sauerkraut; or lounge in the cozy pub below and wrap your mitts around a life-size glass boot, filled with two liters of Warsteiner or Spaten. Lunch and dinner seven days (till 1 a.m.!). Full bar; takeout; parking; reservations suggested for large parties. AE, CB, Disc., MC, V.
8782 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
Old Hollywood meets Old English in this double-decker restaurant-bar right behind Woody Harrelson's oxygen club. Hang out with all the black-clad hipsters amid low mood lighting and poppy tunes. Knock back a martini, then choose from an eclectic "South Pacific Rim" menu including a char-grilled chicken-breast sandwich with mozzarella and marinara sauce ($8.50), a portobello mushroom salad ($7.90), or bangers and mash ($9.90). Drop by for happy hour, 57 p.m. daily, or brunch, 11 a.m.3 p.m. Sat.Sun. Open seven days. Full bar; takeout; valet parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
THE RED SETTER
2615 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
Experience a bit of New England at this comfy pub, where the food is hearty and the beer -- nearly 150 brands, 23 on tap -- is plentiful. The management claims The Red Setter is the only place in SoCal that serves the enormous East Coast clams in its fried-clam dinner, which comes with chips, slaw and steamed veggies ($13.95). Also on the menu is a succulent Maine lobster dinner ($13.95). For you healthy types unused to so much batter 'n' butter, there's the delectable grilled squash and mushroom salad ($5.45 small, $8.45 large). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking. MC, V.
97.1 FM TALK RESTAURANT CONNECTION
(800) 774-FOOD (774-3663)
This automated service does for food what Movie Fone does for the movies. Call them when your stomach growls, and you're hooked up to a database of 600-plus restaurants. You can receive faxed menus, make reservations, listen to descriptions, place orders for takeout or delivery and arrange for catering. Want to party after the meal? No problem. Restaurant Connection also provides comprehensive entertainment listings. Seven days, 24 hours.
RUSTY'S SURF RANCH
256 Santa Monica Pier
Check out classic video clips of the "Big Kahunas," or watch 'em for real from the patio, at this venerable SoCal hang. Grind on mondo grub like grilled ahi tuna topped with Hawaiian salsa ($12.95) or juicy New York steak smothered in a wild-mushroom sauce ($13.95). You can dance, dance, dance to live music seven nights a week, and don't leave without looking at the awesome collection of vintage surfboards. Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch weekends. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; reservations suggested. AE, V, MC.
17th STREET CAFÉ
1610 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
Think of it as a culinary Mecca by the sea. Owner Jack Srebnik offers delicious entrées like balsamic-grilled salmon with mashed potatoes, smothered in corn, spinach, shiitake mushrooms and tomato ($16.75) or blue cheese and toasted walnut salad with balsamic vinaigrette ($9.75, $5.50 for half order). Don't leave without trying the chocolate-chip-cookie pie or apple walnut cobbler, courtesy of Srebnik's wife, Jane. Banquet room available. Breakfast, lunch and dinner weekdays; brunch and dinner weekends. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
SOLEIL RESTAURANT AND SEAFOOD BAR
1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach
With its striking open-beam ceiling and multihued decor, Soleil's atmosphere of rustic elegance is as appealing as its cuisine. Whet your appetite with steamed mussels in white wine with herbs and garlic ($8 lunch, $9 dinner). Inviting selections for a main entrée are sautéed foie gras with braised endive ($15) or seasonal fresh fish ($19$22). Do order the appropriate libation from the impressive list of 100 regional wines. Lunch Tues.Fri., dinner Tues.Sun., brunch Sun. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; valet parking. AE, Disc., MC, V.
7313 Beverly Blvd., L.A.
Owner/chef Hugo Veltman's many years of culinary experience have culminated in this elegant, French/Cal dinner house. For an appetizer, the sautéed scallops with candied lemon ($7.50) are highly recommended. Then treat yourself to the potato-crusted whitefish over spinach with mild curry sauce ($14). Centrally located, it's the ideal starting point for a night out on the Westside. Dinner Tues.Sun. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
THE STINKING ROSE
55 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills
Those of Transylvanian descent may want to avoid this Cal-Italian restaurant's favorite, fragrant ingredient; the rest of us will just need a mint. Feast on two-plus pounds of garlic-roasted dungeness crab, or "The Slab," a 40-ounce USDA prime rib ($29.95 each). The separate, individually themed dining rooms (Dracula's Grotto, Michelangelo's Room, etc.) will make each visit an exciting experience. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; valet parking. AE, V, MC, DC.
12013 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A.
This restaurant has been around for more than 15 years, treating its patrons to such unsushi house experiences as rockin' reggae music complementing the dining adventure. Be sure to try the crispy, flavorful tempura ($10) or the sweet chicken teriyaki ($8.50). A tasty variety of other rolls is available, including avocado, eel and cucumber (six for $12). Lunch Mon.Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; parking. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
1345 Second St., Santa Monica
Taka Sushi has been serving up fresh seafood and loads of other Japanese delights for 15 years. For lunch or dinner, try the popular crunchy roll, a sushi creation with shrimp tempura wrapped in seaweed, rice, and covered in crispy batter bits ($12.50, four servings). The indecisive can opt for the Santa Monica combo, an assortment of tempura, sashimi and teriyaki (you choose the meats), served with rice and miso soup ($19.50$21.50). Lunch Mon.Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer, wine and sake; takeout; parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
13352 Washington Blvd., L.A.
(888) T-TAMALE or (310) 305-7714
This isn't just a restaurant, but an institution where the delicate art of cooking tamales has been completely mastered. The menu lists over 33 varieties of tamales, so making a choice ain't easy. Very popular is the Greek tamale, stuffed with goat cheese, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and roasted pine nuts ($3.25) Breakfast, lunch and dinner Tues.Sat., lunch and dinner Sun. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking. AE, MC, V.
8165 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
For eight years, Tandoori Nights has pampered the curry cravings of its loyal WeHo patrons. House favorites include tender lamb tandoori ($10.95), marinated in spiced yogurt and cooked in traditional clay ovens till it melts in your mouth, and the vegetable aloo gobi ($6.95), with cauliflower and potato cooked in yellow curry sauce. All entrées can be spiced to order -- mild, medium or fire-breathing hot -- and are served with basmati rice and soup with plenty of poppadums and savory mint chutney. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking. AE, MC, V.
3290 Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach
It's party time all year long at this festive eatery, where Southwestern-style cuisine is served with grilled flair. Handmade tortillas, fresh salsa, hand-shaken margaritas and over 100 (!) tequilas are the signature elements on the menu. After polishing off a hefty order of barbecue ribs, cole slaw and French fries ($14.95), try the chocolate enchiladas ($3.95), dripping with chocolate mousse and topped with strawberry sauce. Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; catering; parking. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
7513 Sunset Blvd., L.A.
Don't let the name fool you. This little gem also dishes up fantastic Thai cuisine. With daily lunch specials that include pad Thai chicken and pad woon-sen ($3.95), and devastating curries such as pa-nang ($4.75), the end result is always satisfaction. The pla rad prik (deep-fried pompono fish topped with spicy curry sauce, $8.95) is indescribably good, and vegetarians can enjoy the best sweet-and-sour tofu in town. Don't forget the coconut Thai ice cream! Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; delivery; parking. MC, V.
6290 Sunset Blvd., L.A.
You get a spectacular view of Los Angeles when you dine at 360°. Reminiscent of old Hollywood, the lighting is dim and the seating cozy and sumptuous. The "New American" menu features such classics as Southern garlic shrimp and scallops over the bomb cheese grits ($18), pistachio-crusted salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes ($19), and one of the best pieces of filet mignon in the city. The lounge is open until 2 a.m., very often humming with a DJ, salsa band, or live jazz. Dinner seven nights. Two full bars; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
TOI ON WILSHIRE
1120 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
TOI ON SUNSET
7505Þ Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
Where else can you recline on leopard-print cushions surrounded by psychedelic rock posters and enjoy Thai curry at 3 a.m.? Toi must have raided Elvis' living room and Janis Joplin's boudoir for its eye-catching décor. Dishes like Thai spaghetti (spicy egg noodles loaded with chicken and shrimp) or eggplant pumpkin tofu (each $7.95) are tasty favorites, perfect for a late meal. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer, wine, champagne and sake; takeout; delivery; lot parking at Wilshire location; reservations suggested. AE, Disc., MC, V.
7313 Melrose Ave., L.A.
A landmark since 1982, Tommy's is where East meets West. Serving not just your average pad Thai or bland noodles, exotic concoctions like shrimp Panang (grilled prawns with curry cream sauce) and Santa Fe chili pasta (pasta with pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and basil in cream sauce) are a zesty, flavor-filled experience. And with 22 different kinds of sushi ($2.50$6.50) and 15 kinds of sashimi ($7$11), there's something for everyone. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; delivery; reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.
14622 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks
8593 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
7514 Melrose Ave., Hollywood
Going out for a bite? Then stop here for a healthy, satisfying meal. The Mile High Burger ($3.50) is hard to beat, a thick quarter-pounder, at one-fourth the fat of a regular fast-food burger. There's also a sauce bar with over 13 different flavors, from experimental garlic-ketchup to low-fat blue cheese, and a soda bar where you can create your own wild phosphates. Takeout; catering; parking. MC, V.
1714 N. Vermont Ave., L.A.
Situated on L.A.'s newest Melrose, this airy, beautifully lit spot just north of Hollywood Boulevard offers a mouthwatering mélange of contemporary American cuisine at oh-so-reasonable prices. The menu encompasses everything from light salads of arugula, shrimp and avocado in a lemony dressing ($8.50) to hearty main dishes like pistachio-crusted chicken, bathed in a sherry-shallot reduction, with oyster mushrooms, potatoes and cipollini onions ($14.95). After a leisurely meal, sip late-bottled Quinto do Crasto Port between nibbles of lemon tart with lemon sauce and crème fraîche (all desserts, $6) and be decadent. Lunch Tues.Fri., dinner Tues.Sun. Beer and wine; parking. AE, MC, V.
WAIKIKI WILLIE'S ROCK 'N' ROLL
13535 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey
Located a few steps off the Marina, this lively restaurant offers savory seafood and steak with a Hawaiian flair. Large tiki statues stand watch while you chow down on the Koko Shrimp dinner ($15.95), deep-fried, beer-battered coconut shrimp served with soup and salad. Another favorite is the Wounded Tuna ($9.95). Wednesdays, 5-9:30 p.m., there's the crab fest ($24.95), including soup and salad, Polynesian fried rice, twice-cooked potato and steak fries. Lunch Sat.Sun, dinner seven nights, brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; parking. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
1414 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica
You'll be hard-pressed to find better pierogi than those dished up at this Polish eatery. Several varieties of the ravioli-like dumplings are served here, stuffed with everything from mushrooms and cabbage to potato purée and onions ($12$13). Seafood lovers might try the rainbow trout with leeks and tomatoes, infused with rosemary and dill ($14). For dessert, the warm vanilla crepes with raspberries ($5) are a must. Dinner Tues.Sun. Full bar; takeout, catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
8861 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood
Pop in for cutting-edge caffeine combos like Spanish latte, chai latte, or vanillaccino ($1.35$3), then nestle down into a chair to nosh on an individually prepared pizza ($5.50). WeHo Lounge is a one-stop java shop, offering a wealth of HIV-related info, weekly discussion groups, and Internet access for $3.50 per half hour. Other happenings at this community-oriented coffeehouse include special events for gay singles, and tarot card, palm and psychic readings. Open daily. No alcohol; takeout. Disc., MC, V.
1333 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
Having a hard time deciding between Thai, Chinese and sushi? No problem -- right in the heart of Santa Monica's bustling Third Street Promenade you can savor all three. Make a post-mall pit stop and try Yangtze's chow fun, a noodle dish featuring your choice of meat and veggies smothered in a velvety brown sauce ($8) or kung pao chicken ($8). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
1410 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
With 40 monitors for watching sporting events (including seven big-screen TVs), plus video games, fooz ball, air hockey and 31 pool tables, this Third Street hangout is a super-fan's dream. Cheer for the home team over some nachos with all the fixings ($6.95), specialty salads and sandwiches ($7.95, $6.75), or lip-smacking, charbroiled baby back ribs ($12.50). Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering. AE, DC, Disc., MC, V.
YE OLDE KING'S HEAD
116 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica
Think of it as a British oasis in the New World. Stop by in the morning and enjoy the traditional Queen-size Breakfast (fried bread or toast, eggs, bacon, banger, English baked beans, grilled tomato, $5.45). On weekdays, there's the Royal Afternoon Tea ($11.95), where you can feast from 3 to 5 p.m. on delicious pastries and sandwiches. Also on the menu are tasty island specialties like Welsh Rarebit ($4.50) and Shepherd's Dinner Pie ($10.25). On, Britannia! Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; street parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
YELLOW DOG CAFE AND ALE HOUSE
350 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach
Brand-spankin' new, this joint offers 35 different brews and a slew of savory eats. Whet your appetite with the popular reggae sticks -- juicy chunks of white-meat chicken in tropical barbeque sauce, served with fruit salsas ($5.90). Then dig into a lobster burger with your choice of regular or sweet-potato fries and a salad ($7.95), or fish and chips made with salmon fillets ($8.50). Lunch and dinner Tues.Sun., brunch Sat.Sun. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking; reservations accepted for eight or more. AE, CB, DC, Disc., MC, V.
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