Carousel Restaurant. There are two Carousels, and the Glendale branch may well be the best, most interesting Lebanese-Armenian restaurant in Los Angeles. The big, brash room, bedecked with scimitars and other Middle Eastern antiques, accommodates large parties and dating couples alike — but there’s also a more intimate patio. The food sparkles with freshness — and lemon. Go for the meze (cheese borek, muhammara and houmous sojouk) and kebabs (try the yogurt lula kebab), and also for hard-to-find delicacies such as frogs’ legs, roasted quail and lamb’s tongue. 304 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 246-7775. Tues.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. 5112 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 660-8060. Tues.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Full bar, Glendale; no alcohol, Hollywood. Lot parking. DC, MC, V. Entrées $7.50–$20. Middle Eastern/Lebanese--Armenian. MH $
Casa Bianca. Of all the neighborhood pizza parlors out there, each of them touted as the best in the Southland, one of them actually has to be the best. And our vote goes to Casa Bianca, especially if the pizza happens to include the fried eggplant, the sweetly spiced homemade sausage — or both. The crust is chewy, yet speckled with enough carbony, bubbly burnt bits to make each bite slightly different from the last. 1650 Colorado Blvd., -Eagle Rock, (323) 256-9617. Dinner Tues.–Sat. Beer and wine. Street parking. Cash only. Entrées $8–$12. Italian. JG $ *
Camilo’s. Camilo’s started out as a catering company on York Boulevard in Highland Park — the small attached café was added almost as an afterthought. But the good Cal-Mex food and neighborhood-friendly prices caught on with everyone from starving artists to thriving yups, and in no time, the café had outgrown its venue. Owners Camilo and Amelia Gonzalez have since moved their operations to a large building smack on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, and they’ve reclassified it as a "California bistro" — though to us, it still looks and feels like a friendly indie coffee shop. There are chilaquiles and eggs Benedict for breakfast, cobb salads and Cuban sandwiches for lunch, filet mignon and pasta for dinner. 2128 W. Colo-rado Blvd., Eagle Rock, (323) 478-2644. Breakfast and lunch Tues.–Sun. 8 a.m.–3 p.m., dinner Tues.–Sat. 5–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $9–$27. California. MH $ *
Chili John’s. This is wonderful chili, dense and comforting, lean and hearty, with a cumin wallop and a subtle, smoky heat that creeps up on you like the first day of a Santa Ana wind, flavoring your breath for half a day even if you don’t pile on the onions. The beans are nice, too, firm and smooth, with a rich, earthy bean taste clearly perceptible even through the pungency of the chili. 2018 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, (818) 846-3611. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Fri. 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. till 4 p.m. Closed July and August. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Cash only. Lunch for two, food only, $9–$12. Texas-style chili. JG ¢ *
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El Loco del Pollo. The tastiest roast chickens in the Los Angeles area, if not the Western Hemisphere itself, are the smoky rotisserie fowl beloved by the Peruvian community, the shotgun marriage of plump birds, roaring wood fires, and a sharp marinade made with citrus, chiles and immoderate amounts of garlic. And the best chickens of all may be a couple blocks from the Glendale Galleria at a restaurant named El Loco del Pollo. 230 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 956-5888. Lunch and dinner Mon. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m., Tues.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Takeout and delivery. Lot parking. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $10–$22. MC, V. Peruvian. JG ¢
Le Petit Beaujolais. This bakery and lunch spot is the offspring of Café Beaujolais, a small French restaurant that opened several years ago on the south side of the street. The bright, cheerful Beaujolais Boulangerie is delightful — or, as one friend happily sighed, "paradise." The breakfast menu has been expanded to include egg dishes, and the lunch menu, available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers an appealing selection of soups, quiches, sandwiches and meal-size salads. The cult favorite appears to be the croque monsieur. 1661 Colorado Blvd., -Eagle Rock, (323) 255-5133. Tues.–Fri. 7 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–4 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Street parking. Nothing over $11. MC, V. French. MH ¢ § *
Mandaloun. It is hard not to be a little awestruck by the Lebanese restaurant Mandaloun. Because while the local Middle Eastern restaurant scene is no stranger to grandeur, there has never been anything like this place, a gilded gastrodome of massive -kebabs, pita made to order, and outdoor terraces devoted to the baking of Lebanese flatbreads and the smoking of apple-flavored tobacco. 141 S. Maryland Blvd., Glendale, (818) 507-1900. Lunch and dinner Sun.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m. Full bar. Takeout. Street parking. AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $12.95–$22. Lebanese. JG $ *
Raffi’s Place. You go to Raffi’s for its enormous, affordable plates of Persian--Armenian food, but you also get canaries singing in the trees, a heated brick patio, quick service and a location close to -Glendale’s best movie theaters. Everyone comes for the grilled kebabs served with whole charred tomatoes and peppers, plus mountains of aromatic basmati rice. 211 E. Broadway, Glendale, (818) 240-7411. Daily 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Validated parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $8–$14. Persian/Armenian. MH ¢ * §