Brasserie Vert. Wolfgang Puck’s brasserie in the Hollywood & Highland mall may be his most delightful, demographically democratic offering yet. The room isn’t distinctive — it’s not even green — and the stark mall outside the windows offers no interesting vista (except that of tourists taking pictures of the ultimate L.A. vista, the Hollywood sign), but who cares? You’ll want to eat everything on the menu — fat black mussels, cracker-thin pizza with pancetta and paper-thin potatoes, steak frites with a stunning béarnaise. 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 411, Hollywood, (323) 491-1300. Lunch Mon.–Fri. from 11:30 a.m., Sat.-Sun. from noon; dinner from 5:30 p.m., seven days. Full bar. Limited takeout. Lot parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $16–$24. French/Italian. MH $$ ¤ Ü
Grub. Grub is a charming incongruity in the concrete heart of postproduction country. The coffee is a lot fresher than Charbucks, and they serve a homemade ginger ale with fresh lime wedges in a tall cup rimmed with raw sugar. Try the Mt. Olympus, a platter mounded with wild-mushroom couscous, lemony hummus, a mash of sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled feta, artichoke hearts, and an unseen but powerfully present mass of garlic — all to be scooped with warm, soft, oily pita chips. 911 Seward St., Hollywood, (323) 461-3663. Lunch Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m.–2 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout and delivery. Street parking. AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $3.95–$10.95. American. Nancy Rommelmann $ ¤ Ü * ¦
Musso & Frank Grill. The warm scent of wood smoke spreads across the room. You push away the remains of a perfect caesar salad. A red-jacketed waiter comes over and pours a clear, cold martini, Hollywood’s best, from a pony into a tiny frosted glass, then carefully spoons Welsh rarebit — rich and warm, if a little grainy — from a metal salver onto crustless toast. Here in these worn wooden booths beneath the ancient hunt-scene wallpaper, this seems very much the perfect gentleman’s lunch. 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 467-7788. Open Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Full bar. Validated parking in rear. AE, DC, MC, V. Entrées $15–$32. American. JG $ ¤ Ü
Paladar. When it comes to food, Paladar’s kitchen is as allusively postmodern as its décor. I’d call the cuisine Cubanesque — food that starts out from a Cuban idea and then is embroidered, expanded, refined, if not always improved upon. In the best cases, the basic sensuality of Cuban cooking — the broad lash of garlic, the clarifying douse of citrus, the luscious sweetness of plantains and caramelized milk, the savory sauté of flavor-enhancing, aromatic vegetables, or “soffritto” — makes it through the translation to trendy Hollywood dinner item. 1651 Wilcox Ave., Hollywood, (323) 465-7500. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. and Fri. 11:30 a.m.–midnight; dinner Sat. 5:30 p.m.–midnight and Sun. 5:30–10:30 p.m. Full bar. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $13–$22. Cuban. MH $$ ¤ Ü
Palm Thai. Palm Thai may be the most famous Thai supper club in Hollywood — with Thai tour buses often parked out front. The food is first-rate. Bar snacks include crisp-skinned Thai sour sausages served with fried peanuts and raw cabbage and beef jerky, fried to a tooth-wrenching chaw. There is a proper papaya salad, the unripe fruit shredded into crunchy slaw, with taut chile heat, sweet-tart citrus dressing and the briny sting of salt-preserved raw crab. And Palm Thai prepares the best version in town of suea rong hai, northeastern-style barbecued beef. 5273 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 462-5073. Lunch and dinner seven days 11 a.m.–mid. (until 1:30 a.m. Fri.–Sat.). Beer and wine. Takeout. Lot parking. MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $18–$40. Thai. JG $ ¨ H
Pink’s. Consider the Pink’s dog, uncouth and garlicky, skin thick and taut, so that when you sink your teeth into it, the sausage . . . pops . . . into a mouthful of juice. The bun is soft enough to achieve a oneness with the thick chili that is ladled over the dog, but firm enough to resist dissolving altogether, unless you order it with sauerkraut. And why wouldn’t you? 709 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood, (323) 931-4223 (no phone orders). Open Sun.–Thurs. 9:30 a.m.–2 a.m., Fri.–Sat. 9:30 a.m.–3 a.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Takeout. Cash only. Dogs $3–$6. American. JG ¢ H *
Roscoe’s Chicken N’ Waffles. Why chicken and waffles? Is it a time-honored combination? Is there a particular methodology at work? Or do they just happen to coexist on the same plate, allowing for the occasional serendipitous splash of maple syrup on a succulent fried wing? We may never know. Drawing weekend crowds that spill out onto the sidewalk, Roscoe’s is the Carnegie Deli of L.A.’s R&B scene. 1514 N. Gower St., Hollywood, (323) 466-7453. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Beer and wine. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $6–$9. American Soul. JG ¢ *
Ruen Pair Thai. One can order the standard pad Thai and cashew chicken, but more interesting choices include preserved-egg salad and pork fried with Chinese olives. At 2 a.m., everybody is eating more or less the same thing: flat, crisp Thai omelets, and morning-glory stems fried with an immoderate amount of garlic. 5257 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 466-0153. 11 a.m.–4 a.m. daily. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Entrées $4.95–$7.95. Thai. JG ¢ H *
Sanamluang Café. Sanamluang is a Thai place to duck into and out of at 3 a.m. after the clubs close for vast plates of rice fried with mint leaves, seafood and chiles; for big, comforting bowls of chicken soup flavored with toasted garlic; and for wide noodles fried with Chinese broccoli and shiitake mushrooms. Truly extraordinary is the general’s noodle soup: garlicky egg noodles garnished with bits of duck, barbecued pork, crumbles of ground pork and a couple of shrimp, submerged in a clean, clear broth. 5176 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 660-8006. Open daily 10:30 a.m.–4 a.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Entrées $5–$10. Thai. JG ¢ H *
Sapp Coffee Shop. There is nothing at first glance to distinguish Sapp Coffee Shop from any of the other restaurants in Thai Town. But Sapp may be the best lunchroom in Hollywood, a bright Thai restaurant, unrelentingly yellow inside, sharing a small mini-mall with a video shop and a place to get griddled Thai desserts. Sapp is the Thai equivalent of the Apple Pan, remarkable for its unremarkableness, a lunchroom where the virtues of homeliness become extraordinary when put in context with the shiny, glittery surfaces against which it might compete. 5183 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 665-1035. Lunch and dinner 7 a.m.–8 p.m.; closed Wednesdays. Cash only. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Lunch for two, food only, $8.50–$14.50. Thai. JG ¢
White Lotus. What you eat here is essentially a fusion-inflected version of familiar club comfort fare . . . plus sushi, an already well-established combo in this town. For appetizers, there’s dim sum. For steak and potatoes, it’s steak and rice. But food and dining are not necessarily the featured attraction; as the evening deepens and the throng thickens, the noise level rises, the martinis flow, sushi flies from the sushi bar — it’s a locus, a scene — and a pleasant one at that. 1743 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 463-0060. Dinner Tues.–Sat. 6 p.m.–10:30 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. Entrées $14.50–$32. AE, D, MC, V. Asian fusion. MH $$ ¨ H
Yai. The sort of thing you don’t really find in garden-variety Thai places is what Yai — located in the rear of a dingy Hollywood mini-mall, and as authentic a Thai restaurant as they come — calls roast pork with Chinese broccoli: fatty, crispy chunks of pigskin on a dark-green pile whose vegetable bitterness cuts through the richness like a knife. It looks something like a spinach salad, and fully half the customers here seem to have an order on their tables. The dish is bound together with enough garlic to induce a sweat in some people that will stay with them for days. It’s a walk on the wild side for the Western palate. 5757 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 462-0292. Lunch and dinner daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer only. Lot parking. Cash only. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $8–$20. Thai. JG. ¢ *
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