A.O.C. Lucques’ impressive and astute partners, Suzanne Goin and Carolyn Styne, have their second venture, a wine bar with terrific food in a serviceable space whose spare décor amplifies the fireworks on the plate. Goin cooks only small dishes, all of which showcases her rustic heart and sophisticated abilities. Styne built the wine list by focusing on high-quality wines from small producers for reasonable prices — between $30 and $50 a bottle — and many are available by the taste or the glass or the multiple-tasting “flight.” 8022 W. Third St., Los Angeles, (323) 653-6359. Dinner Mon.–Fri. 6–11 p.m., Sat. 5:30–11 p.m., Sun. 5:30–10 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, DC, MC, V. À la carte, $4–$16. Mediterranean. MH $$ ¤ ¦
Brasserie Vert. Wolfgang Puck’s brasserie in the Hollywood & Highland mall may be his most delightful, demographically democratic offering yet. The room isn’t distinctive — it’s not even green — and the stark mall outside the windows offers no interesting vista (except that of tourists taking pictures of the ultimate L.A. vista, the Hollywood sign), but who cares? You’ll want to eat everything on the menu — fat black mussels, cracker-thin pizza with pancetta and paper-thin potatoes, steak frites with a stunning béarnaise. 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 411, Hollywood, (323) 491-1300. Lunch Mon.–Fri. from 11:30 a.m., Sat.-Sun. from noon; dinner from 5:30 p.m., seven days. Full bar. Limited takeout. Lot parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $16–$24. French/Italian. MH $$ ¤ Ü
Campanile. The basic premise of Urban Rustic cuisine is the perfection of Mediterranean peasant dishes, often in ways that may be incomprehensible to the Mediterranean peasants in question. Campanile’s Mark Peel reinterprets this sunny cuisine by using really good ingredients, assembling them with chefly skill, and illuminating the spirit of each dish as if from within. 624 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 938-1447. Lunch Mon.–Fri. 11:30–2:30 p.m.; dinner Mon.–Thurs. 6–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5:30–11 p.m.; brunch Sat.–Sun. 9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, CB, DC, MC, V. Entrées $25–$38. California Italian. JG $$$ Ü ¤
iEnoteca Drago. In New York City, Italian wine bars are multiplying like the Ebola virus, spreading house-cured head cheese and wines like Romitorio and Cannonau through neighborhoods that had barely seen a jug of Gallo just a year or two before. In Los Angeles, the first serious Italian wine bar is probably the posh Enoteca Drago, the latest outpost of Celestino Drago’s pasta-driven empire, where you can chase a plate of prosciutto, a mess of baby octopi, or even the elusive lardo — cured pig fat in the style of northwestern Tuscany, melted onto a slab of fried bread — with a glass of crisp Verdicchio from the Marches. Some of the wines are served in flights — sets of small pours of vintages arranged by grape or by region. For about $20, you can taste Grenache from four different parts of the world or four different whites from Italy’s Austria-adjacent Alto Adige, which are designed to make discussions of Alpine terroir flow as easily as last week’s argument about Michael Moore. Almost incidentally, Enoteca Drago does function as a full restaurant, although it is occasionally hard to remember, when you’re floating in the middle of a Brunello reverie, that you will also find great pasta with pesto and one of the few proper versions of spaghetti carbonara in town. 410 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 786-8236. Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Full bar. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, D, MC, V. Entrees $16–$33. Italian. JG $$ ¤ ¨ *
Grace. From the name I expected a serene and fluid vibe, but Grace is far more bustling and adult than that, citified and swank. And the ingredients in Neal Fraser’s take on American cooking are indisputably excellent, and usually respectfully handled — truly grace under pressure. Tuesdays through Thursdays, a seasonal tasting menu is available: five courses for $55 — a deal. On the weekend, dinner is à la carte. 7360 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 934-4400. Dinner Tues.–Thurs. 6–10:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 6–11 p.m., Sun. 6–10 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. Entrées $20–$32. AE, MC, V. MH $$$
Monsieur Marcel. Imagine one of a thousand small Parisian cafés or wine bars with sidewalk seating and classic plats du jour, then plunk it down in the southeast corner of the Farmers Market on Fairfax and Third, and you have an excellent idea of Monsieur Marcel, an establishment subtitled “Pain, Vin et Fromage.” (The modest restaurant is only one component in M. Marcel’s small empire, which also includes a French gourmet shop and a grocery store.) Grab a stool in the bar area, or stake out the one communal table; or, for a more self-contained dining experience, plant yourself on one of the market’s typical folding chairs at a wobbly table. An added bonus: Monsieur Marcel may employ the most charming French waiter in Los Angeles. 6333 W. Third St., Los Angeles, (323) 939-7792. Mon.–Thurs. 9 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 9 a.m.–10:30 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.–8 p.m. AE, MC, V. French. MH $ ¤ Ü
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Morels First Floor Bistro. Morels, the Grove’s French-themed restaurant, is brought to you by the Market City Caffe folks. Cleverly set-dressed with the requisite wall of paintings, zinc bar, dark wood, wrought-iron work and sidewalk seating, it’s a good-natured cartoon of Frenchness. The food is Americanized, with the more palatable and charming French elements magnified and the earthier, ruder aspects of French cuisine downplayed or eliminated. The best thing Morels has to offer is a cheese bar; stop in en route to a movie for a glass of wine and a selection of hand-picked imported cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk cheeses. 189 The Grove Drive, Suite H10, Los Angeles, (323) 965-9595. Sun. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–midnight. Full bar. Lot parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $7.95–$16.75. Franco-American. MH $$ ¤ Ü
Spago. The flagship restaurant of the Wolfgang Puck empire, Spago in Beverly Hills replaced the original Hollywood Spago — and then some. Barbara Lazaroff’s dining-room design is lavish yet, for her, restrained: large-scale ceramics and bright paintings, warm wood, comfy seating, a general homage to California sunshine. The kitchen is a small village unto itself with its own butchers, bakers, cooks and candy makers. Chef du cuisine Lee Hefter produces classically rigorous, lyrical Cal-French food with a strong Asian edge. Pastry chef Sherry Yard offers Austrian specialties, seasonal fruit desserts, and the city’s most nuanced and pleasurable chocolate concoctions. 176 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 385-0880. Lunch Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2:15 p.m., Sat. noon–2:15 p.m. Dinner seven days, from 5:30 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $19–$36. California. MH. $$$$
Table 8. This club-style restaurant is located in the space that was formerly Bouchon; its hanging glass lamps remain, as does the dark-wood bar, but otherwise, the space is now sleek, sophisticated, even a touch austere. The atmosphere is not as stiff as Sona’s or as clattery and close as A.O.C.’s or quite as grand as Grace’s. Chef-owner Govind Armstrong’s food has an unmistakable aura of skill and competence. Add the excellent service and the pretty room, and Table 8 is an undeniable hit. 7661 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 782-8258. Dinner Mon.–Thurs. 6–10:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 6–11 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. Entrées $18–$28. AE, DC, MC, V. California seasonal. MH ¨
Zax. The 60-seat brick-walled Zax in Brentwood is a neighborhood favorite and a promising aspirant to L.A.’s best-restaurant lists. The seasonal New American cooking is complemented by a praiseworthy wine list. Try the dry-aged New York steak or oven-roasted chicken. 11604 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, (310) 571-3800. Lunch Tues.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.; dinner Tues.–Sun. starting at 5:30 p.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $18–$26. American. MH $$ ¤ Ü