Father’s Office. Welcome to Father’s Office, where the tapas are pretty tasty, the microbrews are on tap, and dining is a full-contact sport — there is no line, no wait list and nobody keeping track of seating. But chef Sang Yoon’s signature hamburger has been called the best in Los Angeles so often that even people in Pittsburgh know about the bar. The dry-aged beef is cooked exceptionally rare, and the patties are loosely packed. The charred onions are cooked down to something approaching the sweetness of maple syrup, the smear of Gruyère and Maytag blue adds a wash of funky richness. But scoring a seat can be like a tag-team match with no referees. 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 393-BEER, www.fathersoffice.com. Dinner Mon.–Wed. 5–10 p.m., Thurs. 5–11 p.m., Fri. 4–11 p.m., Sat. 3–11 p.m., Sun. 3–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Tapas. JG $
Dai Ho Kitchen. Dai Ho Kitchen’s spicy beef noodle soup is an angry red brew spiked with chopped herbs, golf ball–sized chunks of long-simmered meat and noodles — slithery, linguine-thick noodles, disarmingly soft, that like all the best pasta seem to have mastered the trick of appearing almost alive. The house-special cold appetizer of spicy tripe, pressed tofu and sliced pork shank is delicious. But Dai Ho’s version of the beef noodle soup is on a plane of its own, a dense, stinky taste of Valhalla. 9148 Las Tunas Dr., Temple City, (626) 291-2295. Lunch Tues.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.; dinner, takeout only. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Lunch for two, food only, $11–$18. Chinese. JG ¢
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La Terza. What chef Gino Angelini is attempting at La Terza may be no less than seeing California food through the prism of his advanced Italian technique, re-imagining California as an Italian province that happens to have a few agricultural virtues of its own. Perfumed by a wood-fired rotisserie at one end of the restaurant, and lubricated by a sharp wine list put together by former Campanile maitre d’ Claudio Trotta, it even looks Italian. Many of Angelini’s signature dishes surface here, including guanciale-wrapped monkfish, roasted sole with thyme, beets with Gorgonzola and walnuts. Pastas may not be a priority here — that would be the tremendous rotisserie meats — but they are among the best in town at the moment. 8384 W. Third St., (323) 782-8384. Lunch seven days, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; dinner seven days, 5:30–11 p.m.; brunch Sun., 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $58–$96. Italian. JG $$$
Mon Land Hot Pot City. Mon Land is yet another of the Northern-style hot-pot restaurants that have been proliferating in the San Gabriel Valley — waterfalls and paintings of yurts; bifurcated stainless-steel kettles of both mild and spicy broth bubbling in the center of circular tables; big extended families up late, rinsing bits of meat in soup, drinking cold beer, wolfing down lamb dumplings and crisp onion pancakes and pan-fried dumplings stuffed with leeks. Swishing the meat through the broth, fishing out bits of tofu or boiled mushrooms, gulping cold Tsingtao, gossiping — there may be no more pleasant way to pass an evening. 251 W. Bencamp St. (accessed off of Abbot Street), San Gabriel, (626) 289-4889. Lunch and dinner, seven days, 11 a.m.–mid. Beer and wine. Lot parking. MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $18–$25. Mongolian. Also at 18902 E. Gale Ave., Rowland Heights. JG $
Violet. A pleasant, mainstream bistro, Violet has all the appropriate buzzwords on its menu: the harissa aioli, the braised veal cheeks, the rare ahi tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes, but it is also possible to drop in after a show at McCabe’s up the block for a caesar salad, a decent pepper steak, or a dish of very nice macaroni and cheese made with Gruyère, slivered leeks and chunked-up Serrano ham; or to stop by at lunchtime for a cheeseburger or a sandwich of that same Spanish ham turbocharged with sliced manchego cheese and breathtaking amounts of fresh garlic. Violet is a little restaurant that cares. 3221 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 453-9113, www.violetrestaurant.com. Lunch Tues.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., dinner Tues.–Fri. 6–10 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 5:30–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $44–$66. California cuisine. JG $$
Metro Café. Metro Café is basically an informal Serbian restaurant disguised as an American diner, or at least an American diner that sometimes serves a Serbian dish or two. There may be spareribs grilled with lots of garlic; a grilled trout; or sarma, a mixture of chopped meat and rice wrapped in capsules made of collard greens. Or a heap of long-braised pork shoulder that splits the difference between Serbia and Kentucky. 11188 Washington Place, Culver City, (310) 559-6821. Breakfast and lunch seven days, 7 a.m.–3 p.m., dinner Tues.–Sun. 6–10 p.m. No alcohol. Parking in the Travelodge lot. AE, MC, V. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $12–$24. American Serbian. JG $