Because food just tastes better fried, here’s a list of places serving everything from fried chicken to golden bhaturas.
Antequera de Oaxaca. Antequera de Oaxaca specializes in botanas — bar munchies, more or less. The botanas are assembled into a big combination plate for one, two or four people: crunchy balls of chorizo, dried beef, professional-strength slabs of fried pork rind, a tangle of shredded string cheese, Oaxacan chile relleno stuffed with a sweet-sour chicken stew, chunky, rustic guacamole. The pace is just right. The dining room is pleasant. And the plate is enough for two or three hungry people. 5200 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 466-1101. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days 9 a.m.–8:30 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Street parking. MC, V. Lunch for two, food only, $9–$15. Oaxacan. JG $
El Colmao. Start with the avocado salad — cool, ripe chunks garnished with thin slices of raw onion and dressed with splashes of vinegar and torrents of good Spanish olive oil; then a heaping plateful of thin, pounded circles of unripe plantains, fried crisp as potato chips and dusted with salt. Next, boiled yucca; a big plateful of moros y cristianos (Moors and Christians), a tasty miscegenation of black beans and rice fried with garlic and gobbets of fat pork; piles of fried fresh ham, pierna de puerco, crisp and brown on the outside and meltingly tender within, topped with an immoderate portion of caramelized onions. For dessert, good flan and torpor — and strong Cuban espresso. 2328 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 386-6131. Lunch and dinner 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Lot parking. MC, V. Food for two, $9–$28. Cuban. JG ¢
Grub. Grub is a charming incongruity in the concrete heart of postproduction country. 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. Or the decadent After School Special, a grilled cheese sandwich made with Cheddar and Swiss on sourdough and fried in, oh, maybe a half-stick of butter. 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 $b[
India Sweets & Spices. The basic unit of consumption at IS&S is probably the $3.99 dinner special, a segmented foam tray laden with basmati rice, dahl, tart raita, pickles and a vegetable dish of some kind, ladled out cafeteria-style from tubs in a long steam table and crowned with a whole-wheat chapati. For an extra buck, you get a leaden, potato-stuffed samosa and a crunchy papadum; for an extra two, an Indian dessert and a mango lassi. The dinners are cheap, filling and tasty. But the made-to-order dishes are delicious: freshly fried bhaturas, balloon-shaped breads, served with curried chickpeas; the thin pancakes called parathas, stuffed with highly spiced cauliflower or homemade cheese; the South Indian lentil doughnuts called vada, served with a thin curried vegetable broth. 3126 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 345-0360. Lunch and dinner seven days, 9:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Food for two, $8–$12. Also at 1810 Parthenia St., Northridge, (818) 407-1498; 9409 Venice Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-5286; 2201 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, (818) 887-0868. Indian. JG ¢b[
Meals by Genet. At the heart of Fairfax Avenue’s Little Ethiopia, Meals by Genet is more or less an Ethiopian bistro, which is to say a homey, soft-lit dining room that looks at least as French as it does African. The menu is short: crisp-skinned fried trout, half a dozen stews, and Genet Agonafer’s delicious version of kitfo, a dish of minced raw beef tossed with warm, spiced butter. And her dorowot is jaw-droppingly good, vibrating with what must be ginger and black pepper and bishop’s weed and clove, but tasting of none of them, so formidably solid that the chicken, which is well-cooked, becomes just another ingredient in the sauce. Even an Ethiopian grandmother would approve. 1053 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 938-9304, www.mealsbygenet.com. Lunch and dinner Wed.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Catering. Street parking. MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $19–$27. Ethiopian. JG $[b
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Millie’s. As several generations of Silver Lake hipsters can attest, Millie’s was designed to cure hangovers the way that penicillin was designed to cure syphilis, a hot, crowded, underventilated slice of culinary purgatory that cuts straight to the heart of the problem. Swear by the grease antidote? Millie’s chicken-fried steak with 40-weight gravy is there for you. Believe in a shock to the system? An extra-spicy Devil’s Mess omelet, which comes with antitoxin doses of everything in the kitchen, may do the trick. Bacon and strong coffee the ticket? You’ve come to the right place. For better or for worse, Millie’s cooks breakfast like your dad used to make. And as they say, Father knows best. 3524 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 664–0404. Open seven days, 7:30 a.m.–4 p.m. No liquor. Takeout. Street parking. MC, V. American. JG ¢b
Noe. In a bland, ultrahotel setting like Noe’s, you might expect the food to be as blandly generic as the nondescript art on the walls. But Robert Gadsby nurtures this sense of dislocation, playing with the inside of your skull in ways that Gerhard Richter or Thomas Pynchon might recognize. Take his triptych of foie gras, for example: one part prepared au torchon in the French manner; the next whipped into a mousse glazed with a Coca-Cola gelatin, in the fashion of D.C. chef Jose Andres; the third fried like country ham and served on a tiny skillet of truffled scrambled eggs. Noe is a strange place for a talent to flower, but in this rocky soil, perhaps Gadsby’s food has found its home. 251 S. Olive St. (inside the Omni Hotel), downtown, (213) 356-4100. Sun.–Thurs. 5–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5–11 p.m. Full bar. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $18–$32. Progressive American with Japanese aesthetics. JG $$bÂ?
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 ¢b
Suehiro. One of the oldest late-night dives in Little Tokyo and still one of the best, Suehiro is a splendid place to drop in after an opening for a teriyaki combination, a bowl of tofu with grated ginger, a plate of Japanese curry rice or an order of yakisoba, fried noodles that are always a little greasy, a little intense, and wholly satisfying, especially if you dose them with a lot of the dried-seaweed condiment. 337 E. First St., Little Tokyo, (213) 626-9132. Open seven days 11 a.m.–1 a.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Japanese. JG $b?