Alejo's Presto Trattoria
8343 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester
4002 Lincoln Blvd., Marina del Rey
You can almost hear gondolas gliding through canals here. Alejo's serves homemade Italian dishes that are sure to bring out the romantic in you. Gaze into your beloved's eyes, fork-feed a morsel of tender veal parmigiana or spicy shrimp al diablo (both $10.95) and watch him/her melt with delight. Continue the sensuous feast with homemade cheesecake ($1.95) and a steaming cappuccino. At the Westchester location, paella ($10.95) is featured on Friday and Saturday nights. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine (Westchester only); takeout. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
22821 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu
Allegria is an Italian café that has brought all the flavors of the motherland to Malibu, with wide selections of sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and salads. On the lunch menu, try a delicious panini like the focaccina con verdure porto (grilled mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, caramelized onions, arugula and garlic goat cheese on homemade focaccia, $8.50) or something lighter like the insalata Allegria (salad of watercress, arugula, pine nuts, hearts of palm, endive and avocado in a Parmesan dressing, $7.75). Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking. AE, MC, V.
1028 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
Unwind with a late-night breakfast burrito, wake up to a vegetarian Sunday brunch ($7.95), or sip a delicious coffee drink while enjoying live folk music. With its antique European chandeliers and attractive velvet couches, Anastasia's is an inviting place for relaxed dining. The full breakfast menu is available all day, and features fluffy scrambles filled with cheeses and fresh vegetables ($6-$7). Don't pass on the vegetarian lasagna ($7.25) or the spinach-feta pot pie ($6.50). Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days, brunch on weekends. No alcohol; takeout; catering; parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
7013 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood
Stately columns and arches line the interior of this fine Indian restaurant, which has been on Melrose since 1983 and prides itself on a mastery of age-old food-preparation techniques. There is nothing better than the Bombay lobster soaked in Anarkali's delicious “secret sauce” ($19.95, $23.95). If you haven't got a taste for seafood, try the eggplant bharta sautéed with onions and spices ($5.95, $8.95) or the mixed tandoori grill ($12.95, $15.95). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
Arirang Korea Restaurant
114 W. Union St., Pasadena
With its palace décor, showcase antiques and inset barbecues at every table, Arirang offers a royal dining experience. Everyone raves about the boolgogi gooi ($13.50), thinly sliced beef marinated in a sweet sauce and served with six side dishes that change daily but always include the essential kimchee, a pickled Chinese cabbage. Vegetarian entrées are also available. The menu is hefty — 50 selections — and the portions are generous. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; delivery; catering; valet parking; weekend reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, MC, V.
Baja Bud' s
11205 National Blvd., West L.A.
1315 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
10850 Pico Blvd., West L.A.
20044 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills
8575 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
21801 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills
In an increasingly crowded market, Baja Bud's stays true to its original vision: good food, good service, and fresh California/traditional Mexican fare. Grilled chicken, beef and red snapper are the basis for food that is healthy and delicious. Fresh daily: handmade corn tortillas and no-lard flour tortillas (lower in fat than the other guys’), served on real plates with real silverware (think of all the plastic you won't be adding to the landfills!). The catering menu will economically feed eight to 80. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer; takeout; catering; parking. DIS, MC, V.
10835 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles
Bamboo Restaurant is a picturesque, casually inviting Caribbean restaurant with the minimalist's feel of simplicity. The menu here is anything but simple, though, as it features exquisite dishes from various cultural influences, all brought to Bamboo from seasoned culinary veteran Jose Mendoza. Highlights from the lunch menu include the Cancun Steak ($11.75), the seafood paella ($14.75) and the mango curry chicken (10.75), while the extensive dinner menu has a churrasco steak ($13.75) and a mouth-watering barbecue pasta ($11.75). There are no duds on this menu. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; delivery (10 or more meals in the order only); takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
606 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica
The owners refer to it as a “Thai temple with a French twist.” And under the placid gaze of a 6-foot golden Buddha, you can feast on a Bangkok roll, mixed greens with tofu and a special sauce ($4.95 small, $7.25 large). Such specialties as the filet mignon with red wine and ginger Thai sauce and the halibut with macadamia nuts (both $18) are truly fulfilling. Stop in on weekends and enjoy exotic traditional Thai music or jazz along with your meal (spring and summer only). Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; street parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
Barbara's at the Brewery
620 Moulton Ave., #110, Los Angeles
Located downtown in the Old Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery (now the nation's largest artist complex), this former loft has been transformed into a chic restaurant with a full bar and a display of contemporary art. Start with a Maryland tidewater crab cake, served with cilantro butter sauce and creamy chipotle ($7). We also recommend the exquisite pan-fried tilapia with Vera Cruz sauce ($12) and the grilled premium rib-eye steak with fries and grilled onions ($19), or the tri-tip sandwich on Armenian stone bread (lunch menu only, $8). Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Full bar; takeout; catering. AE, DC, MC, V.
26025 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu
For 20 years under the same ownership, Beau Rivage has been a romantic Mediterranean-style restaurant resplendent with an ocean view, a fireplace and wine cellar (with a four-star list). Many authentic specialties from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as the pappardelle pollo (smoked chicken, shallots, mushrooms, white wine and herbes de Provence, $16) and branzino alla griglia (grilled striped Italian bass with herbs and virgin olive oil, $24.50), are favorites. Beau Rivage also has the best facilities in Malibu for weddings (on premises) and/or receptions. Dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; parking available; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
73 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach
There's lots more here than just carefully crafted beers and ales. Brewski's also serves delicious food, like its famous Memphis-style barbecue, fresh seafood and scrumptious tossed salads. Just a stone's throw from the sand, Brewski's offers a casual beach atmosphere for you to enjoy with a tasty barbecue-pork sandwich ($7.95) or Shanghai chicken salad ($6.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner). They also have a great barbecue ribs meal (half-rack $11.95, full $17.95). The on-site brewery's vats are almost as impressive as the premium beer they produce; credit California's Napa vineyards for the fine wines. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
Café des Artistes
1534 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood
A mysterious haven tucked away down a dark alley, reminiscent of Paris — that is Café des Artistes! Here you will find an upscale and trendy crowd, as this café is much about the ambiance — but it is also about the magnificent entrées. Heavenly recipes and enticing blends along with the aromas captured by chef Jean-Peirre Bosc are apt to tempt all of your senses at once. Come out for live jazz on Monday nights, and DJs on Thursdays, while enjoying one of the vintage wines. Café des Artistes has the “French concoction of mystery, intrigue and sensual life force.” Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner seven nights. Full bar; takeout; valet parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
4356 Woodman Ave., Sherman Oaks
It is a fact that the Middle East is thousands of miles away, but the traditional recipes of Lebanon can be found right in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, at Carnival Restaurant. Start with some delectable grape leaves stuffed with rice, tomatoes, onions and parsley, cooked in lemon juice ($2.50 small, $4.25 large). Try one of an assortment of kebabs next (chicken, lamb or beef; $9.25-$12.95), or the house specialty, lamb shank served with fresh vegetables and rice ($8.95). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking. AE, DIS, MC, V.
3900 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake
This chic 4-year-old café serves a variety of palatable dishes, and is a perfect setting for anything from philosophical discussions to reading in quietude. Favorites among the regulars are the French cheese plate ($7.95) and the smoked salmon ($7.50). Exotic teas, like the Argentinian maté are served by the gourd ($3.50), and the couscous served with a Moroccan pangine ($7.95) is incredible. Relax and take advantage of the pleasant outdoor seating, or pick up your food to go. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. BYOB; takeout. MC, V.
Casita del Campo
1920 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake
The folks here have been in business for over 39 years, so they have the know-how when it comes to creating fresh, homemade flavors. Relax on the outdoor patio and enjoy “The Best Margarita in Town,” a variety of fruit-flavored margaritas (peach, banana, cranberry and melon) all made with fresh lime juice, triple sec and your choice of tequila. And when your stomach starts to growl, try the pollo Mexica, chicken marinated and grilled in fresh fruit juices and spices and topped with a hot chili sauce, served with Mexican rice and a green enchilada ($10.95). Come see the “magician” every Friday. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
Cat & Fiddle
6530 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
The courtyard may look Spanish, but once inside the atmosphere is decidedly English. Quaff one of many fine imported beers while playing a game of darts with your mates, or grab a seat near the cozy fireplace. Do fortify yourself with their homemade bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes, dinner $11) or, when available, fish and chips (cod $11.50, sole $13). Don't miss happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., seven days a week and free live jazz (no cover) on Sundays from 7 to 11 p.m. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking; reservations accepted (parties over six only). AE, MC, V.
8384 W. Third St., Los Angeles
Cava dishes out as much Spanish culture and cuisine as you can handle in its visually appealing, split-level confines, where a cozy neighborhood setting downstairs and a Latin supper club up top create an enticing atmosphere for dining. In the afternoon, try its grilled chicken (topped with spinach, goat cheese and black pepper sauce, $14.95), and at night, splurge on the authentic Spanish-style paella langostino (fresh lobster, shiitake mushrooms, and asparagus over saffron rice, $24.95). Don't forget about Cava's happy hour! Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
Cha Cha Cha Encino
17499 Ventura Blvd., Encino
Since 1991, Cha Cha Cha Encino has presented its patrons with a variety of experiences — from tarot card readings, Latin Jazz, salsa and reggae on weekends and to, of course, enticing contemporary California and Caribbean cuisine food. There is also a tableside magician. The jerk chicken (marinated and grilled, $11) and the Caribbean paella (clams, mussels, andouille sausage, shrimp, chicken, scallops, swordfish and ahi tuna over saffron rice, serves two for $23) are winning selections. Come by, grab a drink, and enjoy. Don't forget the weekend brunch menu! Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
2520 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake
If you enjoy the exotic flavors of the French-Moroccan cuisine, then do stop in here. We highly recommend the appetizing Moroccan chicken bestilla pie ($7.50) or the equally delicious lemon-glazed roast chicken ($17.50) with green olives and savory couscous. A yen for something sweet can be fully satisfied by a banana cinnamon crème brûlée ($6.50), along with some authentic Turkish coffee. Dinner Thurs.-Sat. BYOB; takeout; catering (private parties); parking. AE, DIS, MC, V.
111 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles
One wall of Chao Krung features a tribute to Vietnam-era journalists, an unaffected concern and warmth that the restaurant also extends to its customers. Waitresses in traditional costume lead guests past Buddhist murals to richly hued wooden tables, where diners can enjoy pad Thai ($6.75), chicken larb salad ($6.95) or Thai spring rolls ($4.95 for five). Highly recommended are the seasonal sticky rice with sweet mango ($5) and the homemade coconut ice cream ($2.75). Available for private parties. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking. AE, DIS., MC, V.
2112 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles
With a menu listing some 80 selections, this is a tempting place to satisfy that itch for good Chinese food. What about steamed fish fillet in ginger scallion sauce ($11.75) or mushroom delight ($9.25)? Or try one of Mr. Chi's many specialties, which include shrimp à la Chi ($12.75), a vegetarian Beijing duck ($9.25), sesame chicken ($10.25) and the best Chinese chicken salad in town ($6.25). Fear not, there's something for everyone here! Open for lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.
239 N. Harbor Dr., Redondo Beach
Here is the kind of place that people in Wisconsin dream about when the winters grow cold! A beach bar and grill with a festive atmosphere and all the friendliness of a regular neighborhood hangout. The menu includes American favorites like burgers, chicken sandwiches and Philly cheese-steaks, but it is the bar itself that keeps them coming. Try a “Suicide” (five liquors and five fruit juices) or a Cool Colada with some of Chillers' famous wings. There is also a $3 happy hour menu with half-price daiquiris and $2 drafts. Check out the heated outdoor patio! Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
4326 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
There's always a crowd on hand at this Cal-Mex restaurant, popular for its festive atmosphere and cuisine. Feast on delights like Cobalt chimichanga or the soft tacos with grilled vegetables, chicken or steak. How about the “special request pasta,” with grilled chicken, fresh tomatoes, garlic, kalamata olives and basil on your choice of pasta ($12.95)? Don't forget about the Cobalt Triangle: Monday night (fajita fiesta), Tapas Tuesdays (two-for-one tapas) and the “Lazy Daze” Sunday brunch. Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.
616 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood
Re-defined with a mix of new menu items and old favorites, Cobalt's Westside location has had a slight name change to boot. Among the savory new dishes are osso buco Buenos Aires, a braised veal shank cooked with mushrooms, sherry and chiles ($18.95), and Nuevo Mundo paella, with clams, chicken, pork sausage and black-bean garnish ($15.95). Don't forget the fajitas fiesta on Monday (with $2 Coronas!), two-for-one tapas Tuesdays and the “Lazy Daze” Sunday brunch. Fri. and Sat. late-night happy hour from 11 p.m.–2 a.m. Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.
Coconut Club (at the Beverly Hilton)
9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills
Come to the famous Coconut Club at the Beverly Hilton, where a brand-new menu featuring New World cuisine by renowned chef Tony Baran has been introduced. The funkiest party in town can be found right here on Fridays with disco band Boogie Nights, and Saturdays with a step back into the glamorous era of old Hollywood supper clubs, all under the silver and gold palm trees, all part of the elegant Coconut Club décor. Dinner Fri.–Sat. nights only. Full bar; takeout; self-parking and valet available; reservations essential. AE, MC, V.
Cole's P.E. Buffet
118 E. Sixth St., Los Angeles
Three words: French dip sandwich. Famous worldwide as the oldest bar and restaurant in Los Angeles and as the original inventors of this hearty sandwich, Cole's P.E. Buffet has been keeping customers happy since 1908. It's the best — the only — entrée they serve. Line up cafeteria-style for a monster helping of freshly baked French bread piled high with your choice of roast beef, turkey, pastrami, corned beef, ham or roast ham ($4.99). All your favorite sides are here: mashed potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese, corn, carrot salad and potato salad. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat., happy hour Mon.-Thurs. Full bar; takeout; delivery; parking. AE, DIS, MC, V.
9646 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills
Travel back in time to the elegance of French colonial Vietnam at Crustacean, where executive chef Helene An guards her secret recipes so zealously six “sacred” dishes are prepared in a private, steel-encased kitchen. Highly recommended are the two versions of Dungeness crab: an entire crab simmered in sake, Chardonnay and cognac ($33.95) or in garlic sauce and secret spices ($33.95). Also unforgettable are the colossal royal tiger prawns, charbroiled and served over garlic noodles ($33.95). And to complement the meal, there is live music nightly. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Mon.–Sat. Full bar; valet parking; reservations required. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
Dr. J's Health and Tasty Restaurant
1303 Westwood Blvd., Westwood
This organic, vegetarian restaurant serves you the healthiest food on earth! Based on a 12-year track record of success in providing frozen food to her clients, Dr. Juliet Tien (Dr. J), a leading expert in Anti-Yeast Therapy, added a hot-food restaurant for promoting your health and satisfying your taste buds. They use no sugar, dairy, wheat, yeast, alcohol, caffeine, chemicals, eggs or meat in preparing their entrées, snacks, soups, drinks or sandwiches. Meat eaters enjoyed their veggie meat and seafood dishes so much that they described them as “Love at first bite!” Lunch buffet and dinner ($9.99), Mon.-Sat. Takeout; delivery; catering. AE, MC, V.
134 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills
Descriptions of Ed Debevic's have run the gamut from “zany” to a “cross between a bowling alley and a neon-lit drive-in.” People magazine proclaims, “The '50s reign once again in all their Naugahydian glory!” Sassy servers and impromptu performers add to the fun. There's plenty to eat here; if you like burgers, you'll feel like you're in heaven, and nothing on the menu is over $8.95. Available for parties (from 15 to 400 people). Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; valet parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
316 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica
Drop in at this Oaxacan-style restaurant where color is everywhere, starting with the dazzling collection of straw hats adorning the walls. The breakfast menu offers everything from blueberry pancakes to omelets, but early risers rave about the chilaquiles — strips of tortilla dipped in red guajillo sauce, with a choice of eggs or beef ($6.50). And for lunch or dinner, try the chicken mescal ($8.99–$11.99) as you relax on the outdoor patio. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.