Biting into La Brea Bakery's artichoke heart sandwich is like sipping a wine whose flavorings can only be articulated as hints. With the sandwich, of course, it's a bit more obvious: the 'chokes, marinated in olive oil and rosemary, are surrounded by ricotta cheese, arugula and pesto, stacked between slices of the bakery's renowned black-olive bread. The combo is subtly sublime, both lean and robust, the slightly acidic bite of the artichoke providing a tangy oomph, the arugula adding just a slightly bitter edge that is balanced by the sweetness of the ricotta, while the occasional meaty olive makes you forget you're eating vegetarian. The pesto, somewhat ironically, remains a hint. Add all those textures — from smooth and tender to creamy to leafy to chewy — and, for $8, it's the difference between bland and bliss. 624 S. La Brea Ave., L.A. (323) 939-6813,

—Tom Christie

LA Weekly