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LA CABANA
738 Rose Ave., Venice
(310) 392-6161

Eight blocks from Venice Beach lies one of the last treasures from the Aztecs, La Cabana. This authentic Mexican eatery, decorated with Spanish tiles and colorful murals, has a garden patio for intimate dining. Montezuma would have devoured the steak picadu with potatoes and spices ($8.25) or the pescado veracruzano, red snapper baked in a tomato and caper sauce ($8.75), and washed it down with a cool strawberry margarita. And after the battle was won, Monte could return after hours – till 3 a.m.- for a late-night quesadilla with handmade tortillas. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days; brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout. MC, V.

LA MASIA
9077 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood
(310) 273-7066

Dining here is more than an eating experience, it's a date. Romantic candlelight illuminates tables while diners enjoy such Spanish specialties as paella ($18.75), rack of veal ($26.50), scampi al ajillo ($17.50) and a variety of tapas (about 20 in the repertoire). After dinner, some of the finest sangria this side of Barcelona will help you get in the dancing mood created by the live salsa music. Experience “Cuban Night” with entertainer Candi Sosa, and Cuban cuisine, every Sunday. Dinner Wed.-Sun. Full bar; takeout; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

>LOUISE'S TRATTORIA

342 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills

(310) 274-4271

10645 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A.

(310) 475-6084

264 26th St., Santa Monica

(310) 451-5001

1430 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach

(310) 316-5236

232 N. Larchmont Blvd., L.A.

(213) 962-9510

1008 Montana Ave., Santa Monica

(310) 394-8888

7505 Melrose Ave., L.A.

(213) 651-3880

130 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale

(818) 241-8860

4500 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Feliz

(213) 667-0777

11645 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood

(310) 826-2000

12050 Ventura Blvd., Studio City

(818) 762-2662

28 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(818) 568-3030

For gourmet pizzas, handmade pastas, fresh seafood and crisp salads in a casual setting, there's no better place. Louise's uses the freshest ingredients California has to offer, including baby lettuce, goat cheese, fresh chicken and beef. Nothing is frozen and everything is cooked to order. Hot foccacia and La Brea Bakery breads are served with imported Italian extra-virgin olive oil. Several distinctive wines are offered by the glass or bottle. Entrees are priced from $6.50 to $10.95, making Louise's affordable every day of the week. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

MARRAKESH
13003 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
(818) 788-6354

Eating at Marrakesh is like going to Morocco – guests are seated on large floor pillows in front of wooden inlaid tables – only it's cheaper and you don't need a passport. For starters, try the bastilla, filo dough filled with crushed almonds, eggs and spices, topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Then order the lemon chicken or the roasted lamb with seven different vegetables. After eating at Marrakesh, it's easy to see why Zagat's rated it North America's best Moroccan restaurant. Dinner seven nights. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested and required on weekends; AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

MICHAEL'S
1147 Third St., Santa Monica
(310) 451-0843

Michael McCarty's namesake is the legendary birthplace of casual, elegant California cuisine. Michael's indoor-outdoor patio is filled with flowers and contemporary art. Lunch and dinner specialties include pizzas, salads, fresh fish, prime steaks and an award-winning wine list. Try the chicken and goat-cheese salad tossed with roasted peppers and tomato vinaigrette dressing ($24.50); finish with the delectable Heath Bar caramel custard torte ($9). Michael's is the perfect setting for special occasions, as there are three private rooms to accommodate 12 to 40 diners, or the entire restaurant for 200. Lunch Tues.-Fri., dinner Tues.-Sat. Full bar; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.

MONTEFRIO DE MADRID
222 S. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale
(818) 954-0159

Cozy and comfortable are the bywords at this little neighborhood joint in Glendale. Authentic Spanish cuisine, Madrileno style – prepared by an authentic Madrileno conicero – translates to 16 different kinds of tasty tapas ($5-$8) and bold entrees, featuring perfectly cooked meats and seafoods, that are big enough to split. The best of these is the classic Montefrio paella, loaded with fragrant saffron rice, chicken, plump shrimp, calamari and mussels, all suffused with the heavenly scent of garlic ($10). Lunch and dinner Tues.-Sun. BYOB; takeout; catering; reservations suggested on weekends. AE, DIS, MC, V.

MUSSO & FRANK GRILL
6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
(213) 467-5123

Celebrating its 79th anniversary in the heart of Hollywood, Musso & Frank brings you back to the glory days of Tinseltown in a classic setting, an ever-elegant room complete with red-leather and wood banquettes, murals from 1928 and antique sconces. This three-star, award-winning restaurant presents grilled steaks and seafood cooked to order on an old-fashioned brick broiler. Daily specials include traditional corned beef and cabbage, luxurious bouillabaisse Marseillaise and hearty braised short ribs of beef. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Tues.-Sat. Full bar; parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.

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NATALEE THAI CUISINE
10036 Venice Blvd., Culver City
(310) 202-7003

998 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills<
(310) 855-9380

With the original restaurant just a stone's throw from Sony studios and a new branch in Beverly Hills, Natalee ranks among the best Thai restaurants on the Westside. The comfy atmosphere is enhanced by warm candlelight and spicy, crunchy, healthy Thai dishes. The chefs here take great pride in the artistic presentation of savory beef or pork satay ($5.50) and colorful pad Thai ($5.50) and chow mein ($5.95). If you brave the trademark “Hot Stuff” dishes (shrimp, chicken or pork jazzed to their spicy peak with chile and fresh mint leaves), better keep an icy Singha beer close at hand. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

NOURA CAFE
8479 Melrose Ave., L.A.
(213) 651-4581; (213) 651-4582

If Adam and Eve were to search for their lost Garden of Eden, they would probably find it hidden within the walls of Noura Cafe. Surrounded by lush plants and beautiful Mediterranean music, visitors of this sanctuary will be able to sample such delights as shawarma gyros ($4.95-$6.95), succulent lamb kabobs ($5.95-$8.45) or suzanna ($2.25-$9), a Mediterranean salad mixed with marinated eggplants, peppers and mushrooms. Yes, Adam and Eve may have had their Garden of Eden, but they didn't have Noura's baklava or its belly dancers. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking; reservations suggested. MC, V.

OBACHINE
242 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills>OBACHINE

(310) 274-4440

ObaChine, an Asian restaurant, sushi and satay bar owned by Wolfgang Puck and wife, Barbara Lazaroff, is both a culinary and architectural dream. The interior, designed by Lazaroff, is a tribute to Asia that's decorated with authentic art and paintings; the culturally diverse menu continues the theme by offering tea-smoked Peking duck ($18.95) and sesame-crusted oysters ($8.50). Whether you eat downstairs at the satay and sushi bar or upstairs at the main exhibition kitchen, ObaChine is guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning palate. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner seven nights. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations accepted and recommended on weekends. AE, DC, MC, V.

PASION SUPPER CLUB AND RESTAURANT
12215 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
(818) 752-7333

With its elegant, candlelit interior, California/French Continental cuisine and large dance floor, Pasion truly lives up to its name. An extensive menu features fresh seafood, aged steaks and pastas, including grilled mixed seafood paella and pan-fried Mediterranean calamari ($6.95 and up). Besides enjoying elegant food and fine wines, dance to tango music on Tuesday, live salsa on Thursday and West Coast swing on Sunday. Dinner Tues.-Sun. Full bar; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

PATTY'S PIZZA
625 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
(310) 576-6616

8950 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills
(310) 550-0986

281 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills
(310) 550-7871

According to Pizza Today magazine, the award-winning Patty's is one of the top 100 pizza makers in the U.S. Patty's menu even includes the original gourmet, unbaked pizza, the distinctive Southwestern pizza with corn, beans and salsa, a barbecue-chicken pizza and Nature's Feast, with seven garden vegetables. Patty's will custom-build your pie using homemade sauce, fresh dough and even soy cheese ($4.95-$14.95). Lunch and dinner seven days (Montana and Beverly), lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. (W. Olympic). No alcohol; delivery (Beverly); takeout; validated parking (Beverly). MC, V.

PICNIK
1431 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica
(310) 394-0044

A bastion of American cuisine offering an extensive menu spanning a spectrum of tastes, Picnik, hands down, prepares the best white chicken chili around, and boasts “nobody does it like us” ($7.95). The weekend at Picnik means savory eggs Benedict prepared eight different ways to satisfy every breakfast-savvy patron ($9.95-$12.95). Arguably the most notable element of this dining venture is the panoramic ocean view which can be enjoyed while lounging on the velvet couches that furnish the elegant beer-and-wine bar. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking. AE, CD, DC, DIS, MC, V.

PINE HOUSE
100 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A.
(310) 289-0928

This quaint Chinese hangout is a must for moviegoers looking for a quick bite before checking out a movie at the Beverly Connection. The open kitchen is a bonus for those who like to see the preparation of their selections. Taiwanese owner Lance Lai recommends the satisfying dim sum (pot stickers and steamed dumplings, $3.25), such specialty noodle dishes as chow fun, a seasoned blend of meat and veggies ($7.50), and the lunch and dinner specials (from $4.50). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking. AE, DIS, MC, V.

PINK PEPPER
1638 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood
(213) 461-2462

Everything's classic Thai at Pink Pepper, from the decorations on the walls to the chow on the table. In a comfortable setting, Pink Pepper offers such Far Eastern favorites as the saucy chicken saute ($5.95), the delectably idyllic Thai barbecue chicken ($5.95), and the house specialty, pad Thai noodles, a mouth-watering combination of rice noodles, bean sprouts, egg and chicken or shrimp, garnished with ground peanuts ($5.95). Affordable and classy, it's perfect for a Thai night out. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking available; reservations accepted. AE, MC, V.

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PIZZERIA UNO
8571 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood
(310) 652-9263

9301 Tampa Ave., Northridge
(818) 882-8667

www.unos.com

Established in Chicago in 1943, Pizzeria Uno is the creator of the inch-thick, deep-dish pizza. Uno also serves festive fajitas, barbecue ribs, steaks and delicious thin-crust pizza. Specialty pizzas include the famous Spinoccoli with fresh green spinach and broccoli ($6.79-$13.49). The West Hollywood restaurant serves breakfast dishes, including savory omelettes and the classic Mexican breakfast dish, huevos rancheros ($8.99). Uno features over 20 tasty pasta, sandwich and burger lunch specials Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., all under $5.99. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; parking. AE, MC, V.

PRADO
244 N. Larchmont Blvd., Larchmont Village
(213) 467-3871

Beneath Prado's elegant ceiling mural, come closer to a diner's paradise as you enjoy the wide variety of flavors and spices that characterize South American and Caribbean cuisines. Famous for its barbecued vegetable and chicken salad (lunch $10.75, dinner $11.75), Prado also offers savory Cajun crab cakes ($14.75 lunch; $18.75 dinner). The house specialty, tarte tatin ($5), is always in demand. New to the menu are Mexican, Italian and salad samplers. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

QUALITY FOOD AND BEVERAGE
8030 W. Third St., L.A.
(213) 658-5959

Just when you've axed all the bad foods from your diet and replaced them with mounds of flavorless grains and sprouts, here comes American homestyle cooking that's hearty, tasty and – get this – healthy. Breakfast is served all day at Quality, which means you can cure those mid-afternoon munchies with challah French toast and fruit ($7.45), or get the house specialty, eggs Benedict ($8.25). Quality is easy on the pocketbook. Private parties are welcome too. Breakfast and lunch seven days. BYOB; takeout; catering. AE, MC, V.

RED ROCK
8782 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood
(310) 854-0710

Not just a bar, Red Rock's an adventure. Celebrating its second year in the hippest part of the Sunset Strip, this fun restaurant is currently featuring fish 'n' chips and British draft beers as well as gourmet pizzas and great burgers. Sit on the patio and take in the most amazing view of Hollywood or chill out with a martini at one of the two bars – you'll love it! Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

REVIVAL CAFE
7149 Beverly Blvd., L.A.
(213) 930-1210

Disguised as a neighborhood coffee house, the Revival is a gourmet explosion that serves up some of the best breakfasts in town. Smoked-salmon quesadillas and Italian sausage and eggs are samples from the $4.50 breakfast specials. For lunch or dinner try the shrimp and goat cheese pizza ($8.95) or the Firenze salad with chunks of grilled chicken breast and bleu cheese, walnuts and apples ($7.25). Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. No alcohol; takeout; delivery. AE, MC, V.

RITA'S GATE OF INDIA
115 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica
(310) 656-1664

Rita is an Indian chef who stands apart from the culinary clones, and her commitment to cooking and using only the freshest ingredients is beyond compare. This restaurant, elegantly decorated with beautiful ceiling fabric and colorful paintings of traditional Indian life, boasts 40 different meat dishes, 30 vegetarian dishes and 15 oven-baked breads. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, DIS, MC, V.

RJ'S BEVERLY HILLS
252 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills
(310) 274-7427

If the mood calls for a John Wayne, all-American kind of Western barbecue, then ride out to RJ's Beverly Hills, where hearty portions of your favorite barbecue beef ribs are roasted over mesquite wood for a rich hickory-smoked flavor ($15.25). RJ's also features an 80-item, award-winning salad bar. For private parties, a banquet room decorated with 1920s photographs of L.A. transports guests to a time when things were mellower and slower paced. Happy hour Mon.-Sat. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; reservations accepted; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

ROYAL STAR SEAFOOD
3001 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
(310) 828-8812

This authentic Hong Kong-style restaurant boasts 200 different menu items, from traditionals such as beef with broccoli and kung pao chicken to Taipan lobster, sauteed lightly in a sauce of black pepper, cilantro and lemon grass ($20-$30). Delicious, tender-but-firm steamed rice can be requested with any meal. For lunch try the hot and puffy, filling yet light dim sum – choose between shrimp dumpling or pot stickers ($2-$4). Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations accepted; weekend reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.

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SCHATZI ON MAIN
3110 Main St., Santa Monica
(310) 399-4800

Arnold Schwarzenegger's lush and inviting eatery dishes up contemporary America fare, along with a few of “Ah-nold”'s favorite Austrian specialties. Some of the creations by chef Matt McLinn include the Zwiebel Rost Braten, a grilled tenderloin with caramelized onions in a red wine sauce ($23) and the grilled venison chop with sweet potato, haricot vert and huckleberries ($30). Sporting one of the only cigar-friendly patios around, Schatzi is host to “Cigar Night,” on the first Monday of each month. Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch Sat.-Sun. Full bar; valet parking; AE, DC, MC, V.

SHABU HANA
7916 Sunset Blvd., L.A.
(213) 845-9395

It's not only sushi that represents the depth of Japanese cuisine. Shabu shabu and sukiyaki are Shabu Hana's main dishes, prepared in glowing metal vessels at the counter. Served with fresh vegetables and grade-A meats or seafood, sukiyaki is cooked in a fully seasoned broth, while you can enjoy shabu shabu – poached in boiling water – with a flavorful soy and citrus dipping sauce ($10.95-$22.95). Extravagant diners can try the magnificent Kobe beef, famous in Japan ($80)! Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking available. AE, DIS, MC, V.

SHA SHA CAFE
3353 Barham Blvd., L.A.
(213) 851-5494

Kay Kittisub brings the flavors of her Thai homeland to this quaint little outpost between Hollywood and the Valley. Popular with the studio suits, this eatery specializes in Caveman Chicken (Thai barbecue chicken, $7.95) and Sha Sha Duck, crispy duck with ginger sauce ($12.95). Comfort food doesn't get any better than the popular spicy mint noodles ($5.95-$6.95), pad Thai ($6.95) or sweet bananas in coconut milk ($2.95) for dessert. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.

SOUPLANTATION
8491 W. Third St., L.A.
(213) 655-0381

13455 Maxella St., Marina del Rey
(310) 305-7669

11911 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood
(310) 476-7080

If eating out was like going to an amusement park, then Souplantation would be Disneyland. For one price per person (lunch from $6.19 and dinner from $7.79), it's an all-you-care-to-eat outing for the whole family. Won ton chicken and caesar headline a hearty salad bar that also offers 60 original ingredients to create a healthy feast. There are always six steaming soups to choose from and wholesome entrees, including hot pasta with your choice of three homemade sauces. An on-site bakery and dessert bar round out this food festival. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; parking. MC, V.

STAR OF INDIA
7212 Melrose Ave., W. Hollywood
(213) 939-6815

Travel to India without leaving L.A. at this beautiful eatery. You'll dine on traditional moguli with rice and soup ($8.95) amid the art and music of India. Star of India also offers a wide variety of tandoori, curry, seafood and vegetarian dishes. Everyone loves the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet during the week ($5.95) as well as the lavish champagne brunch on Sunday ($7.95). Don't miss the Valentine's Day special, only $31.95 for two. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking. AE, DC, MC, V.

THE STINKING ROSE
55 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills
(310) 652-7673

Garlic's the thing at the Stinking Rose, a restaurant devoted exclusively to the culinary pyrotechnics of this potent little bulb. Try the 40-clove garlic-roasted chicken ($10) or the new iron-skillet-roasted garlic mussels ($9). Your now-numb tongue will float gingerly across the garlic ice cream ($4) as you take in your whimsical, colorful surroundings – garlic cartoon characters soar across the walls and tiny lights wink from the ceiling. Bring an understanding date. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, JCB, MC, V.

SUSHI HOUSE
12013 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.
(310) 479-1507

Sushi House offers sushi at its finest and most original. Known for its comfortable atmosphere and continuous reggae music, this 16-year-old establishment also offers tempura (chicken or vegetable) and teriyaki ($7). Try one of the specialty sushi rolls, such as the one with eel, avocado, rice and cucumber (six pieces for $9). Sushi House is sure to please palates both mild and wild. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

SUSHI OF NAPLES
735 E. Green St., Pasadena
(626) 578-1123

Sushi of Naples doesn't offer salmon-skin rolls in Alfredo sauce, but this strictly Japanese restaurant does serve the healthiest cuts of fresh, high-quality fish around. For $99, you and your crew can feast on the “Sushi Boat Special” – enough sushi, soup and salad to feed seven. Sit at the sushi bar and watch Master Gin-san, a sushi chef of 26 years, artistically cut and prepare fish. Gin-san has his own specialty rolls – No. 4 is the most popular. The ingredients? They're a secret. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.

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TAKA SUSHI
1345 Second St., Santa Monica
(310) 394-6540

Warm smiles and hot sake are among the treats you'll find in the chic, new-wave atmosphere of Taka Sushi. Choose from a rainbow of fresh sushi prepared before your eyes, or try some favorites from the main menu like the deep-fried soft-shell crab appetizer (market price), or the chicken, beef, salmon or combination teriyaki ($12-$17). The friendly staff will take care of you from “irashai” (welcome) to “arigato” (thank you) to make this a truly pleasant dining experience. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; valet parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

TANDOORI NIGHTS
8165 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood
(213) 848-8626

As the name suggests, tandoori is the speciality here, done in the Southern or popular Northern styles. Favorites include the chicken tikka masala dinner ($9.95) and ginger chicken cooked in a clay oven ($8.95). If the tastes of Indian cuisine are too hot for your palate, the spices can be toned down. However, for the courageous, orders can be prepared extra hot. Either way, you choose the tastes at Tandoori Nights. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations required. AE, MC, V.

TEASERS SANTA MONICA
1351 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
(310) 394-8728

4445 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey

(310) 823-4534

With over 85 items to choose from, you're sure to find something to your taste at Teasers. Start with Teaser Rolls, tortillas cradling chicken, spinach, bacon, sprouts and tomatoes ($6.95) or No Bones, spicy chunks of Buffalo-style chicken breast ($6.95). Main courses range from tangy Chinese stir-fries ($7.95) to authentic Cajun/Southwest chicken platters ($7.95). Teasers features a sports center with over 15 TVs, and transforms into a dance club at night, all of which makes for a great place to spend time with friends. Breakfast Sat.-Sun., lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; parking. AE, DIS, MC, V.

THEODORE'S RESTAURANT
7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
(213) 466-7000, Ext. 8463.

The nice thing about dining in a hotel restaurant is that you are treated like a guest in your own city. Theodore's, located in the elegant Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, has perfected “American-Continental” cuisine: grilled chicken breast marinated in fresh herbs, citrus juice and olive oil ($14.50), Johnny Grant's famous angel-hair pasta topped with fresh tomato cancasse, basil and olive oil ($9.95) and light-but-zingy Chinese chicken salad ($7.50). The lunch menu has an expanded salad and sandwich selection with reduced prices. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days, brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

360'
6290 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
(213) 461-8600

Get a 360-degree, tree-top view of the entire city from this classic American restaurant. Ensconced in a top-floor penthouse decorated with cherry-wood walls, soothing rust-colored tones and elegant maple floors, contemporary crowds can crunch fried chicken, savor swordfish with green-tomato relish or dine on delectable duck. The Yankee menu is complete with freshly ground hamburgers and sweet fruit crumbles. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Full bar; catering; valet parking; reservations essential. AE, MC, V.

TOI ON SUNSET
7505 1/2 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
(213) 874-8062

TOI ON WILSHIRE
1120 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
(310) 394-7804

The fantastic fusion of rock 'n' roll music with superb Thai food has made Toi a favorite among locals, celebs, et al. Take in the rock posters, freaky art objects and groovy atmosphere while enjoying pad kra prao, a combination of spicy beef, chicken or pork sauteed with chile, mint, onions and green and red peppers ($6.95). Or go traditional with an exemplary Thai yellow curry ($6.95). An ideal hangout after the clubs close. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; parking. AE, DIS, MC, V.

TWIN PALMS
101 W. Green St., Pasadena
(626) 577-2567

This open-air restaurant anchored by two palms rising above a canvas canopy is a must for those with a hankering for California's culinary riches. French-trained chef Tony Zidar has developed a cuisine based on the best California has to offer, including organic vegetables from Chino Farms, artichokes from Castroville, fish and shellfish from up and down the coast, Hoffman Ranch Quail and Sonoma cheeses. Before dawn each day, Twin Palms' bakers are at work preparing the day's breads and pastries. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner seven nights, jazz brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

THE V CUT SMOKE SHOP
(AND ESPRESSO BAR)
8712 Melrose Ave., L.A.
(213) 655-5959

Turned out of your favorite bar for lighting up? Not to worry, in these smoking-ban days there's still refuge at the V Cut Smoke Shop, where you can kick back on a comfy couch, sip espresso and savor the mild flavor and smoothness of an Avo cigar (15 percent off for an entire box). The Avo's one of the favorites at V, which offers a selection of (mostly) Dominican cigars, including the spicy La Gloria Cubana, Buttera, Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey. Open seven days. Takeout; delivery; parking. AE, MC, V.

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VICTOR HODD'S
7953 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood
(213) 822-9652

The 1940s decor of Victor Hodd's lends a classy, jazzy feel to the dining experience, complemented by an array of luscious entrees. Seafood lovers can sup on pecan-encrusted catfish ($12.95) or seared Maine scallops and crab claws ($17.50), while the meat-and-potatoes crowd will get a kick out of the lamb shank served with root vegetables and tomato concasse ($14.50). And do pop in Friday for the two-hour “Martini Hour” (5-7 p.m.) or a late-night menu on weekends. Dinner seven nights; brunch Sundays (starting in March). Full bar; takeout; catering; reservations suggested; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

WILD ORCHID
7669 Beverly Blvd., L.A.
(213) 937-3100

Romantic candlelight, soft music and a large purple orchid painted on the back wall add to the flavor of this contemporary, newly opened Thai restaurant that specializes in a mix of Japanese, Thai and Chinese cooking. Sample the crab Rangoon – crab meat and cream cheese deep fried in a won ton wrapper ($5.99) – before you dig into such house specialties as the chili prawns in red curry sauce ($7.99) and secret string beans stir-fried in a special house sauce ($4.99). Lunch and dinner seven days. BYOB; takeout; delivery; catering; parking. MC, V.

YANGTZE RESTAURANT
1333 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
(310) 260-1994

In the mood for Asian food, but can't decide whether you want Chinese, Thai or Japanese? Enjoy all three at Yangtze, SoCal's hippest restaurant for Asian Pacific Rim cuisine. Have fun chowing on chow fun, a delectable dish of flat noodles sauteed to perfection with your choice of meat and vegetables, served with a rich brown sauce ($8). Sweat it out with the chile laden kung pao chicken ($8), or go crazy at the scrumptious sushi bar for half the price of most sushi joints! Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

YE OLDE KING'S HEADRESTAURANT AND PUB
116 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica
(310) 451-1402

For 25 years, Ye Olde King's Head has served up English specialties like the traditionally popular fish and chips (king size $11.50, queen size $8.75) and a hearty and filling bangers and mash ($9.95). Settled in a proper English atmosphere, you can play darts and, of course, have a Guinness. There's also the Royal Tea, featuring an assortment of cakes, delicate finger sandwiches and raisin scones with yummy Devonshire cream ($11.95). Stop by the King's Head gift shop on your way out. High tea Mon.-Fri., lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; reservations accepted. AE, DC, MC, V.

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