10026 Venice Blvd., Culver City
If that magical Jersey-shore Italian joint featured in the movie Big Night had a real-life West Coast counterpart, it would have to be Giovanni's. This family restaurant, run by two brothers – Angelo cooks, Giovanni serves – offers a great fagottini di melenzane, grilled eggplant with ricotta cheese, pine nuts and fresh tomato sauce ($5.95), and an intoxicating penne alla vodka ($7.25). With much-deserved kudos from the gustatory gods at Bon Apetit, even the most discerning foodie can find happiness. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. BYOB; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
Pacific Coast Hwy. at Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades
See the establishment that sells succulent seafood by the seashore. Gladstone's Malibu, located right on the beach, allows you to feast on huge portions of fish and tasty crustaceans and enjoy a post card-perfect view from inside the restaurant or out on the deck. One of the largest oceanfront eateries on the West Coast, it serves specialties including mouth-watering Maine lobster and utterly appetizing Alaskan king and queen crab. Gladstone's also has private banquet rooms, and will cater festivities on the patio or beach. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; catering; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
671 Rose Ave., Venice
The Gourmet Coffee Warehouse is a a real find for the caffeine-addicted epicurean and, with wholesale prices, a relief for the pocketbook. The airy space is filled with the heady aroma of Arabica beans culled from fields around the world and roasted on the premises. Gourmet Coffee Warehouse serves not only patrons but the city at large, offering everything from one-pot pre-packs to 5-pound bags (at those wholesale prices) to individual connoisseurs, restaurants and offices. Open seven days. No alcohol; delivery; parking. AE, MC, V.
8385 Beverly Blvd., L.A.
This modest little Japanese bistro prides itself on having the best modern and traditional dishes around town, as well as an extensive selection of daily specials. Exotic specialties include tofu steak in a mixed mushroom sauce ($6.50), crispy sauteed sea bass ($9.50) as well as flaky steamed rock cod with Chinese sauce ($9.75). Complete the experience with Japanese pumpkin or custard pudding ($2.50-$3.50). Closed for dinner on the last Saturday of each month. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Beer and wine; takeout; parking; reservations accepted on weekends. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
620 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena
Have a completely cosmic experience in this cozy but crazy eatery. Holoworld offers families the option of dining in a jungle, an alien room, a teepee room or a Western saloon. Dishes correspond with the rooms' themes: Starship shrimp ($7.99-$13.99), Geronimo's garden burger ($6.48), Caveman fried-chicken salad ($7.99) and Stampede fries ($1.99). Guests can also enter an exciting world of virtual-reality and video games, pool and laser tag for an out-of-this-world good time. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sun. No alcohol; takeout, catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, CB, DIS, MC, V.
HOUSE OF BLUES
8430 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood
This premier concert venue is also home to fine, Southern-style lunches and dinners. The Bluetones house band performs live during lunch, but you won't be singing the blues after you try the cajun pizza, baked with Italian, andouill and capicola sausages, spicy marinara and mozzarella ($7.95). From the back-yard smokehouse comes the Memphis barbecue chicken, hickory smoked with H.O.B.'s special sauce ($9.95). Or, treat your tastebuds to the world-famous New Orleans po'boy, a fabulous seafood sandwich and a true original ($7.95). Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner seven nights; gospel brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
119 W. Green St., Pasadena
Paintings and reproductions of African artwork, including one wall devoted to local artists, give Ibex a cultured, upscale feel. This family-owned and operated restaurant offers Ethiopian dishes including doro-wat, a spicy chicken dish ($10.95); and beg tibbs, savory sauteed lamb ($12.95); while the extensive vegetarian menu provides many flavorful options. For a special experience, Ibex also features a traditional coffee ceremony – amid the fragrance of incense, gourmet Ethiopian beans are roasted and ground on the spot. Lunch and dinner Tues.-Sun. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations accepted. AE, DIS, MC, V.
8741 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood
Il Sole dishes up traditional Italian cuisine in an atmosphere reminiscent of a small Florentine trattoria, and regularly pleases the palettes of a loyal local clientele. It's easy to see why, with such delectable pasta creations as spaghetti with lobster ($17.50) and ravioli with either spinach and ricotta or lobster and crab (both $13.50). The risotto with porcini mushrooms ($13.50) is popular, while the whole Mediterranean-spiced sea bass ($32) is a seafood feast for two. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery (lunch only); catering; reservations suggested; parking (dinner only). AE, MC, V. JOHNNY ROCKETS
7507 Melrose Ave., L.A.
100 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Connection, W. Hollywood
Century City Shopping Center, Century City
Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
Johnny Rockets was the first malt shop on Melrose and has now become a worldwide classic. Sink your teeth into mouth-watering sandwiches and hamburgers (under $5) and savory American fries ($1.65) while sipping on a cool rich vanilla, chocolate or strawberry malt ($3.15). If the right song is queued up on the old-style juke box, the employees will sing and dance and even hand out nickels so guests can continue to make musical selections. Lunch and dinner seven days. No alcohol; takeout. AE, DIS, MC, V.
JUICE & FITNESSBAZAAR
7988 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood
The flavorful, fresh-squeezed juices and refreshing smoothies at the Juice & Fitness Bazaar are all taste and no guilt. Enjoy this great source of energy any time of the day, and for an extra point on the health scale, you can add a shot of wheat-grass juice. For a warmer meal, you can always help yourself at the soup bar, and energy bars can always be counted on for a tasty, low-cal pick-me-up. With a purchase of at least $5, you can have your juices delivered. Open seven days. No alcohol; delivery. No credit cards.
KASS BAH BRASSERIE
9010 Melrose Ave., W. Hollywood
Everything on the menu is popular at the Kass Bah, which serves California/Continental cuisine in an upscale but casual setting. But if you had to choose, the deliciously fresh tuna tartare appetizer with sliced avocado, baked won ton skins and soy-ginger vinaigrette might win every time. Follow that with the pan-seared Atlantic salmon with spinach pesto, and basmati rice with crispy leeks. Heaven on Earth, anyone? Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Full bar; takeout; valet parking; reservations suggested. MC, V, AE.
(800) 774-FOOD (3663
Tired of circling the city every Saturday night trying to figure out what kind of food or show you're in the mood for, only to find that every place is already booked? Well, you're in luck. K-Big Foodline offers callers free, direct connections so you can make reservations at restaurants or for shows, order takeout or delivery, and have menus faxed. A database of over 400 restaurants includes everything from Schatzi on Main to House of Blues to Johnnie's N.Y. Pizzeria. Seven days, 24 hours.
523 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey
403 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach
4000 Colfax Ave., Studio City
Killer Shrimp is a legendary restaurant that serves three variations on one jammin' dish. Passionate devotees indulge in an exotic dining ritual that involves fresh, succulent, tender shrimp and crusty French bread to soak up the luxuriously spicy, herb-laden sauce ($11.95) – an unforgettable experience. Be forewarned: This delectable fusion of flavors makes for a powerful aphrodisiac. Indoor and patio dining. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; parking. MC, V.
260 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills
This place serves excellent Japanese food. Oh, you want details? Let's talk about Kippan's ocean-fresh baby calamari sauteed with Japanese chile and a dash of brandy ($5.80). Or how about the super-tasty soft-shell crab, fried crispy and garnished with pistachio slices and creamy pepper sauce ($6.80)? And if your stomach isn't growling yet, consider the scintillating sushi bar, which offers a great selection of yellowtail, tuna, toro, marinated albacore and more ($3.90-$5). Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; reservations accepted. AE, DC, MC, V.