i Art’s Delicatessen. Art’s has been the best deli in the Valley since late in the Eisenhower administration, and its dense, tasty chicken soup, puddled around matzo balls the size of grapefruit, is justifiably renowned. Among the local cognoscenti, Art’s is well-known for the succulence of its knockwurst, the creaminess of its chopped liver, and the particular garlicky smack of its house-made pickles. Lox and eggs? Matzo Brie? Kreplach soup? Crisp-skinned cheese blintzes? Well-cured salmon on fresh Brooklyn Bagel bagels? Got ’em. And as it says on the menu: “Every Sandwich Is a Work of Art.” 12224 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 762-1221. Sun.–Thurs. 7 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $18–$36. Deli. JG $$ Ü¦
Bay Cities. The Italian deli Bay Cities makes a decent turkey sandwich, a loud, greasy meatball sandwich and a very respectable hero, but the sandwich of choice here is a monster sub, straight outta Brooklyn, called “The Godmother,” which includes a slice of every Italian cold cut on Earth. Fully dressed with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, mustard and a few squirts of a garlicky vinaigrette, a Godmother feeds a couple of people at least; the guys behind the counter will look at you quizzically if they suspect you’re planning to eat a whole one yourself. 1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 395-8279. Tues.–Sat. 9 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. till 6 p.m. Beer, wine and liquor for takeout only. Lot parking. MC, V. Sandwiches $2–$15. Italian Deli. JG *
Cheebo. Why aren’t more restaurants like Cheebo — a smart, fun, clattery café where the food is mostly organic, very fresh, modestly priced and prepared with an inarguable flair for flavor? Try the halibut on smoky white beans, the slow-cooked pork, the chewy, thin-crusted pizza topped with house-made sausage and fennel. Sandwiches are assembled with — or, for you carb-a-phobics, without — house-made bread. Salads are diverse and luscious (try either chopped, the city’s best caesar type, or a hippie-dippy sprout mélange, to name but a few; all of them are composed, like the restaurant itself, of countless small intelligent details). 7533 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 850-7070. Open seven days, 8 a.m.– midnight. Beer and wine. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $12–$18. Organic Italian. MH $$ ¤ Ü ¦
Europane. Pastry savant Sumi Chang, once the breakfast chef at Campanile, runs this inspired bakery/café. Her croissants are like crispy butter, her chocolate biscotti a study of cacao’s dark, sweet depths. And the egg-salad sandwich — soft-center boiled eggs in homemade mayo on sourdough toast smeared with sun-dried tomato paste — is worth a drive from any corner of the county. Europane recently doubled its seating capacity, thank goodness, since more and more regulars — soccer moms, Caltech profs, Art Center students, chefs, writers — seem to live there part-time. 950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 577-1828. Mon.–Sat. 7 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sun. to 3 p.m. No alcohol. Street parking. Cash only. Pastries and sandwiches $5.75–$7.50. California Bakery. MH *
Grub. Grub is a charming incongruity in the concrete heart of postproduction country. The coffee is a lot fresher than Charbucks, and they serve a homemade ginger ale with fresh lime wedges in a tall cup rimmed with raw sugar. 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. 8 a.m.–2 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout and delivery. Street parking. AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $3.95–$10.95. American. Nancy Rommelmann $ ¤ Ü * ¦
Julienne. Beethoven scherzos skitter through the plant-strewn patio, and regulars park their dogs just outside it. You would expect a place like Julienne to serve genteel luncheon salads, and it does: The Chinese chicken salad sprinkled with crunchy noodles is renowned. But the basic currency of the restaurant seems to be the sandwich, including soft chicken-salad sandwiches of a sort many of us haven’t tasted since the Bullocks Wilshire tearoom closed down. 2649 Mission St., San Marino, (626) 441-2299. Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Sat. 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Dinner during summer only. No alcohol. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $8.95–$15.95. California. JG $ *
Nicole’s Gourmet Imports. Nicole Grandjean wants people to know about French food. To this end, she offers her gourmet imports to the public at the same prices she sells them to restaurants. Her pretty, spacious shop in South Pasadena also contains a sandwich counter and a small number of tables — a perfect secret lunch spot. But dangerous. You might stop in for a croque monsieur (ham, Gruyère and béchamel melted together on a baguette) and walk out having bought a Laguiole knife set, a Provençal tablecloth, some frozen porcinis and a big chunk of fresh foie gras. A meal-sized salad (the authentic Greek, or the one with smoked duck breast and dried cherries) could cost you the price of any number of European and domestic cheeses, kilos of chocolate, and a gallon of olive oil. The good news is, you won’t spend a fraction of what you would elsewhere. 921 Meridian Ave., Unit B, South Pasadena, (626) 441-9600. Open Tues.–Fri. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Street parking. AE, D, MC, V. Sandwiches, $4.95. French. MH $
Le Pain Quotidien. This chain bakery and café, which originated in Belgium, has since spread to France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, New York and, most recently, Beverly Hills. Owner-creator Alain Coumont’s rigorous, winning aesthetic consists of a refined, even streamlined rusticity; he seems intent on promulgating precisely the small, daily pleasures that make Continental life so beguiling. Coffee is served in cunning footed bowls. Each establishment has a bakery, featuring huge disks of artisanal breads, crusty baguettes and straightforward pastries. Antique pine shelving holds Le Pain Quotidien products — olive oil, olive paste, sun-dried tomatoes, sea salt, capers and so on, an almost complete Mediterranean palette. 9630 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 859-1100. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Fri. 7:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $6.50–$18, pastries $3–$6. French. MH ¢ *
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Picholine. The elegant house of temptations known as Picholine sits on the unlikely corner of First and Beverly (two otherwise parallel streets that meet just east of Virgil). This gourmet specialty/sandwich shop sells nine tried-and-true sandwiches and no coffee drinks. You can eat at one of the very few tables — if you’re lucky enough to find an empty one — or carry out. Sandwich Number One (grilled chicken breast with pesto, arugula, shaved Parmesan and oven-roasted tomato on a rustic roll) is the biggest seller. All sandwiches come with a choice of pasta or mesclun salad, and you can supplement your meal with a Valrhona chocolate bar, or an array of Roche handmade bonbons. Shop while you wait — there are French jams, rustic Italian pastas of startling porosity, Dean and DeLuca herbs de Provence, not to mention a mind-bending selection of European cheeses. 3360 W. First St., Los Angeles, (213) 252-8722, fax (213) 252-8723. Open Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m., closed Sun.–Mon. No alcohol. Street parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. All sandwiches $7.50. MH * ¦
Say Cheese. A dual storefront in Silver Lake houses this gourmet store on one side and espresso café on the other. The lunch menu features salads, sandwiches, quiche and the house specialty, tartiflette (baked diced potatoes with onion and bacon topped with melted reblochon cheese and served with a mixed green salad). The gourmet shop tempts with a notable variety of pâtés, olives and, of course, a handpicked selection of French cheeses. 2800 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake, (323) 665-0545, fax (323) 665-6465. Open Mon.–Sat. 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m (store open until 6:30), Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Sandwiches $8–$9.50. MH * ¤
Susina. The smell of cooking sugar — surely the scent of fairy dust — greets you as you enter the perfect, twinkling world of Susina (formerly Sugarplum Bakery). Candies! Cakes! Cookies! Tarts! The art nouveau woodwork, the dripping chandeliers, and the assortment of house-made and imported sweets will make anybody a kid in this candy store. If you want to eat real food first, there are very good grilled sandwiches — especially the tomato with Cheddar or the prosciutto with fresh mozzarella. Other must-haves include the croissants, the berry-blossom cake, and the bite-size fruit tarts — try the one with pomegranate seeds. 7122 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 934-7900. Open Mon.–Thurs. 7 a.m.–7 p.m., Fri. 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Sat. 8 a.m.–10 p.m. and Sun. 8 a.m.–9 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Sandwiches $7. European Bakery. MH $ *