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HOUSE OF BLUES
8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
(323) 848-5100

With five bars on the restaurant level, live music nightly, and a dazzling collection of Southern folk art, House of Blues is a party palace extraordinaire. Its signature dish is a spicy creole jambalaya, made with rice, shellfish, sausage, ham and scallops ($10.95) and spiked with a potent habanero pepper. From the backyard smokehouse comes barbecued chicken ($9.95) and ribs ($11.95), prepared with the appropriate Southern-style zing. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner seven nights; gospel brunch Sun. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

HUGO MOLINA
1065 E. Green St., Pasadena
(626) 449-7820

The rich and affordable has made a home in the heart of Pasadena. Step in, and let the hosptiality and food take over.. Sample a crab cake appetizer ($10.75) while sitting by the window people watching, and then order the grilled halibut ($19.95) or the Chinese crispy duck ($21.95) Your wallet won't yell empty when your stomach screams , feed me. Lunch served five days; dinner nightly .;Beer and wine; takout catering ;valet parking(Th-Su)AE,DC,MC,V

IL SOLE
8741 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
(310) 657-1183

Outside you have the bustle of L.A.'s most storied thoroughfare; inside you'll think you're dining in splendid style at a Florentine villa. Il Sole offers its patrons Sunset Strip style and authentic Italian dining in a casual but classy atmosphere. Popular entrees include sea bass ($34), osso bucco with polenta ($24.50) and langoustines ($22.50), or take your pick from a large assortment of pastas. Homemade desserts are available, and there is a wine for every palate and occasion. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; patio for smoking; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations essential. AE, DC, MC, V.

ITANA BAHIA
8711 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
(310) 657-6306

The specialty here is the cuisine of the Bahia region of Brazil. The Baiana ambiance is artfully evoked by various musical instruments on the wall and dazzling images of orixas – Afro-Bahian spirits. For lunch or dinner try the xinxim de galinha (chicken with garlic, lemon, peanuts and sun-dried shrimps, with rice and vatapa, $12.95) or the vegetarian Amazona plate (beans, rice, fried plantains, steamed vegetables, $8.95). Owner Itana Dorea knows hospitality – Bahia-style. Lunch and dinner Tues.-Sun., closed Mon. Beer and wine; parking; reservations accepted. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

JOAN'S ON THIRD
8350 W. Third St., L.A.
(323) 655-2285

If you're looking for imported olive oils, cheeses or meats, look no further. This gourmet-foods marketplace and cafe has it all – from freshly prepared meals to exquisite pastries and gift baskets. Hemingway would've loved Joan's take on “a movable feast”: sumptuous picnic and box lunches made to order from the many items on the menu. Try a terrific tarragon chicken salad, or sink your teeth into a grilled vegetable provencal and goat-cheese baguette sandwich ($5.95). Or relax and enjoy a cappuccino and scone over the morning paper. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Tues.-Sun. No alcohol. takeout; delivery, catering; parking. AE, MC, V.

KASS BAH
9010 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood
(310) 274-7664

If Cole Porter were around today, he'd head over to Kass Bah, which now showcases live jazz, vocal blues and cabaret music once a week (no cover) in its intimate, mahogany-paneled salon. Sip a lemon-drops martini ($6) at the bar, or order dinner and sink into the wall-to-wall pillows in the lounge. For the true connoisseur, there's a private cigar and smoking room, where the live music is filtered in via speakers. Now featuring Mambo Katz on Monday nights, 9:30 p.m.-mid.; through July. AE, MC, V.

KASS BAH
9010 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood
(310) 274-7664

There is a bit of exotic Casablanca about this upscale restaurant which even has a royal Moroccan tent for private parties. Dinner here is an event, starting with a designer cocktail like the apple martini ($8) or an appetizer such as the ahi tuna tartare with sliced avocado, baked wonton skins and soy ginger vinaigrette ($11). For the main course try roasted, air-dried Chinese duck with basmati rice; baked Granny Smith apples in a port wine and orange sauce ($23). The profiteroles – puff pastry balls filled with creme anglaise and warm chocolate – are dangerously good. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Full bar; takeout; valet parking; reservations suggested. MC, V, AE.

KILLER SHRIMP
523 Washington St., Marina del Rey
(310) 578-2293

403 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach

(310) 798-0008

4000 Colfax Ave., Studio City

(818) 508-1570

Killer Shrimp is here and ready to turn you into a deliriously happy crustacean junkie. This ain't Red Lobster; it's jumbo Louisiana shrimp the way they were meant to be enjoyed, soaked in a bath of spicy sauce so tasty you'll love sopping it up with your French bread. It's no accident that this place has been packing them in for nine years. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; parking. MC, V.

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KIPPAN RESTAURANT
260 N. Beverly Blvd., Beverly Hills
(310) 858-0535

Sushi lovers, get those chopsticks ready and come down to this stylish Japanese restaurant where you can dine on such delicacies as fresh tuna tataki sushi ($4.20) or marinated albacore sushi ($3.80). Kippan also offers a large selection of vegetarian sushi creations, such as the cucumber roll ($2.90) or the avocado roll ($3.50). If you're not in a sushi mode, try the teriyaki chicken, served with rice, salad and soup ($8.80). Lunch and dinner Mon.-Fri., dinner Sat.-Sun. Beer and wine; takeout; parking; reservations accepted. AE, CB, DC, MC, V.

LA BOTTEGA
11363 Santa Monica Blvd., WLA
(310) 477-7777
8301 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
(323) 654-1214

Put a splatter-proof bib on that suit when you roll into this neighborhood trattoria. Their linguini pescatore has more calamari, shrimp, clams and mussels than the Pacific ($9.25). Health-conscious goodfellas will love the antipasto, a mountain of grilled, sauteed, and marinated vegetables ($7.50), or the no-mayo tuna sandwich ($6). These dishes will justify getting a slab of tiramisu ($3.50) for dessert. Feeling ambitious? Smuggle home some imported goodies (flavored olive oils, breads, biscotti, meats, cheeses, more) and attempt your own culinary masterpiece. Breakfast, lunch, dinner seven days. Full bar at WLA location; beer and wine; delivery; takeout; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.

LE BEAUJOLAIS
522 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach
(310) 543-5100 and (310) 378-0267

Boasting a charming candlelit interior, elegant flowers and an award-winning wine selection, Le Beaujolais makes sure we'll always have a bit of Paris in the South Bay. Since 1983, this restaurant has served peerless French cuisine featuring a selection of exquisite sauces which change nightly. Always sensational are the halibut ($28.95), the rack of lamb ($28.95) and the veal chop ($29.95). The champagne brunch on Sunday is an event and always draws a large crowd. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

LE BATEAU
8530 Beverly Blvd. #151., Los Angeles
(310) 854-1115

Tired of dropping $250 on a pair of Calvin Klein pumps at the Beverly Center, then being forced to eat two-dollar food court fare? Rejoice – there's now more to mall cuisine than Hot Dog on a Stick. Rest your newly shoed tootsies at this Euro-Asian pit-stop and feast on continental favorites like ribeye steak with whole grain mustard sauce ($11.25) or Mongolian style sauteed beef-tenderloin ($12.50). Just the pick-up you need to battle the lines at that clearance sale. Lunch and dinner seven days; beer and wine; take-out; AE, MC, V.

LOCANDA DEL LAGO
231 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica
(310) 451-3525

After watching the sun dip below the horizon, stroll a few blocks from the Santa Monica coastline to this romantic nook for a bite. Locanda's Third Street Promenade locale and low-lit, high-class ambiance make it a prime destination for an evening out with your honey. Flirt shamelessly over oso buco with risotto milanese ($25.95) or beef tenderloin, share a flourless chocolate cake, then sip some grappa or cognac – a perfect guard against the night's seaside chill. Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch weekends; reservations suggested; full bar; take-out; catering; valet. AE, DC, 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.
(323) 962-9510
1008 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
(310) 394-8888
7505 Melrose Ave., L.A.
(323) 651-3880
130 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale
(818) 241-8860
4500 Los Feliz Blvd., L.A.
(323) 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
23630 Valencia Blvd., Valencia
(805) 222-9215

Italy has gondola rides, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Coliseum. Southern Californians have Louise's Trattoria. Zesty salads, homemade pizzas and calzones, pasta dishes and thick-layered sandwiches are among the many entrees on the menu here. Complement your three-cheese or chicken-filled ravioli ($8.95-$9.95) with foccacia straight from the oven, then top it off with a slice of chocolate-raspberry mousse cake ($5.14). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

LUMPY GRAVY
7311 Beverly Blvd., L.A.
(323) 934-9400

Gabor Csupo, creator of television's Rugrats, has scored big with this swank L.A. eatery, where a colorful array of steel zeppelins and robots hang from the ceiling. Step in and chow down on seared salmon with ginger ($12.95), the best warm goat-cheese salad ($5.95) west of the Andes, and a bananagasm, which is the talk of the town ($4.95). The glow of this blacklit wonderland is sure to help you forget the stress of city life. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.

MAMBO CAFE
10032 Venice Blvd., Culver City
(310) 558-3106

Bongo beats and simmering salsa rhythms accentuate the tropical at Mambo Cafe. Sip a chilled citrus punch ($2.75) to the sounds of shaking maracas before a sensational appetizer of crab cakes with mango sauce ($6.75). Dance on to a main course of hot and spicy Jamaican jerk chicken ($8.75) and finish off by swinging your hips and lips over to a delectable dessert – guava shells in a light cream ($3.75). The fun-loving crowd can't go wrong at this Caribbean adventure. Lunch and dinner seven days. BYOB; takeout; catering; parking; AE, DIS, MC, V.

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McCORMICK & SCHMICK'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS
206 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, 2 Rodeo
(310) 859-0434
633 West Fifth St., 4th Level, L.A.
(213) 629-1929
2101 Rosecrans Ave., El Segundo
(310) 416-1123
2000 Main St., Irvine
(949) 756-0505
111 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena
(626) 405-0064

McCormick & Schmick's offers its guests 30 choices of fresh fish daily. Specialties include the Dungeness crab cakes in a piquant jalapeno hollandaise, and salmon baked on a cedar plank with lemon pepper and raspberry sauce (dinners are $12-$19). Delight in fine patio dining and the famous, early- and late-evening happy hours with a cold brew and tasty $1.95 appetizers such as spicy Cajun calamari and steamed black mussels with basil pesto. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; parking. AE, MC, V.

MENJIN INTERNATIONAL NOODLE HOUSE
8393 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles
(323) 782-0039

Just east of the Beverly Center, Menjin Noodle House a good spot for soba and shumai dumpling. The counter provides a view of hectic Beverly Boulevard, and with an enormous portion of noodles before you, you'll feel like Rick Deckard. And noodles you will have: fried, in soup, hot or cold, with a choice of spices from around the world. Come enjoy an affordable ($4.95-$7.50) dish made from an authentic Indonesian, Korean, or even Hungarian recipe, and revel in the sights of the city. Open Monday thru Saturday 11AM-10PM. No alcohol; take-out; valet parking; no reservations. AE, MC, V.

MICHAEL'S
1147 Third St., Santa Monica
(310) 458-3000

Nestled just north of the Santa Monica Promenade, Michael's provides a serene haven for frayed nerves, along with peerless cuisine. Enjoy contemporary artwork while dining on Pacific swordfish in a tomatillo sauce for lunch ($19.75), or sumptuous Maine lobster with basil butter and fries at dinner ($29.95). And the wine list is award winning. An outdoor patio with a lush garden and waterfall create an alluring atmosphere for special occasions. Lunch Tues.-Fri., dinner Tues.-Sat. Full bar; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, MC, V.

MOTHER EARTH
11277 National Blvd., L.A
(310) 477-0555

Mother Earth treats its customers to all-natural home-style food that is unbelievably tasty at bargain-basement prices. There's a big selection of gourmet vegetarian items, such as the Mother Earth burrito ($5.75), chicken cacciatore ($6.25), and the always fresh seafood salad ($8.50). But food isn't the only thing moving here. Mother Earth has a spacious dance floor open on Fridays (singles night) and on disco Saturdays (9 p.m.-2 a.m.). Drop in and boogie off some of that, uh, cheesecake. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Full bar; takeout; catering; parking; reservations suggested; cash or check only.

MUSSO & FRANK GRILL
6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
(323) 467-5123

Few things in this city are older than Ed McMahon, but this venerable restaurant can proudly boast being one of them. Tradition prevails here, where the menu has changed imperceptibly in the years since chef Jean Leon Rue took charge back in 1922. Nothing tugs at the heartstrings so much as the daily specials – corned beef and cabbage, homemade chicken potpie, braised short ribs of beef with vegetables, among other offerings – which work back to the days when most leading men weren't millionaires, and meals were hearty, flavorful and full of steam. Lunch and dinner Tues.-Sat. Full bar; parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.

NATALEE THAI CUISINE
10036 Venice Blvd., Culver City
(310) 202-7003
998 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills
(310) 855-9380

Ah, Venice Beach, famous for the boardwalk, the Sony studios and Thai food. What? You haven't heard? Natalee reigns supreme in delectable and healthy Thai dishes. Its tangy beef or pork satay ($5.50) will impress the stomach but not the waistline. If you've got the taste (and a little courage) for something hot, there are shrimp, chicken and pork dishes richly seasoned with generous additions of chile and fresh mint leaves. We suggest keeping a bottle of Singha beer nearby for a quick quench. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

NYALA
1076 Fairfax Ave.,LA
(323) 936-5918

Wot's for dinner? Yup. Soak up some wot (stew) with a piece of injera (fluffy, pita-like bread) and catch an earful of authentic (and occasionally live) Ethiopian music at this cozy establishment. Carnivores and herbivores alike can chow down on exotic combo plates (lamb, chicken and beef in a battery of sauces; or lentils, split peas, carrots, potatoes, collard greens and more). Many dishes are spicy, so quench the fire with African beer ($5) or Ethiopian honey wine ($3.75). Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; delivery; takeout; catering; parking available. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

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PARADISE SUSHI
53 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach
(310) 379-1558

Paradise Sushi has watched a lot of its competitors come and go over the last 10 years, but it's still standing, and it's still a favorite hangout for sushi lovers in the Hermosa Beach Promenade, serving tasty sushi dishes like the lunch-time combination ($6.70). Take one bite of the Paradise Roll ($4.30 regular, $3.40 at happy hour) and you're hooked for life. The happy hour consistently draws big crowds and is the perfect atmosphere to watch the sun set as well as to eat, drink and be very, very merry. Lunch and dinner Tues.-Sun. Beer and wine; parking. MC, V.

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

You can eat, drink and shake your tail feathers at this eatery/nightclub, which not only serves delicious California cuisine but throws in dance lessons to boot. On the menu, try the ravioli stuffed with goat cheese, wild mushrooms and herbs ($11.95), or perhaps the baked fresh filet of red snapper ($14.95). After you have finished dining, step onto the dance floor where you can partake in all kinds of dances from the tango to East Coast swing . Dinner Tue.-Sun. Full bar; parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

PATTY'S PIZZA
281 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills
(310) 550-7871
625 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
(310) 576-6616

The specialty here is unbaked gourmet pizzas loaded with savory toppings, ready to go. Owner Patty Phillips serves tasty edibles on site as well, including pizza by the slice ($1.50 for plain cheese, 30 cents per topping), salads, sandwiches and calzones. The Nature's Feast pizza ($10.95 for a 12-inch medium) with mushrooms, olives and artichoke hearts is a winner, and all pizzas are available in health-conscious variations (cheeseless, with soy cheese, etc.). Lunch and dinner seven days. No alcohol; delivery (Beverly Hills location only); takeout; parking. MC, V.

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

Want a gratifying reminder of the California good life that land-locked landlubbers envy? Try this 6-month-old waterfront joint, a picnic that goes on indoors. You can luxuriate while viewing the Pacific from a table in the front room, then lounge on the blue-velvet couches by the back room's espresso bar. Don't let the atmosphere fool you, though – the chefs are serious about their dishes, from the award-winning white chicken chili ($7.95), served in a sourdough bowl with a caesar salad, to the smoked chicken pasta ($7.95) with sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

PIT FIRE PIZZA CO.
5211 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood
(818) 980-2942

Your quest for the perfect pizza will be over when you enter this gourmet-pizza restaurant, with its variety of individual wood-fire-barbecued pizzas (six slices, $4.95-$7.95). Everything is fresh, from the pastas and salads to the grated parmesan cheese. Try the popular Tuscan pie with barbecue chicken, roasted potatoes, gorgonzola cheese and pesto ($6.95). There's a spacious outside patio that's just right for kicking back and cooling off with refreshing ice-blended coffee. Lunch and dinner seven days. Delivery (for parties over 25); takeout; catering; parking available. AE, MC, V.

QUALITY FOOD & BEVERAGE
8030 W. Third St.
(323) 658-5959

They do justice to their name at Quality Food & Beverage, a trendy breakfast/lunch joint famous for its homemade buttermilk biscuits. Familiar entrees like corned-beef hash with poached eggs, home fries and biscuits ($8.75); eggs Benedict ($8.50); or challah French toast smothered in butter and maple syrup with fresh fruit ($5.95) are served all day, every day. Sip an Illy espresso, and watch the stragglers from the night before drop in. Open seven days; catering; takeout; parking. AE, MC, V.

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

Located in the heart of Sunset Strip, Red Rock is a place with, well, attitude. On any given night it's packed with habitues feasting on selections from the late-night menu. But more likely they'll be bending elbows around the two well-appointed bars. For those more accustomed to tame, daytime activities, brunch is served every weekend from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. We recommend dining on the patio, where one can catch glimpses of the spectacular cityscape. Lunch and dinner seven days; full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

RESTAURANT CONNECTION
(800) 774-FOOD (774-3663)

Southern California's premier 800 food line brings special meaning to the term “fast food.” Restaurant Connection is a full-service, user-friendly restaurant guide providing links to over 450 Southland restaurants which enables you to receive faxed menus, listen to descriptions, get direct connections to make reservations, place orders for delivery, or arrange for catering. And for a night out on the town, Restaurant Connection provides complete entertainment schedules. If you have an appetite for convenience and need to save time, call when your stomach growls. Seven days, 24 hours.

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

Indian breads, vegetarian delicacies, and red tandoori chicken delights the eyes and palate. Take a whiff of the aromatic biryani, basmati rice cooked with meat or vegetables ($6.99-$12.99).Tandoori chicken, lamb, shrimp and fish are simmered, marinated and skewered to perfection ($6.99-$14.99). Rita's breads($1.99-$3.50), clay-oven baked with garlic, spinach, onion or cheese, are addictive appetizers sure to make you want to return for more. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; delivery; parking; reservations suggested. AE, DIS, MC, V.

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

RJ's is the place for good barbecue for big appetites. The Rattlesnake Chicken, covered in a savory barbecue sauce with a kick, cannot be missed. If you're really hungry, try The Feast – roasted chicken, Rattlesnake Chicken, beef ribs, pork ribs, baked potatoes, caesar salad and fresh baked bread ($18.79). These portions are for serious eaters only, so if in doubt, ask for your doggie bag first. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar, takeout, delivery, parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

ROBEKS JUICE
8905 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Westchester
(310) 642-7800
530 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite A., El Segundo
(310) 606-0852
2206 Sawtelle Blvd., W. L.A.
(310) 473-0070
11711 National Blvd., Mar Vista
(310) 478-0010
1301 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
(310) 394-6140
2736 Main Street, Santa Monica
(310) 392-3080
4314 Riverside Dr., Burbank
(818) 558-6450
Glendale Marketplace, Glendale (opens in August)
3891 Overland Ave., Culver City (opens mid-July)
633 W. Fifth St., Downtown L.A.
(213) 489-1939

330 S. Hope St., Downtown L.A.
(213) 680-4608

Walk into Robeks, and the aroma of fresh fruit is an irresistible prompt to sip the fresh juices, shakes and smoothies that are cool comfort for hot summer days. Try papaya, mangos, nonfat yogurt and pineapple sherbet in a Mahalo Mango ($3.50) or mix apple juice, blueberries, bananas and non-fat yogurt in a Blueberry Moon ($3.25) Cookies, sandwiches and muffins are also offered to complement these exotic concoctions, and there's plenty of fresh, cool yogurt. Open seven days. Takeout; parking. MC, V.

RUSTY'S SURF RANCH
256 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
(310) 393-PIER (393-7437)

If an exquisite ocean view and tasty food aren't enough, this joint also has an awesome display of pre-'70s surf memorabilia plus a bikini worn by Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson Lee. Rusty's has a big menu of salads, appetizers, pastas, sandwiches, seafood dishes, barbecued chicken and ribs, and a boatload of others choices too. Burger lovers rave about the 1/4 Cowabunga, a gourmet hamburger with bacon and cheese, served with onion rings ($7.95). Oh, there's also a children's menu for budding little surfers. Breakfast Sat.-Sun., lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, MC, V.

SANGRIA
68 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach
(310) 376-4412

A stone's throw from the Hermosa pier, Sangria will add more spice to an evening than all of those scantily-clad chanteuses from England. Even Scary Spice would need a dousing after a bite of their blackened shrimp with orange tequila or baja chicken salad (tangy chicken breast, avocado, corn, cheese and tomato). Survivors will enjoy a homemade flan or fried bananas over ice cream. Tuesday night's guests are treated with flamenco dancers – let's see Posh and Sporty pull that off! Dinner Mon. – Sat.; take-out; catering; parking; full bar. AE, DC, MC, V.

SKY ROOM
40 S. Locust Ave., Long Beach
(562) 983-2703

Perched atop the Breaker's Hotel, this luxurious haven provides its guests with a gorgeous view of the harbor and downtown area. The scene inside is equally impressive: art deco flourishes surround a dance floor of birch and inlaid satinwood and mahogany. Bring a guest and savor a Chateaubriand (for two, $64) or shrimp provencal and champagne. Even the dessert is dressed to impress: Fred & Ginger is a sinfully good creme brulee served in a chocolate top hat ($10). Dinner Wed.-Sun. Full bar; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested.. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.

SOFI GREEK RESTAURANT
8030 3/4 W. Third St., L.A.
(323) 651-0346

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, will take you to a Greek island – without the aid of plane or boat. Make your way through a narrow passageway, where your contact will hand you a serving of Sofi's dolmades – grape leaves stuffed with rice and ground beef in egg-lemon sauce ($7.95). Should you miss her – or him – rendezvous for dinner on the patio under a starry sky and order moussaka, souvlaki or the house special, rack of lamb. Add a bottle of wine, and who knows where it might lead. Good luck, and don't forget the tip. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; valet parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

SUSHI HOUSE
12013 W. Pico Blvd., West LA
(310) 479-1507

This restaurant has been around for over 15 years, treating it's patrons to such un-sushi-restaurant things like a reggae soundtrack in the background. Be sure to try the crispy, flavorful tempura (chicken or vegetable, $7), or the sizzlingly sweet teriyake ($7). A variety of different rolls are available, too, including avocado, eel, and cucumber (6 for $9). Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Beer and wine. Parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.

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STAR OF INDIA
7212 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood.
(323) 939-6815

Travel to India without leaving L.A. at this charming eatery. Dine on traditional tandoori dishes ($7.95-$12.95) amidst the art and music of India. Star of India offers a wide variety of curry, seafood and vegetarian dishes also. The all-you-can-eat lunch buffet on weekdays is well renowned ($5.95). The chic champagne brunch on Sundays is no less satisfying, but do come early – it fills up real quick. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; delivery; takeout; catering; valet parking. AE, MC, V.

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

Bring the breath mints when you stop by this place, where the motto is, “We season our GARLIC with food!” The menu is loaded with Italian-California cuisine of the delectably stinky variety. Start off with the bagna calda, commonly known as “garlic soaking in a hot tub” ($4) and continue with a house specialty like the ambrosial 40-clove GARLIC-roasted chicken ($13), or GARLIC-encrusted baby back ribs ($21). Bring along Dracula (selected items can be prepared vampire-friendly, garlic-free) and revel in one of the amusement park-esque theme rooms. Full bar; cigar patio; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, MC, V.

TACO PLUS
1525 Bundy Drive, W.L.A.
(310) 207-0793

Okay, enough! The dog is cute, but if “Yo no quiero . . .,” then check out Taco Plus, a fast, friendly alternative to those other guys. Fresh isn't just a word here; everything is cooked without lard or MSG, and nothing is frozen or microwaved. The beef is lean, the chicken carefully charbroiled, and vegetarian dishes are plentiful. Try a beef, chicken, fish, pork or vegetarian taco ($1.15-$1.95) or a burly burrito ($1.39-$4.95). Starting July 21, Taco Plus will be open for breakfast at 7 a.m. Lunch and dinner seven days. No alcohol; takeout, catering, parking; cash only.

TAHITI
7910 W. Third St.
(323) 651-1213

Take a virtual vacation at Tahiti, which serves international specialties in a lively tropical setting, where giant tiki gods guard the entrance and the floor is decorated with a striking hand-painted map of the French Polynesian island. Owner-chef Tony DiLembo creates some Far Eastern mystique with luscious appetizers like the giant chicken-and-spinach potstickers sauteed in sherry with a mint dipping sauce ($5.95). Other favorites like the savory Yucatan-style Chilean sea bass baked in banana leaves with orange slices, assorted chiles and saffron pilaf ($15.95) would have made Gauguin stick around for dessert. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; parking. AE, MC, V.

 

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