Edited by Lovell Estell IIIWritten by Siran Babayan, Nicole Campos, Sara T. Dunn, Matt Grebow, Aaron Jacobs, Dan Laidman, Olivia Weber
A'FLOAT SUSHI87 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena(626) 792-9779
Imagine a tranquil Japanese stream rippling through Old Pasadena! At A'Float Sushi your fresh seafood, prepared by masters of the art, is served on boats floating serenely alongside the counter. Fill up on mainstays like cucumber rolls ($1.50 for six pieces), California rolls ($1.90 for three) or plump tuna ($3.95 for two). Sail to the cutting edge of sushi bars, where high quality and low prices could be the motto. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, MC, V.
ALEGRIA115 Pine Beach Ave., Long Beach(562) 436-3388
The Latin and Caribbean cuisine at Alegria is spicy and exotic – a perfect complement to the nightly flamenco and salsa dancing. The paella ($11.50-$13.95), a classic Spanish dish, is offered as a vegetarian meal or with meat, poultry and seafood. If you want a real taste treat, try the pollo rostisado ($12.95), a Guatemalan dish of chicken marinated in herbs and curry, served with raspberry vinaigrette and sauteed vegetables. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; reservations suggested; parking . AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
Alejo's Presto Trattoria8343 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester(310) 670-66774002 Lincoln Blvd., Marina del Rey(310) 822-0095
You can almost hear the waters guiding the gondolas through the canals here. Alejo's offers homemade dishes guaranteed to bring out the romantic in you.. As you gaze unto your beloved eyes, fork feed a morsel tender of veal parmigiana ($10.95) or veal piccatte ($10.95) and watch him or her melt with delight. Continue the sensuous feast with chocolate mousse and a breath of cappuccino. Italy never tasted so divinely. Lunch Mon-Fri, dinner seven nights. Beer and wine (Westchester); takeout. AE,DIS,MC,V
ANARKALI7013 Melrose Ave., W. Hollywood(323) 934-6488
Stately columns and arches line the interior of this fine restaurant, which has been on Melrose since 1983 and which prides itself on its mastery of age-old food-preparation techniques. There is nothing so good as a Bombay lobster soaked in Anarkali's delicious “secret sauce” ($19.95; $23.95), If you haven't got a taste for seafood, try the eggplant bharta sauteed with onion and spices ($5.95; $8.95) or a mixed tandoori grill ($12.95; $15.95). One thing is certain: You'll be back. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
ARRIRANG114 W. Union St., Pasadena(626) 577-8885
With palace decor embellished with showcased antiques and barbecues inset at every table, this stylish Korean restaurant is a treat for the senses. Everyone raves about the boolgogi, or “fire meat,” ($15.50), thinly sliced beef marinated in a sweet barbecue sauce and served with bahn-chahm (six side dishes which change daily but always include the essential kimchee, pickled Chinese cabbage) and the combination platter that delights with a little of everything. There are also vegetarian items available. The menu is hefty – 50 selections – and the portions are very generous. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, MC, V.
BANDERA11700 Wilshire Blvd., W.L.A.(310) 477-3524
Take off those cowboy boots, hang up the lasso, walk up to the horseshoe-shaped bar and order up a mean sarsaparilla. At Bandera, the country's frontier tradition is alive and well with “bold American cooking.” Take your pick of hardy classics like beef back ribs, meat loaf, award-winning chili, grilled fish or jambalaya, and complement your meal with freshly cooked iron-skillet cornbread. Sure, there's plenty on hand to wash it all down with. Dinner served seven days. Full bar; takeout; valet parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
THE BIGG CHILL10850 Olympic Blvd., W.L.A.(310) 475-1070
For a decade, the family-owned and -operated Bigg Chill has tickled the tastebuds of the Westside with delightful frozen yogurt and other toothsome treats. Among the flavors that rotate every other day (there are always eight choices) are sweeeet mixes like chocolate-peanut butter-banana and hazelnut-cinnamon-coffee (servings from small to large, $1.75-$2.75; also available in pints and quarts). Still hungry? No problem: There's a way-big selection of cookies, nonfat muffins, shakes, smoothies and mochas. Breakfast, lunch and dinner weekdays, lunch and dinner weekends. Takeout; parking. Cash only.
BOUCHON7661 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood(323) 852-9400
One need not be a groom or a coachman to dine at Bouchon (the “n” is silent), a Lyon-style bistro in the heart of Melrose Avenue. If the desire for food should strike after you've been pierced, tattooed or shopped out, stop by Bouchon for a devilishly refreshing Croque-Madame sandwich ($5.25) or ratatouille au gratin (stewed veggies in garlic tomato sauce with Parmesan and fries, $6.25). Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch Sat.-Sun. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; valet parking; reservations accepted; AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
BOURBON STREET SHRIMP AND GRILLE8454 Melrose Ave., L.A.(323) 653-264010928 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.(310) 474-0007
New Orleans-style Cajun cookin' made with or without the heat. Bourbon Street Shrimp takes you into the heart of the Mississippi River Delta with jambalaya, spicy rice, smoked sausage and shrimp ($6.95), a steaming shrimp gumbo ($9.95), and deliciously spiced barbecued shrimp ($12.95). There are plenty of chicken, fish, steak and vegetarian dishes, too, and lots of French bread. On Fat Tuesdays from 5 to 7 p.m., entrees are half price, so come early. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; valet parking; AE, DC, MC, V.
BREWSKI'S73 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach(310) 318-2666
Don't let the name fool you. There's lots more here than just carefully crafted beers and ales. Brewski's also serves delicious food, like its famous Memphis-style barbecue, fresh seafood and scrumptious tossed salads. Just a stone's throw from the sand, diners can enjoy the casual beach atmosphere along with a delicious barbecued pork sandwich ($7.50) or Shanghai chicken salad ($6.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner). The onsite brewery's vats are almost as impressive as the premium beer they produce; credit California's Napa vineyards for the fine wines. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout, catering; parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
Cafe 148 at American Rag148 South LaBrea, Los Angeles(323) 939-9860
This is the perfect stop for a light meal or snack. It's also the place to be if you're looking for some sleek vintage rags.An Excellent selection of cakes and desserts baked fresh daily are available. Everyone's favorite seems to be the flourless chocolate cake ($4.00 a slice), and the scrambled egg crostini with smoked salmon ($6.50) is delicious.. The potato salad is also served with smoked salmon ($8.95) and is no less appetizing. Located inside the American Rag clothing store. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. take-out; catering; parking. s; CB, DIS, MC, V.
CAFE 50'S11623 Santa Monica Blvd., W.L.A.(310) 479-1955
Flipping through the jukebox selections at Cafe 50's is fun, but deciding what to choose from the menu is even more fun. Sandwich devotees are especially fond of the Philly cheesesteak ($5.25), packed with jack cheese and tender grilled onions. Those with heartier appetites can fill up on the daily fresh fish selection ($6.95) or a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings ($7.25). Fresh lemon-lime pie ($3.25) or one of 30 (!) different milkshakes ($2.95) would delight anybody's sweet tooth. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; delivery; takeout; catering; parking. MC. V.
CAFE DES ARTISTES1534 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood(213) 461-6889
A haven amidst the endless bustle of Hollywood, this wood-paneled bistro brings the flavors of France and the health consciousness of California to the city..Its talented chef, Jean-Claude Vandercruyssen ,has created such delicacies as pumpkin ginger soup ($4.50), Endive Roquefort Salad with Champagne dressing ($7.50), and an over-fresh selection of entrees including curried lamb shank ($17). Besides more traditional French dishes as escargot provencal and onion soup, the cafe offers various vegetarian dishes and daily specials. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat., Sunday brunch. Beer and wine; takeout; parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
CAMPANILE624 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.(323) 938-1447
Back in the '20s, Charlie Chaplin escaped the city lights of Hollywood and put up an office building in the Miracle Mile district. In these modern times it's the home of Campanile, where diners will find a gold rush of gourmet cuisine. Among the dishes to be enjoyed in this elegant restaurant are the trademark prime rib ($29), lamb ($27) and grilled northern halibut ($25). Bring the kids, and dine in the limelight. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat., brunch Sat.-Sun. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
CANTER'S419 N. Fairfax Ave., Hollywood(323) 651-2030
Priding itself on the sale of 10 million matzo balls and 2 million pounds of lox since 1948, Canter's remains the landmark establishment of L.A.'s Fairfax district. There are plenty of choices on its something-for-everybody menu. Canter's matzo-ball soup ($3.25) is a perennial favorite of the regulars, or you can fill up on one of the sandwiches, like the corned beef ($6.95) or pastrami ($6.60). This shop never closes, making it an ideal detour for a late-night dessert binge. Breakfast, lunch and dinner 24 hours daily. Full bar; takeout, delivery; catering; parking; reservations accepted. MC, V.
CARMINE'S424 S. Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena(626) 797-2266
Some 16 years ago, Carmine's dad opened a trattoria in Arcadia and named it after his son. Now that he's all of 24 years old, he's running the show at this new addition, where .you still can enjoy fragrant chicken marsala ($9.75) or eggplant parmagiana ($8.25), either in a dining room decorated with old Italian pictures, or in a patio filled with plants and candles. Call it a bit of Paradiso. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Full bar; delivery; takeout; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, DIS, MC, V.
CARNIVAL4356 Woodman Ave., Sherman Oaks(818) 784-3469
This place was serving delicious shawarmas and grape leaves when Madonna was a chubby-cheeked little girl. Treat your taste buds to some generous portions of hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh or falafel. Sample them all with the appetizer plate ($8.95). Pocket change will get you a meaty chicken kebab ($3.75) or falafel sandwich ($2.75). The dinner combo plate – three kebabs of grilled chicken and charbroiled lamb, rice, and lentil soup – will satisfy a bottomless stomach. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; catering; parking. AE, MC, V.
CAT & FIDDLE6530 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood(323) 468-3800
Just inside of a brick archway there's a patio where English expatriates sit surrounded by foliage, and lunch on fresh fish and chips ($8.75), homemade bangers and mash ($8.25) and shepherd's pie ($8.75). Then there's the occasional stuffy patron who will opt instead for the traditional English breakfast ($7.95). But don't let the setting fool you – this place is strictly a good time! All night long, industry types consume large quantities of imported beer. Enjoy some good jazz on the patio Sunday nights and howl at the moon! Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; reservations suggested for parties over six. AE, MC, V.
CAVA8384 W. Third St., L.A.(323) 658-8898
Located in the Beverly Plaza Hotel, Cava restaurant has a remarkable flair for Latin-Caribbean cuisine. But in the morning you don't want hot-and-spicy , so how about thick-cut French toast covered in maple syrup served with sauteed bananas ($6.95) or delicious buttermilk pancakes ($5.50)? For lunch or dinner the choices are nearly endless, but the tasty grilled Jamaican jerk chicken, marinated in West Indies black pepper sauce ($13.50) is the best in town. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
CHA CHA CHA17499 Ventura Blvd., Encino(818) 789-3600
Magnificent Caribbean cuisine, live music, exotic cocktails, and atmosphere – what more could you ask for? What's that, you say? A magic show? They've got that too. Come and feast on a seared mini-rack of lamb baked in Caribbean spices ($19), jerk chicken ($12), mambo gumbo ($4.50), Caribbean chicken pizza ($9, all prices for dinner), or some of the other tasty island favorites on the menu. On Sundays between 6:30 and 9 p.m., enjoy the artistry of a professional magician at your table. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, MC, V.
COBALT CANTINA616 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood(310) 659-86911101 Glendale Galleria, Glendale(818) 550-78004326 Sunset Blvd., L.A.(323) 953-9991
“Eat, Drink and Play” is the motto at Cobalt Cantina, which serves gourmet Cal-Mex cuisine with Latin flair. Shift into “leisure” mode and linger over a pitcher of blue margaritas ($16.95) or hit the daily happy-hour fast track, where every other drink is just 25 cents. Once you've worked up an appetite, the hearty Cobalt relleno plate – Anaheim chiles stuffed with turkey, black beans and cheese, served with green rice and cantina vegetables ($11.95) – will fill you up. The tapas menu is packed with delicious mini-entrees, such as the spicy, sizzling shrimp empanadas with fresh avocado sauce (6.95) or grilled steak al carbon skewers with pasta and Thai lime sauce ($7.95). Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; delivery; catering; parking. AE, V, MC, DC.
CRUSTACEAN RESTAURANT9646 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills(310) 205-8990
Travel back in time to the elegance of French Colonial Vietnam at Crustacean, where executive chef Helene An guards her secret family recipes so ferociously that six “sacred dishes” are prepared in a separate steel-encased kitchen. Try the drunken Dungeness crab, simmered in sake, chardonnay and cognac ($32.95), or enjoy the unforgettable colossal royal tiger prawns, charbroiled with secret spices and served over garlic noodles ($32.95). The restaurant has a 1930s-style veranda and a jaw-droppingly beautiful aquarium filled with rare koi. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Full bar; parking; reservations recommended. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
CUCINA PARADISO1611 S. Catalina Ave., Suite 150, Redondo Beach(310) 792-1972
Twice voted one of the city's best restaurants by the L.A. Times, Cucina Paradiso can accommodate any dining or catering needs. Enjoy fine Italian pasta, such as the oversized ravioli filled with lobster in a white-wine sauce ($11), or such succulent seafood as the house-smoked Norwegian salmon with onions and capers ($8.50). The elegant wine cellar provides a great setting for private parties and can seat 50. Order from the special menu and enjoy a gourmet picnic this summer at the Hollywood Bowl. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner seven nights. Full bar; delivery; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
DICKENSON'S WEST181 E. Glenarm, Pasadena.(626) 799-5252
Dine with the family or with a room full of friends; either way you'll be feasting on food that's delicious and, well, unpronounceable. Craving some seared ahi tuna nicoise ($15.25)? How about a rack of lamb with grilled wild mushrooms and peppered gnocchi ($26.00)? Save room for dessert, with a pastry chef whipping up some catalan creme brulee ($7.50) and watermelon granita with seasonal fresh frais ($6.50). Don't ask what it is, just eat it,.. Lunch Tuesday-Fri., dinner Tue-Sat. ;Full bar; catering, reservations suggested. valet parking. AE, MC, V.
DIVINE PASTA615 N. La Brea Ave.(323) 939-11481303 Montana Ave., Santa Monica(310) 394-7930443 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills(310) 858-878612616 Ventura Blvd., Studio City(818) 761-1874
If the waiter barks, “No substitutions!” every time you order a meal, take refuge here. You can select from over 30 pasta and ravioli dishes topped with one of 15 sauces. That's 450 combos! Try lobster or smoked-salmon ravioli with sun-dried tomato sauce. Hate fish? Go for penne with porcini mushroom sauce. Meals are made to order ($6-$7) and come with salad and bread. Don't want to miss Ally McBeal? Take home pasta and sauce for three ($11). Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat.; no alcohol; takeout; delivery; catering; parking. AE, MC, V.
THE ECLECTIC CAFE5156 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood(818) 760-2233
Located in the middle of the NoHo arts district, the Eclectic Cafe serves California cuisine in a romantic, candle-lit atmosphere. For lunch or dinner, try the Chinese potstickers or the fresh grilled salmon Nicoise salad and select the chicken Madeira ($12.95) for a main course. Desserts are made in-house, and you can't go wrong with the wildly popular tiramisu. The microbrew beer bar is a must-stop for beer connoisseurs, and a good selection of fine wines is available. Lunch Sun.-Fri, dinner seven nights. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; reservations suggested; parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
ED DEBEVIC'S134 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills(310) 659-1952
Beehive hairdos, Hula Hoops, prom queens – and Elvis. No, not a scene from Grease, just your friendly, decked-out waiter at Ed Debevic's, where the rockin' '50s are here to stay. Take a bite of Ed's signature Blue Moon Burger drenched in bleu-cheese sauce ($6.25), and you'll know what hamburger heaven is. Or try the Route 66 Burger with jack cheese, bacon and guacamole ($6.75). You can even have your fritters dressed up with gravy, chili or cheese ($1.95-$4.25). Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; valet parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
El Floridita1253 N Vine St.(323) 871-0936
If the “Big Zipper” in the White House tasted the Havana-born specialties at this place, the Cuban embargoe would be lifted. pronto. He'd forget the Big Mac and go for a savory roasted pork, ham and Swiss sandwich ($4.50) or chicken and rice seasoned with olive oil, tomato, onions, green and red peppers ($4.50). Then he'd work off that paunch by jiggling it to the nightly salsa music. All that's missing are the stogies. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering. AE, CB, DC, Dis, MC, V.
EL POLLO INCA11701 Wilshire Blvd., W.L.A.(310) 571-3334
El Pollo Inca brings panache to the humdrum of the surrounding strip malls and office buildings. Outstanding selections from its menu of Peruvian dishes include the lomo saltado (beef sauteed with onions and tomatoes, $7.95) and the spicy ceviche mixto (seafood marinated in lime juice with chiles, $8.50). Those who require a bit more cadence with their meal can groove to the sounds of the Peruvian folk band Alpaca every evening Fri.-Sun. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; delivery; valet parking; reservations accepted. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
EL TEXATE316 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica(310) 399-1115
Drop in at this Oaxacan-style restaurant where color is everywhere, starting with the collection of straw hats hanging on the walls. Then there's the irresistible mole sauce – which comes in fiery red, yellow or green – as well as the popular chocolate-based sauce, mole negro. Pick one and savor it served over white rice with chicken or pork ($8.99). If you're in the mood for something different, try the barbecued goat, cooked with avocado-tree leaves, tomatoes and red peppers ($8.99). Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
EL TORITO GRILL21321 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance(310) 543-1896
Spanish music and infectious hospitality fill this festive Southwestern-style grill. The menu ranges from such Mexican classics as the juicy soft tacos ($8.95), fresh salsa served with warm, handmade tortillas (complimentary) to the heartier mesquite-grilled, butterflied New York steak, served with succulent shrimp and a cheese enchilada smothered in red chile sauce ($15.45). Do not pass on the hand-shaken Margaritas ($4.25) – they're some of the best around. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; delivery; parking. AE, DC, MC, V.
EREWHON NATURAL STUFF MARKET7660 Beverly Blvd., L.A.(626) 356-0122
This supermarket for the health conscious has plenty to offer at its all-natural deli, bakery and juice bar located inside the Natural Food Market. This healthy deli offers over 50 hot and cold dishes, such as free-range chicken or roasted potatoes with rosemary ($2.99-$5.99). Grab a bowl and head toward the soup bar where you will find a daily assortment of six dairy- and oil-free soups. Or create a salad at the fresh salad bar ($4.29/lbs.) Then, wash it all down with a mouth-watering smoothie. Fax orders are accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days. Takeout; catering; parking. DIS, MC, V.
THE FABIOLUS CAFE5750 Melrose Ave., Hollywood(323) 461-15496270 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood(323) 467-28825255 Melrose Ave., Hollywood(323) 464-5857
The Fabiolus Cafe used to cater to the entertainment industry; now it caters to anyone hungry for delicious Italian sandwiches, pasta and salads. The penne a la vodka, served in a sauce of cream and tomato with a splash of vodka, is one of the most popular dishes. If you want lighter fare, try the delicious seafood pasta, chicken with rosemary sauce, or the Greek salad. Diners can enjoy one of 13 different sandwiches, a fireplace and an outdoor patio without having to worry about their pocketbooks – prices are very reasonable. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout, delivery; catering; parking. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
FAR NIENTE204 1/2 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale(818) 242-3835
Translated in English, Far Niente means “without a care.” But plan on getting lots of care, tasty food and your own piece of Italian heaven when you eat here. If in the mood for pizza, you have a choice of thirteen different toppings to put on it. If it's pasta you crave, nothing is more pleasing than the pasta stuffed with veal and chicken in a cream or meat sauce ($13). Or for some bird, the rotisserie duck with port wine and berry sauce ($18.50) would be memorable. It's a caring and casual atmosphere in downtown Glendale and the prices are easy on the wallet. Lunch five days and dinner seven nights. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking; reservations suggested. AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V.
GATE OF INDIA7300 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood(323) 874-6673
The folds of black and burgundy cloth billowing from the ceiling look more like something one might find in a work of art by Christo than in a restaurant, but once the food arrives everything falls into place. The menu features a wonderfully tangy chicken tikka masala ($5.95, lunch; $9.95, a la carte), lamb korma ($5.95; $9.95), chicken tandoori ($5.95; $7.95), malai kofta ($4.95; $5.95), and a selection of naan that will send pangs of fear into the hearts of the indecisive. Lunch and dinner seven days. Beer and wine; takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, MC, V.
GAVIN'S BAR AND GRILL11168 Washington Blvd., Culver City(310) 838-3745
Gavin's is a good spot for watching the game and enjoying good food and a beer. This burger joint/sports bar serves everything from salads, soups and sandwiches to tacos and mini-burgers. The fish and chips ($8.50) are excellent, served in beer batter with steak fries, garlic toast and tartar sauce. This summer Gavin plans on expanding his menu to include lots more seafood – expect great crab legs! Lunch and dinner Tues.-Sun. Full bar; takeout; parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
GIOVANNI'S TRATTORIA10026 Venice Blvd., Culver City(310) 839-1757
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. It's a family restaurant run by two brothers – Angelo cooks, Giovanni serves. Try the fagottini di melenzane (grilled eggplant with ricotta cheese, pine nuts and fresh tomato sauce, $5.95) and a can't-drink-just-one penne alla vodka. With much-deserved kudos from the gustatory gods at Bon Appetit, even the most discerning will find happiness here. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Takeout; delivery; catering; parking; reservations accepted. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
GLADSTONE'S17300 Pacific Coast Hwy., Pacific Palisades(310) 454-3474
Sure, it's on PCH, and yeah, you might have to bring your parents or a healthy credit card along, but what the heck. Dining at this seafood palace is an experience. There's plenty of sawdust on the floor (you can throw peanut shells down there too), and they even customize placemats for birthdays. Whether it's New England clam chowder ($5.95 per bowl), nine types of fresh fish ($19.99-$24.99) or Maine lobsters and Alaskan king crab legs ($14.95- $40), nobody does it better. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; catering; reservations suggested; valet parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
GOURMET COFFEE WAREHOUSE671 Rose Ave., Venice(310) 392-6479
Just a hop, skip and jump from Venice Beach, the motto here is” Wholesale to the people,” and if the rock-bottom prices don't lure you, the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans probably will. For the past four years, Gourmet Coffee Warehouse has been supplying coffee to restaurants and cafes from around the world. Now the warehouse is open to the public, providing a country store ambiance in an urban setting. Complimenting the coffee is a wide selection of kitchenware, bulk teas, cigars, chocolates and hard to find sodas like Coca-Cola in real glass bottles. Open seven days. No alcohol; parking. No credit cards.
THE GREAT GREEK RESTAURANT AND TAVERNA13362 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks(818) 905-5250
Whether you're going on a date, taking Mom and Dad out or throwing a party, the Great Greek Restaurant is a mouth-watering, cheesy, garlicky place for the occasion. Sit down to a delicious dinner of moussaka (garlic sauce covering succulent, oven-roasted eggplant and zucchini) while watching your waiter dance a Zorba around the table that would shame Anthony Quinn. The festive atmosphere is embellished with live music from a Greek band. Lunch and dinner seven days. Full bar; takeout; catering; valet parking. AE, DC, DIS, MC, V.
HANSEN'S CAKES1072 S. Fairfax Ave., L.A.(323) 936-5527193 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills(323) 272-047418432 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana(818) 708-1208
Planning a birthday party with a pirate theme? Hansen's will sculpt a cake into a treasure chest with strands of pearls and gold doubloons spilling out. These former pastry chefs to the king of Denmark can create practically any kind of torte that royalty and commoner alike can imagine. The big selection of flavors – from old time favorites such as chocolate and gold to the more frisky almond crunch, with exotic fillings like Kahlua mocha or Italian rum – really are fit for a king – or queen. Open Tues.-Sun. Delivery; takeout; catering; parking. AE, DIS, MC, V.
HIROZEN GOURMET8385 Beverly Blvd., L.A.(323) 653-0470
Owner-chef Hiroji Obayashi studied the culinary arts in Japan and has brought his expertise to this cozy Westside restaurant, where he has been at the helm for 10 years. House specialties include tofu steak in a mixed mushroom sauce ($6.50), steamed rock cod with Chinese sauce ($8.50), and sauteed sea bass ($7.95). If you want something really special for dessert, try Hirozen's homemade pumpkin pudding or a Japanese ice cream. Lunch and dinner, Mon.-Sat. Takeout; catering; parking. AE, MC, V.
HOLOWORLD620 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena(626) 578-0009
At Holoworld, eating is a visual and a gastronomic experience. Take your pick of one of four themed rooms – Western, Space Alien, Tepee and Jungle – and check out the art while enjoying the Hong Kong chicken salad ($7.99), or munch on the fried chicken ($7.99), offered as a special on Saturdays. Afterward, satisfy your sweet tooth with one of 13 flavors of ice cream that Holoworld freezes up on the premises ($1.50 a scoop). Lunch and dinner seven days, brunch on Sunday. No alcohol; takeout; catering; parking; reservations suggested. AE, DB, DC, MC, V.