A-1 Produce and Veggie Lovers Deli. Specialties: saag paneer, masala dosa, potato bonda, pakoras, kulfi ice creams. Entrées, $5 to $6. 9043 Reseda Blvd., Northridge; (818) 998-6900. See Page 18 for review.Ago is more scene than substance, a slick Italian restaurant from Agostino Sciandri (of Toscana fame) that runs on autopilot. Specialties: bistecca and grilled rib-eye from the wood-burning oven, ricotta cheesecake. Entrées, $9 to $35. 8478 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 655-6333.
Airstream Diner. Specialties: "Billion Dollar Babies" (silver dollar pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar). Entrées, $6 to $18. 9601 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 550-8883. See Page 16 for review.Alessi Ristorante & Bar is a warm neighborhood Italian restaurant with a main dining room, private dining room, garden room and wine room. Specialties: brodetto di cozze, prosciutto and arugula pizza, butternut squash and fontina ravioli, cioppino alla chitarra, grilled pork porterhouse. Entrées, $9 to $27. 6602 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; (323) 935-1197.Alex Scrimgeour's model for his eponymous restaurant is formal and old-fashioned with a large menu, thick wine list and plenty of service. Specialties: coriander-crusted skate wing, grilled pigeon salad, Spanish anchovy in caramelized onion tart, tarte tatin. Four-course prix fixe menu, $60. 6703 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 933-5233.Allegro chef Mario Petillo doesn't over-sauce his pastas and isn't afraid of simplicity. Specialties: Sicilian-style pasta, spaghetti cacio e pepe, grigliata mista (mixed seafood grill) and grilled rack of lamb. Entrées, $8 to $21. 1160 N. Tustin Ave., Orange; (714) 639-7921.All Family Restaurant features menus written in Korean, but a table card offers English translations. Specialties: steamed or fried dumplings (mandu), kimchi dumplings, rice cake dumpling soup, hand-cut noodles in broth. Entrées, $12 to $20. 1032 S. Crenshaw Blvd., No. B, Los Angeles; (323) 935-2724.Alto Palato. Specialties: grilled Mediterranean sea bass, lasagna, three-course regional menus served on Wednesdays. Entrées, $11 to $28. 755 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 657-9271. See Page 14 for review.
Ammo packs in the hip and the healthy, where sleek tables and concrete floors provide a backdrop for stylish comfort food. Specialties: poached eggs with fennel, beets and prosciutto, whipped potatoes with roasted shallots, double-cut pork chop with caramelized pears, Scharffen Berger brownies. Entrées, $9 to $28. 1155 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 871-2666.Angeli Caffè serves rustic regional Italian fare. On Thursdays, chef Evan Kleiman presents family-style dinners featuring dishes from around the world. Specialties: cacciucco livornese (fish soup), pasta, pizza, roasted half chicken. Entrées, $8 to $18. 7274 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 936-9086.
Angelini Osteria. Specialties: pizza with burrata and tomato, zuppa di borlotti, skate salad, bombolotti all' amatriciana, spaghetti alla carbonara, branzino in sea salt, bistecca alla Fiorentina, panna cotta. Entrées, $16 to $30. 7313 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 297-0070. See Pages 14 and 15 for reviews.Antica Pizzeria. Pizzas, $9 to $11. Villa Marina Marketplace, 13455 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey; (310) 577-8182. See Page 14 for review.
Antojitos Latinos Restaurant doubles as a mini mart, with diners facing shelves filled with stacks of Colombian chocolate and exotic canned goods. Homesick Colombians go for the authentic country-style breakfast. Specialties: café con leche, buñuelos, beef empanada, papa rellena, batidos de leche (Colombia's version of smoothies). Entrées, $6 to $9. 14909 Vanowen St., Van Nuys; (818) 781-9004.
Antonello Ristorante was created to resemble a street in owner Antonio Cagnolo's hometown in Italy, and it's where Orange County's power plays happen. The uninitiated order off the menu; regulars leave decisions to the servers. Specialties: fresh-textured sauces, veal, seafood and pastas. Entrées, $14 to $35. South Coast Plaza Village, 1611 Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana; (714) 751-7153.A.O.C. Specialties: chicken liver crostini, beet and blood orange salad, gratin of salt cod and potatoes, cheese plates. Entrées, $8 to $16. 8022 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 653-6359. See Pages 8 and 15 for reviews.The Apple Pan burger counter, an institution since 1947, continues to draw customers who are as loyal as sports fans. Specialties: steak burger, hickory burger, egg salad sandwich, tuna sandwich, banana cream pie. Entrées, $12. 10801 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 475-3585.Arnie Morton's menu is show-and-tell. The beef is super-aged and every portion is humongous at this downtown steakhouse. Specialties: jumbo shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, prime rib, New York strip, filet Diane, double rib lamb chops, potato skins, sautéed onions, cheesecake. Entrées, $22 to $36. 735 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles; (213) 553-4566.
Arroyo Chophouse is an Arts & Crafts-style carnivore's fantasy from the brothers who also own Parkway Grill. Though the place is usually jammed, the steaks and chops don't always live up to expectations. Specialties: beefsteak tomato salad, prime rib, Grand Marnier soufflé. Entrées, $19 to $36. 536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena; (626) 577-7463.
Art's Deli remains the definitive Valley deli, where you go to be abused by busy waitresses, pick up some fractured menu Yiddish and eat the best corned beef and pastrami on the boulevard. Specialties: corned beef sandwich, "I want it all" chicken soup, short ribs in the pot. Entrées, $10 to $16. 12224 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 762-1221.Asia de Cuba. Entrées, $23 to $37. Hotel Mondrian, 8440 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 848-6000. See Page 7 for review.A Thousand Cranes. Chef's choice tempura menu, $45. The New Otani Hotel & Garden, 120 S. Los Angeles St., Los Angeles; (213) 253-9255. See Page 24 for review. Aubergine. Specialties: seared foie gras, seafood, pork, rabbit, pastry chef Shelly Register's desserts. Prix fixe menus, $60 to $105. 508 29th St., Newport Beach; (949) 723-4150. See Page 12 for review.
Avenue is dressed in dramatic suede curtains and sleek olive leather banquettes. Specialties: ahi tuna tartare, seared foie gras, gnocchi with langoustines, roasted free-range chicken, wild Scottish salmon, grilled prime rib, mixed berry cobbler. Entrées, $24 to $38; eight-course tasting menu, $95 per person. 301 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 275-2900.
Balboa Prime Restaurant & Lounge, set inside The Grafton on Sunset Hotel, attracts a young, hip crowd. Instead of whiskey and sodas, the bar turns out unusual cocktails—the weirder the better. Specialties: prime New York steak, pecan tart. Entrées, $16 to $39. 8462 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 650-8383.Ballona Fish Market is a cheerful fish house with a witty décor and two private dining rooms behind faux New England façades. Simpler dishes are best. Specialties: crab cake with lemon grass mayonnaise, hazelnut-crusted New Zealand grouper, buttermilk fried chicken, pretzel burger. Entrées, $10 to $19. Villa Marina Marketplace, 13455 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey; (310) 822-8979.
Banyan is a jewel box of an Indonesian restaurant with a glass-enclosed waterfall and cardinal red walls. Specialties: rijstafel (a rice-centered feast) with accompaniments such as gado gado salad in a light peanut sauce, chunks of tempeh with caramelized onion, crisp shrimp cake. Entrées, $7 to $11. 1140 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-9558.The Barbeque Club Bar & Grill has signed photos of jazz musicians on the walls and features live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Specialties: catfish nuggets, catfish po' boy, fettuccine with crayfish, baby back ribs, barbecued chicken, sweet potato pie. Entrées, $6 to $17. 26238 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita; (661) 253-4555.
Bastide. Specialties: sautéed foie gras, line-caught loup de mer, Provençal fish soup, veal daube, lavender ice cream, dark chocolate tart. Five-course "traditional" prix fixe menu, $70 per person; seven-course menu, $80; nine-course menu, $90. 8475 Melrose Place, Los Angeles; (323) 651-5950. See Pages 12 and 15 for reviews.Beauty Bar. 1638 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 464-7676. See Page 16 for review.
The Belvedere at the Peninsula Beverly Hills. Specialties: bluefin tuna lollipops, roasted squab with foie gras, bento box vegetables. Entrées, $28 to $34. 9882 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 788-2306. See Page 12 for review.
Bice is a chic restaurant with oversized silk lampshades, banquettes and a sleek wine cellar. The menu adds California-influenced dishes to classic northern Italian fare. Specialties: crab and tuna rolls, chopped salad, potato and leek ravioli, panna cotta with berries. Entrées, $22 to $30. Paseo Colorado, 260 Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 793-0468.
Bistro 21. Specialties: lobster bisque, seared foie gras on braised daikon, duck confit. Entrées, $16 to $27. 846 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 967-0021. See Page 24 for review.Bistro 45, not far from the Pasadena Playhouse, is better known for its encyclopedic wine list than its California-French cooking. The Art Deco setting is lovely, and there's a fine patio out back. Specialties: duck confit salad, escargots, roast duck breast, grilled prime rib-eye. Entrées, $18 to $28. 45 S. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; (626) 795-2478.
Bistro 4040. Specialties: chaabu jin, jerk chicken salad, blackened turkey meatloaf, tiacri. Entrées, $7 to $12. 4040 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Baldwin Hills; (323) 290-0988. See Page 18 for review.Bistro Garden at Coldwater lays claim to a loyal cadre of ladies who lunch now that the original Beverly Hills location is gone. The food is a mix of old-fashioned French bistro and Continental fare. Specialties: French onion soup, Bistro Garden salad, home-cured gravlax, chocolate soufflé. Entrées, $17 to $30. 12950 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 501-0202.Blue on Blue is a stylish space inside the Avalon Hotel with a short and sweet dinner menu. Specialties: crab cakes, watermelon and goat cheese salad, lobster pumpkin ravioli, meatloaf on mashed potatoes, pomegranate margarita. Entrées, $17 to $29. 9400 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 407-7791.
The Brentwood feels like a private club for the well-heeled, artsy Westside crowd. Bruce Marder's menu is all-American comfort food tweaked to suit a singular California sensibility. Specialties: heirloom tomato-vegetable salad, prime New York steak, burger and fries, apple pie, cobbler. Entrées, $14 to $55. 148 S. Barrington Ave., Los Angeles; (310) 476-3511.
Britta's is in Irvine's University Center, but once through the door it's easy to imagine that you're dining at a quaint roadside inn. The eclectic seasonal menu is homey but not humble. Specialties: pizzetta with sweet onion and pancetta, roasted pork tenderloin, duck confit. Entrées, $12 to $38. 4237 Campus Drive, Irvine; (949) 509-1211.Brothers Restaurant at Mattei's Tavern is an amiable wine-country eatery housed in a former stagecoach stop, with a private wine room installed in an old water tower. Specialties: hearts of romaine salad, foie gras with spiced apples, prime rib, lemon-roasted chicken, mud pie. Entrées, $14 to $32. 2350 Railway Ave., Los Olivos; (805) 688-4820.
The Buffalo Club. Specialties: spicy buffalo wings, Angus New York steak, crispy Atlantic salmon pepper steak, cornmeal-crusted okra. Entrées, $25 to $36. 1520 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 450-8600. See Page 10 for review.
The Bungalow specializes in trendy fruit juice-based martinis and high-quality prime beef. But this toniest of Orange Coast steakhouses also offers fine seafood. Specialties: crab cakes, Thai calamari, rib-eye, rack of lamb, sea bass. Entrées, $21 to $38. 2441 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar; (949) 673-6585.Café Atlantic. Specialties: Spanish tortillas, shrimp cocktail, fried rice, black bean soup, Cuban sandwiches, ropa vieja, Cuban flan. Entrées, $10 to $15. 53 E. Union St., Pasadena; (626) 796-7350. See Page 18 for review.
Cafe Beaujolais is the sort of French restaurant every neighborhood ought to have. It's charming and unpretentious, with a grapevine pattern stenciled high on its pale yellow walls, and, boy, are the baguettes fresh. Specialties: pâté, escargots, rack of lamb, pear tart, lemon tart with fresh meringue. Entrées, $13 to $17. 1712 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (323) 255-5111.Café Bizou started out in Sherman Oaks as a charming French bistro with modest prices and became a favorite with wine buffs. Once it expanded, though, the food hasn't been as consistent. Specialties: lobster and salmon ravioli, braised short ribs, profiteroles. Entrées, $7 to $19. 91 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 792-9923; 2450 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 582-8203; 14016 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 788-3536.
Café Blanc. Specialties: blue crab in an avocado cup, rock shrimp ravioli, sautéed foie gras, seared jumbo scallops, Maine lobster, Santa Barbara squab, sorbets, coffee Jell-O. Entrées, $18 to $24. 9777 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 888-0108. See Page 24 for review.Café Midi is a lovely spot for lunch for anyone exploring the galleries and boutiques along La Brea Avenue. Chef Edouard Moyal offers an appealing array of salads and sandwiches. Specialties: salade Niçoise, curried egg salad sandwich, burger on focaccia, Edouard's brownie. Entrées, $7 to $12. 148 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 939-9860.Cafe Zoolu is Laguna Beach all the way, from the funky quasi-Polynesian interiors to owner-chef Michael Leech's cooking. This place is casual and hip without being trendy. Specialties: swordfish, scallop salad, vegetarian burrito, calamari, cowboy steak. Entrées, $13 to $30. 860 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach; (949) 494-6825.
Campanile. Specialties: grilled squid salad with Green Goddess dressing; arugula, date and Parmigiano-Reggiano salad; rosemary-charred baby lamb; cream biscuits with huckleberries. Entrées, $24 to $38. 624 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 938-1447. See Page 15 for review.
Cannery Seafood features nostalgic photos of the Newport Beach cannery in its working days some 30 years ago. Here fresh fish is the thing. Specialties: scallop ceviche, baked mussels with jalapeños and cilantro, chile-charred ahi tuna, macadamia-crusted onaga, seafood enchilada. Entrées, $17 to $30. 3010 Lafayette Ave., Newport Beach; (949) 566-0060.
Capo is chef Bruce Marder's 16-table restaurant, where meats, poultry and seafood are grilled in a wood-burning fireplace. Specialties: porcini mushroom soup, ravioli quattro formaggi, Dover sole, New York steak, hot apple tart, crepes in orange sauce. Entrées, $34 to $48. 1810 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 394-5550.
Capriccio Italiano doesn't hold back on big flavors such as garlic and capers, and offers a fine selection of daily seafood specials. Specialties: calamari Siciliani, linguine con salsiccia alla campaga, salmone reale capriccioso, pizzas. Entrées, $12 to $20. 25380 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo; (949) 855-6866.
Celestino's Italian Steakhouse stocks a Piedmontese breed of beef raised in Montana and the sides are Italian, including bagna cauda—raw vegetables dipped in a "hot bath" of olive oil, garlic and anchovy. Specialties: grilled steaks, eggplant caponata, spaghetti alla carbonara. Entrées, $13 to $64. 8908 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 858-5777.Celestino Ristorante is yet another spinoff of Celestino Drago's Santa Monica restaurant Drago with much the same menu of familiar Italian dishes. Specialties: eggplant timbale, spaghetti with mixed seafood, striped bass with green lentils, rabbit in a black olive sauce, tiramisu. Entrées, $9 to $26. 141 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena; (626) 795-4006.Cenaduría La Casita Mexicana. Specialties: quesadillas, mole poblano, chicken pipian, pozole, cactus agua fresca. Entrées, $7 to $10. 4030 E. Gage Ave., Bell; (323) 773-1898. See Page 19 for review.Cha Cha Cha is a lively, colorful and funky celebration restaurant offering Caribbean fare with a distinctive island vibe. Specialties: sweet corn tamales, jerk chicken, paella loaded with chicken, shellfish and sausage. Entrées, $10 to $23. 17499 Ventura Blvd., Encino; (818) 789-3600. Also in Los Angeles.
Chaya Brasserie is still the life of the party after 20 years. Chef Shigefumi Tachibe offers his classic dishes with updated surprises. Specialties: lobster sushi roll, sautéed foie gras with lingonberry sauce, chicken Dijon, oak-grilled lamb chops, pan-roasted king salmon, crème brûlée, fragrant mint tea. Entrées, $14 to $29. 8741 Alden Drive, Los Angeles; (310) 859-8833.Chaya Venice is thronged with a local beach crowd scarfing down sushi and sashimi in the bar. The main dining room features a French-Japanese menu with a heavy emphasis on fish and pasta. Specialties: tuna tartare, wakame seaweed salad, popcorn shrimp, lobster saffron ravioli, sesame-crusted bluefin tuna, chicken Dijon. Entrées, $11 to $30. 110 Navy St., Venice; (310) 396-1179.Chez Jay belongs to that most precious class of L.A. eateries: the true dive. There's no scene here, no fashionistas or foodies—just regulars who come to enjoy a drink or a surprisingly good steak and that special aura that grows up around certain old joints. Specialties: steamed clams, mozzarella marinara, New York-cut steak. Entrées, $20 to $34. 1657 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 395-1741.
Chez Melange, inside the Palos Verdes Inn, is where chef Robert Bell cooks up an eclectic menu of fresh seafood, pastas and meats that changes daily. Specialties: Southern fried chicken salad, Chez burger, spicy Cajun meatloaf. Entrées, $14 to $27. 1716 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach; (310) 540-1222.Chez Mimi, with its inviting, slightly bohemian ambience, feels like a French country auberge, and the food is simple and nostalgic. Specialties: house pâté, chilled cucumber soup, vichyssoise, mushroom salad, poulet Chez Hélène, gigot d'agneau, calf liver, flourless chocolate cake, tarte tatin. Entrées, $15 to $27. 246 26th St., Santa Monica; (310) 393-0558.Chikara Mochi. Rice cakes, 90 cents to $1.20 each. 16108 S. Western Ave., Gardena; (310) 324-5256. See Page 24 for review.
Chimayo at the Beach has a killer location opposite Huntington Beach Pier and a stunning design. The menu is half Southwestern, half seafood. Specialties: antojitos, ahi-and-avocado rolls, fish of the day wrapped in banana leaf, Mexican "bricked" chicken, mango margarita. Entrées, $9 to $28. 315 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach; (714) 374-7273.Chinois on Main—Wolfgang Puck's foray into Franco-Asian cooking—is a fusion that has dazzled for 20 years. Barbara Lazaroff's high-spirited décor makes it feel like a party you've been lucky enough to crash. Specialties: baby back ribs, Shanghai lobster, Mongolian lamb chops. Entrées, $22 to $39. 2709 Main St., Santa Monica; (310) 392-9025.
Christakis, which is family-run, is the place for authentic home-style Greek cooking. The pièce de résistance is the rack of lamb marinated in white wine and oregano. Specialties: galactobouriko (clove-infused custard baked in phyllo dough). Entrées, $12 to $32. 13011 Newport Ave., Tustin; (714) 731-1179.Chung King Restaurant boasts a repository of fiery Sichuan cuisine. The highlight of the huge menu is No. 9: dried beef slices fried with Sichuan hot peppers. Specialties: Sichuan dumplings doused in ultra-spicy red broth. Entrées, $5 to $7. 206 S. Garfield Ave., Monterey Park; (626) 280-7430.
Cicada offers Italian food in a hushed, glamorous setting inside the 1928 Art Deco Oviatt building downtown. Specialties: tarragon-scented crab cakes, salmon and tuna tartars, shrimp ravioli, linguine with lobster, chicken breast with herb mashed potatoes, banana basket. Entrées: $17 to $32. 617 S. Olive St., Los Angeles; (213) 488-9488.
Citronelle may not be a destination restaurant yet, but chef Isabelle Alexandre cooks some of the best French-California cuisine in Santa Barbara. Specialties: porcupine shrimp, broiled eel "carpaccio," brûlée foie gras, roasted veal chop, côte de boeuf, apple tatin. Entrées, $24 to $39. 901 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara; (805) 963-0111.
Ciudad restaurant celebrates Latin cooking from Havana to Barcelona, Lima and Sao Paulo. A colorful '50s-inspired interior, lively bar and outdoor patio set the scene. Specialties: Bolivian sweet corn tamale, Honduran ceviche, paella a la Valenciana, Peruvian marinated skirt steak. Entrées, $15 to $24. 445 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles; (213) 486-5171.
Clementine is a charming cafe with sidewalk tables and a takeout counter. Everything at this relaxed spot—the soups, sandwiches, pastries, even the coffee—is just so. Specialties: soups, house-cured gravlax, grilled steak panino, egg salad. Entrées, $8 to $12. 1751 Ensley Ave., Los Angeles; (310) 552-1080.
Cobra Lily is a sweet little haven for some Spanish wine and a few tapas before or after a movie. From Steven Arroyo of Cobras & Matadors, it's more of a bar than a restaurant. Specialties: patatas fritas with romesco sauce, crispy lentils with Serrano ham. Tapas, $4 to $16. 8442 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; (323) 651-5051.
Cobras & Matadors boasts a colorful menu where the tapas recall the food of Hemingway's Spain. This is exuberant stuff, rich in garlic, herbs and sheer intensity of flavor. Specialties: asparagus and Manchego, albóndigas (meatballs), green lentils and jamón, grilled skirt steak. Entrées, $4 to $16. 7615 W. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 932-6178.Crepe in the Grip. Specialties: black pepper beef crepe, ham and cheese crepe, teriyaki beef bowl, dessert crepes. Entrées, $4. 7 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra; (626) 284-1237. See Page 16 for review.
Csárdás Hungarian Restaurant. Specialties: layered potatoes, stuffed cabbage, roast pork, bakonyi szelet, szilvas gomboc, chestnut cake. Entrées, $4 to $10. 5820 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; (323) 962-6434. See Page 19 for review. Curry Bowl, a mini-mall storefront, is Tarzana's latest Sri Lankan place. Its signature dish, string hoppers, are a delicacy: steamed vermicelli made from rice and coconut flours, with coconut-scented sauce. Specialties: beef buns, curries, chicken biriyani, jaggery cake. Entrées, $7 to $9. 19662 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana; (818) 609-7683.
Da Lat Bistro specializes in central Vietnamese cuisine. Bamboo-covered walls and a thatched bar evoke a tropical feeling. Specialties: shrimp salad, spring rolls, whole grilled catfish, clam butter stew. Entrées, $13 to $15. 16525 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley; (714) 839-8338.Damon's Steakhouse, with its wild tiki bar and jungle vibe, is as retro-Polynesian as an aloha shirt. Go for the petit filet steak lunch and a mai tai. Specialties: beef tenderloin, shrimp cocktail, filet mignon, mai tai, chi chi. Entrées, $15 to $18. 317 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; (818) 507-1510.Dan Tana's has seen it all. A prime West Hollywood watering hole, this old-fashioned Italian spot features cozy booths, waiters who tell you what you want and a bartender who remembers everybody who walks in the door. Specialties: stuffed calamari, Caesar salad, New York steak. Entrées, $17 to $42. 9071 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 275-9444.
Darya serves Persian cuisine in an elegant environment at South Coast Plaza Village. The charbroiled meat and fish entrées are superbly grilled. Specialties: borani (sautéed eggplant with yogurt and mint), tah dig (crisp rice), bamieh (fritters in a rose-scented syrup). Entrées, $11 to $25. 1611 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana; (714) 557-6600.De Mori offers some of the best Italian food in Beverly Hills. Huge hanging murals create a surreal backdrop for diners digging into linguine and clams or grilled eggplant and mozzarella panini. Specialties: spaghetti Bolognese, linguine with seafood, veal chop. Entrées, $15 to $25. Rodeo Collection, 421 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 274-1500.Diaghilev is, improbably, tucked into the Wyndham Bel Age hotel. Dark and wildly romantic, this is the place to sip neat vodkas while eating blini, caviar and other Franco-Russian dishes. Specialties: chicken Kiev, salmon kouloubiac. Entrées, $28 to $46. 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 854-1111.
The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington. Specialties: foie gras au torchon, seared pork belly, skate with brown butter, duck breast, hand-chopped burger, trifle for the table, chocolate pot de crème. Entrées, $16 to $36. 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena; (626) 585-6240. See Page 12 for review.Edendale Grill. Specialties: hand-battered onion rings with jalapeño ketchup, iceberg lettuce wedge with blue cheese, tableside Caesar salad, lamb loin chops, apple pie. Entrées, $13 to $35. 2838 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake; (323) 666-2000. See Page 8 for review.
El Cholo Cantina features an abbreviated El Cholo menu with nostalgia dishes such as Sonora-style enchiladas topped with a fried egg and those famous sweet, green-corn tamales (May through October only). Specialties: tamales, tacos al carbon, carnitas plate, blue corn chicken enchiladas. Entrées, $7 to $13. 5465 Alton Parkway, Irvine; (949) 451-0044.
El Danzante is a little Oaxacan place that doesn't water down the food for American tastes. And it's terrific—every table is usually occupied. Specialties: mole negro (black), verde (green) and coloradito (red); estofado; enchiladas; barbacoa de chivo (weekends only). Entrées, $4 to $8. 3071 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 735-4688.
El Dorado Cantina, pitched to a hip, young Hollywood crowd, has an astonishing selection of premium tequilas and a limited menu. Specialties: premium tequilas, margaritas, miniature soft tacos. Entrées, $10 to $19. 11777 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 207-0150.
El Farolito has managed to please two kinds of Mexican food customers for nearly 30 years: those who want forceful dishes such as menudo and those who are looking for big margaritas and nachos. Specialties: chips and salsa, enchiladas, steak milanesa. Entrées, $5 to $10. 201 S. Bradford Ave., Placentia; (714) 993-7880.El Metate has been a local institution for more than 30 years. Part delicatessen, part grocery, it's an airy, casual place where you can nurse a cold beer and munch on delicious Mexican fare. Specialties: pork, beef, chili, chicken or vegetarian tamales. Entrées, $1 to $5. 838 E. 1st St., Santa Ana; (714) 542-3913.
El Misti Picantería Arequipeña. Entrées, $4 to $11. 3070 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim; (714) 995-5944. See Page 19 for review.El Rinconcito del Mar, an institution for the past three decades, offers a hefty menu with a variety of seafood cocktails and soups, appetizers such as ceviche tostadas, fish tacos, steamed clams, oysters baked with chipotle chiles and cheese. Specialties: whole red snapper, camarones rancheros picositos. Entrées, $6 to $27. 2908 E. 1st St., Los Angeles; (323) 269-8723.
El Rocoto's menu lists 78 items, including Chinese-Peruvian dishes concocted by the Chinese owner, whose parents immigrated to Peru. The restaurant opens early on weekends to serve a Peruvian breakfast. Specialties: soups, ceviche, papa a la Huancaina. Entrées, $6 to $10. 1356 W. Artesia Blvd., Gardena; (310) 768-8768.
El Taurino, one of the town's most colorful Mexican eateries, offers meat (and lots of it) that is shredded, sliced and smothered to satisfy the staunchest of carnivores. Specialties: barbacoa estilo Texcoco (oven-steamed lamb), beef ribs, baked pork leg with a chile marinade, tacos. Entrées, $4 to $8. 1104 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles; (213) 738-9197.
EM Bistro. Specialties: heirloom bean soup, wild Irish salmon, braised beef short ribs, blackberry tart, organic strawberry shortcake. Entrées, $12 to $28. 8256 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 658-6004. See Page 8 for review.
Emmanuel An American Bistro is worth seeking out among the neon clutter of Ventura Boulevard for its homey, modestly priced bistro fare. Specialties: wild mushroom ravioli, seared sea scallops and artichoke, chocolate soufflé. Entrées, $17 to $31; four-course prix fixe menus, $35 and $45. 11929 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 766-3128.
Empress Pavilion, a bustling Hong Kong-style restaurant, offers 175 menu selections. Nineteen dim sum specialists prepare the intricate handmade delicacies (40 to 60 kinds on any given day), while 12 cooks and two barbecue chefs also tend the kitchen. Specialties: siu mai (steamed dumplings), pot stickers, barbecued pork. Entrées, $10 to $15. 988 N. Hill St., Los Angeles; (213) 617-9898.
Encounter. Entrées, $17 to $30. 209 World Way, Los Angeles; (310) 215-5151. See Page 7 for review.
Falcon. Specialties: jumbo asparagus, free-range chicken breast, prime Angus New York steak, meatloaf, strawberry shortcake. Entrées, $13 to $28. 7213 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 850-5350. See Page 10 for review.
Figaro Brasserie—from the ceiling to the zinc counters—comprises salvaged pieces from Paris bistros and flea markets. As for food, the pain au chocolat (croissant dough with a bar of dark chocolate inside) is divine. Specialties: quiche Lorraine, ham-and-cheese sandwich, Figaro salad. Entrées, $8 to $24. 1802 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; (323) 662-1587.Firefly Bistro offers a slightly bohemian California menu that's high-spirited and fun, just like its tent party atmosphere. Specialties: pecan-coated catfish, seared pork tenderloin, coconut shrimp, grilled quail satay, panzanella salad. Entrées, $15 to $27. 1009 El Centro Ave., South Pasadena; (626) 441-2443.
Five Crowns on PCH might seem like an unlikely venue for an English-style country inn, so you may wonder if it's pure kitsch. Any doubts of its quality are laid to rest once you're inside. Specialties: "pride of the crowns" salad, soft-shell crabs, prime rib. Entrées, $19 to $34. 3801 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar; (949) 760-0331.5 Dudley feels like a neighborhood bistro on Paris' Left Bank, with seriously good French lithographs and prints on the walls. The menu changes weekly. Specialties: onion soup, asparagus-vanilla bean soup, brie-and-avocado appetizer, duck confit, crème brûlée. Entrées, $22 to $33. 5 Dudley Ave., Venice; (310) 399-6678.
Florence Italian Cuisine offers a sprawling menu that's elegant but casual, with an array of Italian cooking styles. Diners also will find a notable emphasis on seafood. Specialties: lobster-filled ravioli, pollo firenze, linguine vongole, tiramisu. Entrées, $9 to $20. 14210 Culver Drive, Irvine; (949) 857-8265.
Four Oaks in Bel-Air seems a world apart from the bustling city below. And once inside the cozy wood-clad room, it's easy to escape everyday life. Specialties: lavender wood-smoked salmon cakes, grilled Maine lobster, sesame seed-crusted Scottish salmon. Entrées, $29 to $34. 2181 N. Beverly Glen Blvd., Bel-Air; (310) 470-2265.
French 75 is a masterpiece of interior design, but people come mainly for the food, which some call the best in Laguna. Specialties: shrimp in cassoulet, smoked salmon on potato cake, summer vegetable pappardelle, vanilla and raspberry crème brûlée. Entrées, $20 to $32. 1464 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach; (949) 494-8444.
G. Garvin's, a sophisticated yet easygoing restaurant, is best described as California eclectic. Many of the dishes are familiar, but each has a twist. Specialties: rosemary-garlic chicken, baby back ribs, tequila shrimp, bone-in rib-eye, banana mousse cake, apple tart. Entrées, $21 to $36. 8420 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 655-3888.
The German Place serves tastes of the Old World with traditional fare such as Wiener schnitzel. It's spare yet homey, with an extensive German beer selection. Specialties: maultaschen, roulade, goulash, sauerbraten, pork roast, bratwurst, German chocolate cake. Entrées, $40 to $43. 23115 Lyons Ave., Newhall; (661) 255-9790.
FOR THE RECORD:
The Los Angeles Times Magazine's Restaurant Guide 2003 last Sunday incorrectly listed the prices of entrees for the German Place. They are $15 to $20, not $40 to $43. The survey also incorrectly stated that Freddie Glusman, owner of the Ritz, is "formerly of Piero's Las Vegas." He is still owner of Piero's Las Vegas.
Globe Venice is about soulful California cooking. Specialties: salade aux lardons, smoked salmon, zucchini with caramelized onions and blue cheese, baby arugula and Lola Rosa lettuce, whole rotisserie chicken, escolar en papillote, spaghetti Bolognese, apple tart. Entrées, $14 to $22. 72 Market St., Venice; (310) 392-8720.
Grace. Specialties: skate with black Tuscan kale and fried capers, goat cheese salad, bacon-wrapped saddle of rabbit, jelly doughnuts. Entrées, $16 to $29. 7360 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 934-4400. See Page 8 for review.Granita blends Wolfgang Puck and chef Jennifer Naylor's seafood-focused menu of American cuisine with Mediterranean influences. Barbara Lazaroff's inventive décor creates an illusion of a three-dimensional watercolor. Specialties: crab cakes, oysters, lobster club sandwich, ahi tuna, barbecued salmon "chop." Entrées, $24 to $32. Malibu Colony Plaza, 23725 W. Malibu Road, Malibu; (310) 456-0488.
The Grill on the Alley. Specialties: Cobb salad, Caesar salad, double-cut lamb chops, prime New York strip, classic martini. Entrées, $20 to $35. 9560 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills; (310) 276-0615. See Page 6 for review.
Guelaguetza is the place for authentic regional Mexican cuisine. Inside Soledad Lopez's modest place, Oaxacan women in snowy white caps tend their pots of bubbling beans and moles. Specialties: stewed goat, empanada with mushrooms and yellow mole, huevos rancheros, tortillas. Entrées, $9 to $12. 11127 Palms Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 837-1153.
Gustaf Anders, a coolly elegant Swedish restaurant in a glitzy shopping mall, is alone in presenting contemporary Scandinavian cuisine in Orange County. Specialties: Swedish-style breads, herring, gravlax, sugar-and-salt-cured salmon, shrimp salad, Princess cake. Entrées, $18 to $29. 3851 S. Bear St., Santa Ana; (714) 668-1737.
Gyu-Kaku. Specialties: prime beef, shishito peppers, bibimba (rice, kimchi, greens), yakimochi ice cream. Small plates, $5 to $8. 10925 W. Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 234-8641; 163 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 659-5760. See Page 24 for review.
Haifa. Specialties: appetizer salads with falafel, Yemenite soup, baked lamb, stuffed cabbage, shawarma turkey on hummus. Entrées, $12 to $20. 8717 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 888-7700. See Page 17 for review.
The Hillmont is zealously anti-exotic, pretty much steak and other cuts of meat at affordable prices. Forget about cozying up at a table for two; there are rows of long communal tables here. Specialties: New York strip steak, mixed grill platter. Entrées, $15 to $21. 4655 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; (323) 669-3922.
The Hitching Post II serves serious sirloin and hefty T-bones. This place has it all—lively atmosphere, personable service, really good food and interesting wines from a hands-on owner-chef-winemaker. Specialties: grilled artichoke, Santa Barbara mussels, California quail, flatiron steak, filet mignon, cheesecake. Entrées, $18 to $39. 406 E. Highway 246, Buellton; (805) 688-0676.
Hotel Bel-Air. Specialties: house-smoked salmon, terrine of foie gras, lobster corn custard, filet of beef, John Dory, roast chicken, Grand Marnier soufflé. Entrées, $19 to $42. 701 Stone Canyon Road, Bel-Air; (310) 472-1211. See Page 10 for review.
The House celebrates American cooking, which is harder to find at serious restaurants in Los Angeles than it should be. Nothing about Scooter Kanfer and Dana Caskey's homey eatery is overblown or overambitious. The menu changes every few weeks. Specialties: classic macaroni and cheese, grilled chicken with spring succotash, flatiron steak with spoon bread, assorted cookies. Entrées, $16 to $30. 5750 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 462-4687. The Hump. Sushi, $5 to $10; sashimi, $8 to $20. 3221 Donald Douglas Loop S., Santa Monica; (310) 313-0977. See Page 23 for review.
I Love Sushi may sound like a sitcom, but it's one of Orange County's best sushi venues. Visual artist-chef Tiger Nogi shows a deft hand with fish. Specialties: yellowtail and halibut sashimi, egg rolls with smoked salmon and cream cheese, marinated calamari. Entrées, $9 to $14. 2340 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa; (714) 540-6195.Il Cielo, a kitschy romantic Italian restaurant with a picturesque patio and cozy interior, provides the perfect setting for a marriage proposal—or a wedding. Specialties: burrata pugliese, tomato stuffed with shrimp and artichoke, veal cheek risotto, crème brûlée with rose petals, cannoli with cherries. Entrées, $16 to $35. 9018 Burton Way, Beverly Hills; (310) 276-9990.
Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi. Specialties: pasta e fagioli, fettuccine with porcini sauce, gnocchi in Gorgonzola sauce, grilled spigolla, veal cutlet, torta della nonna. Entrées, $12 to $35. 114 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica; (310) 573-1660. See Page 14 for review.
India Cook House may not be filled with surprises, but the food is fresh, the service is courteous and the kitchen is happy to deliver the heat. Specialties: meat and bread cooked in the tandoor, channa masala, vindaloo, gulab jamun (cheese balls served warm in syrup). Entrées, $9 to $17. 14130 Culver Drive, Irvine; (949) 857-4858.The Ivy. Specialties: Caesar salad, crab cakes, meatloaf, Cajun prime rib, black-pepper shrimp. Entrées, $18 to $40. 113 N. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 274-8303; Ivy at the Shore, 1541 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 393-3113. See Page 6 for review.J&J Restaurant, which specializes in casual Shanghai-style foods, is a calmer alternative to the typical Sunday dim sum scene. Specialties: crab bao, wo te-ah (pan-fried dumplings). Menu items, $1 to $6. 301 W. Valley Blvd., No. 109, San Gabriel; (626) 308-9238.
Jaan's menu fuses Indochinese, French and American cuisines. Specialties: heirloom tomato "carpaccio," melon tartar, Pacific King salmon, matcha tiramisu. Entrées, $24 to $38. 9291 Raffles L'Ermitage Hotel, 9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills; (310) 385-5344.
Jar is the product of Campanile chef and co-owner Mark Peel and chef-partner Suzanne Tracht. The décor at this terrific American chophouse consists of pale citron walls and dozens of curvy molded plastic chairs. Specialties: fried Ipswich clams, pot roast, double porterhouse, ice cream sundae. Entrées, $19 to $30. 8225 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 655-6566.
Jay Bharat will take you far from Southern California as you see Indian families noshing on pettis (crisp fried pastry filled with coconut, raisins, nuts and potatoes) and sipping orange mango lassis. Specialties: okra curry, stuffed puri (deep-fried bread), Southern Indian vegetarian plates. Entrées, $3 to $9. 18701 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia; (562) 924-3310.
Jer-ne, the restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, is splashy in concept but delivers with solid cooking. Sit out on the terrace, where you can watch sailboats glide in and out of the marina. Specialties: Kobe beef carpaccio, grilled lamb chops, Maine lobster shabu-shabu. Entrées, $24 to $30. 4375 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey; (310) 574-4333.
JiRaffe may be the ideal Santa Monica restaurant. The food from home-grown surfer-chef Raphael Lunetta is a mix of California and country-style French. Specialties: roasted pear salad, gnocchi with rock shrimp, wild mushroom salad, striped bass with peeky toe crab-artichoke spaghettini, pork chop, chocolate truffle cake. Entrées, $19 to $30. 502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 917-6671.
Joan's on Third is the place for locally made burrata or goodies such as fleur de sel, Umbrian beans and more. Specialties: tarragon chicken salad, grilled vegetables Provençal, turkey meatloaf, homemade mini cupcakes. Salads, $5 to $9; sandwiches, $8 to $10. 8350 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 655-2285.
Joe's Restaurant is a beloved Venice institution. Joe Miller is in the kitchen almost every night, sending out his signature California-French-inspired food. The place is always packed. Specialties: mushroom ravioli, slow-cooked salmon, apple tarte tatin. Entrées, $20 to $24. 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 399-5811.
Josie Le Balch's cozy restaurant looks as if it could easily be in San Francisco or New York. First courses run from classic to gutsy, and a handful of nightly specials often are based on game. Specialties: grilled cuttlefish with chorizo, campfire trout, buffalo foie burger and truffle fries. Entrées, $18 to $32. 2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 581-9888.
J.R.'s Bar-B-Que is where Jeannie Jackson and son Robert keep the Memphis-style, sauce-slathered 'cue coming—from the barbecue pit out back. Specialties: traditional ribs, rib tips, baby back ribs, beef brisket, sides, 7-Up cake. Entrées, $7 to $22. 3055 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City; (310) 837-6838.J.R. Seafood is the best the Westside has to offer in terms of Chinese seafood. Specialties: steamed live prawns, lobster in X.O. sauce, crab in black bean sauce. Entrées, $10 to $15. 11901 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 268-2463.
Julienne is sometimes unfairly dismissed as the place of choice for well-heeled San Marino "ladies who lunch." With its marble bistro tables spilling onto the sidewalk, this cafe has lots of charm. Specialties: apricot-chicken salad, mango-lime glazed chicken breast, Normandy quiche, pistachio-crusted salmon, baked crème brûlée French toast and desserts. Entrées, $11 to $18. 2649 Mission St., San Marino; (626) 441-2299.
Kagaya. Specialties: shabu-shabu with Australian Wagyu beef and rice soup. Set menu, $36 to $95 per person. 418 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles; (213) 617-1016. See Page 24 for review.Kappo Sui. Entrées, $5 to $15. 270 Santa Ana Ave., Santa Ana; (714) 429-0141. See Page 24 for review.
Katana. Menu items, $2 to $18. 8439 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 650-8585. See Page 6 for review.Kinara Café. Specialties: chilled vegetable soup, goat cheese and sun-dried tomato or smoked salmon tartines, seasonal sorbet, chocolate truffles. Entrées, $8 to $16. 656 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 657-9188. See Page 8 for review.
Koi attracts crowds with its fireside lounge and bamboo-decorated patios. On weekends, trendoids wait up to an hour for bite-size crispy rice with spicy tuna and other Euro-Asian offerings. Specialties: cucumber salad, black cod bronzed with miso, pan-roasted duck. Entrées, $8 to $26. 730 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 659-9449.Kokekokko. Yakitori, $2.50. 203 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 687-0690. See Page 24 for review.Kyoto Restaurant. Specialties: asparagus, Japanese eggplant and shrimp tempura. Entrées, $19 to $34; tempura items, $3 to $7. Wilshire Grand Hotel, 930 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; (213) 896-3812. See Page 24 for review.La Cachette is where chef Jean-François Meteigner thrives on cooking what he does best: classic French food with a California touch. Specialties: foie gras, roasted squab, rack of lamb. Entrées, $25 to $33. 10506 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City; (310) 470-4992.La Serenata de Garibaldi, the beloved Boyle Heights Mexican seafood place, is packed at lunch and quieter at dinner. Specialties: quesadillas, sopas, fish tacos, camarones in molcajete sauce, sea bass in chipotle sauce, flan. Entrées, $11 to $24. 1842 E. 1st St., Boyle Heights; (323) 265-2887; 1416 4th St., Santa Monica; (310) 656-7017.
La Serenata Gourmet is the more casual spinoff of the above. Specialties: fish tacos, shrimp gorditas, mushroom, poblano pepper and cheese quesadillas, Mexican shrimp with mojo de ajo sauce. Entrées, $7 to $20. 10924 W. Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 441-9667.
Lake Spring Shanghai stands out as one of the best in a city full of wonderful Chinese restaurants. Specialties: dumplings, braised tofu, pork "pump" (pork leg cooked in Chinese plum sauce). Entrées, $10 to $20. 219 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park; (626) 280-3571.Langano, the Valley's only Ethiopian restaurant, offers spicy stews (wats) and kitfo (ground beef mixed with butter and cardamom). Specialties: vegetarian dishes, including ye-shiro wat (ground split peas with a buttery, garlicky red sauce). Entrées, $5 to $12. 14838 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 786-2670.
Langer's Deli. Specialties: pastrami (menu item No. 44—grilled pastrami and sauerkraut with cheese), brisket, corned beef. Pastrami sandwich, $9. 704 S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles; (213) 483-8050. See Page 16 for review.
Las Delicias Chapinas is strictly Guatemalan—from the live marimba music to the authentic regional menu. Specialties: chuchito (pork tamale), kak ic (turkey broth with paprika and cinnamon), churrasco chapín (carne asada and sausages), pollo en crema (chicken in heavy cream with tomato). Entrées, $7 to $13. 3731 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 731-6995.
Lawry's the Prime Rib has the dining experience down to a science. The menu is as streamlined as they come. Specialties: spinning bowl salad, Lawry's cut, Diamond Jim Brady cut, hot fudge sundae, coconut banana cream pie. Entrées, $24 to $39. 100 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 652-2827.
Les Deux Cafés. Specialties: oysters, chicken braised in white wine, chocolate pot de crème. Entrées, $18 to $34. 1638 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood; (323) 465-0509. See Page 11 for review.
Lilly's French Café & Wine Bar, with polished bistro cooking, is about as French a cafe as you can find in Los Angeles. Specialties: steamed mussels, goat cheese and leek tart, bourride de poissons (seafood stew), chicken with rosemary. Entrées, $13 to $20. 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 314-0004.
Linq Restaurant and Lounge has a lively bar scene and an eclectic crowd. For such a trendy place (the kind where food is usually beside the point), the Asian-Mediterranean cooking really stands out. Specialties: white-corn soup, lobster ravioli, crispy shrimp with spicy Mandarin sauce, pepper steak, apple galette tart. Entrées, $14 to $28. 8338 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 655-4555.The Little Door, with its outdoor bar and series of interconnected dining rooms, has a romantic boho charm. The cooking is Mediterranean with French and North African accents. Specialties: salads, couscous, grilled rib-eye, classic French desserts. Entrées, $24 to $32. 8164 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 951-1210.
The Lobster. Specialties: lobster cocktail, steamed mussels and clams, soft-shell crabs, crab cakes, Copper River salmon, butterscotch crème brûlée. Entrées, $19 to $45. 1602 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 458-9294. See Page 7 for review.
Locanda Veneta feels like a casual trattoria hidden on one of Venice's back canals. Specializing in northern Italian cuisine, it has been resting on its laurels for years. But if you order carefully, you can have a reasonably good meal. Specialties: clam soup, penne with spicy tomato sauce, grilled jumbo shrimp, osso buco al Barolo. Entrées, $40 to $45. 8638 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (310) 274-1893.
L'Orangerie. Specialties: Maine lobster en cocotte, crispy langoustine, roasted squab, apple tart. Entrées, $32 to $58. 903 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 652-9770. See Page 12 for review.
Lou's Oak Oven Barbecue deals in family-style Santa Maria barbecue. This isn't sophisticated dining; the food comes on metal camping plates, and drinks, including wine, are served in Mason jars. Specialties: tri-tip, barbecue pork, rotisserie-grilled chicken, grilled linguiça (Portuguese sausage). Entrées, $10 to $16. 21501 Brookhurst St., Huntington Beach; (714) 965-5200.
Luciana's Ristorante has been around since the early '80s, but this rustic European spot is now managed by a new generation. Chef Bret Young serves a combination of old Italian recipes and more modern spinoffs. Specialties: fagiolini verdi (fried green beans), tomato bread soup, marinated and roasted rack of pork. Entrées, $9 to $18. 24312 Del Prado Ave., Dana Point; (949) 661-6500.Lucky's steakhouse—the brainchild of Gene Montesano, co-owner of Lucky Brand Dungarees, and chef James Sly—offers simple food prepared with the same care that goes into much more elaborate restaurant fare. Specialties: shrimp cocktail, skinny onion rings, home-fried potatoes, New York strip steak, porterhouse. Entrées, $9 to $48. 1279 Coast Village Road, Montecito; (805) 565-7540.
Lucques offers intelligent, sensual cooking. As small as the menu is, choosing can be harder than you'd think, especially when it comes to first courses. Specialties: artichoke and green garlic tart, spring vegetable lasagna, wild salmon with bacon, suckling pig, nectarine and pistachio tart. Entrées, $21 to $32. 8474 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 655-6277.
Lunaria is made for lounging. After dinner, move into the lounge for the live jazz. Specialties: smoked salmon tart, tomato confit tart, bouillabaisse, roasted spicy chicken sausage, steak frites, chocolate soufflé torte. Entrées, $14 to $27. 10351 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City; (310) 282-8870.
Madeo can offer an authentic Italian experience if you know what to order. Order badly and you'll wonder what all the fuss is about. Either way, you'll enjoy the ambience and attentive service. Specialties: ravioli in walnut sauce, grilled branzino, veal chop. Entrées, $14 to $28. 8897 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 859-4903.Mako Restaurant has a fresh, contemporary design with the feel of an informal cafe. The best seats are at the counter overlooking the action in the kitchen. Specialties: crispy oysters, sautéed foie gras, whole lobster with coconut saffron curry, bluefin tuna steak, yuzu tart. Entrées, $5 to $15. 225 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 288-8338.
Mama's Hot Tamales Café. Specialties: tamales, Oaxacan ice creams. Entrées, $1 to $7. 2124 W. 7th St., Los Angeles; (213) 487-7474. See Page 17 for review.
Mamounia serves up simmering Moroccan food in a modest, lovely, distinctly homey environment. The meal is a multi-course affair with soups, salads, a choice of 10 main dishes and more. Specialties: mrouzia (honey lamb), lemon chicken, quail kebab. Dinner, $22 to $27 per person. 132 N. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 360-7535.
Manhattan Wonton Co. is the only game in town for the taste of New York-style Chinese food and the general affability of the staff and owner. Specialties: won ton soup, New York egg roll, lobster in black bean sauce, wok-tossed shrimp in the shell, pork-fried rice. Entrées, $8 to $25. 151 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 888-2804.
Maple Drive is a Beverly Hills standard serving regional American comfort food in a fashionable setting, and the service is exceptionally good. Specialties: chopped salad, meatloaf, veal Milanese, profiteroles, chocolate and coconut cake. Entrées, $17 to $29. 345 N. Maple Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 274-9800. Mastro's Steakhouse touts itself as the steakhouse with a personality, but despite the quality of the beef, it falls squarely in the traditional category with big drinks and big steaks. Specialties: Kansas City strip, pork porterhouse, fried onions, au gratin potatoes. Entrées, $30 to $60 (29-ounce lobster tail). 246 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 888-8782.Matsuhisa. Specialties: sushi, "new-style sashimi," squid "pasta." Dinner, $60 to $80 per person. 129 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 659-9639. See Page 23 for review.
Max has been welcomed by the Valley with open arms. It's heartening to see diners flock to a restaurant with integrity and spirit. Specialties: lumpia (shrimp and pork spring rolls), Thai lemon grass-coconut soup, hamachi sashimi, roasted half chicken, profiteroles. Entrées, $16 to $26. 13355 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 784-2915.
McCormick & Schmick's offers some 40 kinds of fresh seafood served in nearly 90 treatments. The adjacent Pilsner Room serves an impressive list of microbrews. Specialties: crab-and-shrimp cakes, oysters on the half shell, crab Louie. Entrées, $6 to $22. 2000 Main St., Irvine; (949) 756-0505. Also in downtown L.A., Beverly Hills, Pasadena and El Segundo.Meals by Genet. Specialties: doro wat (chicken stew with red chiles), vegetarian side dishes, yebere siga tibs (spiced steak chunks), lamb stew. Entrées, $6 to $14. 1053 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 938-9304. See Page 17 for review.
Mediterranean Garden Grill has the feel of an eclectic patio party. Families, Lebanese homeboys and local restaurant-goers are all in the mix. Specialties: baba ghannouj, meatless mousakaah, soujouk (spicy sausage), chicken kebab, sautéed frog legs. Entrées, $8 to $9. 335 W. Foothill Blvd., Monrovia; (626) 358-6811.
Mélisse. Specialties: seared foie gras, côte de boeuf, chef's tasting menu. Entrées, $28 to $38. 1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 395-0881. See Page 12 for review.
Menemsha, named for a little fishing port on Martha's Vineyard, is a sprawling seafood house with a clubby but noisy atmosphere. Specialties: oysters and clams on the half shell, lobster roll, fried Ipswich clams, twin steamed lobsters, linguine with clams, banana cream pie. Entrées, $14 to $46. 822 Washington Blvd., Venice; (310) 822-2550.
Michael's. Specialties: hazelnut-crusted goat cheese salad, grilled Mediterranean loup de mer, maple leaf duck breast. Entrées, $28 to $39. 1147 3rd St., Santa Monica; (310) 451-0843. See Page 10 for review.
Mille Fleurs is a first-rate French restaurant secluded in Rancho Santa Fe, offering the graceful cooking of its German-born chef. Martin Woesle's menus, which change daily, feature seasonal local ingredients. Specialties: lobster salad, pickled herring, grilled filet of beef, poached halibut cheeks, sautéed skate wing. Entrées, $29 to $36. 6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe; (858) 756-3085.
Mimosa's inviting bistro dining room and patio draw a crowd for thin-crusted tarte flambée, pretty beet salads, stuffed mussels and soulful regional dishes. Specialties: friture d'Eperlans (tiny whole fried fish), tomato tarte tatin, rack of lamb, veal chop, grilled côte de boeuf. Entrées, $15 to $24. 8009 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 655-8895.Moonshadows. Specialties: oysters on the half shell, New England clam chowder, lobster salad, Florida snapper in shallot caper sauce, roasted organic free-range chicken. Entrées, $17 to $24. 20356 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; (310) 456-3010. See Page 7 for review.Mori Sushi. Specialties: sushi, sashimi, octopus carpaccio, arugula and crab salad, chef's choice selections. Entrées, $10 to $60; sushi, $10 to $60. 11500 Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 479-3939. See Page 23 for review.Morton's, long an industry haunt for the A-list, gets by with straightforward contemporary fare in a glamorous, airy room decorated with serious art. Specialties: shrimp quesadilla, dry-aged steaks, lime-grilled free-range chicken. Entrées, $24 to $32. 8764 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (310) 276-5205.
Moustache Café's two locations—enclosed patio dining on Melrose or a cozy bistro setting in Westwood—both offer an expansive menu that features everything from rich crepes to seafood, pastas, meats and chicken. Specialties: French onion soup, omelets, duck, Grand Marnier soufflé. Entrées, $9 to $17. 8155 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 651-2111; 1071 Glendon Ave., Westwood; (310) 208-6633.
Mr. Chow is a favorite with both old Hollywood and a younger, plugged-in crowd. The staff is adept at making any guest feel as if they belong to a smart and exclusive club. Specialties: scallion pancake, mixed dumplings, lobster two ways, Peking duck. Entrées, $25 to $36. 344 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 278-9911.Musha. Entrées, $6 to $13. 424 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 576-6330; 1725 W. Carson St., Torrance; (310) 787-7344. See Page 24 for review.Musso & Frank Grill. Specialties: double-cut lamb chops, steaks, grilled calf's liver. Entrées, $15 to $38. 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 467-7788. See Page 9 for review.
Napa Rose. Specialties: Gulf of California rock scallops, spit-roasted prime rib of pork, rack of lamb, Meyer lemon mousse brûlée. Entrées, $24 to $33. Grand Californian Hotel, 1600 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim; (714) 300-7170. See Page 15 for review.Nate n' Al has been doling out crispy rye bread, whitefish, knishes and blintzes since 1945. A deli is a deli is a deli, but a beloved star-studded Beverly Hills deli and restaurant is another thing entirely. Specialties: Nova Scotia salmon, corned beef, Reuben sandwich. Entrées, $9 to $16. 414 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 274-0101.
Ngoc Suong. Specialties: lemon leaves-grilled chicken (No. 23), sticky rice and black beans in bamboo stick (No. 24), goi dau que, mango ice cream, Grand Marnier truffles. Entrées, $6 to $36. 10112 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove; (714) 539-8811. See Page 19 for review.Nick & Stef's Steakhouse reinvents the genre. Huge prime slabs of beef hang in an aging room, and appetizers, sides, potatoes and even sauces each come in a dozen inventive variations, though the food can be uneven. Specialties: filet mignon, rib-eye, lamb chops, double-cut pork chop. Entrées, $19 to $32. 330 S. Hope St., Los Angeles; (213) 680-0330.Nico's is a contemporary American bistro on Naples Island. It's chic and modern with winning décor and fine food. Specialties: carpaccio, Maytag salad, rack of lamb, bread pudding. Entrées, $20 to $29. 5760 E. 2nd St., Long Beach; (562) 434-4479.
Nine-Ten Restaurant doesn't feel much like a hotel restaurant, and that's a good thing. The chef is a stickler for ingredients and gets much of his produce from Chino Farms. Specialties: Julian apple and pear salad, house-smoked salmon, Nantucket bay scallops, strawberry-rhubarb tart. Entrées, $13 to $30. Grande Colonial Hotel, 910 Prospect St., La Jolla; (858) 964-5400.
Nobu in Malibu—another trendy venue from international restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa—features cooked dishes that are as important as the sashimi and sushi. Specialties: sushi, sashimi, soft-shell crab spring roll, whole grilled fish. Entrées, $6 to $32; sushi, $5 to $9 for two pieces. 3835 Cross Creek Road, Malibu; (310) 317-9140.Nonya is a handsome restaurant set in a historic corner storefront. Come with friends and order a slew of appetizers from a menu featuring Chinese dishes embellished with the spices of Malaysia. Specialties: beef satay, prawn spring rolls, whole Dungeness crab, tamarind chicken curry. Entrées, $12 to $42. 61 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 583-8398.Oceanfront is inside the romantic Casa del Mar Hotel, which occupies a 1926 Romanesque Revival building that looks more like New York than Santa Monica. Specialties: crab cakes, fresh fish, meats. Entrées, $15 to $33. 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica; (310) 581-7714.
Olio e Limone Ristorante is a sweet Italian restaurant that feels as comfortable on the first visit as the 10th. It's a delight to find a trattoria that relies on simple good cooking. Specialties: warm seafood salad; spaghetti with bottarga; sausage, mushroom and quail ragout; veal scaloppine. Entrées, $16 to $27. 17 W. Victoria St., Santa Barbara; (805) 899-2699.
Opah's cuisine is eclectic and the décor stylish, which draws crowds to southern Orange County's liveliest bar scene. Based on the name, many expect to find Greek fare, but here "Opah" refers to Hawaiian moonfish. Specialties: crab cakes, oyster po'boy, mussels. Entrées, $13 to $27. 26851 Aliso Creek Road, Building C, Aliso Viejo; (949) 360-8822.
Opaline. Specialties: oysters on the half shell, bay scallop ceviche, pressed pork sandwich, grilled duck breast, cheese course, kumquat bread pudding. Entrées, $16 to $25. 7450 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 857-6725. See Page 15 for review.
The Original Pantry, open since 1924, offers all-American basics done right and served fast. Though it seats only 84, it serves as many as 3,000 people a day. Specialties: Swiss steak, sirloin tips, BBQ spare ribs, New York steak, hickory burger, apple pie. Entrées, $5 to $16. 877 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles; (213) 972-9279.Otafuku. Entrées, $7 to $16. 6525 S. Western Ave., Gardena; (310) 532-9348. See Page 24 for review.
Pacific Dining Car, in its ninth decade, still serves quality steaks 24 hours a day. Where else in L.A. can you get prime rib, a baked potato and a Manhattan in the wee hours? Specialties: cowboy steak, baseball steak, Delmonico pepper steak. Entrées, $26 to $39. 1310 W. 6th St., Los Angeles, (213) 483-6000.
Paladar. Specialties: empanadas, sofritto rock shrimp, grilled octopus, marinated hearts of palm, ham and shredded pork sandwich, skirt steak, braised oxtail, spicy fries. Entrées, $13 to $22. 1651 Wilcox Ave., Hollywood; (323) 465-7500. See Page 8 for review.
Palm Restaurant boasts a prime location: a block from Staples Center in a grand 1920s building. The downtown steakhouse is a kinder, gentler Palm. Specialties: shrimp cocktail, hearts of palm salad, oysters, jumbo lobster, New York strip steak, lamb chops, New York cheesecake. Entrées, $16 to $32. 1100 S. Flower St., Los Angeles; (213) 763-4600. Also in West Hollywood.
Patina. Specialties: braised veal cheeks, roasted chestnut agnolotti, roast chicken for two, côte de boeuf, fig tart. Entrées, $29 to $31. 5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 467-1108. See Pages 12 and 15 for reviews.
Pecos Bill's barbecue is wet and sloppy, and that's the way the regulars like it at this 57-year-old neighborhood 'cue shack. The popular pork ribs are available only on weekends. Specialties: shredded pork and beef, sliced turkey and ham, coleslaw. Sandwiches, $4; ribs, $12 a pound. 1551 Victory Blvd., Glendale; (818) 241-2750.
Picayo's menu is French-Mediterranean with a taste for duck, both as an appetizer and entrée. Specialties: sautéed foie gras, scallops Provençal, salmon, flourless chocolate cake. Entrées, $19 to $30. 610 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach; (949) 497-5051.
Piccolo Paradiso is from Giacomino, the youngest of the Drago brothers. He's serious about his restaurant, slaving in the kitchen every night and making the rounds of the dining room. Specialties: carpaccio di mele, spaghetti di Antonio Natale, risotto. Entrées, $20 to $25. 150 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 271-0030.
Pinot Bistro, the first and most reliable of Joachim Splichal's many Patina spinoffs, is a Valley institution, thronged both at lunch and dinner. You'll eat very well here; most regulars wouldn't think of leaving without dessert. Specialties: crispy whitefish, braised meats and chops, croissant bread pudding. Entrées, $18 to $25. 12969 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 990-0500.Pinot Hollywood, another Patina spinoff, offers superior martinis and a smart bar menu served in a comfy lounge with armchairs. There's also an outdoor patio and a serviceable menu. Specialties: martinis, oysters, Kobe beef duo, three-cheese ravioli, grilled lamb sirloin. Entrées, $15 to $26. 1448 N. Gower St., Hollywood; (323) 461-8800.
Port Royal Café. Specialties: jerk pork, brown stew chicken, curry goat, Negril oxtails, coconut meringue. Entrées, $6 to $14. 1412 Broadway, Santa Monica; (310) 458-4147. See Page 18 for review.
Posto, the Valley cousin to Santa Monica's Valentino, is where pasta stars. Specialties: paglia e fieno (green and yellow noodles with peas, prosciutto and cream), hand-rolled garganelli, osso buco. Entrées, $19 to $29. 14928 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 784-4400.
Primitivo Wine Bistro, named for the Italian grape that resembles Zinfandel, has hit on a concept that appeals to the neighborhood's chic bohemians—good wines at fair prices, tapas and a handful of main courses. Specialties: fried calamari, duck confit with lentils, cheese platter, grilled lamb chops. Entrées, $14 to $21. 1025 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 396-5353.Quality Food & Beverage caters to a punk rock and urban clientele in search of California comfort food. Specialties: challah French toast, tofu scramble, Chili Killers (tortillas, salsa, cheese and eggs), homemade corned beef hash, German pancakes. Entrées, $5 to $9. 8030 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 658-5959.The Quiet Woman leads a sedate life, but it is one of the area's most consistently good dining spots, featuring a mix of mesquite-grilled seafood, lamb, steak and chicken, as well as pastas and burgers. Specialties: Angus beefsteak, rack of lamb, Toll House pie. Entrées, $16 to $38. 3224 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Corona del Mar; (949) 640-7440.
R-23. Specialties: crab salad, shrimp and lobster tempura, steamed mussels, grilled yellowtail, stuffed duck breast. Entrées, $12 to $40. 923 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles; (213) 687-7178. See Page 23 for review.
The Raymond is virtually unchanged after 23 years. Regular customers clearly find this comforting. Brunch—that leisurely, informal meal—is when the Raymond really finds its métier. Specialties: salmon coated with pumpkin seeds, Creole sea bass, scones and apple sausage, Raymond sundae, lemon napoleon. Entrées, $30 to $35. 1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; (626) 441-3136.Red Pearl Kitchen is a fun spot for an Asian culinary adventure. You know times are changing when you're able to find such sophisticated food in surfer territory. Specialties: Little Dragon dumplings, Vietnamese egg roll, tempura-style prawns, green papaya and shrimp salad, short ribs. Entrées, $10 to $17. 412 Walnut Ave., Huntington Beach; (714) 969-0224.Reign owner Keyshawn Johnson, the NFL wide receiver, is keeping his contemporary Southern restaurant upscale. Specialties: fried green tomatoes, Maryland crab cakes, pan-fried red snapper, fried chicken, smothered pork chops. Entrées, $17 to $27. 180 N. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 273-4463.
Restaurant Abe has been called the Matsuhisa of Orange County. Go for the sushi if you must, but Abe has far more interesting creations. Specialties: tuna rib, smoked monkfish liver, oyster shooters, omakase dinners. Entrées, $22 to $35. 2900 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach; (949) 675-1739.The Restaurant at the Getty Center. Entrées, $15 to $33. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles; (310) 440-6810. See Page 7 for review.Restaurant Devon has put Monrovia on the culinary map. It's a genuine labor of love, occupying a converted 1890s carriage house. Specialties: crab cakes, quail stuffed with lamb mousse, mixed mushroom salad, steak in Port reduction. Entrées, $14 to $28. 109 E. Lemon Ave., Monrovia; (626) 305-0013. Restaurant Halie had style but little substance when it opened two years ago. Now with chef Claud Beltran, it's gaining a following for its food. Specialties: tortilla soup, cantaloupe and yellow beet salad, scallops in roasted red pepper ragout, foie gras with melon. Entrées, $19 to $29. 1030 E. Green St., Pasadena; (626) 440-7067.
The Ritz, under the helm of Freddie Glusman (formerly of Piero's Las Vegas), may feel less familiar. The atmosphere's intact, but the menu now features many of Piero's signature dishes. Specialties: Piero's special salad (jumbo prawns and avocado), grilled swordfish, linguine and clams, Piero's osso buco. Entrées, $24 to $36. Fashion Island, 880 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach; (949) 720-1800.
Röckenwagner Restaurant & Brasserie is a casual eatery with an appealing menu priced for everyday dining. A separate room within the space sets the stage for more ambitious prix fixe menus. Specialties: roasted half chicken, Röckenwagner's signature pretzel burger, veal goulash. Entrées, $15 to $19. 2435 Main St., Santa Monica; (310) 399-6504.
Romantic Steak House is not your average chophouse. Romantic in its own way, the Tan family's restaurant specializes in Chinese and Burmese cuisine. Specialties: garlic chicken, mohinga (soup), chow mein, kar pard (beef, chicken or shrimp kebab). Entrées, $4 to $9. 119 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; (626) 307-5558.
Royal Khyber Fine Indian Cuisine has all the tools to be Orange County's top Indian restaurant—a gorgeous dining room, an innovative menu and the talents of chef Arun Puri. Specialties: shrimp samosa, warm eggplant salad, curried chicken, chicken tikka masala. Entrées, $9 to $28. South Coast Plaza Village, 1621 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana; (714) 436-1010.
Roy's benefits from the inventive Pacific Rim cooking of superstar Hawaiian chef-owner Roy Yamaguchi. But Newport isn't Hawaii—the feeling of the restaurant is as big-city as it gets in this part of Orange County. Specialties: panko-crusted calamari, lobster pot stickers, blackened ahi, chocolate soufflé. Entrées, $15 to $32. 453 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach; (949) 640-7697.Ruth's Chris Steak House seats 289 and it's still tough to get a table on Friday or Saturday nights. The latest location in a successful chain of steakhouses is upbeat—and very busy. Specialties: prime-aged steaks, veal chop, Maine lobster. Entrées, $26 to $33. 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills; (818) 227-9505. Also in Beverly Hills.
Saddle Peak Lodge. Specialties: buffalo tartare, wild mushrooms in puff pastry, roasted elk tenderloin, lemon tart. Entrées, $25 to $38. 419 Cold Canyon Road, Calabasas; (818) 222-3888. See Page 16 for review.
Sage & Onion is where London-trained chef-owner Steven Giles relies on California's produce and seafood to create his eclectic, oft-changing menus. Specialties: Cajun-encrusted fried oysters, basil & Chèvre soufflé, foie gras, sautéed morel mushrooms, roasted rack of lamb, rhubarb-encrusted halibut. Entrées, $24 to $34. 34 E. Ortega St., Santa Barbara; (805) 963-1012.
Sakura Japanese Restaurant might be in a forgotten enclave, but business is booming at this more than 50-year-old spot. Specialties: fresh albacore sushi, giant clam sushi, hamachi kama (broiled yellowtail collar), oshitashi (spinach roll), fried tofu, saba shioyaki (broiled, lightly salted mackerel). Entrées, $9 to $17. 4545 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles; (310) 822-7790.Saladang Song melds cutting-edge design with some of the best authentic Thai cooking around. Specialties: green papaya salad, ground grilled shrimp in lime dressing, pad Thai, green curry with eggplant. Entrées, $6 to $20. 383 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; (626) 793-5200.
Santa Fe Station is an odd idea, going for a train station theme directly north of the Long Beach Municipal Airport. But that's what this Southwestern restaurant has done, creating a distinctive menu in the process. Specialties: carrot soup, New Mexico enchiladas, tacos de brocheta. Entrées, $11 to $17. 4101 Lakewood Blvd., Lakewood; (562) 429-8700.
Sea Harbour Seafood. Entrées, $8 to $26. 3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead; (626) 288-3939. Also in Rowland Heights. See Page 19 for review.
71 Palm, which is housed in a two-story Craftsman-style bungalow, is the creation of French chef Didier Poirier and his wife, interior designer Nanci Kuhn Poirier. Specialties: fish soup with aioli, assiette de charcuterie, veal short ribs, floating island. Entrées, $10 to $23. 71 N. Palm St., Ventura; (805) 653-7222.
Shiang Garden, like Hunan in southeastern China, is famous for its ham. Here the chefs cure a fresh pork leg to make their own Hunan-style ham. Specialties: "dual delight" (steamed white buns filled with fried bean curd and slices of ham), Sichuan dumplings. Entrées, $7 to $22. 111 N. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park; (626) 458-4508.
Shiro attracts a regular following who are fanatically devoted to their favorite dishes here. Chef-owner Hideo Yamashiro has found his milieu in a quiet area just off Fair Oaks. Specialties: baby green salad, lobster spring rolls, Chinese ravioli, sizzling catfish, crispy wonton skins, trio of crème brûlées. Entrées, $17 to $25. 1505 Mission St., South Pasadena; (626) 799-4774.Shisen Ramen. Entrées, $5 to $9. 1730 W. Sepulveda Blvd., Torrance; (310) 534-1698. See Page 24 for review.Si Gol. Specialties: pork bulgogi, beef chuck flap, black pork, Si Gol Special. Set menu, $14 to $16. 478-480 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 467-0100. See Page 19 for review.Singapore's Banana Leaf. Specialties: chicken and beef satay, rojak fruit salad, kachang. Entrées, $5 to $8. Farmers Market, Stall 122, 6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 933-4627. See Page 17 for review.
The Sky Room. Entrées, $22 to $40. 40 S. Locust Ave., Long Beach; (562) 983-2722. See Page 7 for review.
Sona. Specialties: celery root ravioli, salt-roasted beets with mâche, confit of wild Scottish salmon, buttermilk-poached jidori chicken, chocolate beignets. Entrées, $25 to $35. 401 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 659-7708. See Page 8 for review. Soot Bull Jeep offers meals that are literally made to order. As smoke curls from tabletop braziers, guests at this Koreatown restaurant take turns grilling their food, adding fermented bean paste, pickled daikon or kimchi. Specialties: beef, pork, baby octopus and short ribs to grill. Entrées, $14 to $17. 3136 8th St., Los Angeles; (213) 387-3865.
Sorrento Grille has been transformed by David Wilhelm into a trendy California grill and martini bar, but it remains a stalwart of the Laguna Beach dining scene. Specialties: cornmeal-crusted calamari, "retro" shrimp scampi, filet mignon. Entrées, $16 to $32. 370 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach; (949) 494-8686.
Soul Folks is a cozy downtown den serving terrific soul food with some interesting twists. Specialties: banana pancakes, grits, red beans and rice, corn bread, barbecue tofu, salmon croquettes. Entrées, $6 to $14. 714 Traction Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 613-0381.
Spago Beverly Hills. Specialties: foie gras, côte de boeuf, seared big-eye tuna, Wiener schnitzel. Entrées, $24 to $42. 176 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 385-0880. See Page 10 for review.
The Standard Downtown. Entrées, $9 to $24. 550 S. Flower St., Los Angeles; (213) 892-8080. See Page 7 for review.
The Standard Restaurant offers a savvy mix of coffee shop fare—with a twist—and international favorites for well-traveled hipsters. The restaurant is open 24 hours, and most dishes are available 'round-the-clock. Specialties: sirloin burger, chopped salad, arugula salad, Hawaiian tuna pizza with wasabi, yellowtail carpaccio, crème brûlée. Entrées, $9 to $24. 8300 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 650-9090.Star Shoes. 6364 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 462-7827. See Page 16 for review.
Studio. Specialties: center-cut veal chop, roasted loin of lamb, chocolate soufflé. Entrées, $28 to $33; chef's six-course tasting menu, $95. Montage Resort, 30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach; (866) 271-6953. See Page 7 for review. Sugarplum Bakery has customers lining up for an array of pretty desserts. It takes confidence to open a cafe-bakery next to Starbucks, but co-owners Jenna Turner and Anna Delorefice (who is also the pastry chef) have done it. Specialties: cakes, fruit tarts, croissants, petits fours, cinnamon twists, cookies. Pastries $2 to $3; cakes and tarts, $26 to $35. 7122 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 934-7900.
Sunnin Lebanese Café. Specialties: kibbeh, hummus, shawarma, baba ghannouj, falafel, baklava. Entrées, $7 to $11. 1779 Westwood Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 477- 2358. See Page 18 for review.Sunshine Thai Cuisine, as bright and cheerful as it sounds, is one of the best Thai restaurants around because it caters to a mostly Thai clientele. Specialties: satay, green curry, spring rolls, mie gati (curry noodle dish), fried fish maw salad. Entrées, $5 to $9. 13212 Sherman Way, North Hollywood; (818) 764-6989.Sushi Nozawa. Chef's choice menu, $25 to $50. 11288 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 508-7017. See Page 23 for review.Sushi Roku in the heart of Old Town Pasadena is the third from this chain. The menu follows the same format as at the other two locales: cold or hot appetizers, salads, dinner entrées, tempura, soup and noodles and, of course, sushi. Specialties: clams steamed in sake, rock shrimp tempura. Entrées, $13 to $29. 33 Miller Alley, Pasadena; (626) 683-3000. Also in Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
Sushi Wasabe's chef makes all the choices—and diners approve. After all, his creations are abundant with subtle flourishes, ravishing to the eye as well as the palate. Specialties: raw shrimp and octopus, salmon, Canadian albacore, blue crab rolls. Sushi, $3 to $6. 14460 Newport Ave., Suite F, Tustin; (714) 505-3496.
S.W. Seafood & BBQ Restaurant features a mind-numbing range of dishes, plus 50 specials daily. What makes dining in Chinese restaurants such as this one so stimulating is that there's always something new to try. Specialties: double-delicacy shrimp, blossom platter (a cold-cut sampler of pork, chicken, duck and jellyfish). Entrées, $8 to $15. 5406-A Walnut Ave., Irvine; (949) 262-0128.Tail O' the Pup. Hot dogs, $2.50 to $3.30. 329 N. San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 652-4517. See Page 16 for review.
Tamales Liliana's is the stop if you're hungry for home-style Mexican cooking. Chilaquiles—fried tortilla strips smothered in green sauce—and the unusual Zacatecas-style peanut mole draw a crowd. Specialties: pork and chicken tamales, mole. Entrées, $2 to $6. 4619 Cesar E. Chavez Ave., East Los Angeles; (323) 780-0989.Tantra. Specialties: tandoori salmon kebab, green chicken tikka, lemon and chile scallops, catfish masala, lamb biryani. Entrées, $11 to $16. 3705 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 663-8268. See Page 18 for review.Taylor's Steakhouse serves a steak dinner at bear market prices. The servers are sassy, and the steaks—cut as thick as a baseball glove—are precisely cooked. Specialties: Molly salad, culotte (top sirloin), porterhouse T-bone, prime rib. Entrées, $10 to $25. 3361 W. 8th St., Koreatown; (213) 382-8449; 901 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge; (818) 790-7668.Thanh My, one of Little Saigon's oldest restaurants, offers a menu of more than 200 dishes that encompasses the breadth of Vietnamese cuisine. Specialties: bo 7 mon (seven courses of beef), sour shrimp soup, pho ap chao (shrimp, squid and beef with stroganoff-style noodles), goat, wild boar and venison skewer combos. Entrées, $5 to $26. 9553 Bolsa Ave., Westminster; (714) 531-9540.TiGeorges' Chicken offers moist, smoky chicken cooked Haitian-style on avocado and citrus woods and served with rice, beans, salad and hot sauce. Other attractions include the restaurant's jovial proprietor and a soundtrack of irresistible Haitian music. Entrées, $6 to $13. 309 N. Glendale Blvd., Echo Park; (213) 353-9994.Toad House focuses on pork, and it's served up in every way imaginable. Even pork skins are colorfully presented with red bell pepper, onions, mushrooms and chiles in a spicy-sweet red sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds. Specialties: pork skins, barbecued pork belly, pig's foot. Set menu, $15 per person. 4503 W. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 460-7037.
Toscana. Specialties: artichoke salad, risotto with wild mushrooms, bistecca fiorentina (Tuscan-style steak), ricotta cheesecake. Entrées, $18 to $34. 11633 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 820-2448. See Page 14 for review.
Trattoria Tre Venezie. Specialties: pasta, bollito misto (boiled beef), smoked ricotta ravioli, Venetian-style cooked cream. Entrées, $15 to $35. 119 W. Green St., Pasadena; (626) 795-4455. See Page 14 for review.Trio Ristorante. Specialties: passatelli (dumplings) in capon broth, cannelloni di crespelle (crepes stuffed with ricotta cooked chicory), tortino di parmigiano, spaghetti alla chitarra, lamb osso buco. Entrées, $23 to $27. 932 Huntington Drive, San Marino; (626) 588-2627. See Page 14 for review.
Troquet might be more at home on Paris' Left Bank than in the South Coast Plaza, but quelle chance! Tim Goodell's French bistro is just the place to repair after shopping. Specialties: foie gras, braised veal cheeks, Maine Bouchet mussels, sautéed calf's liver. Entrées, $18 to $26. 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa; (714) 708-6865.
Tsukiji. Specialties: halibut sashimi with umeboshi plum sauce, yellowtail, red snapper sushi. Sushi, $20 to $30 per person. 1745 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena; (310) 323-4077. See Page 23 for review.2087: An American Bistro serves bistro cuisine in a large contemporary dining room with the feel of a Napa Valley restaurant. The large wine list complements dishes that range from tandoori pork to New Zealand grouper. Specialties: Maryland crab cakes, duck spring rolls, Manila clams with linguine, bananas Foster. Entrées, $14 to $24. 2087 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; (805) 374-2087.2117. Entrées, $13 to $21. 2117 Sawtelle Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 477-1617. See Page 24 for review.U2 Cafe and B.B.Q. has a menu with a world of choice that blends influences from Asia and the West. Specialties: stir-fried shrimp and scallops, lamb curry, barbecued pork, pan-fried Spam with instant noodle, udon with sizzling seafood, cream crepes with almond and banana. Entrées, $5 to $13. 1200 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra; (626) 282-1800.Ubon. Entrées, $17 to $25. 8530 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 854-1115. See Page 24 for review.Udupi Palace is one of the few places that serves an inventive South Indian cuisine, which focuses on ingenious vegetarian dishes. Specialties: dosai (crepes), avail (vegetables in coconut sauce), bagala bhath (rice, yogurt and lentils), payasam (noodles, sweetened milk, nuts and raisins). Entrées, $3 to $7. 18635 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia; (562) 860-1950.
Uncle Darrow's Cajun Creole Eatery serves "The Big Easy"—a combination of fried catfish, shrimp and oysters—on Fridays and Saturdays. Specialties: red beans and rice, jambalaya, filé gumbo. Entrées, $7 to $23. 2560 S. Lincoln Blvd., Marina del Rey; (310) 306-4862.
Union Restaurant and Bar sets the scene for cocktails and cooing with commodious booths and lights turned down low. The food is classy supper club fare with a California contemporary flourish. Specialties: salad, tempura rock shrimp, corn chowder with littleneck clams, rack of lamb, butterscotch pudding. Entrées, $17 to $34. 1413 5th St., Santa Monica; (310) 656-9688.
Valentino. Specialties: culatello di Zibello, house-smoked swordfish carpaccio, risotto, pasta. Entrées, $24 to $32. 3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 829-4313. See Pages 12, 14 and 15 for reviews.
Vert from Wolfgang Puck is a brasserie that cooks up casual French fare with some Italian and California-inspired dishes mixed in. It's a great spot for a nosh and a drink. Specialties: fritto misto, steak tartare, sautéed sole, veal, New York steak au poivre, pan-roasted pork chop. Entrées, $14 to $24. Hollywood and Highland, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 411, Hollywood; (323) 491-1300.
Vien Dong turns out superior North Vietnamese cooking, and the regular menu features more than 80 choices. Specialties: goi mit (jackfruit salad with shrimp, herbs and sesame seeds), imperial spring rolls, fried sweet potatoes with shrimp. Entrées, $5 to $11. 14271 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove; (714) 531-8253.Village Tandoor is a substantial north Indian restaurant with a long menu of lamb, chicken, seafood and vegetarian dishes, not to mention all the usual tandoori specialties. Specialties: potato and vegetable pakoras, vegetable biryani (pilaf), chicken tikka masala, lamb curry. Entrées, $6 to $14. Northridge Center, 18530 Devonshire St., Northridge; (818) 366-2820.
Vincenti. Specialties: fried calamari and zucchini, grilled seppioline, pigeon with peperonata, spaghetti allo scoglio, scampi risotto, grilled orata, veal chop. Entrées, $12 to $38. 11930 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 207-0127. See Page 14 for review.
Water Grill features everything from the sea, both near and far. Under chef Michael Cimarusti, this once-moribund downtown seafood house has become the city's best. Specialties: oysters, clam chowder, tuna tartare, foie gras au torchon, Alaskan halibut, loup de mer, vanilla crème fraîche cheesecake. Entrées, $25 to $48. 544 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 891-0900.
Wei's specializes in fiery Sichuan cuisine, but it also serves Mandarin and Cantonese fare. Look to the house-specialties menu to snare the dishes that those in the know are eating. Specialties: stewed assorted pork, shrimp balls, kung pao shrimp, boiled salty duck, sizzling rice soup. Entrées, $7 to $12. 17046 Magnolia St., Fountain Valley; (714) 842-9778.
Western Smoke House ropes you into the Lone Star State with its kickin' décor and chow that's really smokin'. Specialties: Southern-fried eggplant, beef rib or pork rib dinner, smoked chicken dinner, barbecue burger, sweet potato fries, fried onions, peach cobbler, Key lime pie. Entrées, $9 to $17. 10640 Woodbine St., West Los Angeles; (310) 837-3544.
Whist, inside the Viceroy Hotel, is definitely an unconventional setting for what most people think of as fine dining. This hip restaurant is serious but fun. Specialties: foie gras au torchon, seared pork belly, skate with brown butter, duck breast, hand-chopped burger, chocolate pot de crème. Entrées, $16 to $36. 1819 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 260-7511.White Lotus. Entrées, $19 to $32. 1743 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 463-0060. See Page 6 for review.Xiomara features high-spirited Nuevo Latino food in a sleek bistro setting. Specialties: black bean soup, Nuevo Cubano salad, ceviche, Cuban-style tamale, seafood chupe, seared pork hash, spicy lamb shank, churrasco, Xiomara's Mambo (mojito). Entrées, $15 to $29. 69 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 796-2520.
Yakitori-ya. Specialties: chicken and vegetable skewers, grilled duck breast. Skewers, $2 to $3. 11301 Olympic Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 479-5400. See Page 24 for review.Yamabuki inside the Paradise Pier Hotel is really three restaurants: an elegant dining room, private tatami rooms, and a polished cedar sushi bar. Of the three, the sushi bar is by far the best—and the most economical. Specialties: marinated raw mackerel, broiled smelt, teriyaki, tempura, sushi. Entrées, $23 to $28. 1717 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim; (714) 239-5683.Yujean Kang's is more an Asian-themed bistro than the usual nondescript neighborhood Chinese restaurant. The Taiwan-born chef's style of cooking combines historical recipes and a willingness to experiment. Specialties: sautéed fish with kumquat and passion fruit sauce, Northern-style wonton soup, Chinese polenta, sliced pork, sweet red-bean pancake. Entrées, $12 to $32. 67 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 585-0855.
Zax appeals precisely because it offers what a genuine neighborhood spot should: real food and a relaxed, friendly ambience. Specialties: roasted beet salad, grilled jumbo asparagus, steamed Manila mussels, lemon-asparagus risotto, rib-eye steak, mixed berry napoleon, coffee and doughnuts. Entrées, $18 to $26. 11604 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 571-3800.
Zeke's Smokehouse is set apart by the quality of the meats and sides and the precision of the cooking. In addition to barbecue, you'll find made-from-scratch beans, a classic all-American potato salad and freshly made applesauce. Specialties: baby back ribs, spare ribs, brisket, pulled pork sandwich, hush puppies. Entrées, $7 to $20. 2209 Honolulu Ave., Montrose; (818) 957-7045.
Zov's Bistro is an emporium of wondrous bakery items and dishes that mingle the flavors of Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and North Africa. Specialties: hummus, baba ghannouj, gravlax, Armenian sausage, pork prime rib, pastries. Entrées, $11 to $24. 17440 E. 17th St., Tustin; (714) 838-8855.
Zucca looks the part of a big-city ristorante. Even at dinner, when downtown is often dead, Zucca is full of life, tables filled, a throng at the bar. Specialties: cold cuts platter, Sardinian "gnochetti," roasted striped bass, bistecca alla fiorentina, roasted lamb sirloin with purple artichokes, panna cotta. Entrées, $13 to $26. 801 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles; (213) 614-7800. *Research assistance by Sorina Diaconescu, Betsy Kelly, Heather Somers and Rachel Uslan.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun