Courtesy of Epicurious
8475 Melrose Pl. (West Hollywood)
French is where the food begins, but new chef Paul Shoemaker riffs from there. Choose between a four- or seven-course dinner (or a la carte). The dishes can be minimally described on the menu: One item is called green apple but—surprise—out comes an oyster shooter with green apple juice, carrot ice, and wasabi. The chef includes many extras, from exquisite hors d’oeuvres like tempura field greens with wasabi aïoli to freshly baked madeleines and glistening chocolates postdessert. House-made breads, such as warm bacon brioche or fennel, are sensational (as is the truffle butter). The wine list is serious, not snooty; you can order a $35 or $35,000 bottle with equal ease. The decor is both edgy (light bulbs with angel wings, black-and-white checked carpeting) and romantic (intimate rooms, standards soundtrack). Join the communal table on the patio—it’s golden for schmoozing with industry insiders and filthy-rich foodies. — JWH
Josiah Citrin is a master of French technique who marries ingredients procured at Santa Monica’s Farmers’ Market with superb meat and seafood. But beware: Citrin’s plates can go wild with truffles and Kobe beef—expect to pay dearly for such indulgences. Tan, toned Santa Monica residents call Mélisse home, but fans trek from everywhere for fab food, attentive service, and fine wine in a French-country-home setting. — JWH
Walt Disney Concert Hall
141 South Grand Ave. (Downtown), Los Angeles
Uber-chef Joachim Splichal may run a consortium of restaurants nationwide, but his heart belongs to Patina. Not a penny was spared creating his flagship restaurant, and deservedly so, as it’s housed in Frank Gehry’s magnificently designed concert hall. With soaring ceilings, richly polished wood, and soft linens, Patina makes a great first impression. Concert-goers and bank execs dine on riveting Cal-French fare such as Maine lobster tail with hon-shimeji mushrooms and pig’s trotters. Few resist the commendable cheese trolley, but only deep-pockets dare beckon the caviar cart. — JWH
5955 Melrose Ave. (Hollywood), Los Angeles
(E. 23rd St. and Madison Ave.)
The ocean is chef and co-owner Michael Cimarusti’s raison d’être, and he pursues this passion in both Providence’s menu and its elegant, evocative-of-the-sea decor. Artsy shell and corallike ceramics decorate the walls and ceilings, as if the restaurant were undersea. Cimarusti draws from French, Italian, Spanish, and Asian influences—whatever best enhances pristine fish caught from waters worldwide. Hawaiian big-eye tuna goes luxe with black truffles, and sweet Alaskan snow crab is gently stirred into lemony risotto. Couples celebrating special occasions and large groups love the three-, five-, and eight-course dessert tastings paired with wine. — JWH
401 North La Cienega Blvd. (West Hollywood), Los Angeles
David Myers calls his modern French cuisine “seasonally spontaneous,” but it’s so much more. This chef fixates on freshness and on transforming quirky combinations of ingredients into transcendental fare. With pairings like burrata tortelloni and gingered eggplant, tuna au poivre and braised oxtail, and chocolate beignets with star anise, Myers delivers every time. Sona is beautiful in an intimate, earthy, minimalist way—and the wine list boasts more than 2,200 offerings.— JWH
176 North Canon Dr., Beverly Hills
Wolfgang Puck rules his empire from this outpost, and when he’s around, he chats up everyone, from movie stars to tourists. When he’s not overseeing things, executive corporate chef Lee Hefter ensures every bite of California cuisine is a revelation. Spago always gets the best ingredients: Heirloom tomato salads taste more tomato-y, the white corn in mascarpone agnolotti is the sweetest. Composition of plates is often genius (white corn purée and mascarpone-mushroom emulsion make Alaskan halibut with caramelized corn, wild chanterelles, and bacon confit insanely good), yet tasting menus are where Spago really shines. Pastry chef Sherry Yard’s desserts—every darn one—take your breathe away. Look for celebs in booths along the wall or on the patio. No matter the day or hour, Spago always feels like a party. — JWH
8385 Beverly Blvd. (West Hollywood)
Hollywood up-and-comers head down from the Hills for quality sashimi at modest prices at this strip-mall joint. They compete with twentysomething shoppers from the nearby Beverly Center and serious sushiphiles for a seat in the cramped space (ten tables total), where Chef Hiroji Obayashi delights with vibrant daily specials like spicy seafood soup in squash cup and sautéed black mussels with garlic butter. Omakase dinners start at $38 a person.
Farmers’ Market, Stall 322
6333 West 3rd St. (West Hollywood)
At one of 17 seats at the L-shaped counter in this open-air Los Angeles Farmers’ Market, diners take in splendid views of chefs stuffing handmade tortillas and little old ladies making their rounds from butcher to baker, wooden shopping carts in tow. With its rumpled charm, the Market is quintessential old Hollywood, and Loteria adds a bit of Mexican spice. Handmade tortillas are stuffed with earthy chicken mole or spicy roasted corn and zucchini, and dishes such as tortilla soup and vegetables tacos are cheap and delicious. — KW
672 South La Brea Ave. (Miracle Mile)
Luna Park is the kind of neighborhood restaurant that’s perfect for a spontaneous brunch or dinner with friends. The space is vaguely industrial, but curtained booths and lots of candles make it welcoming for the mostly twenty- and thirtysomething couples and young families. The prices are another draw: Sophisticated entrées hover around $17 a pop and are a steal. Stop by for a Mojito at the bar, meet for goat cheese fondue, or savor grilled chicken with cornbread pudding and brown-butter sage Brussels sprouts. Nearby residents might even walk to food this good—even in Los Angeles. — CB
487 North Western Ave. (Koreatown)
Korean barbecue is an L.A. tradition, and this no-frills storefront serves some of the city’s best. Walk through the door, and you’re greeted by the smell of sizzling meat and smoking charcoal, along with the reassuring sight of numerous Korean patrons. On a grill at the table, you cook your own meats, from thinly sliced beef to pork marinated in garlic and sesame oil. But it’s the freshly made seasoning pastes and first-rate kim chee that set this place apart. And being your own short-order cook has its benefits: Dinner shouldn’t cost you more than $20 a person. — KW — MS
9523 Culver Blvd.
Sshh, don’t tell the owners that their prices are bargain-basement. How could they charge $10 for mesquite-grilled Angus flank steak or herb-brushed local albacore? A hearty tuna niçoise or chipotle barbecue chicken salad costs just one Hamilton, too. Tender Greens’ mostly organic menu and eco-friendly vibe attract parents pushing strollers, couples on dates, local professionals—everyone who likes inexpensive food that tastes good and is good for you, too. — JWH
8479 Melrose Ave. (West Hollywood)
You could mistake it for a neighborhood boîte in Paris—the butcher paper-topped tables, the wrapped wheels of cheese on the marble counter, the raw oysters on display. But this is comme Ça, a noisy brasserie by Sona’s David Myers. The restaurant is open all day and the crowd changes hourly. Owners of nearby boutiques tuck into scrambled eggs sprinkled with truffle salt at breakfast, chic shoppers do croque monsieur for lunch, and later, local foodie families from WeHo (West Hollywood’s nickname) sup on steak frites or bouillabaisse. The breads and pastries from Myer’s Boule pâtisserie are excellent, morning to night. In short, comme Ça is anything but comme ci, comme ça. — JWH
9411 Culver Blvd.
Plenty of the diners sipping Prosecco on Fraîche’s sidewalk terrace look as if they’d rather see and be seen than see any great food. Yet Jason Travi’s big, bold Mediterranean restaurant offers the chance for both schmoozing and eating well. His time in the kitchen at the formidable La Terza has taught him to make masterful pasta—tossed with braised rabbit, stinging nettles, and green olives—as well as oxtail ragoût. And as good as his food can be—especially the duck leg confit with Italian black rice and escarole, which, like most entrées here, hovers around $24—his wife’s Paris-Brest, an impossibly airy pastry sandwiching luscious almond cream, threatens to upstage it all. — IV
Nobu Los Angeles
903 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Nobu Matsuhisa has opened glam sushi palaces around the world—finally, he’s smokin’ back home. Nobu Los Angeles is 180 degrees from Matsuhisa, his modest first eatery (still going strong), and more ambitious than Nobu Malibu. Sushi here seems sexy—perhaps because the decor is so alluring, especially the inner courtyard with custom metal chandeliers mimicking the twinkling stars visible through the skylight. When you finally score a reservation at this celeb-magnet, bring a sky’s-the-limit credit card—you’ll need it. But all your favorites, like black cod with miso—the dish that launched a gazillion copies and put Nobu on the map—are here. — JWH
641 N. Highland Ave. (Hollywood)
When Mario Batali, New York’s king of lusty Italian food (Babbo, Lupa, Del Posto, etc.) hooked up with Nancy Silverton, the Left Coast’s queen of rustic breads and desserts (La Brea Bakery founder, ex-Campanile), Angelenos collectively swooned. Attorneys, ladies-who-lunch, and tourists all flock to the tiny rustic Pizzeria. That’s because the pies from Mozza’s blazing wood-burning oven are L.A.’s best. Squash blossom, creamy burrata, and tomato on a blistery crust is off-the-charts good. Purists get misty-eyed over the Margherita (basil, tomato, mozzarella, olive oil). Dessert lovers rave about the fig and raspberry brown-butter crostata. No res? Arrive before the noon opening and pray for a seat at the bar.— JWH
6602 Melrose Ave. (Hollywood)
You’ll often find Silverton at the Mozzarella Bar in the larger, somewhat grander Osteria Mozza next door. She’s always focused on fromage; sprinkling mustardy bread crumbs over burrata, arranging a mozzarella tasting plate just so. But most of the menu at this boisterous eatery—guests are loud and the music louder—is pure Mario. The dishes here are somewhat more polished (and expensive) than those at the adjacent pizzeria,. Sample fare: fresh ricotta and egg raviolo with browned butter, and beef brasato with horseradish gremolata. — JWH
8720 Sunset Blvd.
BLT stands for Bistro Laurent Tourondel. Tourondel is a tour de force; he conquered Manhattan (with BLT Steak, BLT Fish, and so on) and now he’s dazzling LA. BLT Steak is a glitterati hangout, where Old and New Hollywood collide. See blinged-up babes nibbling tuna tartare with Hollywood players, while glamazon models and record industry dealmakers posture over mango and dill cachaca coolers at the bar. The food—American steakhouse with a Gallic spin—is as splendid as the scene. Golden popovers, irresistibly flavored with Gruyère, are rushed hot from the oven to tables. And how heavenly to spoon roasted bone marrow and caramelized garlic over a plump, juicy rib eye. It’s easy to drop $100 a person, but with food this good and a crowd this exciting, you won’t care. — JWH
Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
9500 Wilshire Blvd.
In this modern dining room, everyone sees everyone, which suits celeb-gawkers just fine. Like Wolfgang Puck’s Spago BH, carnivorous sister CUT packs in the stars. Still, habitués such as Tom Cruise must share the limelight with fantastic food. Puck and co-executive chef Lee Hefter designed a steakhouse on steroids. Everything—flavors, aromas, the sense of luxury and abundance—is amped to the max. Bring a posse to taste-test American-bred Kobe-style beef versus true Japanese Wagyu, or Nebraska corn-fed prime steak alongside the same cut from Illinois. Sample starters and sides include maple-glazed pork belly, and creamy spinach topped with a softly fried organic egg. Of Sherry Yard’s desserts, the chocolate soufflé is the one to get. Ask sommelier Dana Farner to pair wine with each course for you. — JWH
246 North Canon Dr.
A small, pricey chain, Mastro’s is strictly old-school. The straightforward menu is reader-friendly and the service spot-on. In the mood for hand-cut prime meat? Knock yourself out with New York strip or a hefty veal porterhouse. They’re served with style, sizzling on 400-degree plates. Mastro’s iceberg wedge must be an entire head, while sides, like Colossal Onion Rings, are aptly named. Plan on exiting with a shopping bag of leftovers. Singles action for this Bentley bunch is upstairs by the piano bar; there’s live music and dancing nightly. The crowd is older than at hipster steakhouses, but they still know how to have a good time. — JWH
755 N. La Cienega Blvd. (West Hollywood)
See the paparazzi poised at the door? It’s your first clue that the sizzle at this NY import isn’t just from prime dry-aged steaks. Pouty young Hollywood stars and scenesters in killer sunglasses love the buzzy bar and terribly chic black-and-white dining room with a sky-high ceiling. The food and service is way better than you’d expect in such a trendy place. Crab and green melon salad, bone-in rib eye, roasted cauliflower with caramelized shallots—and especially, the Parmesan truffle fries—are standouts. Bread and desserts are less enthralling; probably a plus for this camera-conscious crowd.— JWH
3280 Helms Ave. (Culver City)
Artsy Westsiders love Beacon for Kazuto Matsusaka’s whimsical ways with mod Asian plates. Ahi tuna pizza with wasabi mayonnaise and pickled ginger, and five-spiced chicken salad drive guests wild. But everything at this industrial/modern café is good. (Small wonder: Matsusaka once ruled the kitchen at Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois on Main.) It’s hard to find food in L.A. that’s this fresh, flavorful, and inventive at such reasonable prices. Not surprisingly, Beacon is always crowded. Come on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, when a three-course prix-fixe dinner is only $27. — JWH
7450 Beverly Blvd. (Beverly/Fairfax)
A more casual take on his restaurant Grace, Neal Fraser’s bld is a favored hangout for locals. The name stands for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and that’s what you get: simple, well-executed food made from top-notch ingredients. Light streams through tall windows, glinting off the parade of baby carriages that pack the place on weekend mornings as families dig into cream-cheese-and-chive biscuits and fluffy ricotta pancakes punctuated with farmer’s-market blueberries. During lunch and dinner, cooks cram buns with plump patties (some made from Berkshire pork, others from turkey or dry-aged prime beef), toss plenty of veggie salads, and arrange the best cheese and charcuterie platters. If you’re feeling glum that youve downed the last bite of braised short rib panini with horseradish coleslaw, take comfort: You can start all over again the next morning. — IV
Little rattles laidback Angelenos, but we’d riot if In-N-Out Burger ever shuttered its doors. Thankfully, this hometown burger chain and drive-through—beloved since 1948—thrives. Devotees, a true cross-section of the city, cut across age, race, wealth, and occupation lines. In-N-Out may be L.A.’s only burger joint—or for that matter, restaurant—where neurosurgeons, handymen, Miley Cyrus fans, and Wayne Newton fans sit side by side. Nothing on the bare-bones menu is ever nuked or frozen; fries are made from fresh hand-cut spuds and shakes from real ice cream. Order the double-double (two beef patties, hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, two slices American cheese, freshly baked bun) for double delight. — JWH
Joan’s on Third
8350 West Third St. (West Hollywood)
Everyone eventually meets at Joan McNamara’s place, over granola parfaits at breakfast, buying turkey meatloaf to go, or simply to indulge in a sinfully moist chocolate cupcake, with icing piled perilously high. A gourmet marketplace and café favored by celebutantes and busy moms, Joan’s on Third shakes up its menu daily. Everything is made from scratch in-house. Tote a picnic box to the beach or Hollywood Bowl, and enjoy the looks of envy. — JWH
704 South Alvarado St. (Downtown)
Matzo ball soup, half-sour pickles, fluorescent lighting, Formica tabletops. This could be any deli of yesteryear on the Lower East Side of Manhattan—except for the view of McArthur Park Lake. Providing a taste of home for many a transplanted New Yorker, Langer’s specializes in perfectly peppery, tangy pastrami that arguably outshines that of its New York rivals. Don’t judge Langer’s by its sometimes sketchy neighborhood: Just go early, order the hot pastrami on rye with coleslaw and Russian dressing, and savor the experience. Better yet, phone ahead for curbside service and gobble the goods back home. — CB
8474 Melrose Ave. (West Hollywood)
Suzanne Goin’s rustic Mediterranean food is luscious, evocative of each season, and often tweaked with one unanticipated ingredient that induces all-out rapture; it’s not every day that your lamb comes with house-made merguez, grilled leeks, and salbixada (spanish chile paste), for example. Dine on the bucolic patio or in the cozy converted carriage house—it even has the rare L.A. fireplace. Wild striped bass with crushed fingerlings, and braised veal cheeks with faro and chestnuts are among the best entrées. Sunday suppers (three-course meals for $40) are especially affordable.— JWH
The Hungry Cat
1535 N. Vine St.
Revitalized Hollywood has its share of nightclubs, burger joints, and Thai restaurants. But until now, the neighborhood lacked a casual yet seriously good seafood spot. The Hungry Cat—pet project of married chefs Suzanne Goin (Lucques, A.O.C.) and David Lentz (formerly Opaline)—fills the void with small plates from the sea. With its industrial room, tiny open kitchen, and gutsy fare, it’s become a favorite with family brunchers, young couples, and off-duty chefs. You’ll be tempted to order everything on the menu, from the smoked-haddock chowder to the addictive lobster roll. — CB
8022 West 3rd St. (West Hollywood)
This pan-Mediterranean wine and food bar, which specializes in small plates, is the baby of Lucques chef Suzanne Goin. Order the rustic pãtés and the lamb skewers with sunchokes and niçoise olives, and you’ll see that sample sizes suit her just fine. The room is sleek, the long bar welcoming, and the staff knowledgeable and friendly. There are about 50 wines by the glass and many more by the bottle, most well chosen. It’s hard to get a bad pour here—and still hard after more than five years to get reservations. — KW
8221 Sunset Blvd.
Dinner is a nonguest’s ticket inside this otherwise impenetrable legendary-hotel-cum-movie-star-haunt. The restaurant is teensy, about ten tables. Better to dine in the courtyard, where you might eavesdrop on tabloid favorites, or in the mission-style lobby, where everyone crosses your path. The modern American food is good (especially daily specials like sage, date, and pistachio-stuffed pork tenderloin), so even if you dont spot Cameron, Jake, or Reese, your evening is still swell. — JWH
9071 Santa Monica Blvd.
With its old-school Italian waiters, red leather booths, and checkered tablecloths, Dan Tana’s ought to be just another Rat Pack–themed tourist trap. But somehow, this local landmark, serving martinis and red sauce since 1964, remains one of a kind. A baby Drew Barrymore had her diaper changed in one of the booths. The Eagles wrote the lyrics to “Best of My Love” here. Phil Spector left a $500 tip the night he allegedly committed murder. These days, hungry starlets and tattooed rockers are known to drop in for a New York steak or the chicken Parmigiana. — CB
113 North Robertson Blvd. (Beverly Hills)
More stage than restaurant, this is where the stars go when they want/need to be seen making deals, making friends, or breaking up. Paparazzi have permanent posts outside, ready to capture camera-ready celebrities after they’ve ravaged nearby boutiques. Request a table outside; The action takes place here. The menu—American food with a Louisiana accent—rarely changes. Svelte stars have been chowing down on crab cakes, fried chicken, and Cajun prime rib for years, or at least pretending to. — CB