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5 Restaurants to Try This Weekend in Los Angeles

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Your handy guide on where to eat from the editors at Eater LA

Pork belly lechon at Ma’am Sir
Pork belly lechon at Ma’am Sir
Matthew Kang

Every Friday our editors compile a trusty list of recommendations to answer the most pressing of questions: “Where should I eat?“ Here now are five places to check out this weekend in Los Angeles. And if you need some ideas on where to drink, check out the weekend bar guide.

December 27, 2019

For a semi-hidden Hawaiian-Japanese surprise: Bachan’s Take Out

Bachan’s Take Out food in a takeout box.
Bachan’s Take Out
Farley Elliott

Bachan’s Take Out is a quiet neighborhood favorite for Rosemead in the San Gabriel Valley. The few-frills spot offers a sprawling menu of Hawaiian and Japanese favorites, from teriyaki chicken and char siu sandwiches to styrofoam containers filled with short ribs, pepper steak, or furikake ahi. Be sure to spring for a side of fries with Japanese curry, too. 1324 Portero Grande Dr., Rosemead. —Farley Elliott

For a Burbank breakfast burrito must: Larry’s Chili Dog

Larry’s Chili Dog breakfast burrito held in a hand with a yellow background.
Larry’s Chili Dog breakfast burrito
Farley Elliott

Nothing gets locals fired up like a good debate over breakfast burritos. In Burbank, it’s all about which side of the fence you sit on: Larry’s Chili Dog, or Corner Cottage. Expect fewer potatoes (and smaller lines) at Larry’s, the vintage destination along Burbank Boulevard, which serves the wonderfully proportional, egg-heavy burritos daily until 11 a.m. 3122 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank. —Farley Elliott

For yet more bagels in LA: Unity Bagels

Unity Bagels bagel with lox in Downtown LA
Unity Bagels Downtown
Farley Elliott

There’s a new bagel specialist operating on Sundays in Downtown. The stop, called Unity Bagels, works out of a bright yellow tent inside the Historic Core’s midday farmers market, turning out handmade bagels with a variety of toppings, schmears, and sandwich configurations. The Nemo, with lox, is a great starter option for those looking to try a new weekend bagel outfit. Sundays only, 5th and Broadway, Downtown. —Farley Elliott

For a neighborhood restaurant that never fails on Melrose Avenue: Ronan

Marinara pizza with anchovies on a white plate at Ronan
Marinara pizza with anchovies at Ronan
Wonho Frank Lee

What’s better than a wood-fired pizza and some terrific grilled things to finish off the year? Ronan does this in spades at their dynamic, cocktail-happy Melrose hideaway with playful takes on Neapolitan pizza as the main menu feature. Start off with grileld oysters and chicken liver pate then order up the pescado zarandeado “banchan-style”, a dish that might be the quintessential amalgam of LA’s distinctive flavors. Seriously, what could be more LA than Sinaloan-style grilled fish with an array of Korean-like side dishes? 7315 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For modern Filipino cooking in bustling Silver Lake: Ma’am Sir

Pork belly lechon at Ma’am Sir
Pork belly lechon at Ma’am Sir
Matthew Kang

As the months go by, Charles Olalia’s Silver Lake restaurant Ma’am Sir continues to figure out what works on its menu. Longanisa pork sliders, uni-topped lumpia Shanghai, and sizzling plates of sisig stay on the bill of fare while some newer dishes like lamb kaldereta, seabass sinigang, and pork belly lechon do a fine job of interpreting the Filipino cuisine canon for the Angeleno diner. That tangy sinigang, with its warm comforting broth and delicate fish, might be the best thing to eat during these chilly winter LA days. 4330 W. Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake. —Matthew Kang

December 20, 2019

For an excellent deli sandwich on house-made bread that rivals Bay Cities: Heroic Deli

An Italian sandwich piled high with meats on a wooden board.
For an excellent deli sandwich on house-made bread that rivals Bay Cities: Heroic Deli
Mathew Kang

Sometimes all you need is a great sandwich, whether it’s a weekday or the weekend. Heroic Deli has been quietly open for a year in Santa Monica without too much fanfare, but its OMG sandwich, a nod to classic Italian sandwiches made with imported meats and house-made bread, is the thing to get. Smear on some of the Calabrian chile sauce and enjoy with freshly fried chips. While Bay Cities nearby certainly has the nostalgia factor and travels well to picnic spots or beach hangouts, Heroic’s sandwich is far superior head-to-head. And if it’s that kind of a weekend, opt for a glass of wine because the selections are fantastic for the price. 516 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA —Matthew Kang

For hot chicken the Westside way: Huckleberry

A plate of fried chicken with carrot sticks and fries.
For hot chicken the Westside way: Huckleberry
Farley Elliott

Santa Monica’s Huckleberry is known for its brunch-time basics, from those impossibly perfect pancakes to eggs, coffee, and other morning musts. Recently though, the team has reintroduced fried chicken specials on Thursday and Friday nights, this time with a hot chicken kick. It’s a simple enough premise given the ubiquity of hot chicken around LA these days, but the Huck team really succeeds with varying degrees of spice and presentation options. Even the kids can get in on the action with a chicken tender plate spiced any which way one pleases. Check it out tonight, or next Thursday or Friday. 1014 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. —Farley Elliott

For soul-warming Korean goat stew: Mirak

Here at Mirak, goat comes grilled, roasted, and stewed. The latter is the most popular even though it barely drops below 50 degrees in Los Angeles. Before the main attraction arrives, bunches of banchan scatter the table. The stew lands on the table soon after, gurgling and boiling upon a burner. The steaming hot broth has a distinct gamey flavor from the meat and a slight kick from the chiles. For extra oomph, dip the goat in the mixture of mustard seeds, hot mustard, chili sauce, and scallions. As you make your way to the bottom of the stew, one of the lovely waitresses will prepare a dried seaweed and kimchi fried rice in its dredges. Save room for this unbeatable final course. 1134 S Western Ave. #A2, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For a brunch worthy of the holiday season: Hippo

LA Times reviewer Bill Addison gave the collective group of Highland Park restaurants and cafe the perfect name: the Hippoplex. That includes Go Get Em Tiger, Highland Park Wine Shop, Triple Beam Pizza, and Hippo. Chef Matt Molina assembled a delicious menu for dinner, but his brunch and a holiday weekend were kind of meant for each other. Sit out on the patio and take the $1 gluten-free pancakes (which was not missed by those who love gluten), the lush ricotta and egg raviolo, or those incredible biscuits. Ask for them the second you sit down since they take 20 minutes to prepare. The whipped honey butter spreads perfectly on those buttermilk-filled biscuits, right in the middle of a busy Highland Park corridor. 5916 1/2 N Figueroa St, Highland Park. —Mona Holmes

For a new bagel contender that isn’t here to mess around: Hank’s Bagels

Cross-section of bagel sandwich with cream cheese and lox.
For a new bagel contender that isn’t here to mess around: Hank’s Bagels
Farley Elliott

Los Angeles a great bagel town? Maybe not historically, but the future sure looks bright thanks to loads of newcomers across the city. That’s particularly true of the new Hank’s Bagels in Burbank, which only opened a few weeks ago but is already turning lots of local heads. Stop into the small mostly takeaway space for handmade bagels (the everything is a natural win) and sandwich options that can include everything from a fried egg and bacon to gravlax and cream cheese with capers. Come find out what Burbank has been buzzing about this season. 4315 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank. —Farley Elliott

December 13, 2019

For buttermilk pancakes and giant windows to watch the city: Pann’s Restaurant

Pann’s 2
Pann’s Restaurant
Wonho Frank Lee

Pann’s Restaurant is a historic spot known for its Googie architecture and lengthy Inglewood-Westchester residency. The food provides an extra reason to visit — the fried chicken and pies are always worth ordering, while the fluffy buttermilk pancakes and incredible Texas French toast are generously portioned. Request a seat by the giant windows and take in the restaurant’s tropical plants and exposed stone walls, lovingly designed by legendary local architect Helen Liu Fong. 6710 S La Tijera Blvd., Inglewood. —Mona Holmes

For a great, casual meal that feels like timeless LA: Lancers Family Restaurant

Burbank’s Lancers Family Restaurant is perfect in that way that so many LA restaurants are perfect. It’s expansive, comfortable, and filled with always-there diners who are very much a part of the fabric of the place. The institutional decades-old restaurant has been feeding these same folks for more than a generation, offering diner staples and weekend brunch to hundreds every week. Restaurants like this matter so much to the communities they serve; it’s good to see Lancers holding on. 697 N. Victory Blvd., Burbank. —Farley Elliott

For some of the city’s best pizza: Ronan

There’s no more hiding for Ronan, the upstart Italian restaurant on Melrose that sits tucked away partially down a parking lot entrance next to the Groundlings theater. The restaurant, which turns out some of the city’s best wood-fired pizzas and has a full bar offering up stiff cocktails, has recently been given a facelift thanks to a big new hanging sign that overlooks the main shopping thoroughfare. Between that and all the positive press the place has gotten in the past year, it’s safe to say the word is out on Ronan, one of LA’s better casual Italian restaurants — and that’s saying a lot, given the proliferation within the genre across Southern California. Stop in for a pizza, a calzone, or a drink soon. 7315 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott

For hot soup and slammin’ coffee in Leimert Park: Hot & Cool Cafe

Anthony Jolly’s Leimert Park spot has all the elements of a successful cafe. It’s spacious yet cozy, there’s almost always a seat, the honey lattes are only slightly sweet, and provide something not served at most coffee houses: soup. And since the temperature is not headed above 70 degrees in the next seven days, try Jolly’s coconut lentil soup or double-bean chili, while taking in the heart of Leimert on Degnan Boulevard. It still feels like an old-school city street filled with black-owned businesses in this historic LA neighborhood. 4331 Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park. —Mona Holmes

For a Westside meal that (maybe literally) has it all: Birdie G’s

Chef Jeremy Fox has found his dream restaurant in the new Birdie G’s in Santa Monica. It just turns out that his dream is a massive dual-spaced powerhouse with dozens of different items on the menu, including classics like matzo ball soup and newcomers like Texas-style toast with soft sweetbreads on top. There’s something for everyone at this hidden gem well away from the water, which makes Birdie G’s the perfect weekend meal for any occasion. Just be sure to take time to savor the space, from the rustic family touches inside the big main dining room to the more intimate bar and outdoor patio area. This is Fox’s dream, after all; why not linger a while? 2421 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. —Farley Elliott

December 6, 2019

For a warm fireside dinner on a blistering winter weekend: Fia

Santa Monica’s Fia has already become one of the Westside’s most popular new dinner spots, with a gorgeous ambiance and a new covered patio that shields diners from chilly winter nights. Brendan Collins still pumps out well-executed, wide-ranging fare, from a truffle-dusted cavatelli to grilled lamb ribs. The starters here feel more buoyant, from hamachi crudo and kanpachi poke to a chicken liver pate that won’t weigh you down. The large whole grilled dorade doesn’t necessarily fit in with the more winterized menu, but picking off tender fish chunks for build-your-own tacos does make the meal more interactive. And all of Vincenzo Marianella’s great cocktails are the best way to wash it all down. If there was ever a place to take the parents (especially the ones who will pick up the hefty tab), this is the holiday dinner of choice. 2454 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica. —Matthew Kang

For a cozy weekend lunch with coffee and wine alike: Bar Avalon

Echo Park’s relatively new Bar Avalon has been flying under the radar since basically day one. The muted corner strip mall location inside the redone Mohawk Collective development on Sunset means that the neighborhood is finding the restaurant slowly, trickling in for espressos from one of Atlanta’s prominent roasters Revelator Coffee. There’s wine too, of course, this being the nexus of LA’s natural wine movement, and a winding brunch menu that moves from pastries and eggs to salads, BLTs, and beyond. Bonus points for parking, too. 2112 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. —Farley Elliott

For a shopping break at The Grove: Singapore’s Banana Leaf

Considering Singapore’s strong tradition of hawker centers, it seems appropriate that one of L.A.’s only Singaporean restaurants is located at a stall inside the Original Farmers Market. The roti paratha, grilled bread served with vegetarian curry, is flaky and filling. The beef and chicken satay skewers served with peanut sauce make for a solid main course, as do any of the curries. Those in the know get the mee goreng (pan-fried noodles) with an egg on top. All dishes are served on a banana leaf, of course. 6333 W 3rd St #122, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For a tasting menu holiday treat: Trois Mec

December is the best time to splurge on a fancy, but attainable meal, and Trois Mec’s $125 tasting menu is certainly within reach of those celebrating special occasions or the rare night off without the kids. The menu starts out with an array of snacks, from truffle-hinted fried tapioca to a warming chestnut soup. A sliver of turbot comes wrapped with a crisp pastry, while the incredible seared duck breast entree balances sweet citrus and argon oil. Trois Mec continues to deliver one of LA’s most approachable, and likable, tasting menus with an intimate setting that allows diners to interact with kitchen staff. And for the holidays, the room is dressed up with a cactus strung with Christmas lights. 716 N Highland Ave., Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For a killer sandwich when you need it most: Ba Le Sandwiches

Don’t forget to bring cash to Ba Le, the long standing corner strip mall banh mi spot in Alhambra. This simplistic takeaway only trades in dollars and fine sandwiches on house-made baguettes, slathered in pate and sliced meats and fresh greens. It’s hard to go wrong with the dozen-or-so available options found on the photo-heavy menu board above the register; just pick what pops, and enjoy in the parking lot alongside a sub-$2 pork pie, a drink, or any other array of takeout snacks. 1426 S. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra. —Farley Elliott

November 22, 2019

For a timeless Italian dinner: Angelini Osteria

Gino Angelini, one of Los Angeles’s most celebrated chefs, captures the flavors and spirit of Italy at this neighborhood osteria. After a hugely successful career in the old country cooking for everyone who’s anyone including the Pope and Pavoratti, Chef Angelini came to Los Angeles in 1995 as chef of Rex in Downtown and Vincenti Restaurant in Brentwood. He opened Angelini Osteria in 2001 after deciding to make the city his permanent home. Staying true to the spirit of an osteria, the restaurant isn’t too fussy. The food is simple and thoughtfully executed, while the room is plain comfortable. 7313 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For a sandwich with neighborhood connections: Perry’s Joint

A sandwich and a hot dog.
For a sandwich with neighborhood connections: Perry’s Joint
Farley Elliott

Altadena folks have loved Perry’s Joint on Lincoln for years. The Pasadena-border casual restaurant traffics in simple-seeming sandwiches, hot dogs, and ice cream, but it’s the 15-year-old restaurant’s “fusion” menu board that draws the most eyeballs. Stop in for an easy turkey sandwich or Detroit-style chili dog, or lean in to something bigger with the Hey Joe, which comes with roast beef, pastrami, cheese, and a split hot link on top. 2051 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena. — Farley Elliott

For a quick Culver City taco stop: Cerveteca

Two tacos to-go.
For a quick Culver City taco stop: Cerveteca
Mona Holmes

Hunger happens, especially when rushing through Los Angeles on an empty stomach. So when it hits, it’s necessary to find a place that’s easy, delicious, and can take the edge off. Culver City’s Cerveteca can help, especially with its skin-on salmon taco with aji amarillo and pico de gallo, and shrimp taco with habanero aioli. Within 10 minutes, I was happily replenished and headed back to my car to resume a cross-town drive. But if not in a hurry, sit on the open patio with a Jarritos and watch life on Venice Boulevard go by. 9418 Venice Blvd Culver City. —Mona Holmes

For a party with a meal attached: Hamburger Mary’s

Everyone knows Hamburger Mary’s, the West Hollywood LGBTQ institution known for burgers, stiff cocktails served in leggy plastic cups, and for one heck of a weekend brunch. The latter features lots of musical numbers, drag queens who keep the crowds rolling, and lots of freewheeling menu items including nachos, chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, salads, and beyond. There may be no more energetic weekend meal than this one. 8288 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. —Farley Elliott

For classic Mexican seafood under a shady tree: Rico’s Mar Azul Mariscos

A seafood tostada on a plate.
For classic Mexican seafood under a shady tree: Rico’s Mar Azul Mariscos Truck
Cathy Chaplin

This splashy blue truck stationed in an idyllic park off Figueroa specializes in Mexico City-style seafood preparations. The concise menu lists tostadas, cocteles, and little else. The tostada de pulpo, with its creamy white sauce reminiscent of tzatziki, abundance of avocado, and octopus chunks, can be unwieldy to eat but worth every messy bite. The cocteles, which are made with shrimp, abalone, octopus, or a combination of the three, swim in a sweetly-tinged tomato sauce. Every dish is priced well under $10. 4702 North Figueroa St., Highland Park. —Cathy Chaplin

November 15, 2019

For seafood snacks in a simple space: Found Oyster

Lobster roll with french fries.
For seafood snacks in a simple space: Found Oyster
Farley Elliott

The weekend party at Found Oyster in East Hollywood is an absolute delight. The unassuming space, set off with muted sea-inspired color tones and plenty of sunlight, fills on weekends with locals ready to toss back lobster rolls (done here with a tasty bisque sauce), clam chowder, steamers, and of course freshly shucked oysters imported from the East Coast. Beer and wine and an even bigger menu will come soon enough; for now it’s all about the simple snacking party inside, available Friday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. 4880 Fountain Ave., East Hollywood. —Farley Elliott

For island flavor and flare: Natraliart Jamaican Restaurant and Market

Natraliart might not look like much from the outside, or even from the inside for that matter, but the fantastic Jamaican cooking found here makes up for any aesthetic shortcomings. Enter through the small and tidy market and make your way to the front counter where owner Charles Forrester is at your service. While the peppery jerk chicken is certainly popular, the menu offers much more in the way of island specialties. The goat is especially fabulous with its mild heat and curry rub. The ackee and cod fish, Jamaica’s national dish, combines imported ackees (a type of starchy fruit) with cod fish and spices in delicious fashion. 3426 West Washington Blvd., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For a grand time and fantastic meal in Culver City: Roberta’s

A pizza in the oven.
For a grand time and fantastic meal in Culver City: Roberta’s

Watching Roberta’s transition from afternoon to night is a delight. As Iggy Pop blares from the PA, the colorful space is a bright spot to eat lunch. It takes on a whole other mood after the sun sets, converting to a somewhat sexy vibe with smiling faces all around. That’s the scene at Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Culver City. A truly great dining room and lengthy bar with some of the city’s best wood-fired pizza, along with a truly impressive oxtail dish. If coming on the weekend, be prepared to wait. Head to the bar and order the night or morning cocktail with tequila avocado, pineapple, cilantro, chili, and sea salt. 8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City. —Mona Holmes

For Downtown decadence in a new space: M.Georgina

The exterior of M. Georgina, a bright new warehouse-y restaurant.
For Downtown decadence in a new space: M.Georgina
Wonho Frank Lee

What a beauty the new M.Georgina at the Row is. The bright corner restaurant comes by way of San Francisco chef Melissa Perello, who carries along her Michelin star pedigree and a slew of talented staffers from the Bay Area. The result is an upscale casual restaurant that feels fit for almost any occasion, and a menu that offers a little something for everyone. There’s the contechino ragout, the wood-baked black cod, and plenty of starters, cocktails, and wine pours in between. Make it a night out at one of LA’s most anticipated new restaurants, now open and ready to shine. 777 Alameda St., Downtown. —Farley Elliott

For all that’s sugar-coated and deep-fried: Mr. Churro

The jewel of Olvera Street is Mr. Churro, a small shop specializing in Mexican-style deep-fried churros. Each one is fried to order, coated in granulated sugar, and piped with all sorts of wonderful fillings including fresa (strawberry), cajeta (caramel), crema (custard), and chocolate. The sticky caramel made from goat’s milk is the most irresistible of the lot. What makes Mr. Churro’s signature crueler extra special is its delightful texture; custardy innards paired with warm caramel and a crisp exterior make for a supremely satisfying specimen. 15 Olvera St., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

November 8, 2019

For minimalist pasta that surprises at every bowl: Uovo

Plate of red sauce pasta on a white plate at Uovo. Tonnarelli amatriciana at Uovo.
Wonho Frank Lee

From its dense but slightly chewy fresh pasta made all the way in Italy to the intensely rich tomato-based sauce, the tonnarelli all’amatriciana at Uovo isn’t just one of the best bowls of pasta in Los Angeles because it’s $16. It’s one of the best pastas in the city period. There’s meaty heft coming from the pasta’s guanciale, so expect to get fairly full with just one order. Uovo’s new Mid-Wilshire location makes the casual restaurant a lot more accessible to non-Westsiders, which is good news for anyone east of the 405. Other terrific pastas include the tortellini in brodo and the tagliatelle al ragu, though the artichoke ravioli might have less mass appeal. If there’s one thing lacking at Uovo, it’s a salad to start the meal. It might not be traditional, and it might not make sense operationally, but it would be nice to get a little roughage with all the carbs. Because there will be many, many carbs. 6245 Wilshire Blvd Suite 103, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For a delicious and reliable meal: Dune

Dune is one of those LA standbys that works for any mood, with an accessible location in Downtown and a second in Atwater Village. Dune makes it easy to choose something incredible whether one is a newcomer or a regular. Keeping most of the menu organic is a nice touch, but so is the variation on tradition. Middle Eastern platters might offer lamb accompanied by pickled turnips and radishes, marinated cabbage and onions, olives, lemon turmeric yogurt, and plenty of garlicky toum. Dune’s fried chicken shawarma satisfies deeply and may even prevent one from trying something new on the menu. 3143 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village. —Mona Holmes

For fast-food chicken wings with Korean flare: Kyochon Chicken

Nineteen years ago in a small shop in Gumi, South Korea, a restaurant owner named Kwon Won Kang added his own savory garlic-soy dressing to double-fried wings and drumsticks, and the specialty known as yangnyeom dak (Korean fried chicken) took off as a fast-food phenomenon. Today, the business Kwon founded, called Kyochon, has more than 1,000 outlets worldwide and half a dozen branches in Los Angeles. The wings and drumsticks are unfailingly juicy inside, crunchy on the outside, and glazed with one of two delicious house sauces: hot-sweet or garlic-soy. The heat from the hot-sweet glazed ones has a way of lingering on the palate, so be sure to eat pickled daikon radishes to quell the burning. 3833 West 6th St., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For unsung late night tacos in West Adams: Bee Taqueria

What’s more fun than stumbling into a taqueria at 10 p.m.? Virtually nothing. And if you’re willing to venture to a sleepy block of West Adams, Bee Taqueria and its bright, expansive outdoor environs are waiting. Chef Alex Carrasco, who comes from Mexico City and has experience at places like Osteria Mozza, prepares reasonably priced tacos boasting handmade blue corn tortillas stuffed with skirt steak, shredded lamb, and slow-braised pork. The menu’s best bite might be the sanguches, crushable little tortas lined with beans, onion, smoked ham, and aioli that would allay any overindulgent drinking. Bee Taqueria is open until 2 a.m. on weekends, according to its schedule, though it’s best to show up earlier in case staff closes a bit earlier than expected. 5754 W Adams Blvd., Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For pizza that never fails to satisfy: Olio Wood-Fired Pizzeria

Most Neapolitan-style pizzas suffer from unfortunately soggy centers, but here at Olio the pies hold its paper-thin heads up high. The aptly named Margherita Plus brings together crushed tomatoes, burrata, Grana Padano, fresh basil, and basil infused olive oil on a crisp yet chewy crust. The pristine ingredients simply shine, while the charring isn’t overwhelming. The gooey fresh mozzarella makes this simple production memorable. 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

November 1, 2019

For a fanciful pasta tasting session in charming El Segundo: Jame Enoteca

It’s been a few months since I last visited Jame Enoteca and the place still retains its charm. Chef Jackson Kalb takes big swings with a multitude of handmade, house-produced pastas like a cacio e pepe, pesto mandilli, and spicy rigatoni alla vodka. Most of the pastas are very good, though some, like the ricotta cavatelli, lack a firm bite. Others like the capellini are sure to please both young and old alike with its 36-hour tomato sauce and gentle strands. The salads push boundaries of how many leaves can fit onto a plate, unlike many appetizer-sized salads at other restaurants that barely dent one’s appetite. What I truly love about Jame is its insistence on pleasing regulars who don’t need a lesson in Italian food. 241 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245 —Matthew Kang

For a taste of Ensenada stateside: Ricky’s Fish Tacos

For a genuine taste of Baja without traveling across the border, look no further than Ricky’s Fish Tacos. What started as a weekends-only, one-man stand just off Sunset Junction has grown into a full-fledged street food operation tucked into a parking lot at the cross section of East Hollywood, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake. Ricky Piña, the grandmaster of fish tacos in Los Angeles, makes ‘em just like they do down in Ensenada. Tender slabs of basa, a type of catfish from Vietnam, are battered and deep-fried in a comal (a thick-lipped frying vessel) before meeting a warm, griddled corn tortilla. Ricky tops the entire package off with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and crema, a thin sauce of mayonnaise and milk, before delivering it to diners. Follow @RickysFishTacos on Twitter for schedule and location updates. —Cathy Chaplin

For a healthy dose of french fries with savory toppings galore: Mr. Fries Man

Mr. Fries Man, aka Craig Batiste, built a business on his love of fries. Since 2016, the Gardena business continues to pile an overwhelming amount of toppings on an already healthy serving of french fries. Batiste’s fries are legendary, with combinations like fries with honey-garlic surf and turf, and this week’s special, cheesy garlic lobster fries. Batiste’s are savory, comforting, and photograph well. Which explains why Batiste’s Instagram feed has over 261,000 followers. It doesn’t hurt that Batiste has the support of LA celebrities who simply love his food. In 2016, late rapper Nipsey Hustle posted an Instagram photo of Batiste’s lemon garlic shrimp fries. Since then, Mr. Fries man remains a viral sensation with the goods to back it up. 14800 S. Western Ave #108, Gardena. —Mona Holmes

For a gorgeous escape to a Parisian bistro in the Valley: Petit Trois

Steak frites at Petit Trois
Steak frites at Petit Trois
Matthew Kang

Petit Trois’s Melrose location has all the charm of a tiny back-alley bistro in Paris, but its Valley counterpart has the high ceilings and look of a grand brasserie, replete with a wooden bar and well-dressed service staff. The culinary ambitions are a little grander here too, with pastries and breakfast sandwiches in the morning and a multitude of salads for lunch. A handy daytime prix fixe menu includes a ridiculously good steak frites with some of the best golden brown fries in town. The steak, charred nicely and smothered with dense au poivre sauce, has all the proper balance of seasoning and beefy richness. A recent visit revealed some inconsistencies, with the usually amazing burger served on stale and dense brioche, that isn’t typical of an experience here. But the gorgeous Napoleon dessert, with its plump piped vanilla cream, offered a nice fin to the meal. 13705 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks. —Matthew Kang

For a belly-filling chicken plate: Dinos’s Chicken and Burgers

A chicken platter from Dino’s Chicken & Burgers
A chicken platter from Dino’s Chicken & Burgers
Wonho Frank Lee

The Byzantine-Latino Quarter of Los Angeles is a vibrant synergy of Greek, Mexican, and Central American cultures. This unique “BLQ” spirit is captured best at Dino’s Chicken and Burgers, a 40-year-old fast food joint with roots in Patras. Crowds queue up at all hours of the day for the grilled pollo maniaco, an impressively moist bird that’s crisp and charred and caramelized in all the right places. The signature marinade, a fluorescent blend of garlic, spices, and vinegar, comes from an old family recipe that Dino Pantazis brought with him from Greece. The formula has been tweaked over the years to fit local tastes with warm corn tortillas accompanying every order. 2575 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

October 25, 2019

For comfortable vegan dining that isn’t just comfort food: Crossroads

Crossroads Bowl with fermented vegetables and chopped salad on the side.
For comfortable vegan dining that isn’t just comfort food: Crossroads
Farley Elliott

Los Angeles is mad for vegan food right now, and given the health benefits and climate change concerns, the scene shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. And while there are a ton of newcomers to the space, Crossroads on Melrose has been doing it for more than half a decade. Chef Tal Ronnen’s and his team’s ability to recreate everyday dishes with a vegan lens is remarkable. Ronnen and company know what they’re doing with vegetables, like the simple Crossroads Bowl with fermented vegetables and chopped salad on the side. It’s satisfying without being decadent, and great for an easy LA lunch. 8284 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott

For perfect mariscos from an old-school favorite: Mariscos Jalisco

A plate of Mexican style seafood tostada.
For perfect mariscos from an old-school favorite: Mariscos Jalisco
Mona Holmes

As one of LA’s oldest and most respected food trucks, Mariscos Jalisco’s staying power is in its simplicity. Everything on the menu is outstanding, the prices are right, and you’ll be served and on your way within 15 to 20 minutes. The poseidon tostada is an eye-catching and filling tribute to the god of the sea, with a heaping pile of octopus, shrimp aguachile, ceviche, topped with avocado and fresh salsa. Ask for guidance from staff if unsure on what to order, or ask for the deep-fried taco dorado with shrimp stuffed inside a deep-fried shell. With multiple trucks and an actual brick-and-mortar location in Pomona, owner Raul Ortega makes it easy to locate some of LA’s best mariscos. East 10th Street and Towne Avenue, Los Angeles. —Mona Holmes

For gourmet doughnuts with a Japanese bent: Café Dulce,

Here in Los Angeles, it seems like every city block claims at least one mom and pop doughnut shop selling the usual French crullers and frosted maple bars. Head to Café Dulce for a doughnut experience that thinks outside the pink bakery box with intriguing flavors like green tea, macadamia caramel, frosted bacon, and spirulina churro. The custard-filled, sugar-crusted green tea doughnut is the shop’s best seller and not-to-be-missed. 134 Japanese Village Plaza, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For innovative, modern Filipino cooking in Chinatown: LASA

A bowl of mushroom sisig.
For innovative, modern Filipino cooking in Chinatown: LASA
Matthew Kang

Lasa in Chinatown is everything that’s great about eating in LA right now, from its funky, humble interior made to resemble to chic Eastside apartment to the flavorful Filipino food that does an incredible job of bending the genre. Traditionalists might balk at the presentation or ingredient choices, but chef Chad Valencia produces some of the most delicious takes on Filipino dishes in LA, from the mushroom sisig atop crispy rice to the coconut-tinted bicol express. 727 N Broadway #120, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For unexpected tacos in the Valley: Pablito’s Tacos

A plate with a taco covered in salsa.
For unexpected tacos in the Valley: Pablito’s Tacos
Farley Elliott

Pablito’s has been steadily growing its Valley presence this past year, thanks in part to an innovative idea: mixing Peruvian flavors, like pollo a la brasa and lomo saltado, with Mexican tacos and plenty of cheese for good measure. Thankfully, the Pablito’s truck on Burbank Boulevard — parked in front of Pablito’s Kitchen, a standalone Peruvian restaurant — makes its tortillas by hand and adds a fair bit aji verde to every taco upon request. The result is a big, just-spicy-enough taco that cranks its flavors all the way up, perfect for a warm fall evening spent in the San Fernando Valley. 3803 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank. —Farley Elliott

October 18, 2019

For Israeli food done right: Ta-eem Grill

Melrose’s Ta-eem Grill has managed to predate and to outlast many of the city’s new Israeli restaurants. The place has been specializing in falafel, shawarma, speedy service, and just the right amount of sass for years now, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. That’s good news for restaurant-dense Melrose, where places come and go all the time. Ta-eem, and its grill, have some seriously delicious staying power. 7422 Melrose Ave., Melrose. — Farley Elliott

For a sugar high that tastes just right: Littlejohn’s English Toffee House

Mr. and Mrs. Littlejohn moved their two-decade old English toffee operation into the Original Farmers Market in 1946. Today, the shop is owned by Michael Graves, who apprenticed at the store as a teenager. All of the candies are made on site in a small room with a big window where onlookers can witness the craft firsthand. The namesake English toffee is as buttery as ever with a milk chocolate coat and crushed almonds to finish. 6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For a game-changing breakfast burrito: Lowkey Burritos

Lowkey Burritos first gained fame for popping up in a Downtown LA parking lot, steps from Staples Center. The one-man operation further solidified legend status thanks to a unique trick done on the griddle: Creating a cheese crust, upon request, for anyone’s burrito. It’s an egregiously decadent and delicious device that makes for an over-the-top morning starter, but weekend fans in Long Beach (where Lowkey usually pops up on Saturdays and Sundays) just keep lining up. Want to follow along? Check Instagram for pop-up details. —Farley Elliott

For a fresh new flavors in a historic South LA neighborhood: Swift Cafe

Swift Cafe opens today, and the new daytime restaurant is a truly refreshing spot in any LA neighborhood. Chef Kyndra McCrary’s triumph is her ability to make healthy food taste delicious. Unfussy and full of flavor, McCrary’s Caribbean roots shine with plantains, coconut rice, and an incredible jerk chicken. She also grills a bison burger, and makes pillowy ricotta dumplings that appeal to any type of eater. Swift Cafe is bright and cheerful, the music bumps, and is sure to be a popular and walkable spot on Crenshaw Boulevard just south of Stocker. 4279 Crenshaw Blvd, Leimert Park, CA —Mona Holmes

For a flavor-bomb Israeli fare in Palms: Jaffa

Array of dishes on white and blue plates at Jaffa restaurant
Dishes at Jaffa
Wonho Frank Lee

Almost everyone has told me they really enjoy Jaffa, but I didn’t get the chance to try the Israeli-inspired restaurant until this week. This second location feels more like a sidewalk cafe in Israel than the West Third Street original, but the food is mostly the same. Which is to say that the cooking surprises at almost every course, from the pull-apart style Yemeni kubaneh bread with zhug to the excellent tahina eggplant with bright orange cherry tomatoes. For entrees, pick the grilled branzino and the lamb cavatelli, both are superbly cooked and imbued with deep flavor. Jaffa is a clear winner, and it’s a shame it took me this long to check it out. 10306 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

October 11, 2019

For lunchtime simplicity: Honey Hi

Honey Hi
Honey Hi bowl

Echo Park’s Honey Hi is more than just a healthy-eating, colorfully-decorated grain bowl restaurant. It’s a neighborhood hub, filled with lots of Echo Park locals and the kind of hearty, satisfying, everyday food (yes, for vegans and meat-eaters alike) that keeps this massive city fed. It’s hard not to feel comfortable inside the small Sunset Boulevard space, surrounded by other happy people and eating well, and inexpensively, on a sunny weekend day. 1620 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. —Farley Elliott

For a hearty dose of chorizo: The Chori-Man

Chorizo breakfast burrito from The Chori-Man.
Chorizo breakfast burrito from The Chori-Man
Farley Elliott

San Pedro’s culinary fortunes are on the rise, thanks to lots of small operators going out of their way to play to the surrounding community. One such name is the Chori-Man, who naturally traffics in all things chorizo, sometimes as tacos, other times as breakfast burritos. The simple shop doubles as a space for Umberto Raygoza’s wholesale operation, meaning it’s even possible to take away pounds of the stuff for home consumption. Better yet: Show up in San Pedro to try it fresh, and to see what all the neighborhood fuss is about. 2309 S. Alma St., San Pedro. —Farley Elliott

For all-day delights in the Arts District: Bon Temps

Coffee and croissant at Bon Temps.
Coffee and croissant at Bon Temps
Mona Holmes

Bon Temps simply dazzles during the day time. Sunlight fills the room during daytime, along with exquisite pastry in the display case. As Bon Temps transitions to night, that same area shifts to a tempting cold bar filled with prawns, oysters, and scallops. Take a seat at the giant L-shaped leather sofa, high-tops with stools, the massive table for laptop work, the bricked patio, or in the intimate second-tier dining area. The absolute winner is the bon egg sandwich with tomato spread, porchetta, over-medium egg, greens cooked with prosciutto, garlic, harissa, olive oil, and a semi-soft cow’s cheese. 712 South Santa Fe Avenue. —Mona Holmes

For a baller omakase meal that really delivers on its promises: Nozawa Bar

Osamu Fujita serving sashimi at Nozawa Bar in Beverly Hills.
Osamu Fujita serving sashimi at Nozawa Bar in Beverly Hills
Matthew Kang

One of the most common questions I get is, where should one eat a special occasion omakase meal? I would recommend Nozawa Bar, which delivers from beginning to end in terms of ambience, service, and quality. The variety of fish is amazing, with most of the seafood coming from Japan, though there are some local dishes too. Chef Osamu Fujita carries a levity that helps the 20-plus course meal go through relatively quickly in the tiny space hidden behind Sugarfish in Beverly Hills. This meal runs $175 a person, which makes it a once-in-a-year or even less often splurge, but the value is probably twice that on the plate. 212 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. —Matthew Kang

For a solid smash burger in Koreatown: Love Hour

Burger with loaded toppings on a paper tray.
Love Hour burger
Matthew Kang

Everyone’s doing smash burgers these days. Heck, even Hollywood Boulevard has a new smash burger restaurant. Love Hour, which serves at the Line Hotel from 7 p.m. to midnight on weekends, is one of the city’s best versions, with a dense, crispy crusted patty placed into a potato roll. Load it up with a pickle, In-N-Out-style spread, and ketchup and it’ll taste like the best version of a McDonald’s cheeseburger ever. 3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

October 3, 2019

For a true LA classic: Mariscos Jalisco

Enjoy the last gasps of summer weather this weekend downing crispy shrimp tacos at Mariscos Jalisco in Boyle Heights. Grab a seat on the sidewalk and watch the entire city roll through with chefs, families, in-the-know tourists, and locals vying for a plate of seafood deliciousness. Go ahead and hop in line. 3040 E. Olympic Blvd., Boyle Heights. —Farley Elliott

For sweet and savory Indian snacks in the Valley: Bombay Spiceland

Bombay Spiceland, a small grocery store offering eyebrow threading and imported DVDs alongside sacks of lentils and fresh produce, has been serving the Valley’s South Asian community for over 30 years. The Dua family purchased the business in 2008 and expanded it to include a vegetarian snack shop next door in 2010. In addition to a diverse array of classic chat-style sweets (jalebi, barfi, and gulab jamun) and savories (samosa, pakora, and dosa), Bombay Spiceland also dishes up unbeatable combos priced well under $10. 8650 Reseda Blvd., Northridge. —Cathy Chaplin

For all-day delights in the Arts District: Bon Temps

Lincoln Carson’s vision took a while to become a reality, but the wait was more than worth it. Bon Temps is organized into distinct sections with an L-shaped leather sofa, high-tops with stools, and a massive communal table. During the day, exquisite pastries fill the display case. As the restaurant transitions to night, the same display is filled with prawns, oysters, and scallops. The brick-lined patio is cool on warm days and the ensconced dining area on the second-level is not-to-be-missed. The winner on the daytime menu is the egg sandwich with tomato spread, porchetta, over-medium egg, prosciutto-cooked greens, garlic, harissa, olive oil, and a semi-soft cow’s cheese. 712 South Santa Fe Avenue, Downtown. —Mona Holmes

For a blowout meal near the beach: Pasjoli

Santa Monica’s new Pasjoli is a certified hit. The upscale French restaurant is more than just a bistro, but doesn’t carry the weight of chef Dave Beran’s more formal Westside restaurant Dialogue. The food isn’t cheap, but it’s not meant to be. Stop by for French wines and some amazing blue crab to start, or a group dinner complete with a duck press and all the desserts. 2732 Main St., Santa Monica. —Farley Elliott

For a luxurious steak-filled escape in Hollywood: Gwen

Curtis Stone’s butcher shop and steakhouse continues to excel in Hollywood, a notoriously difficult neighborhood for restaurants. Gwen’s menu finds itself more and more focused these days, with a tight list of appetizers and grilled meats that go beyond the conventional steakhouse offerings, like maitake mushrooms and fresh oysters to pair with dry-aged New York strip steaks. Service is warm and professional too, which can be a bit of a rarity in Hollywood. Just be prepared to drop well over $100 a person for the experience. 6600 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

September 27, 2019

For a slice of Italy in Gardena: Eatalian Café

Overhead shot of pizza and other Italian dishes.
Eatalian Café
Cathy Chaplin

Here at this cavernous temple of Italian cuisine, pastas, sauces, gelati, breads, and pastries are made fresh every morning. The heart of the menu is the brick oven-fired pizzas. There are over 30 varieties of “Eatalian Pizza” and “Traditional Pizza” available, and each one is layered with flavors on an impossibly thin, crisp, and charred crust. There’s also “Homestyle Fresh Eatalian Pasta,” like the pillowy gnocchi served with your choice of meat sauce, butter and Parmigianino Reggiano, a four cheese blend, or pesto, and the Tortelli di Zucca, a butternut squash ravioli sautéed with butter and Parmigianino Reggiano or a pancetta sauce. Dessert means scoops of cool gelato in traditional flavors like malaga (rum raisin), mela verde (green apple), and frutti di bosco (mixed berries). Enjoy them in a cup or sandwiched inside a focaccina, a sweet roll embedded with golden raisins. 15500 South Broadway, Gardena. —Cathy Chaplin

For a true getaway: Coliseum Pool and Grill at the Resort at Pelican Hill

Don’t let the word ‘fall’ fool anyone. It’s still going to be hot, probably on and off for the next couple of months, across Southern California. That means there are still plenty of days left to dip toes in crystal blue water, eyeball the crashing Pacific Ocean waves, and nosh on too many french fries, a classic hotel burger, and some cocktails. Thankfully every step of that process is possible at the Coliseum Pool and Grill at the Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, which — even without the food — sports one of the best coastlines anywhere in Southern California. Stop by for snacks on the patio overlooking the massive ringed pool, or pay extra for a cabana with some friends, if only because it comes with access to the pool. After all, there is still plenty of summer weather left. 22701 S. Pelican Hill Rd., Newport Beach. —Farley Elliott

For ideal service in a Pasadena classic: Cafe Santorini

Cafe Santorini is a gorgeous space in the middle of Old Town Pasadena. Owners Panos and Vasken Haitayan opened the second floor Mediterranean restaurant 25-years ago with hardwood floors, high ceilings, and a charming patio surrounded by foliage. The menu hasn’t changed much over the years, and some recipes hail from the owners’s mother, including the hummus and tabbouleh. The fried smelts are worth it, as are the meaty kubbe. For an especially lemony and garlicky treat, order the seafood salad. It’s absolutely satisfying and perfect for the final days of warm weather. 64 W Union St, Pasadena. —Mona Holmes

For the tacos that continue to keep LA fed: Guerrilla Tacos

It’s easy, surprisingly, to overlook Guerrilla Tacos these days. The onetime pop-up turned taco truck turned restaurant has settled nicely into its Arts District groove, becoming a staple for one of the city’s most rapidly-changing neighborhoods. While high-end restaurants continue to charge into the area with abandon, Guerrilla is cooking up modern classics like their sweet potato taco, and even turning on an al pastor trompo out on the patio on Friday and Saturday nights. The best part? There’s a full cocktail bar, and omakase dinners available for those who do feel like splurging. Seriously, this place does it all. 2000 E. 7th St., Arts District. —Farley Elliott

For the grilled hearts on a stick: Anticucheria Peruana

Anticucheria Peruana may very well be California’s first restaurant dedicated to grilled Peruvian skewers called anticuchos. The anticuchos de corazon, thinly sliced beef hearts seasoned in a wicked aji colorado marinade, is the signature dish. While the heart of the matter is appealingly chewy, its edges are charred just so. To dial up the heat, spoon on a bit of pale green aji verde or rocoto sauce with scallions. In addition to the grilled skewers, Mario Danessi’s brightly lit and colorfully painted spot also serves mariscos, fruits of the sea prepared with Peruvian flare. 14351 Pioneer Blvd., Norwalk. —Cathy Chaplin

September 20, 2019

For big drinks and bigger dinner plates: Genghis Cohen

Fairfax mainstay Genghis Cohen has a special place in many Angelenos’s hearts. The Chinese-American restaurant has always leaned into its own nostalgia and kitsch, and today — thanks to a quiet months-long remodel — the 35-year-old spot maintains its own longstanding clientele while also pulling in a new generation of diners in on the fun. Swing through for tiki-leaning drinks served in rambunctious glasses by bartender Yael Vengroff, and even bigger plates of classic dishes like egg rolls, walnut shrimp, and more. 740 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott

For an otherworldly dining experience that still feels world class: Vespertine

A plate of fancy and odd looking food.
For an otherworldly dining experience that still feels world class: Vespertine
Matthew Kang

One of the strangest but most incredibly satisfying dining experiences in America is no further than Culver City’s Hayden Tract, filled with big studios and creative offices and the two Michelin star restaurant Vespertine. There’s a lot to unpack about Vespertine but here’s the skinny: it’s LA’s most ambitious restaurant. Words cannot fully convey the experience of dining there. It’s a refined, mind-bending meal from start to finish, evidenced by the recent collaboration dinner with White Rabbit chef Vladimir Mukhin, who flew into LA from Moscow to team up with Vespertine’s Jordan Kahn to juxtapose his modern Russian dishes with Vespertine’s classic dishes. It’s expensive, but it’s a rarefied treat that deserves every bit of praise. (Reservations tend to be booked for a few weekends out, but there are usually ample seatings on weekdays, and weekends beyond 30 days). 3599 Hayden Ave., Culver City. —Matthew Kang

For Hawaiian grindz and a game of bowling: Gardena Bowling Center

Weekends in Los Angeles were made for exploring, so drive to the Gardena Bowling Center to discover the joys of early morning bowling and Hawaiian fare for lunch. Come in before noon for $2 games, plus the cost of renting shoes. After working up an appetite with strikes, spares, and gutter balls, walk over to the full-service restaurant inside the facility for a filling lunch. Pro tip: the restaurant gets busy during peak dining hours, so put your name on the list before your game ends. Start with an order of Spam musubi and don’t leave without trying the bacon and kimchi fried rice. There’s nothing quite like tasting the flavors of Hawaii in the comfort of a Gardena bowling alley. 15707 Vermont Ave., Gardena. —Cathy Chaplin

For an incredible meal in a stunning space: The Rose Venice

It’s hard to imagine the former version of The Rose Venice. It’s been a staple on Rose Avenue for decades, and its revamp has become an essential part of the neighborhood. The restaurant’s present format effortlessly transitions from day to night, as the front counter display shifts from gorgeous house-made pastries to an enticing cold bar. The open kitchen is exciting to watch as the team cranks out baguettes with gooey, rich schmaltz. There’s still time to savor the seasonal stone fruit salad with grilled French beans, and the pine-roasted mushrooms with lardo toast is only one of the reasons The Rose remains packed most nights. 220 Rose Avenue, Venice. —Mona Holmes

For burgers and sunshine all weekend long: The Standing Room

Redondo Beach’s status as a sleepy South Bay city, at least compared to bustling Manhattan Beach, means that residents get to eat well and inexpensively right by the beach any time they please. Make that your move this weekend and join the crowds that form at Standing Room, a takeaway burger operation located in the back of a liquor store within listening distance to the waves. The big, meaty burgers are well known to locals and travelers alike, and make for a wonderful meal en route to a day in the surf. 144 N. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach. —Farley Elliott

September 13, 2019

For a nearly unrivaled steakhouse experience: The Arthur J

Manhattan Beach is almost two cities at once. On the one hand, the surf-side area is a sleepy sunset home for well-to-do types looking to live near the ocean and raise a family. But then there are the restaurants and bars, tucked into a small square mile, that are worthy of pulling in diners from all across the county. That’s certainly true of the Arthur J, David LeFevre’s upscale but unstuffy steakhouse, where a $148 tomahawk for two and a couple of dirty martinis can be found at one table, while a boisterous three-year-old dines happily at the next. It’s rare to find a steakhouse that doubles as a neighborhood restaurant, but with inimitable Patric Kuh working the room and servers happily dropping plates of steakhouse classics and weekly specials, the Arthur J sure seems to have done it. 903 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. —Farley Elliott

For a Jewish American brunch: Freedman’s

Pull up a seat because it’s brunch time at Freedman’s in Echo Park. With bagels, smoked fishes, and pancakes on the menu, there’s something for every appetite. Begin with an order of the dark chocolate babka, which is served warm and doused with sticky caramel. It’s sweet, rich, and perfect for sharing. Also terrific is the bodega bagel, a riff on the East Coast staple made with beef bacon and an ungodly amount of oozy American cheese. For those who haven’t made it in for dinner yet, don’t sleep on Freedman’s expertly executed latke and matzoh ball soup. 2619 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For homestyle Korean food with big portions: Jun Won

A white plate with fish and a red-tinged sauce.
For homestyle Korean food with big portions: Jun Won
Matthew Kang

Koreatown doesn’t lack in excellent restaurants, but the kind of home cooking you used to be able to find on every corner is getting boxed out by barbecue restaurants and Seoul-based chains. Restaurants like Jun Won are becoming rare, mostly because the work required to prepare this kind of food is arduous. And also because the young kids in K-Town seem more interested in intestines barbecue and ultra-spicy bar fare than grandma’s cooking. Step into Jun Won and the crowd is older, quieter, and more appreciative of heaping plates of spicy braised black cod and bossam. Come with a crew, order a ton, and don’t be afraid to ask for more of the excellent banchan. 414 S. Western Ave. B, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For local dim sum that satisfies: Lunasia Dim Sum House

When a craving for dim sum hits, head to any outlet of Lunasia to satisfy it. It’s traditional, it’s fast, and the har gow and rice noodle rolls are dependably good. The restaurants tend to get crowded on the weekends, so prepare wisely. 239 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. —Mona Holmes

For meat skewer classics with tons of cumin: Feng Mao

Koreatown does not suffer for foods served over direct heat, but beyond the KBBQ classics, it’s worth venturing into the skewer genre at a spot like the O.G. location of Feng Mao on Olympic. The quiet corner restaurant sneaks in the flavor of its lamb skewers with a surprising amount of cumin, making for a smoky, salty bite that absolutely packs a punch. Go with a group, order way too much (including alcohol), and spend time turning meat over flame. It’s the perfect Koreatown time. 3901 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown. —Farley Elliott

September 5, 2019

For a brunch spot off the beaten path: Grey & Cash

Monrovia is not exactly a hotbed of restaurant activity, but despite its easterly location and decidedly suburban vibes the place manages to corral more than a few decent restaurants into a quaint downtown. Among them is Grey & Cash, a coffee ship that happens to serve some of that city’s best brunch items. It’s simple fare, easy going from lox to vegan chilaquiles, but it all just works. 425 S. Myrtle Ave., Monrovia, CA. —Farley Elliott

For a tasty Taiwanese fusion experience with a gorgeous California vibe: Yang’s Kitchen

A bowl of pork noodles with parmesan.
For a tasty Taiwanese fusion experience with a gorgeous California vibe: Yang’s Kitchen
Matthew Kang

With Pine & Crane and Joy paving the way for a quick service-style Taiwanese restaurants, Yang’s Kitchen opens right in the center of downtown Alhambra with a wonderfully bright, sky-lit dining room and a busy lunch crowd. The menu hews toward classic Taiwanese comfort, from beef noodle soup to scallion pancake rolls. The only difference here is that the ingredients have more traceability, from the Grist & Toll wheat in the noodles to the farm-sourced produce. The standout pork noodles, extruded into Italian-style strozzapreti, comes with savory minced pork and a dusting of Parmesan. Yang’s Kitchen is a fantastic addition to the SGV’s casual dining scene. 112 W. Main St., Alhambra. —Matthew Kang

For vegetable-forward vegetarian fare: Elf Café

At Echo Park’s Elf Café, chef Scott Zwiezen prepares creative meatless fare that satisfies herbivores and carnivores alike. Reservations are encouraged at this barely 450-square-foot jewel box, especially on Saturday and Sunday nights. Elf can feel admittedly tight and cramped at times, but thankfully the chill crowd keeps the mood appealing. What’s unique about Chef Zwiezen’s cooking is his firm commitment to using vegetables instead of meat-like wheat gluten and soy products, like the “Cornmeal and Herb Dusted Buffalo Oyster Mushrooms,” skillfully charred and marinated tubers served with a marinated celery salad and bleu cheese cream reduction. Take a bite of all three elements together for a one-of-a-kind hot wings experience. 2135 West Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For a great time with friends new and old: 6th & La Brea

The La Brea stretch between Wilshire and 6th could easily be written off as Republique Row, a stand-alone stretch dedicated entirely to the endlessly busy French restaurant’s greatness. But, instead, there is 6th & La Brea, a corner bar and restaurant that doubles as a sports bar and community hangout on weekends. Yes, the ABC team makes sure to brew their own beers on site and to keep basically every seat within sight lines of a screen, but the most compelling part of the place is the people who show up. Locals, tourists, regulars, and newcomers all find a home inside 6th & La Brea, downing happy hour burgers and fried cheese curds. 600 S. La Brea, Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott

For simple, elemental Italian cooking and pasta in the South Bay: Sosta

Fresh mozzarella and tomatoes on a plate.
Matthew Kang

Hermosa Beach is a total crapshoot when it comes to restaurants, but the intimate new Italian restaurant Sosta from chef Luca Manderino is a hidden gem in this seaside community. It’s refreshing to see amazingly simple and straightforward cooking in a landscape where so many chefs take liberties with Italian cooking. With Manderino leaning on quality ingredients and subtlety, rich mozzarella comes with ripe late-summer tomatoes and just the right seasoning. The sardine-infused bigoi pasta combines nutty whole wheat spaghetti with the salty, ocean-y punch of fish. And the seared tagliata steak comes with delicate leeks and a smattering of arugula leaves. Just two caveats: the room gets a little clammy from the humidity, and prices won’t seem “affordable” considering the portion sizes. But if you’re okay with quality and elegant simplicity, then Sosta is worth a weekend visit. 439 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach. —Matthew Kang

August 30, 2019

For a spicy and sour northern Thai feast: Pailin Thai Cuisine

Northern Thai cuisine, which is generally regarded as milder than its central and northeastern counterparts, is the specialty at this Thai Town restaurant. The deep-fried larb balls make an excellent starter and embody the distinct sourness that Isaan cuisine is famous for. Each ground pork nugget is marinated in an abundance of lime juice and fried to a crisp. Also worth a look are the khao soi noodles, a Burmese-influenced dish comprised of curly egg noodles in a curry and coconut cream sauce. 5621 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For barbecue with all-day hours: Slab

West Third Street’s barbecue favorite Slab continues to slowly, almost effortlessly, grow into its own skin. The smoke-touched meats have always been on point, but now the focus is on the operation itself, as Burt Bakman and the H.Wood Group push into evening hours and experiment with even more fun specials and one-offs. Line up for a weekend beef rib, some of that oft-Instagrammed brisket, and a ton of sides of course. 8136 W. Third St., Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott

For a taste of Mexican-inspired soul food in South Central: Delicious at the Dunbar

Fried fish with waffles fries under checkered paper basket on a white table.
Fried fish at Delicious at the Dunbar
Matthew Kang

This place comes from one of South LA’s favorite soul food destinations: Delicious Southern Cuisine. Vidal Cortes along with his daughter Adriana opened their second location in late 2018 at the bottom floor of the iconic Dunbar hotel, where jazz musicians stayed during the area’s cultural height from the 1920s to the mid 1950s. The food here is simple and affordable with nice-sized portions of fried chicken, jambalaya, crab gumbo, and fried catfish. Cortes began learning to cook soul food after immigrating to LA from Puebla, Mexico at a number of local restaurants, including Boulevard Cafe King, Jerry’s Flying Fox, and Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen. The simple dishes excel here, from the fried chicken to the collard greens. Bring the family and enjoy some down-home soul food during the holiday weekend. 4229 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For a fun night out with friends and fried chicken: OB Bear

A plate of wings with sticky red sauce.
OB Bear in Koreatown
Cathy Chaplin

OB Bear is a festive pub that’s perfect for big groups with even bigger appetites. After ordering a pitcher or two of OB or Hite, settle into a platter of a spicy chicken wings. Twice-fried and lacquered in a sweet chili sauce, the wings bring on a sensational and addictive burn. Pickled daikon cubes and a Thousand Island-dressed cabbage slaw are both effective in neutralizing the heat. If hot wings just ain’t your thing, the Cornish hens with paper-thin skins are extraordinarily juicy. 3002 West 7th St., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For peekaboo ocean views and lots of mezze: Calabra

Santa Monica’s new Proper Hotel is starting to make waves, and that’s without ground-floor restaurant Onda from Jessica Koslow and Gabriela Camara. The rooftop lounge, bar, and dining area Calabra is perfectly suited for summertime ocean breezes, thanks to a menu of mostly small bites and lighter fare that includes a pretty prodigious mezze situation with dips and grilled bread galore. Swing through for a drink, some easy-grabbing food, and a couple of friends; you won’t be disappointed. 700 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. —Farley Elliott

August 23, 2019

For an ideal stop while biking along the LA River: Spoke Bicycle Cafe

Outdoor seating at Spoke Bicycle Cafe.
Spoke Bicycle Cafe
Mona Holmes

Mild weather is upon us in Los Angeles. The mercury won’t go beyond 85 degrees this weekend, so a bike ride along the Los Angeles River Bicycle Path that spans across Griffith Park, Glendale, Los Feliz, and Atwater Village will be pleasant. Be sure to take a break at Spoke Bicycle in Frogtown. Spoke’s covered patio is fun and functional with board games, a ping pong table, and a repair shop to fix a busted tire. Order a beer or glass of wine, then try the burger and surprisingly solid vegan mac and cheese. 3050 N. Coolidge Ave., Frogtown. —Mona Holmes

For a Westside stunner that’s as good as ever: Fia

Puffed, multi-colored cakes with a quenelle of mango sorbet on a grey plate.
Wonho Frank Lee

Early fans are flocking to Fia, the replacement restaurant for the famed Wilshire space in Santa Monica. Chef Brendan Collins is on to oversee a menu that leans towards Italian and seafood influences, but mostly folks are excited about that stellar patio and late summer sun. Seriously, this is the place to spend a weekend evening in August or September. 2454 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. —Farley Elliott

For a chef-driven brunch by the sea: Yours Truly

For a taste of chef Vartan Abgaryan’s bright and flavorful brunch, head to Yours Truly this weekend. Early birds will be rewarded with cinnamon rolls served by the half dozen with cream cheese frosting, while those sleeping in can have their fill of sky-high scratch-made biscuits. Consider the silky smoked salmon with scallion pancakes and the delightfully airy rye waffle with ricotta and yuzu kosho honey to round out your daytime feast. 1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice. —Cathy Chaplin

For an award-winning chef doing whatever he wants: The Table at July

Miles Thompson is cooking on a sidewalk, and that’s a very good thing. The beloved former Michael’s chef is popping up with his limited-run Table at July idea, situating himself between the curb and the door at Valerie in Echo Park. It’s an evening neighborhood kind of hang, complete with lots of smoked specialities, precisely the kind of thing that makes Los Angeles so awesome. 1665 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park. —Farley Elliott

For top quality dim sum in San Gabriel Valley: Elite

Array of small dim sum plates with shrimp har gow, shu mai dumplings, pork buns, and more on a white tablecloth.
Dim sum at Elite
Matthew Kang

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is: “What is the best dim sum restaurant in LA?” I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that I choose to go to Elite whenever I want to eat great dim sum. To me, it’s splitting hairs between Elite, Sea Harbour, and other top candidates, because they’re all pretty good. Elite’s shumai and hargow are terrific, as is the lotus leaf sticky rice and roast duck. The congee is unreal, as are the sweet pork buns. But the one dish everyone needs to order at Elite is the crispy shrimp rice rolls covered in soy sauce. It’s all kinds of delicious, with crispy, chewy, shrimpy, savory, sweet goodness with every bite. 700 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park. —Matthew Kang

August 16, 2019

For innovative baos in the heart of the Arts District: Bao Hiroo

Weekends were made for trying something new, so head to this bright and airy Arts District bao specialist for innovative buns that just don’t stop. Every scratch-made bao is carefully constructed and considered by fine dining vet Hiroo Nagahara. The steamed Spicy Piglet features pork two-ways and Chinese chives that curb its richness. The gleefully crunchy Ol’ Bae bun comes fried to a crisp and stuffed with shrimp, corn, and sausage. And the sweet sesame bao filled with peanut butter cream and strawberries makes for the finest finish. Wash it all down with a cocktail, beer, or sake — it’s the weekend after all. 905 E 2nd St #109, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For pork necks of the stewed and Korean variety: Ham Ji Park

Here at Ham Ji Park, it’s all about gamjatang, a pork bone and potato stew that bubbles its way to the table in a metal pot. Glossy grains of steamed rice and a half dozen or so banchan complete a feast that satisfies and comforts like few can. When ladling the stew into bowls, make sure to include pieces of pork spine; these meaty hunks of tendon, muscle, and meat are what make gamjatang simply spectacular, that and the spicy yet nuanced broth that tastes even better once it has thickened some from residual heat. Spine meat can be difficult to extract using chopsticks alone, so don’t be shy about employing nimble fingers—it’s how the pros get it done. 3407 West 6th St. #101C, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For crowd-pleasing adventurous fare: Otium

Otium’s outdoor patio.
Frank Wonho Lee

Chef Timothy Hollingsworth has done it all, from running the show at the French Laundry to winning Netflix’s prestigious international cooking competition. He also happens to run a perennially Downtown restaurant, Otium, that manages to stack nightly with locals from the buildings nearby, tourists, after-work groups, and even the occasional celebrity or three. The draw, of course, is the food and drink, with Hollingsworth and company expanding on a menu of seemingly basic favorites (a tuna tartare, a crudo, some chicken liver mousse) that each arrive more lively, thoughtful, and unique than at just about anywhere else in town. Toss in cocktails from Chris Amirault and a strong wine list — not to mention that patio — for maximum appeal. 222 S. Hope St., Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott

For an epic Korean barbecue experience in the SGV: TK92

Raw meat on a wooden plank ready to be cooked.
Matthew Kang

Is there a more impressive-looking Korean barbecue restaurant in LA than San Gabriel’s TK92? It boasts a wild waiting room filled with vintage appointments, while the bustling dining room has high ceilings and colorful decor. The real star, however, is on the tabletop grill. The premium all-you-can-eat menu offers prime meats and even dry-aged ribeye. The service and banchan are excellent too, making this perhaps the top AYCE Korean barbecue in the LA area. 250 W Valley Blvd., Ste. P, San Gabriel, CA 91776 —Matthew Kang

For a rethought pasta spot east of the river: All’Acqua

Over the years, Atwater Village’s All’Acqua has managed to settle into something rather comfortable. It’s a mellow, dimly-lit dinnertime spot that plays in a safe Italian tradition, offering pizzas and bar snacks and plenty of pasta for young families and old-timers alike to enjoy. But lately, under the direction of new chef Tim Carey, the place has managed to start pushing boundaries on the plate, offering handmade pastas with a Felix-like chew and consistency. The staples are still there, but dot around the updated Italian menu for some new dishes and revel in the way that one medium-sized neighborhood restaurant can manage to stay relevant after all these years. 3280 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village. —Farley Elliott

August 9, 2019

For a decadent lunchtime getaway: Coin & Candor

A top-down view of all the food from oysters and charcuterie to salads, head-on shrimp and grits, and grilled maitake mushrooms.
Coin & Candor
Farley Elliott

The Four Seasons Westlake Village is a special kind of property, nestled away in the wealthy part of the Conejo Valley and away from LA’s hustle and bustle. A lunchtime meal at the on-property restaurant Coin & Candor only fuels the getaway mentality, thanks to snackable bites from oysters and charcuterie to salads, head-on shrimp and grits, and grilled maitake mushrooms. Add in some California-produced wines and one heck of a view to really make it a special day. 2 Dole Dr., Westlake Village. —Farley Elliott

For a flavor-forward and meatless meal that’s easy to get to: Veggie Grill

In an exciting dining scene like LA’s, it’s easy to forget the solid standby chains that dot the landscape along with all that’s hot and new. Take some time to remember a favorite like Veggie Grill this weekend. With 10 locations scattered throughout the Southland, there’s a good chance one is nearby. The chicken nugget-like “wings” always make for a superb starter, while the bulgogi “beef” satisfies in a way that only mock meats can. A chocolate-churro sundae to finish is all but guaranteed. 200 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

For one of LA’s most exciting new restaurants, via SF: Angler

Two fish filets in a pool of butter on a white plate.
Butter-poached marblefish filet at Angler.
Matthew Kang

There’s a lot to process with Angler, Joshua Skenes’s new LA restaurant that’s a close replication of his Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant. Yes, it’s on the ground floor of a mall, but honestly with the valet right outside the main entrance. Big deal. What should matter is the stark reminders of Skenes’s restaurant Saison this place draws, from the wood logs guarding the entrance to the wood-fire aromas coming from the open kitchen. Saison might have been one of the top meals of my life when I went a few years back. Angler is a clever distillation of that experience, with an elemental approach to rustic cooking using great ingredients. The bleeding radicchio salad is laced with so much flavorful, savory XO dressing that it’s hard to stop eating the crisp leaves.

The withered beet is so intense that one almost neglects the gentle smokiness that adds a nice dimension. A butter-poached marblefish filet needs a squeeze of lemon to help cut through the rich butter, but its near translucent texture gives it an unsung luxury. And the roast chicken sports such a beautifully crisp skin that it resembles Peking duck. Angler isn’t perfect: the marblefish had an aggressive seasoning that made it tiresome to eat more than a few bites while the layered, crisp potato suffered from a bit of dryness inside. But on the whole, experiencing Angler is like treating oneself to incredible ingredients cooked at its ideal state. It’s hard to ever fault that approach. 8500 Beverly Blvd., Suite 117, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For a California dream, wrapped up in dinner: Botanica

A top-down view of salad with grilled bread and a fancy toast.
Farley Elliott

Few places can truly transport locals to the pure ethos of California dining like Botanica, the sunny all-day Silver Lake space with a marketplace attached. From selling wine, coffee, and Bub and Grandma’s bread to offering chic, sun-dappled tablescapes filled with flowers and salads, this place lives a particular kind of LA dream in the best way possible. 1620 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake. —Farley Elliott

For fantastic Korean comforts in the heart of Koreatown: Mapo Kkak Doo Gee

Here at Mapo Kkak Doo Gee, the banchan are so remarkably good that chopsticks can’t help but reach for more. There are several varieties of kimchi, of course, as well macaroni salad, acorn jellies topped with soy sauce and scallions, pickled seaweed, boiled cabbage with gochujang (fermented red chili paste), and scallion pancakes. Seconds and thirds are all but guaranteed, but try to hold off because the restaurant’s braised cod fish and sujebi, a soul satisfying “dough flake soup,” are just as good as the banchan. 3611 West 6th St., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

August 2, 2019

For big, fun flavors just steps from the beach: M.B. Post

It’s always a loud, fun, and dependably delicious time at chef David LeFevre’s M.B. Post. With a casual dining room and boisterous crowds, the self-anointed social house is the kind of place that just feels good to be in. The flavor-forward and communal dishes coming out of the kitchen are as good as ever. The hand-rolled sea urchin spaghetti is fortified with creamy, dreamy uni in every bite, while the scallop aguachile served with crispy-fried taro chips is just the thing to combat summer temps. Dine here with a group and order a little bit of everything; there isn’t a single dud on the entire menu. 1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. —Cathy Chaplin

For a peek at the perfect neighborhood joint: Little Flower

Tucked up next to the freeway at the western edge of Pasadena, Little Flower feels like a respite from the bustle of greater Los Angeles. The narrow storefront offers take-home goods, as well as pre-made salads, quick-fire sandwiches, coffee, and loads of pastries, but more than its menu is its personality. The place just feels timeless and cozy, like a small town cafe that still cares. The mood is infectious, and at any given point, a dozen or more locals can be found hanging out inside, sipping coffees or iced teas, or congregating on the front patio with strollers and dogs in tow. 1424 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. —Farley Elliott

For a jolly good barbecue with sports galore: Bludso’s Bar & Que

Bludso’s Bar & Que
Bludso’s Bar & Que
Matthew Kang

LA isn’t quite a barbecue city, but places like Bludso’s on La Brea are reminders that the glories of smoked meat are still within reach. The open dining room, with picnic tables and TVs everywhere, is the ideal place for a weekend barbecue fest with friends. The brisket is solid, smoky, and tender, with a proper smoke ring and excellent bark. The pork ribs might be even better, with the pork’s sweetness balanced with wood smoke. The sides could use a little work, with a bland mac and cheese and a crunchy yet tame coleslaw. Always order the sausage, as it’s probably the best smoked meat on the menu. 609 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For a breakfast sandwich that can double as lunch: Eggslut

Mona Holmes

When nothing but eggs will do, it’s hard to turn down Eggslut. Alvin Cailan’s incredible rise in Los Angeles is something to behold, which now includes an outlet in Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan, where lines rival his first location in Grand Central Market. There’s an egg dish for every mood, but the standout is the house-made turkey sausage sandwich with an over-medium egg, cheddar, and honey mustard aioli on a warm brioche bun. Head to Glendale to avoid the lines. 252 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. —Mona Holmes

For a seaside weekend lunch: Cafe del Rey

Marina del Rey mainstay Cafe del Rey has stood the test of time, outlasting loads of other Westside restaurants to earn its status us a casual fine American spot with views to match. More recently, management has begun a light overhaul of the restaurant, from the carpet to the suddenly-more-seasonal menu, meaning it’s a great time to get back in for a recommitment to a sunny summertime dining room that offers not only seafood, but pretty sweeping views of the ocean beyond. 4451 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey. —Farley Elliott

July 26, 2019

For an Eastside taco alternative: El Ruso

El Ruso
El Ruso
Farley Elliott

The lines at Sonoratown have gotten outrageous. That’s a good thing, because the Downtown Sonoran spot deserves all the attention Netflix has given them, but it also means there’s an opportunity for nearby taqueros to siphon off some fans looking for a similar vibe, without as long of a wait. Enter El Ruso, the flour tortilla operator in Boyle Heights that has been making delicious, blistery tacos for the past three years. Give them a midday shot this weekend, and see what all recent hype has been about. 3631 Union Pacific Ave., Boyle Heights. —Farley Elliott

For some of the city’s best Thai: Noree Thai

Noree Thai
Noree Thai
Mona Holmes

Noree Thai on Beverly Boulevard is one of Los Angeles’ finest. From the food to the joyful space, owners Noree Pla and Fern Kaewtathip have a knack for creating restaurants that vibe with the city. The duo are the brains behind Luv2Eat, an Eater 38 Essential. Noree Thai is full of Luv2Eat’s customer favorites, as well specials not found elsewhere. Stick with the popular Phuket-style crab curry, fried rice, khao soi, the extraordinary massaman curry, or sit back and let the skilled servers guide the meal. 7669 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax. —Mona Holmes

For the prettiest and pinkest afternoon tea service: Hello Kitty Grand Cafe’s Bow Room

Hello Kitty Cafe’s pink and gold interior, at daytime.
Afternoon tea at Hello Kitty Grand Cafe’s Bow Room
Jakob Layman

The drive south to Orange County is never easy, but it’s not too bad when there’s afternoon tea at the finish line. The beloved Sanrio character is hosting a proper high tea in a speakeasy-like space hidden behind the Grand Cafe. Settle into the plush pink booths and get ready for an onslaught of sweets and savories including a smoked salmon sandwich on a pretzel croissant and a goblet of fresh fruit with coconut cream. Reservations are a must. 860 Spectrum Center Dr., Irvine. —Cathy Chapin

For a Westside sandwich by the beach: Heroic Deli

A stacked Italian sandwich from a new deli, on a wooden board.
Heroic Deli
Farley Elliott

There’s a lot to like about Heroic Deli’s menu of sandwiches, salads, and sides. The whole thing reads clean and simple, easy eating for tourists and locals looking to scoot around Santa Monica all weekend long. Sure, some of the menu items may draw comparisons to a different, rather well-known, Italian staple nearby, but the truth is that Heroic is perfectly capable of standing on its own for a weekend Westside meal. It’s time to give them a shot. 516 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. —Farley Elliott

For fantastic Filipino food on Sawtelle: Big Boi

Filipino food from Big Boi on Sawtelle.
Big Boi combo plate
Matthew Kang

Sawtelle might have a wealth of Asian foods from Japanese to Chinese to Korean, but perhaps Big Boi is the coolest place to eat on the bustling block, with a quick service model that takes the classic turo-turo steam table and compacts it into just the best selections. Owner Barb Batiste doesn’t hold back on flavor and ingredients, selecting daily specials like lechon kawali or kare kare to go alongside sisig, beef giniling, or lumpia Shanghai. The best part is that while the Filipino food is substantial at Big Boi, it’s not quite as rich as more traditional restaurants. That’s all a part of Batiste’s plan to take Filipino food to the masses, and it works here from top to bottom. Pop over to Batiste’s dessert shop B-Sweet for an ube bread pudding afterwards. 2027 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

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