L.A. likes to eat out, and the range of options and abundance of unique settings make for very exciting dining. Some market explicitly to the gay community, although you'll find brethren (and sistren) at virtually any restaurant in town. Prices here indicate a range of dinner entr?es; lunches are usually less expensive. California law prohibits smoking inside restaurants, though some cities permit it at outdoor seating.
BEST FOR GAY-POPULAR FINE DINING
If WeHo can be said to have an "establishment" restaurant, it would be Mark's (861 N. La Cienega Blvd; 310-652-5252; dinner entr?es: $14-$30), a favorite for special nights out and dinners meant to impress. D?cor is clean and spare with oversize floral arrangements. Food is more good than great, but the atmosphere and eye candy are exceptional. Sunday brunch brings an attractive crowd of WeHo boys, and Monday nights the food is half-price.
There's eye candy everywhere you look at the restaurant and lounge Murano (9010 Melrose Ave; 310-246-9118; $16-38): foxy staff and inventive-yet-not-overbearing Italian-inspired cooking from the women behind Girl Bar. Offset by right angles of gleaming white and namesake cut-glass chandeliers, chef Kristi Ritchey's menu is seasonal; if we mention risotto fries, wild mushroom ravioli with truffle cream, and butternut squash agnolotti with pancetta and hazelnuts, do you get the idea? Many dinner items are also available at Sunday brunch, which also features mimosas, bellinis, and killer roasted banana and bittersweet chocolate pancakes.
Romantic Caf? La Boh?me (8400 Santa Monica Blvd; 323-848-2360; $15-30) is as sumptuous as its opera-queen name suggests. It caters to an elegant mixed crowd, with an eclectic menu, catwalks, velvet draperies, and an outdoor patio with fireplace. Chef Christine Banta's cooking is reliably strong. The wine list is heavy on California vintages.
Ubercool O-Bar Restaurant (8279 Santa Monica Blvd; 323-822-3300; $13-31) is flashy dining on the Boulevard. The view is fabulous whether you look out on the forbidden garden or over the cruisy bar, abuzz constantly with martini-lovers. The cooking is American grown-up -- lobster mac & cheese, osso bucco -- and we have five words for dessert: skillet baked chocolate chip cookie.
Eleven (8811 Santa Monica Blvd; 310-855-0800; $11-29) makes the most of its soaring setting in a historic bank building. Downstairs is a wide-open bar, upstairs are mood-lit, lounge-style tables, and somewhere off in space is a tiny stage where everything from DJs to acrobats might perform. Dinners run from fancy grills (steaks and such) to casual but well thought-out salads and sandwiches, and the lineup of after-dinner options runs from club nights to cabaret.
BEST 4: GAY-POPULAR CASUAL
Many a night in WeHo begins at Marix Tex Mex Cafe (1108 N. Flores St.; 323-656-8800; $8-$16). It's busy most evenings, and balmy Sunday afternoons turn into margarita madness, when gorgeous locals happily flirt, chatter and swill $26 pitchers of "Kick-Ass" margaritas while waiting up to two hours for a dinner table to turn over. All-you-can-eat Taco Tuesdays ($8) are an institution.
Marix's sister restaurant and neighbor down the block, Basix (8333 Santa Monica Blvd; 323-848-2460; $7-$15) is a semi-open-air caf?; with votive candles and a corner location for excellent people-watching. The crowd comes for morning coffee and three squares of dependable Cal-American cooking (salads, pizzas, pastas, fresh-baked bread and more).
Famous for breakfast pastas and a huge list of omelets, scrambles and pancakes, Hugo's (8401 Santa Monica Blvd; 323-654-3993; $9-$18) is the site of many a morning meeting when stars are feeling casual. The menu emphasizes organic, sustainable products. Breakfast is served all day, and lunch and dinner are equally innovative and eclectic: salads, casseroles, and dishes referencing Greece and Asia.
Hamburger Mary's (8288 Santa Monica Blvd; 323-654-3800; $9-$13) has a menu like a hamburger joint but is equally a performance space thanks to comedy nights and drag queen karaoke and bingo. Your check arrives in a lipstick-red stiletto shoe.