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EXCLUSIVE | Los Angeles: Where to Eat Part Three

EXCLUSIVE | Los Angeles: Where to Eat Part Three

The specialty at The Kitchen (4348 Fountain Ave.; 323-664-FOOD; $10-$20) is generous portions of "nouvelle diner" food (half-pound cheeseburgers cozy up to grilled portabello mushrooms), served in a graffiti-splashed room that opens late and attracts a pre- and post-party crowd. Combine it with a visit to Akbar next door (see bars).

Ay caramba! El Conquistador (3701 W. Sunset Blvd, 323-666-5136; $11-17) has an intimate, fiesta-kitsch ambience, flamboyant host, massive margaritas, and plates like chicken in mole, in addition to the usual tacos, enchiladas, and such.

Vermont (1714 N. Vermont Ave; 323-661-6163; $15-28) was the first restaurant to bring fine dining to Los Feliz's main drag, Vermont Avenue. That was over a decade ago, and it's still worthy for a low-key atmosphere, pastas, lunchtime sandwiches and salads, and main courses like pepper steak all prepared and served with care.

Caf? Stella (3932 Sunset Blvd; 323-666-0265; $18-32) offers French brasserie-style cuisine in a casual, indoor-outdoor caf?; setting and tenders beer and wine to dinner patrons.

Lesbian chef Susan Feniger and her business partner Mary Sue Milliken are TV's "Too Hot Tamales" and the force behind Ciudad (445 S. Figueroa St; 213-486-5171; $16-28). The flavors, from across Latin America, are as bold and bright as Ciudad's d?cor. If you don't know what tamarind, yucca and chimichurri are, you'll find out. Tuesday nights: Paella on the Patio.

Don't be intimidated by the approach to R-23 (923 E 2nd St; 213-687-7178; sushi $4-12, other plates $12-16, in a warehouse-looking district surrounded by artists' studios. Inside, it's a super-stylish sushi joint (you sit on cardboard chairs designed by Frank Gehry), in a spot-lit, art gallery setting, all of which draws a celebrity clientele.

Among the dozens of restaurants in L.A.'s Chinatown, Empress Pavilion (999 N Hill St; 213-617-9898; dinner entrees: $8-$26, average per person for dim-sum: $10-15) proves that size does matter. Its massive room seats hundreds at a time, and on weekends every seat is taken during dim sum brunch: shrimp har gao, bbq pork buns, and dozens of other dumplings and small plates. Dinner: Peking duck and elegant seafood.

And if you like your meals with a side of history, Phillippe the Original (1001 N Alameda St; 213-628-3781; $3-8) has been around since 1908; it invented the "French dip" technique for roast beef sandwiches. Order one (or any of dozens of other sandwiches and salads) from the counter, sidle up to a table on the sawdust-covered floor, and wash it down with nine-cent coffee. No, really.

Across from the Westside Pavilion shopping mall, the Apple Pan (10801 W. Pico Blvd; 310-475-3585; $5-$7) is legendary, serving great hamburgers and apple pie at counter seats surrounding the grill, with the feel of a country roadside diner.

Canter's Deli (419 N. Fairfax Blvd; 323-651-2030; $8-16) is a 24-hour deli/coffee shop and anchor of this historically Jewish district. It is the center of the universe at 3 a.m. Pacific time, filled with people of all persuasions, including its fair share of homos, supermodels, slackers, and Aunt Muriel.

La Serenata de Garibaldi (1842 E. First St, Boyle Heights; 323-265-2887; $10-$21) serves the city's best Mexican food in a slightly scary neighborhood east of downtown. Take your notions of down-market Mexican food and abandon them here; the cooking is elegant and almost French in its use of sauces.

El Coyote (7312 Beverly Blvd; 323-939-2255; $4-16) opened in 1931, and sometimes it seems that people have been waiting for tables ever since. No matter, order a margarita, sit back and take in the frilly skirted waitresses, mind-boggling showcase of tchotchkes, and crowd that's like a melting pot of this melting pot of cities. The food is proof you can't spell "Mexican" without "can," though if you stick to fresh-cooked dishes like fajitas you'lo fine. Best night fo a istors: Thursdays, a fun, flirty scene.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Related Articles:
Los Angeles: Introduction
Los Angeles: Where to Stay
Los Angeles: Where to Play/Meet
Los Angeles: What to See and Do
Los Angeles: Resources

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