Los Angeles

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Foodies love Los Angeles; after all, this is where Wolfgang Puck and an entire generation of chefs perfected the art of California cuisine, a cooking style marked by an interest in "fusion" (mixing disparate styles and ingredients to create exciting new dishes). But before "California cuisine" there was the humble French Dip Sandwich (yes, also invented here). We picked our favorites at both extremes and in between, from expensive to budget.

Top Restaurants in Los Angeles

AOC

Minimal space for maximum enjoyment of choice charcuterie, farm-fresh salads, wood-roasted trout, and over 50 hand-selected wines by the glass.

8022 W. 3rd St., CA, 323-653-6359, www.aocwinebar.com
Tags: expensive | editor pick | smart splurge | notable wine list

Bazaar by Jose Andres

As it goes in many cities, restaurants in Los Angeles are hot one day and out the next. Luckily, Bazaar, Spanish chef José Andrés' latest creation is still in with the in crowd. The restaurant is part of an unusual bar/retail shopping scene - it's connected to a museum-like store featuring eclectic wares from designer Moss. Whether you shop or eat first, Bazaar is best enjoyed by those who have time to linger for what is the ultimate people watching scene. Tapas-style plates include Ibérico ham, garlicky shrimp, and caprese salad with liquid mozzarella pipettes and quail eggs. It's all about the small bites here, but order enough of them and a pitcher of cava-spiked sangria and you won't feel you've spent a small fortune on fancy appetizers.

465 S. La Cienega Blvd, CA, 310-246-5555, thebazaar.com
Tags: expensive | smart splurge

BoHo

The convivial gastro-pub's name stands for Bohemian Hollywood so it's not surprising that the furnishings - castoff sofas, tables, and chairs - are recycled from the owner's and chef's own stash. You'll also see thrift shop finds like Moroccan lamps, deer heads, and chandeliers on display. A large fichus tree placed here and a piano placed there seem odd at first, but the setup is easy to get used to after several Belgian brews (try the raspberry-infused beers and mimosas). Besides, it's better to focus on the hearty brunch with dishes like pulled pork with cheddar biscuits, poached egg, and country gravy. It's not all waist-busting fare, either. The farmers' market across the road provides the greens and veggies that make up the plentiful salads.

6372 West Sunset Blvd, CA, 323-465-8500, bohorestaurant.com
Tags: budget | comfort food

Canter's Deli

The landmark New York–style deli on Fairfax Avenue delivers exactly what you’d expect: oozing Reubens up to here, hunks of noodle kugel, homemade pickles—consumed by a vastly varied crowd, all hours, day and night, in a classic retro setting. Open 24/7.

419 North Fairfax Ave., CA, 323-651-2030, www.cantersdeli.com
Tags: moderate | great value | boats and cruise | deli

Ciudad

Adventurous chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken serve up seductive Latin flavors, from Spain to Brazil, Puerto Rico to Guatemala, and Argentina, at this offbeat outpost.

445 S. Figueroa St., CA, 213-486-5171, www.ciudad-la.com
Tags: moderate | notable chef | great value | latin fusion

Farmers Market

Looking for cheap eats with character? The food stalls at this 1934 L.A. landmark sell everything from crepes to Cajun chicken to sushi to baba ghanouj. Free concerts featuring top L.A. musicians are held on the West Patio every Thursday and Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

6333 W. 3rd St., CA, 866-993-9211, www.farmersmarketla.com
Tags: family | budget | counter service

Katsuya

Yes, those are paparazzi camping out in front of restaurant-of-the-moment Katsuya. The likes of John Mayer and Jay-Z can turn this buzzing Japanese eatery upside down when fans and photographers catch wind of their presence. But the real stars here are found on the menu: Crispy-creamy rock shrimp bites, miso cod, and dynamic lobster sushi and tuna nigiri plates. Philippe Starck designed the restaurant - its slick interiors pair well with the sexy cocktails, white leather banquettes, and side-by-side center tables.

6300 Hollywood Blvd., CA, 323-871-8777, sbe.com/katsuya
Tags: moderate | trendy | sushi | japanese

La Grande Orange

The newest addition to Santa Monica’s Main Street debuted in May 2009. Part grocery store, part restaurant, it’s the place to buy breakfast and picnic supplies before heading to the beach or stop for a snack while strolling the strand. During the day it has counter service only – place your order at the register and it’s delivered to your table. At night, it goes full service. Everything is freshly made and mostly organic. They emphasize “what you see is what you get” from the open kitchen – the only freezer they have is for ice cream. Vegans and vegetarians alike will find ample offerings from a tofu-chorizo breakfast burrito to sweet potato rolls with Japanese barbeque sauce to the “day breaker” egg white omelet with turkey, tomato, and avocado.

2000 Main St., California, 310-396-9145, www.lagrandeorangesm.com
Tags: moderate | vegetarian | organic | vegan

Larkin's

Kick back with killer takes on collard greens, fried chicken, and blackened catfish at this buzzing juke joint offering contemporary soul food in L.A.'s trendy Eagle Rock neighborhood. Save room for the sinfully delicious banana pudding!

1496 Colorado Blvd., CA, 323-254-0934, www.larkinsjoint.com
Tags: moderate | editor pick | comfort food

Magnolia

With a late-night scene that's all taco trucks and diners, LA is lucky to have Magnolia in Hollywood. The food is straightforward (iceberg wedge, seared ahi) but tasty, and there's always a warm, buzzing ambience. Open until 2am Thursdays-Saturdays.

6266 1/2 Sunset Blvd., CA, 323-467-0660, www.magnoliahollywood.com
Tags: moderate | open late | new american

Philippe the Original

Succulent French Dip Sandwiches since 1908 - at prices that haven't changed much since. Indeed, the famous sandwich was actually invented here: Legend has it that Philippe, a French immigrant, was preparing a sandwich for a policeman when he accidentally dropped a sliced French roll into the drippings of a roasting pan. The policeman liked it, and a legendary sandwich was born.

1001 N. Alameda St., CA, 213-628-3781, www.philippes.com
Tags: budget | counter service

Pink's

At any given hour of the day and well into the night, a crowded line snakes in front of this infamous Hollywood hot-dog stand; they're probably all waiting for one of the cart's famous chili cheese dogs, which have been served up (almost) since Pink's inception in 1939.

709 N. La Brea Ave., CA, 323-931-4223, www.pinkshollywood.com
Tags: family | budget | editor pick | open late

Pizzeria Mozza

Call early for reservations at this Mario Batali-backed pizzeria; or head over unannounced between 3-4pm and you might nab a seat at the counter.

641 N. Highland Ave., CA, 323-297-0101, www.mozza-la.com
Tags: moderate | great value | italian | pizza

The Abbey Food & Bar

Who knew a former garden statuary store turned gay-friendly coffeehouse could turn into one of LA's hippest hangouts? Though its reputation stands as a gay bar and eatery, the Abbey, a Gothic-style space with Venetian mirrors, silk-draped walls, and birdcage chandeliers (there's also an outdoor courtyard with private cabanas) welcomes all. The bakery peddles sinful delights like red velvet cake and triple berry shortcake, while dinner options include comfort food favorites like mile-high nachos and finger-licking ribs. In the evenings, the place turns into a rollicking nightclub with pumping music and table bottle service.

692 N. Robertson Blvd, CA, 310-289-8410, abbeyfoodandbar.com
Tags: moderate | design | trendy | casual

The Ivy

Enclosed by a white-picket-fence, The Ivy hosts Hollywood power players in a rustic country-chic atmosphere. Beyond prime celebrity spotting, the Ivy's main draw is the classic comfort-food menu (ideal takes on Caesar salads, crab cakes, Cajun prime ribs, and burgers).

113 N. Robertson Blvd., CA, 310-274-8303
Tags: expensive | smart splurge | comfort food | brunch

XIV by Michael Mina

It's not in the prettiest part of town, but the cozy-chic interior, laidback vibe, and menu by Michelin-star chef Michael Mina make up for its drab location at the beginning of Sunset Strip's main drag. The restaurant, designed by Philippe Starck, is filled with dark leather chairs, animal-skin banquettes, candelabras, and the soft hum of chatter from its well-to-do clientele. The space also comprises 6ix on Sunset bar; its outdoor terrace is even more low-key with locals often watching Lakers games on the bar TV and noshing bites from the bar menu like Kobe beef sliders. The restaurant menu changes several times per year but one can expect inventive dishes like asparagus risotto with chervil-stuffed squash blossom, filet mignon accompanied by short rib tortellini, and a five-layer caviar parfait.

8117 W. Sunset Blvd., CA, 323-656-1414, www.sbe.com/xiv
Tags: expensive | bar

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