Winding up the traffic-free, tree-lined hill to the Hotel Bel-Air, the only sound you’ll hear is that of the birds chirping. It’s hard to grasp that you’re still in LA. But the leather alcoves and the large-scale portraits of famous personalities looking down from the walls of the hotel bar remind you that LA it is. Someone’s playing jazz on the piano, and everyone is drinking martinis—well shaken by master bartender Allen Allam. But a martini is not for everyone, and the pepino (fresh basil muddled with tequila) is a stellar backup. Dinner at the bar is just as good, if not better than, dinner at the restaurant. Sit close to the piano and order the burger.

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