Hancock Park Restaurants
7313 Beverly Blvd., Hancock Park
This place is always busy, and for good reason: The vibe is unpretentious, and the food is delicious, homey, and simple, from the pastas, (like the insane Lasagne Verde and the creamy risottos), to a whole branzino baked in salt.
639 N. Larchmont Blvd., Hancock Park
Everything on the menu is an affirmation, so if you can stifle the giggles at names like "I Am Connected"—which is actually an amazing zucchini cilantro hummus—you'll find that the vegan food here is delicious, even for those who normally refuse to go meat- and dairy-free. There are picks for every sensibility, from coffee milkshakes (made with almond milk) to cashew-cheese-topped corn tacos to Indian curried lentils. There are three locations—Hancock Park, Venice, and the Arts District—and the Café Gratitude team just opened Gracias Madre, a Mexican iteration, in Hollywood.
6610 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood
This wonderfully tiny, six-table spot is the latest addition to the Mozza family—with a homepage distinguished by a giant cleaver, Chi Spacca offers innumerable versions of pork and beef chops, which should definitely be shared (many are 42 to 50 ounces). Like any great steak house, even of the Italian variety, all that carne comes with a bountiful menu of delectable sides: The mashed potatoes are insane, as are the squash blossoms and grilled cauliflower. And, as this is California and all, you can trust that there's a simple grilled fish on the menu, along with a hearty kale salad. It's possible to rent the entire space for events.
Odys + Penelope
127 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park
This relative newcomer focuses on Brazilian churrasco, i.e. grilled meat. Accordingly, the back of the restaurant is outfitted with a wood-fired grill that churns out some of LA's best steaks, done in a traditional South American style. The menu is noticeably concise, to accommodate frequent changes based on availability, which means that the appetizers take full advantage of California's rich produce with seasonal salads and inventive vegetable dishes. This is the second, and more formal restaurant, from nearby Sycamore Kitchen's Quinn and Karen Hatfield; since Karen's manning the oven, the desserts here are not to be skipped.
624 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park
With long and star-studded resumés (Walter Manzke has worked at El Bulli, for one, while his wife, Margarita, worked at Melisse), nobody expected this ambitious duo’s newest LA venture to be anything less than extraordinary. Occupying the former home of Campanile (i.e., Charlie Chaplin’s film studio back in the ’20s), the focus here is on French-inflected staples, like duck confit, oysters, and tartes flambées. The uni toast is insane, the baguettes are absurd (Margarita is a pastry chef), and the space has been reworked beautifully: The heavy floor tiles and mahogany tables were all imported from The Philippines, where Margarita was born. (Should you ever find yourself in Manila, the Manzkes also have a small chain of successful cafés there called Wildflour.)
Saint Martha (Closed)
740 S. Western Ave., Downtown
Named for the patron saint of cooks and servants, this wonderfully unsplashy Koreatown spot is serving some pretty delectable fare. The small plates in particular are insane (the sea urchin tataki is a must order), as is the fish (go for the scallops and mushrooms).
143 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park
Smack in the middle of the La Brea design corridor, the seating at this little sister to the more upscale Odys + Penelope is almost entirely outdoors. The sweet and the savory camps are equally strong here: There's salted caramel pecan babka and chocolate chip rye in the former, and a generous Farmhouse Chop Salad and Turkey Sandwich in the latter.
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