5706 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood
Next time you drive past one of Los Angeles’s many, often tumbledown, strip malls, look closely. Nestled between the laundromat and the questionable massage parlor might be one of the city’s best restaurants. Petit Trois, Sushi Gen, Jitlada...all in strip malls. Baroo is no different, and for chef Kwang Uh—a Noma alum—the choice of location is deliberate. Affordable rent means more research trips abroad for fresh ideas and new ingredients. The dishes at Baroo are hard to describe: experimental, deeply savory, and Asian-inflected. Pickles take center stage to the point that the only decoration in the otherwise sparse space is jar upon jar of Uh’s fermentation projects. Surrender and roll with the chef’s recommendations, although we’re partial to the Amira basmati rice, coated in a ton of herbs, coconut, dried shrimp, and pickled things. Most of the menu is vegan, it’s all under fifteen dollars, and the house-made kombucha is essential.
2695 N. Beachwood Dr., Hollywood
The cornerstone of the one-street commercial area in adorable, historic Beachwood Canyon, Beachwood Café is still one of LA’s best-kept secrets. The eclectic décor has a distinctively ‘60s vibe that makes you nostalgic for the city’s early years, when development in the canyon really started to explode. The restaurant serves classic American/Californian food that’s heavy on vegetables and vegetarian options—that said, the meatball sub and pulled pork sandwiches are flat out great.
7533 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
From taco night to free-range fried chicken, this homey restaurant/café serves up Californian comfort food that's local, sustainable, natural and all that other good stuff.
The Redbury, 1717 Vine St., Hollywood
This place is great if you love strong, Mediterranean flavors. The complex small plates are excellent, and served in the beautiful eclectic hotel dining room. Their signature cocktails are just as delicious and interesting, making this a great place for a night out.
911 Seward St., Hollywood
You'll feel as though you've stepped out of the city and into someone's garden upon arriving at the painted picket fence that surrounds the green outdoor eating area of this Hollywood spot. Grub serves up tasty California classics, in an charmingly-tongue-in-cheek way, from an 'Are You Yolk in'? Egg Sandwich' to a '1/2 Ass Order of Ice Cream.' A great place for lunch and brunch.
5233 1/2 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
You wouldn't expect it from the outside, but this place serves up really excellent and innovative Southern Thai cuisine, that pushes the boundaries on flavor and spice. The mussels are a standout and people rave about the 'crying tiger.' It's tiny, which makes for long but worthwhile waits.
M Café de Chaya
7119 Melrose Ave., Hollywood
This is a great place for lunch. We love the Teriyaki Brown Rice Bowl with salmon and The California Club sandwich with tempeh 'bacon' and soy-mayo. They also have a great kids menu with options like buckwheat pancakes and gluten-free quesadillas. The atmosphere is relaxed and airy. There's a location in Beverly Hills and a new outpost in Brentwood.
Mud Hen Tavern (Closed)
724 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood
Susan Feniger opened Mud Hen Tavern in the space previously occupied by her popular restaurant, Street. The menu reads over-the-top and all-over-the-place, but it's actually exciting, innovative, and comes together as a great meal. The chicken & waffle croquettes with bacon and spicy maple syrup is a great example: The spice kicks up the maple syrup, which, glazed on crispy chicken meatballs, makes for an insanely delicious small plate. Everything else we tried was equally good, from the tuna ceviche with toasted corn to the vegetarian tostada (the walnut 'chorizo' on this is delicious, deceiving, and brilliant). It's mobbed here on weekend nights, with loud, upbeat music (Eye of the Tiger was blasting during dessert), and the vibe is definitely more pre-game than date.
Musso & Frank Grill
6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
Well-worn red leather banquettes, stiff martinis, bowtied waiters, and what was the first pay-phone in Hollywood, are just the beginning of this fabled restaurant's story. Thanks to its proximity to the Screen Writer's Guild, literary stars like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Aldous Huxley, wrote while they snacked on liquor. The menu has evolved since they opened in 1919, though it's really more about drinking up the scene.
145 N. La Brea Blvd., Hollywood
Considering Nong La’s immense popularity, it’s easy to forget that it’s actually a small, family-run operation. It started with brother-and-sister duo, Elaine and Victor Phuong, and their mom Khanh Phan, who sourced family recipes and adapted them into a perfect menu of Vietnamese banh mi, egg-topped fried rice, and a light, flavorful pho that you can customize to your liking. The new La Brea location is just a smidge fancier than the Sawtelle original but the menu is for the most part identical. Tip: Treat yourself to a glass of the homemade passion fruit iced tea—it’s delicious and just sweet enough to constitute as dessert. The original location is on the West Side.
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