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Chez Jay

EatLA-1048

WHY Jay Fiondella has passed on, but his eponymous beach shack remains an oasis in a sea of gentrification, complete with a peanut-shell ‘carpet.’ WHAT This tiny shack festooned with Christmas lights is the only unchanged element amid the upscale hotels and overpriced restaurants that now dominate this strip of Ocean Avenue. Chez Jay still [...]

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Tasting Kitchen

EatLA-1591

WHY An elegant Lucques-meets-Portland gem with an ever-changing selection of inspired, intensely flavored but not at all fussy creations, ranging from delicate market greens tossed with walnut ancho•ade to roast branzino with chanterelles. The $50 set menu has got to be one of the best fine-dining deals in town. WHAT A crew of former ClarkLewis [...]

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Rockwell, VT

EatLA-1698

WHY A fabulous outdoor space, a good happy hour and flatbread pizzas to share with friends. WHAT This cousin to Vermont is a two-level, mostly outdoor space built around an artfully lit coral tree. The vibe varies greatly depending on when you come—weekend brunch is peaceful, early weeknights are rich with candlelit romance, and from [...]

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Red O

EatLA-1725

WHY To try Rick Bayless’s famed Mexican cooking without having to fly to Chicago. WHAT It’s hard to know why überchef Rick Bayless thought he should bring his upscale Mexican cooking to L.A., where Mexican food from every region is plentiful, but he did, and mobs of people have flocked to this great-looking place since [...]

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Fuego

EatLA-1633

WHY Upscale Mexican cuisine with a beautiful Long Beach view. WHAT A centerpiece of the redesigned and rebranded Hotel Maya, Fuego delivers a Mexican menu focused on coastal cooking. That translates to dishes like citric ceviches of shrimp and lobster scooped up with plantain chips, Yucat‡n-style pork two ways (presented as an achiote-glazed fillet and [...]

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Mohawk Bend

EatLA-1905

WHY In a vintage, 10,000-square-foot theater space, Mohawk Bend boasts an enviable selection of craft beers and one of the nicer patios in this part of town. WHAT A slew of vegan and vegetarian dishes—like polenta with leeks and broccoli, fire-roasted artichokes and pizzas made with seitan and faux mozzarella—are seamlessly integrated into a wide-ranging [...]

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The Varnish

EatLA-1480

WHY The closest L.A. has to a speakeasy, with a discreetly marked door at the back of Cole’s and exquisitely crafted cocktails. WHAT 1920s-style barmen, a jazz soundtrack and fresh fruit juices make the Varnish old-school—yet it’s up to date on the latest in mixology. WHO The Downtown bar-crawling crowd is youngish, but high-end cocktails [...]

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Picca

EatLA-1903

WHY Innovative creations from Ricardo Zarate, Food & Wine’s best New Los Angeles chef, 2011. WHAT The new descendant of Zarate’s ultra-modest Mo-Chica is a trend-setting cantina whose robata bar items look Japanese but taste Peruvian (skewered grilled scallops painted with aji amarillo pepper) and whose ceviche bar garnishes flash-marinated fish and sashimi-like tiradito with [...]

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The Luggage Room

EatLA-1799

WHY La Grande Orange’s casual sibling is a busy pizza specialist in the same historic Pasadena train station. WHAT Gourmet toppings like fig and blue cheese or sausage with shaved fennel top chewy sourdough crusts from a wood-burning oven. Crab legs, salads like the Green Day and a few other appetizers complete the menu; plenty [...]

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Yxta Cocina Mexicana

EatLA-1332

WHY For 40 years, Jesse Gomez’s family has been turning out ‘careful-the-plate-is-hot’ Mexican food at El Arco Iris, an old-school hub of Highland Park life. Now Gomez has created a new-school, loft-like place serving regional Mexican dishes, as well as twenty-some tequilas and what may well be the best margarita Downtown. WHAT This is not [...]

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