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Nic’s Martini Lounge

WHY Dress-up fun in the heart of Beverly Hills, with a piano bar, often-good jazz and a walk-in vodka freezer that brings out the Russian in everyone. WHAT Larry Nicola was well ahead of the cocktail craze that’s swept L.A.—he decamped from Silver Lake some years ago to open this swank (and only slightly tongue-in-cheek) [...]

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Pann’s Restaurant

EatLA-1430

WHY An L.A. classic for its ’50s roots and Googie architecture alone—but when you add the waffles, patty melt, fried chicken and incredible biscuits… well, it’s a downright treasure. WHAT George and Rena Panagopoulos opened this Jetsons-style restaurant in 1958, and the family still runs it today. They’ve kept the place in tip-top condition, and [...]

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Otomisan

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WHY When you’re in Boyle Heights but don’t want Mexican food. WHAT You’ll feel like you’re walking into the film L.A. Confidential when you pull open the screen door to this diner, which has just five stools and three leatherette booths. It’s a vestige of when Boyle Heights was a hub of Japanese immigrants, before [...]

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Pollos el Brasero

WHY Straightforward, tasty, very cheap Peruvian fire-roasted chicken served in a cheerful dive. WHAT We’re not as gaga for this chicken as some—it’s a wee bit bland, and it can get dry, depending on how long it’s been sitting around—but it has a wonderful, mahogany skin and a nice smokiness, and it’s a hell of [...]

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Itzik Hagadol Grill

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WHY For the dazzlingly colorful appetizer of 20 Israeli salads, the homemade flatbread and the array of grilled things on skewers. WHAT Come hungry to this upscale shipudia (Israeli skewer house), because regardless of your intentions, you’ll eat too much. Pretty much every table orders the signature appetizer of 20 salads (carrots, eggplant, tabbouleh, mushrooms, [...]

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La Morenita Oaxaqueña

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WHY For the enormous, flopppy-crusted tlayuda con todo, Oaxaca’s answer to pizza, the red mole and the delicate, delicious Oaxacan-style empanadas filled with things like huitlacoche (a mushroom-like fungus) or flor de calabaza (zucchini flower)—or even chapulines (grasshoppers). WHAT The vibrant colors inside this strip-mall café hold the promise of equally vibrant cooking, and La [...]

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Beverly Soon Tofu House

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WHY For the soon dubu jjigae, a spicy, garlicky stew of fresh tofu that bubbles like volcanic lava in its individual iron pot. The superheated dish cooks a raw egg that the server cracks in at your table. Seafood or bits of meat add extra flavor to the extravaganza. WHAT Rivals of this 25-year old [...]

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Sompun

WHY A long list of traditional noodle dishes infrequently seen outside Thai Town. WHAT In its hidden location, this simple spot has been surprising folks for more than 25 years with the quality of its food. Besides the excellent noodle dishes, you must try the swoon-worthy yet rarely seen ‘Indian’-style coconut curry and its northern [...]

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Bua Siam

WHY Consistently excellent cooking that doesn’t pander to the sweet-craving American palate. Free delivery, too. WHAT It’s not just the array of tapas-sized plates that draws us to this stylish boxcar-size spot. Although who can argue with $2.99 appetizers that include skewered meatballs, crunchy rice cakes with Thai chile, the Thai spaghetti called knom jean [...]

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Rivera

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WHY For the inventive (if pricey) cocktails, the suave Staples-convenient setting and some pretty wonderful flavors. WHAT We’re mixed about this swank South Park spot, where ’80s wünderchef John Sedlar has resurfaced—on the one hand, it’s a sophisticated space with a good bar and some very good cooking. On the other hand, the portions are [...]

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