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Los Angeles


Sushi & Salads
In L.A., why eat anything else?

An arugula Salad at Jar  

Modern salad traces its roots to Wolfgang Puck, who invented the Chinese chicken salad at the old standard Chinois on Main (310-392-9025). There are also the small, sophisticated salads of celebrity chef Suzanne Goin at the popular A.O.C. (323-653-6359)—try the frisée, served in bread; and, in Venice, the constantly rotating menu of salads piled on open-faced sandwiches at Axe (310-664-9787), where all the produce comes from a local farmers’ market. Also check out L.A.’s take on the Caesar at industry spot Campanile (323-938-1447), where the leaves are served whole, or at the retro-kitsch Jar (323-655-6566), where romaine is replaced with red endive. Raw fish? L.A.’s high end is Matsuhisa (310-659-9639), in Beverly Hills. Also try the equally expensive Nishimura (310-659-4770), and nosh in beautiful, minimalist environs across from the Pacific Design Center. Katsu Michite’s Tama Sushi (818-760-4585) in Studio City is considered the best in town by some, and it offers a very affordable omakase lunch ($30). There’s even an L.A. “Sushi Nazi,” a.k.a. Studio City’s Sushi Nozawa (818-508-7017): Goopy, complicated rolls are not allowed, and there’s a blinking neon sign behind the chef that reads trust me.

the top five
Strip-mall Restaurants

From sushi bars to burger joints, many of L.A.’s most popular restaurants are word-of-mouth jewels inexplicably nestled in strip-mall eyesores.

1. Zankou Chicken: Next to a tobacco shop in a seedy Hollywood strip mall, this Middle Eastern rotisserie is always packed with locals happy to tolerate the fluorescent lighting and Formica for gut-busting plates of sliced shawarma and the addictive garlic sauce that accompanies it (323-665-7842).

2. Alegria on Sunset: If you eat one Mexican dish while you’re in L.A., make it the carnitas quesadilla at this friendly spot in Silver Lake that shares a parking lot with Baskin-Robbins (323-913-1422).

3. Ye Rustic Inn: While there’s nothing “Ye” about it, this Los Feliz dive bar has the best burgers in the city and a hair-metal-stacked jukebox to boot (323-662-5757).

4. Blue Hen Vietnamese Kitchen: Like the name suggests, poultry is the guest of honor at this Vietnamese oasis in Eagle Rock: Try “Grandpa’s Porridge,” a rice-porridge-and-shredded-chicken concoction that works miracles for a hangover (323-982-9900).

5. Hirozen: You may feel packed in tighter than a slice of unagi in an eel-and-cucumber roll, but food in this tiny Beverly Boulevard mini-mall gem is worth it. Don’t leave without trying the buttery toro, Kobe-beef tataki, or the “Toro & Foie Gras Tower,” layered with banana and black-bean sauce (323-653-0470).

eat. on Sunset  

Instead of the usual California-French cuisine, eat. on Sunset (323-461-8800), located in the old Pinot Hollywood space, offers an All-American menu (oysters, pork belly) and non-fussy décor (pairs of daybeds and an outdoor patio). Ford’s Filling Station (310-202-1470), a gastropub opened by Ben Ford (Harrison Ford’s son), has a seasonal menu with organic produce and cured meats from Mario Batali’s dad. If you’re more in the mood for burgers, macaroni and cheese, or fried chicken served with a considerable scene, seek out the alleyway entrance to Citizen Smith (323-461-5001), on the south end of the Cahuenga Strip. New Yorkers addicted to Maury Rubin’s ginger cookies will be relieved to know his melted chocolate-chip ones at the new City Bakery (310-656-3040) in Brentwood are just as good.

Next: How to Get a Room at Sunset Tower

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