Restaurants in Los Angeles are strange commodities, as being there is often more important than dining there. The reputations of restaurants carry a much greater influence on diners than the actual reviews.

Tourists and locals alike are more inclined to remember bumping into Pauly Shore on their way to the restroom rather than the quality of their Blackened Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo. Considering that the ratio of restaurants to humans here seems to be 3:1, deciding where to eat is always quite an ordeal.

PLACES TO EAT THAT ACTUALLY STARTED OUT HERE, UNLIKE MOST OF THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE HERE

CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN

121 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles (310) 854-6555

6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood (323) 460-2080

And various other L.A. locations

  In New York, it's all about who has the best pizza. In conversations about favorite pizza places, the discussion almost always centers around a slice of cheese or pepperoni. At California Pizza Kitchen, such arguments go right out the window.

At CPK you'll ponder pizzas entitled the “Mango Tandoori Chicken” or the “Pear & Gorgonzola.” I'm not even entirely sure what a Gorgonzola is. (Although, I'm envisioning it to be one of the creatures from Where the Wild Things Are .) Needless to say, I'm not about to consume a mythological beast from a children's story.

If you are relatively adventurous when it comes to your pizza toppings, or if you just want to see what a Shrimp Scampi pizza actually looks like, then make your way down to one of the many California Pizza Kitchens for a taste of California that is currently found in 29 states.

For more information, visit www.cpk.com.

IN-N-OUT BURGER

7009 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood

922 Gayley Ave., Westwood

And various other L.A. locations

In-N-Out has the best burgers in Los Angeles. If you've never had one, then go get one immediately. If you have had one, then go get another. They're that good.

Since its inception in 1948, In-N-Out has mastered its three-item menu of burgers, fries and shakes. Do not expect a nouveau-burger with crumbled feta cheese and a dollop of low-fat horseradish mayonnaise. They serve real burgers here, ones that would bring a smile to the face of the Greek God of Ground Beef Products.

While certainly not healthy, the fries have an unmistakable “health food” taste to them, a far cry from the grease and salt-flavored semi-potato products served at McDonald's and other fast food establishments. The In-N-Out fries definitely grow on you, and even if they didn't, the thought that you might be eating relatively healthy fries perfectly compliments the scrumptious cholesterol bomb internationally known as the “Double-Double with Cheese.”

For more information, visit www.in-n-out.com.

PLACES TO EAT THAT YOU'VE SEEN ON ‘ENTOURAGE' AND WHERE YOU MIGHT GET TO SEE A FAMOUS PERSON (OR AT LEAST SOMEONE FROM MTV'S ‘THE REAL WORLD')

SPAGO

176 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills (310) 385-0880

KOI

730 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles (310) 659-9449

Hands down, Spago and Koi are the two best restaurants for spotting celebrities (and their lesser-known brethren in the film, music and TV industries). On any given night you're sure to recognize someone, and if not, you might still be lucky enough to sit in the exact seat that Johnny Drama kept warm for 10 or 12 minutes.

I have never eaten in either establishment due to the fact that I am not exactly inclined to order a $31 broiled cuttlefish. Besides, I'm perfectly content watching the stars from the comfort of my sofa while devouring a $1.99 breakfast burrito from Del Taco.

That being said, I cannot recommend actually eating anything at Koi or Spago. If by some chance a superstar such as Ashton Kutcher or Richard Grieco sits down right next to you, you don't want a half-chewed chunk of cuttlefish in your mouth to spoil the beginning of an almost certain lifelong friendship.

For more information, visit www.wolfgangpuck.com and www.koirestaurant.com.

PLACES TO EAT WHERE YOU CAN TAKE PHOTOS FOR YOUR MYSPACE PAGE

GLADSTONE'S

17300 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades (310) 454-3474

With an amazing location on a thin strip of land between Pacific Coast Highway and the Pacific Ocean, you really owe it to yourself to head over to Gladstone's for panoramic views as well as outstanding seafood dishes.

Most importantly, make sure not to finish your meal at Gladstone's, as the wait staff will wrap your leftovers with some really colorful tinfoil and then form it into the shape of your favorite sea creature. I can never bring myself to actually unwrap the leftovers so I am often left with a decomposing golden-tinfoil crab or shark on the third shelf in my refrigerator.

For more information, visit www.gladstones.com.

DON ANTONIO'S

11755 W. Pico Blvd., Westwood (310) 312-2090

Every Wednesday is $1 taco night at Don Antonio's – a night which truly gives you a first-hand view of the melting pot that is L.A. You'll find white-collar workers from the nearby film studios blowing off steam with margaritas and cheap tacos.

There are multi-generational Mexican families having a get-together. There will be UCLA co-eds taking advantage of an economical night out, as well as the scores of guys waiting by the fully stocked bar hoping to start a conversation with the aforementioned co-eds.

As a bonus, one of the dining rooms in Don Antonio's is built to look like a cave, so you can have a great dinner while you pretend to be the only caveman with a $400 cell phone and that your impeccable carne asada taco is really a grilled slab of wooly mammoth.

PLACES TO EAT AT TIMES WHEN YOU SHOULD REALLY BE ASLEEP OR IN REHAB

If you're looking for a break from the standard Los Angeles late-night fare, look no farther than the Pacific Dining Car and Jerry's Famous Deli. They are both open 24 hours a day, they are more costly than the rest of the late-night establishments, and they have very little in common.

THE PACIFIC DINING CAR

1310 E. 6th St., Los Angeles (213) 483-6000

2700 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica (310) 453-4000

The Pacific Dining Car is great if you're hosting dignitaries from Thailand at 3:57 a.m., who still insist on eating dinner at the time they normally do back home (3:57 a.m. in Los Angeles is 6:57 p.m. in Bangkok). That way you can impress them with traditional Thai dishes like Sautéed Scallops with Lobster Sauce and Potatoes Au Gratin.

For more information, visit www.pacificdiningcar.com.

JERRY'S FAMOUS DELI

12655 Ventura Blvd., Studio City (818) 980-4245

8701 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles (310) 289-1811

10925 Weyburn Ave., Westwood (310) 208-3354

13181 Mindanao Way, Marina Del Rey (310) 821-6626

21857 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills (818) 340-0810

Jerry's Famous Deli is best for traditional deli comfort foods such as soups and sandwiches; however, they also serve lesser-known deli foods like Turkey Burgers and Belgian Waffles. The Jerry's next to the UCLA campus is one of the most popular studying/eating spots in the entire country, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a seat once finals roll around.

For more information, visit www.jerrysfamousdeli.com.