Zankou Chicken (zankouchicken.com) has locations all over the place. Think of it as a great regional fast food chain. It’s one of the few franchises where you can get a hearty (and cheap) falafel that will fill you up until suppertime rolls around.
In-N-Out Burger (in-n-out.com) is also a pleasure. Rock your grilled cheese “animal-style” or scarf down a Double-Double. Don’t know what that means? Well, then you better find a location quick and get started on your research.
But if your taste buds just won’t settle for anything that doesn’t require cloth napkins and sterling silverware, then you can always find solace in:
Chinda Barbeque & Restaurant (1714 Victory Blvd., Glendale) Chinda is a wonderfully random spot to dine with friends or the ’rents when they come to town. The menu is fun and pleases with the best of the best in Thai faves like mint chicken. And for added inspiration, this restaurant is located in the exact same strip mall where McLovin got held up at gunpoint in the movie Superbad.
Food (10571 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles) Follow the cool guys and gals that look as though they have careers in graphic design or fashion and you’ll end up here. Located on the yuppie-filled Westside, Food is a great little classic American restaurant (a.k.a. sandwich shop) that brings a bit of Silver Lake to Pico Boulevard. Each of the menu items is nicely priced, the service is great and there’s never a long line to wait in for service.
Cacao Coffee House (11609 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles) Open late, Cacao is a nice, laid back coffee spot that is frequented by the kind of people that hang out in San Francisco on the weekend or head to Japan for their Christmas vacation. On any given night, you’ll see guys shootin’ the breeze with one another about any number of topics. Luckily for you, said convos are much less pretentious as the ones in those chain cafes.
Takami Sushi & Robata (811 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2100, Los Angeles) Looking for a restaurant to make your night in the city truly memorable? Well, look no further. Takami is an outstanding example of what fine dining can be. Its Japanese, pan-Asian fusion cuisine is four star. Takami also has one of the most inventive and outrageous drink menus to compliment the food or to get your evening started with a bang. And the servers always go out of their way to promote a friendly atmosphere. Sure, it gets a little crowded on a Saturday night, but just remember: Good things come to those who wait.
Palomino Restaurant Rotisseria Bar (10877 Wilshire Blvd., #150, Los Angeles) When most people think of a college town, they don’t think of Los Angeles. But that’s exactly what we are. Nestled on a block within walking distance of UCLA is this absolutely outstanding restaurant. Palomino’s food is an interesting mix of Mediterranean, French and good old fashioned U.S. of A. influences. You can get anything from a prime cut ribeye to mussels to light as a cloud crème brûlée.
Jinpachi (8711 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood) Japanese food finds a happy home in West Hollywood at Jinpachi. The ambiance is woodsy and serene. Entrees range from nicely priced to a bit on the expensive side. But you won’t regret paying for quality. After sampling the miso soup, teriyaki and various sushi and sashimi dishes, you might even quit your complaining about the lack of available parking in the area.
Citizen Smith (1600 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles) If you blink, you’ll miss it, so it’s better to drive at a slow crawl along Cahuenga Boulevard to find this renowned gourmet promised land. The cooking is rich in down home traditions; appetizers like Fried Green Tomatoes and Citrus Glazed Shrimp are seriously recommended. And since it’s located in what is now the trendiest part of town, you’ll have a lot of fun walking off all those calories as you peruse many of the recently erected shops.
Tutti Gelati (62 W. Union St., Pasadena) Cleanse your palate after a long day of shopping with some fruity and delicious frozen goodness. Tutti Gelati offers Italian ice cream in every flavor and color of the spectrum. Just the visual of metal tin after metal tin housing mouthwatering tastes like Sour Cherry gelato or Granny Smith sorbet is enough to make an instant fan out of any foodie.
Panini Garden (2715 Main St., Santa Monica) Say the word “crepes” to anybody with a sweet tooth and suddenly you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a diatribe about the battle of the bulge, fighting a personal battle with sweets and a slew of other problems that goes along with a love of this dessert. Why not give your friends and family another reason to gripe by treating them to the best crepes under $5 this city has to offer. You can also grab an excellent panini for yourself (I recommend the Panino Classico).
Intelligentsia (3922 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles) Step up to the counter and order what is seen by most as the best cup of Joe on the Eastside. Intelligentsia draws crowds from all over the city, but is only frequented by those in the know. However, a word of caution: This fun little java and snack nook is hipster-central, so unless you’re all about skinny jeans and A Flock of Seagulls haircuts, you may want to stick with Starbucks or Coffee Bean. Rodeo Mexican Grill (1721 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles) Sure, the neighborhood’s a bit dodgy, but with food this good, get over it! Mexican din-din gets made to order in this Echo Park restaurant. Refried beans, chicken – even ceviche – are seasoned to perfection. And the best part of it is the affordability. Take $20, a good buddy and your appetite. You’ll eat like kings!
Wildflour Pizza (2807 Main St., Santa Monica) Normally, an eatery with sawdust on the floors would be fodder for any number of jokes steeped in high school bitchiness. But Wildflour is quite possibly one of the better pizzerias by the beach. Fresh ingredients top these pies that are so rich and incredible you will immediately lose your taste for Domino’s, Papa John’s and PizzaHut.
Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill (6122 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles) Old school jazz singers are the perfect companion to this restaurant’s delectable menu items. (Many talented vocalists perform here on the regular.) While it is renowned for its crab cake sandwich, the real star is the filet mignon served alongside asparagus in a demiglaze atop fluffy, creamy, buttery mashed potatoes. Great food from an unlikely culinary superstar.