This is the more casual cousin of Mario Batali's Osteria Mozza, though these are no humble pies. Perfect brick oven pizzas (the best crust in town) can be topped with everything from leeks and bacon to squash blossoms and egg. (Dinner for two, $75)
What better place to get lit than a former power plant? This place is big with lots of nooks and crannies, like an old boiler, to tuck into and chat. And you can't beat their Friday "soup kitchen" happy hour—35 cent cocktails and free grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Though El Compadre has all the Mexican restaurant cliches (from the mariachi band to the adobe walls), they somehow all come together for a great meal. Their signature flaming margaritas are as tasty as they are strong and pair well with the classic, unpretentious Mexican fare. (Dinner for two, $50)
The love for this Cali institution borders on idolatry. And here's why: fresh ingredients, cooked to order and prepared in a sparkling clean store by a friendly, attentive staff. It's like burgers in Pleasantville. And it's amazing. (Lunch for two, $9)
This no-nonsense breakfast spot lovingly brews each cup of coffee singularly, delivered in generous bowl-sized mugs. But be warned, the early bird gets the prime table in the sun. (Breakfast for two, $15)
California's the epicenter for fusion cuisine so this makes perfect sense: native Angeleno Roy Choi's taco truck serves burritos and tacos filled with Korean barbeque. With a constantly evolving menu (new just this week is a new grilled turkey wrap with asian slaw) and a popular Twitter feed, it's no wonder there's crowds already waiting when the truck pulls up. (Lunch for two, $14)
This Art District watering hole isn't scene-y. In fact, the low-key spot barely even has a sign—look for the generic 'cocktail' sign on the side. We appreciated the goldfish crackers in lieu of bar nuts. Happy hour offers $5 PBR's with a whiskey chaser.
Dapper barkeeps in pinstripes, plaid walls, trophy taxidermy. If you weren't a whiskey drinker before coming to this gentlemanly lounge, perhaps you can find one that interests you—they serve more than 200 varieties. We suggest trying one out in an Old Fashioned.
There are dozens of doughnut shops in LA, but SK's is the most talked about and has the highest reviews on Yelp. On our first visit to the unassuming shop, it was after hours, so we approached the walk-up window. The donuts were as fresh as if we came at ten in the morning and the owner even threw in a few freebies.
9777 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; 310.275.9003
Owner Yoshi Yoshida is up before dawn to score the first pick at the fish market, and what can't be bought locally (like the gen saba mackkerel) is flown in fresh from Tokyo's Tsukiji market. You should try the house signatures: shredded blue crab hand rolls or oyster tempura with black truffles. (Dinner for two, $100)
Even though Jeff Halmos and Sam Shipley packed up their Cali digs to start Shipley & Halmos in New York, the designers still crave LA's Mexican food. "The best is Hole Mole in Long Beach," says Halmos. "It's the most authentic Mexican fish tacos you'll find north of the border."