Archive for the ‘Food!’ Category

Melrose Place CafeHave you ever been to a beach in France? They’re spectacularly groomed, meticulously raked, chairs lined up in compact little rows and umbrellas perfectly placed. Walk across it and you have a guy following behind to erase the footprints. Ever felt like going to a regular beach instead, where you can sprawl out on a towel and mess up the sand at your leisure?

Melrose Place Café is the regular beach of sidewalk cafés. Where most sidewalk dining areas in Los Angeles are like little, enclosed extensions of the restaurant’s interior, with their little barricades and their narrow little tables, Melrose Place spreads its wings, letting outside diners stretch their legs, look up at the trees and munch their lunches in the cool breeze. Sounds a little Podunk, you say? Not so. Not only is the menu healthy, eclectic and tasty, it’s cultured. With interesting fare like the Tomato-Basil Mozzarella Panini, the Turkey Bacon Sweet Onion Omelet, plus Persian-influenced herbs and sides, it easily competes with any of Hollywood’s breakfast and lunch places.

Breakfast is served all day, and the pay-up-front aspect makes it a good lunch break choice for the area’s retail scene. And yes, there’s even inside seating. Bon appétit.

(See more pics!)


sushiSushi is to LA as the poolside margarita is to Vegas. Or as the buffalo was to the plains Indian. Ok, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but it’s definitely not wise to stand between a Los Angeleno and yellowtail sashimi.

Like a burrito joint can be judged almost exclusively on its carne asada, sushi places can be summed up fairly easily based on a few things, such as freshness, and creativity in flavors and presentation. Sushi places can also vary widely in overall quality, from the greasy joint that seems to put imitation crab in everything, to the jaw-dropping rooftop establishment that makes you feel a little underdressed (see number one on this list).

Bearing all of these factors in mind, here are five Hollywood restaurants that should be added to anyone’s sushi to-do list. They run the gamut from chill sidewalk cafe to swank central, but all of them come through with the goods when it comes to sushi.

This list, by the way, is by no means complete. If you’ve got a place to add, feel free to mention it in the comment section below.

i love sushi5. I Love Sushi

7516 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 651-1806

This streetside restaurant on Melrose is rarely crowded, which really only says how underrated the place is. Outside seating, friendly servers and very generous chefs (become a regular and you’ll see) complement the menu, which is surprisingly good for the size of the establishment. Sushi connoisseurs will enjoy the selection of eel, white tuna, yellowtail, scallops, ikura and other staples of a quality menu, and the complimentary orange slices that come with the check are a nice touch.

sushi dan4. Sushi Dan

8000 W Sunset Blvd #131A
Los Angeles, CA 90046-2442
(323) 848-8583

A step up from the streetside sushi joint is Sushi Dan, located in the enclosed shopping center on Sunset and Laurel. A warm, orange glow and black slate floors effectively combine a traditional Japanese theme with a modern club-esque vibe, and prompt service ensures you’re seated either inside or on the front patio almost without breaking stride. One menu item that’s tough to top anywhere is Yummy Crunchy, a plate of tuna, tomatoes and the herb-tinted house dressing piled onto fried wonton skins.

yamashiro3. Yamashiro

1999 N. Sycamore Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90068
(323) 466-5125

This slightly upper-end sushi restaurant resembles an ancient Japanese palace, and is actually an exact replica of a palace located in Japan’s Yamashiro Mountains. A bit of trivia: the pagoda standing a few yards to the southeast of the restaurant is the oldest structure in California, brought over from Japan in the early 1900s when the larger building was constructed. More interesting historical tidbits can be found on the Yamashiro Web site. As far as sushi goes, the chefs employ mango, macadamia nuts, coconut, mushrooms, asparagus and other interesting ingredients with an array of creative sauces to make favorites like the Hawaii Five-O, a yellowtail roll with several of the above ingredients, as well as other Japanese-inspired surf-and-turf plates. Bring tip money for the valet, because there is no self-parking here.

katana2. Katana

8439 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 650-8585

Katana is the swank Hollywood club of sushi places. If any restaurant is a good place to bump into Lindsay Lohan or Jay-Z, this is probably it. With its dark, mysterious interior, part ancient fortress and part industrial club, one has to be dressed to the nines to blend into the scenery here. The slightly crowded outdoor patio is almost always in high demand, and even with a reservation it can sometimes be a wait for a table — and don’t even think of showing up on a weekend night without a reservation. But at least there is a lot to see while you wait, and the food is absolutely worth it. Besides killer rolls (do we need to say how awesome they are?) this place specializes in robata, or grilled meat and vegetable skewers, marinated in ridiculously flavorful sauces that will make you drool. We’ve actually sworn one day to come and order a plate full of them and nothing else. Have yet to do that. But those, plus the attentive, friendly service, makes Katana a must-visit for anyone who doesn’t mind spending a little extra cash.

takami1. Takami Sushi & Robata

811 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2100
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 236-9600

This high-rise restaurant occupies the penthouse of a downtown office building, providing its guests with jaw-dropping views of the city and surrounding skyscrapers. The space is large, with a sleek, modern atmosphere and a glass wall separating the inner dining area from the outside patio, where diners can stare 21 stories down at the streets below. The menu is elegant and exotic, with a wide variety of rolls, sushi robata and other Japanese entrees to choose from. Fan favorites include the Poki Martini, a sushi appetizer served in a martini glass, and the spicy tuna on crispy rice, another great appetizer. Robata and other seafood dishes accommodate those who are less into sushi, and the Elevate Lounge is next door for after-dinner clubbing. The prices are a little higher than other sushi places, but not extremely so, making Takami a good splurge for those who don’t want to spend a fortune.


In the landscape of Hollywood fast food, two gleaming ivory towers rise above the debris of MSG-soaked, artificial-smoke flavored, reheated mega-burger chains. In-N-Out, the Irvine-based private burger chain that won Zagat’s Fast-Food Survey in 2008 and 2009, and Fatburger, the Santa Monica-based chain known as “the Last Great Hamburger Stand.”

One is an old-fashioned cult favorite that successfully promotes itself through T-shirts emblazoned with hot rods, the other touts its food quality through snarky slogans aimed at other burger chains, and was once co-owned by Magic Johnson. Which deserves the crown? There are many factors to consider: In-N-Out’s prices still recall its 1948 birth; Fatburger’s patrons are treated to free, unlimited use of the jukebox and a wide array of delicious burger options. What are we going to do about this?

Here are the facts, arranged for the best possible comparison. Make up your mind and cast your vote. (Or feel free to write in a vote in the comments below. But if you vote for one of those artery-clogging sludge-chains, we will descend upon your comment with the fire of a thousand pepperoncinis.)

In-N-Out Fatburger
in-n-out <—?—> fatburger
* 1950s pricing, $2.75 for a Double Double * Tons of burger options, plus crazy sandwiches, salads and other stuff
* Real meat instead of liquid burger slop * Actual cow, not gray burger sludge
* Clean fry oil, fries that resemble actual potatoes * Choice of fat or skinny fries, chili fries, onion rings
* “Secret” menu options like Animal Style, multi-patty/cheese options * Double-King, Triple-King, etc. (as high as you care to go*)
* Real ice cream shakes: Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry * Ice cream shakes that actually melt: Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry
* Highly addictive Special Sauce * Madly customizable topping options
* Grilled cheese or no-patty option * Boca burger option

ahi tuna burgerWhen Moses came down from the mountain, he brought with him the stone tablets containing the strict, new rule system for everyone to follow. And he knew people would be upset. So, unmentioned in the scriptures, he brought something else with him to help make everyone feel better.

It was an ahi tuna burger. I’m not exaggerating at all. Ask any Sunday school teacher. The ahi tuna burger, despite being created by Eastern-themed restaurant Buddha’s Belly and thus having little or nothing to do with Western religion, is more or less a gift from God, sent to pacify the masses and give them refuge from the stress and perils of the world. And it does its job well.

This morsel of divine ambrosia (ok, it’s a tuna patty) envelops tiny hints of ginger, corn and other tasty ingredients. It sits on a buttery Hawaiian bun under two thick tomato slices, a few leaves of crispy lettuce, a large (but never large enough) chuck of avocado, sweet teriyaki sauce, and a nice layer of the restaurant’s spicy mayo, which is akin to the type you find in a sushi place. And if this combo isn’t holy enough, it comes with a golden heap of sweet potato fries, complete with a side of that spicy mayo for dipping.

If you can resist this godly entity of food pleasure, you should seriously consider leading a life of servitude, perhaps in a monastery in the Alpines. Because this, by our carefully reasoned logic, is without a doubt the best burger in Los Angeles.

Do you know of a better one? We dare you. Introduce us to it in the comments below!