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There's some heavenly food in the City of Angels

Richard Ouzounian
Toronto Star

LOS ANGELES–The City of Angels can be a hellish place to get a meal. There aren't many breakfast spots outside of greasy spoons or high-priced hotels. Lunch is also often either a case of grabbing a sandwich or sitting down for a power-negotiating session. But dinner is another matter. Angelinos love to go out for an early evening meal but it can be hard to find a place that serves after 10. With all that in mind, here's a half-dozen places worth visiting:

BORDER GRILL, 1445 4th St., Santa Monica; 310-451-1655: If you stay in L.A. any length of time, you're going to want to visit to Santa Monica and sample some good Mexican food. You can do both at this hip place with a party-time feel and a fine way with all tequila-based drinks. You'll also enjoy dishes like their empanadas, chile relleno and grilled chicken chilaquiles.

CAMPANILE, 624 S. LA Brea Ave. 323-938-1447: Charlie Chaplin's home in the late 1920s, this is now a place to go for superlative Italian food, one of the most impressive Italian wine lists in North America and some discrete celebrity spotting. (Jake Gyllenhaal was having dinner here the last time I visited.) Everything I've tried is ace, but the blood orange salad and grilled prime rib served with black olive tapenade are especially winning.

PATINA, 141 S. Grand Ave. 213-972-3331: Nestled elegantly inside the spectacular Disney Concert Hall, this is a place to come even if you weren't stepping out the door to hear the L.A. Philharmonic. Fish is the star on this menu, with dishes like the Alaskan Halibut, Mediterranean Loup de Mer and Premium Scottish Salmon all worth your attention. Save room for the warm beignets with strawberry-rhubarb compote and mascarpone ice cream.

PIZZERIA MOZZA, 641 N. Highland Ave, 323-297-0101: This is the less formal twin to Mario Batali's upscale and impossible-to-get-into Osteria Mozza. The menu selections may be more casual here, but the food is up to Batali's usual high style, with a devotion to using only the best ingredients. The bone marrow appetizer and the mussels with Calabrian sauce are dynamite, as are all the pizzas, my favourite being the one with Gorgonzola, fingerling potatoes, radicchio and rosemary. Among the dolci, you must try the Butterscotch budino or the Pumpkin gelato pie.

PETE'S CAFÉ & BAR, 400 S. Main St. 213-617-1000: This spot is worth remembering for many reasons. It's one of the few quality spots open for post-theatre dining (until 2 a.m.!), it runs a free shuttle bus from the L.A. Music Centre and the Staples Center (for Lakers games), it's a perfect example of a period bar, with the 1906 mosaic tile floor still intact, and it serves great food. The half-pound Hellman Burger served with blue cheese fries is awesome, but the macaroni and cheese (cheddar, Asiago and goat) also merits your attention.

YAMASHIRO CAL-ASIAN CUISINE, 1999 N. Sycamore Ave. 323-466-5125: The name means "Mountain Palace" in Japanese and it was built by two brothers in 1914 to house their collection of Asian art. It's has what is probably the most spectacular view in Los Angeles. Directly up a steep hill above Hollywood and Vine, you'll find the perfect place to drop by for cocktails, some highly imaginative sushi rolls (the "Darth Vader" features spicy tuna, avocado and black rice) and the relaxing sense that the bright lights are far away.




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