At Char Fasl, chefs camouflage their light, healthy Persian fare behind flavorful veggies instead of heavy oils and sauces. They accommodate all diets with menu items that vacillate between vegetarian and meat-centric. Cooks skewer juicy chunks of meat for boneless-chicken kebabs, a favorite among customers and T. rexes recently off juice cleanses, and grill them with matching skewers of tomatoes. The Four Seasons dish replaces poultry with beans and rice crowned with eggplant and hummus nestled beside a spear of sizzling veggies.
This wide variety of cuisine is served in the restaurant's European atmosphere, which emulates the dishes' international origins, tinted with warm colors that flare to life in front of huge windows. Outside, diners feast and shadows hide from their owners beneath the shade of a tree. Another of the eatery's most enticing aspects unfolds on Fridays and Saturdays, when live music influences the movements of a belly dancer.
The chefs at Bistro Ka Japanese Restaurant prepare traditional dishes such as deep-fried tempura and skewered yakitori, as well as sushi made from fresh fish and shabu shabu—a shared hot pot showcasing veggies, udon noodles, and thin slices of beef. They also cater to Western taste buds with grilled rib-eye steaks and roast chicken. Located on the second floor of the Westfield Topanga Mall, Bistro Ka offers a haven from the surrounding bustle of retail. Diners may sit at cozy low-top tables or take a seat at the sushi bar to watch the chefs carve delicate filets of fish and stupefy sheets of seaweed.
5 Elements's cooks draw on the concept of yin and yang as they prepare mouthwatering meals of meticulously balanced Vietnamese fare. The kitchen ensures that rich, exotic flavors complement each other without smothering any subtle tastes in meals of pho and fried rice and makes sure that spring and meatball rolls remain snugly wrapped and architecturally sound. As diners consume light meals of papaya salad or hearty portions of brisket and pork chop, they lounge on ultramodern molded-plastic furnishings that evoke the kitchen’s corresponding black-and-white color palette.
If the tables at Kate Mantilini could speak, they'd quickly find themselves booked by every major talk show. Their undersides have seen the feet of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro filming their first scene together in Heat as well as the pants cuffs of Tom Cruise, Mick Jagger, and Antonio Banderas, according to seeing-stars.com.
Founders Marilyn and Harry Lewis built the backbone of this celebrity hot spot. Harry had already worked alongside Humphrey Bogart in the film Key Largo when he told Marilyn that he hoped to open a restaurant chain geared toward folks in the film industry. In 1950, his idea came to life at several Hamburger Hamlets, where Hollywood icons could grab a meal or autograph a fan's shirt with ketchup before returning to their shoots. While luminaries like Sammy Davis Jr. occasionally supervised the kitchen, says the Los Angeles Times, Marilyn taught herself to cook a repertoire of eclectic comfort food. In 1987, the pair sold their Hamburger Hamlets and established Kate Mantilini.
Today, looming Mad Men posters on the walls speak to a modernism that has not abandoned the restaurant's Hollywood roots. A geometric orrery sculpture hangs from the gigantic sundial on the roof, and an elongated mural of a boxing match stretches across the dining hall. The smell of Kate's signature meatloaf weaves throughout the architecture and mingles with a slew of rotating aromas, from calamari to strip steaks and award-winning chicken pot pie. As the scents drift past the tables and onto an outdoor patio in Beverly Hills, they surround the former bank building, which now hosts homestyle breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
The Lewis family has also opened a second Kate Mantilini location in Woodland Hills. The garden setting has its own alfresco seating to supplement 42 indoor booths, where patrons can order the same quality of rustic yet upscale American cuisine. Though they see their fair share of well-known figures, both restaurants cultivate an unambiguously welcoming vibe—one that invites children to feast on macaroni, casual visitors to stop in for a bowl of soup, and hungry families to share tapas rather than saw microwave dinners in half.
The Slaw Dogs owner, Ray Byrne, probably didn't realize at the time that the Thai coleslaw he brought to a barbecue would become the inspiration for a business featured on ABC and mentioned in Travel + Leisure. According to a Food Network spot on The Slaw Dogs, Byrne tossed some of his extra slaw onto a hot dog and realized that he'd made a tongue-shattering discovery. With that slaw dog as his guide, he opened a hot-dog joint where his original discovery stars on the menu, jazzed up with accents of satay dressing and sesame aioli. But unlike Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone and then pretty much sat around eating Cheetos and playing scratch-off lotto tickets, Byrne isn't satisfied with a single invention. In fact, LAist praised Byrne for his ability to "take seemingly clashing flavors and make them work together," as evidenced in the Green Monster dog with garlic salsa verde or the gigantic TNT Super dog, a tortilla-wrapped spread of bacon pastrami, beer chili, and fries.
The Slaw Dogs also lets patrons build their own dream dogs out of 11 different franks, 10 sauces, and more than 50 toppings, such as kimchi, goat cheese, or truffle oil. The possibilities are almost endless; a group of Caltech students recruited by the Food Network calculated a whopping 35 quintillion total combinations.
Guido's Restaurant hasn't changed much since opening in 1979. It hasn't had to. The same fireplace still crackles by red booths that are both plush and spacious. The same carved wooden statues and floral accents line the walls and support the bar. And the same deep-stained hardwood columns and wine racks add a smoky sophistication, recalling a mountain lodge or Winston Churchill's childhood treehouse. When cast in low light, these exude nostalgia to create a vintage atmosphere ideal for dates or family meals.
The food is equally classic—Northern Italian recipes that have found their way from generation to generation. The authenticity is apparent in their ingredients. Swiss chard and fresh basil sink into the ravioli di magro, whereas white wine and porcini mushrooms complement the pollo toscana. And if that taste of wine isn't enough, high-end and more modest varietals from California and across the globe can be fetched from the cellar.