Using only fat-free vegetable oil, seasonal vegetables, and fresh meats, the chefs of Nirvana Indian Cuisine whip up authentic Indian dishes in their sunny, open space. White table clothes set the stage for heaping plates of curries and naan, and lunchtime diners can sample bites of everything during the lunch buffet.
A line wrapped around a corner often designates a tourist trap, but Din Tai Fung’s queue attracts locals, too. Steamed consommé-filled dumplings—a specialty from Shanghai—tempt with pork, crab, veggies, or fish. They led the Asia Society to name Din Tai Fung a top Chinese restaurant in America.
Hot Dog on a Stick Founder Dave Barham opened his first Hot Dog on a Stick in Santa Monica in 1946, and the company has since burgeoned into an employee-owned franchise that's more than 100 eateries strong and spans 11 states. Best known for a 100% turkey hot dog dunked in corn-bread batter made from Dave's mother's recipe and cooked in soy oil, Hot Dog on a Stick also pioneered the dipping and be-sticking of mild american and spicy jalapeño jack cheese. Smiling employees in red-, white-, and blue-striped uniforms with, as Dave put it, "a splash of lemonade," hand over cherry, lime, sugar-free, or original lemonade that they make fresh every two hours by squeezing Ventura County lemons until they cry.
The chefs at The Patio grill, sauté, and bake a menu of traditional Lebanese dishes, relying heavily on the simple, healthy flavors of garlic and olive oil. These ingredients play a starring roll in appetizers such as hummus and white-bean salad, and kisses from the grill's open flames leave charred lipstick on the collar of chicken, beef, or shrimp kebabs. Smoke from flavored Al Fakher, Starbuzz, and house-blended tobacco wafts through the air in the restaurant's hookah bar, mingling with ethereal genies released from nearby bottles of pop.
John Galardi started serving franks at the original Wienerschnitzel in 1961, and enterprising cooks in more than 350 franchise locations have gone on to doll up original, turkey, and beef dogs with an inventive array of toppings. Chili, kraut, pickles, pastrami, and other fixings leap onto handheld fare or become fresh characters in novels scrawled on napkins. Beneath chilly whorls of Tastee Freez ice cream, the eatery's menu shivers with soft-serve cones, sundaes, and shakes.
The cityscape has changed in the past 50 years, but Santa Anita Park’s breathtaking backdrop remains unspoiled. Sports Illustrated noted the stunning purple mountains when it nominated the park for most beautiful racetrack in the world in 1964, while Hollywood has captured its beauty in films such as 2009's Public Enemies.