The Grill on the Alley recaptures a bygone era; one of crisp white linens, impeccable service, and steaks as big as your head. Inspired by the steakhouses of San Francisco and New York, The Grill’s founders replicated the American tradition in L.A. The first location, which opened in Beverly Hills in 1984, still sits mere steps from Rodeo Drive (four Californian branches now exist, along with ones in Chicago, Dallas, and Aventura, Florida). Though its menu might match Rodeo in sophistication—order the 8-ounce filet mignon, ahi tuna, or a sip of spirits for proof—the staff works hard to maintain a distinctly welcoming, unpretentious atmosphere. And if a constant stream of good press is any indication, they succeed.
When Enterprise Fish Co. first opened in 1979, its founders set to work renovating the historic 1917 brick building to emulate a classic Pacific-coast seaside restaurant. Today, the original hardwood floors, trussed wood ceilings, and brick façade remain, though an exhibition kitchen and faux bois–printed leather booths lend a modern air. Seafood such as oysters and salmon in a Coca-Cola glaze headline the menu, accompanied by fish tacos, fresh lobster tails, and mesquite-grilled prawns. In addition to its ample fish and shellfish dishes, Enterprise also whips up filet mignon, candied-apple pecan salads, and the Enterprise burger, which is topped with a fried egg, to serve in the dining room or out on the patio beside the fire pit. Old photographs of Venice Beach dot the dining-room walls, along with snapshots from other notable seaside spots, such as the Iowa coast.
A sister establishment of Marina del Rey mainstay Killer Shrimp, the recently inaugurated Killer Cafe grants its diners picturesque views of the sparkling harbor as they savor handcrafted dishes. Customers can sprawl inside an oversize booth in the dining room, perch on the outdoor patio, or tie up their boat along the dock for dock-and-dine service. Each spot affords glimpses of the aquatic surroundings, where they can sample bites of classic breakfasts such as traditional eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes or opt to split a plate with nearby pelicans.
Josiah Citrin is one of the country’s premier chefs, a startling accomplishment for someone who never even went to culinary school. After graduating from Santa Monica High School, Josiah took off for Paris instead, where he spent the next three years working in the kitchens at Vivarois and La Poste. Upon returning to LA, he snagged a spot at Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois, and later worked beside Joachim Splichal at Patina. In 1996, Josiah returned to Santa Monica to open his first restaurant, JiRaffe, a California-French bistro, to great success. But his longtime desire to open a fine-dining establishment inspired him to sell JiRaffe and start afresh with Melisse. Josiah opened Melisse shortly after being named one of the world’s Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine, and since then, his restaurant has maintained a highly distinguished standing. In addition to boasting two Michelin stars, Melisse is regularly awarded inclusion on lists such as The Elite Traveler’s Top 100 Restaurants in the World. Josiah brings his stellar talents to the kitchen each day, personally guiding his chefs and taking trips to the Santa Monica farmer’s market for seasonal produce. Melisse is named for an herb indigenous to the Mediterranean, which speaks to the menu’s seasonality, contemporary French inspirations, and strong swimming abilities. Everything is prix-fixe: the standard menu has featured dishes such as Wagyu beef tartare and wild king salmon with stinging nettles, while the vegetarian tasting menu might have broccoli with egg yolk and braised yuba. Guests, particularly those dining in the two private rooms, can also go carte blanche, trusting the kitchen to surprise them with elegant dishes such as soft poached egg with caviar and lemon crème fraîche.
Few cities are as celebrated for their cuisine as New Orleans, a fact the chefs at Bourbon Street Fish relish in as they grill fillets of red snapper and fry up tender wings of chicken. Po'boys stuffed with spicy sausage, shrimp, and oysters call to mind the tapestry of cultures that influenced Louisiana, while multicolored beads and Mardi Gras finery evoke images of costumed krewes, blaring Dixieland jazz processions, and tourists pretending to know the words to "Iko, Iko". Catering packages bring feasts of fish, French bread, and gumbo to client's doorsteps, while events such as Steve Harvey's Hoodie Awards and New Orleans Saints viewing parties draw accolades from visiting foodies and crowds of homesick Louisianans.
Guided by his Cajun roots in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Chef Geyen warms spirits with Southern dishes including po'boys, jerk chicken, and jambalaya loaded with shrimp and chicken sausage. A twinkling backdrop of string lights sets the mood to enjoy fresh grilled catfish, shrimp, and hot or mild chicken links alongside homestyle sides of collard greens and Heart & Soul's signature sweet-potato fries. Guests can cool off with a homemade sweet tea, and question servers about their catered meals that serve up to 100 guests or one well-mannered giant.: