It didn’t take long for Brian Kozak to discover his passion for food: at the age of three, after he first tried shrimp cocktail and crème brulee, he would spend hours leafing through cookbooks and family recipes in his parents’ kitchen. His fascination with food led him to build an impressive culinary resume: after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Brian spent four years cooking for Bon Appetit, opened his own catering company, and learned how to fold a puff pastry according to army-bed making standards. Today, he demonstrates his culinary prowess as the resident Chef at Sage Restaurant and Lounge. Kozak’s influences span the globe: try the Spanish saffron paella with chorizo and shrimp, or any of six 10-inch pizzas. The dining room also has global flair, from its Tuscan yellow walls to its terra cotta tile floors.
At Maderas Steak & Ribs, kitchen commanders craft a menu with hefty steaks forged from Kansas prime Angus beef. To sustain flavor throughout meals, in-house pastry chefs fill crumbly crusts with pie or cheesecake swirled with fresh fruit and juices.
Neon lighting grants old-timey-diner appeal to the spacious tables and cushy booths of Maderas's big, kid-friendly room, through which live music occasionally wanders on Friday and Saturday nights and whenever forks happen to clang melodically against glassware or mom's glass chewing-gum dispenser.
Growing up, summer in Chicago meant one thing to Joe: barbecue. Members of his extended family spent the season gathered around the grill, slow-smoking meats as they vied for pitmaster status. Joe draws on their perfected recipes at Ribs To Spare, which specializes in combination platters of smoked meats such as pork ribs, beef ribs, chicken, and tri-tip steak. Sides such as potato salad and collard greens complement each saucy plate, and desserts such as sweet-potato pie and peach cobbler bring meals to a rich close.
In addition to takeout, Ribs To Spare caters celebrations with personalized feasts ranging from barbecue buffets to prix fixe dinners. With his mobile smoker trailer in tow, Joe has previously organized meals for Warner Bros., Disney, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
At Joey's Bar-B-Q, charcoal, mesquite, and hickory woods join forces with USDA Choice meats, and 25 years of family recipes to create a menu dripping with smoky, saucy, Texas flavors. Torture taste buds on a rack of smoked baby back pork ribs, served with a choice of baked potato, yam, or charbroiled vegetable kabob ($21.95 for dinner). Or, sate the most demanding of carnivorous claws by opting for The Works––a heaping helping of ham, beef, chicken, beef ribs, pork ribs, and country-style sausage links, lacking only in its absence of bacon ($27). Those who prefer their sauce in a glass rather than on their hands can augment a 12-ounce USDA Choice filet mignon ($28.50) with one of the restaurant's many beers, many of which are procured from local breweries, or plucked straight from L.A.'s natural beer fields.