The Memorial Coliseum. The Hollywood Bowl. The Ambassador Hotel. The California oil and railway booms of the 1920s brought Los Angeles many of its best-recognized landmarks. It's also what helped Fred and Grace Cook open the Pacific Dining Car, a restaurant built to resemble one of the sumptuous dining cars of the era. Although it never rode the rails, the restaurant still fed the thousands of travelers, from both near and far, that passed through Los Angeles in those days. It was also a hit with the locals, who eagerly awaited the day's thick-cut steaks and lighter-than-air apple pies.
Now in its fourth generation of ownership, the restaurant offers today's guests yesterday's dining experience?namely, a quiet, elegant atmosphere and hearty meals any time of day. Steaks are still especially popular: each is aged on the premises, cut by an on-staff butcher, and grilled under a special flame that enhances the meat's natural juices and flavors. The restaurant also sports a wine list fit for a Golden Age tycoon; clocking in at over 300 bottles, the collection is curated by an in-house sommelier and contributes to the glowing reviews from industry sources including Gourmet, Wine Spectator, and Travel + Leisure.
Although they adhere to tradition, the modern-day PDC also sports its own, more contemporary innovations; unlike most fine restaurants, the dining car remains open 24 hours a day, allowing guests to sit down for a classy meal no matter the hour. In the morning (or at any other time, really) diners can enjoy PDC's signature country breakfast, which chefs build around two eggs, two buttermilk pancakes, and two breakfast meats.
From the bustling streets of Times Square to the equally vivacious streets of Hong Kong, people walk around with smiles after enjoying the japanese barbecue cuisine at Gyu-Kaku. The restaurant has more than 700 locations worldwide, each rooted in the belief that some of the strongest bonds between friends are forged at the dinner table. Groups dine on a huge variety of Japanese dishes, from popular meat and veggie dishes such as Harami Skirt Steak, Kalbi Short Rib, and Mushroom Medley - to unique Japanese-American appetizers such as the Spicy Tuna Volcano, Pork Gyoza Dumplings, and Chicken Karaage. The real excitement takes place around individual grills, however, where diners can barbecue their own slabs of filet mignon, grilled ahi tuna, or chicken with basil sauce until they are ideally tender or encircled by on-duty firemen.
The meat connoisseurs at Libra Brazilian Steakhouse know showmanship is one of the primary draws of churrascaria-style dining. In this spirit, the chefs cook succulent hunks of meat on giant skewers over an open flame. And once it’s ready, their servers distribute the tender, freshly flamed meat throughout the dining area, pausing tableside to carve off slices directly onto plates.
Presentation aside, Libra Brazilian Steakhouse backs up its bravado with quality meats. The chefs use only 100% Black Angus beef and refuse to accept any meat containing hormones or antibiotics. Additionally, the culinary artists cook more than 30 hot, made-from-scratch sides as well as housemade desserts. And to top it off, the steak-house staff curates and recommends numerous international wines.
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.
Ease into dinner with the smoked-salmon quesadillas ($10) or a jumbo-shrimp cocktail served with spicy diablo sauce ($14). Signature steaks include everything from 12-ounce marbled rib eye ($29) to the lighter 10-ounce filets ($29) for those who accidentally already ate. There are also fish, chicken, lamb, and vegetarian options (from $16). Supplement your protein-packed dishes with sides, including Porterhouse’s infamous fries ($9), broccoli ($6), mushrooms ($9), or grilled onions ($5); or have another steak laid neatly atop your first. You’ll also find a well-edited list of affordable wines priced by the glass and bottle.
Some might say Mastro’s Steakhouse has multiple personalities. On the first floor, dimly lit leather banquettes exude a traditional chophouse vibe. But upstairs, similar décor seems somehow fresh thanks to abundant natural light from panoramic windows. Regardless of setting, the steaks will impress—the largest weighs in at 48 ounces.