Crepes and Grapes Café celebrates and honors French culture with its sidewalk cafe atmosphere, Bastille Day celebration, and a variety of sweet and savory crepes. At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the shop churns out thin, stuffed pancakes filled with ingredients that range from maple and cream to garlic-rich shrimp scampi. Guests can sample the edible wares within the sunny storefront or sit just outside underneath table umbrellas surrounded by salivating flower beds.
Bistro 39 delivers artistically garnished plates worthy of being tacked to the wall, if only your body's aesthetic urge to interior decorate outweighed its evolutionary desire to gobble up delicious things. Starters such as escargot Bourgogne ($8), Dungeness crab cakes ($8), and classic lobster bisque ($9) provide an opportunity to inform your first selection from Bistro 39's extensive beer and wine list. Main plates hail from salty seas and diverse terrains with options including sautéed lemon-garlic tiger shrimp on a bed of angel-hair pasta ($17) or seared duck with Grand Marnier reduction ($24). The Statue of Liberty's torch is surprisingly small, but the bistro's crème brûlée ($6) leaves American mouths agape with awe.
One sunny afternoon, Ginnie Lu and her friends sat in a café sipping hot drinks and chatting about how much they would love to run their own tea and coffee house. When the group realized that they had the means to carve their dream into reality, they spent the next two years saving and planning. Finally, in 2010, they opened Four Leaf Tea Room, a cozy enclave where guests can sip specialty brews amidst the aromas of sweet and savory crepes. Mugs of oolong and chrysanthemum keep fingers warm during the year's cooler temperatures, and when the summer returns, they cool down with iced teas and mango freezes on an outdoor patio.
Despite Four Leaf’s name, its upscale, innovate crepes force its teas to share the limelight. A chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu dreams up the lavish fillings, pairing smoked salmon and caper-herb cream or soy-marinated chicken with crushed peanuts for savory meals. Sweet versions make use of exotic ingredients such as red-wine-poached pears, candied pecans, taro paste, and gelato. As guests fork into these creations, they can admire walls decorated with spring-green leaves and shelves filled with loose-leaf blends and prehistoric fossils of steam from early teas.
Much has changed since 1927, including the price of a chicken dinner. When Marius Taix Jr. first opened Taix, he served chicken dinners for 50 cents. Though the price may have changed, owner Raymond Taix made sure that the French country cuisine didn’t. Meals still come with a tureen of soup and freshly baked French bread, and the dinner menu of roast chicken au jus, salmon filet with champagne cream, and frog legs Provencal still honors the founder's original intentions. And though Raymond's staff is considered “vintage”—some having served more than three generations—they can still hang with the night owls, serving entrees from a late-night menu until 1 a.m. Taix also feeds cravings for late-night entertainment. Thursdays and Fridays, the restaurant hosts live music in the 312 lounge. On Sundays, the lounge also features standup comedy.
Jack n’ Jill’s brings hearty, down-on-the-farm meals to the city, within a quaint, family-friendly environment. Generous menus at both the Santa Monica and Beverly Hills locations are full of homemade comfort food that will have you saying things like “ma,” “pa,” and “that cabin's not built out of logs, it's built out of peanut brittle.” At Jack n’ Jill’s, you’ll eat farm-sized portions of the food that made the settlers strong and capable of playing catch with an ox.
Since 1992, California Canteen has bridged the culinary and cultural gap between Californians and Francophiles with its tasty twist on French bistro Mediterranean fare. French favorites populate the menu. Sample the nicoise salad with tuna steak ($14), beef bourguignon ($17.50), or lamb shank osso bucco ($18.25). Meanwhile, enterprising diners and triumvirates can customize comestibles in the three-course dinner ($20.50 4 p.m.–7 p.m., Sunday-Thursday). Alternately, the lunch menu spins a lighter, two-course remix of the prix fixe ($12.95).