When they founded it in 1975, the owners of El Indio Mexicano Restaurant hired cooks from the Michoacan region of Mexico to teach them the recipes of Mexico’s Pacific coast. Owned by the same family today, the restaurant carries on that commitment to authenticity, slow-cooking carnitas for five hours and cooking beans in a cazo, a large copper pot usually found only in the ruins of ancient Ikeas. The cazo is also used to cook a cornucopia of meats, including beef tongue, pork stomach, breaded steak, sausage, and charbroiled steak. These carnivorous cuts fill quesadillas, handmade gorditas, and 13 types of burrito that arrive unadorned or covered in melted monterey jack cheese and house-made ranchero sauce.
Owner Vito Sasso inherited the Two Guys from Italy restaurant from founders Joseph Calderone and Luigi Devito, who opened more than 250 locations before leaving the original to Vito Sasso in 1995. Today, Sasso oversees the West Coast eatery, where chefs employ fresh garlic and virgin olive oil to craft Italian fare based on recipes passed down between generations through a series of monumental stone carvings of angel-hair pasta. Diners can choose from more than 400 variations of pizza and pasta on the menu, including manicotti, gnocchi a la Romana, and stuffed shells Napolitana. Steak, seafood, veal, and poultry dishes round out the menu.
Live musicians and DJs add a rhythmic sway to the steps of guests toting frosty bottles of beers and salt-flecked margaritas from Norwood Bar & Lounge's gleaming counter. Light caroms off black leather seating and red walls from overhead chandeliers, and soft chatter drifts between candles or distracts golden-retriever quarterbacks on the flat-screen television. Themed parties and dance events fuel revelry, and drinks rise toward the ornate paneled metal ceiling to meet in happy toasts.
At Ali Baba Persian Restaurant, chefs interpret traditional, Middle Eastern dishes, using time-tested recipes and Halal meat to craft stews, sandwiches, and entrees of beef and lamb. Their signature stew is the ghormeh sabzi, with beef and kidney beans that mingle with leeks, parsley, and cilantro. Vegetarian dishes, made without meat or animal crackers, include the hearty kashk o'bademjan, a dish of sauteed eggplant with fried mint, fried onions, and yogurt sauce.
Since steaming its first natural-casing hot dog in 1946, Cupid's Hot Dogs has risen to the status of local institution and even cracked the top-10 rankings in CityVoter's Los Angeles Hot List. A signature steam table incubates each dog until it reaches an ideal temperature, at which point chefs pair it with a fluffy steamed bun and a handsome collar of condiments. Onions, mustard, and Cupid’s signature chili pile atop the juicy franks, forcing patrons to carefully balance their feasts in two hands. Melted cheese and chili drip onto laptops hooked up to the restaurant’s free WiFi, which attracts businessmen prone to using unadorned hot dogs as substitutes for smart-phone styluses.