At Akbar Cuisine of India, the tandoors are always busy, whether they're puffing up naan and paratha breads or baking the spices into traditionally prepared lamb and chicken, as well as unusual house specialties. The grilled Chilean sea bass, one of the restaurant's most popular dishes, scintillates taste buds with herb-marinated slivers of fish. The unconventional twists on traditional flavors last through dessert, which can include mango cheesecake.
Chef and owner Avinash Kapoor pickles fresh chutneys each day. His staff also gives the pepper-lamb curry a hint of saffron and the prawns an unfounded rumor of coconut. The menu also features coco lamb, chicken tikka masala, and saag paneer. The made-to-order curries, in particular, make ideal diving pools for freshly baked roti.
The sun rises and sets on the staff at Milo and Olive. From 7 a.m., bakers start filling the chalk-scrawled bakery trays with house-made baguettes, bagels, and pastries, and at 11 p.m., the last waiter clocks out after a long night's work. In between, customers can watch the chefs work in an open kitchen as they begin preparing for lunch and dinner crowds by roasting vegetables, braising meats, and returning eggs to their rightful hens. Chef Jason Mattick lets the ingredients he culls from farmer’s markets inspire the majority of his afternoon and evening menus. Aside from creating leafy salads and small plates, these veggies crown pizzas from a selection that changes regularly, depending on the ingredients on hand. Mattick finishes each one—which could be topped with locally produced mozzarella or sustainably raised meats—in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven.
The edible delights at Enoteca radiate rustic authenticity from the comprehensive menu. Antipasti anchor the easy vibes, so dive finger-first into platters of grilled polenta and wild mushrooms ($13), or beef carpaccio with foie gras ($15). The usual suspects done creatively are all present during subsequent courses, including napoletana pizza heavy with anchovies and garlic ($13), seafood and squid ink risotto ($17), veal scallopine ($27), and the meatless burrata salad with mozzarella, green lentils, roasted beets, and asparagus ($13). Complement the edibles with sippables comprising more than 250 bottles of wine from the 20 regions of Italy in glasses, flights, and quartinos.
The chefs and servers at Bread & Porridge spring to life daily at 6 a.m. to whisk American breakfast fare out of the kitchen and onto tables until close. The Santa Monica restaurant's signature a.m. eats include fruit-infused pancakes, a slew of omelets, and gourmet breakfast sausages, such as the spicy Cajun andouille. A lunch and dinner menu showcases a culinary cast of hearty salads, pasta entrees, Prime-beef burgers, and sandwiches. Under the guidance of owner Mark Rothschild, 12 team members run the eatery, rotating responsibilities to take turns as dishwashers, servers, cooks, and maple-syrup muralists.
Some restaurants have that uncanny ability to transport diners to another place or time. Taking a sip of Lavazza espresso or a bottomless mimosa out on Blue Daisy's patio has that kind of power; thoughts of an Italian street corner or European capital may come to mind. But the many things Blue Daisy's kitchen is good at don't end with drinks. The chefs specialize in crepes, including a savory breakfast variety with mushrooms, spinach, white cheddar, feta, and egg. Others have sweet fillings, such as Nutella or lemon ricotta cheese and lemon sauce.
It's no surprise that it was also the crepes that first helped Blue Daisy grow in popularity and size. Since opening in 2011, the restaurant has moved to a bigger location where the team experiments with organic dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The chefs make everything from scratch, right down to the champagne vinegar and the walnut oil dressing in their salads. And at dinner, beer and wine pair with fresh-ground hamburgers and creamy fettuccine with chicken and spinach.
A finalist for ESPN's North America's Best Sports Bar in 2010, South balances its affection for athletics with a menu of authentic Southern fare. Tackle taste buds with the crawfish popcorn starter, with crawfish tails fried in a Cajun batter and sidekicked with tartar sauce ($10), or opt for a signature sandwich—pulled chicken, pork, and tri-tip topped with roast beef, ham, mozzarella cheese, and kettle chips smothered in gravy and served with regular or sweet-potato fries ($11).