Itzik Hagadol Grill has two locations, one in Encino, California, and the original in Jaffa, Israel. Despite being separated from its sister restaurant by an ocean and three in-flight movies, the American eatery still embraces the characteristic flavors and ingredients of Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine, earning a rating of "good to very good" from Zagat. The kitchen's taboon oven bakes fresh laffa bread as the cooks carefully arrange more than 20 kinds of Middle Eastern salads, which garnered praise from the Los Angeles Times in 2009 for their vibrancy and variety. Grills further heat up the kitchen by searing kebabs of house-ground veal and lamb as well as skewers of less common meats, including foie gras, chicken liver, and veal sweetbreads. The warmth forged in the culinary crucible that is the kitchen emanates outward to the dining area, where padded booths stimulate comfort and conviviality.
At age 14, Moroccan-born Simon Elmaleh already had a job, and it was no paper route—he was already earning his chops in the kitchen of a Mediterranean restaurant. Just two years later, he launched his 17-year career as an assistant chef on a five-star passenger cruise liner, and in 1986, he opened the first Moroccan restaurant in Japan. In 2001, he brought his decades-long passion for Mediterranean cuisine to California, where he founded Simon's Restaurant.
A Los Angeles Times writer praised the "warm atmosphere," which is decked out in rich cream-colored tones and vintage French cabaret posters. At cloth-draped tables, guests feast on traditional Moroccan tagines, spicy homemade lamb sausages, and baba ghanouj, described as "vivid—roasty and pure, whipped into a fluffy cloud of eggplant."
The Stand’s menu of chili dogs, burgers, and tuna melts evokes classic Americana images of diners and ball games. The eats may be casual, but the staff strives to give them modern style, earning a spot on Gayot's 2012 list of Top 10 LA Hot Dog Restaurants. Upon request, the staff will wrap burgers in whole-wheat buns or lettuce wraps instead of classic buns, and diners also have their choice of beef, turkey, or housemade veggie patties. Gourmet hot-dog and sausage toppings such as garlic mushrooms and corn salsa join traditional fixings such as mustard, sweet pickle relish, and tears from a recently defeated baseball team. To wash it all down, servers blend up 20-ounce chocolate and vanilla milkshakes and tap a rotating menu of draft beers, as well as root beer.
Red isn't the only color on Reds Restaurant's wine list, which presents bottles that speak multiple languages and come and go as they please. While sipping vinos from California, South America, and Italy, guests can peer past the black-hole-black bar straight into the open kitchen. There, the chefs will summon smoked-salmon farfalle, spam-fried rice, and duck confit into existence, and bring life to desserts such as The Brownie and pineapple upside-down cake. Dinner is the main feature at this wine-and-tapas shop, but a lunch menu attracts a midday crowd to the Encino Place Shopping Center's second floor from Tuesday to Friday every week.
For more than four decades, chef Ulrich Huegli—or Ueli, as he's often known—has been crafting Swiss-inflected cuisine in a variety of California restaurants. At his latest culinary home, Swiss Chef Restaurant, he lightly breads veal for wienerschnitzel, and grills hearty veal bratwurst, among other traditional alpine specialties. Some of his entrées range further afield: steaming bowls of Hungarian goulash brim with stewed meat, noodles and vegetables, and pastas such as gnocchi and rigatoni bolognese add Italian flair, much like nicknaming the entire kitchen staff “Flavio.” Frosty mugs of international beers—such as Erdinger and Bitburger—issue from the full-service bar, which also serves wines and cocktails.
The chefs at California Mediterranean Grill flavor Middle Eastern fare according to generations-old recipes the owners brought with them from Israel 26 years ago. After passing under crimson umbrellas into the café, patrons inhale the scent of thick laffa bread baking in a clay oven and hear the sizzle of juicy burgers and falafel balls frying atop grills. More than 14 salads fill plates with doctor-recommended amounts of vegetables, and kebabs culled from lean cuts of beef and garlic-marinated morsels of chicken supply bodies with healthy sources of vital proteins. For moderately sized meals, diners can thoughtfully share portions of tabouleh, hummus, baba ghanouj and other mezzes.