THE TOP TEN Restaurants Open Late in Los Angeles
The best places open late in Los Angeles, presented in alphabetical order.
7450 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036 / 323-930-9744
Well, the choice is tough. Should you go to BLD for breakfast, lunch or dinner (BLD)? All three meals are a good reason to visit this modern and comfortable restaurant on Beverly Boulevard. The team behind Grace took over the space left by Opaline and Café Capo, and opened it up to the street adding large sliding windows; they moved the bar, whitened the walls, and added a retail specialty food store. The lunch and dinner menus are basically the same, making the restaurant a neighborhood gathering spot with a casual and friendly ambience. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients with the large selection of salads that includes four Caesars, an albacore tuna salad, and a fried tofu variation with asparagus in a miso-rice wine vinaigrette. Sandwiches, made with braised short ribs, braised pork or curried chicken, or burgers (a generous portion of Wagyu beef or grilled turkey) with a choice of three cheeses can follow. Pastas and a soup-of-the-day are other options. Try the fromage blanc cheesecake or the peach-nectarine cobbler for dessert. Breakfast, which starts at 8 a.m., presents a long and delicious list of morning treats such as waffles, pancakes, crêpes and many egg preparations. Don’t forget to ask for the brioche.
The Flat, 750 Garland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90017 / 213-239-0061
The drop dead gorgeous views---a fresh view of Downtown, including Staples Center---are just the beginning at Blue Velvet. Though noted opening chef Kris Morningstar has departed, the menu of Modern American cuisine remains under new executive chef Jonathan McDowell who formerly served as Morningstar's sous chef. For starters, that can be anything from crispy yogurt with spinach-almond purée to hamachi atop marinated eggplant and mushrooms and crowned with garlic chips. In the entrée category, options we like include blue nose bass with baby purple artichokes, hedgehog mushrooms and pea tendrils and loin of venison with gnocchi, apples, creamed chard and bacon-onion purée. The stylish Modernist design of this lounge and restaurant includes a co-ed bathroom, with its central island of automatic sinks surrounded by opaque glass-fronted stalls. There’s more communal space in the lounge in the form of a sunken granite table where you share space with strangers, sip cocktails and order from a separate bar menu. The small wine list is a work in progress, yet global in scope and reasonably priced; a “reserve” list holds expensive bottles better suited to the business crowd that sometimes drifts in from Downtown than the young trend-setters who more often frequent the place.
9071 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069 / 310-275-9444
Hollywood moguls, actors, screenwriters---and wannabes of all of the above---have been jamming this place since 1964. They can’t be here because of the décor: red dining rooms, red leatherette booths and Chianti bottles hanging from the rafters. And we doubt they’re here for the old-fashioned but inflationary-priced food: spaghetti with meat sauce, fettuccini Alfredo, veal scaloppine, shrimp diavolo and chicken cacciatore. Still, old and young continue to flock here, making this spot great for people-watching.
8715 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90048 / 310-652-2335
Owners Warner Ebbink (also the designer) and chef Brandon Boudet have updated and revitalized the original Dominick's, a Rat Pack hangout dating back to 1948. The small dining room is old school: leather booths, vintage black-and-white tile floor, prominent bar and a huge collection of antique Jim Beam decanters. We find the enclosed brick patio in the rear more laid-back and romantic, with candlelit tables shaded by olive trees and warmed by a big fireplace. Boudet specializes in small plates like old-fashioned stuffed mushrooms; fennel and Parmesan salad; fluffy ricotta gnocchi with tomato, basil and pecorino; and a satisfying cheese plate. Larger dishes we find excellent include roasted chicken Marsala and Delmonico steak, both complemented with sides like addictive roasted butternut squash redolent of cinnamon and sage. A small but interesting wine list offers a tour of Italy. The ricotta fritters with chocolate dipping sauce provide a worthy finale.
7201 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046 / 323-850-1726
A long-time hot spot on the Melrose scene, Jones not only knows how to serve up a stiff drink, but the restaurant is also recognized as the local alternative to fast food for those late night munchies. Enjoy pizzas from the old wood oven in the light, sunny front room at lunchtime, or crawl into the dark, pubby main room for the casual nightlife. Specialties range from rotisserie chicken to thick burgers slow-cooked in the wood-fired oven. For lighter appetites, Jones offers an extensive selection of soups, salads, and a standout steamed artichoke appetizer with two flavors of aïoli dip. The restaurant also offers delivery, take-out and a catering service.
6266 1/2 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028 / 323-467-0660
Classic American fare---with an emphasis on comfort foods like macaroni-and-cheese, BLTs, burgers and ice cream sandwiches---in a hip, spare setting.
The Original Pantry Café
877 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017 / 213-972-9279
Former mayor Richard Riordan is the proud owner of this downtown landmark. Those who swear by this place love the charbroiled steaks, oversized pork and lamb chops and daily specials like macaroni and cheese, plus the coleslaw and relish tray full of crispy vegetables on every table. Breakfasts are legendary: enormous omelets, very good bacon, pan-fried potatoes and thick sliced bread. The bakeshop next door is tiny, but the breakfasts are the same feasts and there are sticky buns, cinnamon rolls and brownies. This place keeps going all night long and it’s worth a visit for a taste of L.A. history. For those late nights when you have spent all your cash, there is an ATM on the premises since credit cards are not accepted.
Pacific Dining Car
1310 W. Sixth St., Los Angeles, CA 90017 / 213-483-6000
Pacific Dining Car---possibly the best (certainly the priciest) restaurant in L.A. open 24 hours---has built up a loyal and sizable clientele. The family-owned power-dining venue (we're talking politics, not Hollywood) has been around since 1921. This downtown institution is a fun place to visit: the front room is a railway car from the halcyon days of the Union Pacific with a warm and rather clubby ambience. Breakfasts are always good here and so, for that matter, is the service. For dinner, consider the grilled half-chicken marinated in lime juice, or the lobster by the pound. But this is a venerable steakhouse, and you'll never regret such staples as crab cakes, iceberg lettuce with Roquefort vinaigrette and USDA Prime beef---buttery filet mignon, nicely marbled rib-eye, and a massive T-bone---with baked potatoes, creamed corn or addictive fried zucchini. The restaurant provides free shuttles to Staples Center and the Music Center. Also located at 2700 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-453-4000.
6255 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028 / 323-465-6901
Hearty breakfast food and cocktails served until the wee hours---The Waffle might just offer the winning combination for a stretch of Hollywood best known for bars and clubs. The menu is designed around classic American breakfast and diner favorites, but was created to reflect chef Scooter Kanfer-Cartmill’s passion for market-fresh, local ingredients. Waffles are, obviously, the highlight here, made from light-as-air batter and served crisp with golden edges. In addition to traditional waffles, there are dark chocolate, multigrain and savory cornmeal jalapeño options, as well as a dessert waffle piled high with ice cream. Along with an assortment of egg dishes, the restaurant offers classic potpie, meatloaf with brown gravy, Yankee pot roast and assorted sandwiches and salads. Beyond the full bar, the restaurant makes malts, floats and even a non-dairy shake. The feel of The Waffle is upscale, urban and modern, despite the menu’s coffee shop vibe. Service can be slow, so it is a very good thing the restaurant invested in compelling artwork by modern artist Bill Barminski to distract from the wait.
Trader Vic's Lounge
The Beverly Hilton, 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210 / 310-276-6345
Some would say that Trader Vic’s restaurant is no longer, others would say that it has been reincarnated as Trader Vic’s Lounge; both would be right. What is for certain is that you can now sip the trademark exotic cocktails in a different location at The Beverly Hilton, next to restaurant Circa 55, right by the pool, under the palm trees. To make sure you drive home safely, grab a bite from the short menu where you’ll find tidbits in Trader Vic’s very own style--crab, pork spareribs, duck, prawns, sushi and sashimi. For more robust appetites, the Thai red curry has been kept on the menu. A relaxed location, for happy times under the stars.
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