Located opposite Westwood’s premier art venue, the Hammer Museum, Palomino builds on its cosmopolitan surroundings as an ‘urban Italian’ kitchen. Suggesting both a taste for diverse flavors and a sense of the city’s pulse, Palomino caters to the Los Angeles lifestyle with a fresh and innovate menu. It also has a particularly notable happy hour. Grounded in the basics of soups, salads, pizzas, pastas, the restaurant progresses towards a more developed culinary concept with eclectic ingredients and a medley of flavors. Palomino’s happy hour features sizable food specials spanning Sicilian meatballs, calamari and choice pizzas. Cocktails like the basil gimlet, pomegranate margarita and whiskey sour are a bargain, with the very Los Angeles-like potential to be made ‘skinny.’
Palomino, 10877 Wilshire Blvd #150, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-208-1960
Permeated by a chic, contemporary style, Fundamental LA channels its streamlined yet savory cuisine into a similar environment. Like its name suggests, culinary fundamentals take predominance on the menu. Fundamental’s dinner service lends itself effortlessly to a multi-course tasting menu, with each item focused around one flagship, seasonal ingredient. With a menu that changes nearly every week, the restaurant ensures diners will still be stimulated after multiple visits. Meanwhile Fundamental’s lunch offering focuses on mouthwatering sandwiches and sumptuous salads. California cuisine shines through with starters like tempura avocado and melon soup, with mains featuring fresh produce and livestock.
Fundamental LA, 1303 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-444-7581
Napa Valley Grille
Providing an atmosphere more in tune with its namesake region of northern California than the busy urbanism of Los Angeles, Napa Valley Grille is an oasis of rustic cuisine just off busy Wilshire Boulevard. Hosting special dinners in partnership with Napa-based vineyards, the Grille exudes a different pace of life with its carefully prepared dishes. They come together as multiple elements to create a harmonious whole, according to head chef Taylor Boudreaux. Dishes range from grilled pacific swordfish and other fine catches to delicate sides like the salad of poached figs, heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese. Napa Valley Grille’s menu epitomizes the best of California. Serving breakfast cocktails for a low price, Napa Valley Grille’s brunch menu is also an unmissable Westwood standout.
Napa Valley Grille, 1100 Glendon Ave #100, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-824-3322
800 Degrees Pizza
Named after the temperature used to cook traditional Neapolitan pizza, 800 Degrees honors a time-honed approach with an eye for quality ingredients. California tomatoes, freshly made local mozzarella and handcrafted crust made from flour all the way from Naples ensure high-quality pizzas. While 800 Degrees is strong in tradition, innovation remains very much on the menu. Pizzas can be customized, and are baked and served fresh. With numerous add-ons, a wide choice of cheeses and a number of pre-conceived selections, 800 Degrees Pizza takes the best of Italian tradition and American innovation.
800 Degrees Pizza, 10889 Lindbrook Dr, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-443-1911
Part-cafe and part-bakery, Clementine offers a reasonable alternative to some of Westwood’s more glitzy establishments without compromising on delicious ingredients. It offers a fresh array of options, centering on sandwiches both hot and cold, salads and, of course, baked goods, Clementine is as delicious a lunchtime spot as it is uncomplicated. A prominent deli case features the daily selection of salads, from quinoa, kale and beet salad and the special Thai slaw to edamame and wild salmon and tuna macaroni. Salads provide an equally original take on standard deli foods. There are behemoths like the ‘everything salad’ encompassing anything from avocado and garbanzo beans to peppers and jicama. Sweets are always on standby at Clementine with the perfect house-made cookie, brownie or scone with coffee to top off a deli meal.
Clementine, 1751 Ensley Ave, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-552-1080
Sunnin Lebanese Café
Adding a different repertoire of Middle Eastern flavours to Westwood’s Persian neighbourhood, Sunnin Lebanese Café is spicy and lively both in terms of food and atmosphere. Equipped with the eastern Mediterranean culinary coat and arms of hummus and shawarma, Sunnin excels in standard Middle Eastern fare. It also offers much more depth than the curb-side kebab shop. The house babaganouj sits alongside other Lebanese mezzeh like moujadarah, a lentil puree cooked with rice and carmelized onions. There are also the eggplant-centric moussaka and the essential Lebanese kefir cheese known as labneh. Main courses feature ample applications of kibbeh and meat skewers, and of course, falafel. Sunnin’s recently moved from a small hole in the wall to a spacious 2,500-square-foot location but still contains a welcoming, family-run atmosphere.
Sunnin Lebanese Café, 1776 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-475-3358
With an unassuming exterior and an intimate interior, La Bruschetta has thrived for more than 30 years as an neighborhood repose. Chef Angelo measures his restaurateur career in logistical milestones: shipping his in-demand Bolognese to New York, having had his gnocchi served on a private jet as well as having served Elizabeth Taylor. To back up these sensational achievements is La Bruschetta’s ‘Ospitalia Italiana – Seal of Authenticity’ award. Everything from the antipasti to secondi meets the standard of Italian quality. Maintaining that ‘wine is food,’ Angelo makes sure that wine is an integral part of any meal at La Bruschetta.
La Bruschetta, 1621 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-477-1052
Emporium Thai Cuisine
Emporium Thai is one of a number of Thai restaurants across Los Angeles led by the Sungkambee family. This is a clear indicator of a culinary streak in the family who hail from southern Thailand. Drawing on family recipes, Emporium Thai adds another national flag to the vibrant multiethnic foodscape of Westwood. In spite of its rating as one of the top 100 Thai restaurants across the country, Emporium Thai maintains a decidedly intimate and familial environment. Time-honed curry recipes and specialties like the light yet comforting morning glory salad are winners.
Emporium Thai Cuisine, 1275 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-478-2838
Leaving Tex-Mex burritos and tacos in the dust, Frida opens the road to the true heart of Mexican haute cuisine. It serves refined moles, various ceviches and savory charbroiled steaks and seafood. In addition to bargain value margaritas, happy hour offers a taste of the dinner menu on a miniature scale. Tasting platters of tacos and enchiladas spiced with salsas and stuffed with everything imaginable delight diners. Frida’s prix fixe menus ensure a varied assortment of tastes from the kitchen. There’s an ample choice among four different formulas with countless variations.
Frida, 10853 Lindbrook Dr, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-209-0666
No trip to this side of Los Angeles – or rather, Tehrangeles – would be complete without a visit to Shaherzad. Warm, fresh bread straight from the restaurant’s oven is a perfect complement to any of the numerous shish kebabs, Persian soups or various starters like eggplant and stuffed grape leaves. House specialties include the tahdig. The rice crust from the bottom of the pan is widely considered the most delicious part of this Persian staple. This dish epitomizes Shaherzad’s down-to-earth and no-frills approach to authentic Persian fare.
Shaherzad Restaurant, 1422 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-470-3242