LA Is Going to Be Empty This Week. Here's How to Take Advantage of It.

Published On 12/26/2016 Published On 12/26/2016
Flickr/Jeremy Thompson
Flickr/Charles Haynes
Bestia DTLA
Highland Park Bowl
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1. Erven 514-516 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Nick Erven opened this minimalist Santa Monica restaurant in 2016 after leaving Fundamental LA to create a plant-based menu of his own. His simple but sophisticated kitchen whips up entirely vegan plates like chickpea fritters, mushroom bread pudding, and saffron risotto that will make you rethink your own meat-filled diet.

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2. Lunasia Chinese Cuisine 500 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

In Alhambra's San Gabriel Valley, Lunasia Chinese Cuisine offers a modern take on dim sum in a sprawling, white tablecloth dining room. Don't be confused by the somewhat fancy decor, Lunasia is casual experience, starting with the paper menu that requires you to check off your order. The Cantonese dishes here are made-to-order (that means none of that you-get-what-you-see roving cart business) and served at sleek, dark wood tables. Don't be overwhelmed by the 70-item menu: order a round of steamed chicken feet, pan-fried turnip cakes, and jumbo har gow dumplings, and you'll be fine.

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3. Chengdu Taste 828 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

Chengdu Taste -- the San Gabriel Valley outpost for Chengdu-style, Sichuan cuisine -- is well worth the trip to Alhambra, if not for the toothpick lamb alone. Given its accolades from highly trusted food writers like J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Jonathan Gold, we don’t need any more reason to hop skip to Rosemead for a taste of our own. The cuisine is decidedly traditional, some dishes with modern interpretations, others straight-out-of-Sichuan. Modernized or not, each dish captures the flavor of the region... and is heavy on the Sichuan peppercorns. Highlights of the massive menu include the mung bean jelly with chili sauce, boiled beef in hot sauce, Mapo Tofu, and boiled fish with green pepper sauce. Chengdu Taste is no secret to Angelenos -- expect a wait, and know that it will be well worth it.

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4. Malibu Seafood 25653 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

Malibu Seafood is a roadside seafood shack on the Pacific Coast Highway that's equal parts fish market and patio cafe. Order filets of Chilean sea bass and wild Alaskan salmon to-go, or sit at one of the picnic tables for a feast of clam chowder, deep-fried Fish & Fries, and grilled swordfish. Seafood is the sole focus here, but there is a grilled chicken sandwich (and sides like thick-cut fries, rice pilaf, and a baked potato) for the anti-pescatarians.

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5. Bestia 2121 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Since opening in 2012, Bestia's become the definitive LA restaurant, offering a menu that appeals to both eat-anything foodies and eat-carefully dieters in an industrial but homey space. The Arts District restaurant serves an Italian menu with next-level pizza, pasta, and small plates, and no matter what you get, be sure to start with the beloved charcuterie board -- all the meats are cured in-house.

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6. Wax Paper 2902 Knox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Named after public radio hosts, these sandwiches pile on the meat and toppings and will leave you completely satisfied.

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7. Salazar 2490 Fletcher Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Located in a converted auto body shop in Frogtown, Salazar specializes in Sonoran-style Mexican food, which means mesquite barbecue, tacos, and burritos. The mostly outdoor space has a huge desert-themed patio with communal tables and utilitarian chairs. Expect plenty of mezcal, tequila, and Micheladas.

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8. Highland Park Bowl 5621 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042

Let the alleycats strike at this circa-1929 retro bowling alley that's been totally refurbished and made into a bar-slash-restaurant-slash-bowling alley. The food menu features a serious selection of thick-crusted, wood-fired pizzas, while drinks are all about classic cocktails like on-draft Old Fashioneds and Moscow Mules. The space boasts three different bars and a giant mural from the '30s overlooking the lanes.

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9. The Hi Hat 5043 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

Highland Park has had a gentrified ascension as one of LA's best 'hoods for up-and-coming artists and musicians, and now has a legit music venue to prove it. The small room is run by one of the dudes from Bar Covell and is already booking local faves like indie-rockers LA Font.