5 Great Hollywood Restaurants to Hit Before the Clubs
Poor Hollywood. Aside from the folks who actually live there -- and tout its cheap rent, down-and-dirty attitude, and "central location" -- the neighborhood inspires sneers, scoffs and, at best, a low level of tolerance from other L.A. residents. By day, tourists clog the main boulevards, slowly rubbernecking through crosswalks while we strum our fingertips on our steering wheels, waiting to make our right turns. By night, underdressed 20-somethings teeter on too-tall heels, stumbling around after overdosing on over-priced drinks.
Erin Lyall The Bar at Aventine
But stop the sighing. Stop the head-shaking. When you sift through the grit, there's some really great cooking happening in Hollywood, particularly these five restaurants that care about the food more than the scene. Or think of it this way: Now you've got somewhere to take your relatives after their trip to the Walk of Fame.
5. Stella Barra Pizzeria:
Lettuce Entertain You Stella Barra's Pizza
Dinner and a movie just got a lot better in Hollywood, now that Stella Barra has opened, next to the Arclight theater. It's the sister of Westside staple Stella Rossa and has the same casual-cool vibe, a beautiful bar with a well-priced drink list and a small but delicious menu of pizzas, vegetables and salumi. Start your meal with antipasti (including a salty-sweet roasted tomato jam served with cheese), or the olive-oil poached tuna salad, and split a pizza with your date. There's a range of interesting toppings: from a simple margherita to a porchetta/fennel concoction to a white pie topped with fennel, burrata and basil. The crust is chewy, fat, and bubbly. You can have a Roman-style, extra-thin pizza if you so desire, but why would you want to? Tip: if Raisinettes aren't your thing, there's a cookie and pastry bar here -- pop in for some sugar before the show. 6372 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 301-4001.
4. Ammo Café:
Erin Lyall Asparagus at Ammo
Ammo feels blessedly far away from the touristy bustle of Hollywood, tucked into a secluded space on Highland. Dimly lit and romantic, it's a great place for a quiet dinner with your date or a (small) group of friends. The restaurant is practically ancient for this part of town (opened in 1996) but there's been some kitchen turnover recently: Ernesto Morales is now at the helm, putting out dishes so seasonal that the menu changes daily. Right now you should dig into the fat spears of spring asparagus, charred and topped with burrata; or a bowl heavy with clams, mussels and pancetta. A sea bass entrée feels very Provençal, with a white wine broth, new green olives, baby carrots and cannellini beans. Pretty cocktails and a nice wine list will help you get your night started on the right (wobbly) foot. 1155 Highland Ave, Hollywood; (323) 871-2666.