Destination dining in L.A. used to occur mostly at the high end or the low, said Andrew Knowlton in BonAppetit.com. Besides “glitzy spots for Hollywood types,” the city has also long been home to marvelous, budget-friendly Thai, Vietnamese, and Mexican joints. But a new scene is emerging in the middle ground, “geared less toward the celeb crowd and more toward discerning Angelenos in search of thoughtful food and drink.” If you care to walk among them, here are a few spots worth planning a weekend around.
Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant Forget New York’s contenders: This family-run institution is “the best Jewish deli in America.” Be sure to try the sandwich that earned Langer’s a James Beard Award: “warm, not-too-lean pastrami, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing on thick slices of rye.” 704 S. Alvarado St., (213) 483-8050
Red Medicine Chef Jordan Kahn uses the schooling he got at the French Laundry to create an Asian-inflected, fiendishly inventive take on molecular gastronomy. A full dinner at Red Medicine could break the bank, but it’s “a great spot for a late-night cocktail and a plate of delicious, if slightly offbeat, food.” 8400 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 651-5500
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Cole’s/The Varnish Cole’s is a legendary watering hole famous for its French dip sandwich, but after 7 p.m., wipe the grease from your lips and find the door leading to the Varnish, a speakeasy-style bar where the bartenders “take as much care with classics like Stingers as they do with newfangled concoctions.” 118 E. 6th Street, (213) 622-9999
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