There are mariscos stands all over Southern California, but none turns out anything as delicious as Senor Fish's garlic-drenched tangle of shrimp, scallops and fish folded into a burrito with a blanket of rich, bland, melted cheese ($1.85). Topped with fresh salsa and a few slices of avocado, it is very fine.
Senor Fish, 5111 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park; (213) 257-2498.
A huge golden puff that covers the plate, this is butter and eggs and apples and cinnamon, all rolled into one impossibly delicious package for $6.05. The size of a small pie, it makes you feel you're starting the day with dessert. And how could that be bad?
Original Pancake House, 1418 E. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim;
Also at 18639 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda; (714) 693-1390.
Between the horrible packaged stuff sold in the supermarket and the salty, greasy noodle soup served in so many Japanese fast-food joints, ramen has gotten a bad name. Tampopo restores it. Here are springy noodles in flavorful broth topped with slices of pork and wonderfully pungent bits of fried garlic ($5.25). Afterward, have coffee Jell-O.
Tampopo, 2015 Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena; (213) 323-7882.
COCHINITA PIBIL TACO
At Yuca's Hut, pork is baked in banana leaves with achiote and other secret spices, ladled onto soft corn tortillas and handed over. You pour on some fiery hot salsa de chile habanero . Finally, you take the taco ($1.40) to a rickety table and, in a downpour of grease and good taste, devour it. This is one pig that died for a good cause.
Yuca's Hut, 2056 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 662-1214.
You find lamb in spinach sauce in every Indian joint you enter. None, however, can touch this one at Bombay Grill. Green as a field in spring, the sauce tastes of spinach, cilantro, citrus and spices. It is absolutely addictive, it comes with rice and lentils, and it costs only $5.99.
Bombay Grill, 7306 W. Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; (213) 874-3366.
Hot, twice-fried to incredible crispness, dusted with salt and doused with malt vinegar, the fries at Benita's Frites are almost as good as they get. They cost $1.90, $2.40 and $3.40; the small and medium orders come with one sauce, the large size gets two sauces. There are 20 sauces, including garlic mayonnaise; arugula, shiitake mushroom and sour cream sauce; green peppercorn with lime-cilantro mayonnaise and peanut curry sate.
Benita's Frites, 1437 3rd St., Santa Monica; (213) 458-2889.
The national dish of El Salvador is a sort of thick cornmeal tortilla filled with slightly salty cheese and a vegetable called loroco that looks like asparagus tips and tastes like thyme. Topped with crunchy coleslaw called curtido , it makes a perfect little meal. The ones served in the large, clean Atlacatl restaurant cost $1.60 each and are particularly appealing.
Atlacatl, 301 N. Berendo St., Los Angeles; (213) 663-1404.
DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM
One taste of this soft, velvety and absolutely intense frozen custard ($2.25), and you'll understand why people come from everywhere to eat Eiger Ice Cream. For those feeling somewhat less indulgent, there is also superb frozen yogurt, including a coffee version that tastes exactly like iced cappuccino.
Eiger Ice Cream, 124 S. Barrington Place, Brentwood; (213) 471-6955.
Big fluffy won-tons delicately drifting in a bowl of clear, savory stock make the most comforting food on Earth. Especially when they are served at Mayflower, a small, spare restaurant on a back street in Chinatown. There is only one way to improve this $2.50 dish: Dip the won-tons into the special homemade chile sauce.
Mayflower Restaurant, 800 Yale St., Los Angeles; (213) 626-7113.
Late into the night, the little Sanamluang Cafes (there is one in North Hollywood and others in Hollywood and Pomona) are filled with Thai people happily ladling chiles into their huge bowls of noodles. Pad Thai ($4.25) are wonderful, but so are the curry noodles ($4.25), the large, fat rice noodles ($4.25)--in fact, all of the many varieties offered are superb. There are all sorts of other authentic Thai dishes, including, in Pomona at least, barbecued pork uterus.
Sanamluang Cafe, 12980 Sherman Way, North Hollywood; (818) 764-1180.
5176 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (213) 660-8006.
1648 Indian Hill Blvd., Pomona; (714) 621-0904.