For years it was common to cook pork to death, and you've probably had your share of dry, woody pork chops. Fortunately, things are changing.
Il Grano: If you're an adventurous eater, order the nodino di vitella avvolto nel lardo di Colonnata, fonduta di porri. OK, now, what is it? A 2-inch chunk of pork loin wrapped in a slab of cured pork jowl (like pancetta) and grilled till the outside is crisp, served on melted leeks. (Nodino di vitella, $24.) Il Grano, 11359 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 477-7886.
Thai This: There are two popular pork dishes here. Garlic pork is stir-fried strips mixed with a paste of garlic, cilantro stems, white pepper and sea salt. It's served with salad and jasmine rice. For a spicier dish, try the chile pork, in which the stir-fried meat is flavored with garlic, shallots, dried red chiles, kaffir lime leaves, roasted peanuts and galangal. It also comes with rice and salad. (Both pork dishes, $10.95.) Thai This, 24501 Del Prado, Dana Point, (949) 240-7944.
Windows: There are spectacular views from the top floor of the Transamerica building. While you're checking them out, you can have a pork loin chop stuffed with a twist on the creamed spinach idea: spinach, mascarpone and shiitake mushrooms. It comes with a sweet potato and a goat cheese timbale. The entire dish is laced with a thyme-dried cranberry glaze. (Roasted stuffed pork loin chop, $22.95.) Windows, Transamerica Center, 1150 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, (213) 746-1554.
Casa Antigua: This unusual dish consists of two center-cut pork chops sauteed in olive oil and surrounded by bite-sized chunks of sauteed cactus paddles (nopales) and cilantro potatoes. It's dressed with a slightly sweet, mildly spicy sauce of garlic, onions, olive oil, achiote paste, and orange and lemon juices. (Chuleta de puerco pibil, $19.) Casa Antigua Cantina, 12217 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 820-2540.
Joe's: Here's the perfect dish for a chilly autumn evening. It's a tender pork tenderloin rolled in diced turnips and carrots and pan roasted until brown all over. Then it's sliced into medallions, which are served with roasted garlic on a bed of mashed potatoes with a mixture of oyster, blue foot and shiitake mushrooms, the whole thing covered in a delicate pork jus. (Crepinette of pork, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and wild mushrooms, $20.) Joe's, 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 399-5811.