Cheebo has a winning formula for pizza: a great billowy crust with the flavor built in, and a choice of inspired toppings. **. Reviewed Oct. 22, 2003. Specialties: pizza, house-made ravioli, rustic soup, the Cheebo Chop salad, "Da Bomb" (a souffle that oozes chocolate like lava). Pizzas, $9 to $10; main courses, $14 to $29. 7533 W. Sunset Blvd.; (323) 850-7070. Italian.
Fling yourself onto a plate of "Bluesberry" flapjacks at the Griddle Cafe and try to finish the three huge, fluffy pancakes loaded with blueberries and topped with a mountain of blueberry sour cream. Another perk here: The coffee is French-pressed to order. Flapjacks, $8. 7916 Sunset Blvd.; (323) 874-0377. American.
The Hungry Cat. Entrees, $18 to $22. 1535 N. Vine St.; (323) 462-2155. Seafood. See Page 32 for more.
Meson G. ** 1/2. Reviewed Dec. 29, 2004. Dinner dishes, $8 to $18; lunch, $8 to $14; chef's tasting menu, $95 per person. 6703 Melrose Ave.; (323) 525-1415. International. See Page 28 for more.
Musso & Frank Grill still serves the best martini in town, and the coveted seats are at the counter. Sit elbow to elbow with old-timers swapping stories with longtime Musso waiters. Specialties: double-cut lamb chops, steaks, grilled calf's liver. Entrees, $15 to $38; flannel cakes, $6. 6667 Hollywood Blvd.; (323) 467-7788. American.
The menu at Xiomara on Melrose, like the one at the original in Pasadena, features Nuevo Latino cooking with an Asian Cuban accent. **. Reviewed Jan. 21, 2004. Specialties: black bean soup, codfish fritters, rock shrimp tamale, duck ropa vieja, arroz frito, pork hash, mojitos. Entrees, $16.50 to $32. 6101 Melrose Ave.; (323) 461-0601. French Cuban. Also in Pasadena.
Cebiche del Rey lures diners with exotic grills and Peruvian criollo dishes. The restaurant boasts four ceviches, the best of which is the zingy tiradito. Specialties: ceviche, papa rellena, chupe de camarones, arroz con mariscos. Entrees, $5 to $27. 7404 Florence Ave., Downey; (562) 806-4033. Peruvian.
Cenaduria La Casita Mexicana is a modest family-run eatery that offers garden-to-table cooking, always from scratch. Specialties: quesadillas, mole poblano, chicken pipian, pozole, cactus agua fresca (in season). Entrees, $7 to $11. 4030 E. Gage Ave., Bell; (323) 773-1898. Mexican.
Ya Ya's Burgers is a hard-working eatery, scarcely bigger than a burger stand, which sells 65 varieties of Mexico City-style sandwiches. They aren't deli, and they aren't what you probably think of as tortas, either. Specialties: torta alemana (spicy sausage with bacon and American cheese), torta tepiquena (roast pork), torta media vuelta (ham, pork and American cheese), steak sandwich. Entrees, $3 to $9. 3202 E. Gage Ave., Huntington Park; (323) 581-2383. Mexican.
El Cholo. 1121 S. Western Ave.; (323) 734-2773. Mexican. See listing under Orange County.
Jin Sang is the local branch of a Korean chain where the specialty is shabu-shabu. Much of the food is Japanese, with a Korean accent. Specialties: shabu-shabu (meat or seafood and vegetables dropped into boiling liquid), sukiyaki, kimchi ball (shrimp, tuna, vegetables and kimchi wrapped in cabbage). Entrees, $13 to $46. 2949 W. Olympic Blvd.; (213) 387-1600. Japanese.
Odaesan shows what happens to sashimi outside of Japan--and in a luxurious setting. Some of the seafood is so fresh that it's still swimming when you order. Specialties: raw fish salad, al tchigae (cod roe soup), lobster sashimi. Entrees, $13 to market price. 2889 W. Olympic Blvd.; (213) 383-9800. Japanese.
Papa Cristo's Greek Town Taverna serves hard-to-find Greek specialties to an eclectic, ethnic clientele. Specialties: rack of lamb, grilled octopus, grilled Greek sausage, sizzling feta cheese, trio of phyllo dough pastries (spinach, cheese and spicy meat). Entrees, $8 to $13. 2771 W. Pico Blvd.; (323) 737-2970. Greek.
The owners of Si Gol make their condiments and kimchis in the time-honored way, but present their sizzling meats with 21st century style. Specialties: pork bulgogi, beef chuck flap, black pork, Si Gol Special. Set menu, $16 to $17. 480 N. Western Ave.; (323) 467-0100. Korean.
Soot Bull Jeep offers meals that are literally made to order. As smoke curls from tabletop braziers, guests take turns grilling their food, adding fermented bean paste, pickled daikon or kimchi. Specialties: beef, pork, squid and short ribs to grill. Entrees, $14 to $17. 3136 8th St.; (213) 387-3865. Korean.
Taylor's Steak House is straight out of the old school: dark, cozy and all about steaks. And it's been that way for more than 50 years. Waitresses don't have an ounce of 'tude. * 1/2. Reviewed Sept. 17, 2003. Specialties: Molly salad, navy bean soup, burger made from steak trimmings, porterhouse steak, cottage fries, tri-tip, bone-in prime rib, London broil, apple pie a la mode. Steak dinners with soup or salad, $13 to $26. 3361 W. 8th St.; (213) 382-8449. American. Also in La Canada Flintridge.
LA CIENEGA/FAIRFAX/LA BREA