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Hudson House

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sommelier_p Photograph courtesy hudsonhousebar.com

The South Bay’s lively singles scene has always made it a haven for bars. Lately the sweaty dens of hip grinding and sweet-and-sour mixing are being replaced by thoughtful joints slinging craft beers as thick as the burgers. At Redondo Beach’s Hudson House, the brews number more than 40—most of them bottled—and include lesser-known offerings such as Oaked Arrogant Bastard, Le Fleur, and several entries from Maui Brewing Co. The pretzel burger—with grilled onions, bacon, and Jarlsberg—is a favorite here. Yep, there are fries (sweet potato and shoestring), but the menu serves more ambitious pub grub, too: lamb sugarcane skewers with a honey-yogurt harissa, state fair-worthy cauliflower fritters, and bacon-chive biscuits with spicy honey butter. » 514 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach (310-798-9183). D nightly. Full bar. Gastropub     $ 

Photograph courtesy hudsonhousebar.com

Apple Restaurant & Lounge

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Yes, it’s part of a nightlife complex that includes the Pussycat Dolls Lounge. But with Bryan Ogden, son of James Beard award winner Bradley Ogden, in the kitchen, Apple has some culinary cred. The über-upscale atmosphere—two glowing walls of water and a fantastical gray banquette curving overhead—feels out of touch with the times. What’s on the plate—stellar ingredients left to speak for themselves—is very now. Pork belly croquettes float in a bowl of split pea soup. Chicken “oysters” are topped with prosciutto and spiked with citrus. Crisped gnocchi dot rosy pork tenderloin. The crème fraîche cheesecake is a tiered treasure. » 665 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood (310-358-9191). D Wed.-Mon. Full bar. California $$$$

Photograph by Jessica Boone

Church & State

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Illustration by Jessica Boone

Steven Arroyo’s latest—easily his best since Cobras & Matadors—brings the nouveau French bistro trend downtown. On the ground floor of the Biscuit Company Lofts, with high industrial ceilings and walls of glass, this—like Cobras—is a loud spot for wine-soaked Saturday nights. The ambience is anything but French. In keeping with Arroyo’s M.O., the place is laid-back (sometimes to a fault) and hip (but not off-putting), with a menu that’s unfussy (as well as satisfying). Trout wrapped in bacon is redolent of a campfire, and the beef bourguignonne melts under a fork. The fries—scalding, puffy masterpieces—might make us regulars. » 1850 Industrial St., downtown (213-405-1434). L Mon.-Fri.; D Mon.-Sat. Full bar. Bistro $$$

Photograph by Jessica Boone

Delancey

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Photograph courtesy Delancey

Back Story: Hard Drive

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In 2001 traffic was the same obvious and exasperating fact of L.A. life that it is today. (Ok, maybe not quite the same.) Yet the more we considered the subject for the magazine, the more a mystery it became. Barring accidents, why was one commute a breeze on Wednesday, and a crawl on Thursday? Why did the creation of a new freeway lane offer zero relief for congestion? Did physical laws exist that could explain traffic flow, just as gravity explains river flow? What we found was that CalTrans District 7, some 6,000 square miles of roadway all of us drive, has become a laboratory for traffic engineers. Tens of thousands of sensors embedded in our freeways generate traffic loads of data every minute, streaming numbers that are studied by engineers attempting to understand what L.A.’s freeways are telling the world about the future of congestion. And what were the numbers saying in 2001? The same thing they are today: Everything we know about traffic is wrong.

—Dave Gardetta, December 2008

Phhotograph courtesy of Flickr/respres

The Stork

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Photograph by Edmund Barr

agnolotti

Photograph by Edmund Barr

Sashi

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Photograph courtesy of Sashi

Metlox Plaza, 451  Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach (310-545-0400 or sashisake.com). L-D daily. Full bar. Japanese

Photograph courtesy of Sashi

Kitchen 24

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Photograph by Edmund Barr

Tailor-made for the Cahuenga Corridor clubbers, Kitchen 24 serves refined American diner food on a classic diner schedule. At midnight, duck into one of the white leather booths for turkey potpie in a cast-iron skillet and a root beer float martini. At 3 a.m., have a nightcap of “Smac and Cheese” made with cheddar, mascarpone, and Gruyère, or a cup of vegetarian chili. At sunup, slide up to the counter for steak and eggs or a homemade granola and yogurt parfait. Any old time, try the burger—one of the best in Hollywood—with sweet potato fries and a giant ice cream sandwich. » 1608 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood (323-465-2424). B-L-D daily.
Full bar. American $

Photograph by Edmund Barr

The Beachcomber

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Photograph by Edmund Barr 

You can’t ask for a better view, at the base of the Malibu Pier, and the room’s cute, an upscale version of a crab shack with a fake fish on the wall. The food? A crapshoot. Mini ahi tacos that could do without the squiggles of chili-laced mayo, a clay pot chicken that could do without the smothering au jus. Grilled fish with rice or potatoes is a safer way to go, but note the asparagus—you’ll get the fibrous bottom white bit, but the tips will have been given to someone else. Put it behind you with one of the house margaritas or an order of the hot doughnut bread pudding.
» 23000 Pacific Coast Hwy.,
Malibu (310-456-9800 or 
thebeachcombercafe.com). B-L-D daily. Full bar. California $$$

Photograph by Edmund Barr

Lotería Grill

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Photograph by Edmund Barr

It’s risky—opening a brick-and-mortar version of a beloved open-air food stall. Does it work? . The new Lotería Grill took everything we love about the Farmers Market counter, refined it, and threw in a full bar. Because if there’s anything that can make Lotería’s chilaquiles de mole any better, it’s a margarita. A starter of chicharrón de queso—strips of almost-burned cheese served with corn tortillas and the works—satisfies on a primal level. An assortment of 12 mini tacos lets you sample each of the stewed meat and veggie fillings. Gigantic lotería cards and a few potted ficus adorn the room. » 6627 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood (323-465-2500 or loteriagrill.com). B-L-D daily. Full bar. Also at Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St. (323-930-2211). Mexican $$

Photograph by Edmund Barr