Star chefs go low-key in L.A.

L.A. dining: Here's where to get gourmet burgers, pizza, sandwiches, malts, and more

Street restaurant L.A.

Park on Street's outdoor patio for Moroccan dishes designed by Top Chef Masters’s Susan Feniger.

Andrea M. Gómez

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The Oinkster restaurant L.A.
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Pizzeria Mozza L.A.
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25 Degrees restaurant L.A.
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6 places to find low-key gourmet food in Los Angeles:

1. Street

  • Star chef: Susan Feniger—Border Grill and Ciudad co-owner, Too Hot Tamales TV star, Top Chef Masters’s best-natured contestant, and all-around culinary guru. Ethnic street food gets a crazy-flavored twist at her newest venture—a strong contender for most fun restaurant in L.A. Nab a spot on the outdoor patio.
  • Don’t miss: Spinach varenyky (Ukrainian dumplings) with lemon marmalade; Moroccan winter squash with pepitas, chestnuts, and popcorn. $$; 742 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; 323/203-0500.

2. 25 Degrees

  • Star chefs: Tim and Liza Goodell, whose empire brought us the posh Dakota steakhouse, now have this burger bar in the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Take in the old-Hollywood atmosphere—all red leather and mirrors—as a burger drips juice down your chin. Open 24 hours for late-night cravings.
  • Don’t miss: The Number One burger, with crescenza and gorgonzola cheeses, bacon, arugula, and Thousand Island. Add the half-and-half onion rings and sweet potato fries, plus a vanilla malt. $; 7000 Hollywood Blvd.; 323/785-7244.

3. The Oinkster

  • Star chef: Andre Guerrero, who has shuttered his Cal-Asian favorite, Max, and opened this American-style sandwich joint. The house-cured pastrami, pulled pork, and hamburgers arrive in paper-lined red plastic baskets, and the shiny white counter design is decidedly In-N-Out.
  • Don’t miss: The Oinkster pastrami with caramelized onions, gruyère, and a fresh red-cabbage slaw. Add Belgian fries with garlic aioli, and a lemon-orange Oinksterade, which tastes fresh enough to have been squeezed straight from the trees. $; 2005 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; 323/255-6465.

4. 8 Oz. Burger Bar

  • Star chef: Govind Armstrong, Top Chef Masters competitor, who once helmed Table 8, his Cal cuisine mecca, at this same spot. What makes a Top Chef–worthy burger? The beef is hormone-free, hand-ground, and house-cured, and the pickles are house-made.
  • Don’t miss: The classic 8 Oz. burger vies with the oozier short-rib grilled cheese for most popular dish here. Try both, and wash it all down with small-batch beers on tap. $; 7661 Melrose Ave.; 323/852-0008.

5. Pizzeria Mozza

  • Star chefs: La Brea Bakery founder Nancy Silverton and TV star Mario Batali. Need we say more? Mozza is the queen bee of the new upscale-downscale scene, where a wood-burning oven turns out stunning pizzas with super-fresh tomatoes and mozzarella—not to mention broccoli rabe, burrata cheese, and guanciale (cured pork cheek). Try the $19 two-course special weekdays between 2 and 5 p.m., when you also have the best chance of avoiding a wait.
  • Don’t miss: The squash blossom pizza. To finish, let the butterscotch budino (pudding) rock you back on your heels. $$; 641 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; 323/297-0101.

6. Coming soon: Grilled Cheese 

  • Star chef: Eric Greenspan, a competitor on The Next Iron Chef, still roasting squab at the Foundry (see above right), his Cal-French spot next door.
  • Don’t miss: When Greenspan opens this cheapie spot in a month or so, look for the Champ—taleggio and short ribs on raisin bread with an apricot-caper schmear—which grabbed first prize in L.A.’s 2008 Grilled Cheese Invitational. $; 7461 Melrose Ave.; thefoundryonmelrose.com

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