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Issue: Issue Winter 2004/2005

Let's Do Lunch


In Hollywood "Let's do lunch," can be the beginning or the end - the promise of a deal or the brush off. In a town where it's often said it's not what you know, but who you know, it could be said that more potential entertainment business occurs from noon to 2 p.m. than any other hours of the day as relationships are formed and future opportunities are explored.

And in Hollywood there are restaurants to suit any whim, any mood and just about any cuisine.

From the vast collection of Thai eateries on its east side to more posh surroundings in the west, the town buzzes with anticipation at High Noon.

Visitors will enjoy the collection of restaurants at Hollywood & Highland, the stylish Vert, traditional Grill on Hollywood, the popular California Pizza Kitchen or favorite Italian inspired Bicci Mercado and Trastavere.

Close to the hub of Hollywood at Sunset and Highland adjacent to the Media District, lunch at Cafe des Artistes is almost as good as a vacation in Provence. Inside the California bungalow has been transformed into a Paris bistro while the patio is definitely south of France. Close by, the atmosphere at Catalina's Bar & Grill is strictly club. At noon it's a quiet spot to make a deal or plan a future date, for its world-class jazz and the soft jazz recorded music are the perfect accompaniment.

If you're not up for the trek to Thai Town, don't worry. Pink Pepper Thai on north La Brea just south of Hollywood is steps from the boulevard and up the way on Cahuenga just north of Sunset, Chan Dara was the first to introduce Thai cuisine. And if you're down near Melrose Avenue, PBS chef Tommy Tang's is always a treat and Erawan's temple-like decor complements the Asian-inspired menu.

For a change of pace, excellent Cuban cuisine can be found at El Floridita's on Vine a few blocks south of Sunset or at Palador on Cahuenga. If it's Mexican, there's the Las Palmas on Las Palmas and for Chinese, check out Forbidden City
on Vine.

For a touch of old Hollywood, you can't go wrong at Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Blvd. which has changed little since 1919. (Was that Norman Chandler I saw the other day sitting at the counter?)  Just down the street next to American Cinematheque's restored Egyptian Theatre, the Pig 'n Whistle serves up a fine lunch menu in recreated "old" Hollywood atmosphere.

Heading north on Ivar, take a noon time trip to Greece at Joseph's Cafe. Whether indoors or outside on its lovely patio, you'll swear that you hear the Aegean lapping at the shoreline.

Fabiolus' marvelous pasta is as fresh and bright as the owner Fabio's welcoming smile. The outside patio is a local  favorite recently discovered by savvy theatregoers heading to the Pantages. Around the corner at Off Vine, a charming Hollywood bungalow is the setting for a lovely California lunch either inside in the bright and cheery dining room or outside under the market umbrellas.

Not all of us have time for the more leisurely lunch, and the new Caffe Etc. at Cahuenga and Selma is perfect for a quick sandwich or salad made with organic ingredients. Whether you eat in, order out or call for delivery, Ponchik Factory on Sunset serves up wonderful chicken, soups, smoothies and is family run.

Across the street, the Cat & Fiddle Pub and Restaurant has been a Hollywood favorite for more than 15 years. It's authentic old Hollywood and serves lunch and breakfast all afternoon. Inside, you'll think you're in jolly old England with its pub atmosphere, but on a southern California afternoon it's hard to leave the patio.

If you're on the eastside, a hidden gem can be found at the Fountain Court Tea Room & Courtyard Cafe. The food is wonderful and in the Assistance League's boutique you'll be sure to find a special treasure or gift.

On the westside, you just can't beat the wonderful collection of eateries at the Original Farmers Market. The selection is mind boggling, but best of all, everyone can select their favorite fare.
 
For a special occasion, Vermont is always a treat, and Pinot at Sunset & Gower is expensive but worth it. Hidden at the Celebrity Centre International's Manor Hotel on Franklin is a restaurant set in Hollywood's most elegant setting. The Hotel, built in French Chateau style in the 20's has been impeccably restored to its former glory and its Renaissance Restaurant never disappoints.

Lunch is definitely a production in Hollywood, so don't turn down the offer and make a date when you hear "Let's do lunch."