We're all about checking out the hottest, coolest new places in the city. But constantly keeping up the tastemakers of the city's dining scene gets pretty exhausting. Sometimes, all you want is a local dinner spot that you know you can head to after a long day of work, relax with a cocktail or glass of wine, and have a tasty meal without all the fuss.
Papilles : For a classic French bistro with modern fare in Hollywood
Inspired by the bistonomique movement in Paris, Papilles is a cozy, classic French bistro tucked into a strip mall in the heart of Hollywood. Their seasonal menu from Chef Jordan Rosas utilizes produce from local farmers to put forth delicate, well-balanced dishes that are much lighter than your typical French bistro fare. Favorites included a Winter Squash Salad with warm, tender squash, candied pecans, gorgonzola, and arugula: a light but satisfying salad for the changing weather. The duck breast with carrots, chocolate, and chard was a lovely entrée; the meat was tender with a nicely crispy skin, while the carrots and chocolate were a well balanced pairing. A great date night spot or post-work meal, Papilles boasts the kind of understated, humble, but really tasty cuisine that is few and far between in Hollywood, and might just become your new go-to neighborhood eatery.
The Church Key : For an eclectic, stylish dinner with friends in West Hollywood
Though The Church Key on Sunset has been a West Hollywood staple since opening in 2013, they've recently revamped their menu and are better than ever. But longtime fans need not fret, as they're still featuring their dim sum-style food carts of fried chicken and donuts. All together, the menu is quite eclectic, with crowd-pleasing Japanese appetizers like the "Stuffed Avocado," a bed of tuna tartare and avocado wrapped in Japanese cucumber, tempura, and on top of ponzu aioli, or a light and refreshing Hamachi Sashimi with a seasonally appropriate Pickled Celery, Apple Vinaigrette, and Fennel Pollen. And in case you need a bit more variety, they've thrown in Enchiladas (one of my favorites), a beautiful curried Chicken Pot Pie, and pork and shrimp gyoza. You definitely MUST stay for the Brioche Donuts, which are amazing. With a lot of everything for everyone, it's undoubtedly a fun place to go with friends for an upbeat yet low-key dinner.
Luke : For an approachable dinner in The Valley with a little something for everyone
A newish Woodland Hills staple, Luke has been open for about a year, but is currently reaching its stride. Serving updated classics and plenty of fun cocktails, the restaurant is churning out approachable but tasty food that seems appropriate for The Valley's casual, local atmosphere. The Italienne and Wedge Salads are sure to please anyone looking for a lighter bite, while a Short Rib Lasagna (crispy, but silky pasta with tender short rib and housemade marinara sauce) and a few hefty burgers are satisfying alternatives to the Valley's typical gastropub choices. On our evening venture, there were multiple large parties celebrating special occasions, but we would certainly come back for a casual, post-work dinner and cocktail.