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The best West Hollywood restaurants

Whether you're looking for exceptional tapas or vegan Mexican food, these West Hollywood restaurants should be on your must-visit list

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Tomaca i llangoisses at smoke.oil.salt

From the Sunset Strip to Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood never seems to sleep. There are gay clubs to frequent and live music to be heard, coffee shops to work from and some serious Melrose Ave shopping to do. Sound exhausting? Fuel up with breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner at these superb West Hollywood restaurants so that you can explore this lively neighborhood until the wee hours of the morning.

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West Hollywood restaurants to visit

Cecconi's

Cecconi's is a classic Italian restaurant in West Hollywood serving breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as cicchetti (Italian tapas), seven days a week. Specializing in Northern Italian cuisine, the menu covers everything from pizza to fish to exemplary pastas—and even a "secret steak." The wine menu is just as diverse: choose from over 50 varieties on hand (hint: test the waters at Cecconi's happy hour, serving $4 to $7 bites and drinks).

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West Hollywood

Connie and Ted's

The lofty seafood eatery from chef Michael Cimarusti lies in the heart of West Hollywood, and features alfresco dining with seating outdoors and indoors—grab a seat at the raw bar where you can order oysters, clams, lobsters, crabs, shrimp and spot prawns. Two-fisters include the lobster and clam rolls, served on a griddled top-split bun, or you could opt for classic seaside plates like grilled or steamed lobster served with drawn butter, fried clams served with tartar sauce and fries, and a clam bake with steamed potatoes and corn. Domestic craft brews are offered on tap and by the bottle, as well as a California-centric selection of reds and whites by the glass, carafe and bottle.

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West Hollywood

Eveleigh

Despite being on the Sunset Strip—home to many restaurants that give off a tourist trap vibe—the Eveleigh is in a class all it's own. Duck confit with lentils, pappardelle with pork ragu, hanger steak with romesco sauce—the kitchen keeps it simple and gets it right. Brunch is a relaxed affair frequented by people who probably never visit the Strip at night. Most of the seating is outside, either on the front patio, which is covered in shaggy Astroturf, or the enclosed back terrace, offering views of the city.

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West Hollywood

Gracias Madre

It should be said, right off the bat, that Gracias Madre is beautiful. A cross between Mexican chic and Palm Springs casual, the vegan Mexican restaurant is decorated with festive cushions and tiles, a gorgeous courtyard and, inside, high ceilings and a comfortable bar. Wherever you choose to sit, order the guacamole—it is truly fantastic. The sopes con piña, looking like mini savory quiches, are two masa cakes piled high with pineapple salsa, cabbage, beans and guacamole. For dessert, a more traditional option might have been the flan, but the pumpkin cake is the way to go. Flanked by creamy vanilla bean coconut ice cream, the seasonal cake is gently spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon, and tastes remarkably like fall. It is a necessary reminder that vegan doesn't have to mean void of flavor, and that Gracias Madre has arrived as an ethically-conscious alternative to LA's growing haute Mexican scene.

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West Hollywood

Ink

Michael Voltaggio is LA's most avant-garde chef, and when it comes to "cooking" with liquid nitrogen, nobody in California does it better. Sugar snap peas arrive at the table smoldering. At first glance, they appear to be steaming hot. But when you pierce one of these peas with your fork and bring it to your lips, it delivers a shocking icy blast. Beef tartare brings together hearts of palm and horseradish in ways that you wouldn’t normally imagine, while a dish of soft-shell crab plays it fairly straight. The menu might say "corn," but what actually shows up on the plate is a few strands of corn silk, curled into a beehive and fried to a crisp. It’s a riot of fun, and stunningly delicious.

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West Hollywood

Ink Sack

A few feet from his fine-dining restaurant, Ink, is Michael Voltaggio's ode to all things sandwiches—Ink Sack. The lunch crowd line up for sandwiches like spicy tuna and cold fried chicken—a steal at less than $8 from one of the city's most buzzed about chefs. Seating is limited, so you would be wise to take your paper bag lunch to-go. Craving banh mi? Ink Sack has one of the best in LA, and if you find yourself with a hankering for one before a flight from LAX, you can find an Ink Sack outpost at Tom Bradley International Terminal.

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West Hollywood

Lucques

To get in the right frame of mind for this modern French-Mediterranean restaurant, you must be willing to try absolutely anything. Chef Suzanne Goin is fantastically inventive, using obscure ingredients in exuberant and unlikely combinations. Fill the center of your table with appetizers and then order a main dish or two. The lunch and Sunday-night prix fixe menus are among the best deals in town.

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West Hollywood

Night + Market

Night + Market is easily one of the best Thai restaurants in LA. Chef/owner Kris Yenbamroong serves a menu like none other, inspired equally by the night market street foods of Bangkok and the rustic cooking of rural northern Thailand, where he still has distant relatives. The moo sadoong (“startled pig”) is a phenomenal dish, a fiery, sinus-jolting, tear-jerking slap in the face that tastes a lot like grilled pork with lemongrass, fish sauce and a fistful of Thai bird chiles. And nobody makes a better crab fried rice. Period.

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West Hollywood

The Church Key

At The Church Key, you may find yourself snacking on pig ear “Cheetos” dim sum or sucking on alcoholic ice pops frozen right at your table by a Pan Am flight attendant. The menu offers a number of shareable plates that run anywhere between $6 and $30, but don’t forget the dim sum carts floating around, which serve a spectrum of small bites—from sashimi to falafel—that cost between $5 and $9 each. As for drinks, the house specialties cover the gamut with gin, vodka and whiskey. Try The Shot in the Dark, a frothy, slightly sweet cocktail that’s almost too easy to drink with the amount of bourbon it contains.

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West Hollywood

The Hudson

The Hudson is West Hollywood's answer to an elevated gastropub: a spacious white marble-top bar, comfy industrial-craft stools, upholstered banquettes and Edison lighting. Chef Conrad Woodul's comfort fare satisfies across the board, like the crispy chicken sliders served on soft mini-buns with aioli and housecured pickles. Seasonally appropriate cocktails offer plenty of fresh citrus, herbs and warm-weather fruits, along with eight draft beers, 11 bottle selections and a number of red, white and sparkling wine options by the glass. Stopping by for happy hour (4-7pm daily)? That'll get you $3 drafts, well cocktails and wine, and $6 snacks. Call ahead for a table or secure a place at the bar while you wait.

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West Hollywood

Salt's Cure

The idea behind Salt’s Cure is a noble one: every meal is made from ingredients grown and raised in California, all of which are carefully butchered and crafted in-house. The challenge of being so noble and sticking to their guns is that the menu is succint, but it works. Come by for breakfast and you'll find brunchers scarfing down their famous oatmeal griddle cakes. For lunch and dinner, there's almost always a good steak of some sort, along with a  bounty of expertly prepared veggies: Black kale, mashed potatoes, grilled corn and more. Get there early if you want to snag a seat in the tiny space.

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West Hollywood

smoke.oil.salt

Split into two rooms with brick walls and dark furniture, smoke.oil.salt feels cozy without being cramped. On one side, a chef’s counter circles around the stove, where chef Rocher moves between counter and kitchen while managing a quick chat with diners. On the other side, a large communal table and a smaller wine bar gives the sense that it is all about community here. As a tapas restaurant, it is about community. Share plates of pa amb tomaca, a Catalan tomato toast with housemade red and white sausage; or tender guatlles—quail—perched atop a bowl of black lentils, chickpeas and a sea of spices. For more adventurous eaters, the cassoleta de fideu negra (a squid ink pasta) is unforgettable. On Sundays, smoke.oil.salt offers a four-course, prix-fixe paella meal for $45 per person (each paella is meant for two).

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