Splurge on these Beverly Hills restaurants
Before opening Maude, Australian chef Curtis Stone was as well known for his television cameos as he was for his cooking. Add a hard-to-get-into 25-seat restaurant that serves a multi-course meal centered on one ingredient, and you might think this restaurant is all talk. Yet Maude is not flashy. Its menu, which changes every month with a new seasonal focus, is well thought-out, and Stone’s food is undeniably fantastic. Nine intricate courses make up the meal, starting with an amuse-bouche and working its way through various vegetables and proteins before a phenomenal dessert materializes. The only catch? You'll have to make your reservation months in advance.
Inside the sexy and playful SLS Hotel, the Bazaar by José Andrés is a carnival of food and drink offerings that are as whimsical and sleek as the Philippe Starck–designed space. Grab a drink—expect martinis with olive foam and "salt air" margaritas—at the swanky Bar Centro or at the al fresco Bar Centro Terrace, where guests can sip on single-malt Scotch and enjoy a stogie from the cigar selection. Of course, the real star is the Spanish chef's modern cooking. Indulge in an intimate chef's tasting menu inside the hidden dining room Saam or share small-plate tapas like "Philly cheesesteak" made with seared Wagyu beef atop "air bread" and uni and avocado buns. If you're in need of some retail therapy, stop into the Bazaar's Patisserie for grown-up confectionary or Regalo for Kiki de Montparnasse lingerie and Moss home furnishings.
By now, Sotto is regarded as a stalwart of L.A.'s Italian dining scene—and with good reason. A wood-burning oven is the heart and soul of this basement eatery, where pizzas and pastas are supplemented with fennel-crusted pork chops and prime ribeye. The oven is a Neapolitan hearth, built by real Neapolitans for the making of true Neapolitan-style pizzas. And the pizzas are very, very good—pillowy white dough spotted with black blisters and a sparse smear of tomato sauce, a few oozy globs of fresh mozzarella and a leaf or two of basil. If you stick around for dessert, opt for the cannoli Siciliani, made with ricotta, orange marmalade, pistachios and chocolate.
Executive chef Lee Hefter leads Spago's kitchen, where influences include California, Asia, Italy and France. Clean lines and blocks of black and white define Spago's modernized dining room, whose makeunder includes ditching garish dressings in favor of minimalist dishware and contemporary, if a bit incongruous, wall art. A California tasting menu ranges from six courses ($95) to eight courses ($145), but if you opt to order a la carte, you'll find dishes like pan-seared cod with a ragout of shelling beans, or handmade agnolotti with butternut and kabocha squash. Dine on the charming, semi-covered outdoor patio, with its modern, oversized fireplaces and strategically positioned olive trees. Despite built-in heaters, it does get chilly on colder nights, so opt for an indoor table toward the glassed-in exhibition kitchen.
There are a handful of cafés in Beverly Hills where you can afford to be a regular, and M Cafe is one of them. The chain boasts healthy, macrobiotic food to the tune of salads, soups, wraps and whole grain bowls, with plenty of options for both vegetarians and vegans. It also serves exceptional sushi, but the real winner is their yellow coconut curry udon, a belly-warming bowl that's perfect when winter strikes.
This isn't your average omakase meal. At Tempura Endo in Beverly Hills, each dish is a celebration of Kyoto-style tempura, featuring vegetables and protein fried in a rotating selection of cotton seed oil, sesame seed oil and safflower oil, with batter made from hard water, white wine and Japanese tempura flour. The menu changes frequently, but you might find sea urchin wrapped with laver and prawn or sesame tofu fried to a crisp. While a la carte dishes are available, most diners come for one of the set menus, which range from $180 to $280 per person. The latter includes a special matcha tea ceremony—the perfect way to end your meal in serenity.
Thomas Keller's beloved Bouchon has been feeding denizens of Beverly Hills since 2009, accompanied by Bar Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery. The French brasserie serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and features a raw bar where oysters are aplenty along with mussels, shrimp, clams and more. For breakfast, the pastries are a must—danishes, pecan sticky buns, chocolate croissants. At dinner, the steak frites is one of Bouchon's signature plates, but be sure to stop by on Mondays for their famed Ad Hoc buttermilk fried chicken.
Lawry's doesn't technically serve steak. They serve prime rib—pounds and pounds of prime rib. They're legendary, though, and to say that the atmosphere is formal is putting it mildly. The meat is carved tableside in massive silver carts by men wearing tall chef's toques, while your waitress wears a uniform that's a cross between a maid and the Flying Nun. The meal may be traditional, but it's not complicated. There are only a few decisions to make: what size cut you'd like, what temperature and whether or not to add a vegetable (Tip: always add the creamed spinach). A few bites in and you'll know why Lawry's has been around for 75 years—and by the time you leave, you'll wonder why don't eat from silver carts every night.
Nate 'n Al isn't the best Jewish deli in greater L.A., but it's a steadfast lunch option in the Beverly Hills neighborhood—and 60 years of service have made it a veritable institution. The food is heavy but good, and the servers are seasoned veterans who've seen everything and who treat millionaires, families and elderly Jewish matrons exactly the same. Order the New York sandwich (hot pastrami, coleslaw and Russian dressing) or the matzoh ball soup.