|Feel like Frank Sinatra at Matteo's|
WHY: Because you can't go wrong with anything on the lunch or dinner menu at Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's longstanding restaurant, especially if you're eating market greens with buttermilk dressing, cara cara oranges and avocado, liberty duck confit with sweet potato hash, and bittersweet chocolate torta with coffee cream on the leafy patio (8474 Melrose Ave.; 323-655-6277).
WHY: From City Cafe and City Restaurant, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger helped change the course of dining in LA with their globally inspired eats. They moved to pan-Latin dishes when they opened Border Grill in Santa Monica in 1990, and it's still a great place for green corn tamales and a couple mojitos. You can get the DineLA at the newer Downtown location, too (1445 4th St.; 310-451-1655).
WHY: A game-changer in its own right - Shigefumi Tachibe was reportedly the first to serve tuna tartare anywhere - it's been one of the city's most popular spots for pan-Asian cuisine for more than 20 years (8741 Alden Dr.; 310-859-8833).
WHY: When Suzanne Tracht opened her modern steakhouse in 2001, the steakhouse trend had barely taken hold of the restaurant scene. It's still one of the best spots for a great steak and that butterscotch pudding, both of which are on the DineLA dinner menu. Grab a martini at the bar beforehand for some of those complimentary homemade potato chips and addictive horseradish cream dip (8225 Beverly Blvd.; 323-655-6566).
WHY: The chopped salad, the steak with mushroom sauce, and the tiramisu. Plus, it's been around since 1963 and still can't get rid of that Frank Sinatra smell (2321 Westwood Blvd.; 310-475-4521).
WHY: Michael McCarty opened his eponymous Santa Monica restaurant in 1979, not instrumental in creating what would soon become known as "California cuisine," but also helping to launch several chef's careers including Jonathan Waxman, Mark Peel, Nancy Silverton and Sang Yoon. Also because there is a new young chef, one of last year's Zagat 30 Under 30, at the helm, plus a new look and menu (1147 3rd St.; 310-451-0843).
WHY: You've always wanted to go but thought it was too high-brow or figured you couldn't afford it. But with the new renovation, it's now a much more casual space with a new everyday menu to match. Think: Clam chowder and crab cake sandwiches for lunch, and big eye tuna crudo and grilled local swordfish for dinner. But, you know, since you're saving so much money, go ahead and throw in a shellfish tower. You only live once (544 S. Grand Ave.; 213-891-0900).