This endearing canyon fixture — once just a counter fronting a pharmacy — is a locals-only place that doesn't do fancy. Breakfast, served until closing time (5-ish most days), is the big draw. The house special includes one egg any style, four dollar-plus-size pancakes and ham, bacon or sausage. Shakes, made the old-fashioned way, hit the spot too.
Froggy's Fish Market
If dining at this casual fish specialist inspires memories of school assemblies, there's good reason. The restaurant is housed in the former Topanga School building dating to 1925. In warm weather, everyone wants to sit on the patio. And this season, the tree frogs (for which the place takes its name) are at their most vocal. To eat? Grilled wild king salmon or perhaps pecan-crusted sand dabs.
Salmon, $21.95. 1105 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, (310) 455-1728.
The chopped salad at this rustic trattoria, with its weathered brick walls and colorful art displays, is among the city's best. It's a satisfying mlange of baby greens, soppressata, salami, turkey, mozzarella, provolone, garbanzo beans, tomatoes and Kalamata olives. Pizzas and pastas too are made with organic ingredients whenever possible.
Salad, $11.50. 2100 Laurel Canyon Blvd., L.A., (323) 654-8583.
Inn of the Seventh Ray
The '60s are alive and well at this wooded retreat housed in what is rumored to be evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson's 1930s getaway. Vegetarians have plenty of choices, such as vegan duck and raw lasagna. But meat eaters can get their fix too. No matter your leanings, the Inn's charms include lush grounds and a babbling creek, a.k.a. the Mother Flow.
Duck, $23. 128 Old Topanga Canyon Road, Topanga, (310) 455-1311.
Restaurant at the Hotel Bel-Air
It doesn't get much more civilized than here. On the lovely shaded patio these days, the people-watching is usually primo and often includes a celebrity or two. Menus change seasonally. But we're suckers for classics such as the tortilla soup served at lunch.
Tortilla soup, $14. 701 Stone Canyon Road, Bel-Air, (310) 472-1211.
— Leslee Komaiko