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Los Angeles

lobster santa monicaCelebrity chefs and cuisine from around the world are on the menu in Los Angeles. Asian food is a particular strength here; you won't have to look far for great sushi or Pad Thai. And while there are plenty of upscale gourmet offerings, you needn't pay a fortune to eat well. There are plenty of delightful little delis, hot dog stands and dim sum joints where you can dine on a dime.

How to Save Money on Food When You Travel

Musso and Frank Grill is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood and it's still wonderful. If you love martinis, this is the place. It's clubby and dark, and the menu features seafood, steaks, sandwiches and the restaurant's own "flannel cakes" (described as "lighter and sweeter than a pancake yet not as delicate as a crepe").

Acapulco (with a few area locations) offers big, bold and better-than-you'd-think Mexican cuisine at really good prices. The Fajitas Gigante are not just gigantic when it comes to portion size -- this dish is a sizzling extravaganza of shrimp, chicken and steak with plenty of sauteed onion, guacamole and peppers -- and it's less than $20!

KOI, located in West Hollywood, is a hey-isn't-that-Ben-and-Angelina-over-there kind of place; the food's Asian and the scene is white hot. Reservations are recommended.

L'Opera Ristorante in Long Beach offers fantastic Italian dishes like veal piccata and homemade pasta with jumbo lump crab and truffle peelings.

More than a handful of New Yorkers would tell you that there is no true deli in L.A. -- but Nate 'n Al actually is a really good one, Beverly Hills-style. It's a favorite among long-time famous locals; don't be surprised if you see one slurping up the very delicious chicken soup. The pastrami is as good as it gets -- even by New York standards -- and if you love short ribs, this is the place.

Smack-dab between Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade and the Pier, The Lobster offers everything lobstery from butter-poached American lobster to a refreshingly outstanding cold lobster and avocado salad. No disappointments here.

Some say Pink's is an acquired taste, but not only are the fluorescent-orange chili dogs the best you'll ever have -- you'll also probably spot loyalists like Leno, Willis and Pitt lining up at this iconic outdoor stand (near the chi-chi Beverly Center shopping mall) with the rest of the crowd at this beloved L.A. institution. Even Ruth Reichl, the famous food critic, said she once dug through their trash to find out what kind of chili they used (it's a family recipe).

Nosh on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern tapas at Cleo in Hollywood -- like grilled octopus, dolmades and and brussels sprouts with capers. The delicious flavors and eclectic crowd draw rave reviews.

Nobu Malibu is yet another outpost of chef Nobu Matsuhisa's well-known family of restaurants, this time at the beach. Try the ceviche -- it's divine.

For light, fresh Vietnamese dishes like green papaya salad and tilapia steamed in banana leaves, head to Gingergrass in Silver Lake. It's a great option for vegetarians and those looking for affordable, casual Asian fare.

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