The Belvedere 9882 Little Santa Monica Blvd. (Peninsula);310-551-2888. Zagat, Gourmet, and AAA hail this five-diamond restaurant for its fabulous food – champagne brunch in particular – and its discreet service. In other words, it's a fine reflection of the first-class hotel's personalized approach, with its "Small Bites" menu, which enables patrons to "taste" tidbits like an espresso cup of corn chowder and a mini scallion pancake topped with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, and caviar. Executive chef Bill Bracken can also prepare an in-flight menu for the long ride home. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner served daily. $$$$

Chaya Brasserie 8741 Alden Dr.; 310-859-8833. French, Japanese, and Italian cuisine under one eclectic, hip roof. If you're willing to get past the "caffeinated" ambience, you're sure to love the food. Lunch served Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and dinner Mon-Thu. 6-10:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 6-11 p.m.; Sun. 6-10 p.m. $$$

Crustacean 9646 Little Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-205-8990. Get the royal treatment while you dine on royal colossal tiger prawns with garlic noodles at this tribute to French colonial Vietnam. Owner Elizabeth An invites you to this re-creation of her ancestral home, complete with running stream and reed fans. $$$

Il Pastaio 400 N. Cañon Dr.; 310-205-5444. Celestino Drago named his fourth restaurant "the pasta maker" with good reason. Fresh pasta takes center stage in a casual venue with a full bar and mouth-watering dessert display. Open daily for dinner; lunch Mon.-Sat.$$$

McCormick & Schmicks/The Fish House 2 Rodeo Dr.; 310-859-0434. If seafood's your thing, this is your place. Choose from 30 different seafood specials on the menus that are printed daily. It's classy enough to be on Rodeo Drive, but casual enough to put you at ease. Can't beat that. Open daily 11:30 am.-11 p.m.. $$

Mr. Chow 344 N. Camden Dr.; 310-278-9911. In a name-conscious city in an equally name-conscious country, Mr. Chow is a name you want to and can't help but know. A-list celebs have frequented this restaurant/museum for over 30 years to enjoy fine Chinese food in a unique atmosphere. Come see what all the fuss is about. Open for lunch weekdays and dinner nightly. $$$

The Polo Lounge 9641 Sunset Blvd. (Beverly Hills Hotel); 310-276-2251. Talk about history. Will Rogers and Darryl Zanuck used to hang out at the bar, one of the "power zones" at this quintessential Hollywood restaurant where today's stars still hold court. Glamour quotient aside, the al fresco champagne Sunday brunch, artistic entrées with Asian and Mediterranean influences, and outrageous desserts make the Polo Lounge a must-stop for tourists and locals alike. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7-1:30 a.m. $$$$

R.J.'s 252 N. Beverly Dr.; 310-274-7427. Imagine a burger joint taken to a higher power where fish lovers will also find plenty to eat, like the grilled salmon and albacore and avocado sandwiches. If you're in the mood for poultry, check out the rattlesnake chicken tacos with Spanish rice and black beans. Save room for mud pie. Open Mon.-Thu. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sun. 3-10 p.m. $$

Spago Beverly Hills 176 N. Ca–on Dr.; 310-385-0880. California cuisine pioneer Wolfgang Puck and wife Barbara Lazaroff made this the quintessential place to "do" lunch. If you can get a reservation at this mecca for celebs, you'll see why. Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sat. noon-2 p.m. Dinner Mon.-Sat. 5:30-11 p.m.; Sun. 5:30-10 p.m. $$$

Trader Vic's 9876 Wilshire Blvd. (Beverly Hilton); 310-274-7777. Fish-philes will revel in the Asian approach to seafood. Sample the fare from the Han Dynasty-inspired wood-fired BBQ ovens or dive deep for prawns Cantonese. Open Sun.-Thu. for dinner only 5 p.m.-midnight and Fri.-Sat. until 1 a.m. $$$

Versailles 1415 S. La Cienega Blvd.; 310-289-0392. Dining here is much cheaper than hopping a flight to Cuba but just as authentic, with traditional yellow rice, black beans, and platanos, or steak, onions, and rice with plantains. You won't mind sacrificing elbow room for the famous garlic chicken. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon-Thu. and Sun.; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri. and Sat.$