HOT SPOTS\Chicken souperlatives.
Jerry's Famous Deli, 12655 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 980-4245. (Also in Encino, Los Angeles and Marina del Rey.) It's a round-the-clock-movietown rendezvous jammed with munchers and gazers of all ages checking each other out while slurping one of the town's best matzo ball chicken soups.
Cha Cha Cha, 17499 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 789-3600. Toribio Prado-influenced new-wave, expressive, Carib-Latino-style food continues to excite here under different owners who have descended on the Westside with a new spot called Calypso. Meanwhile, Prado co-owns Cha Cha Chas elsewhere and the Iberian-accented Cava.
California Pizza Kitchen, 16101 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 907-7783. (Also in Woodland Hills, elsewhere and soon in Tarzana.) Designer pizzas were invented in California and here they are in all their glory with pastas and more in a bright, cheery atmosphere.
Mi Piace, 25 Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (818) 795-3131. Constantly packed, this inexpensive Italian, trattoria-style eatery with a recent ex-Spago chef acquisition improving its recipes, perpetuates its pasta power over parsimonious Pasadenans.
Citrus, 6703 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, (213) 857-0034. This is celebrity chef Michel Richard's flagship restaurant. Richard snagged the highly regarded James Beard Foundation award as best chef in the West - and deservedly so, most agree.
Water Grill, 544 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 891-0900. The definitive oceanfare destination when downtown, this clubby rendezvous is often picked as the No. 1 spot for fish in L.A.
Nowhere Cafe, 8009 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 655-8895. Hangout of young TV stars on the veggies trail. Former Spago chef has devised good tastes here from blah ingredients, turning over new leaves (and seeds) nightly in a comfy setting.