7300 Sunset Blvd., L.A. Noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. (323) 851-5531. Open for more than a decade, Troyka is located in an otherwise nondescript strip mall. The menu offers an array of Russian and Ukrainian food — from solyanka soup to blinchiki (pancakes with red caviar). Other popular dishes include vareniki (stuffed dumplings), Ukrainian borscht and cold herring salad.
1651 1/2 N. La Brea Ave., L.A. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. (323) 876-4646. Cab drivers and office workers alike fuel up for lunch at this humble Hollywood restaurant. Lamb khashlama and pork dishes are popular here with the Armenian set, as are the cold starters like their Stolichnaya salad.
12229 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (818) 760-3177. Restaurateur Mikayel Israyelyan's new high-end Russian steakhouse has been impressing L.A. foodies of all stripes since it opened in March. Twenty-four-carat gold-leaf ceilings gleam above; Russian haute cuisine dishes like quail Kiev dazzle below. If you have a craving for real Osetra caviar, this is the place to get your fix.
349 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A. Weekends only, call for hours. (323) 653-2475. Now better-known for its adjacent deli, this Fairfax fixture offers up what its calls "the finest European food in town." Unfortunately, the restaurant is now open only on weekends. Even then, it's best to call ahead in case the space is booked for a private party. Try the pork kebab or beef stroganoff, or simply stop by the deli and grab some chicken piroshki for a dollar.
18525 Burbank Blvd., Tarzana. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. (818) 705-6630. Don't let the tacky décor fool you; Odessa's limited menu of fish and meat kebabs keeps the faithful coming back year after year. The adjacent deli also is a must for those seeking real red Russian caviar from Kamchatka and other assorted imported foods.
531 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A. Weekends only, call for reservations. (323) 653-7820. This second-floor eatery (open only on weekends; call ahead) has been open since 1971, serving lavish Russian fare such as baked flounder fillet to thousands over the years. Banquet-style dining only, so reservations are a must (usually $45-per-person minimum).
Ohotnik (formerly St. Petersburg Restaurant)
7998 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Hours vary; call ahead. (323) 650-5657. Ohotnik is Russian for "hunter," so vegetarians consider yourselves warned. This small restaurant is not much for ambience, but its limited menu will appeal to the hearty. Usually open only on weekends, when a small stage hosts even smaller bands.
8151-A Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Noon to 10 p.m. daily. (323) 654-3030. This popular WeHo restaurant boasts a large patio overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard popular with cigarette-smoking ex-pats from Moscow. Patrons swear by the kharcho (tomato-based lamb soup), pelmeni and the grilled sturgeon. The friendly wait staff is a bonus for those new to Russian cuisine.
7077 Sunset Blvd., L.A. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. (323) 464-3663. Massive portions are the norm at Uzbekistan, where Russians, Armenians and curious Hollywood tourists "man up" to tackle hearty fare like plov with chicken and manti (steamed Uzbecki lamb dumplings). Live bands play on weekends.