Navigating all of the choices on menus might be challenging enough, but then there's the whole genre of off-the-menu items at restaurants all over Los Angeles. Unless you're in the know, the option of ordering Spago's old-school schnitzel at dinner might elude you. Which would be a shame if you happened to be in the mood for Wolfgang Puck's famous old-school crispy-fried, breaded veal scallopini. Here are a few more need-to-know-about dishes:
Plan Check's truffle mushroom Swiss burger: At West L.A.'s Plan Check, chef Ernesto Uchimura is making an off-the-menu burger with beef patty, soy truffle baste, truffle aioli, Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms and watercress. But you won't find it on the menu and maybe not for much longer. Uchimura says they're available while supplies last.
1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 288-6500, www.plancheckbar.com.
Spago's schnitzel, tuna cones and salmon pizza: When Wolfgang Puck re-opened an all-new Spago in Beverly Hills last fall, he had lopped a few Spago staples off the menu, including the salmon pizza, tuna tartare in sesame miso cones and the wiener schnitzel (the schnitzel is listed on the lunch menu but not on the dinner menu). But for anyone who asks (and they do, a lot) these are theirs for the asking, any time of day.
176 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 385-0880, www.wolfgangpuck.com.
Cricket tacos at Petty Cash Taqueria: Petty Cash's Walter Manzke and consulting chef Guillermo Campos of Tacos Kokopelli in Tijuana offer variations of the chapulin (cricket) taco. It's a hand-made tortilla sometimes topped with griddled queso fresco or a butterflied Santa Barbara spot prawn with chapulines, hoja santa, avocado, adobo salsa and pickled red onions. It may yet work its way onto the regular menu.
7360 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 933-5300, www.pettycashtaqueria.com.