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Local Chains Worth Stopping For

It's said that the drive-in burger joint was invented in L.A., probably to meet the demands of an ever-mobile car culture. Burger aficionados line up at all hours outside In-N-Out Burger (www.in-n-out.com, multiple locations), still a family-owned operation whose terrific made-to-order burgers are revered by Angelenos. Visitors may recognize the chain as the infamous spot where Paris Hilton got nabbed for drunk driving, but locals are more concerned with getting their burger fix off the "secret" menu, with variations like "Animal Style" (mustard-grilled patty with grilled onions and extra spread), a "4 x 4" (four burger patties and four cheese slices, for big eaters) or the bun-less "Protein Style" that comes wrapped in a bibb of lettuce. The company's Web site lists explanations for other popular secret menu items.

Tommy's sells a delightfully sloppy chili burger; the original location (2575 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles 213/389–9060) is a no-frills culinary landmark. For rotisserie chicken that will make you forget the Colonel forever, head to Zankou Chicken (5065 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 323/665–7845 www.zankouchicken.com), a small chain noted for its golden crispy-skinned birds, potent garlic sauce, and Armenian specialties. Homesick New Yorkers will appreciate Jerry's Famous Deli (10925 Weyburn Ave., Westwood 310/208–3354 www.jerrysfamousdeli.com), where the massive menu includes all the classic deli favorites. With a lively bar scene, good barbecued ribs, and contemporary takes on old favorites, the more upscale Houston's (202 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica 90401 310/576–7558 www.hillstone.com) is a popular local hangout. And Señor Fish (422 E. 1st St., Downtown 213/625–0566 www.senor-fish.com) is known for its healthy Mexican seafood specialties, such as scallop burritos and ceviche tostadas.

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