Best of...in Westwood area?
One thing you can do to orient yourself is to look at the results of entering "westwood" into the Chowhound search engine (set to relevant) and scroll through these threads http://search.chow.com/search?query=w... to get some ideas. As you will see, locally the choices for Persian food are one of the strongest offerings in the Westwood area - and I would start there.
From that point you can work your way outward in ever expanding concentric circles that will encompass the San Fernando Valley on the North, Brentwood, Sawtelle (Little Japan town) and Santa Monica on the West and West Hollywood, Hollywood, (Thai Town), Silver Lake, Koreatown and Downtown LA (Little Tokyo) and East LA on the East and Culver City, Venice and other points South/Southwest going towards and past LAX heading towards Orange County.
Vietnamese is pretty sparse in the general Westside area. The closest decent Vietnamese would Le Saigon on Santa Monica Blvd in West LA. If you allow for a 20-minute radius, I'd go to Pho So 1 in Van Nuys. Increase your radius to 30-40 minutes, and you can include the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) for great Vietnamese (banh mi, pho, seafood, etc). This general rule applies even more so for excellent Chinese as well. West LA has Hop Woo and Hop Li, Van Nuys has Sam Woo for traditional Chinese bbq and other very good Chinese dishes, but the SGV is worthy of many road trips for just about anything that is Chinese - it's a whole different world out there.
Excellent Thai is another thing that is zip in the Westside. Hollywood and North Hollywood are the enclaves which will take you to the real stuff. I like Ayara Thai in Westchester (this is stretching the southern bounds of the Westside).
The one East Asian cuisine that has a strong presence in the Westside is Japanese. Mori, Sushi Zo and Kiriko round out the top three for sushi. Ramen can be a personal thing, but most feel that Santouka is the best for this, and Chabuya is distant second. Udon is in the same food court as Santouka - Sanuki Sandou. Izakaya-type places would be Nanabankan, Musha and Sasaya. More all-around places that aren't as specialized would be House Yuu, Bar Hayama, 2117, and Torafuku (recently discussed on this board).
Mexican is scattered throughout the Westside. Most food you will find well-represented is taqueria-style food - Taqueria Sanchez in Culver City/Mar Vista, Tacomiendo in Culver City/West LA, Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica, La Oaxaquena taco truck on Lincoln/Rose in Venice, and the cemitas poblanas trucks on Venice/Bagley (Palms area) and Inglewood/Braddock (Culver City). Oaxacan trumps just about every other regional Mexican cuisine found in the Westside, and most agree that Monte Alban on Santa Monica Blvd in West LA is tops. Seafood WAS gloriously represented by Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista, but the chef who introduced this wonder to us - Sergio Penuelas - has left the house. He's gone to the Lennox location of the same name. And while this has left the Mar Vista location inconsistent with many of its dishes, many report that the signature dish - pescado zerandeado - is still kickin'.
Burgers - geez - where does one start... I'd say start at 26 Beach. By far the most diverse and interesting menu of burgers and other things. Father's Office gets big nods from its supporters as long as "YOU FOLLOW THE RULES OR ELSE." Think soup nazi on Seinfeld. The Counter has a fun concept, but I found the burger meat to be lacking.
You'd be wise to bookmark this particular blog:
Chowhound extraordinaire exilekiss is known for his extensive, even-handed well-detailed reports of food - all food - in the general LA area, but covers the OC and beyond as well. If you have any thoughts on where to eat in a particular area or cuisine, dish, etc., I guarantee you will find it here. He recently did an extensive write-up on a 3-day burger battle royale of burgers, guts and attrition. But in the end, great burgers were weeded out of the also-rans, and some riding on their names were tossed into the hype heap. Give this blog a read - if you're a true Chowhound, you'll find it to be the real mouthful.
3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292
9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064
11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
10914 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
4541 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
4502 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Tacos Por Favor
1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404
11300 Nebraska Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025
11611 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
11110 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
2002 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
10020 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304
Father's Office Bar
1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA
1234 Lomita Blvd, Harbor City, CA 90710
I completely forgot to mention Persian cuisine in Westwood - thank you, Prof. Servorg! Shamshiri, Shaherzad, Flame and Attari all get high marks from my Persian connections, but they all seem to like Javan in West LA the most.
If you get a chance (and have a little patience), you might also consider Alcazar Express for very good Lebanese cuisine. They are overshadowed by Sunnin, which has been in Westwood for a long time - why I don't know - Alcazar is far better. I am guessing that folks in that neighborhood are eating out of habit.
1422 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024
1442 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024
11500 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
19249 Roscoe Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324
Attari Sandwich Shop
1388 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Almost forgot to mention another Mexican rec - Casa Sanchez for decent Mexican food that varies from regional/authentic to the typical combo plates, but with an especially nice ambiance and a seriously kick-ass mariachi band to enjoy while slirping down a margarita. I think the food can be more inspired, but this place has everything else going on.
4500 S. Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
I'd say it's worth giving it a try.
As J.L. says, it's a jewel, and a hidden jewel at that. I think it's a terrific value for Japanese "comfort food" at $35 for the set menu which usually means "more than you can eat", in a good way.
The menu changes by the seasons too. You get several "small plates" (we call them that, but in Japan these are regular sizes) and some of them will change in the course of a couple of weeks, until by the end of a season, all of them are switched.