The canteen has a great little wine and beer list. Wines wander the world, alighting in California only a few times, preferring byways like Sicily, Campania, La Mancha and Chile. There are a dozen beers on draft, including Allagash White from Maine, La Chouffe ale from Belgium, and Palomino Pale Ale from Bootlegger's Brewery in Fullerton.
Alert: Reserve an order of chilled rice pudding the minute you see it on the board. It's dreamy, with sides of whipped cream and a deep caramel sauce, and definitely big enough to share. Another worthy sweet is Gala apples roasted in the brick oven in a cast iron skillet and served simply with crème fraîche and peppered caramel.
I should have expected it, I know, but at Lazy Ox the quality extends all the way to coffee from San Francisco's Four Barrel Coffee and teas from LA Mill.
Lazy Ox Cantina could be the poster child for the new wave of L.A. restaurants: gutsy, affordable, fun.
LAZY OX CANTEEN ***
LOCATION: 241 S. San Pedro St. (between 2nd and 3rd streets), Los Angeles; (213) 626-5299; www.lazyoxcanteen.com.
PRICE: Appetizers, $4 to $8; soup and salads, $8 to $12; pasta and grain, $11 to $13; fish and meat, $18 to $25; desserts, $7. Corkage, $20.
DETAILS: Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight daily. Street and paid lot parking at the corner of 2nd and San Pedro streets, $5.
Rating is based on food, service and ambience, with price taken into account in relation to quality. ****: Outstanding on every level. ***: Excellent. **: Very good. *: Good. No star: Poor to satisfactory.