I ended up getting one of the best manicures I've ever had (and I've had quite a few in my day) at Express Nails on Robertson, just below Gregory Way in Beverly Hills. For $11.
If you live in West L.A./Beverly Hills/West Hollywood/Hollywood, or even if you don't, I highly recommend it. They have a wide selection of colors, and I went with Essie's creamy pale pink "Adore-a-Ball" (pictured above) after briefly considering the slightly more clear "Mademoiselle".
Other nail salon recommendations:
Deluxe Nail Bar and Spa (2913 Main Street in Santa Monica)
Montana Nails (1411 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica)
Jessica's Nail Clinic (8627 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood; appointment only)
-- Leslie Anne Wiggins
Photo credit: beautysolutions.ca