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a suggestion for Fri & Sat night this week for a bunch of NYers

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we enjoyed Cafe Pinot downtown and AOC. We have a res at Minibar for Fri, but I've been reading alot of negs. So quick change is needed, or are these older reports no longer the case with Minibar?

We've also been to, on previous trips, Cobras & Matadors, Asia de Cuba and Table 8.

Ciudad is our plan for Sunday, if they're open.

We'd be open for a great seafood place, but not a long drive from Hollywood or downtown area.

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  1. I've never been there, but the Water Grill in downtown has very high ratings in Zagats for seafood. The LA Times food review reviewed it within the last year or two, but I think they've switched chefs two or three times since then. I am not sure if it is still what it used to be. Sure some regulars could be more helpful.

    1 Reply
    1. re: young_chower

      I told myself that I had sworn off negative posts, but...
      If you're made of money, The Water Grill is pretty good. Cold seafood, especially oysters are reliably great, but very expensive. Fish is imaginatively preapred and impeccably fresh, but often with distracting preparations. I love great fish "naked", which you can get only if you specially ask for it. I have never been bowled over unlike many other posters. Clam chowder is great, but again, with reservations - if you like lots of cream and bacon you will enjoy it, but if you're there for the clams, themselves, you might end up having to concentrate to appreciate them. Wines tend to be $60 plus, and quickly get to $100 for pretty much anything reasonably good.
      Ciudad is a mystery to me. Nice location, but nothing seems really great and its attraction continues to escape me.
      IMHO, Cafe Pinot is reliably good, but not that much seafood. Otherwise in Downtown:
      Went to Zucca last night and had a good time - the pastas are spectacular and the place is not overpriced.
      Dinner at Checkers last week - unusual and somewhat clumsy combinations (shrimp and lamb, etc) but overall pretty good - maybe this is the next wave.
      Pacific Dining Car three weeks ago - nice if undistinguished steaks, but at eye popping prices (glad I wasn't paying). Breakfast is a little more reasonable and reliably good. If you need something at 3am this is definitely the place.

    2. Water Grill has great seafood, and its Downtown. Ciudad can be skipped.

      If you like upscale Mexican, try La Serrenada de Garabaldi in Boyle Heights near Downtown. Terrific flavors including some very nice seafood dishes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Noclue

        Definately La Serenada. No doubt about it, you will love it. I am a former NYer and I take alomost every visiting NYer there on their first LA visit. They beg to go back time-after-time. Get the Seafood Cocktail (it will bring tears to the eyes, reminding everyone of "Like Water For Chocolate"), any fish entree (the Cilantro Sauce on gargantuan prawns is also unforgettable -- even to cilantrophobes) and the Seafood Quesidilla.

        Agree with poster below that Ciudad is a better idea than reality. Hungry CAt and Providence, while both good aren't even close to the East Coast food they mimic.

      2. Do yourselves a facor and don't go to Ciudad! Trust me. Its overpriced for what it is, a lame vibe and the worst service ever. [Sunday is tapas night, I think and that's even worse...]

        For seafood go to Providence or the Hungry Cat [both in Hollywood]. I love Noclue's suggestions above too [La Seranata and Water Grill].

        Never been to Minibar so no input there...

        1. Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger I think have lost their touch. Their Pasadena restaurant went out of business!

          Water Grill is part of a family of restaurants. I think you'd be safe w/any of them. I enjoy going to Kings Fish House. The one in Long Beach is better than the Calabasas one- why?
          Maybe b-cuz it's Calabasas....sorry, but, there's major attitude in Calabasas.

          As always -don't forget about the seashore. Plenty of yummy spots in the Marina and along the coast right up into Malibu.

          1. thanks for these, and the update on Ciudad. Too bad, sounds inviting, especially as close as it is to the hotel.
            how's Pacific Dining car? seems rather expensive but a friend had suggested.

            1. Skip Minibar for sure - I've never seen such small plates at such high prices.

              I would recommend Grace. It's consistently good, though you may have to go earlier or later since they are busy on the weekends.
              http://www.gracerestaurant.com/

              Also my favorite, Blair's, in Silverlake. Former Water Grill guys...

              1. If you're a visitor, skip Pacific Dining Car (marginal, IMO) and Ciudad (unimpressive nowadays), and go for L.A. standouts.

                If you're downtown, jump in a taxi and take it to Providence. Do the tasting menu, imbibe many glasses of wine, and you'll have a safe ride back to your hotel.

                Water Grill would definitely be within walking distance and your travel dollars will be well-spent.

                In addition, experience what L.A. does well: Japanese and Mexican food.

                Never eat what you can have at home.

                1. For Mexican near downtown La Parilla on Wilshire will give authentic food and full bar.

                  For Japanese, Kokokeeko has great Yakitori and Sushi Gen has great Sushi

                  La Parrilla @ Wilshire1300 Wilshire Boulevard
                  Los Angeles, CA. 90017
                  Tel: 213-353-4980

                  Kokokeeko
                  203 South Central Avenue
                  Los Angeles, California 90012-4208 ph: 213.687.0690

                  Sushi Gen, 422 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA, 213.617.0552

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                    It's actually spelled "Kokekokko". But yes, great recommendation...I've been meaning to try this place as well.

                    1. re: dynamike

                      Ooops...somehow I googled it with the wrong spelling and got the right contact info.

                      I have had many great meals there AND chicken sashimi. It is quite a bit of good fun and good food.

                  2. WATER GRILL is good for seafood in the downtown area; if you want to opt for something more casual and less expensive there is HUNGRY CAT in Hollywood.

                    Like others have said, I would pass on Minibar, I would also pass on La Serenata. If you want Mexican seafood, goto BABITA in the San Gabriel Valley.

                    Enjoy your stay.

                    1. I highly recommend Jar, 8225 Beverly Blvd, 323-665-6566 @ North Harper Ave. Lovely, comfortable bar and comfortable seating in the dining room. Great Coq au Vin and other delectables... one of my favorites

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bybeegirl

                        Jar is a great recommendation (one of my favorites) but I find the coq au vin to be the least successful dish on her menu. The lemongrass chicken is much better and the steaks and roasts (particularly the pot roast) are better still.

                        1. re: bybeegirl

                          Hi, there. Just correcting the phone number. Jar is at (323)-655-6566 (bybeegirl had typed 665, which leads to a private number).

                        2. There are 3 cuisines L.A. does better than NYC: Mexican, Korean BBQ, and Iranian (& maybe one more that's escaping my memory recall function). But you said:

                          "We'd be open for a great seafood place, but not a long drive from Hollywood or downtown area."

                          Water Grill downtown serves some excellently prepared fresh fish but it's just a well done rendition of what you've had a thousand times before. If you want fish where each bite has the potential to knock your socks off, I've never had anything like this before, WOW that was fantastic "Let's cancel that reservation to ____________ and come here again tomorrow night", ect. Then I suggest you go to:

                          Norman's
                          8570 Sunset Blvd.
                          West Hollywood
                          (310) 657-2400

                          http://www.normans.com

                          I've had 2 fish dishes there that were great which were spiced and sauced differently than anywhere else I've ever been. They also have a $19 pig roast on Friday that's a good deal. Budget:

                          $16 - Starter
                          $34 - Main Course
                          $10 - Dessert
                          $5 to $9 - Beer
                          $11 to ? - Wine by the Glass
                          $9 and up - Special cocktails
                          $10 - New World "Flaming" Banana Split (A must order).
                          $7 - Valet Parking (A must).

                          Try the search function here for what others have said about Norman's but disregard any reviews prior to March/April(?) of 2006 as they have a new chef that's made a difference (I actually have no Idea when he started).

                          It has a somewhat difficult location and is not an extremely busy place so if you call you can probably get in, even for tonight.

                          The Veal Chop for $43 (?) was ordinary so please avoid and as an appreciater of a good Tartare, their's was totally different and one I would rank #1 for a first time eating experience.

                          If you go there, please report back here on what you thought.

                          1. I still think the iranian food in this city is mediocre. Better than NYC, for sure, where there is nothing really. But not, unfortunately, anyone making things properly, traditionally. maybe in glendale...

                            1. If you're going to dine in downtown on Saturday I suggest you go early, there's going to be a large block party and many other parties piggy backing the event, so I think traffic will be a nightmare. The Giant Village event is going on from 8pm-4am on Hope and Wilshire, so just beaware of the traffic and road closures.

                              1. I can't believe I haven't seen it mentioned on this thread as yet... But for an amazing seafood experience try Providence.

                                http://www.providencela.com/
                                5955 Melrose Ave.
                                323.460.4170

                                I'd highly recommend the tasting menu. Not the cheapest, but worth the $$$. Meets the location requirements nicely as well.