Pastis vs. Mimosa vs. ...
Any reason to prefer one over the other? Both seem to be in the approximate price range I'm looking for and in exactly the right location for dinner with my visiting mother and stepfather.
If not either of these, is there another French restaurant in the area you'd recommend?
I always think of Mimosa as a more casual bistro, great for moules frites for example, while Pastis seems more special occasion. (At least when I've gone there, Pastis has also been a little more expensive). I actually enjoy both restaurants; it depends what you're looking for. For me, Mimosa is a place I might spontaneously go to at the last minute for a meal or just a light bite after a movie, while Pastis is a dinner place that I plan to go to in advance. I agree w/ New Trial that Pastis is better for a more romantic evening while Mimosa is a great, fun casual bistro.
Mimosa is better at the classic bistro dishes and is a lot of fun but Pastis is a better atmosphere if you want a romantic evening. Le Petit Bistro on La Cienega North of Melrose is somewhat uneven (I have had both good and bad meals there) and gets very crowded and noisy. For a romantic French-Canadian version, I also enjoy Chez Mimi on 26th in Brentwood.
Mimosa is from the old traditional looking bistro of yesteryear, while Pastis is of the Paris bistro of the moment, with all kinds of openness and lack of pretensial trappings.
As to the food, www.lapastis.com is a good place to start in determining whether or not the menu might be of interest.
I much prefer Pastis, as the cooking has always been better, the staff is quite helpful, and you just sense you are in a much more upbeat environment, and in most instances also not sitting on top of your neighbor, as at Mimosa.
ps - nice wine list at pastis as well.