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What Restaurants Have Lived Up To All The Hype?

As a response to the recent thread about popular restaurants that don't stack up, I'll ask the obvious return question:

What restaurants are popular on this board, but still lived up to expectations when you finally got there and ate? I ask because it's hard for restaurants to live up to hype, but very impressive when they do.

Previous thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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  1. Really hyped places are born to fail at some point. They crest, get overwhelmed by demand and just can't live up to the experience that initially drew the big crowds. Right now, though it's expensive and hard to get in on weekends, I think
    Cut is delivering good steak and sides. How long this will be maintained is a matter of conjecture. On the other hand, there's less chance of disappointment at a place that doesn't create potentially unrealistic expectations. An example of this would be the modest but tasty breakfast and sandwiches served at Europane in Pasadena. Or, just their coffee.

    1. I had the most wonderful birthday dinner at Firefly in Studio City, thanks to recommendations from this board. Amazing calamari, skate, filet, mojitos, atmosphere, etc. It's our new favorite place in the valley!

      1. ...dare I say Sushi Zo? god, I wanna go back there soon...! mmmm!!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: annagranfors

          Agreed!! It was excellent!! Yumm!! :)

          --Dommy!

        2. I am rolling pennies for a return trip to Providence.

          1. the omakase at irori definitely lived up to the recommendations that were posted on this board.

            1. I know people here have had mixed experiences at Lucques, but my wife and I had an absolutely amazing meal there recently, and the service was top-notch as well. It definitely lived up to its hype, at least for us. We'll be trying AOC next.

                1. re: budlit

                  I'll also cast a vote for Norman's.

                  I read one chowhound review which motivated me to go and everything the poster said was true! And here is that post I acted upon:

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  1. re: budlit

                    I totally agree with you on Norman's. Such a great place. And the pig roast is so good, and such a steal at $19. We are going again this weekend, I can't get enough!

                    1. I agree, Providence is worth every penny!
                      I would suggest lunch there to anyone interested but not wanting to spend huge bucks.
                      Dinner is awesome though.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ostudio

                        I hear that Providence has suspended lunch service.

                        1. re: bodie

                          My understanding is that lunch will be served only on Fridays.

                      2. I just had a fabulous dinner at Water Grill. Even the bread to start was great(bread is an important part of my meal, I next had a steller crab cake followed by about as good a salmon preparation as I've ever had. Every other member of our party raved about the Halibut and Baarammundi. I was told the new chef was from Charlie Trotters in Chicago. I know many will disagree but I enjoyed my experience here more than Providence. I found the portions a bit small. I know I'll be accused of being old school, but I sure enjoyed my attendence last night.

                        1. La Terza in Los Angeles is THE place for fine dining!! EVERYTHING there is out delicious. Just bring your wallet.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: maribx

                            You must be one of the few that feel that way, as La Terza has not been overly well received on this board.

                          2. Water Grill (great food AND a great sommelier), and I had a wonderful experience at Grace. Fantastic service, wonderful food, and another great sommelier.

                            1. I would rate La Terza par with Angelini - great wine list, appetizers, entrees and desserts (I am thinking about their pie that has pine nuts in it) as some of the best around locally..

                              I do LOVE the skate fish appetizer at Angelini as tops, but haven't had one negative experience at La Terza, from start to finish.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: maribx

                                spago and nozawa, although a lot of chowhounds will disagree.

                              2. For me, this one is easy. After reading about Jar on CH for about a year, we finally got there in the Spring. Everything about it was flawless, we were treated like royalty even know we are not famous and didn't order wine (many times I feel that we receive subpar service in upscale places because we don't order alcohol). The food was impecable.

                                1. Kikuchi... it was perfect everytime.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cls

                                    I miss that place as well. I wish L.A. had a million restaurants like that. Now we have none.

                                  2. Sapp Coffee House's Boat Noodles.... It's just soup right? Nope, it's HEAVEN!! :)

                                    --Dommy!

                                    1. Where is Sapp Coffee House?

                                      1. It's located in Thai Town in Hollywood:

                                        Sapp Coffee House
                                        5183 Hollywood Blvd.
                                        Hollywood
                                        323-665-1035

                                        The parking is limited (Take the Red Line if you can! It's not that far a walk!) and it's located in a little strip mall next to a thai candy shop (Don't be tempted to go in there, BKT is a few blocks away and superior Thai Sweets!). Also, they close early, so make it a weekend lunch thing if you can.

                                        I order the #1 Boat Noodles, just beef WITH Meatballs (I'm not a fan of 'parts' but they do have a version with tripe and tendon that people LOVE). To further tempt you, here's a picture I found... Hmmm...

                                        http://www.silapaahaan.com/images/lth...

                                        --Dommy!

                                        1. Can't tell you how many JGold reviews have sent me charging across LA County to end up with very "meh" grub, but his Tacos Baja Ensenada tip (and the related CH hype) is worth at least 100 Ciro's/El Tapayec/Porky's bum steers.

                                          A recent hype-worthy CH tip was Los Cinco Puntas. I've found that so many hyped taco shops are just not worth the drive (yeah, I'm lookin' at you El Parian); that is, they may be fine, but they're not that much better than the local places. LCP was worth the 50 mile drive. The thick, hand-made tortillas, porky carnitas and rajas made it stand out.

                                          A few others (w/ sincere thanks to those who've posted):

                                          Krua Thai - Krua Thai Pad Thai, Pad See Ew
                                          Capitol Seafood
                                          Golden Deli - cha gio
                                          Mei Long Village - xlb
                                          La Coronita - huevos rancheros
                                          Antojitos Denise - carnitas

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: yclops

                                            I second Golden Deli - for the fried eggrolls and Mei Long Village for the xlb and also the fried dumplings (guo tie). Also wanted to add Newport Seafood for the house special lobster and the beef luc lac.

                                            1. re: yclops

                                              Is this the Krua Thai in West Covina or in North Hollywood? Not sure if it's the same owners or what...

                                            2. Spago (AWESOME)
                                              Tender Greens (definite surprise)
                                              Sushizo
                                              Norman's
                                              Angelini

                                              1. Jiraffe. The Monday prix fixe is still the best deal in town.
                                                Nook.
                                                Ruen Pair

                                                1. i agree, Cut is amazing. the sides are just as good as the steak itself

                                                  1. home girl cafe in boyle heights for breakfast or lunch.

                                                    1. urasawa easily lived up to the hype for me. Also, Kiriko is just as good as Gold and everyone else said and the price can't be beat. i love living in l.a. and having access to such good sushi. San Fran sushi sucks major ass in comparison.

                                                      langer's hand cut pastrami lived up to the hype even though they are stingy with the meat.

                                                      that's all i'll share.

                                                      1. Jar is always fun and great. Josie is consistently good. Jan's is solid for non-fake diner fare. Maybe I should just eat at "J" joints.

                                                        1. There are lots of consistently great places but not many consistently great Hyped places. Hype seems to be the kiss of death - once expectations are raised too high meeting them becomes nearly impossible.
                                                          A few that have done it in my opinion: Spago (tasting menu only); Ursawa (but bring $$$$); Langer's (pastrami is legendary, but I like the corned beef - bread is the same); hmmm...hard to come up with others. Maybe Melisse and Angeli. Water Grill, Ritz Carleton Pasadena, Mastro's, and Saddle Peak are always good, but the prices are so high that I don't think the experience can match. Many others can be great but are not consistently so (Providence [I am glad I cannot be physically attacked on this board] and Arroyo Chophouse among many others).

                                                          1. Thanks to hounds, I've ended up at the following restaurants and LOVED it:

                                                            Angelini Osteria (our favorite Italian place now!)
                                                            Sushi Zo (my favorite place for sushi now!)
                                                            Jiraffe (the Monday night bistro prix fix is amazing)
                                                            Bin 8945 (didn't disappoint one bit. everything we had was delicious!)
                                                            Din Tai Fung (the soup dumplings are heaven, and in a manageable bite size too!)
                                                            Hakata Ramen Shin Sen Gumi (I can't stop going back!)
                                                            Mastro's (I don't think I've had a better steak anywhere)
                                                            Mako (everything on the menu is great)
                                                            Orochon Ramen (I'm a little bit masochistic... that special number 2 rocks!)

                                                            1. santouka ramen lives up to the hype of my own creation =)...

                                                              1. Saddle Peak Lodge (although this was two years ago and I hear it's gone a bit downhill since)
                                                                AOC (also have heard it's gone a bit downhill...)
                                                                Angelini Osteria
                                                                Nyala (I don't know if that counts as hyped)
                                                                Fritto Misto (inexpensive, dependable Cal-Italian)
                                                                Border Grill's Happy Hour (the best in LA, in my humble opinion)
                                                                Oh, and I recently ate at Oceanfront at Casa Del Mar and had a really (all-around) lovely experience

                                                                1. I thought of this old post as I had a fantastic dinner tonight. Sorry to resurrect the dead but, I honestly thought that Opus lived up to the hype and then some. Seriously... there has been so much hype here and, my expectations were extremely high. I'm super impressed! One caveat, the courses moved out very slowly. It took me 1.5 hours to get through all my courses. However, without my hinting or even letting on the slightest bit that I was about to chew off the fingers that were feeding me, they acknowledged that it was taking a little long. I would definitly go back. In fact, I can't wait to go back!

                                                                  1. It's sometimes hard to distinguish between hype, praise, and idle chatter.

                                                                    That being said, I'll also add that rameniac's thoughtful reviews of all things noodle, especially Santouka, have never failed me. No, it's not hype, but two people can read the same review and walk away with different impressions.

                                                                    But yeah, Santouka.