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Playing hooky for a day; need lunch recommendation

Three of us are flying down from San Francisco for the day tomorrow to visit MOCA, LACMA and the sun, and we're looking for a lunch spot that would be good, fun and not too far out of our way. Bonus points for food or features that aren't easy to find here, such as outdoor dining or good okonomiyake. Since this is a treat, we're not looking for particularly cheap.

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  1. Since MOCA is downtown and LACMA is mid-Wilshire, it would help if you could choose which area you'll be in around lunchtime, or if you just want someplace in between the two.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Debbie W

      Either area is fine, as is somewhere in between. We are happy to let lunch determine our timing and itinerary!

      Thanks for asking.

      1. re: Millicent

        It is true that the patio at Cafe Pinot is really nice, but the food seems to have gone downhill, and there is a post from earlier today which documents a spectacularly terrible experience.

        Water Grill is quite upscale.

        If you don't care about upscale, and you want an LA experience, maybe one of the Korean places in Koreatown which is between downtown and LACMA. I'm woefully un-knowledgeable about K-town though so maybe someone else can chime in w/recs.

        Additionally there are some sushi places in Little Tokyo downtown which are highly regarded, and from what I understand LA can best SF in the sushi wars. Sushi Gen, Sushi Go 55 are two that come to mind, I've personally never been to either but they get a lot of play here.

    2. Try Cafe Pinot which is neare MOCA downtown, but about 5-6 miles from LACMA. They have a lovely outdoor patio. Water Grill is fancier and great fish and seafood. What is Okonomiyake?

      1. Oh, so many! Depends on what you're fancying at the time; Well here is a list and you can decide...
        Yang Chow's (amazing Chinese and the best Slippery Shrimp!),
        Philippe's Famous French Dip, the best!!!
        Water Grill, amazing seafood restaurant & drinkies!
        Nick'n Stef's, amazing everything! Steakhouse & great drinks, oh, outdoors too!!! Have fun, I LOVE SF too!

        1. Hi LA Chowhounds,
          I am one of the hookyees and wanted also to know about restaurants in Santa Monica or Venice. Years ago Main Street had some interesting places.

          1. Here are some less pricey options in case you are not looking for fancy choices.

            Guelaguetza is directly on the way from downtown to LACMA. I do not know if the smaller branch has a patio. The big one on Olympic does not, but how good is the Oaxacan food in San Francisco?

            Close to LACMA is the original Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax, which is definitely a fun place with a lot of unusual attributes. It has a lot of different food stalls and patio seating. There was a group visit to test a bunch of the different restaurants inside. It resulted in a three-part post. You can do a search to get an idea of what the options are.

            I posted about Cafe Pinot earlier today. I strongly urge you to avoid it.

            1. FRENCH GARDEN , 7th and Matteo, less than 2 miles from Moca.

              3 Replies
                1. re: revets2

                  Normally I order the French Specials or Fresh Fish. It's an Oasis in the middle of an industrial area. A long time ago it was called Marty's, fabulous Sesame Chicken with Cognac Sauce.

                  1. re: russkar

                    thanks for the recs. i appreciate it!

              1. the only good place i know for okonomiyaki is GaJa, but it is far away from MOCA and LACMA. lunch is really tight there too. something like 11-2 or so, but please call to check. this is in torrance.

                GaJa, 2383 Lomita Blvd., Suite 102, Lomita, (310) 534-0153.

                if you're going to be in venice, try Joe's or jin patisserie for dessert or tea.

                in santa monica, the ultimate socal lunch is on the balcony outside the bar for lunch at Shutters on a nice day. you need to call One Pico to request and your best bet is getting there early to assure the table. it has a beautiful view of the beach and ocean. the food is good, not mind blowing and it's pricey, but it's worth the view.

                1. Thanks for all the great suggestions! Due to traffic and shopping-related itinerary changes, we ended up having lunch at Lucques, which was wonderful.

                  Not that Lucques hasn't been covered extensively already, but we had chilled red pepper soup and fattoush salad to start, followed by the pork sandwich, the BLT and the grilled fish (sea bass). We also had a good Italian rose from Puglia, for a total bill of about $105 before tax and tip. All the food was absolutely delicious, and we loved sitting outside -- it was bliss to be in such warm weather.

                  Thanks again for the recommendations, and if you haven't yet seen the Rauschenberg exhibit at MOCA, it's well worth seeing.