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Quality Restaurants in LA for SF Visitor

k
KMiller Sep 3, 2006 02:47 PM

Hey LA Chowhounds,

I'm making my annual trek to LA from San Francisco. Can you prove to me that your restaurants are as good as ours? Extra kudos for suggestions that use opentable.com for reservations.

(I'll concede that your museums are better but I'm still skeptical about your restaurants) :)

Thanks!

PS I made reservations at Checker's for one of the nights. Is it still good?

  1. EliseT Sep 3, 2006 03:01 PM

    Let's see...here are two for starters...

    Pinot Bistro in Studio City (Open Table)
    I recommend their roast chicken

    La Cachette in West Los Angeles (Open Table)
    I recommend their sauteed foie gras

    1. russkar Sep 3, 2006 03:21 PM

      Checkers is still good but we normally go there for lunch. It's certainly not in the Top 10 of LA Restaurants.
      The Restaurants that are superior to SF(not including French Laundry, one of our favorite places) are:

      SPAGO (Tasting Menu is absolutely Stellar)
      LA CACHETTE (french) La Folie is close.
      PROVIDENCE (fusion Seafood) Aqua isn't remotely close.
      MELISSE (French, almost FL) Ritz SF is close 2nd.
      VALENTINO (Northern Italian) Nothing in SF
      MAKO (fusion Japanese) Nothing in SF
      URASAWA (Fine Japanese, SF has nothing even close)
      NOZAWA (High quality Omakase)
      CUT (No finer Steak anywhere, except Kobe at Urasawa)
      JOSIE (Upscale Chez Panisse)

      13 Replies
      1. re: russkar
        m
        mc michael Sep 3, 2006 06:57 PM

        Nice list russkar. I think Checkers made its rep when Thomas Keller was there and that was long ago. Not saying it's not still good, but...

        1. re: mc michael
          russkar Sep 3, 2006 07:29 PM

          I remeber those days, little did anyone know back then that TK would become World Famous?
          Checkers has had the same Chef for the last 7 yrs and so far his cooking as been above average. Water Grill is just across the street and we normally wander over there, more often than not?
          But as you noticed I said Checker's certainly not in the Top 10 for LA.

        2. re: russkar
          b
          Bostonbob3 Sep 3, 2006 08:58 PM

          Russkar, aren't those opinions a little, uh, biased? I mean, saying things like "no finer steak ANYWHERE, except Urasawa" is ridiculous. I can name several places across the country with better steaks than Cut. At least in my opinion. And I guess in the end, that's what it all comes down to.

          For what's it worth, I think SF gets a 9 for their restaurants, while Los Angeles gets about a 7.5. Lest you think I'm biased, Boston gets about a 6. :)

          1. re: Bostonbob3
            russkar Sep 3, 2006 09:15 PM

            ANYWHERE means the LOS ANGELES area.
            Which Steak did you have at Cut? They have several types which makes a huge difference.
            Urasawa may have the finest Steak in the USA if you like real KOBE #1.
            Have you tried it?
            What restaurants in SF are superior to the list above?
            I've been to Gary Danko, La Folie, Aqua, 5th Floor, Fleur De Lyse, Masa, Chez Panisse, Ritz Carlton, Charles on Nob, several of these many times. The best reason to fly N. to dine is French Laundry, imo.

            1. re: russkar
              b
              Bostonbob3 Sep 3, 2006 09:17 PM

              Well, when you said anywhere, I thought you meant anywhere. I much prefer the steaks at Keefer's in Chicago, Keene's in Manahattan, Peter Luger in Brooklyn, just off the top of my head.

              BTW, yes, I've dined at Urasawa. It's superb.

              1. re: Bostonbob3
                r
                revets2 Sep 3, 2006 09:36 PM

                i've been to keefer's, keens (i think this is how it's spelled) and luger's. i like keefer's and keens mutton chops. i love luger's. but they're all really different than CUT. these are more traditional steakhouses.

                CUT is haute dining serving steaks on the same or higher levels with other dishes which are more refined. who thought a steakhouse could be so fresh in the sea of steakhouses popping up, it seems, weekly?

                and i think CUT serves the best steak...anywhere...in the world...along with some obscure kobe restaurants (really private clubs) in tokyo. i don't think russkar overstated.

                1. re: Bostonbob3
                  b
                  Bostonbob3 Sep 3, 2006 09:50 PM

                  revets2, when I go for a steak, it's the steak I'm most interested in. The rest is just window dressing. Cut is a fine establishment, but the steak is, IMO, just very good, not the "Holy Shite!" experiences I've had at other places. We'll just agree to disagree. (Although I do wholeheartedly agree that the explosion of mediocre steakhouses across the country is entirely out of hand.)

                  1. re: Bostonbob3
                    r
                    revets2 Sep 3, 2006 09:53 PM

                    bostonbob...which cut/cuts have you had at CUT?

                    1. re: Bostonbob3
                      b
                      Bostonbob3 Sep 3, 2006 10:00 PM

                      The bone-in ribeye. It was very good.

                      1. re: Bostonbob3
                        r
                        revets2 Sep 3, 2006 10:18 PM

                        we may be of the same mind, here.

                        okay...bone-in rib-eye (my favorite cut). i agree, it was very good, but i would agree that CUT's bone-in rib-eye doesn't stand a chance against luger's. all the bone-in's at CUT (as of last night) are wet aged, 21 days.

                        try the nebraska new york or petite filet, DRY-aged 35 days.

                        all luger's are dry-aged which leads to more concentration in the flavoring. it's iffy at both keens and keefer's. perhaps you just prefer a dry-aged steak. who wouldn't?!?

                        good eating!

                    2. re: Bostonbob3
                      m
                      mc michael Sep 3, 2006 10:25 PM

                      "For what's it worth, I think SF gets a 9 for their restaurants, while Los Angeles gets about a 7.5. Lest you think I'm biased, Boston gets about a 6. :)"
                      There are 2 possible debates. 1)All the restaurants in LA vs. all the far fewer number of restaurants in SF. On a quality per restaurant basis, SF wins because it's mostly feeding a wealthy, adult foodie demographic. LA is feeding families with kids, showbiz types, etc. 2) The best 10 restaurants in LA vs. the best 10 restaurants in SF. This is much closer and I don't know how you could resolve the debate. As for Boston, maybe they'll get lucky and beat the Yanks again someday.

                      1. re: mc michael
                        b
                        Bostonbob3 Sep 3, 2006 11:00 PM

                        You're right, it sort of depends on the parameters. I guess I was just thinking a sort of "overall impression." Not really fair to either city I guess.

                        BTW, good luck with all of our Red Sox cast-offs (and our fired manager). Funny how the Red Sox DID beat the Skankees (in historic fashion) right after Grady "Very" Little got fired. :)))

                        1. re: Bostonbob3
                          m
                          mc michael Sep 4, 2006 02:35 PM

                          You don't really think the Dodgers are about winning, do you? They are just an excuse to stuff our faces with Dodger Dogs and drink overpriced beers while listening to Vin tell it better than it is.

                  2. s
                    sfgrub Sep 3, 2006 06:06 PM

                    As a former SF resident I'll happily recommenced Providence. My last meal at Water Grill was exceptional too.

                    1. trolley Sep 3, 2006 07:25 PM

                      i too am a former SF resident and i have to say the japanese food here is far superior to SF, especially sushi. so I would second mako, urasawa, and nozawa. I would also recommend sushi tenn on sawtelle. a bit less pricey than urasawa but still great quality rice and fish. however, if you're into casual yoshoku japanese food, sawtelle kitchen has great japanese curry. in fact, i'd recommend orris for fusion food and chabuya for ramen. so that being said, the little strip on sawtelle north of olymic is really terrific.

                      1. r
                        revets2 Sep 3, 2006 08:36 PM

                        i think the quality of food in SF exceeds that of LA. as a LA native, i wish we'd catch up. but LA can be more about the scene, than food quality.

                        skip checkers, for the purposes of your trip, even for lunch. i, too, eat the occasional business lunch there and it is good, but i agree with russkar, not even close to the Top Ten, not in the Top Thirty, not since tom keller left.

                        as a former san francisco resident, i missed great japanese, korean, and chinese (yes, chinese) food. i also found the wealth of latino food (guatamalan, el salvadorean, cuban, etc.)lacking and every taqueria bland and lacking soul. speaking of soul food, it was hard to find good BBQ or soul food, even in oak-town. finally, it was hard to find a solid jewish deli for good pastrami, chopped liver, and matzo ball soup.

                        from the posts above, i would second, providence*, mako, spago*, cut, and urasawa. on a trip, i sometimes need to balance out fine dining with low & lighter dining in between.

                        check out the great posts on this board for chinese, pastrami, sushi, korean, mexican/latino and the like.

                        a short list:
                        New Concept, Monterey Park
                        Din Tai Fung, Arcadia
                        Langers, LA, watch out for the neighborhood
                        Brent's Deli, WLA
                        Sasabune, WLA
                        Matsuhuisa, omakase bar, BH if Urasawa is a budget blower
                        Chosun Galbi, K-town
                        Park's BBQ, K-town
                        Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles (Gower location), Hollywood
                        *Cuidad, DT
                        *Border Grill, SM
                        there are so many

                        buen provecho!

                        *opentable

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: revets2
                          k
                          KMiller Sep 3, 2006 10:09 PM

                          Thanks for all the tips! I'm canceling the reservations at Checker's.

                        2. choctastic Sep 3, 2006 11:59 PM

                          The only place where I would disagree with russkar is the nozawa rec. I would rather go to Kiriko any day. Kiriko is the only place I can go the day after a night at Urasawa and not feel too sad.

                          1. Das Ubergeek Sep 4, 2006 04:23 AM

                            How about ethnic cuisines, such as Korean, that are either not well-represented or not, well, represented in San Francisco? Rather than trying to make LA compete on a level it isn't fit for (fancy farm-to-plate type cuisine), celebrate what's great about LA that isn't available in San Francisco (can't speak about the rest of the Bay Area, don't know it).

                            And typically, no reservations are needed.

                            For Korean, I can recommend Chosun Galbee on Olympic, Sagan on Beach Blvd. in Buena Park, or (if you really want to get "down and dirty" and smell like a forest fire afterwards) Soot Bull Jeep. Also excellent are Beverly Tofu and Sokongdong Tofu, across Olympic Blvd. from each other at New Hampshire Ave., one block west of Vermont.

                            Regional Mexican. You simply don't have it in San Francisco. Babita Mexicuisine in San Gabriel; Guelaguetza or Monte Alban, both with West LA locations; seafood and flan from La Serenata in Boyle Heights; cemitas poblanas from El Alquiler (or whatever it's called this week) at Kester and Victory in Van Nuys. Go to a taco truck in a Mexican area after dark and get a tlayuda; find out what a burrito is supposed to look like when it's not stuffed full of extenders like rice; go to Tacos Baja Ensenada and experience a real fish taco, 200 miles north of its birth.

                            Sushi. Sushi is better in LA than in San Francisco; skip Nozawa, go to Tama instead. Order omakase and give polite feedback.

                            Lebanese and Armenian food. There are hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Armenians; there are more Armenians in LA than in Yerevan. Mandaloun and Carousel, both in Glendale; Sunnin, in Westwood; Carnival in Sherman Oaks. Cruise Euclid Avenue between the 91 and Katella in Anaheim, our own Little Palestine, and eat wherever it's crowded.

                            Thai food. REAL Thai food. Thai Nakorn; Renu Nakorn; the Wat Thai for weekend lunches, where you buy tokens and buy food at the booths and eat at picnic tables, closer to Thailand than anyplace else in America. We have two Thai areas: Thai Town on Hollywood Boulevard near the 101, and Thai Gulch on Sherman Way in North Hollywood, heading west from the 170.

                            Chinese food, especially regional cuisines. You have your own Chinatown, but the food isn't up to Chinatown standards. Go to Mei Long Village, or China Islamic. Skip Din Tai Fung and go to New Concept, 888 or NBC instead. Go to Ma Lan and get hand-pulled noodles. Go to Shau May at Garfield and Garvey and order whatever looks interesting off the steam trays. Don't ask what it is, just try it. All of this can be yours for a 30-minute drive to Monterey Park and Alhambra, or another 20 minutes further to Rowland Heights.

                            In short, dare to go outside of Silverlake (which is apparently a cursed address for restaurants), Hollywood, Melrose, WeHo, Santa Monica. Explore the REAL Los Angeles, not the fake blonde enhanced-bosom nonsense you see on TV.

                            Then, go back to San Francisco and nose out your own little wonders. You have to be willing to accept paper napkins, eccentric service, and cheap bills.

                            That's what LA does best. Not fancy food for rich people, but real food for the other 3.5 million of us.

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