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When guests come in from out of town...

which restaurants are in your "must show out of towners" repertoire? Favorite local neighborhood spots? Typical L.A. scene places? Places known for amazing food? Great wine? Great ambience? I realize there will probably be a huge range of responses, but I am just curious to see the places people bring their guests for the ultimate LA experiences. We have guests coming in in a few weeks so would love to hear what everyone says.

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  1. For me, the answer to this question depends solely on where the guests are coming from.

    For example, if they are coming from SF, I don't try and compete with food and go for maximum scene (Koi, Geisha, etc.) Or the ultimate combo place, Spago.

    If they don't have good Mexican, it's taco time.

    No fine or new school dining, then it's off to AOC or Lucques.

    You get the idea. So where are your guests coming from?

    2 Replies
    1. re: sfglutton

      Good point. Two guests (my brother and his wife) are coming from Portland, so they have access to a lot of great restaurants, but not really as much of a "scene" and the other guest (my other brother) is coming from Tokyo, so has amazing restaurants- but will be thankful to be back home in America where he always craves Mexican (which obviously there is not much of in Tokyo.) I agree on the AOC rec, that will definitely be on the schedule for one night!

      1. re: chowpug

        As a frequent visitor to Portland:

        MEXICAN. That's the only thing I miss while up there (well, aside from the sun). Things are improving (foodwise)as more migrant workers are staying year-round, but they don't have the variety or the quality of Mexican you can find in LA.

        The king & queen of Mexican restaurants (IMO) are La Casita Mexicana & Babita. If you want one shot to impress them take them to either one.

        La Casita Mexicana
        4030 Gage Ave
        Bell, CA 90201
        (323) 773-1898

        Babita Restaurant
        1823 S San Gabriel Blvd
        San Gabriel, CA 91776
        (626) 288-7265

        I would also suggest that you take them to dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley.

    2. Hi... I and others here often direct out-of-towners toward the weekend Wat Thai experience in North Hollywood. Solid thai street-food fare, prepared and sold by local thai community vendors in support of the Wat (temple) there on the premises. Saturday and Sunday morning/afternoon. Inexpensive and diverse offerings, and an excellent yet modest opportunity to interact and people-watch. Low key festivities of a chowish nature, and at this time of year, a merciful and temperate respite from the Valley's usual solar onslaught...

      1. Guests always enjoy The Restaurant at the Getty for Fri or Sat night dinners overlooking the city.

        1. I always go for Mexican because we get just about the best Mexican food here outside of mexico. I will hit up Monte Alban, La Playita, and other places like that.

          1. First, GREAT idea for a thread...

            This topic is confronting me as I type this. I have 4 relatives visiting from Greece right now. 2 of them are in their 60's and are less daring food wise. The other 2 are in their early 30's, have traveled extensivly in Europe, and are more adventurous.

            BUT, the food culture is so different there that it's a huge barrier. Case in point: spicy food. Spiciness in Greek food is basically nonexistant. We ate at an incredibly mediocre Mexican restaurant my Dad picked (in Old Town SD) and the salsa, which was at most mild, was hot for all my relatives. One of the younger ones said it made "a fire is in my mouth." Most Americans would have barely noticed.

            Being so sensitive to spicy food, I am questioning the wisdom of taking them to Thai Town for some thai food. We will see, I think I'll just order everything non spciy. (BTW, when is Ruen Pair going to open up again... I really want to take them there.)

            We took them to Zankou for a quick bight (shawermas) and they enjoyed it (especially the garlic paste). I'm just going to take them to a taco shop, Mashti Malones for ice cream, maybe for some indian ordered not spicy (Al-Noor), and probably El Pollo Inka.

            Now my when my family comes from Ohio, that's a whole different story! They are big food people and like to eat and eat a lot. Over the years we have basically been to most of my local south bay favorites (El Polla Inka, Azuma, Valentino's pizza, etc) and general LA places (Ruen Pair, Zankou, etc). They are addicted to El Polla Inka. It's a must stop for them every time they come. What's fun is that everytime they come I have new restaurants to try with them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: young_chower

              Young chower, this was discussed on a thread a few days ago, but since Ruen Pair still seems to be closed, I would recommend taking your relatives to Thai Patio or Red Corner Asia in the same minimall. Both cater more to people who don't like spicy food, but both have good seasonings and preparations nonetheless so you won't be bored by the food.

            2. A few of my faves for out of towners:

              - Palms Thai for Thai Elvis and good food
              - Yamashiro for drinks and a stunning view of the city
              - Dim sum (used to go to Empress Pavilion but I hear it's sliding downhill...SGV, I'm guessing now)
              - Figtree Cafe on Venice boardwalk for great organic sandwiches and even better people watching
              - Somewhere for really good Mexican...still am looking for a fave and depending on the friend may or may not take them to Titos :)
              - And wherever the hot celebrity spot of the moment is for a moment of Hollywoodness.

              1. I really like taking people to the old Farmer's Market on 3rd and Fairfax. It's better if you can walk there, because parking is a piece of hell on weekends. That aside, it's great peoplewatching, lots of great food choices (the Singaporean place, Loteria, crepes, churrascaria, and on and on...), and I think it gives people a different perspective on Los Angeles than they may have. You can walk west from there to the shops on 3rd st (closer to the LA stereotype =), but enjoyable nonetheless), or down Fairfax to LACMA, or up Fairfax to Melrose, etc.

                1. imho, spago is the ultimate la dining spot. just a nice consistent place to take guests, and solid food each time.

                  sushi is one thing i think la does better than any where else in the country, so i would put a vote in for sushi sasabune (for purists), katsuya brentwood (for rolls and the scene) or hamasaku for a more reserved yet still delicious sushi dinner.

                  maybe matsuhisa before it closes its doors forever...

                  sgv for awesome chinese, how about din tai fung for dumplings?

                  i second the vote for brunch at the getty center. otherwise, hotel bel air is also a nice bet.

                  for more casual, possibly scene-y, la-type places, i would take them to toast, doughboys, m cafe and clementine.

                  and of course, finish that off with a trip to pinkberry. :)

                  1. limited to what hasn't already been posted...

                    Warsawa...relaxing and homey...good eats not too $$$, and people learn that Polish doesn't = kielbasa.
                    Tlapazoa seems to work for nearly any palate and shows that Mexican is more than tacos y enchiladas.
                    Lilly's on Abbot Kinney, a relaxing bistro (be relaxed, service isn't the fastest)
                    Phillipes' for lunch downtown
                    Musso & Franks for the feel of old Hollywood
                    Messob, because most out of towners haven't experienced Ethiopian cuisine

                    1. I had guests from Detroit recently. The highlights of the food for the trip were Chili My Soul, Krua Thai and El Taco Llama (the Magnolia one). I also took them for California-style sushi at Hirosuke in Encino, which they really enjoyed (they like funky rolls, but are not big fans of traditional sushi).

                      I also routinely take guests to Farmer's Market and Grand Central Market. Kiriko for traditional sushi is another regular spot. And, I'll admit it, California Pizza Kitchen is a crowd pleaser and something both "California" and unusual for a lot of out-of-staters.

                      1. I live in Westwood and family usually stays in Beverly Hills or WeHo if visiting. My most successful reservation and dinner were at Spago, where Stallone sat down at the neighboring table. Good food and service, Puck's flagship, and a story of star-sighting.

                        I sometimes take out-of-town guests to Chinois. We've had quick fun dinners at Zankou, Yang Chow and In'and'Out. We tend to overlook the specialness of an ocean drive or a view, so the Getty, Geoffrey's (I miss Granita) or Moonshadows, or Cafe del Rey in or out of the airport are good to keep in mind.

                        1. La Serenada in Boyle Heights
                          The Hump if they are into food, Koi or Katana if they prefer eye-candy, Sushi Wa for something in between
                          Chosun Galbi
                          Somewhere I am dying to eat in SGV (often Mei Long Village but Lucky Dragon/Chung King/Hunan's Restaurant if they like it as hot as I do) and/or Dim Sum @ Ocean Star
                          A taco Truck (la Isla Bonita or the Oaxacan Truck @ Lincoln/Rose)
                          Mastro's for meat eaters
                          Japanese Noodles: Yabu, Daikokuya, or Kotohira for noodles
                          Giogio Baldi if they insist on eating with stars in their eyes

                          1. re: sushi - I think R-23 is a good combination of decent sushi and hip (but pleasant) ambience, though it's a bit on the pricy side for what you get for your money..

                            1. I take 'em high and low.

                              For high end... we go Spago, Jar, Maestros, Campanile

                              For Mexican... Alegria, Gueleguezta

                              For fun... Pinks, Phillipes, the Farmer's Market, Monterey Park Dim Sum. Versailles, Roscoes

                              1. Farmer's Market/Grove is definitely the place that I bring out of towners, and then from there we hit up any of the numerous restaurants nearby for dinner, varies according to budget and food preference.

                                In Santa Monica, I bring them to the Promenade and then over to Border Grill.