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Very Unique Experience in Los Angeles

Hello Chowhounders,

I will be in Los Angeles with my boyfriend next weekend, and am in search of the ultimate unique dining experience. Location within LA will not matter since we will be all over; We are open to any type of cuisine; And price is not an issue. We are looking for a place that has quality food, but with an added bonus, such as a show, unusual surroundings, or an extraordinarily upbeat environment. We are from San Francisco, so some places that I would compare what we are looking for down there would be like AsiaSF (though not the highest of quality of food, but a very upbeat atmosphere, and entertaining show), Foreign Cinema (watching movies while you eat), or Supperclub (Eating dinner in bed while watching an interesting attempt at a show). As for LA, I have come across Opaque (dining in the dark), Saddle Ranch, and Gyu-kaku (apparently a japanese BBQ restaurant where you cook your own food). I would love to hear your opinion on these places, and any suggestions that you might think would fall under this category. It would absolutely be much appreciated. Thank you so much.

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  1. You mention Saddle Ranch as an option. Saddle Ranch is a bar on Sunset in West Hollywood and has tables with unobstructed views of a mechanical bull.

    I have a feeling you meant Saddle Peak Lodge located at 419 Cold Canyon Road in Calabasas. Unfortunately for very few, Saddle Peak Lodge does NOT have a mechanical bull; they do have great food, in part (I'm sure) to make up for the lack of a mechanical bull.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FKA Andrew

      This is one of the funnier responses I've read on chowhound. In addition to views of the bull, you'll also be able to see tourists on Sunset in the natural habitat.

      For food and ambience, Saddle Peak would be a much better bet.

    2. Gyu Kaku is a chain with outposts throughout Los Angeles. I like the food, I had a decent weeknight dinner there, but not something that I would recommend to someone coming from SF to have "unique" experience. It's just a restaurant.

      I honestly can't think of anything out here like AsiaSF, so I'm sorry I can't recommend anything to you... but I just don't think you should head to Gyu Kaku. It's not terribly special.

      1. Apparently you can have dinner and a movie at Cinespace in Hollywood? Not sure...

        1 Reply
        1. re: amandine

          You can, and it turns into a club afterward. But it's nothing like Foreign Cinema, which is a relaxed, nice environment. Cinespace is dark and club-like.

        2. Why not go to Spago? You'll get a very good meal and you can watch the celebrities come and go. That's a show in and of itself.

          1 Reply
          1. re: glutton

            In a similar vein celebwise is the Ivy. Food not as good as Spago, but good drinks and lots of celebs and celeb watchers. Or, Cut for steak with higher fares and lots of celebs currently.

          2. With the given that any streetside neighborhood dining table in town is ringside to various and sundry circus acts starring the fashionably enhanced and extraordinary ill-mannered, I would venture that "quality food" and a "show" don't seem to go hand in hand. And the crowd at Pink's makes the best people watching anyway. "Can I have extraaa tryglycerides?"

            (A counter to that remark occurs nightly at several homes in the Hollywood Hills, but that would stretch the definition of "show" into somewhat blush-inducing areas)

            Palms Thai restaurant has mediocre food and a scintillating Thai Elvis impersonator, who boldly adds the occasional John Denver/ Neil Diamond ditty to his sets. It is helpful to be drunk, as the food and the singing both increase in quality.

            Search "Korean BBQ" for a sprited debate over which restaurant makes your clothes smell like you slept in a chimney for longer.

            Cinespace screens films (think "Jaws" and "The Godfather" as opposed to any Bertold Brecht marathons) alongside standard grub. Fill up on fries from Scooby's nearby first.

            Catalina Bar & Grill is a great jazz club who's food is better than it needs to be.

            For cheap? Find a spot alongside Mulholland drive, or picnic up in Griffith Park. There's no wait, good company, and a great view...

            1. I second Korean BBQ. If you like Gyu-Kaku's yakiniku experience, you'll dig the real thing.

              I'm partial to Soot Bull Jeep myself, but you'll definitely leave smelling like a campfire.

              Soot Bull Jeep
              3136 W 8th St
              Los Angeles, CA 90005
              (213) 387-3865

              1. http://www.aphrodisiacrestaurant.com/

                I haven’t been, but at Aphrodisiac in the old Lunaria space, you can have an eight course dinner on a king-size bed in a private boudoir.

                1. You should look at the Inn of the Seventh Ray. Eating is outside on a patio very much in the Santa Monica mountains, in Topanga Canyon. Food was fine when I was last there a few years ago, nothing fantastic, I was never disappointed, appalled or anything worse, but it supposedly has improved and the menu looks a lot more ambitious than it used to.

                  If you do go, you want to get there early, before sundown, so you can enjoy the setting. It's pretty unique, and less $$ than Saddle Peak lodge, which I'm certain would ALSO be fantastic if you want to drive some. This location may work in better with whatever plans you have that day.

                  Maybe someone who'd been for dinner more recently will weigh in.


                  1. There's always Nozawa. See the original sushi nazi in action.

                    1. Inn of the Seventh Ray is great for the surroundings; not for the food.

                      1. This is an interesting question. Sort of the antithises of the classic chowhound question. If I understand you correctly, what you are interested in is not the best possible food but the most interesting LA experience.

                        The first thing that occurs to me is the Wat Thai Temple. It's basically a weekend street fair with all sorts of thai street food sponsored by the local buddhist temple. Super cheap and really good food. Lots of fun

                        Wat Thai Of Los Angeles 8225 Coldwater Canyon Ave,North Hollywood, CA 91605

                        For a real fun night, take a ride at sunset ranch.

                        It's a roundtrip horseback ride through griffith park, past the hollywood sign and down to an average mexican restaurant in burbank for dinner and margaritas. Then drunk riding back to over the hill. A foodie pilgrimage? Absolutely not, but lots of fun.

                        Another thought, and this has very little to do with food, is go the Arclight movie theater in hollywood. One thing that to me is beyond debate is that LA has the best movie theaters in the world and the arclight is by far teh best movie theater in LA. This is the temple of movies. There's nowhere else that you can see big budget movies documentaries, and independents all in the same amazing theater. You wont get better picture and sound anywhere. I'd have dinner in one of the new hollywood places near-bye then catch a movie.


                        Hungry cat is a fun place right across the street from the theater with really good food and some of the most delicious and creative drinks in town. Or go up to Hollywood BLVD to Lucky Devils. (delicious unhealthy food. have a burger and fries and a pecan shake) Both of these are fun hollywood scenes.

                        Or see a movie first and go down Hollywood blvd to Thai town. Check out Palms or Hollywood thai for a serious late night scene.

                        Finally, for a uniquely LA experience check out original Tommys on Beverly. This the quintisessntial chili burger stand. My sister once drove 7 hours from Berekely to eat one. Don't be scared by the long line. The guys at the grill can serve 50 people in a few mintues.

                        2575 Beverly Blvd
                        Los Angeles, CA 90057-1020

                        Have a good trip.

                        1. What about a flamenco dinner at El Cid?

                          I don’t know if the food is CH-worthy, but according to the menu, dinner and show is $29.95 per person or $20 per person for the show only + a two drink minimum.


                          Or, what about, Marrakesh in the Valley? It’s been many years (7) since my one and only visit (sister’s hen night) but remember the room being beautiful, the service and food great and the belly dancing being pretty good, too. ;-


                          13003 Ventura Blvd
                          Studio City, CA 91604
                          (818) 788-6354

                          1. I lived in LA for 18 years and now reside in San Francisco. What you should consider doing is going to a REAL yakitori restaurant. Despite San Francisco's plethora of Japanese restaurants, we don't have a full-on, sit-at-the-bar yakitori like those in Los Angeles. It will be a completely unique experience and, considering San Francisco is really a culinary mecca, it is one of the most amazing things you can do in LA that you can't do up here.

                            I would personally recommend Shin-Sen-Gumi off Western in Gardena.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Carrie 218

                              for yakitori, see this link http://www.chowhound.com/news/show/10893

                              I haven't quite made it down to the South Bay yakitori-ya (soon, very soon) but can personally recommend two in LA:

                              Kokekokko [Little Toyko
                              ]203 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles


                              Yakitori-ya [West LA]
                              11301 W. Olympic Blvd. # 101, at Sawtelle, Los Angeles

                            2. Is Velvet Delves still around? Seems like it would fit the bill.

                              1. Brunch at the Getty Center is gorgeous on the patio. The food was great last time I was there and you have one of the best views in the city.

                                1. When ever I head back to Los Angeles I think of Gyu-kaku. It is a great place which I think blows Korean bbq out of the water.

                                  The orders are small but meticulously done. Think Tapas ...
                                  With Korean bbq, I am turned off by getting a huge plate of meat at once. At Gyu-kaku, small portions come out which you cook at your leisure and you also get to try more things. The marinades for the meats are also amazing.

                                  For desert, making the smores is always a fun experience.

                                  1. How about Thai?
                                    LA has some of the best Thai joints anywhere, and there are some that have late night shows as well. Palms Thai in Hollywood comes to mind. The food is really good, and you can enjoy Thai pop music at the same time. I havent been there for a while; perhaps other hounds could fill us in on what time the music starts?

                                    1. I'd consider adding Palms Thai as a second amusing experience. The food is good but not great (for that you head east a bit down Hollywood Blvd) but the menu is broadly interesting. The real attraction is the live entertainment, headlined by the famous Kevin the Thai Elvis. Struth, however, the other act (there's always an other act) is often brilliant. There's a fellow, the "Lebanese Louis Armstrong" who has a wonderful repertoire of classic tunes, and on other nights another Thai fellow handles some old R and B like a charm. Another night witnessed the efforts of the Thai Karen Carpenter (singing efforts, that is).

                                      So go there, blow just a few bucks, have a rousing good time over some Singha, and then blow the real money at some lavish sushi joint or somesuch. You'll be glad for the doubled memories at less than half the cost.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: broncosaurus

                                        no question. thai elvis at the palms.

                                      2. Lawry's The Prime Rib seems like a unique, L.A. experience.

                                        Clearman's North Woods Inn serves up a decent steak, wonderful garlic cheesebread, and the ultimate in kitchy atmosphere.


                                        1. I love Saddle Peak Lodge, but I wouldn't think that's unique to LA. Soot Bull Jeep can't be much different than what you get in the Bay Area.

                                          Despite the fact that I have all of my favorite places nearby, whenever I have to entertain out-of-towners, I still take them somewhere to people watch. No, it's not unique to Los Angeles, but when you combine people-watching with top-flight food in a unique environment, it makes for great memories of an oft-misrepresented city.

                                          To that end, I say the answer is either Spago or Cut.

                                          1. Garden of Taxco (?) is a fun place (at least the first time around), with decent food. Mexican food with waiters that seem to have just walked off the set as extras from a spaghetti western.

                                            1. What about that place in Hollywood where they show movies in the cemetary? I saw it on the news a few weeks ago. BYO food & drinks.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: markn

                                                Movies at Hollywood Forever are only screened during the warmer months, unfortunately!

                                              2. FYI, the owners of supperclub san francisco (who are partners with THE original bed dining restaurant, supperclub amsterdam), are opening supperclub los angeles in the latter part of 2007 at the historic (and reported to be haunted) Vogue Theater. So, maybe next time you go to LA, you can check out supperclub los angeles for a unique dining experience.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: EricHungryinSF

                                                  Wait a minute; if there's one in SF and one in LA, then they're not unique, they're a chain in the making..

                                                2. For my time and money -- and if you're at all interested in a view -- make a reservation at The Restaurant at the Getty. You can spend an hour or two walking around the grounds (or in the museum) and then hit the restaurant. AMAZING views, amazing wine list and amazing food. Enjoy yourselves!

                                                  1. I would imagine that the experience at The Getty, sitting in Richard Meier's designed restaurant, dining from seasonal menus while gazing from the crashing waves of the Pacific on one side to the smog tinted towers downtown, would define a quintessential Los Angeles moment.

                                                    BTW Supperclub IS a chain, in Amsterdam and Bangkok (superb food there) as well...

                                                    1. I haven't done it in a while, but seeing Marty and Elaine at the Dresden room was always a treat, and very unique. I can't speak for the food, but its frenchy. http://www.thedresden.com/index.html

                                                      1. Depends on what you mean by LA Experience-- do you want something celebrity-studded (Bev Hills or Hollywood), earthy (Topanga), ethnic (as many other suggestions posters have already made)... Saddle Peak Lodge is great if you enjoy game and a woodsy ambience; if you'd prefer a steak or seafood, there is better. There are several restaurants in Malibu that would fit the bill, with a table over the ocean to boot (Geoffrey's, Moonshadows, Nobu for sushi & celebs-- though not oceanside-- or Granita). For steak, Cut or could go downtown to Pacific Dining Car and get in a show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Choosing somewhere along the Sunset Strip can then give you the option of the clubs and hotel bars, if that's your scene. No one has mentioned a stellar restaurant called Providence, which isn't far from Hollywood, if you wanted to go dancing or catch a movie at Arclight (currently, the AFI Festival is in town). I also vouch for Hungry Cat, AOC for French-ish tapas, Cafe Stella if you want French and a SilverLake-hipster vibe. There's a jazz-dinner club on Mulholland called Vibrato, but haven't been there personally; perhaps someone else can comment. Good luck; enjoy; keep us posted.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: comidachameleon

                                                          Haven't been but I'm informed that Vibrato is owned by the Smith Bros. (Parkway, Arroyo, Smittys, Crocodile).

                                                            1. re: CynD

                                                              Yes, Granita in Malibu is closed.

                                                          1. i like Hump for this purpose

                                                            1. Nobody has yet mentioned Dar Maghreb, a Moroccan restaurant in Hollywood.

                                                              It's a fabulous space with Moroccan tile and an atrium, and loads of bellydancers all over. You sit on a low, cushioned bench, and eat each course of a feast with your hands. They come pour water over your hands first as a traditional washing.

                                                              There should also be plenty of threads on Chowhound about it. El Cid is interesting too but kind of mild in comparison if I recall - the place with the flamenco dancer(s). The place with the mechanical bull is actually kind of a fun experience to do one time and the food made no horribly negative impressions on me (it's not "San Francisco" quality but the show is).

                                                              No offense to other posters but I found Inn of the Seventh Ray pretty boring aside from a decent outdoor setting. Saddle Peak Lodge I regularly go to but it's no show - just a quite good game restaurant in a big lodge with lots of heads of animals on the walls.

                                                              1. Just for show, I recall reading recently that the bar at Birds on Franklin and Tamarind is frequently set afire during the course of rowdy going-on. Food, I don't know.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: mc michael

                                                                  well, then let me chime in for a sec....and let me be succint, this place is a typical LA scene - all scene and bad food. it was a pretty awful experience, the food was perhaps some of the worst i've had in LA - people there were probably not even from LA who ate there just to be seen. you want rotisserie chicken? try pollo alla brasa, located on a little triangular island at western and 8th...peruvian style rotisserie chicken..delicious and cheap..don't forget the spicy avocado sauce, critical.

                                                                2. Here's some others nobody has mentioned, Sunset Beach just opened where Dublin used to be on Sunset and are supposed to have in the restaurant...a "beach"! Then there's Miceli's on Cahunga where all the wait staff sings opera and musical comedy between serving, and let's not forget Vitello's in North Holywood, the scene of the Robert Conrad murder case where they have open singing nights, always good for a laugh! Herb Albert's place on Beverly Glen, Vibrato has pretty good food with the jazz and am I dreaming when I "remember" there is/used to be a sushi joint where the waiters were on roller skates...or is that in some other world!

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Thorn

                                                                    ,,,"or is that in some other world!..." you probably woke up breifly in the dead of night with the Sci-fi channel still on................

                                                                    1. re: Thorn

                                                                      lol. I think you mean Robert Blake. How about Nan Ban Kan in West LA?

                                                                    2. Oops! Right, Blake, sorry Mr. conrad!