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Iconic places for an easy, early new Years Eve dinner?

We are pretty new to LA and do not know all the great spots. Hoping to find a fun place for an early (7ish) New Year Eve's dinner. Would like a place that has good food and authentic character or even theme-ing. We live in Santa Monica and I worry a bit about driving a distance on New Year's Eve. We like the Apple Pan but it seems a bit too casual and we love Trader Vic's but they are having a big New Year's Eve to-do which will be too pricey for us. Does anyone have some suggestions? I would very grateful.

Ok, we will be willing to drive a bit. I dropped the westside part of the topic.

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  1. Iconic you say, and westside to boot? Hmm, that's an interesting query for a fun yet safe/sane new year's eve... If you think a real-life episode of The Twilight Zone might be iconic and fun, then may I recommend Billingsley's on Pico blvd. in West LA? Think 1960s-David Lynchian chophouse and lounge, with a mix of tipsy/jovial oldsters and hipster sentimentalists grooving on old skool cocktails and marginally acceptable slabs of prime rib, spuds and garlic toast that will elevate cholesterol with just a glance. Depending on one's mood, the vibe can be sad or sweet, edgy or comical. This place is a trip in the way-back machine, but the scene and the grub will improve ever so slightly with a few gimlets or manhattans under your belt. This is the spot where Larry Tate and Samantha Stevens might've trysted in the bizarro world's version of 'Bewitched'.

    1. SO funny, and yet so true... You open that front door and are immediately transported to another dimension.

      1. That does sound good! We may save that for a regular date. I think we are willing to expand our area a bit so that we can have an extra special experience.

        So far I have come up with The Prince, Palms Thai, Lowenbrau Keller and Medieval Times. Any thoughts? I forgot to mention that our almost ten year old daughter will be with us.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sparklegem

          Well, with a 10-year-old in tow, maybe that western-themed restaurant (on Sunset?), where they provide real horses and you (and other diners) gallop over to an eventual dinner of BBQ, chicken, etc.. Perhaps someone here can name that reastaurant?

        2. oh! That sounds wonderful!! Hope that some can help on this one!!

          1. It's the Sunset Ranch. It might be kind of cold this time of year for that ride at night,and minimum age is 16.
            http://www.sunsetranchhollywood.com/

            If I were you I wouldn't feel like driving to Medieval Times on New Year's Eve -- not really a good time to drive to Buena Park from the Westside. It's very kitchy and very expensive -- better for your daughter to do with a group of friends, I would think.
            The Prince is a bar so I doubt they would let a child in, nor would she appreciate the kitsch value. The Palms could be good, but I imagine a lot of people will have this idea, so you might want to see if they're taking reservations.
            Sorry if I'm not being much help, but in your position I would probably go to Musha or the King's Head in Santa Monica or maybe Duke's in Malibu and save the big themes and long distances for another night.
            One other idea -- Froggy's in Topanga Canyon has a lovely rustic setting and a fun atmosphere -- no real theme unless it's "aging ladies of the canyon who really like their chardonnay and their dogs " -- but it could be a nice short excursion.

            1. BTW, Patty, isn't the Prince where Eddie Lin got served the bowl of recently-live-and-still-squirming octopus tentacles which he can be seen trying to wrestle, unsucessfully, down his gullet on his Deep End Dining blog?

              If this is sparklegem's idea of "iconic", they've got some SCARY iconography! Less "Twilight Zone", more like "Klingon dining scene"....

              1. That's the place! I've had the chili octopus there, which was thoroughly dead, but never the sucking live one. Fun place for drinks and snacks, not so much for dinner or kids.

                1. ok- thank you for the help. We will save Medieval Times for another time, Palms Thai is booked and I did not know that the Prince was 21 and over. I made a reservation at Musha but now need to find another place for our daughter's birthday since that was to our spot in less then two weeks for the b-day. Or if we LOVE it we could go again...

                  Thanks for all the help!!!

                  1. We went to Musha and I was not very thrilled. My daughter liked it a lot and ate more beef then I have seen her eat before (which a good thing). We had the spring rolls, chicken cracker salad, Musha fried chicken and the beef and mushrooms that you cook yourself.