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Help!!! Birthday dinner for a chef!!!

I need help!!! I'm looking for a nice reasonably priced romantic restaurant for my boyfriend's 30th birthday dinner. He's a chef so it's been very hard looking for something different. His specialty is Italian food so I'm trying to stay away from that. Looking for something more exotic so it will surprise him. Any suggestions please??? Thanks......

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  1. i'd say ethiopian or just regular old mexican - how can you go wrong with margaritas and lots of cheese?

    or go for a great view and just ok food - like moonshadows (the deck) or geoffrey's.

    where are you located?

    1. We are both in Sherman Oaks but I guess it doesn't really matter where the restaurant is. The problem I found is that his birthday is on Monday and a lot of restaurants are closed on Mondays. Food is more important than the view. I want to stay away from the mainstream restaurants. This is a tough one!

      1. I'll second the rec for Ethiopian. What about Moroccan food also, especially if there are belly dancers involved? The throw pillows, the dim lights...

        1. At the risk of sound like a broken record :) I would recommend Opus. They are open on Mondays and, IMHO, their chef is one of the best around (and the price is right). I just reviewed it on my blog yesterday:

          Clare K.

          1. I was looking into Tagine for Morocaan food but they are closed on Monday. Which Ethiopian restaurants do you guys recommend? I'm hoping for something leaning towards the romantic side. Thanks, Clare I will take a look at Opus.

            1. I would highly recommend Providence. It might be more than you wanted to spend but it is one of the most highly rated restaurants right now and got the James Beard award for best new restaurant last year, which your boyfriend would appreciate as a chef. It is also open Monday!

              1. What about Babita in San Gabriel for upscale Mexican? Close to you, I think Max is open on Monday nights and it is up near the top of my list of best valley restaurants.

                I know it's last minute, but if you wanted something totally off the wall, why not rent a limo and go around the valley to cheap, but exotic and good eats. Just a few thoughts would be Chili My Soul in Encino, one of the hot dog places (probably The Stand or Carneys, because Weiner Factory closes early), one of the Thai places in North Hollywood, which is relatively close to tacos at Tacos La Fonda (a taco truck at Vineland and Vanowen) or the El Taco Llama at Sherman Way near Tunjunga, and finish with a nice dessert. If the limo is stocked with champagne, you could have a wonderful evening.

                1. Thank you everyone for your suggestions.
                  wow, I like the limo idea but I'm not sure how expensive that would be!
                  He's been exec chef at some of the high end Italian restaurants so he personally knows a lot of the more renowned chefs in LA and I want to surprise him with some hidden jewel instead of a high profile restaurant. I think he would enjoy that more.

                  1. If he likes sushi, I would recommend sitting at the bar at Z's in Alhambra. Great, fresh fish and the experience is very close to an authentic sushi place in Japan (in my opinion). They offer a wide variety of fresh sushi, as well as some exotic cooked dishes and daily specials.

                    1. He loves sushi but we eat it often. He likes to go to Nozawa. One of my favorite sushi place is Mako in Temple City. Good value and good quality. I'll check out Z's. Sounds good.

                      1. How about Gorikee's in Woodland HIlls? It's French/Cal fusion with garlic twist. If he likes garlic, this would be perfect.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: WHills

                          wow...sounds interesting. He's Italian, so yeah, we both love garlic! I'm going to check it out! Thanks.