This question isn't to find the "spot". really, i just want to ask if there is a small place in your neighborhood that you enjoy going to. not the most popular, maybe not even the best food--but its got the neighborhood vibe and you keep going back?
for me it is this little corner restaurant on Figueroa and Ave 37 in Highland Park called La Abeja. it's not the snazziest diner, the hours are modest, just breakfast and lunch, but the waiter is attentive and generous with coffee, the food is made to order, the food is always solid---their carne en mole rojo is just fantastic, they run out of their specialty friday soups by lunchtime, the prices are always really so refreshing, and best of all, just a walk across the street from my home.
do you have a neighborhood joint you love that isn't overrun by crowds and zagat postings?
The Reyn coffee shop on North Lake in Pasadena has the jokey waitress, the old guys flirting with her, decent coffee and pleasant breakfast skillets and sandwiches. Breakfast and lunch only, cash only, but the grub's OK and cheap.
For an evening hangout we still love Amigo's at Colorado and Wilson, despite the food's being just tolerable (and some on this Board don't think it's even that). Comfy booths, friendly service, good margaritas and a killer jukebox. For just the two of us, or for meeting friends and/or neighbors for anything from party planning to gossip-fests, we love it.
Rutt's Cafe on Washington Blvd. in Culver City. Hawaiian / Japanese food with a great neighborhood vibe and really friendly down-to-earth service. The interesting thing about Rutt's is that they offer just about ever dish in 3 sizes, Regular - Queen and King, so differences in appetites are addressed and you can save money. My wife and our son went the other night for dinner and the tab was $28.75 + tip for the three of us, (and no one left hungry)
Our neighborhood is one of the big restaurant hotspots in LA -- we are within immediate walking distance of Hatfield's, BLD, Angelini Osteria, Grace, Cobras & Matadors, etc.
We treat these restaurants like our neighborhood go-tos, but it's not always practical to do so. With the popularity of this area in full bloom, we would love to find some good neighborhood spots (in other words, not Buddha's Belly, which is vile) that are not super pricey or overrun with people. Walking distance would be great, too. Any suggestions?
I really like Chao Krung on Fairfax, just around the corner from Beverly. Always good, never seems to be too crowded when we go. Addictive green curry. Also, we spend a lot of time at the Banana Leaf at the Farmer's Market. I know it doesn't quite fill the bill as far as being crowded, but I love it for the curry (again) and roti paratha.
Atch-Kotch on Vine and Fountain. Mmmmm...delicious ramen and udon!
Won Won Kitchen (Temple City)
The Sushi (Temple City)
Dai Ho (Temple City)
Sin Ba La (Arcadia)
Tony's Pizza (San Marino)
Dumpling House (Temple City)
Wolfe Burgers (Pasadena)
Gerlach's Grill (Pasadena)
Well, we used to have Frank's at the corner of Oxnard and Vineland, but they closed it down and the building's sitting there, sad, empty and occasionally graffiti-tagged ever since. Since Sitton's NoHo Diner decided to go a tad more upscale (in keeping with the whole "Arts District" thing) it's no longer the fun "watch the trannies come in loaded at 2am" place it used to be. I guess the closest place we got these days is Kerry's Grill (formerly Pat's Grill) at Riverside and Laurel. Kerry's a hoot, slings a mean patty melt and keeps the breaded mushrooms around for us even though they're not officially on the menu anymore.