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The best of LA restaurants in 3 nights, 4 days

bellastraniera Mar 11, 2007 03:59 PM

Please help this New Yorker.

I am coming to LA eating out for 3 dinners, 4 lunches/brunches. Where should I go? I'm staying near Laurel Canyon. Looking for the best in sushi and Mexican (Tia Juana???), and a cool trendy hotspot or two to try (preferably with good food!). Not Mozza. I live 2 blocks from Batali's Otto in NYC - it's the same thing. I'd like to stick to centrally located places in Santa Monica, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, West Hollywood, or Silver Lake.

If you need any dining advice about NYC, let me know - I'd be happy to trade.

many thanks,
bellastraniera

http://www.gastrochic.com

 
  1. m
    mc michael Mar 11, 2007 04:11 PM

    Are you seriously looking for "the best" (this has been done on the board on a weekly basis--no kidding), or do you want good but safe high end spots (which we can surely provide)? The point is the geographic limits you place on your search tend to undercut your quest for the best. Likewise it's not often that trendy hotspots have the best food. Tell us what you really want, how much you want to spend ($50-$300 per person) and to what areas you wish to confine your survey. If you truly want THE BEST, you have to adopt a no limits approach.

    1. bellastraniera Mar 11, 2007 04:22 PM

      OK count me overwhelmed. LA is so huge! And there's so much good food there! But I have to stick to those geographic limits, or I'll be eating alone for four days. For sushi and Mexican - I just want people's favorites, whatever the cost (bargains always appreciated though). For hot spots, I consider hot spots in NYC to be places that also don't disappoint food-wise, right now: Morandi, Waverly Inn, Cafe Cluny, The Inn at LW12, etc. So what's the equivalent in LA?

      1. bodie Mar 11, 2007 04:51 PM

        For "sushi", I would go to Asanebo, sit at the bar and let them do their magic. It is in Studio City on Ventura Blvd. and not too far from Laurel Cyn. Every hound has their sushi spot and you could go crazy with all of the opinions. Asanebo is pretty well thought of, even amidst the chowhound fray. It is all about high-end product served impeccably in a small and personalized setting. It is fairly traditional as they specialize in sashimi, not sushi (hence the quotation marks) or rolls.

        As for Mexican, the world is your oyster. Much like with sushi, everyone has their haunt. I love Tere's (on Melrose & Caheunga in Hollywood), Tony's (Magnolia & Coldwater in NoHo) and other neighborhood joints.

        I got nothin' when it comes to trendy hot spots but the La Cienega corridor seems like a good place to start.

        1. m
          mc michael Mar 11, 2007 10:36 PM

          OK, let's consider your target area.No question many of the best high end restaurants are there. Here's the unofficial LA Board best of 2006 list: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/35721... Make a copy of this. Now roll down about 20 or so names and draw a line under Josie. All the places from Josie on up are in your area EXCEPT Babita (the one Mexican in this section), Langer's (arguably the best hand cut Pastrami in the US) and Opus. If you want a Mexican in the target area, you have to go down to Monte Alban (which is Oaxacan). If you are looking for other stuff in your area, you need to consider lesser places (Border Grill, Serenata de Garibaldi, other Oaxacans, etc.) and taco trucks (of which there are a few). Sushi is not in doubt. Look up near the top of the list: Urasawa is gonna cost $300 per person but it's a meal of a lifetime. This is the heir to Masa whom you may now be acquainted with from NYC. Less expensive in your area is Sushi Zo which has been well received on this board. Not surprisingly, a lot of the better Mexican is on the East side of town (Babita, for example) and the sushi is (with the exception of a number of places on Sawtelle) in the Downtown/Little Tokyo area. As for trendy food places, I would say Providence (excellent seafood, etc.), Cut (r*e*a*l Kobe beef), Mako, Mastro's and Hungry Cat (in your area) qualify. If you want trendy bars with good food, that's another story.
          Lastly, let me again encourage you to venture into the Pico-Union area to sample (before 4 pm) the handcut Pastrami at Langer's. Just get the Pastrami, rye bread and add some brown spicy mustard.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mc michael
            bellastraniera Mar 12, 2007 08:30 AM

            Thank you so much mc michael. That list is great. Maybe I'll check out Babita on my own in addition to a west side Mexican. The taco trucks sound interesting too. OK, and I'll try the pastrami - but I remember the Second Ave Deli here before it closed - LA has some stiff competition!

            Good to know there are so many foodies there now. When I lived in LA 10 years ago, everyone's idea of excellent dining was the Cheesecake Factory.

            1. re: bellastraniera
              m
              mc michael Mar 12, 2007 12:33 PM

              De nada. Sadly, if you read Zagat, Cheesecake Factory is still the choice of many (alas). I guess they like leftovers.
              The good thing about trying the pastrami at Langer's is you can't lose. Either you can find it inferior to NYC and lord it over us, or you can find it better and go back to the City and lord it over everyone there. I'm not vouching for their egg creams though.

              1. re: bellastraniera
                Ciao Bob Mar 12, 2007 08:36 PM

                Langer's blows 2nd ave deli away -- even when it was good, long before it closed. I'm an ex-NY-er and there is no comparison.

                1. re: Ciao Bob
                  westsidegal Mar 12, 2007 09:28 PM

                  gotta agree with you here.
                  when i moved to ny from california, i was expecting to be blown away by the 2nd ave deli.
                  what a disappointment! cold hard bread and meh meat!
                  langers was clearly better, heck nate 'n als was clearly better!

                  1. re: westsidegal
                    m
                    mc michael Mar 12, 2007 09:54 PM

                    As you can see feelings run high over Langer's. Nate 'n Als OTOH, eh? Well, you might run into Larry King there eating breakfast, but it's no Langer's.

            2. m
              mc michael Mar 12, 2007 01:07 PM

              Speaking of trendy, there seems to be activity in Culver City: you might look at Beacon and Ford's Filling Station.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mc michael
                modernist Mar 13, 2007 09:53 AM

                very sorry for stepping on your toes, but i'd strongly suggest against either of these two, especially with the rest of what la has to offer. unless you are in the neighborhood and just want to walk to lunch.

                1. re: modernist
                  m
                  mc michael Mar 13, 2007 10:46 AM

                  No problem: I was going for trendy. Should have mentioned Wilson's as well in this area. Perhaps you could link to your latest updated list of chow finds? Oh, I see you have. Well done.

              2. m
                mc michael Mar 12, 2007 04:16 PM

                About Westside tacos: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360711
                For your purposes--and I say this without malice--you can ignore Tito's.
                I should also mention that in the evening hours, particularly near clubs you will in addition to occasionally seeing a taco truck, see instead a person standing by a little silver cart grilling bacon wrapped hot dogs and peppers, onions and cilantro. For about $3 these are generally pretty good though they often leave a salty aftertaste which naturally requires that you enter some club and wash it away with the beverage of your choice.

                1. l
                  lafoodiegal Mar 12, 2007 05:43 PM

                  I would suggest Katsu-Ya for sushi, which is on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, not too far from where you are. It's popular for a reason - it has excellent sushi! As for Mexican, I second what someone wrote earlier: Tere's on Melrose and Vine in Hollywood is great. It's a little hole in the wall, so don't expect too much atmosphere, but the food is amazing.

                  As for "trendy" places, my favorites are Sona (on La Cienega in W. Hollywood - do the tasting menu if you go; it's incredible), Lucques (always great), The Hungry Cat, and A.O.C. I haven't tried Hatfield's yet, but I hear it's incredible from LOTS of people, so I would suggest that too.

                  As for brunch/lunch places, try Grub (in Hollywood), BLD (on Beverly Blvd.), Square One (in Los Feliz), and Lucques has a great brunch on Sundays. Hope this helps!!!

                  1. therealbigtasty Mar 12, 2007 06:45 PM

                    I just have to say this: Mozza is NOT the same thing as Otto. Absolutely not. Just because one guy is a partner in both places does not make it the same thing.

                    1. modernist Mar 13, 2007 10:22 AM

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/313050

                      heres a broad list i always give to my visiting friends.
                      however more tailored to your requirements.
                      lucques in west hollywood is great california mediterranean from james beard award winner suzanne goin. better than aoc. if you are looking for value go for sunday supper 40 dollar 3 course or for lunch (15-18 dollar entrees

                      )

                      for sushi i've been enjoying sushi sushi in beverly dr in beverly hills. their premium lunch chirashi (22 dollars) and sushi (20 dollars) represents very very good value for top tier sushi. others will point you towards sushi zo, kiriko, sushi tenn and mori. they are also all very good in west LA.

                      as for mexican, its hard to get authentic/tasty and cool together. i'd recommend hitting some taco trucks (all over town - just do a search) or going to east la. for a really fun "cultural experience" go to the mercadito in east la to check out mariachi and market goods. people will steer you towards babita for the best mexican fine dining (in the san gabriel valley) or tacos baja ensenada for really drop dead amazing fish tacos (1 dollar on wednesdays! - it is absolutely worth the trek)

                      but i agree with other posters that these neighborhoods arent necessarily the best for food.

                      if you are in santa monica maybe try fathers office for what many consider to be the best burger in los angeles. i recently went again and its still good, but the westside frat vibe make it hard to keep the food down sometimes. (ok i exagerrate).

                      another exceptional value and quintessential LA thing for me is having lunch or brunch at joes on abbot kinney in venice. great food. and for lunch. the 18 dollar 3 course lunch is awesome. then cruise the bougie boutiques on abbot kinney and have a second dessert at jin patisserie across the street and check the japanese housewares boutique, tortoise.

                      silverlake has little to no good food but cliffs edge has a nice patio.

                      i suggest you expand food options to other asian cuisines such as korean, thai and japanese (i'd say chinese but you guys seem geographically limited - all the good chinese is in the San Gabriel Valley)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: modernist
                        therealbigtasty Mar 19, 2007 01:54 AM

                        YAY for taco trucks!

                        The truck on Western and Fountain in the gas station (?) parking lot has amazing Birria.

                        The truck on Olympic and LaBrea (El Pecas #2) rocks my ass off!!!

                      2. modernist Mar 13, 2007 10:23 AM

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/313050

                        heres a broad list i always give to my visiting friends.
                        however more tailored to your requirements.
                        lucques in west hollywood is great california mediterranean from james beard award winner suzanne goin. better than aoc. if you are looking for value go for sunday supper 40 dollar 3 course or for lunch (15-18 dollar entrees

                        )

                        for sushi i've been enjoying sushi sushi in beverly dr in beverly hills. their premium lunch chirashi (22 dollars) and sushi (20 dollars) represents very very good value for top tier sushi. others will point you towards sushi zo, kiriko, sushi tenn and mori. they are also all very good in west LA.

                        as for mexican, its hard to get authentic/tasty and cool together. i'd recommend hitting some taco trucks (all over town - just do a search) or going to east la. for a really fun "cultural experience" go to the mercadito in east la to check out mariachi and market goods. people will steer you towards babita for the best mexican fine dining (in the san gabriel valley) or tacos baja ensenada for really drop dead amazing fish tacos (1 dollar on wednesdays! - it is absolutely worth the trek)

                        but i agree with other posters that the neighborhoods you are looking in arent necessarily the best for food.

                        if you are in santa monica maybe try fathers office for what many consider to be the best burger in los angeles. i recently went again and its still good, but the westside frat vibe make it hard to keep the food down sometimes. (ok i exagerrate).

                        another exceptional value and quintessential LA thing for me is having lunch or brunch at joes on abbot kinney in venice. great food. and for lunch. the 18 dollar 3 course lunch is awesome. then cruise the bougie boutiques on abbot kinney and have a second dessert at jin patisserie across the street and check the japanese housewares boutique, tortoise.

                        silverlake has little to no good food but cliffs edge has a nice patio.

                        i suggest you expand food options to other asian cuisines such as korean, thai and japanese (i'd say chinese but you guys seem geographically limited - all the good chinese is in the San Gabriel Valley)

                        1. j
                          jackattack Mar 13, 2007 10:48 AM

                          You can find good restaurants in any city. Have dinner at The Getty Center,at sunset, an only-in-Los-Angeles experience.

                          1. p
                            purediva Mar 13, 2007 11:26 AM

                            I second a burger at Father's Office. Best burger to be found, and Angelenos are serious about burgers. If you're going to Culver City - you're best foodie bet is Wilson Wine Bar. Fantastic food and NY-style atmosphere. (I'm a recently turned Angeleno-Chicagoan, so I'm pretty objective about LA restaurants.)

                            Providence is hit or miss. If you do a tasting menu there, about 1/3 to a half of things will be good and the rest will be unmemorable or just ok. (Also, my brother-in-law to be is a chef and "staged" there for a week, so I have inside scoop.) Michael C's sweet but you can tell he's still green. He's no Grant Achatz yet.

                            Checking out the Getty for their Friday's at the 405 when they have cool musical acts is a definite must-do. But, the dinner at the restaurant will be overpriced and mediocre unfortunately.

                            1. h
                              hughman Mar 13, 2007 04:16 PM

                              former NYer here. welcome to LA!

                              providence is awesome. get the 5 or 9 course tasting menu. may remind you of chantarelle.

                              "wa" in west hollywood has great sushi. was named one of the 10 best sushi spots by LA mag last year. cool vibe. great osaka at a reasonable price. ask for tito at the sushi bar. better than "ito" in the east village.

                              go for cocktails and fun at "the abbey" in west hollywood.

                              (yes, i live in WeHo) but not a far (or difficult) drive from where you'll be staying in Laurel Canyon.

                              have a great trip!!!

                              1. Piggy76 Mar 13, 2007 04:27 PM

                                Try Ahi Sushi on Coldwater Cny and Ventura Blvd. I like the sushi there, not over priced and very fresh and creative. I loved the Albacore with fried red onions, hhmm..yummy. There is another Japanese restaurant right across the street, a little pricey but pretty good too. Hope you enjoy your stay in LA.

                                1. bellastraniera Mar 21, 2007 12:29 PM

                                  Omigosh thanks everybody. I think I'm going to have to eat 5 meals a day to keep up... or maybe have tacos for breakfast! I made a rez at Blue Velvet for one night - that will be my trendy/good resto pick. Let me know if it sucks, though. Counter Intelligence gave it a thumbs up recently.

                                  The restaurant at the Getty Center is indeed pretty. I went there when it first opened years ago.

                                  I think I could definitely get my friends to go to the Abbey - will do.

                                  1. o
                                    ozhead Mar 21, 2007 03:07 PM

                                    For Mexican, I'd suggest Monte Alban. It's on Santa Monica Bv. between Bundy and Barrington in West LA. It's not "Mexican" in the sense that most people (I think) use that word -- that is, they don't serve combination plates of Sonora-style food. Remember that Mexico is a huge country, with many regions and thus many regional cuisines. Monte Alban is a purely Oaxacan restaurant, serving delicious and complex moles and many other specialties of the state of Oaxaca. My personal fave there is the birria -- a large and tender chunk of goat, braised and served in a wonderful red broth, neither gamy nor excessively spicy, and just excellent (as is everything I've ever had there). I don't know if Oaxacan food is widely available in NYC, but if you've never tried it you're in for a treat.

                                    P.S.: "Monte Alban" = white mountain = Weissberg. But you will probably not mistake if for a Jewish deli.

                                    1. littlemissbusiness Mar 21, 2007 03:43 PM

                                      If you come out to lovely Silverlake, make a couple stops:

                                      Blair's is wonderful for dinner- contemporary and cozy. Here's the website: http://www.blairsrestaurant.com/ This is the best restaurant in Silverlake, hands down.

                                      Gingergrass is Thai-American- casual, hipsters spilling from every corner, and helthy. Great minimalist look and satisfying food. Go early for dinner or stop by for lunch. Dinners after seven are so loud you have to yell at your dinner companions to be heard. The fish in banana leaf entree is always wonderful, as are their pho soups.

                                      The Kitchen on Sunset and Fountain is more kick back- it looks like a coffee shop from the outside, but they serve lovely, unfussy meals. The waiters are always a hoot, and they serve updated comfort foods- pork chops with goat cheese, mac and cheese with garlic and parmesan, etc. Yum. Easy on the pocketbook.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: littlemissbusiness
                                        Skorgirl Mar 21, 2007 03:51 PM

                                        Correction: Gingergrass is Americanized Vietnamese food, not Thai.

                                      2. pinotgrisgirl Mar 22, 2007 03:18 PM

                                        I would definitely check out Cut --eat at the Sidebar. For lunch or dinner Il pastaio in Beverly Hills is good. Definitely no need to check out Mozza -- they still haven't worked out the issues with the oven -- it's not hot enough so the pizza crust burns but the middle isn't crisp. Otto is way better!

                                        You might want to check out Dan Tanas in West Hollywood for dinner -- for no other reason than it's an institution and great people watching. Their Ceasar Salad is really pretty good.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: pinotgrisgirl
                                          lil mikey Mar 23, 2008 10:48 PM

                                          (I know it's a late post)

                                          I agree with Pinotgrisgirl. Il Pastaio is truly an LA experience. Get an outside table for a 1:00 lunch on Thursday or Friday. Watch the Bentleys, Ferraris, etc. roll by. And notice the people. A real spectacle. And the food's pretty good, too. It's a good place to take out of town visitors.

                                          1. re: lil mikey
                                            j
                                            Jwsel Mar 24, 2008 08:07 AM

                                            I think the trip is long over, but I want to add that Il Pastaio is an LA experience, but anyone who goes for a 1:00 lunch should not plan to do anything else that afternoon. To say service tends to lag is an understatement.

                                        2. bellastraniera Apr 12, 2007 02:08 PM

                                          Thank you, everyone. The gastro tour of LA has begun! First stop, Monte Alban. More to come in the following days.

                                          http://gastrochic.blogspot.com/2007/0...

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