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downtown LA ~ Saturday pre-concert dinner

We're catching a concert at Staples Center at the end of the month, and I've offered to book the meal. Am not looking for anything too uppity (i.e. Water Grill), but am in search of a pleasant meal with my friend, his s/o, and my fiance.

We're talkers and eaters, so not having to raise our voices is preferred. I think the majority of places around there are inside hotels, but what do I know? Non-French cuisine requested. I'd like to stay in downtown, since it would make things convenient afterwards.


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    1. IMHO Rocket Lounge is pretty horrible food wise and lacks atmosphere. If you want a beautiful room and very good food, I suggest Zucca. It's not that pricey. Also, Engine Company 28 is fun and is in a great historic location---food is good, if a bit inconsistent. Roys has interesting fish but may be a bit too loud.

      1. I don't know your price range, but I had a great meal at Roy's the other day. It is at 8th and Figueroa, so it's within walking distance of Staples and there is a large public lot across the street. I had dinner with a friend the other night. We shared the combination appetizer, a sampler entree (with three types of fish), another appetizer, a bento box of desserts, and each had mixed drinks. Total after tax was $116. The bar was loud, but we never had to raise our voices, service was attentive, and the food was very good.

        1. How about Ciudad for Spanish tapas? It's nice weather, so you can sit outside in the patio.

          5 Replies
          1. re: WHills

            I second Ciudad, but I think on a Saturday you'd have to sit at the bar (which the patio may qualify as? I'm not sure...) to get the tapas. I recommend the Argentine empanadas & the spiced nuts. Then you won't leave feeling stuffed and drowsy for the concert. Watch how much you order though, the bill can really start to add up....

            Practically across the street from Staples (maybe 1 block away) is Liberty Grill. It has your standard American food & huge portions, almost everything is $10-$20. It was tasty and pleasant enough the one time I went for lunch, and I don't remember it being terribly noisy. I would probably go there often if I lived in the area. http://www.liberty-grill.com/

            1. re: LisaStitch

              Have you been to the Daily Grill? How does Liberty Grill compare to that? I hate Daily Grill.

              1. re: slacker

                Liberty Grill is better.

                I tend to think of Daily Grill as a more expensive version of Denny's ...

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I prefer Denny's over the Daily Grill. I find the food at the Daily Grill just obnoxious.

                2. re: slacker

                  I ate at Liberty Grill yesterday for lunch and I would say that it's a slight notch above Marie Callendar's, FWIW. The menu is boring and the food is not very well-executed. For example, I had the grilled cheese sandwhich with tomato soup which would seem like a hard dish to mess up, but they did it. My sandwhich had clearly been sitting on a plate for ages (we had to wait for 40 minutes for our food) and had been reheated on the plate to make the cheese somewhat less congealed. Not good. Lunch companions' fries were undercooked and cold. They never remembered to bring the appetizer we ordered so I can't rate that. I think maybe Liberty Grill was better when it first opened, but it's just not good now.

            2. Pete's Cafe at 4th and Main, American Comfort Food, High Ceilings, Fun Crowd, not pretentious.

              Royal Clayton's - deep in the Artists District Loft Colony, but very interesting, and shouldn't be very crowded early.

              1. not crazy about ZUCCA. not horrible, but not memorable and expensive.

                we like:

                BLUE VELVET...www.bluevelvetrestaurant.com

                2 Replies
                1. re: revets2

                  How's the parking at Blue Velvet?

                  1. re: slacker

                    valet is about $5. it was a snap. park on the street at your own risk.

                2. i really like cafe pinot....i would consider them more of calif cuisine than french. free corkage is a big plus for me :)

                  1. i also hear that j lounge is nice

                    1. I am not crazy for CIUDAD. The times I have been the service was not very good and, while the food was fine, the atmosphere is not so great either.

                      Something I like a lot, that has an incredible atmosphere, is TRAXX in Union Station. Union Station may be the most beautiful building in LA, and you can sit right in the lobby to have dinner (be sure to ask them to reserve a table in the lobby; It is much better than in the restaurant...although you can also eat al fresco on the patio). The menu is small but very good and I love to sit there and have dinner.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Tom P

                        i agree with traxx but i find the service to be little slow and that might not do if you are catching a show or game?
                        besides, if dinning at traxx...i would want to take my time

                      2. Has anyone done the happy hour at Zucca? Wondering if it's an easy in and out, for pre-game at Staples.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: slacker

                          Happy hour is sort of dead at Zucca (at least the times that I've been).

                          You can easily walk from Zucca to Staples.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Dead works for me, easier to get served hopefully. How's their happy hour food?
                            I've only been to Zucca once, for lunch, a long time ago when they were still kind of new, and thought the food was pretty good.

                            1. re: slacker

                              Food is pretty good and all of it is $4.

                              They have things like grilled polenta, sauted clams and mussels, and fritto misto. I think past 5 (or is it 6?), the kitchen begins to offer things like pastas and pizzas, as well as some meat dishes for happy hour.

                        2. I also recommend Roy's. It's a bit loud when you first enter near the bar, but once inside, I've never ever had a problem with listening to the rest of the group from across a table. The food is Hawaiian/asian fusion. Fish and the ribs are the signature dishes, as well as their desserts.

                          1. ok, will look into J lounge (i've heard good things as well!)
                            Zucca and Cafe Pinot (i'm a fan of the Patina familly)
                            and Blue Velvet.

                            I like Roy's but didn't feel like seafood, and was hoping for something
                            that wasn't a chain (I don't count Pantina Group, since each place is unique). Been to the Fashion Island locale a number of times.