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Dinner on the Westside

I'm trying to come up with places to suggest for dinner for 3 old friends to meet on the Westside (West LA/Brentwood/Westwood or close by). If I leave it up to the friend who usually does the picking, we'll wind up at Cheesecake Factory AGAIN!!
I've already suggested Nook, Violet & The Counter. She has nixed all, and also doesn't like Japanese. (She can be a little difficult....)
Help me, please!

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  1. If she needs a "chain" to feel reassured then we have had good food at the newish Daily Grill on Colorado Ave. in Santa Monica (at 26th). Nice booths and good service.

    1. Haven't been there but 'ive seen a Houston's on Wilshire in Santa Monica, maybe around 5th or so.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bite Me

        Corner of Wilshire and 2nd st...

      2. how 'bout shamshiri grill?
        the menu is large and VARIED.
        the food is good.
        the prices are extremely reasonable.

        1 Reply
        1. re: westsidegal

          I second Shamshiri. The food is incredible and there's something for everyone. Some of their persian rices are delicious!

        2. If your friend's open to ethnic, but just doesn't care for Japanese, how about Akbar for Indian or any of the multitude of great Persian places. In Culver City, there's a smattering of new restaurants including Ford's Filling Station, Wilson's, and Tender Greens. Beechwood in Venice for drinks and pretty tasty small plates (better than the entrees). Pizzicotto in Brentwood is pretty good for someone with conservative tastes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TracyS

            Second the rec for Pizzicotto.

            Is the Glen too far out of your way? You've got Fabrocini's and Le Chine Wok (chinese not japanese)...

            For a chain, I like Sisley for their salads; I'm not endorsing any other items as I've only eaten salads there.

            Bandera is a relative of Houston's and might also work, though it might be a bit loud.

          2. 26 Beach in Marina del Rey might be a decent middle-ground. The menu is huge and has a lot of the things that cheesecake factory people would like, but there are also some things that a foodie would enjoy. It's not revolutionary, but it's reliable and well-executed.

            Other options... Lilly's in Venice, Chaya Venice, Monte Alban, BreadBar (in Century City mall)...

            1. She nixed Nook?! How about Orris? If the alternative is always Cheesecake Factory, it's time for you to be a little difficult yourself...

              PS: I echo the Houston's rec if it has to be a chain.

              4 Replies
              1. re: a_and_w

                Would Italian work? If so Cucina Paradiso @ 3387 Motor Avenue would be a good choice. Good food and about two minutes from the 10 Freeway off-ramps on Overland. Which reminds: Overland Cafe, on Overland @ Charnock is also pretty decent (good mashed potatoes) usually has good service and its a nice place to sit around and catch up. Unlike Cheesecake, the wait staff doesn't try and make you race through your meal so they can turn the table again.

                If your group is feeling a little adventurous, you could also try Darya, it's a good Persian restaurant @12130 Santa Monica Blvd. I'm partial to their Shirazi Salad and Juicy Chicken Kabob.

                1. re: thericequeen

                  Houston's would work. Food is better than Daily Grill

                  1. re: maudies5

                    Do they take reservations at the Houston's in Santa Monica? The CC one doesn't as far as I know.

                    1. re: tony michaels

                      No reservations taken. You submit your name and # of folks in your party to the list, and only when your entire party is present (and your table is ready) will they seat you...

              2. Cheesecake Factory -- get NEW old friends!

                I agree that Houston's is pretty good, and the booth is a cozy place to catch-up!

                1. thanks for all the suggestions. i doubt she'll try indian or persian...
                  i'm still hoping to convince her to try nook.

                  any other ideas? somewhere near west LA (ocean park/bundy area) towards her way home (studio city). so, some of those venice/culver city suggestions won't work for this occasion.
                  btw, it's for thursday nite...would we need reservations for nook (i still have my hopes!!)?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: luvgrub

                    Have you ever been to il Forno on Ocean Park? Good food, nice service and you would not need reservations. Reasonable prices, (except for some of the specials - which are normally good but another factor more expensive than the menu dishes so if one sounds good ask the waiter how much $ so you aren't surprised). They will bring you some really good bruchetta like topping for free with the bread - be sure to ask the bus boy for it if it doesn't show up automatically.

                    http://www.ilfornocaffe.com/

                    1. re: luvgrub

                      Definitely make a res for Thursday night at Nook -- it fills up fast. Why, out of curiosity, did she nix Nook? It is, after all, comfort food at its core.

                      1. re: a_and_w

                        This is a question that must be answered. I have a feeling that the reason this picky friend nixed Nook is that she just doesn't like good food. she prefers bad food. Like Cheesecake Factory food.

                        1. re: a_and_w

                          not sure why she nixed nook (she may be pms-ing), but i did make reservations in the hopes she rethinks. i think she'll love it. i was salivating reading the menu! i hope we go & have room for dessert!
                          i'll let ya know!

                        2. re: luvgrub

                          Bandera is at the corner of Barrington and Wilshire, within a mile of the 405 North, so she can get back to Studio City no problemo. Bandera is essentially Houston's half-sister, which is a good thing. Unless your picky friend hates upscale/good comfort food in pleasant surroundings that is freeway-accessable, there should be no problem..

                        3. luvgrub - Does Brentwood work? I know there are some really good Italian restaurants there. Perhaps someone will assist with the names, and one of them has a delicious assorted dessert plate.

                            1. Banderas at Barrington and Wilshire fun and owned by Houston group is good-great grilled artichoke. If you want higher end the best is Oseria Latini at Barrington and San Vicente.

                              1. For the not so adventurous...

                                http://www.cotrattoria.com/
                                C&O
                                31 Washington Boulevard
                                Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

                                http://www.oceanave.com/
                                Ocean Avenue Seafood
                                1401 Ocean Avenue
                                Santa Monica, California 90401

                                1. Is Pacific Dining Car out of the question? It would seem to satisfy most of your needs for location, freeway accessibility, and mainstream food.