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The Best Bouillabaisse and Cioppino in L.A.?

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My enduring love for all things that swim, squirm, and filter means that my most ideal dish consists of a proper representation of all above. Hence, my obsession with the two rustic fish soups, the Bouillabaisse and Cioppino. I have thus set forth on a mission to taste and rate every single example of these two dishes in the greater Los Angeles area. If anyone could lead me toward restaurants that list either of these dishes on their menus, I would be eternally grateful. Feel free to include or exclude your personal thoughts on the experience- I will most likely try them on my own either way. Thanks!

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  1. I had a very nice Cioppino dish at Vivoli Cafe and Trattoria in West Hollywood. It's located in a mini-mall, but very charming inside.

    Vivoli Cafe
    7994 Sunset Blvd
    West Hollywood, Ca 90046
    (Two Block West Fairfax)
    323 656 5050

    1. So you wish to sample and rate "ALL" the Bouillabisse the Los Angeles area has to offer?
      Well here are 13 places to get you started:
      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      La Cachette - French - Century City-ish
      http://www.lacachetterestaurant.com/d...

      Chez Mimi - French - Santa Monica
      http://www.chezmimirestaurant.com/din...

      Frenchy's Bistro - French - Long Beach
      http://frenchysbistro.com

      Basilic - Swiss/French - Newport Beach
      http://www.basilicrestaurant.com/3932...

      The Arches - Old American - Newport Beach
      http://www.thearchesrestaurant.com

      Pascal - French - Newport Beach
      http://www.pascalnewportbeach.com

      Riveria at the Fireside - Continental - Westminister
      http://www.rivierarestaurant.net/dinn...

      Bistro 45 - Cal/French - Pasadena
      http://www.bistro45.com

      The Seashell - Seafood - Woodland Hills
      http://www.theseashellrestaurant.com

      La Dijonaise - French - Culver City
      http://www.ladijonaise.com/restaurant...

      Bel Air Bar & Grill - American - Bel Air
      http://www.belairbarandgrill.com/dinn...

      Barsac - Cal/French - North Hollywood
      http://www.barsac.com/3.html

      On the Waterfront Cafe - Swiss - Venice
      http://waterfrontcafe.com

      I look forward to reading your reviews and I'll leave the Cioppino spots to someone else. And no I haven't consumed all those Bouillabaises, I realize there are some great restaurants in that list and some not so great, and I hope they're all still in business.

      9 Replies
      1. re: JBC

        I would add Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at Mimosa
        http://www.mimosarestaurant.com/clien...

        1. re: chica

          After reading many fine reviews of Mimoso we finally went for the Bouillabaise and it deserves a place near the top of the worst restaurants in L. A. list. There was no lobster or crab in it to save money said the manager who served the dish and spilled much of it on the floor. The French onion soup and greasy pork appetizer and tough beef stew also are unworthy of mention.

          The late Delmonico's Seafood Grille on Pico Blvd. had great Zuppa Alla Pescatore, their version of Cioppino, but they and it are gone now.

          1. re: Barbara Ladden

            There's Delmonico's Lobster House in Encino, is that any relation?

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Used to be but has not been for around 5 years or so since Tony bought the Encino location.
              www.delmonicossteakandlobsterhouse.com

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                We once asked at Delmonico's on Pico about the Encino location and were told that the chef or cook left Pico and opened in Encino using the same name and menu but there was no connection between the 2 restaurants. The people we talked to weren't clear on details or wouldn't/couldn't give details on just what happened and the legalities. We'll never know.

              2. re: Barbara Ladden

                Would not deny your thoughts on Mimosa.
                Had as bad a meal for Bastille Day last year, yet went to Pastis 3 blocks to the west, south side of the street, and the place was packed, the food was good, and they were serving until at least midnight, yet Mimosa was closing by 10:30.
                In fact, went to a wine tasting dinner at Pastis this past Thursday, and the food continues to be very solid, and way beyond whatever that slop is that Mimosa passes off on people.
                But Mimosa looks nice!
                but so does Pastis, in an up-to-date Paris bistro kind of way.

            2. re: JBC

              Thank you for giving me so many locations to pick from! I was in Pasadena last night so I made a reservation for Bistro45 with the sole intention of trying their Bouillabaise. I recommend this restaurant for anyone and everyone. From the moment we walked in the door, the service was supreme (the kind where you water glass is never empty and you have a fresh folded napkin between every dish). We sat on the patio, which was nicely heated and with a very charming garden feel, full with a mini fountain and true ivy crawling up the walls. Their wine list was impressive, with a fresh suggestion for everyone of their main dishes. I took their red wine suggestion for my soup and the pairing was spot on. Finally; the food. Very very good indeed. The main portion of the soup was a monkfish, surrounded with mussels, clams, one large shrimp and two scallops. The monkfish was delicate, but the flavor was lost in the sometime spicy broth. The mussels were good, but not as large or delicate as I have had in the past. The shrimp was the biggest disappointment, it was cooked a little too long and was tough. But the scallops....oh the scallops! They were little mini custards, so soft and flavorful! All in all, a great suggestion and it has made my list of the top ten. The only one in LA that is better that I have tried so far is the one from La Cachette, which I tried months before and I still remember fondly. Thanks agan, happy Easter, and I will keep slurping and marching on with my quest!

              1. re: JBC

                had Mimi's this week and think that Jiraffe and La Cachette serve significantly better versions

                1. re: epop

                  I have been to La Cachette and I loved the entire experience. Their bouillabaisse was my favorite in Los Angeles so far (the best I have ever had was in Las Vegas and San Fran). However, I called Jiraffe two days ago, and they do not have a bouillabaisse on their menu right now, Is it a special, or have they just taken it off their menu?

              2. Pastis on beverly at Crescent Heights has a very tasty french bouillabaisse-
                also really like their mussels

                JiRaffe in Santa Monica on 5th has a cioppino that is either on their regular menu or else it is a special EVERY time I have ever been there. My dad and brother always get it.....

                2 Replies
                1. re: msmd310

                  i like their bouillabaise (jiraffe), never seen a cioppino there, and i go often.

                  1. re: epop

                    sorry- my mistake- I asked my father it IS bouillabaisse at JiRaffe ( I usually order their lamb chops)

                2. I recently had a LOUSY cioppino at Ocean Avenue Seafood.

                  1. 17th Street Cafe on Montana has a nice Cioppino.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: anothernotch

                      Seeing this post again, I am compelled to update my last post. My wife and I were recently back at 17th street and found to food, on whole, to be okay at best. I, however, would avoid the Cioppino - I was unaware that it was possible to deflavorize the dish.

                      1. re: anothernotch

                        I agree with you. Stick to Jiraffe, as they make a fine one

                    2. Me thinks you will be eating seafood stew for a long time.........looking foward to your ongoing reports

                      1. For the best cioppino you might as well go to where all the other cioppino-makers get their fish... there's a small eat-in area at Fish King in Glendale and they make fantastic cioppino.

                        1. Kings Fishouse has a great Cioppino & La Frite Cafe in Woodland Hills For their Boulliabase on Fridays in the fall & winter

                          1. I had a pretty mediocre version last week at Literati 2 in Brentwood. Much better version a couple of weeks before that down the street at Punch Grill in Santa Monica.

                            1. In the San Pedro/Rancho Palos Verdes area, check out the fresh cioppino at the old-school Admiral Risty. It has won several local cioppino contests

                              http://www.admiral-risty.com/Dinner.html

                              1. I haven't had it recently, but La Cachette's boillabaisse was exceptionally savory and delicious. One of the more memorable dishes I've had in L.A.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: alexfood

                                  i like the restaurant but found their bouillabaise decent but not
                                  particularly flavorful. prefer jiraffe's.

                                  cioppino: sor tino in brentwood has made a fairly good one

                                2. These are all pretty high end suggestions. On Abbot Kinney, south of Venice Blvd is the French Market Cafe. A fantastic little ex-pat place with a charcuturie menu and great coffee and pastries. They also serve a fish soup with crouton, remulade, and gruyere. The soup is a spicy, tomato, saffron broth with loads of flaked up fish (which I think is monkfish). It is essentially boullabaisse without the shellfish and its priced appropiately. I would eat a bowl of this anyday over some bland, overpriced, impotent attempt of this great peasant food!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: markethej

                                    I quite like the French Market Cafe. Very unpretentious -- typical Veniceites bring their dogs to the patio. Very home-y, like what a cafe should be in France, but writ beachy.

                                    Fish King's definitely not high-end, though -- I believe a bowl of cioppino is $6.

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      Another yes for French Market Cafe. The original owners sold it and took off back to France, but not before offering alot of guidance and assistance to the new owners (new as in about five years). The transition was nearly transparent, and people still flock to this place - locals and ex-pats alike. I have never been disappointed with any of their dishes, in fact find all of them pretty darned magnifique...

                                  2. You should also check out Soon Tofu joints in Koreatown, as it is an Asian rendition of a seafood stew. The best I've had is Beverly Soon Tofu, but people also like Sokongdong. BCD Tofu House is also open 24 hours a day, if you need a seafood stew fix at 3:30am.

                                    For traditional bouillabaisse/cioppino, I like Cafe Provencal in Thousand Oaks.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: SauceSupreme

                                      Do they all have tofu along with the seafood?

                                      1. re: broncosaurus

                                        It's been a few years, but we had an amazing cioppino at Moonshadows in Malibu. I know that's not a hot destination, but we dropped in and had a great surprise. We've not been back as DH hates to drive to Malibu, but the dish was solid.
                                        We also had a lovely fish soup more recenlty at Trattoria Olivia on Van Nuys in Sherman Oaks. Not the traditional cioppino, but a great broth with lobster and other fish.

                                        1. re: broncosaurus

                                          Yes, they make tofu daily, and in the soup it results in giving it body. Add in the poached egg for richness.

                                      2. Had a good cioppino at King's Fish House in Long Beach a couple of years back. The East Coast in-laws liked it was well.

                                        1. For a low-brow cioppino, try the Hermosa Beach Fish Market on Pier Avenue. For a more upscale version try the Enterprise Fish Company in Santa Monica.

                                          1. I will have to second Admiral Risty's cioppino. It is really good, the service is excellent and if you go at sunset the view is quite nice.

                                            1. The cioppino at Colori Kitchen is really nice. Nice broth, tons of seafood (no crab though--mussels, shrimp, clams, prawn, and a fresh filet of fish last time), great garlic bread. But the best part is the price: $22.

                                              It is a special, so you should call ahead to make sure they have it. Oh, and they don't serve alcohol, so you can bring your own with no corkage.

                                              429 W 8th St
                                              Los Angeles, CA 90014
                                              (213) 622-5950

                                              It's one of my favorite local places downtown (Other include the chicken pot pie at Woodspoon and the beef kebabs and baba ganoush at the Sultan).

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: baxter850

                                                I will second Colori's.

                                                1. re: tissue

                                                  I third Colori

                                              2. Every Friday night and Saturday they serve a killer boulliabaise at the Normandie Club Casino in Gardena....Go Figure!!! I would love the recipe.

                                                1. I have had Cioppino twice at the Pine/Broadway Long Beach location...the first time was UNBELIEVABLE and the second time EXCELLENT...the first time I believe the broth was slow cooked longer so it was very complex, but both times the flavor was amazing. I have Cioppino all over, and this has been the best broth I have tasted, by far.

                                                  If anyone has had this, and thinks another restaurant's Cioppino is better, I am interested to hear....

                                                  -----
                                                  King's Fish House
                                                  100 W Broadway Ste 1000, Long Beach, CA 90802

                                                  1. Church and State has a very nice although not inexpensive Bouillabaisse.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: JAB

                                                      I second Church and State. I really loved their bouillabaisse. It was like perfectly cooked seafood in lobster bisque.

                                                    2. Clancy's in Glendale has the best soup base for their cioppino. It could use a couple more crab legs in it - I have been thinking of sneaking some in my jacket pocket to supplement.

                                                      1. Church & State.

                                                        1. No mention of the Friday night bouillabaisse at Pann's ( www.panns.com )? From the menu: "Prepared to Order Large Tiger Shrimps, Clams, Jumbo Scallops, Fresh Fish, Aromatic Vegetables and Rice Pilaf Cooked in a Light Broth Served with Garlic Toast ... 13.99."

                                                          I've never had it, because I invariably get the clam chowder on Fridays (with either fried chicken or southern-fried pork chops), but I've always wondered. Hmm. This is Friday, so a quick answer might determine my dinner.

                                                          -----
                                                          Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                                                          6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Harry Nile

                                                            I was just about to recommend Pann's. I, too, go there on Friday nights for their fantastic Clam Chowder. A big bowl of steaming seafood has never been my thing, but I have to say that if one could taste appearance, their bouillabaisse would win the pageant. There's so much seafood, it looks ready to climb out of the enormous bowl. At the price, it's worth a try. And have their biscuit on the side. OHMIGOD Pann's biscuits are incredible!

                                                            1. re: fashunchik

                                                              We thought Pann's bouillabaisse was pretty amazing, considering a coffee shop would even offer this. It's not the best that we've had, but it's still good. Throw in a side of wings and we're all set. :)

                                                          2. I am excited to see this thread and try some of these. I am almost embarrassed to admit I had a Cioppino that I adored once at Gladstone's. . . not a place I usually enjoy the food. Anyone who might have once had that dish when it was on the menu know which of all these suggestions is closest? What I ate was full of warm, savory spices, and a multitude of seafood,felt rich and worth sopping with bread, and not oily or heavy. I have since tried a few cioppinos and gotten a too-sweet, not spicy, unsatisfying dish each time, except one old-school place I went in Denver! It's put me off trying, but this is a great list.

                                                            1. Had Le Cacchette's bistro's bouillabaisse for the first time. I'm disappointed to see a great restaurant drop so much in ambiance. They used to have one of the last enjoyable dining rooms in California, where every table was given space and a view. Now it is the same old let's make a cafeteria look fancy by lowering the lights and stuffing you into a corner.

                                                              The Bouillabaisse was totally different than before in their old space. So thick it was almost a gumbo (I tasted no fennel or saffron but I guess it was in there).

                                                              The service was annoying. Disappointing overall. I will write up a longer review.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: epop

                                                                11061 Los Alamitos Boulevard, Los Alamitos, California 90720.

                                                                Being from the NorthWest, I wanted a tast of home. The Cioppino was very good and harty. From LA it is worth the drive. Other seafood on the menu are very good as well.
                                                                <http://originalfishcompany.com/index.htm>

                                                                1. re: epop

                                                                  my take on the La Cachette Bistro's bouillabaisse was that the predominant flavor was one of butter/richness/fat.
                                                                  Hardly tasted saffron nor fennel;
                                                                  the fish they used, though, was top-flight and the flavor of the fish DID come through.

                                                                2. A couple of recommendations here from 2009 for Church and State. My wife had their bouillabaisse a few months ago. It had a decent broth and a sizable amount of fresh shellfish but it had very little, if any fish. Good, but not really bouillabaisse even w/ the requisite saffron aoli & toast. The server explained that the chef uses only the freshest ingredients. Which made perfect sense, what w/ LA being so far from the ocean. Despite that, C&S is a terrific resto.

                                                                  Didn't see Musso & Frank mentioned, so I will Very good cioppino on Fridays. Old school Hollywood w/ consistently well done classics.

                                                                  1. The Bouillabaisse at CHURCH AND STATE downtown is simply incredible. Incredible !