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Mom is visiting- I need a fun restaurant in LA area- please help! : )

My mom and a dear family friend is visiting me in a week and I want a really fun place with great food and a great atmosphere to take them out to dinner. The only conditions are our family friend doesn't like any real exotic food (no sushi, tapas, thai etc..) so the menu has to be fairly tame and the price reasonable : ) ANY HELP WOULD BE GREAT!!!!

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  1. Any price restrictions, or minimums? Any geographical desires?

    Luna Park is fun and has a solid comfort food menu - mac and cheese, steak, spaghetti, smores dessert.
    http://www.lunaparkla.com/

    Dan Tana's is Italian & steak - very fun bustling atmosphere, on the pricey side though
    http://www.dantanasrestaurant.com/

    What about Mexican? El Compadre on Sunset or El Coyote on Beverly are both great and fun (the former usually has live music), and both are inexpensive.

    Keep in mind most "fun" places are also very loud places, so be prepared to use your loud voice while you're there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LisaStitch

      I second the Luna Park suggestion, very down home food and fun atmosphere. Definately ask for a booth on the side though because if you are in the middle of the restaurant its very very loud. I recommend the pork chops, they are soooo good!

    2. Luna Park is a good suggestion but feel compelled to warn that the food at El Coyote is really rank unless you down a bunch of margueritas first.

      A place that seems fun and mom-friendly and is pretty reasonable is that french restaurant (Monsieur Marcel) in the Farmer's Market on 3rd and Fairfax. A bit of LA history, a bit of Grove shopping, maybe a movie afterward or before? Food is solid French bistro -- nothing superlative but solid French food -- good for the conservative eater. It's right in the Farmer's Market so it's not super-quiet but has it's own cordonned off section so not as loud as some of the other places,

      3 Replies
      1. re: bite bite

        Hee hee "rank" - I don't think it's bad! I mean it's not special, but I think it's pretty great. If I had my choice, I'd go El Compadre, but I suggested El Coyote too since many CHers seem to like it, and it is fun.

        Monsieur Marcel is a good suggestion, but Geebers don't confuse it with Morels French Steakhouse, which is also a French restaurant but is in The Grove mall proper. I made this mistake once. Morels is good but pricey and not a place I would really classify as "fun."

        1. re: LisaStitch

          I just had El Coyote for the first time last week.

          I'm sorry to say that I liked it. Having spent a good portion of my growing up in the midwest it made me somewhat happy. It tasted like "Mexican" through the eyes of the people back home. Maybe not good, but strangely comforting.

        2. re: bite bite

          Hey bite bite - "rank" is the perfect word for El Coyote. Wouldn't recommend it to anyone for any reason. It would be a waste of an evening for someone from out of town with limited time.

        3. If downtown is an option, how about Engine Company No. 28? Nothing exotic, solid comfort food. (Meatloaf, chops, steaks, tuna, salads, etc.) Its in an interesting old restored firehouse, and still has the brass firepole. Warning: It can be pretty noisy at prime dining hours. I have enjoyed some of the pies for dessert, but the portions are huge even if you share.

          www.engineco.com

          1. Saddle Ranch on Sunset is fun. Parking is not. Kado in the Farmers Market is pretty fun--the cook puts on quite a show (it's like Benihana). Fun is subjective, tho. Le Petit Bistro is fun but not in the same way that Papa Christo's is. Papa Christo's is most fun on Thursday evenings when they do the Greek Wedding. If they like beer, Third Stop is fun. Sitting on the patio at Cat and Fiddle may not be fun, but is quite pleasant.

            1. Let me suggest NOOK BISTRO in Santa Monica.

              Smart, casual fare (think updated American cuisine) in a very relaxed atmosphere, with reasonable prices.

              It won't rock your world, but more often than not the food will hit the proverbial nail on the head.

              www.nookbistro.com

              3 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                I second Nook, but would also throw out Violet - absolutely outstanding food.

                1. re: hrhboo

                  violet's prices, though, are high.
                  (i.e. $5 for fries)

                  1. re: hrhboo

                    I "third" Nook, but it is loud (a nod to a comment about fun/social=loud).

                    I was actually disappointed with VIolet. We felt it was a little expensive for what we received.

                    Another rec is Fritto Misto. It's a neighborhoody Italian place in Santa Monica and close to 3rd Street Promenade (a typically touristy site out-of-towners enjoy with a derth of good places to eat right on the Promenade). It's very reasonable, and I consistantly enjoy the place (can also be loud). I don't know if this qualifies as "fun," but it's a place that I take my parents and in-laws to when they visit. I'm also not sure if they take reservations (we just go and wait a bit if we have to), but if not, go on the early side during weekends. It can fill up quickly. Don't have exact address but it's on the corner of Colorado and 6th.

                2. Would Musha be considered deep-end dining for your mom and friend? They're in Santa Monica and Torrance as well... Japanese but izakaya...

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    This would be perfect. Even if your family friend isn't into more exotic foods, there are definitely things on the menu he/she would like: the risotto, the kabocha croquettes, the green bean salad, and probably the pork belly.

                    1. re: mollyomormon

                      You hit the exact items I was thinking - but what scares me is that even tapas falls in the risk-averse category. Usually there's something for everybody at a tapas bar... And Musha is fun, not TOO loud, and interesting enough to most folks to be a memorable meal... Sometimes you just have to push the envelope for your friends' own sake, otherwise they will always think that places like Denny's are ok, and that you go to Outback when you really want to kick it up a couple of knotches...

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        We went there last night because I was craving it after this post. Had the spicy tuna dip, tofu cheese, garlic clams, and the pork belly. So tasty. Plus, we got to sit across the bar from Luke Wilson!

                        1. re: mollyomormon

                          You did well considering it was a Wednesday night... not bad at all...

                  2. My mom just visited last week from Chicago, she really enjoyed The Counter in Santa Monica.
                    http://www.thecounterburger.com/about...
                    The vibe is casual, fun & the staff is super nice. Also, they had an excellent halibut burger on special!

                    1. Maybe Cobras and Matadors. Second the rec for Luna Park.

                      Social Hollywood and Citizen Smith are both great atmosphere places.

                      1. Fun? I don't know what's considered fun these days. But, whenever I entertain moms/OOT visitors, Mastro's is my go to move. There's that guy who sings and plays the piano, and people dance on the tiny dance floor. People watching is grand, and you can keep up with what's en vogue in plastic surgery. But, I'm sure you know how pricey this place is.

                        Bandeira has the same mood, with a lively bar scene, live music, and is very reasonably priced. Good food too.

                        And, you should also consider the restaurants in Malibu (Allegria, Beau Rivage, and that loud Greek place).

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

                          The loud (though not always during the week) Greek place is Tony's Taverna.
                          I think Malibu is always a great idea for out of towners. And I often take folks to Duke's. There's a casual part called "Duke's Barefoot Bar." It's right on the sand and there are plexiglass "walls" that protect you from the water...as you're right on the beach with the waves often crashing your way. Great fun. Go early--get a table for sunset. It's a basic, light menu--salads, sandwiches, fish tacos--but good. And you can't beat the setting. I'd try to go during the week. On weekends, it can be a Pepperdine hangout.