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Japanese friends in town-need USA food in Hollywood

I have two Japanese friends in town--one is in her 40s and her mom is in her 60s. Where can we take them for an American food experience near Hollywood...maybe a diner, BBQ place, brewery, etc.??? Someplace not very noisy (language is a challenge), not too expensive, but fun.

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  1. Sorry, LA has no diners but there are some good Cafe's in Hollywood. My fav is one of the last real Doogie style cafe's left -- Mel's on Sunset. You may even notice Stars if you look through the sunglasses and hats.

    Very good breakfast, salads, burgers and shakes.

    Mel's Drive-In
    8585 Sunset Blvd
    West Hollywood, CA
    (310) 854-7200
    (Cross st. La Cienega Blvd.)
    Open 24/7

    1. Musso & Frank Grill is an old Hollywood classic, situated on Hollywood Blvd.

      6667 Hollywood Blvd
      Los Angeles, CA
      Phone: (323) 467-7788

      1. Musso and Frank's
        Lucky Devil's
        I think Wood Ranch BBQ could be too noisy, depending on when you go.

        Don't all Japanese people love Lawry's Prime Rib? There's always at least 1 busload of tourists there when I get dragged there (I hate prime rib)

        1. Hungry Cat


          101 Coffee Shop

          The Bowery


          1. 25 Degrees
            Cobras and Matadors might be fun
            Angelli Cafe
            Village Idiot

            3 Replies
            1. re: Emme

              food may not be the greatest but dinning at house of blues on sunset might be fun...and catch a show afterwards
              or....go for good american prime rib at lawry's down the street

              1. re: rickym13

                also they might get kick out of going to places like:

                orig tommy's after midnight
                pinks hot dog
                king taco

              2. re: Emme

                I would avoid Cheebo. I had bad service there and it can get pretty loud. And I love the gays myself, but Cheebo tends to have a very gay crowd, which may or may not fly with your older Japanese friends. My then-boyfriend was very uncomfortable.

                If you plan to take them out during the day / for lunch, I'd recommend Toast or the Griddle.

              3. Second the Musso & Frank rec -- it's great old Hollywood. In that vein, Dakota at the Roosevelt Hotel is a great room. Be careful though, some Japanese tourists (especially typical middle-aged ones) won't necessarily "get" the hipster appeal. A lot of Japanese tour groups hit more commercial places like Lawry's, and they love it.

                As a side note for quick lunch, we took older visiting Japanese relatives to Fatburger & they had a great time.

                1 Reply
                1. re: alexfood

                  They do have Lawry's in Tokyo --- if they are from Tokyo, you may want to ask them if they've been there before (surprise surprise, they also have Sizzler, TGIF, Shakey's, Coldstone, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Subway and all the other chainy places). I just took a few friends visiting from Tokyo to Father's Office. It gets loud at night, so I made sure to go when they open in the afternoon - they loved it! I've also taken some visitors to Luques.

                2. I would recommend a great steakhouse, ala Cut, Ruth Chris or Mastro's. It may be expensive, but would be cheap in comparison to what they would pay in Japan. Steak is always a first choice for people from Japan. Also second the Lawry's rec.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Ogawak

                    Not expensive is one of the requirements. We used to live in Japan so I know steak is expensive there but unless things have changed, they also have a deep distrust of American beef. (American beef is very cheap to buy in Japan--we ate steak all the time there.)

                    Mel's looks cute online and is that theme type of place I'm looking for.

                    Without looking up all of the above suggestions on the internet, do any of them specialize in BBQ like ribs and pulled pork etc. in a fake rustic setting?

                    1. re: bohemiana

                      For themed fake rustic setting and Southern food (ribs and grits etc)... you'll like the House of Blues. But noise could be problem.


                      1. re: bohemiana

                        Not sure if these are the kinds of places you want, but I might recommend Vitos Pizzeria on La Cienega above Melrose. I'm no pizza expert, but it's the best thin crust I've ever had. All the guys there are warm and friendly, Vito sits in the back calmly spinning pizza dough.

                        Also no one has mentioned Roscoes Chicken and Waffles on Pico near La Brea

                        As far as BBQ in that area, you may have to go a little south on Crenshaw below the 10 Freeway.

                        1. re: bohemiana

                          How about Citizen Smith or Big Wangs on Cahuenga

                          Citizen Smith - try the mac n cheese, management changed so don't know if it's good anymore, they have had mixed reviews though from quality of foods and service, but I was there last year a few times and did not have problems with either.

                          Big Wangs - casual sports bar, have BBQ meats, pizzas, Quesadilla etc, but it may be too loud as it is a sports bar, but not "chain-like" bars such as Yankee Doodles. Good thing is they are inexpensive and lot's of big screen TV's.

                          Cinespace - Movie and dinner all in one space, you may need to call and check the schedule, otherwise it's a cool space.

                          Hollywood and Vine Restaurant - kind of 1940's feel with modern touches, food is decent.

                          Good luck

                          1. re: dshm

                            Big Wang's is so frat boy cheesy. Might as well go to a Hooters.

                            Luna Park would be great for lunch - American comfort food, not pricey. Avoid during the dinner rush - it gets really loud.

                          2. re: bohemiana

                            Zeke's might work for you. Reasonable and decent barbecue (I particularly like the pulled pork), pleasant, relatively quiet casual atmosphere, and pretty "American" all around: http://www.zekessmokehouse.com/

                            1. re: bohemiana

                              This sounds like a job for the "OINKSTER"! Really, this could be the place. Pulled pork sandwiches and excellent burgers. Check out a recent thread on this place:



                              1. re: tony michaels

                                I would love if Oinkster were closer to Hollywood. Alas, going up to Echo Park and then cutting over the 2 isn't as easy it should be.

                                1. re: SauceSupreme

                                  Agreed. I was just recommending it here as a one time, special occasion place that would show off some unique retro style "Americana" to the OP's guests from Japan.

                              2. re: bohemiana

                                If you want barbacue consider Zeke's

                            2. What about Ammo? Fresh,seasonal, mostly American, not very expensive. We had a dinner there recently after a long absence and it was quite good.

                              1. diner = Swingers, Cantors or the newly reopened DuPar's at Fairfax Farmers Market

                                BBQ = Zeke's Smokehouse

                                brewery = hmmm, Gordon Biersch (closest = Burbank)

                                1. langer's for a killer pastrami sandwich.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: wilafur

                                    Thank you for all your suggestions!!! It ended up being my friend in her 40s and two of her friends, not her mom.
                                    We had cocktails (happy hour) at Mirabelle. They loved the apple martinis.
                                    We had dinner at Mel's. They seemed to like it. One had the turkey dinner, which surprised me because I don't ever remember seeing turkey in Japan. One had a pot roast sandwich and another had the chiliburger. Curly fries all around--those were the biggest winners. Lots of photos of the size of the servings! My husband and I had excellent burgers cooked medium rare and juicy. Thanks for the recommendation.

                                    1. re: bohemiana

                                      Glad to hear you had a great time. I myself want to check this place out now.

                                      1. re: SauceSupreme

                                        I'm always late on finding threads I can throw my 2 cents worth into. I guess your friends may be leaving before Sunday, but I was thinking they might like (or not) the House of Blues' Gospel Brunch. It's not quiet I'm sure, but I've read a fair number of Japanese enjoy gospel music. Not as inexpensive as I'd hoped, but just mentioning it as an option. http://www.hob.com/venues/clubvenues/...