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Someone's buying me dinner...

...but the catch is I have to provide her a list of places to choose from! I know, what a wonderful chore. She said to pick whatever, but I'm guessing she's hoping for $50 or less for food and tax/tip, and J and I have offered to pay for whatever wine/cocktails the three of us drink.

So three people, West LA but willing to travel a bit, looking for a fun restaurant. Have already been to AOC, Opus, Fraiche, and Mozza, thinking about:


Any other great suggestions? My friend's favorite foods are probably pork chops, crisp/colorful/lightly dressed salads, and creamy desserts like creme brulee and panna cotta with fruit, if that helps narrow things down. I know Josie probaby won't be her choice but I threw it in anyway.

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  1. Nook. Very good and very reasonable. The Kurobuta Pork Belly App is great. Caesar salad very good (even better with the fried calamari on top). They do have a pork chop entree and I remember it was huge. I'm pretty sure they have creme brulee. I always get the chocolate pot de creme.
    Just had dinner at Abode. Loved it but I doubt you could get away with $50pp. Without wine maybe. I would say $75-80pp to be safe but so worth it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zoomchic

      Of course, Nook! I can't believe I forgot to add that that's the last place we ate with her. Great suggestion though!

      I'll look at Abode. We tend to share appetizers and desserts and all get entrees, so we might be able to do it.

    2. Pei, I think you suggested Pesce to me when you were based in the north and subsequently it's become one of our favored spots, so thank you.
      In that soulful Itali-cali vein, have you been to the Angeli Caffe on Melrose? Everything we had in a multi-course 'feast of seven fishes' was delicious, many of the dishes were variations of things on the regular menu--like a nice simple anchovy pizza-- which makes good use of a wood burning oven. Wines well matched to the food and reasonably priced. have fun

      1 Reply
      1. re: moto

        Oh, of course! Someone suggested to Angeli when I was planning my move back to LA, and it's subsequentl slipped my mind. Thank you for the reminder.

        I'm so glad you like Pesce; I'm adding it to my list for my next SF visit. It's one of my top 20 in SF, and that's a hard list to keep down to 20!

      2. I think it may be hard to stay under budget at some of the places you listed. Jiraffe is probably the best value of the list--and it is a great place. Anyway, based on the fact that you seemed to like AOC and Opus, I would suggest adding Mako in Beverly Hills to your list. Really good Asian fusion small plates.

        1. I'd toss a vote in for Pane e Vino as well. Good meat and fish dishes. Also, what about Jar in the same neighborhood.

          1. since you mentioned that your friend likes pork, as well as custard-style desserts, you might want to consider really good mexican.

            how about la serenata de garibaldi?

            or if that's not really your style, there have been a ton of recs on the board for 'orris'...

            1. Really fun is a moroccan feast at Moun of Tunis, where you longe on couches and watch belly dancers!

              No way Providence would be under $50 a person!

              I second Angeli Caffe. Great salads, good pizza and pasta, yummy desserts, afforadble, and on Melrose for fun afterwards

              I hear Grace is good for Pork.

              Have you considered Maison Akira in pasadena?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Diana

                Grace has wonderful Bershire pork. It'll be hard to get under $50 a person at Grace once you figure in apps and wine and so on, but Grace is IMO one of the best restaurants in the city and is definitely worth it.

                1. re: SauceSupreme

                  Would it be reasonable to try for under $60 without drinks?

                  I can pay for drinks, but I don't want her to pay more than $60 each for appetizers, entrees, and shared dessert.

                  1. re: Pei

                    Should be okay. Apps are on the order of 15, entrees will be 30, and dessert will be 10, which really is 5 if you are sharing. That puts you at 50 without tax and tip, so figure just around 60/person once all is said and done.

                    But again, one of the top restaurants in the city, and for me, constantly ping-pongs between Grace and Spago for top toque. A great special occasion restaurant.

              2. This is going to be more than $50 a person, but I should mention Dakota has great panne cotta.

                1. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! The $50 is just a rough guideline. She didn't set an exact amount, and if it went much over $60 J and I would just chip in for the balance. It's more important to get good eats than to stay exactly under $50, for once.

                  Plus, aforementioned friend just claimed a huge favor last night at 10p.m. I think she's feeling very guilty right now :) Just kidding. I would never exploit a friendship for the sake of free food...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Pei

                    for 50 bucks... I don't know very many good restaurants...

                    1. re: barcelona

                      That is the greatest tragedy of LA.

                      But I think that's making a really broad statement. The under $50 places might be hard to find, but they do exist.

                      1. re: barcelona

                        Really? I know TONS. Maybe not fancy in decor, but great food and wonderful service.

                    2. how about vincenti or angelini osteria?

                      1. Lucques on a Sunday night for their prix fixe dinner... Joe's on Abbot Kinney in Venice... Piccolo in Venice (right near boardwalk) for Italian... Musha in Santa Monica for Japanese izakaya... Sa Rit Gol in K-Town for Korean... Surya on Third Street in BH for Indian... Friday in BH for high-end Mexican... Kiriko on sawtelle for Japanese... Mizu 212 on Sawtelle for shabu shabu... Messob on Fairfax for Ethiopian... the list is endless.

                        For the record, I think LA is one of the easiest cities to find a great meal under $50, especially in comparison to other cities.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: glutton

                          As Emme said earlier, I think Jar might be a candidate.

                          They do a braised pork shank with apples that is a nice take on the traditional. THere vegetable sides are very interesting--I like the purple yams with creme fraiche and the pea tendrils with garlic. Nice selection of innovative salads and traditional, but with a twist, sweets.

                        2. Yum!

                          Other suggestions: Violet (based on your reviews, I think you'd like this place. Have you been yet?)
                          Joe's, Cafe del Rey, or Cucino Paradiso

                          1. Thanks everyone!

                            I think she's decided that we're worth a trip to Grace (it's so nice to be loved). I'm so excited!