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Best of LA: Order-and-sit-down spots

The comfortable *non-chain* in-between that doesn't have a good name to distinguish it... far more than fast food, but a notch less than full-waitservice restaurants, perfect for a lunch with a friend. Where you order at the counter, find a table, and wait til the staff brings it.

Along the lines of Auntie Em's Kitchen, Leaf Cafe, Coral Tree, Tender Greens... What places are out there in LA.?

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  1. Stonefire Grill (small chain)
    Corner Bakery (chain)

    2 Replies
    1. re: WHills

      I enjoy Fresh Corn Grill on Westwood Blvd. Good salads, grilled shrimp, chicken, veggies, pasta dishes, corn chowder, etc.

      1. re: WHills

        How is Stonefire Grill? What is good. I get their coupons on a regular basis but have not been.

      2. M Cafe de Chaya
        Lovebirds Cafe
        do u-Wink and Le Pain Quotidien count?
        yeah it's a chain, but I do like California Chicken Cafe

        8 Replies
        1. re: Emme

          I personally find Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) a great chain that seems very modest in its identity. To me, it's the model that any chain should follow, where its food and service does the talking, and not its branding. Although it's not order-and-sit-down (in fact, the staff at the pastry counter will direct you to engage one of the waiters if you want a pastry to eat there), I also feel it deserves a good mention.

          In a similar vein, Amandine in West LA, while not a chain like LPQ, seems to always take great care in their food and service. While not a destination eatery in most foodies' minds, I can't help but think of this place at least once a day for the great meals and pastries that I've enjoyed here. The quiches put to rest the motto, "real men don't eat quiche," as I would think "real" men or not, most would find their versions very tasty and substantial, as well as having croissants and other pastries that would please just about any Euro-phile...

          1. re: bulavinaka

            Amandine IS a destination for me. Usually for pastries and coffee, rarely for breakfest only because I live far away and it's hard for me to get their early enough for breakfest. Sometimes for a sandwich and sweet for lunch. One of the top 5 bakeries in L.A.

            1. re: sel

              From you and having read your posts, I can take this with the utmost respect...

            2. re: bulavinaka

              I couldn't have said this better, bulavinaka...and you couldn't have said it better, either. Le Pain Quotidien and Amandine are two of our favorites!

              I will add Paris Baguette Bakery/Cafe to this list (125 N. Western Ave.). We were there yesterday (trying to get there with our Clover coffee from Groundworks downtown...gone, however, before we made it!) and Paris Baguette is now featuring several more savory items that we had not seen before along with a few choices of divine looking shave ices (with fresh fruit, red beans, condensed milk).

              1. re: liu

                There is also a Paris Baguette in Buena Park in the Super 1 Hannam center on Beach Blvd. Approximately 5300 block of Beach.

                1. re: mlgb

                  Are they all pretty much in the same form? Is the Buena Park one beginning to feature various shave ice bowls for the summer?

                  1. re: liu

                    I did a quick reconaissance on my way to SuRah for dinner and didn't notice any shave ice bowls. Some nice looking pastries, desserts, and a menu board with sandwiches etc. Might have been the wrong time of day for shave ice if they did have it.

                    1. re: mlgb

                      Thanks for checking! The Paris Baguette on Western had a large poster at the entranceway "advertising" their various ice bowls -- with photos. We were there in the early afternoon on Saturday, so perhaps by dinnertime it would not still be outside.

          2. Two which immediately come to mind are: Clementine and Lemon Moon

            1. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that Joan's On Third would be at or near the top of the list. And Rose Cafe too if you order at the counter. (Funny, I think of these two places as sort of east/west counterparts to each other.)

              Also on Third Street is the relatively new The Little Next Door. (Another favorite on this board.)

              And I'll add a vote for Amandine as well.

              5 Replies
              1. re: QualityMart

                where's rose cafe? i'm on the eastside

                1. re: amandine

                  Rose Cafe is on Rose Ave between Pacific Ave and Hampton Drive in Venice...

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Stone Fire is GREAT and so are most of the Mediterranean restaurants (like persian and Lebanese not those junky israely dumps)

                  1. Does it have to be in WLA? Downtown LA has Pifire Pizza which uses that model.

                    1. I love Cafe Brasil! Great lunch or dinner place with really great food.

                      Two locations... one on Venice, the other on Washington.

                      1. Wow! this thread is making me understand more about the way I like to eat out. Walk in and order at the counter (no waiting for a server to ask what you want to drink). Then take your seat and settle in knowing you have done everything you can to seepd it up but not have to stress-out about "did they call my number yet?" They bring it to you pretty quickly because these kinds of places do not have the counter space to let food sit and stack-up. Good post!

                        Lunch plus DESSERT.

                        For sandwiches, salads, cake, cookies, shakes
                        7290 Beverly Boulevard (at Poinsettia)
                        Los Angeles 90036
                        (323) 939-6455
                        Mon - Closed
                        Sun, Tue – Thur 9 a.m.– 10 p.m.
                        Fri-Sat 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.

                        Fo dat ono kine grinz and da shave ice
                        Shakas (The best Bacon Fried Rice this side of the islands)
                        101 W. Main St. #C (Enter from First Street behind Starbucks Coffee)
                        Alhambra, CA
                        (626) 293-5520

                        Shakas (Sorry, no bacon fried rice at this location but plenty good grinz and shave ice)
                        2300 Garfield Ave.
                        Monterey Park CA
                        (323) 888-2695

                        Fried Chicken
                        Shakey's Pizza Restaurant (Very special fried chicken at this location).
                        1422 N Azusa Ave
                        Covina, CA 91722-1251
                        (626) 966-5819

                        Original Rinaldi's (Italian combo sub, Meat Ball sandwich, Hot Chicken sandwich, Turkey, liverwurst – on & on)
                        323 Main St.
                        El Segundo, CA 90245
                        (310) 647-2860
                        From N. Sepulveda Blvd go West on E. Grand to Main St.
                        From W. Imperial Ave. Go South on Main
                        Right across from the Fire Department

                        Salads or Chicken
                        California Chicken Café (The best Chinese Chicken Salad anyplace, great rotisserie
                        chicken, wraps) Closed Sunday.
                        7 locations

                        Burgers, fish& chips, Beer
                        Clearman's Galley (Aka, The Boat) Chili cheese burger, fish and chips, salad with great cheese toast, cold beer) Note, The Boat is being totally rebuilt but for now the menu is served at North Woods Inn M-F until 4:00 pm).
                        7247 Rosemead Blvd.
                        San Gabriel, CA
                        (626) 286-8284

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JeetJet

                          I have been to MILK only once, and I thought it was really good and REALLY rich! We shared a tres leches cake -- although our choice was just random as we could have tried anything in the case! The portion was very generous and the three milks were very distinct. With your reminder, JeetJet (love your name!), I would love to return to try something savory...a sandwich.

                          1. re: chuckles

                            Ah good call. I couldn't think of a non-chain place until now, and I'll certainly second this vote.

                          2. Okay, here's our list so far for all of you order-and-sit-down fans like myself.

                            Auntie Em's (Eagle Rock)
                            Europane (Pasadena)
                            Lovebirds Cafe (Pasadena)
                            Pitfire Pizza (DTLA)
                            Clearman's (San Gabriel)
                            Oinkster (ER)

                            Leaf Cafe (Culver City)
                            Tender Greens (Culver City)
                            Fresh Corn Grill (WLA)
                            M Cafe de Chaya <-- my next spot to try
                            Amandine (WLA)
                            Clementine (Century City)
                            Lemon Moon
                            Joan's on Third
                            Rose Cafe (Venice)
                            Little Next Door
                            Cafe Brasil

                            Coral Tree (chain)
                            Stonefire Grill (chain)
                            Corner Bakery (chain)
                            Famima (chain)
                            u-Wink <-- never heard of this one..
                            Le Pain Quotidien (chain)
                            California Chicken Cafe (chain)
                            Paris Baguette Cafe
                            Original Rinaldi's (El Segundo)

                            Awesome everyone... keep the suggestions coming and I'll update the list

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: amandine

                              uWink is in Woodland Hills and owned by the same guy who founded Chuck E Cheese, I believe. Oh look they've got a new website:


                              I have yet to go, as the reviews haven't been very positive, to put it lightly, but I do want to check it out.

                              1. re: SauceSupreme

                                Uwink is going downhill in the food category...

                              1. re: foodmonster

                                Yes I second that. Mmmm crab cake benedicts are always excellent there.

                              2. I'm a little surprised that no one has mentioned Honey's Kettle in Culver City. I guess you could call it a mini-chain, since there's one other in Compton, but it's quite tasty. It's not Amandine (LOVE that place), but it hits the spot for comfort food mid-day between meetings and traffic. The chicken is good, the biscuits are delicious, and drizzling both with honey and hot sauce is fattening perfection.

                                9537 Culver Blvd.
                                Culver City, CA 90232


                                1. Teri & Yaki Chicken House has some good soups. I like the dumpling soup, spicy chicken soup and the pot stickers. The Chinese Chicken Salad is good also and has a house made dressing that you would either really like or really dislike. The won-tons remind me of Feast from the East style. Many people like them because they taste great but to me they are heavy grease. The chicken meal with noodles is pretty good also. Good prices. I go to the Monrovia location 2 to 3 times each month. They have inside seating as well as outdoor. Sitting out front above the sidewalk is nice.

                                  Teri & Yaki Chicken House
                                  106 S Myrtle Ave
                                  Monrovia, CA 91016
                                  (626) 256-6705

                                  Teri & Yaki Chicken House
                                  319 S. Arroyo Parkway #9 (x-st. Del Mar
                                  )Pasadena, CA
                                  (626) 683-9865

                                  1. Susina Bakery! How could I have forgotten? That's my favorite when in Hollywood.