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Hole-in-the-wall French place?

Is there such a thing in LA?

When we folks here talk about hole-in-the-wall finds or discoveries, they're usually ethnic dives of Asian (e.g. Chinese, Korean, SE Asian), Mexican or Central American persuasion.

Or they even might be the good ol' American hole-in-the-wall joint. Like that (formerly) undiscovered hot dog stand, or a BBQ shack serving their secret sauce on the tri-tip sandwiches.

But, is there a FRENCH hole-in-the-wall joint out there? A sort of hidden, no-frills nook that offers up well-made French onion soup or a properly prepared salad niçoise served with a nice crusty bread.

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  1. I'm not sure if you'd call La Vie hole-in-the-wall but it's tucked in a strip mall with no ambience, but the food is solid traditional, and the price is excellent--less than $20, salad & soup included. If you're craving French onion soup, escargot in garlic butter, duck l'orangerie, chocolate souffle...La Vie is the place!

    La Vie
    2547 San Gabriel Blvd
    Rosemead, CA
    Phone: (626) 571-1180

    1 Reply
    1. re: fdb

      I second that... I saw the thread title and immediately thought of La Vie. For French food, it is about as hole-in-the-wall as you can get, I'd say. In fact we were just thinking of going there this weekend! Your description is very accurate.

    2. 1. Le Chef in South Gate, off Firestone Blvd in the El Paseo shopping center. Go for lunch: Beef Bourginone for under $10.00
      2. Frenchy's Bistro in Long Beach on Anaheim Blvd. More formal than Le Chef, I don't know if it actually qualifies as a hole in the wall, but, they do everything very well.

      1. I ate at a place a couple of years ago on Garfield Ave. in Monterey Park. It was maybe a half mile north of Shaka's on the West side of the street. I don't remember the name of the place, but it is fairly small. IIRC, a 3 course meal was ~$20, and was surprisingly good.

        1. couldn't get more hole in the wall than this place


          great ambiance and super attentive waiters.

          3 Replies
          1. re: summerteeth

            Cafe Marguerite
            123 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90292-5153 (Venice)
            Tel: (310) 822-5379

            As hole-in-the-wall as it gets.
            Treat you like dirt.
            Excellent bread.
            Get their escargots, steak frites, carré d'agneau.
            With a glass of rosé de Provence, bien sure!

            Place systematically ignored by this board, which probably means it's good!

              1. re: waterisgood

                Not too sure what's your idea of "whole-in-the-wall" prices.
                Prices like Arturo's Tacos in Avalon & Gage? Certainly not.
                Dino's? Nope.
                El Parian? Getting closer.

          2. I don't know if Le Marmiton on Montana counts as "hole-in-the-wall," but it certainly is a tiny place with a cute little sidewalk patio service...

            Solar de Cahuenga is kind of easy to miss at Cahuenga and Franklin, but really good IMO.

            I like Cafe Marly, but again not necessarily hole in a wall...

            1. Le Petit Cafe
              2842 Colorado Ave
              Santa Monica, CA 90404
              (310) 829-6792

              Menu: http://losangeles.menupages.com/resta...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Servorg

                I'll second this one. A real hidden gem.

              2. L'Affair

                or Le'ffair??

                In Panorama City/ Mission Hills.
                11024 Sepulveda Blvd.
                Mission Hills, CA 91345

                1. I third Le Petit cafe. Jonathan Gold said this might be some of the best most authentic (paraphrasing here but not much) French place in LA. It's very unassuming and has exquisite food.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: wideeyedraven

                    I have never understood Jonathan Gold's opinion. I just checked the menu again, and it has not changed since I was there.

                    While they have escargots, and some French themed dishes, blackened salmon and crabcakes are hardly French. It really is more like a "Continental" menu circa 1965.

                    I am not sure that ,with the exception of Marmiton on Montana, which is not a restaurant, there is anything French restaurant in Los Angeles. There are places that have, like Le Petit, menu items which are French themed, but not French.

                    For interest, check out the France board, particularly some of the contributors like Souphie.

                    1. re: Paliman

                      Well, not Jonathan Gold here. Sorry about that.

                      This French gal loves Le Petit Cafe, even if they do have American stuff because: their escargots are very good, so is their confit de canard, and their desserts are very good. It's not extraordinary but it's comfort food alright when I need a fix. AND they refill your bread without having to ask for it. .

                      I used to adore Cafe Beaujolais but haven't been in years, so I cannot say anything about it. I remember super authentic simple French fare, the kind you get in the country when you go out on Sunday for lunch, not fanciful trendy for the hip crowd.

                      I avoid Lily's because the service is terrible (food is good but I hate waiting for 50 minutes for my food to come and the bread is atrocious) Cafe Marly is sub par, Monsieur Marcel grotesquely overpriced for what it is , and that place on Vermont is terrible.

                      So when I feel homesick and don't want to bother cooking at home, it's either: Le Petit Cafe, or La Dijonnaise (which is OK and not too expensive, close to me and has easy parking) and lately Little Next Door. The latter cannot be considered hole-in-the wall joint (and probably not La Dijonaise either?). French piece of trivia: Johnny Halliday had his B-Day at Little Door.

                      I don't think Providence or AOC can be considered French either but if I want to go toward this end of the spectrum (contemporary Frenchified trendy), well it also satisfy that kind of cravings.
                      Juste mes deux centimes, merci!

                  2. Hole-in-the-wall French? Favori in Santa Ana is just the ticket. Their menu is half French and half Vietnamese, and both are excellent. And the prices are amazing. I don't know if they have French onion soup, but they have a great bouillabaise.

                    The link has their menu. I know Santa Ana might be far, but I go there from Santa Monica any chance I get.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Ogawak

                      do you have the link to the menu at Favori, thanks?

                      1. re: kevin

                        Sorry, I guess the "link to a place beta" didn't work.


                    2. Probably not undiscovered, but often packed with french speakers, and fantastic rack of lamb and frites -- Le Petit Bistro on La Cienega.

                      1. i'm not sure if mistral counts as a hole in the wall. its definitely a 'blink and you'll miss it' place, but the food is spot on. a little pricey for a hole in the wall though.

                        1. They have, and probably still do, salad nicoise, small, but are best kmown for their chicken offerings:

                          Le Petit Jardin
                          1456 So. Robertson Blvd., L.A.
                          (310) 278-5294

                          1. I like Bistro de l'Hermitage in Culver City.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Cinnamon

                              Very underwhelming food; I had the lamb stew which was very heavy in chunks of carrots - the sauce was good but the lamb meat itself was dried out. Weird mixture of green beans and blonde green beans which were stringy. Mme Zoe had a salade Nicoise which was not salad and not Nicoise with a lumpy vinegarette. That said, the service was very nice and the terrace is delightful, however I would not return because the food is not up to par.

                            2. My idea of a hole in the wall restaurant: it’s in a storefront/strip mall building, smaller than larger, is inexpensively maybe tackily/badly decorated with older tables and seats. No guarantee, but it probably has been there a long time, meaning it has pretty good food at good prices. Think El Toreo in Old Town Pasadena. In Paris, I think of a creperie that cooked and prepared in the front window, was long and narrow with rustic rugged dark wood tables, booths, and chairs, filled with cigarette smoke, but good food and inexpensive.
                              Haven’t been to all the restos mentioned on this topic (thanks for the input), let alone all the French restos in LA. Of those I have tried:
                              La Vie in Rosemead gets my vote.
                              La Petite Restaurant, Le Petit Bistro definitively don’t qualify. They have good food at a good price but not the ambience. La Petite Café is a just little to nice to qualify. Also, the one time I ate at La Petite Café the food was prepared more American than French and not that good.

                              1. The wife and I ate at La Vie last night. All of the dinners begin with a small loaf of crusty and warm bread (we had three of them), soup (last night was a tasty puree of mixed vegetables), salad (simple butter lettuce with one berry-sized tomato and a very good dressing), then there's the entree and coffee. My wife had tarragon chicken from the menu and I had the roast pork loin special. I liked mine better because the pork was very tender in a nicely seasoned gravy, with slices of apple on top; her's was tasty too but the chicken breast was a little bit dry. I think that's only because I was comparing it to the pork. The vegetable accompaniments were snap peas, sliced potatoes (her's was rice pilaf) and a puree of squash. The veggies were all fresh, simply prepared and tasted nice and pure. In fact every item of food had clean, distinct flavors that evidenced careful preparation. All of the dinners were under $20, Service was fine. As far as ambience: it's a simple, rather small but clean room and everyone was dressed very casually - most of the men had on shorts, including me. If there is any complaint, it is that the serving sizes are not real large but for the price, what do you expect. This place, even though it is not fancy, is quality over quantity. The wine list is decent, fairly priced, but nothing to rave about.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: monkuboy

                                  anyone have an address for la vie never could seem to find it. is it in a mini-mall? also, is it open for lunch too? thanks.

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    Yes, it's tugged away in a mini-mall, south of Garvey on the westside of San Gabriel Blvd. Dinner only.

                                    La Vie
                                    2547 San Gabriel Blvd
                                    Rosemead, CA
                                    Phone: (626) 571-1180

                                    1. re: fdb

                                      no wonder why i didn't find it. i kept looking on rosemead blvd rather than san gabriel, thanks.