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BH on Saturday: Nate n' Al or Barney Greengrass?

I'm going to Beverly Hills Saturday with a friend, and we're were stretched to think of good eats that wouldn't break the bank in the vicinity of Rodeo Drive. (We're heading out to catch up on sno:la and Paulette, but we want a real meal before all the sweets.) After much puzzling over what we'd eat in the neighborhood, the recent Top 10 Delis thread - oh, Chowhound is handy! - reminded me Nate n' Al and Barney Greengrass are in the neighborhood. But neither of us have been to either. Which would you guys recommend? And are there any other places in the immediate vicinity (cheaper than Frida, better than Urth Caffe and The Cheesecake Factory) we're missing?

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  1. Either would fill the bill from what you outlined above. How about Kate Mantilini? I still like the space and some of their food is quite good, (although I'll admit it is a crap shoot at times getting a good meal there). Is Tanzore too far away? They are on La Cienega.

    1. Barney Greengrass actually will break the bank most likely, but the food is good quality, the view is nice and you're sure to see someone famous. To me, it would be more of a splurge, but worth it. Get the chopped liver sandwich with frizzled onions.
      Nate 'n Als isn't the cheapest deli but it's good, much more casual coffee shop atmosphere. Get the brisket sandwich.
      What about the Venezuelan cafe on Canon -- is it Cafe Coupa?

      16 Replies
      1. re: Chowpatty

        Deli is never cheap. I've gotten used to dropping a twenty just on a pastrami sandwich, home fries, and a cup of coffee after tax and tip when I cross the park to Langer's. I realize cheap is relative when discussing deli. Under $25 or $30 per person total would be good.

        But a Venezuelan restaurant sounds very intriguing...

        1. re: Woolsey

          Here's a thread about it -- looks like one of the few places to get arepas in the city. I've been meaning to try it.
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/355427

          1. re: Chowpatty

            I just went a couple weeks ago and had a black bean and cheese (queso fresco or queso blanco? the crumbly kind) arepa. It was kinda bland. They do have a bunch of other flavors, though, and they have Chuao chocolate drinks -- I had a spicy iced cocoa. That was yum.

            As for delis, I love Nate n Al's, particularly for matzo ball soup. I hear Barney Greengrass is good for quality whitefish, lox and the like, but it's pricier (though they have a ridiculously cheap egg cream).

          2. re: Woolsey

            get a table outside at barney greengrass, and order the excellent egg scramble with lox & caramelized onions. then enjoy a leisurely stroll over to my beloved sno:la and have some fabulous fro yo for dessert :)

            of course if it was me, i'd likely take several detours along the way to do some shopping...

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Oh, that will be done. And maybe we'll find our way to Teuscher for some chocolate, too. Never been there. I expect an empty wallet and a bad bellyache by the end of the day.

              1. re: Woolsey

                don't forget to enjoy a toasted kossar's bialy with your eggs.

                enjoy!

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Well, I'll be skipping the eggs. Along with oysters and mushrooms, eggs are one of three things I never order. But the bialy sounds great...

                  1. re: Woolsey

                    oh man, those eggs are so good. you don't know what you're missing!

                    i hope you'll at least take advantage of the fact that they undisputedly have the best smoked fish in l.a. the sable is heavenly.

                    ok, how about a toasted kossar's bialy with nova, sliced tomato, red onion and a schmear?

                    damn. now i want one :)

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      That sounds good. It seems as if the eggs are a real star there, so my friend may get them, and maybe I'll taste them if they're ordered. Maybe.

                      With Langer's just across the park, the more differentiated Barney Greengrass is sounding more appealing...

                      1. re: Woolsey

                        i was raised on some of manhattan's finest....zabar's...always accompanied by h&h bagels and kossar's bialys.

                        barney greengrass is the closest thing i've found out here.

                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        holy shit i didnt realize they had kossars bialy's at barney greengrass.

                        my usual first new york meal is a russ and daughters run then, picking up at least 3 types of fish, then a walk up to ess-a bagel or kossars (closer)

                        my usual lunch spot in that area is sushi sushi for the best chirashi in town.

                      1. re: New Trial

                        appreciate the link...i can't believe i never read that particular little nugget. which actually probably would have been better because i can no longer eat bread :(

                        but hey, at least i know where to send everyone else now!

                        it was a little confusing, though...is there a "factory" other than the plant downtown? that's the way he made it sound. seems odd that they wouldn't produce the same product at both.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Yes, I was puzzled by that as well; perhaps they serve different sectors of the market. I only know of the location on Beverly, though. Of course, it sounds like I wouldn't want to try the product at the other location. Which reminded me that there was also an interesting sidebar on Brooklyn Bagel Bakery in the same Los Angeles Magazine piece which ranked the top ten delis (page 125), discussed here in another thread. That sidebar, I now note, discusses the two styles offered but only mentions the Beverly Blvd. location--hmm, I don't agree with his assessment of the evils of toasting, though. Sorry to hear about your bread ban.

                2. re: Woolsey

                  my mom's office is at beverly and wilshire, so i've definitely tried almost everything in the area at least once. That said, I really like CAFE COUPA.

                  i think one of the things to think about when choosing between barney and nate is the ambience you're seeking. totally different.. both hustling and bustling in different ways. the tables are packed much more tightly at barney and it's definitely more busy scene-wise and with the "wanting to be seen" folk. nate is also very busy, but it's more just busy with hungry people wanting a table *now* and wanting their food *now* from servers that have worked there *forever* and aren't at all motivated by your angst as a patron. of course, the booths are not packed in the same way either, but sometimes you get kids crawling on the booth behind you, or to the side, or joe blow too loud on his cell, or those patrons that feel it their job to yell in the booth next to you... so boothy/dinery feel or new yorky/tightly packed feel. you're call. also, the food to me at nate is more homey deli while barney is a little more trendy deli. just my 8 cents.

                  Belwood Bakery is also a great little place, as I love sitting out on the patio and people watching.

                  You could start your sweets tour at Fritelli's too! The pumpkin donut is really unique.

                  1. re: Emme

                    Frittelli's can be quite good - if one sticks to the cake varieties. (I loved the cranberry-orange one especially.) I found the raised doughnuts just weren't special enough, and they had sat around and had gotten stale on my last visit. But with Paulette and sno:la on the itinerary, I don't want to overload completely on the sweets...

              2. If you want the best fish and dairy, outside on the terrace at Barney Greengrass is the way to go. If you would prefer to have meat, Nate n' Al's is the better choice.

                1. Dinner at Kate's is pricier than Cheesecake (most of the Entrees are 20+).
                  El Torito Grill is close to Teuscher! ;) Champagne truffles are good!

                  Places I go for lunch/dinner with the co workers, but nothing spectacular:

                  North of Wilshire:
                  Sharkey's 435 N. Beverly Dr.
                  Il Tramezzino 454 N. Canon
                  Yu & Mi Sushi 9475 Santa Monica Blvd
                  Pizza Rustica 231 N. Beverly Drive
                  Nic's Martini Lounge 453 N. Canon Drive
                  Il Fornaio 301 N. Beverly Drive
                  La Scala 434 N Canon Drive
                  Il Forno 9705 Santa Monica Blvd
                  Frankie & Johnnie's 9533 Santa Monica Blvd

                  South of Wilshire:
                  Beverly Dr is pretty much all food- CPK, Champagne, Chipotle, Bossa Nova, Burger 90210, Mulberry's Pizzeria, Aram

                  1. Barney Greengrass won the day.

                    The 50ยข egg creams? Fantastic! I had to have had at least four. My friend had one, too. I think they forgot to charge us for at least two, but the cost of her coffee - $3.75! - more than made up for their gaffe.

                    I had the nova and sable appetizer combination with a bialy, which was very good. I don't really care for salmon, but I enjoyed the nova a lot. In fact, I found the nova quite mild; next time I might try the gravlax instead. I really enjoyed the sable more; it was the real highlight, with a nice flavor but not too sharp. Laid on that tasty bialy with cream cheese, tomato, and onions - very good.

                    My friend had the scrambled eggs with onions and nova, which I tasted. I'm not an egg eater at all, but I actually liked that. We each had a bowl of the matzo ball soup. The matzo balls had great flavor, but I've had more flavorful broth. I personally prefer matzo ball soup without the noodles and vegetable and meat and all. Still, at $7, the giant bowl of soup is a full meal.

                    Next time, I'd like a combination of gravlax and sturgeon if I can get one. I really enjoyed it. Thanks to everyone for the recommendation; we really enjoyed it!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Woolsey

                      i'm so happy you enjoyed it!

                      was i right, or was i right? that sable is fantastic...and i told you those eggs were good.

                      you said the nova was mild...did you mean in terms of fishiness or saltiness? if you try the gravlax next time, you'll likely enjoy it. very mild as well, and unlike nova, it's not smoked, just salt-cured. the dill from the cure is typically noticeable, an herb that complements salmon beautifully...which would explain why it's such a traditional/common pairing.

                      if you're interested, i posted about the difference between lox & nova on another board...of course it began as a plug for barney greengrass :)

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/446450

                      ok, back to your lunch. you even ordered the bialy the perfect way. i'm so proud :) but you didn't tell us about dessert...how were sno:la & paulette's?

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        scratch that...i just saw your sno:la review.

                        another convert. woo-hoo!

                        it really is the best.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I really enjoyed the smoked sturgeon at barney greengrass, so moist and smoky unlike one's I've had in the past. Highly recommended.

                          Gravlax I had on the other not the best, a bit dried out and not enough dill.

                      2. have to agree wit woolsey. if you want fish...and a much nicer ambiance go to barney's. if yu want snadwiches or eggs, go to nate's. nate's also has great split pea soup and a decent skirt steak. if it's a rainy saturday, the soup would be nice. now if you want pasta, il pastaio on cannon will do you right.