Low-Budget California Cuisine - Oxymoron?
We're planning a weekend getaway to LA and would like to sample "california cuisine." We're looking for casual places with great-tasting food that won't break the bank. (We're not necessarily looking for "the best of"-sorts of places, just restaurants that serve meals that leave a smile on your face.) Also, we don't drink alcohol, so places where the wine selection is one of the main draws might not work for us.
Our searches of the LA Board for California cuisine discusssions are leaving us feeling that there is no cheap-eats option in this category. Are we wrong?
I think California cuisine is an outmoded term. If you search for Local or sustainable or organic, maybe you'll find the current versions of this style.
Are there any types of dishes you have in mind when you say California cuisine, or areas you will be based in?
I would suggest trying places like M Cafe de Chaya, BLD, Square One Dining, Clementine's, Joans on Third for casual dining using top-notch ingredients. And try to hit Loteria in the Farmer's Market for Mexican and some Japanese and other Asian places --now THAT's real Calfornia cuisine.
While the progenitors of California Cuisine like Campanile and Spago (and current stalwarts like Cut) will certainly not be low budget, I think it's important to note that the aesthetic and sensibility of that style has trickled down to more low-key places.
Would you consider the prices at Jar to be beyond your budget?
And while you don't drink alcohol, there's a beer pub in Santa Monica called Father's Office that's famed for their burger. Just in the same way that pizza was radically altered 20 years ago, it's the burger's turn, and so you should get in on the ground floor of the "gourmet burger" movement by dropping into FO for a visit. Also, the rest of the menu is pretty good.
Nook Bistro has consistently good food, service, and value. Check out their online menu and if the offerings and prices are attractive, definitely make a reservation. They are located in the back corner of a minimall on the S/E corner of Santa Monica Blvd. at Barry (one block east of Barrington) in West L.A., close to Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, far from Downtown or Pasadena.
Opus on Wilshire near Western would be one good example. While they used to feature a tasting menu you now have to ask / request it. $10 per course, which is a steal. The prices on menupages will be slightly out of date, but should be close.
“Low-Budget California Cuisine.” “...casual places with great-tasting food that won't break the bank.”
Cowabunga! I understand because too many times people think you have to sit in some “trendy” kind of place and pay Big Bucks to “Be $omebody” to enjoy real “California Cuisine” – No Way. I am going to give you the real deal of Cal-fusion with the flavors, presentations, and freshness which are the basis of making the food style worthy of attention. However, these are not classy sit-down restaurants but niehborhood places that serve a ton of food for a reasonable price.
Breakfast. Goat cheese Omelette w/ spinach and a large selection of outstanding coffees – the Peach Café. You can do the search if you want but this is good stuff – fresh!
Peach Café (Goat Cheese Omelette w Spinach & Scallions, Café Blueberry Cakes w/ a hint of orange, Crescent French Toast)
141 E Colorado Blvd
Monrovia, CA 91606
For lunch or dinner think of salad or pizza
These two salads are must see / must have items
Chinese Chicken Salad
California Chicken Café (Chinese Chicken Salad is as Cal / LA & Chinese fusion as can be. IMO, I have had the rest – this one is the best)
424 Lincoln Boulevard (South of Rose, North of Venice Boulevard)
Venice, CA 90291 SEE the link for 7 locations
Open Mon thu Sat – Delivery Closed Sunday.
California Chicken Cafe 7 locations & menu
Asada and Avocado Totasda (a salad / meal, in a large tortilla bowl) and a Kobe Bistro Burger.
Tops (The Asada Totasda is a large salad with very good freshly marinated asada and excellent field greens. This salad is topped with half of a thinly sliced avocado. Also very good here is the ½ lb. Kobe Bistro burger )
3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
Hey, Take a drive South along the coast through Huntington Beach and stop for lunch or dinner at the Pizza Bakery in Newport Beach.
Pizza Bakery (Thin crust pies & Slices. NY / California style -try the Margarita, Chevre and Long Island pizzas)
1741 Westcliff Dr,
Newport Beach, CA 92660
I'll second recommendations for Opus, Clementine, Violet, Urth Cafe, Peach Cafe & Coral Tree Cafe.
Others I'll throw into the mix are Marston's in Pasadena, Doughboys (though a bit more homestyle than Californian) and Breadbar. I've also heard good things about Meltdown etc. and Ugo Italian Cafe in Culver City, but haven't been yet.
links (LTAP is working again!!!)
Opus Bar & Grill
3760 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9, Los Angeles, CA 90025
1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403
3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292
945 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
8225 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048
502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
7450 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
2903 Rowena Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039
3221 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Square One Dining
4854 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Surfas Restaurant & Supply
8777 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
8565 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Joan's On Third
8436 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
13817 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91423
6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Beechwood - duplicate
822 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
6263 Leland Way, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Coral Tree Cafe
6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91303
7661 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
A Votre Sante
13016 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049
M Cafe De Chaya
7119 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
60 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
2138 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA
120 N Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
17th St Cafe
1610 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403
429 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Blue On Blue Restaurant
9400 West Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Ocean and Vine
1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401
8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069
And more links
151 E Walnut St, Pasadena, CA 91103
The Original Tops
3838 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
8136 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
1741 Westcliff Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660
12969 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604
8718 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
141 E Colorado Blvd, Monrovia, CA 91016
California Chicken Cafe
424 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291