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Must try Restaurants in LA

Hi fellow foodies,

I am coming with some friends from Toronto to LA for the first time in a while. We have only two days to spend there and we would like to experience some of the must try restaurants in LA. The upper end of our budget is about $200 per couple.

We are most interested in seafood, steak, Italian or uniquely Southern Californian cuisine.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


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  1. Where are you staying in LA, will you have a car and how far in advance of your trip is this?

    1. If you want really good food, I highly recommend Fraiche in Culver City. It's not your typical Italian food. http://www.fraicherestaurantla.com/

      I also recommend Joe's in Venice. Very good food. http://www.joesrestaurant.com/

      Both places should fit within your budget.

      Good eats,


      1. You are going to get allot of responses to this one my friend, but that must be a good thing as we are all pationate about our cities food scene. $200.00 will get you out of all of these if you are careful with the wine service and dont do tasting menus. What you will hear for must haves.......Sona, Aoc, Lucques, Bastide, Grace, Hatfields, Spago, Campanile, Angelini Osteria, Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, Fraiche, Ortolan, Craft, Boa, etc.....

        They are all good, in fact their all great and perfect representations of what we do best. Although some would have you believe that LA is a sushi town and it is...but we do other things well too. If I could only do two.....I would do Spago Beverly Hills because its a great scene, incredibly comfortable and the food is amazing and the good thing is that its ALWAYS amazing so you dont have to worry. Very Californian, with a Euro, Asian twist that is uniquely LA. And you will likely see Wolf working the room too and thats always fun. My second choice would be, this is a tough one and there will be hair pulling...... but Campanile. Its one of my favorite restaurants with a very cool room (request downstairs) farmers market driven food that changes daily with a few very popular items that stay from day to day. Mark Peel is also always behind the stoves and is an amazingly gifted chef that rarely fails to deliver. I love this place.. You will hear many other ideas but you asked about which restaurants are LA must try's and these two have paid there dues over time, are definately not trendy and in my mind they represent whats best about LA dining.

        1. i guess you can skip terroni's ... if you're open to sushi i really believe that LA is a mecca that TO probably can't match - also check the threads for good mexican - something else i think is uniquely LA and you wont' find up there in abundance - i also recommend fraiche - it just has the right mix of everything - great drinks, great food, great atmosphere - nothing earth shattering but it delivers and in a trendy town like LA that's worth something - of course i have to second the campanile and sona rec's cause they're two of my faves and also count as uniquely LA (unlike craft which is an NYC knockoff)

          1. Seems like you can get seafood, steak and Italian almost anywhere - I would instead limit my focus on the uniquely So Cal cuisine.

            Some places that spring to mind are high-end sushi joints (the discussion of which is the finest you can find on this board in spades), the incredible array of Chinese cuisine in the San Gabriel Valley or even the amazing variety of Mexican cuisines to be found in and around LA.

            If you have a car, maybe venture out to San Gabriel to try Babita or to the SF Valley for Asanebo, Nozawa or my new fave, Yuta.

            Or maybe just decide to blow all your cash at Urasawa and then eat at LA's greatest taco stands for the other meals?

            If none of these options fit the bill and you want to stick with your original strategy, then try either Craft or Cut for steak, Providence for Seafood, Spago for SoCal and/or any one of LA's gazillion good Italian restaurants.

            1. im going to second some of the others and add a few...

              seafood, i'd consider hitting providence, or if you just want simple seafood, head out to malibu seafood, for food and beach.

              steak, as has been said, is cut; however, the palm is pretty darn good too, and has some los angeles/hollywood history to it to boot.

              italian, there's several options in my book--via veneto in santa monica, angeli caffe, if you want to hit osteria mozza, that's another option

              as suggested, i'd make some time for a little mexican, even if it's just hitting monte alban, tacomiendo, guelaguetza, or la serenata di garibaldi

              also as suggested, i'd do some sushi--if you head over to the valley, i'm a big fan of tama. city-side i'd consider doing omakase at sushi zo. you could also do japanese at musha. [too bad urasawa eats out your price range...]

              thai is another good thing here--jitlada thai for southern and sanam luang for more traditional

              uniquely SC? hmm... primo's buttermilk bars, breakfast at the griddle cafe, the restaurant at the getty, inn of the seventh ray, the lobster, saddle peak lodge, hotel bel-air...

              my fave tasting menus--spago, bin8945, sona, providence's tasting menu

              other ideas--mashti malone's for rosewater ice cream, amandine for chocolate croissants, 3 square bakery, jin patisserie...

              2 Replies
              1. re: Emme

                Great post! Yes breakfast at the Griddle Cafe is a must.

                1. re: Emme

                  Emme pretty much nailed it. you can eat AMAZING in LA for $200 a couple. SoCal fare has different interpretations. Fraiche and Beacon are excellent Culver City SoCal influenced Pan-Pacific and French fares. You will need reservations at Osteria mozza or Pizzeria mozza unless you eat off hours at the bar. well worth it...

                2. I always tell people that one must-stop during any visit to Los Angeles is the 3rd Street Farmer's Market. Make it part of an afternoon stroll in that neighborhood: you can get seafood at Providence, or steak at Jar, or Italian at Angelini Osteria all without leaving the zip code.

                  The Thai Town suggestions are great, but there's also Koreatown and the various Japanese enclaves in DTLA, Sawtelle and the South Bay.

                  It's a shame Hungry Cat is closed for renovations: that's my usual seafood suggestion.

                  1. for steak (Craft, Jar, Cut) My favorite is Jar by far. The pot roast, duck fried rice, and pork belly are great.

                    Seafood (Watergrill, Providence)

                    Sushi (Omakese at Sushi Zo, Miro Sushi, Nemushira)

                    pan asian (Celadon, Mako, Orris, Beacon, Red seven at the Pacific Design Center)

                    small plates (Lou on vine, AOC, Vin at Valentino, bin 8945, Orris)

                    Contemporary (Josie, Michael's, Patina, Foundry, Spago, sona, Bastide, Ludo Bites at the breadbar, Grace, Lucques, Hatfields, Joes, Fraiche, dining room at the huntingon ritz carlton)

                    Italian (La botte, Angelini osteria, Enoteca Drago, Valentino, Capo, All Angelo, Osteria Mozza, Amarone)

                    French (Ortolan, Melisse)

                    Uniquely Southern CA....nothing really. Maybe Babita for mexican food.

                    There are tasting menus in koreatown with korean comfort food, southern style thai food, fancy Chinese food in the san gabriel valley, Japanese comfort food and kaiseki/wannabe style places like Kappo Ishito . Just tons and tons of places to eat. All of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

                    There is just a lot of food to eat.

                    A tasting menu at Bastide (w/ no wine!!) is 200 per couple. It is a 4 hour experience, but I hear it is quite good.

                    A late night pizza, appetizers, wine, and dessert at the bar at pizzeria Mozza is always a fun experience.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jlrobe

                      Did you mean Mori Sushi and Nishimura??