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LA Restaurants

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Need - Hot! Happening!Fabulous!Delicious Restaurants for a New Yorker who lived 15 years ago in LA.

I have been away from LA for a while now so I feel out of touch with the great restaurants that are the now hot spots. I am visiting LA next week so would appreciate anyone's don't miss this restaurant while in town list along with any comments about their favorite hot spot. Food is more important to me than scene but a good scene is always fun. I will be in Santa Barbara and Orange County as well so if anyone has a good restaurant in these areas that I shouldn't miss please tell me. All cuisines are acceptable - no dietary restrictions I'm on vacation. Thank you.

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  1. In Santa Barbara my favorite place to get a patty melt is Sambos.

    1. m
      Mike Kilgore

      Haven't been yet, but this past Sunday, Irene Virbila in the LA Times Magazine, reviewed Josie, at 2424 Pico in West LA. It came across as creative and delicious without being over the top, and the look of the restaurant sounded great too. And the cherry on top for me was that the place sounds like it is reasonably quiet. That is a huge bonus to my 60's rock concert damaged hearing and daily jangled nerves. On the other hand, if you don't mind noisy, go to Chinois on Main Street in Santa Monica. The food is wonderful. If that is of interest I would do a search on the main Chowhound page and find some of the posts that talk about individual dishes at Chinois. Hope you enjoy your visit. Bon App.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mike Kilgore

        Josie Restaurant at 2424 Pico blvd santa monica is a must. dinner will take about 2 hours, every course is a treat on its own. I eat here about once a week. you won't be disapointed.

      2. In Santa Barbara my two favorites are the Palace Café on Cota for Cajun/Creole and Citronelle in the Santa Barbara Hotel. Everything is good; order the bread pudding soufflé when you order your main course, as it takes 20 minutes to bake. Citronelle is Michel Richard's place. I've never been disappointed there. I remember a wonderful swordfish, delicately seasoned and moist, with a beautiful presentation, nicely accompanied with seasonal veggies. If you lived in LA 15 years ago, you know Michel Richard's reputation for desserts. Have a great trip!

        1. The scene-iest restaurant I know in L.A. is Les Deux Cafe in Hollywood, opened a couple yrs ago by the infamous Michele Lami, who walks around the place smoking cigarettes and trailing silk like a French Morticia Adams. It's smack in the middle of Hollywood but has a very pretty garden and nice converted-craftsman house dining room. Don't let the doorman intimidate you -- just walk right in. He doesn't actually stop anyone from entering. Inside you'll usually find a celeb or two, Madonna used to be a frequent guest, and plenty o attitude.

          As for the food, it's traditional French and usually good. But way way overpriced. (If you're from NY the prices may seem normal, but in L.A. a hundred bucks a head usually means you're at a top restaurant, cuisine-wise, which this place really isn't.) I had dinner there recently and enjoyed my grilled sardine appetizer -- by far largest sardine I've ever seen. Also, impressed with the cheese plate. But my lamb medallions were too chewy and not tasty... I did manage to find a good bvottle Languedoc for under $35 -- difficult on the pricey wine list. Turned out they served same wine by the glass...

          The service: notoriously slow and uneven.

          All that aside: I highly recommend the place if you're looking to have a good time dining alfresco and make fun of trendy L.A. scenesters.

          Enjoy your trip.

          1. Maggiano's in Costa Mesa is one of the best Italian places in Orange County. Here's the web site:

            http://www.maggianos.com/index.htm

            The gnocchi is really good, as is the new york steak,
            contadina style (w/ grilled peppers, mushrooms, AND italian sausage) --
            HEAVENLY!

            In LA, Joe's on Abbott Kinney in Venice is my all time favorite. Go for the food over the scene (it's too small for a scene). You'll need reservations. Then after...

            You could always go down the street to Hal's after dinner at Joe's (some people liken Hal's food to Joe's, but it DOESN'T COMPARE) to hang out at the bar. Other good bars would be Canal Club on Pacific (what used to be Rebecca's), and almost any of the restaurant bars on Main street. But I'd stick with Joe's for dinner.

            8 Replies
            1. re: sunnyla

              Skip Maggiano's; it's a chain run by Chili's. Long waits and mediocre food for the mall crowd.

              1. re: Heather

                I agree, Maggiano's is severely and wholly overrated.

                Skip it.

                1. re: zeke

                  Hello.

                  Maggiano's is not bad, it's just not all that good, either. The portions are large, it's joined at the hip with Corner Bakery, and the atmosphere is cinematic, but it is definitely dipping its ladle into Buca de Beppo territory. Save it for those celebratory lunches for co-workers and birthday dinners with cheap friends.

                  In fact, I'd skip it and go just up the street to a small gem called Memphis Soul Cafe & Bar (2920 Bristol, Costa Mesa, 714/ 432.7685). The food is just great, the atmosphere is not oppressive, and the price is right. Surprising selection of beer and wine, too, for such a small place.

                  I'm sure you'll get plenty of recommendations for LA restaurants. I'd just like to second the motion for Ammo, Water Grill, Cuidad, and Lucques.

                  Have fun!

                  1. re: Marty

                    Please, tell us more. What's the menu like? Is this a good choice for pre-show dinner & drinks? Cross street?
                    Thanks!

                    1. re: LBQT

                      This place is not fancy at all; small, retro-middle-class in atmosphere and behind Pep Boys from The Lab.

                      They have good lunches. I wouldn't make a special trip if I were coming from NY, though.

                      I have always eaten their pulled/BBQ pork sandwich with a side salad.

                      No big deal.

                      1. re: Heather

                        Yes, definitely, do not make a special trip from NYC, unless you're Jonathan Gold.

                        I don't know what "retro middle class" is, but the style is Memphis. That's what the name refers to.

                        No big deal, but a good bargain and fun place.

                        1. re: Marty

                          Sounds like it's worth a try, since I'm not coming from NY and happen to be in the nabe very often. Thanks!

                      2. re: LBQT

                        Hello.

                        Memphis is a great prelude to a nice night at the theater-concert hall. It's on Bristol, south of the 405 freeway and immediately before the 55 freeway overpass, on the left side of the street (just past The Lab Anti-mall mall). It's been there for about four years or so, is named for the style of design and not the city, and is very popular. It is small, but has a nice little patio. They accept reservations.

                        The menu is called "American classic comfort food" or something like that, but this gives the wrong impression. It is actually American regional, and features foods of the Southwest, creole dishes, Southern, Gulf Coast, and the Atlantic. I'm not a meat-eater, but all the meat-eaters I have been there with have loved it. I like their seafood, sides, salads, and Southwest dishes. I like the letter "s," and I like their style.

                        Hope you like it, too.

              2. Philippe the Original is one of my favorite downtown eateries. It's one of the oldest restaurants in l.a. and still one of the best!

                Citysearch pretty much sums it up:

                The signature sandwich is a masterpiece. Your choice of meat (beef, pork, lamb, ham or turkey) dunked (twice if you prefer) in au jus and layered in a perfect French roll--soft and tender inside with a light, crispy crust. The sides are classics as well: fresh crispy slaw, potato and macaroni salad. Wash your big dipper down with a cold brew or dress it up a glass of Cabernet from the extensive wine list.

                --------
                Watch out for that mustard! Hurts so good!

                Other restaurants I love:

                Taylor's Prime Steaks in Korea town on 8th.

                Roscoe's Chicken n' Waffles (Gower location is the best)

                Empress Pavillion for Dim Sum (also downtown)

                Mario's Peruvian in Hollywood(what is lacks in ambiance, more than makes up with the food)

                Fancy restaurants? I love Campanile, Chianti on Melrose, Shiro in Pasadena.

                1. Hot, Happening, Fabulous, and Mostly Delicious!

                  La Super Rica in Santa Barbara (see the endless postings below).

                  As I make reservations for both business and pleasure (it's my job to find a great place on a moment's notice), I agree with the lists above: Josie - Santa monica (newest of the bunch), Les Deux - Hollywood (scenester experience) or Ago - West Hollywood(Thursday) or Morton's - West Hollywood (Monday), Joe's - Venice, Lucques - West Hollywood, JiRaffe - Santa Monica, Ciudad - Downtown. Linq is a scene, the food mediocre. Nobu Malibu is also a hot spot. The boss likes Chinois and Valentino and Mr. Chow (!), but those have been here since your departure. I also had great experiences recently at Jozu and Campanile, which, if you're from New York you may not be too incredibly shocked by the prices.

                  Have fun!