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Visiting LA, Some 'must have' recs, please.

I will be visiting LA in the middle of February with my family and have been browsing this board relatively frequently as of late trying to make meal plans. While I myself have been to town a couple times, this will be the first time with the family.

As my sister and mother are huge pancake fans, we're already planning to hit Griddle Cafe and Doughboys (I've been to both and simply want to take them for the laugh-out-loud audactiy of the menu) for Breakfasts. I've been to Toast and Square One already and although great, neither are as 'wow.'

Additionally, my sister is a big Wolfgang Puck fan and has made Spago a must-have.

My question is where to head for our other 3 meals, one of which is to be Italian (I've had Batali's cuisine in NYC and am leaning towards Mozza) and the others ideally sushi and something 'american-esque.' I tried Koi last year and was underwhelmed, Simon and was mildly impressed, and had C&O Trattoria which was good for a lunch on the beach.

We definitely want higher end places, albeit not overpriced with small portions (my mother, love her to death, isn't going to appreciate tiny portions and large pricetags, even if made with high end ingredients) and it would be ideal if the sushi option had 'other' dishes such as chicken.

In terms of price, trying to hit less than $70pp +tax and tip (not including alcohol) for each meal.

So far I was thinking Mastro's and Hokusai but also am interested in opinions for the "LA Experience" + decent portions + good food and atmosphere.

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  1. I think there are a few things to consider depending on what you want to do:
    View-you could hit the patio at Boa-West Hollywood with a view of downtown, or Katana with a view of the strip.
    Cooking-You could hit Bastide for the absurdity of the aesthetic but the sublime cooking of Walter Manzke.
    You could hit the tasting menu at Providence.
    (neither of those would be under $70.00pp)
    You could do Osteria Mozza but it's nothing you wouldn't get in NYC...but Pizzeria Mozza for lunch would be great.
    Speaking of lunch, how about Pink's for the sheer tourism of it.
    Maybe you could hit Santa Monica or Malibu for a beach experience.

    I love the Griddle but be prepared to wait for at least an hour on the weekend.

    My absolute must low-end but fun place when I have visitors in LA is Fish Grill on Beverly Blvd just west of La Brea. It's a traditional Jewish location, closed on Fridays/Saturdays but has AMAZING fish tacos for a reasonable price.

    1. Italian - Osteria Mozza is definitely an LA experience, with the frequent celeb sightings, so I would stick with that.

      Sushi - It will be less likely for a sushi spot to carry chicken; more often if they carry some other protein, it'll be beef. Check out Matsuhisa's menu to see if it'll fit your budget.

      American - Grace would definitely fit the bill here.

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      Grace Restaurant
      7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

      Pizzeria Mozza
      6602 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

      Matsuhisa
      129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

      1. For Japanese, you may want to take your family to Gonpachi. It doesn't get a lot of love on this board but my visitors from Japan actually thought it's equilavent to the Gonpachi in Tokyo. You will be dining in a 300-yr-old Japanese house surrounded by a beautiful koi garden. Their tasting menu ($35 & $58) are beautifully presented. Sushi and many cooked items are served. Serive can be off sometimes, but overall it's quite a nice experience.

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        Gonpachi
        134 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

        1. PLEASE don't waste one of your meals [or your money] at mastro's.

          for a true "l.a." experience you're better off at someplace like dan tana's or the grill on the alley...or if it doesn't have to be steak, take mom to the ivy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            oops, links didn't take. let's try that again...

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            Grill On the Alley
            9560 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

            Dan Tana's Restaurant
            9071 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

            Ivy
            113 N Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          2. I'm not so sure about Doughboys -- it seems to be in decline, from my personal, unprofessional survey. The pancakes are probably pretty safe, though, if that's what you're after.

            As for higher end, American-esque restaurants, I would recommend Joe's on Abbot Kinney in Venice, Josie in Santa Monica, and JiRaffe (they've got a great prix fixe deal on Monday nights). You should be able to stay within your price-range at all those places very easily, without compromising on anything.

            The recently re-opened Bastide is getting rave reviews, but I'm not sure if that would suit your mother's fancy.

            If you were considering Mastro's, I would re-consider. Try Musso & Frank instead -- it's old school LA.

            For casual lunches and snacks, I like BreadBar and Clementine.

            For sushi, try Sushi Zo or Kiriko -- those are my two favorites for the freshest omakase in town.

            It's a shame that there is no Mexican, Middle Eastern, or other ethnic places in your plans. I think those are the restaurants that make LA shine as a foodie destination. Our high-end restaurants, while good, are not exceptional in comparison to other major cities. But we kick everybody's ass with our Oaxacan, Persian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, etc.