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West Hollywood = Chowhound Wasteland?

t
tkemeny Feb 15, 2008 05:47 PM

I live in the heart of West Hollywood, close to Santa Monica, and have for about a year. I'm convinced that West Hollywood is an utterly empty foodie wasteland. Every meal my gf and I have consumed near where we live hasn't surpassed mediocrity. Some, like Gardens of Taxco, may scar us forever.

I'm looking for some unpretentious, good food. I really like Mexican, Thai, Korean, Japanese, and come to think of it, pretty much anything as long as it's good. I generally go for places that aren't too sceney, no bs, and not super pricey. I'm very willing to travel to Koreatown or Little Tokyo or San Gabriel, as me and my girl do when we can.

...But sometimes you just want to step out and grab a decent meal. Am I asking too much? Any seasoned west hollywood chowhounders out there with some good recommendations??

Much appreciated!

  1. r
    RicRios Feb 15, 2008 08:00 PM

    Oh my dear: right in the heart of WH you got a gem, Carlitos Gardel.

    http://www.carlitosgardel.com/

    Don't walk, RUN.

    Get empanadas (beef), sweetbreads, chorizos, matambre, entraña, ...

    And for desert get ( a bottle of ) THE desert wine: Weinert Cosecha de Otoño 2002. Forget Tokaj's Putonyos, forget Ports, Madeiras, Yquem. Just enjoy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: RicRios
      russkar Feb 17, 2008 09:50 AM

      RicRios, It's all about the Amazing FRIES at Carlitos?

      1. re: russkar
        r
        RicRios Feb 17, 2008 12:14 PM

        Sweetbreads, entraña, beef empanadas, even chorizo: refined meatiness.
        As oppose to: Fries provenzal, good but in a rather porno way, if you know what I mean.
        And by all means, get the Cosecha de Otoño with gorgonzola.

    2. j
      Josh90004 Feb 16, 2008 12:35 PM

      What didnt you like about Taxco? I've never been but keep having people recommend it to me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Josh90004
        Ciao Bob Feb 16, 2008 02:47 PM

        I agree with tkemeny, Gardens is truly bad.

      2. Ciao Bob Feb 16, 2008 02:54 PM

        Hollywood, alas not West, has Los Balcones del Peru and Mario's Peruvian Seafood which are both chow-worthy.
        In WeHO proper there are a few that would seem to meet your needs:
        Tere's Mexican
        Amarone Kitchen and Wine
        Mishima (just had lunch there today, love their tofu salad)
        Yabu (for soba and cooked dishes, their sushi is quite pricey)
        Ita Cho
        3rd Stop

        5 Replies
        1. re: Ciao Bob
          c
          carter Feb 16, 2008 04:44 PM

          Ciao Bob - Not everyone likes Amarone:
          http://la.eater.com/archives/2008/02/...
          Secondly, totally agree with your assessment of the Gardens of El Taxco - truly who cares in a pleasant enough setting.
          Thirdly, Tere's which we both like, is definitely in Hollywood, not West Hollywood, which stops at La Brea for all practical purposes, except one block on Santa Monica Blvd. which extends almost to Sycamore.
          Poster might try Melrose B&G or Murano on Melrose just west of Doheny. Latter not cheap, however.
          Kumo for high priced sushi in a Michael Ovitz-owned power setting.
          Also, the Carlito's Gardel recommendation is an outstanding one. In addition to Ric's food and beverage recommendations, add the steaks and Malbec wine selection as well. And you must get the garlic fries!
          As to the French Market it was the test restaurant for the Mimi's Cafe chain, so if you like Mimi's, you will like the Market.

          1. re: carter
            Ciao Bob Feb 16, 2008 04:54 PM

            I saw that little piece, Carter, but c'mon Valentine's Day is about the worst day to judge a place by, especially a new place doing their first. Have you tried Amarone? I think it is quite good and nicely priced.

            I will second Servorg's Carney's rec below...great hot dogs, wonderful saurkraut and the best parking on the Strip!

            1. re: Ciao Bob
              c
              carter Feb 16, 2008 05:07 PM

              Agree as well regarding anything I have ever eaten at Carney's, at least the one here in Studio City, and the parking here is at least as good.
              As to the Amarone comment, I happen to know the person who wrote that diatribe, and there was much more to it than what was put into print.

            2. re: carter
              d
              diningdivala Feb 17, 2008 04:49 PM

              Melrose B&G is just as mediocre as the rest. I'm sorry. Cute place, nice wines. But the last time I was there, had a couple of apps before having to get somewhere else. Spicy tuna something...i don't know who thought spicy tuna should have liquid smoke in it, but it was inundated. Unpalatable.

              Below some other suggestions are good (Tanzore, AOC, etc.) but expensive. Not really the chowiest of chowhound spots, at least by what the original poster describes. However, i will throw in that Comme Ca still for my money, is a great addition to the WeHo scene.

              1. re: diningdivala
                c
                carter Feb 18, 2008 12:06 PM

                Having never tried Melrosse B&G since its conversion from Doug Arango, but if the same chef is in the kitchen, and I am sure that is the case as he is an owner, then your assessment must be correct. Arango was just who cares at high prices and awful decor. At least now they may have solved the decor issue!

          2. SauceSupreme Feb 16, 2008 04:13 PM

            I like the French Quarter Market Place, right by 7969 and across from the gas station.

            Across from the Abbey, there's the WeHo branch of Bossa Nova.

            3 Replies
            1. re: SauceSupreme
              katydid13 Feb 16, 2008 06:27 PM

              I had the worst breakfast I've ever had in LA at the French Marketplace. It was about 3 yrs ago. Nice porch, but that's the only thing going for it IMO.

              1. re: katydid13
                b
                Bjartmarr Feb 17, 2008 05:42 PM

                Sorry you had a bad experience. I've enjoyed French Quarter in the past. My last visit I got a cup of french onion soup, which they do quite well, and a warm chevre/pear/caramelized onion sandwich, which tasted about as good as it sounds. I've never had anything bad there. I wouldn't make a special trip to eat there, but if I'm in the area and hungry I won't hesitate to stop.

                1. re: katydid13
                  b
                  Barbara Ladden Feb 17, 2008 10:29 PM

                  Have been going to The French Quarter Marketplace for many years and haven't been disappointed yet, breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack. Fresh, homemade food, good size portions, reasonable prices and free parking lot. Had prime rib there recently, the week-end dinner special and it is to love. Friends and loved ones love it too. From soup to dessert, you can't go wrong.

              2. Servorg Feb 16, 2008 04:20 PM

                If you are ever having an intense chili cheese dog craving then you are in luck:

                http://www.carneytrain.com/

                1. c
                  cls Feb 16, 2008 05:03 PM

                  Jinpachi on Santa Monica for Japanese
                  Nishimura on Melrose for Japanese
                  Gonpachi (sushi bar only with Nobu) on La Cienega for Japanese
                  Madeo on Beverly for Italian
                  Dan Tana's on Santa Monica for steak (can be hit and miss)
                  Arnie Morton's on La Cienega for steak
                  Hatfield's on Robertson for Breakfast
                  Traktir on Santa Monica for Russian food, or is it the flight of Vodka, I can't remember

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cls
                    c
                    carter Feb 16, 2008 05:10 PM

                    I am sure your comment regarding Hatfield's, which is on Beverly, was actually referring to Hedley's! Talk to us about it. Never been but you can never know too many good breakfast places.

                    1. re: carter
                      c
                      cls Feb 16, 2008 06:10 PM

                      Sorry, Hedley's.
                      The service is more miss than hit with a little attitude, but I guess it's all in how you take it. They have a creative comfort food menu. I prefer the breakfast including a good breakfast quesadilla but I had a good turkey sloppy joe there as well. The best part is it's rarely crowded unlike many other breakfast places in the area.

                  2. hrhboo Feb 16, 2008 05:28 PM

                    I don't think it's a wasteland at all! In fact I believe Weho has the best and most diverse selection of excellent restaurants of any neighborhood in LA.

                    To name a few - AOC, Little Door (and Little Next Door), Celadon, BLD, Grace, Jar, Comme Ca, Milk, Tasca, Yabu, Yatai, Amarone, Bread Bar, Angelini Osteria, La Terza, Hatfield's, All' Angelo, Tanzore, Loteria, Terroni, The Mozzas, Lou on Vine...I could go on and on.

                    On the pricier side - Ortolan, Bastide and Sona are all excellent.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: hrhboo
                      Emme Feb 16, 2008 07:15 PM

                      good ones hrhboo!

                      lou on vine (hollywood tho), yatai, tasca, courtyard--all good for small plates -- so is cube on la brea but farther away

                      for healthier fare, hugo's, eat well, m cafe de chaya

                      mexican -- i concur with the above rec to head over to tere's; for peruvian, mario's is good and fast, and los balcones for sit-down

                      for pizza and italian, vito on la cienaga

                      1. re: Emme
                        hrhboo Feb 16, 2008 07:22 PM

                        I was sad that I couldn't include Bin 8945 to my list, it certainly belonged on it prior to its sad demise. Vito's is a great rec, totally forgot that one!

                        1. re: hrhboo
                          Emme Feb 16, 2008 09:10 PM

                          i was a big fan of the tasting menu at bin... rip

                    2. p
                      paprkutr Feb 16, 2008 05:52 PM

                      Simple french food Le Petit Bistro on LaCienega just above Melrose.

                      1. SauceSupreme Feb 16, 2008 07:14 PM

                        And how could I forget Vito's on La Cienega.

                        -----
                        Vito's Pizza
                        846 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                        1. ipsedixit Feb 16, 2008 07:57 PM

                          I'm really surprised by the title to this post.

                          As the replies have noted, there are quite a few, if not a surfeit, of good eats in the WeHo area. In fact, I think WeHo is one of the richest areas for good (and bad) dining in SoCal.

                          And to add to the list of restaurants already mentioned ...

                          -Table 8
                          -Confetti
                          -Village Idiot
                          -and of course, Astro Burger!

                          1. f
                            french roast Feb 16, 2008 08:17 PM

                            By all means, try Comme Ca on Melrose. A little pricier, but so very good! Brunch on Saturday, complete with cocktails and champagne, ran us about $50. Best burger I've had in LA, to boot. And cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

                            Speaking of brunch, don't forget Hugo's!

                            1. Ciao Bob Feb 17, 2008 07:35 AM

                              Such great lists of places...forgot one, Chameau on Fairfax
                              http://www.chameaurestaurant.com/

                              1. n
                                nosh Feb 17, 2008 06:12 PM

                                I think the point has been made. WeHo has some trendy spots where drinks and scene are the focus. They also have many mainstays that are on the expensive side. But other than Carney's, with its excellent chilidogs and burgers and free easy parking, I don't see any recommendation where one can get a lunch, not to mention a dinner, for well over $10 or 20 when all expenses are considered. Even Astroburger costs significantly more than the better food at Carney's, and a hole-in-the-wall taco joint sells small ones for about $3/per. Look, I'll pay for a good meal, or even just a good time. But if you are short on free time or cash in WeHo, your best bets are the In-and-Out on Sunset east of La Brea or the fast food chains. Sorry.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: nosh
                                  a
                                  archer Feb 18, 2008 01:44 PM

                                  Don't forget the Sunday night dinner @ Dominick's. 3 courses for $15 plus very drinkable "Dago Red" bottle for $10. All in a great setting. One of the best deals in L.A., I think. It's on Beverly Blvd, few blocks east of Robertson
                                  (I agree that many of the recommendations here, while excellent, such as Grace, Hatfield's, Little Door, etc. fall under my definition of pricey, occasion dining, not "reasonable" everyday fare. )

                                2. b
                                  betamax Feb 17, 2008 07:36 PM

                                  have you tried melrose bar and grill? also taste on melrose? they have the best porkchop in town.... i live in the area and like to walk rather than drive, both these places are moderately priced. taste has 1/2 bottle wine on mondays...

                                  1. cant talk...eating Feb 18, 2008 06:23 PM

                                    Agree w/ Nosh wholeheartedly, having lived around there for several years.

                                    The OP mentioned "unpretentious, good food", esp. Mexican and Asian, and "no bs". The Little Door? AOC? Dominick's? I didn't know about the latter's tasting menu, but it can be hard getting out of any of those places w/o dropping at least $30/pp.

                                    So, I totally agree on the low-end-but-good wasteland characterization. Second/Third the Vito's rec. Decent pasta too. I'd definitely recommend Vivoli (7994 Sunset Blvd, @ Laurel) for a good Italian dinner, esp. the gnocchi.

                                    I'm not sure if anyone mentioned Beverly Falafel on La Cienega down at W. 3rd. You can eat pretty good for a little over 10 bucks here.

                                    Mexican a la Tere's, My Taco, El Gran Burrito just doesn't exist in that neighborhood, and neither does non-boring Thai like you can get east of Western. Korean? Forget it.

                                    Tkemeny, you're asking too much. How about moving to Los Feliz? : )

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: cant talk...eating
                                      t
                                      thericequeen Feb 19, 2008 02:48 PM

                                      Steak Depot on Santa Monica Blvd., near San Vicente, fabulous chili cheese burgers. Ajisai on Palm Avenue, three doors up from Santa Monica Blvd, nice little family-run sushi bar (love the tuna tataki). Tango Grill, 8807 Santa Monica Blvd., (Argentine style food, dog friendly) I like their chicken.

                                      1. re: cant talk...eating
                                        Ciao Bob Feb 19, 2008 06:43 PM

                                        The Korean may improve if Jian
                                        a) ever opens
                                        b) is any good
                                        c) and if Beverly and Sweetzer is or isn't WeHo.

                                        One (perhaps all) of these is a longshot.

                                        1. re: cant talk...eating
                                          t
                                          tkemeny Feb 20, 2008 10:34 AM

                                          First off - thanks everybody for providing a wealth of suggestions, some of which I've tried and others that are new. I'm definitely interested in trying out Tere's, as well as some other ideas you have posted...Carlitos Gardel I know about - I wish my gf liked beef more!!

                                          Still, Nosh and Can't-talk have it right - when folks are posting Grace, Dan Tana's, AOC etc, they're missing the point of my post. What's absent from West Hollywood is not upscale (and sometimes just plain trendy for the sake of trendy) places. It's some good, down home, all-about-the-food, no nonsense places. Maybe I am asking too much, but it seems to me pretty absent. It's not that Lou, Jar etc. don't have good food - they do - but it's not a casual, got home from work late and don't feel like cooking but I want some tasty, cheap, unpretentious food - at least not on my budget. When I was in Silverlake I liked Cafe Tropical, Pho Cafe, a local pupuseria place whose name I forget...all places I could basically walk to. I have basically nothing like that in West Hollywood.

                                          1. re: tkemeny
                                            trolley Feb 23, 2008 10:50 AM

                                            yes, when i see dan tana's and arnie mortons on the list i felt people were missing your point. i used to live in weho and i really miss some of old casual weeknight spots.
                                            Mishima- haven't been there in a few but i suspect it's still good for udon and other non-sushi japanese food.
                                            BLD- wasn't there when i lived there but still good food for the value
                                            hirozen- small sushi on beverly and orlando?
                                            vegan glory- same mall as hirozen. although i'm no vegan they has some tasty dishes
                                            RFD- when trying to healthy on la cienega
                                            tere's- good non greasy mexican in hollywood
                                            vito's pizza- been once. plain pizza was the best
                                            angeli caffe- melrose. the bread.
                                            M cafe- macrobiotic
                                            101 cafe- great chili, burgers, fries, soups. breakfast any time.
                                            village pizza- larchmont i get the clam pizza there
                                            buddha's belly- hit or miss americanized chinese/pan asian. but decent and can be reasonable.
                                            farmer's market!

                                            i wish i could come up with a list like this for pasadena!

                                            1. re: tkemeny
                                              PurpleTeeth Sep 8, 2009 05:34 PM

                                              BTW Carlitos Gardel has great fish and pasta dishes as well. And their french fries are amazing.

                                              1. re: tkemeny
                                                r
                                                rocktheglobe Oct 18, 2009 11:13 PM

                                                Joey's Cafe and Kokomo Cafe are always good for quick and delicious food, and I appreciate (especially with Joey's) that there's an emphasis on the food being both tasty and relatively good for you.

                                                8 oz. on Melrose makes a hell of a burger, and the bar there has some interesting concoctions.

                                                Marix has some incredible Mexican food -- especially the beef tacos and fajitas -- and the margaritas are pretty good too.

                                                While the WeHo one on SMBlvd is the 2nd Baby Blues outpost, it has probably the best barbeque in Los Angeles (not to start yet another debate here on L.A. BBQ).

                                                Froma on Melrose is a cool little wine/sandwich shop with some amazing dishes.

                                                For good weekend dinners, I've become partial to Vinoteque and The Foundry, though they can be a little expensive and not just a neighborhood hangout type place.

                                                1. re: rocktheglobe
                                                  Mr Taster Oct 18, 2009 11:22 PM

                                                  Do not make any pronouncements on "best BBQ" unless you have been to Bludso's in Compton.

                                                  Mr Taster

                                            2. l
                                              LatinGuy Feb 21, 2008 07:38 PM

                                              Well you won't find any of the great ethnic spots that you would in the Eastside, but here are a few suggestions:

                                              Angeli Caffe on Melrose for unpretentious moderately priced Italian fare
                                              Joan's on Third for sandwiches and soups
                                              Loteria Grill at the Grove for Mexican
                                              Pinche Tacos on Sunset

                                              Okay, some of those aren't technically WeHo, but WeHo isn't that big to begin with, so it's close enough. And it should hold you over until your next trip to back to the Eastside :-)

                                              1. j
                                                Jerome Feb 21, 2008 09:03 PM

                                                is Wa still around on La Cienega just north of HOllowy? Matsuhisa chefs, half the price.
                                                There's an izakaya place in the mall at Kings road and santa monica but i can't remember the name. - edited - kiichi
                                                the mexican chain in the trader joes shopping center at Poinsettia and santa monica - the los burritos at 7300 isn't bad.

                                                the bossa nova chain is a chain but theyre' ok - in the old famous amos on sunset and on robertson or lapeer.

                                                also, traktir, santa monica at crescentheights - russian food, inexpensive, excellent pelmeni and vareniki - meats are more expensive, - drinkable "kompot" of jam diluted with water - it's an adventure, get over it. A few other russian places along the street as well - one new restaurant near fuller or spalding - can't remember the name - drove by it the other day - begins with a k as well.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Jerome
                                                  George Feb 25, 2008 01:22 PM

                                                  Tried Los Burritos today for the first time, always avoided it since it seemed like a chain. I thought it was great, two good tacos, asada and carnitas.
                                                  I'm searching for WeHo tacos, this will now be a local stop, probably find me there after most Monday morning Plummer's Park farmers markets.

                                                  See
                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/478197

                                                  Yes, Wa is still there, and still really good.

                                                2. a
                                                  abseygale Feb 23, 2008 10:26 AM

                                                  Galanga Thai Fusion offers a 5.95 lunch special that includes an entrée, rice (brown or white), and salad (I like the peanut dressing). I go here with colleagues and we often get chicken and broccoli, cashew nut chicken, spicy eggplant with steamed tofu, or yellow curry. These are good lunches that hit the spot for a reasonable price. They have a nice garden area in the back.
                                                  7440 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
                                                  (323) 851-4355‎

                                                  1. avivale Mar 7, 2008 06:37 PM

                                                    I live in West Hollywood too, and my neighborhood gem is Ajisai, a small sushi restaurant located on Palm Ave. just north of Santa Monica (diagonally across from the car wash).

                                                    The owner, Shoei, works the sushi bar every night and I think he is a master. The menu is pretty basic, a selection of sushi pieces and rolls, plus a few vegetable and hot dishes, but executed so well. You have to try the "biscotti", which is spicy tuna atop rounds of fried rice.

                                                    They offer a $20 "sushi dinner", which includes salad, miso soup, five pieces of sushi, and choice of california or spicy tuna roll. A great bargain that'll fill you up.

                                                    1. c
                                                      cpanagakis Jun 17, 2008 03:46 PM

                                                      I am SO late to this party, but I feel the need to stick up for my little corner of L.A. and the culinary treats that lie therein!

                                                      - Ajisai (SMB & Palm) is indeed THE BEST sushi in WeHo, if not Los Angeles. I've been going since it opened in '03 and have never been disappointed. Regulars will be pleased to discover a secret menu that includes delights such as homemade ramen.

                                                      - Tango Grill (SMB between Larrabee & Palm) is nothing special, but the food is competent and consistent. Their ham and cheese empanada and giant wedge o' flan are personal favorites.

                                                      - Traktir (SMB @ Crescent Heights) does indeed offer nice Russian/Armenian cuisine, though the service is less-than if you aren't from that part of the globe. Regardless, the lamb lula will have you in heaven if you can bear the wait.

                                                      - La Boheme (SMB @ Westmount?) reopened last autumn with a redone interior and menu. While some favorites like the duck breast have been "reimagined" to within an inch of their life, the food and service are still excellent. Do not fail to make a reservation if you plan to dine after about 6p on the weekends.

                                                      - Salades de Provence (La Cienega @ Holloway) is the first restaurant to occupy its particular location and actually remain in business for more than about three months. While the chef seems a bit timid with the seasonings, the food is fresh and the offerings a pleasant departure from the expected. The fresh gelatos are reason enough to pay a visit, as is the homemade soup au pistou offered on some evenings.

                                                      - Kiichi (SMB @ Flores) is a yakitori house that could rival those you'll find in Little Tokyo. Especially delicious is the "fried chicken!"

                                                      1. j
                                                        JudiAU Jun 17, 2008 08:44 PM

                                                        Lots of good options already mentioned but what about Traktir, La Cienega Kabob House (great lunch special), Comme Ca, Joans on Third, Hirozen, Carlitos Gardel, M, Carneys, Bread Bar, etc. etc.

                                                        1. t
                                                          troublemaker Oct 18, 2008 10:40 PM

                                                          Thought I'd add that Ita Cho on Beverly is currently doing a Yelp lunch promotion of 20% off where you just mention their Yelp page and they'll discount your meal. We had a pretty decent lunch there the other day, especially enjoying the eel and cucumber, the eggplant with miso glaze, and braised pork belly.

                                                          Skip dessert though. I'd say your better option is to just skip over to Milk afterwards and getting something there.

                                                          1. h
                                                            hughman Oct 22, 2008 10:21 PM

                                                            "wa" IS DEFIANATLY a keeper. right in the heart of weho. get omakase and have an amazing meal.

                                                            1. j
                                                              Jerome Sep 9, 2009 01:41 AM

                                                              nice to see the thread is back.
                                                              recently went to Kashtan. They have the chef from the old Uzbekistan restaurant. Good shashlik, plov and russian specialties as well as uzbek.

                                                              worth the try. Santa Monica blvd between Spalding and GEnesee.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Jerome
                                                                w
                                                                wooster Oct 16, 2009 10:28 AM

                                                                Also late to the thread, but the one thing I can add about Carlitos Gardel, with the exception of fine steaks and fries, is that this place stands out as the best service I have ever had in my life, hands down. I love those guys.

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