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Visiting LA from DC

My husband and I will be spending 2 days in LA in June and I'm looking for some restaurant recommendations for lunch and dinner. We are staying near Beverly Center and will have a car so we are flexible on location. This is our first time to LA so we are looking forward to checking out the city. We are open to any cuisine and are looking for moderate price range, about $11-20 for lunch and $20-35 for dinner is acceptable. Also, any suggestions for places we can grab a drink at night would be nice as well. Not into club/young Hollywood scene but looking for hip place with 30-something crowd. Thanks!

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  1. I suggest having yourself a nice Korean dinner somewhere in Koreatown, because it's not a cuisine that's terribly common in DC (or so I remember). I wouldn't bother with our Ethiopian food, because it's something DC does really, really well.

    Perhaps upscalish Mexican -- Babita, La Huasteca? May be slightly higher than your price point.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Frida is good, its relatively near their hotel, and can be within their price point... its also a steady improvement over D.C. Mexican places like Rosa Mexicano... I liked the Nopales Salad, Handmade Tortillas, Shrimp Pozole & Cajeta Crepes.

      La Huasteca is within the price point, and Plaza Mexico could be a cool thing to see if you are from D.C. but that is a long drive for a quick 2 day visit.

    2. I'm a big fan of Bar Marmont on Sunset. Great, moderate-priced menu, and a 30-something bar crowd that's hip without being clubby.

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      Bar Marmont
      8171 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

      1. Okay this is a bit tough--to recommend only a few restaurants because there are so many, so I'm only going to provide guidance as to what to find here and let other chowhounders, who I'm sure will chime in, make recommendations on specific restaurants.
        Generally, speaking if you want to try ethnic foods you can't find(or can, but not strong in) in DC, then try Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Thai.
        If you are not into the "Hollywood scene" but want hip then it gets a little bit tough, but doable. Generally speaking most lower end restaurants on the westside(west hollywood, santa monica, etc.), but really also OC, nowadays, will have a lot of the Hollywood scene present and the young club goer scene present, since most of the "hip" clubs are in that area, and so are those in the Hollywood business machine. You might do well with some higher end restaurants, but really I found similar restaurants in DC. The Pasadena area in that regard also reminds me of the DC personality, a little more reserved but very well educated customer base and not too old but not too clubby hollywood hip crowd--more mature so to say--It is generalizing but I've been to all these places over the years and that's what atmosphere I've found(there is a world of difference between westside LA and DC). Also note that you can generally get better Japanese on westside, better Chinese near Pasadena environs, Korean in between, and Mexican all over. Also--don't fear the freeways, just don't drive during rush hour peaks (if possible; early morning and early evening) and you'll be fine.

        1. Fun places to grab a drink at night near your hood:

          Tasca (very cool wine/tapas bar)
          3rd Stop (good unpretentious gastropub)
          Nic's, Lola's (good martini joints)
          Trader Vic's (not the original BH location anymore, but still worth a visit for the drinks)

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          Lola's
          945 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

          Tasca Restaurant
          8108 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          3rd Stop
          8636 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          Nic's Restaurant & Martini
          453 North Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

          Trader Vic's - Mai Tai Lounge
          9876 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

          1. Agree that in your price range, you probably want to concentrate on ethnic gems. Look just a few threads up on this board -- there is a post for an AYCE (all you can eat) Korean BBQ with a detailed description, a positive review, pictures on the poster's blog page, it fits into your price range, and Koreatown is a straight shot east from the Beverly Center.

            Being from D.C., you gotta try an In-and-Out Burger, if for no other reason than to be able to experience it and know what all of the talk is about. If you are going to spend an afternoon at the Getty Museum in Brentwood (a must see) then there is one on the way in Westwood Village just down from UCLA, on Gayley. From the Beverly Center, there is another to the northeast on Sunset, just east of La Brea. Get a double-double, split an order of fries ordered well or crispy.

            Spend a couple of weeks just checking out this L.A. board. Many of the higher-end restaurants and almost all good sushi are beyond your price range. But you can decide whether you want to sample outstanding Thai (Jitlada) or on weekends experience very good Thai with the unique Thai Elvis (Palm Thai). After morning rush or on weekends, it is about a half-hour on the freeway to the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) to the east for amazing dim sum or authentic regional Chinese (be sure you are skilled with MapQuest). There is upscale Mexican seafood at east and Santa Monica locations of La Serenata de Garibaldi, and cheap hole-in-the-wall taco and burrito joints all over, except really in West Hollywood near where you are staying.

            Print yourself out a good map so you get a lay of the land, read the board for awhile to get some ideas, look up some individual restaurant websites, and then post more specific questions when you get closer to your trip.

            7 Replies
            1. re: nosh

              La Serenta de Garibaldi? That place is very mediocre... I think I would rather recommend mediocre places like Border Grill & Pacifico's over that Serenata. Now the original in East L.A. is a completely different story... if it weren't for the drive I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                I concur that the Westside branches are not as good. I don't know that I would recommend Border Grill over La Serenata Westside -- that's going a bit far -- but the East LA original is much better.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I guess the thing I hate about La Serenata is they blanket all their seafood with melted cheese & serve everything with mediocre versions of Arroz a la Mexicana & Beans... that faux pax is one thing at the old school Mexican-American places... but its just wrong at a Mariscos place. Border Grill... at least in form its a lot more like real Mexican (although the entrees tend to be catered way too much to the Over 60 gringo crowd with Mashed Root vegetables served on so many dishes) even if execution has been off for many years.

                  In any case... in a pinch... I would not hesitate to send someone to Border Grill for Ceviches, Plantain Empanadas, Lamb Chop Tacos & Pastel Rufina... particularly on Friday nights when they have the 3 piece Bolero-Jazz band going.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Ah. My love at La Serenata is the huachinango con huitlacoche, which doesn't have any cheese at all on it.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      That sounds like a recent addition? The last time I ate at the Westside Serenatas was 2001 and I was never compelled to retry it.... there was definitely no huitlacoche dish on the menu at that time... I would really have noticed as huitlacoche was still extremely rare in L.A. at that time.

              2. re: nosh

                If you are recommending In&Out for burgers then I should also mention that Tops and Pie N Burger are also places to head for a premium burger.
                If you are looking for high end places for dinner let us know please.

                1. re: b0ardkn0t

                  C'mon...I made the reasons for a quick lunch at In-and-Out very clear: First, they don't have them in the D.C. area. Second, it could be reasonably convenient on the way to the Getty or in the other direction from their hotel. Third and most important, it would allow them to experience and have a reference point about a product that a lot of people talk about and a standout in its field. Nobody outside of the neighborhood talks about Tops or Pie N Burger. Sure, Pinks serves a pretty mediocre hot dog, in all of their various and sometimes ridiculous combinations. Carney's is a much better chili-dog, more convenient, and also unique in its train car. But Pinks is perpetually profiled on FoodTV and travel shows, and bear in mind that traveling is remembered through photos and experiences, such as waiting in the Pinks line and seeing those signed head shots on the wall.