3 Restaurant suggestions
Coming into town for 3 nights with girlfriend for NYC. I need ideas for a few nights out... 1. in the Santa Monica area, 2. W Hollywood and 3. downtown LA (near the Westin B) Different types as well...1. romantic, 2. fun and loud, 3. star gazing
Thanks a bunch!
1) In West Hollywood, for some of the most reliable star-sighting in town, go to Morton's, on Melrose Avenue (not to be confused with Arnie Morton's of Chicago which is a totally different place.)
2) Downtown, maybe try Cafe Pinot if you want to be very, very close to the Westin B. For a more romantic setting, try Traxx at the Union Station. Very cool old art deco stuff.
3) For Santa Monica, hmm, ambience-wise, you'd round out your preferences with that lobster place at the foot of the Santa Monica Pier (think it's just called "Lobster"), which will be hip, loud and noisy. But probably Josie would be outstanding (call well in advance to get a table).
re: Tom M.
Although several people have suggested Josie, I have never been impressed with the food. Yes, the room is spacious and classy in a restrained sort of way, but for the money there are so many better restaurants as far as food is concerned. My last dinner there consisted of boring grilled sardines that tasted no better than canned sardines, although about 10 times more costlier and my entree was a totally forgetful and bland, underseasoned couscous with a piece of tasteless cod served in a tagine. Both dishes came out flat and lacked any defining flavor. The best thing I ate there was the comlimentary diminutive slice of quiche served before my appetizer. To top off the dreadful experience, since I was dining solo, the server couldn't have been more rude throughout the whole meal.
re: Liver Boy
That's interesting. Your description of Josie sounds just like my description of Rockenwagner and Lucques. Right down to the attitude of the servers. I found the food at Josie extremely flavorful and the staff to be as nice as they could be. It is as if we were eating at different restaurants.
The thing about star gazing is you never know where you will see such folks although in and around BH tends to increase your odds. Anyway, downtown: Pinot Bistro is good for romance and the food. Cicada is romantic (run by Bernie Taupin's wife). Water Grill has excellent fish. R-23 has very good sushi in a unique location. Engine Company #28 is a good meat and potatoes place in an old firehouse. West Hollywood/Beverly hills: Spago--Puck's place. Locanda Veneta--cozy Italian. Chaya Brasserie--louder, more of a scene. The Ivy--star gazing and upscale American eclectic. For day time star gazing: Nate n Al's Deli (Larry King is a regular) and Caffe Roma--frequent sightings of Mickey Rourke, Sly, Arnold and assorted Eurotrash. Santa Monica: Chinois on Main--Puck's Chinese fusion. Michael's--Californian. Ivy at the Shore--see The Ivy above. The Hump at Santa Monica airport--watch the planes while eating sushi.
I have never not (love those double negatives!) seen someone famous at the Ivy - we send every star gazer visitor there & there is always a star sighting! Plus, their mint julip martinis (I think that's it - had too many the last time) are delicious - betch ya can't drink just one! You also have to 'do the Polo Lounge,' just to say you've done it - good for older star-types & those who want you to think they are.
I second Spago suggestion - food & service are always excellent - I've never been dissappointed - Wolfgang has always been in the kitchen (or cruising tables) when we've been there, but I'm sure it's consistently wonderful.
Hotel bars will fit your fun, loud, and star-gazing criteria. Each time I've gone I've seen someone... Try the W Hotel (in Westwood), the Standard and Bar Marmont (both on Sunset in WeHo). Note though that all of the above are filled with trendy stick figures clad in black leather (which usually makes for enjoyable people watching).
The Water Grill in downtown has great seafood, but for something you can't really get in NY, try the Lobster in Santa Monica for its ambience. The food is good, not great, but the restaurant is situated right over the water so you can have a sunset meal by the Pacific Ocean. Make sure you get reservations though, and ask for a table by the windows.
Here's my list, however hackneyed... I note that you're not looking for a transcendent chowhound experience, but good fun and food - which is not to be looked down upon when one is visiting from out of town, I suppose!!
If only because I think good lighting, subtle decor and consistently delicious food to be sexy:
2424 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
Phone: (310) 581-9888
The Bel Air is mind blowingly romantic. Gardens, swans, ugh. I can't even take it. If you want to seduce someone, or even show them that you love them beyond words, this is the place. And the surprise is how luscious the food is, too.
hotel bel air
701 Stone Canyon Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90077-2909
Phone: (310) 472-1211
Susan & Mary Sue, those Too Hot Tamales, do pan latin cuisine. The drinks - mojitos, caphirnas, etc - are perfecto! The food is pretty good. I dig the heart attack inducing Argentinian steak. Definitely loud. Downtown art crowd on weekends.
445 S Figueroa St, Ste 100
Los Angeles, CA 90071-1622
Phone: (213) 486-5171
Fun & Loud - Santa Monica
Another Mary Sue & Susan place - Mexican.
1445 4th St
Santa Monica, CA 90401-2308
Phone: (310) 451-1655
Fun/Loud/Possible Star Sighting - West Hollywood
Scenester bar, always good people watching, they do have food, but it's really an afterthought.
8171 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
Phone: (323) 650-0575
Star Sighting - West Hollywood
As has been mentioned, you're covered at the Ivy if you want to see stars. If it's sunny, have lunch on the patio. Charming.
113 N Robertson Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048-3101
Phone: (310) 274-8303
The only night you'll see famous people at Morton's is Monday. You might try Ago on Tuesday (or is it Thursday?). Another place to see stars is the club Deep, in Hollywood (1707 N Vine St, Hollywood, CA 90028-5248 Phone: (323) 462-1144).
So this visit, go seek the stars - have fun & frolic. The next time you come back to L.A., seek out the exquisite and delicious delicacies of multitudes of ethnicities that the town has to offer. Not to mention our great burgers!