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Feb 28, 2008 07:58 AM

Looking for excellent restaurant on Westside

Hi, I am moving to the Westwood area from Boston in a couple weeks. I've been to visit a few times last year, so I've eaten at a couple different places in the area. Here's the thing, while I've found great breakfast places and sushi places, I haven't been able to find a good mid-priced place ($15-$30 entrees) for dinner in the area (westside). With so many options it's hard to choose. And the couple times my boyfriend and I chose, we weren't that impressed. I know that LA must have tons and tons of great restaurants....I just need a little help narrowing down the choices. I'm not looking for a place that specializes in a certain country (Indian, Korean, etc.). I'm looking more for a place that you might call 'new american', I guess.

If anyone out there is also a Boston/Cambridge of my favorites in Boston is East Coast Grill.

Any advice is appreciated.


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  1. Your question has one clear answer -- Nook Bistro. It is located near Westwood in the back corner of a minimall on the S/E corner of Santa Monica Blvd. at Barry, one block east of Barrington. Sort of a NYC decor with exposed ceiling, very welcoming and good service, and excellent food. Entrees range mostly just below $20, with their gourmet burger considerably less and some fish or steak a bit more. I love their short ribs, a generous portion served with mashed potatoes. Also their mac'n'cheese, with a panko crumb crust. Others rave about their mussels. It has become so popular that reservations are necessary during prime dinner hours, but they serve walk-ins only after 8 or so. Check their website for menus with prices and search this board for reviews, which are plentiful and positive.

    Nook beats the obvious competitors by miles. Literati 2 is much more expensive and has an attitude. Violet is very good but serves much smaller plates. Napa Valley Grille is more expensive and not as good, though it is right in the midst of Westwood Village. The Daily Grill on San Vicente in Brentwood nearby has an American menu, but is part of a chain. Houston's, in Century City, has some good dishes, but many items are much more expensive (ribs for well over $30!) and is a zoo without reservations. For food, service, and value, Nook is really special, and in my opinion unrivaled on the westside.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      They might want to check out Violet on Pico (just over the line into eastern Santa Monica) too as they have that special deal of 7 choices at $7 per plate, (and don't they have some larger serving sized plates too?).

      And I just want to add that you did list Violet.

      What about Ustairs 2 on Cotner?

      1. re: nosh

        I know you've ruled out Houston's, but it's definitely possible to eat get almost any entree at Bandera for between $15-30. And completely agree that Nook is the perfect answer for this request!

        1. re: nosh

          I've come to the conclusion that, in contrast to my hometown of SF, the type of restaurant you (OP) describe actually isn't that much of a strength in LA. That said, yes, Nook immediately came to mine, and was the spot I chose when looking for something of that ilk in LA recently. Here is my report:

          Nook Bistro
          11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9, Los Angeles, CA 90025

        2. Big fan of East Coast Grill (though haven't been back for a few years, and an even bigger fan of Craigie St. Bistrot).

          Anyway, I second all recommendations for Nook - it is one of the best mid-priced restaurants in the city.

          Don't know any restaurants one the west side along the lines of East Coast Grill (avoid Gladstone's at all costs), but Santa Monica Seafood just opened a restaurant. Not sure how it is. Otherwise, you might try driving to Hollywood and trying Hungry Cat.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BabyLitigator

            The restaurant opened by Santa Monica Seafood is called Tenth Street Cafe, on the S/E corner of Wilshire and Tenth in a former Carl's Jr. Very barebones, order at the counter, plastic utensils, etc. But the food is quite good, especially the clam chowder and the fish & chips, and very good value. The retail fish outlet on Colorado will be relocating to the location sometime this summer. It is a bit of a stretch to call it a restaurant, with self-service and limited hours, but there is a certain convenience factor with parking in the back.

          2. So many to choose from!!!

            Along Sawtelle, there are so many restaurants within that price range, all asian.
            Nook came to mind immediately
            Tacos por Favor
            Father's Office
            Abode for happy hour
            Beachwood bar menu
            Chaya Venice happy hour
            Library Alehouse
            Any of the Italian restaurants on San Vicente in Brentwood
            Could go on and on....

            4 Replies
            1. re: yogachik

              Thanks everyone for all the advice!

              1. re: avosom

                You'll have fun exploring out here, avosom. In the meantime, chow on as much pizza, grinders, and as many clams and lobster rolls as possible!

                1. re: nosh

                  From what I've heard, I should be filling up on ice cream, too. I never understood why warmer climates than Boston don't take ice cream as seriously as we do in the Northeast.

                  1. re: avosom

                    It's a strange statistic - you would think warmer climates = higher ice cream consumption but it's just the opposite. I remember reading an article a few years back where the top five countries in terms of ice cream consumption were all in cooler climates. I remember Finland being up there. And yes, they're the same folks who are obsessed with saunas - ice cream makes sense in their case...

            2. Don't miss Fresh Corn Grill on Westwood Blvd, though it is more of a lunch place or a place to pick up take-out for dinner. They have the grilled vegetable salad w/ chicken or shrimp exactly the same as the Ivy, but half the price. Great pizzas and pastas too. Feast from the East for Chinese Chicken Salad and Clementine, just off Santa Monica Blvd. near Century City are also great for lunch. I also highly recommend Orris on Sawtelle for amazing gourmet small plate dining, and Mizu 212 on Sawtelle for Shabu Shabu.

              1. Sticking with Westwood only, since others have covered Santa Monica and the westide in general -

                On the corner of Glendon and LeConte are 3 restaurants - Palomino, Napa Valley Grille, and Gardens on Glendon that might fit the bill for "new American" in the price range you cite. Gardens is a little more old school - they have a kind of 80's or 90's vibe, but still good - try their made-at-the-table guacamole. Palomino has a good happy hour, and is a kind of "scene" place. Napa Valley Grille has good fresh seasonal menu, good wine list, nice staff.

                A GREAT idea for a newcomer to the neighborhood would be to enjoy drinks or a dinner at either of these places on a Thursday night, and then go to the Hammer Museum for its free Thursday night gallery openings or events.

                A couple of quieter, more "continental" type restaurants are Bruschetta, south of Wilshire on Westwood (past the Bristol Farms) or Tanino, in Westwood Village. Tanino is a beautiful setting, very quiet and elegant, great Italian food. The staff is great; the bar is very very quietly elegant - a good place for a romantic cocktail. Bruschetta is a little more old fashioned, but still nice - the kind of place where you think of the waitstaff as a "maitre d'" and you could take your rich uncle or aunt.

                On Broxton, north of the movie theatres, is the Gypsy Cafe, a nice place for lunch. Sort of Middle Eastern/Eastern European in vibe.

                On Gayley, for good lunch choices, try Cafe Novel, right on the corner of Kinross and Gayley - or Elysee Cafe.

                it's been a while since I've eaten at the major Persian restaurants on Westwood, but if you're new to the area and haven't have Persian food, it's worth a try. Shamishiri or The Flame is a good bet. Also for casual, my favorite is the Attari sandwich shop - google it or search on this site for it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: gsw

                  Napa Valley Grille (which is a chain, btw) has prices on the upper end and at times a bit above what OP is looking is the Westwood location menu: