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First Time to Century City, LA. Where should I go for good food?

Hi Chowhounders,

I am visiting from New York for 2 days this coming week, and will be staying at the InterContinental Hotel in LA (2151 Avenue of the Stars). This is my first time visiting this area, so if you can suggest any great restaurants that fit into the following criteria, I will really appreciate it:

- I am open to all cuisines, and my favorites are French, Italian, Japanese, and New American
- While price is no a concern, I am in town for business so I will have limited time for a long dinner (i.e. fine dining that requires 2+ hours for dinners are possibly out)
- I don't have a car, so places reachable by a cab are preferable

Thank you in advance!

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  1. Best and biggest deal restaurant in Century City is Craft. A very large and diverse menu, so while many make a multi-course extravaganza of multiple shared dishes, you can certainly eat faster and simpler, perhaps at the bar. Best French restaurant is just to the west of Century City off Santa Monica Blvd., called La Cachette. Fine food served in what looks like a converted large house -- I'm not sure it will be comfortable eating solo or quickly there. Best lunch or breakfast spot nearby is Clementine, across Santa Monica Blvd. on a little street called Ensley. Top notch upscale sandwiches and salads, and good baked goods. Very casual, quick, with counter service, a lot of small tables, and much take-out. Many people like Houston's, close to the multiplex theatres, for bar, burger, ribs and steaks, or salads. Best dish there is probably the french dip made from prime rib. They don't take reservations and it can get crowded. There is one place in the food court in Century City that serves prime rib sandwiches and even prime rib that has received good reviews -- most of the other restaurants and booths in the vicinity are chains to be avoided. You are a short cab ride away from Puck's flagship, Spago, or his new steakhouse, Cut, or a myriad of other high-end choices in Beverly Hills to the east.

    5 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      Agreed with nosh on practically all the suggestions; but do make a pitstop at Clementine (even if to grab some baked goodies on your way to the airport!)

      Would also throw in Mako for Japanese (would say Urasawa but that'd definitely be a 2+ hours affair).

      For something a bit more kitschy, check out the Trader Vic's for tiki drinks and go next door for Circa 55 to eat -- which is pretty decent.


      1. re: nosh

        The prime rib place in the food court is The Carvery, and is operated by Lawry's, home of the prime rib on La Cienega in nearby Beverly Hills.

        1. re: carter

          Thanks for jogging my memory. Now here's the question: Which sandwich wins, the french dip at Houston's or the prime rib dip from the Carvery? What are the respective prices??

          1. re: nosh

            No contest! The prime rib french dip at Houston's is incredible! I cut out carbs a few weeks ago and all I can think about is that sandwich.

          2. re: carter

            Definitely check out the food court in the Westfield mall! It is the nicest food court in a mall in Los Angeles. The Carvery is really good for the price!

        2. You're also a short cab ride from Westwood Blvd, and there you've got Shamshiri for Persian or Sunnin Lebanese Cafe. If you're craving Chinese Chicken salad, Feast from the East has a great version on Westwood just south of Santa Monica Blvd.

          For Italian, it's a short cab ride over to Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills.

          On Cotner, very close too, is Upstairs2 which would be good if you wanted to go out with associates too.

          Mako is good, but so is Sushi Sushi.

          Welcome, and hope it's a pleasant stay!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Emme

            You could cab over to Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills which has Japanese, French and California influences, a great vibe and excellent service. You can eat in the bar or at a table there.

            Chaya Brasserie
            8741 Alden Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          2. The cafe in the Intercontinetal was actually pretty decent when I went there for lunch, not a destination place but had a pretty nice burger...it'll be good in a pinch but of course, I'd rather be at Craft.

            1. My suggestion is that you focus on the immediate Century City area since Century City is (relatively) one of the most pedestrian friendly areas of town, plus catching a cab at anyplace other than a hotel or airport is kind of problematical (nothing at all like New York). From your hotel you're just a couple of blocks from Craft and the other restaurants in the brand new Century Park complex, as well as the Century City Mall food court (also brand new and not your typical mall food court). It'll be a nice leisurely stroll after a business day.

              1. Note too that Century City is a souless corporate business park that is comprised of office towers and a few hotels directly next to Beverly Hills. It isn't a residential area and although it is walkable, I don't suggest walking anywhere besides the places that have already been mentioned. Any of the other food options are for the geographically enslaved office workers stuck here. Most people would kill for something as simple as a Pret Manger.

                If you want to cab somewhere consider Spago or slightly farther Lucques. Cabs are easy to get in CC and unlike NY, are easily called in LA. Arrival times will always be short, less than ten minutes from any major restaurant.

                Consider reading BH posts because you are walking distance.

                1. I work at 10100 Santa Monica on the corner of Avenue of the Stars. There is a HUGE shopping plaza called the Westfield there. On the second floor near the movie theatre is an amazingly upscale "food court" There is a Brazilian grill there called Picahna that is fabulous. They even have an outdoor bar on the deck. But there are many places to eat. And on a nice evening, the outdoor dining area is lovely.

                  Adjacent to the Westfield complex is a restaurant on Santa Monica called Gulfstream. I wonder why no one has mentioned it so far. It's FANTASTIC!!!

                  And I have to second Clementine. be aware it's a cafe/bistro where you walk in and order from the counter and find your own seat ... mornings can be a little crowded. Soups, sandwiches, pastries, meatloaf .. it's all good!! The atmosphere is very pleasant.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: LizGraphix

                    You already have the original Craft in NY, so why bother?I like Houston's much more than Gulfstream. Also in the mall is Breadbar - great for breakfast or brunch or lunch. The bread is some of the best in LA, easily better than Balthazar in NY. Quick and MUCH better than the food court options - very standard mall food, if you ask me. If you're in town on a Thursday, there's a farmer's market in CC (more than just produce - lots to taste) and I've heard good things about X Bar.

                    1. re: tablefor1

                      going along with your logic- Houston's is also in NY, so why bother?

                    2. re: LizGraphix

                      A couple of things. The Brazilian grill is called Ummba and it's decent. I like the meat, particularly the garlic beef (though it can be a bit fatty), but it's basically cafeteria style. You go through and scoop of sides (the farofa and fried plaintains are good, but the rest are just so so), order the meat which a server behind the counter cuts for you and puts on your plate, and then weigh the plate. Price is by pound, at different rates depending on whether you just get sides, get beef only, or include fish. Adding fish and shrimp adds $2 per pound, so it is really not worth it.

                      I also like Gulfstream, but it is in the mall itself. It is in a corner with Houstons, Harper's and some pan-Asian place that they are currently building. I enjoy the oysters at Gulfstream and some of the dishes, but it is a bit pricey for what you get. For the same price, you could get a better meal in Beverly Hills. Gulfstream is owned by the Houstons people and, like Houstons, does not take reservations. That means it can be a wait to be seated.

                      A 5-minute cab ride would take you to Sawtelle and Olympic, which houses a host of good Japanese and Japanese-fusion places. Kiriko is one of the best places in the city for sushi, Orris has great small plates (dinner only), and there are more casual places like Furaibo, Blue Marlin, and some curry places. You also can get yogurt at Pinkberry or cream puffs at Beard Papa for dessert.

                      1. re: LizGraphix

                        There is a Bread Bar in Westfield plaza.

                      2. If you need to make your own salad or pick one up to go, or just want a great salad bar, you can't do wrong with Mrs. Winstons!

                        1999 Avenue of the Stars
                        Ste 132
                        Los Angeles, CA 90067
                        (310) 553-4100

                        1. The food court at the Westfield Century City is a great sight to behold. However, I wouldn't waste my free flowing expense account at a food court with mediocre food. Nothing there is excellent. If you are interested in an EXCELLENT place with reasonable prices then, try Clementine's. Great lunch spot but, can get crowded.

                          Mako. Amazing Japanese fusion. Super short cab ride from your hotel.

                          La Cachette has excellent French food and is in Century City.

                          Craft for "New American." Although, I'd probably rather eat at either La Cachette or Mako before Craft. The food and service at Craft just isn't as good as the other two mentioned.

                          1. I was going to suggest Breadbar in the Westfield plaza, perhaps Shamshiri and In n Out burger in nearby Westwood (about 5-10 minutes cab ride) and Clementine but seeing that you're on an expense account, how about Mori on Pico? It's the place that's often mentioned as worthy contender in the never ending battle of sushi superiority so you can give it a shot and compare it to Manhattan's sushi houses. It's about 3 miles from Century City and you can get out well within 90 minutes. Another option is Kiriko on Sawtelle and Olympic.

                            1. The short answer is that unless you go to Craft, if you want good food, get into a cab and get out of Century City. I work in Century City and spend a lot of time in New York. It's much harder to get good food in L.A. than in New York and virtually impossible in Century City. I don't get Clementine at all. In Manhattan, it would be nothing special. Craft or cab. Mori and Kiriko are both good for sushi, but slow poorly paced service is a real problem at Kiriko and unless it is a very slow night, I doubt you could have an enjoyable dinner in less than 2 hours.

                              1. Hi LA Chowhounders,

                                Thank you so much for all your suggestions! I returned to NYC last night and had some great time in LA. Being a idiot of geography, I didn't know that I had actually been to the Century City neighborhood until I got there. In particular, I had been to Urasawa and Spago in the past and shopped at Beverly Hills quite a few times. Man, I felt stupid when I got to the hotel!

                                Anyway, since this trip was for business I didn't have the time to indulge in these fine dinings. Plus I am a regular at Craft in Manhattan so I want to try something different in LA. With all your help I went to the Century City Mall for some quick bites in between meetings. I wanted to try Houston's and Gulfstream which were both recommended in several posts, but the waits were too long, and my coworker and I decided to head over to the food court. It was, as everyone mentioned, was more upscale than the typical food court. It was much more sleek looking and very similar to the food courts that I had seen in Japan and Hong Kong. I tried to snap a few photos but the staff at the food court came over and said I couldn't take pictures. What's so secret about it????

                                Anyway, since I missed the french dip at Houston's, my coworker and I decided to try Lawry's Cavery for their famous prime ribs. I had the original prime rib sandwich while my coworker had the roast beef dip sandwich. Both were hand-carved when we placed the order from two huge round beef in very appealing medium rare pinkish color. We had the choice of ciabatta, french bagugette, or onion foccacia, and the very friendly server recommended the ciabatta as the best option with the beef. So we went for the ciabatta which was topped with huge slices of prime ribs / roast beef, a splash of au jus and fried onion strings. More au jus, creamy horseradish sauce, and homemade potato chips were served on the side.

                                Although this is a food court version, I was very impressed by the quality. The prime rib was very tender and juicy and there was the right amount of fat in the meat (not like some horrible untrimmed fat around the meat like I have tried in some other places) to enhance the flavor. The bread was very fresh which was slightly crusty outside and a bit of chewiness inside. I loved the crispy onion strings which were really still crispy and not soggy or greasy. The au jus, however, didn't have much flavor and didn't add much to the sandwich. Fortunately, the meat itseft was good enough to stand on its own. The potato chips on the side was also very fresh and crispy. My friend's roast beef sandwich was also quite good, but both of us thought that the prime rib was slightly better because of the extra fat marbling in the beef slices.

                                Overall, while this wasn't the best prime rib I ever had, but for what it cost and being located in the food court, the sandwich had already surpassed my expectation. I just wonder how the Houston's french dip would taste like and which one is better! Moreover, I could only imagine that the real deal at Lawry's should be a lot better (if you have tried it please let me know what you think and may be I will try to get a reservation there next time when I am in town!)

                                We were also able to grab some bread and spread from the Bread Bar as afternoon snack and thought they were quite good.

                                The next day we had some catering company for our lunch and it was .....

                                Due to the very tight business schedule, I didn't get to sample more good food in LA before I headed to the airport. I had some quick bite at the cafe at the InterContinental Hotel. The food was very standard, ok and certainly overpriced (but then it was expected at a hotel).

                                I just want to thank all of you again for the great suggestions. I have already jotted down all the places mentioned so I can try them out next time when I am in town. I definitely want to revisit Urasawa again and spend more time eating and shopping in LA! Thanks again!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kobetobiko

                                  Thanks for the report. I don't know what it is about Century City and secrecy or security. When the old ABC Entertainment Center was being torn down to make way for the new office and dining complex I was stopped by guards while taking pictures. When the new complex was completed I was likewise stopped from taking pictures. Needless to say I ended up developing some efficient procedures for quickly and inconspicuously taking pictures.