i hate to ask for recommendations but im a bit lost (nyc hound)
ive been to LA maybe 4x but its usually so filled with seeing friends that i rarely make it a food destination.
ill be in town for 4-5 night in mid april with my girlfriend and we'd love to get some reservations because i am completely overwhelmed and have little reference points for LA.
in nyc, we tend to like more intimate places with the focus on amazing food...but im assuming thats a rarity in LA. if you are familiar with NYC, recent favorites include freemans, ino, momofuku ssam bar, little owl, blue ribbon bakery, bouley, telepan, applewood...stuff like that.
ideally, im seeking some great LA spots that are hip but not ridiculous and with excellent food. i dont mind giant places as long as the food is solid. mainly dinner spots...on the mid-high end price wise ($22-35 entrees).
i think ill use all the other threads to find amazing mexican (as you know, nyc mexican is godawful), but id appreciate any help.
also, great breakfast spots would be great...
we're staying near santa monica but would drive anywhere for good food.
You mention a few focus points in your post (wanting "more intimate places" and then also ending with willing to "drive anywhere for good food"). I'll focus on the "good food" part and note if anything is too far away setting-wise, from your first part of the OP. :)
IMHO, L.A. is home to some of the best Ethnic Cuisine in the U.S. (just a note).
* Sushi Zo - Some of the best Sushi around. Go for the Omakase (Chef's Choice) course. Not that intimate, though.
9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
* Osteria Mozza - Mario Batali + Nancy Silverton's take on a neighborhood osteria. IMHO, some great Italian food, fun atmosphere at a good price. Their Mozzarella Bar is really fun as well. Nice decoration, classy, clean, but Very Loud, though.
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
* Cut - Wolgang Puck's delectable Steakhouse. See kevin h's amazing photo blog / review to start getting hungry. :)
9500 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
* Providence - Amazing Chef's Menu meal (focusing more on seafood dishes). A bit pricier, but romantic and intimate and great food (I've only had the tasting menu courses, so I can't vouch for the ala carte).
5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
There's tons of tasty Japanese Izakaya / Yakitori-style restaurants (but they're more fun and tasty food vs. intimate / fancy), great authentic Chinese restaurants, Korean food in K-Town, Ethiopian places and much more if you're interested. :)
Casually, there are places like Monte Alban, Musha and Father's Office.
For something for more of a "impress your date" night but still mid-level, there's Joe's on Abbot Kinney (Michelin-starred!) and JiRaffe.
Further east, there's All'Angelo and Angelini Osteria that might fit your budget. Lou on Vine. Hungry Cat. Fraiche is getting high praise from Bruni in the NYT, so you might want to check it out also; Chef Travi's degree reads like a best-of list with experience at Spago and La Terza on his resume.
There are a number of intimate spots with amazing food available here. In addition to some of those mentioned below, Hatfield's, Josie, Mako and Ortolan are all worth a look.
6703 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
225 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405
8338 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Wow. Thanks for the classic condescension from the East Coast ("...in nyc, we tend to like more intimate places with the focus on amazing food...but im assuming thats a rarity in LA...").
OK, got that out of my system. Now, for something constructive: Go get some Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley. It's a bit of a shlep, but you mentioned that driving is not a big factor.
The search function (the same one you'll be using to locate that amazing Mexican food) works also for excellent Chinese establishments in the SGV, and also for those "great breakfast spots" you were alluding to.
West Coast 'Hound (and former New Yorker)
didnt mean it like you read it. by 'we,' i meant my girlfriend and i...not all of nyc. given the fact that manhattan is so expensive and space is rare, there are tons of nooks and small places that i assume are not as prevalent in LA...i actually dig LA quite a bit.
thx for the recommendations so far...i think you guys really are getting what im looking for. im really looking for food i cant get in nyc so im going to skip the sushi (next time yr in nyc, check out sushi yasuda).
Sam, you've got the right idea. LA has some great sushi but no one outclasses Yasuda-san. Try to hit SGV for regional chinese cuisine and koreatown for excellent korean. Here's a report and link to a long list of recommendations for someone visiting from SF.
I would recommend AOC, then Lucques (in that order) for delcious food.
It may be interesting to try out P.Mozza and Batali's outpost in LA. While I liked O. Mozza, I still liked Babbo better.
Providence is a bit like Le Bernardin.
It may be worth going to Cut for a west coast steakhouse experience.
J.L...... No no no
As a former New Yorker, you must understand that the #19 sandwich (loaded with russian dressing and coleslaw) is an affront to:
A) the wonderful, delicate flavor of the pastrami and
B) all the Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants who labored to bring America this wonderful food :)
The pastrami sandwich at Langer's is so wonderful (on part with Katz's, if not better) that adding anything to your sandwich other than a tiny smidge of Gulden's is utter blasphemy! As a former NYer you should know that.... :)
To Sam1: go to Langer's, but order the sandwich as you would at a good Jewish deli in NY (i.e. sans russian dressing and coleslaw). Notice how the bread is steam toasted, adding a layer of texture to your sandwich that potentially raises it above Katz's.
Close to Santa Monica in West LA, is Sawtelle Blvd which has many japanese & fusion restaurants. Might be fun to walk around & eat what looks best or search the board for sawtelle for specific recomendations/ideas.
Note: there is no great food with an ocean view in LA! (IMO)
Breakfast spots include Cora's on Ocean Ave SM (take a walk on the bach after) & Amandine in W. LA on Wilshire Blvd. I also really like BLD (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) in W.Hollywood. Second the recs on the westside for Josie, Jiraffe & Joes. I enjoy them all regularly. I also second Mozza Osteria but I prefer the Pizzeria honestly (just around the corner).
Maybe it's not GREAT food, but Sam and his girlfriend really shouldn't pass up the chance to have a drink at the Penthouse at the Huntley in Santa Monica - the view is to die for. We had a couple glasses of wine and a charcuterie plate around 5 p.m, and then went elswhere for a marvelous dinner.
Another nice dining spot with intimate tables ins Warzawa in Santa Monica. Or if you like it dive-y, try Chez Jay for steaks.
For what it’s worth, there are two new options in the works up in Malibu.
A new outpost of the popular Beachcomer in Newport Beach (Crystal Cove) is getting ready to open at the foot of the Malibu Pier. Judging by the south bay location, it’s not high end dining, but pretty tasty café/bistro fare.
And slightly further north, right on the beach at Point Dume, the old Sunset Restaurant is supposedly undergoing a makeover that will bring serious eats to that one-of-a-kind locale.