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i hate to ask for recommendations but im a bit lost (nyc hound)

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sam1 Mar 19, 2008 09:26 PM

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.

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    exilekiss RE: sam1 Mar 19, 2008 09:57 PM

    Hey sam1,

    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
    (310) 842-3977

    * 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
    (323) 297-0100

    * 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
    (310) 276-8500

    * 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
    (323) 460-4170
    http://www.providencela.com/

    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. :

    )

    Good luck~

    1. SauceSupreme RE: sam1 Mar 19, 2008 10:38 PM

      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.

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        New Trial RE: sam1 Mar 19, 2008 11:57 PM

        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.

        -----
        Hatfield's
        6703 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

        Mako Restaurant
        225 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

        Josie
        2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

        Ortolan
        8338 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

        1. J.L. RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 12:09 AM

          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.

          Sincerely,
          West Coast 'Hound (and former New Yorker)
          J.L.

          6 Replies
          1. re: J.L.
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            sam1 RE: J.L. Mar 20, 2008 07:04 AM

            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).

            1. re: sam1
              a
              ausfrench RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 07:19 AM

              According to many reputable sources, LA has the best sushi outside Japan....

              1. re: sam1
                Porthos RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 10:12 AM

                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.

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/499985

                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.

                1. re: sam1
                  J.L. RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 03:28 PM

                  Hey, no sweat. I totally agree with your rec on Yasuda.

                  By the way, go get the pastrami #19, hand-cut at Langer's Deli. It is the best pastrami in the United States. Period.

                  1. re: J.L.
                    Mr Taster RE: J.L. Mar 23, 2008 10:29 AM

                    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.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster
                      J.L. RE: Mr Taster Mar 23, 2008 11:33 AM

                      All righty, then. Plain it is... My point was that Langer's has excellent pastrami (in which case we are definitely on the same page).

              2. dotrat RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 12:13 AM

                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).

                3 Replies
                1. re: dotrat
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                  gsw RE: dotrat Mar 20, 2008 02:39 PM

                  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.

                  1. re: gsw
                    dotrat RE: gsw Mar 22, 2008 03:34 PM

                    Oh, you are absolutey right! That's my M.O., have a drink with a view, enjoy the sunset & then go elsewhere for dinner. It is such a shame that one cannot enjoy an outstanding meal in LA accompanied by our gorgeous sunsets however. I sure wish a local chef woud get on that.
                    : (

                    1. re: dotrat
                      wutzizname RE: dotrat Mar 23, 2008 10:02 AM

                      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.

                2. d
                  Diana RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 07:31 AM

                  Wow, I dig breakfast. Odd I eat it out so rarely. :(

                  I like John O' Groats for pancakes, huevos O' Groats, otameal and great biscuits.

                  The Griddle has ENORMOUS pancakes designed more like sundaes.

                  Square ONe has good breakfasta all round. Try the Grits.

                  Sometimes it's best to eat breakfast, brunch, or lunch at a local Farmer's Market. Santa Monica has a ncie organic one on Wedensday (the biggie) and Saturday on Arizona Blvd, crossing the 3rd st prominade. Hollywood has a good one Sunday.

                  For good Mexican, look for our reviews of Sabor A MExico and Senior Fish

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Diana
                    i
                    ipinhey RE: Diana Mar 24, 2008 10:35 PM

                    I recommend Toast on 3rd in West Hollywood for either breakfast or lunch, although on the weekends expect to wait. The food is really fresh and it's a great place to people watch and sit outside. For dinner there is an amazing spot (also on 3rd) called Locando Veneta which is a really intimate italian spot with great wine and amazing food- have been there several times and have been amazed every time. They have fantastic specials. For mexican I love El Cholo which has really great corn tamales during the spring and summer months.

                  2. katydid13 RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 08:03 AM

                    I recommend Lucques in West Hollywood for lunch or dinner. Great food, cozy atmosphere.

                    1. ipsedixit RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 09:19 AM

                      Based on your reference points from NYC, try anyone of the following:

                      Lou.
                      www.louonvine.com

                      La Buca
                      www.osterialabuca.com

                      Babita
                      1823 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel; (626) 288-7265

                      Terra
                      21337 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; (310) 456-1221

                      Bashan
                      www.bashanrestaurant.com

                      Tasca
                      www.tascawinebar.com

                      From one NYC native to another ... Welcome and enjoy your stay.

                      1. r
                        RaeRenee RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 10:05 AM

                        Do you have many good Ethiopian restaurants in NYC? Nyala and Messob are both great and around that price range. Nyala is larger and more "hip" and Messob (which is across the street) is more intimate and has better house Honey Wine.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: RaeRenee
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                          sam1 RE: RaeRenee Mar 20, 2008 11:00 AM

                          not really...in fact, i only eat ethiopian food in DC...

                          1. re: sam1
                            a_and_w RE: sam1 Mar 25, 2008 02:21 PM

                            Your instincts are correct -- skip the Ethiopian in LA, esp. if you are familiar with the offerings in DC.

                            1. re: a_and_w
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                              Diana RE: a_and_w Mar 25, 2008 06:44 PM

                              A7W. I ask again, how much Ethiopian OUTSIDE of DC have you had?

                              Ignore the naysayers, LA Ethiopian is delicious!

                              Rahel and Messob are fabulous, Merkato and Nyala are pretty darn good. Genet is different, but very tasty for non-traditional.

                              1. re: Diana
                                a_and_w RE: Diana Mar 25, 2008 07:06 PM

                                Like I said, if you know how Ethiopian food is supposed to taste, don't bother with it in LA. Don't get me wrong -- the places in NYC are every bit as mediocre. But there's no point in wasting a meal on LA Ethiopian when there are so many amazing things out here that you can't get back east.

                                1. re: a_and_w
                                  d
                                  Diana RE: a_and_w Mar 26, 2008 06:22 AM

                                  I dunno, as I've said before in our "ethiopian" discussions, the Ehtiopian poulation in Little Ehtiopia in La are the ones who frequent the LA Ethiopian owned Ethiopian restaraunts on Farifax the most. I know a few of them, and they say it is just like home, Ethiopia.

                                  I would never tell a person to miss a an entire ethnicity of Cuisine in a city, especially if I am not of that culture myself. I might know how it's supposed to taste, it is made by Ethiopian ex pats..and they make it the same way they did back in Ethiopia. Then again, I couldn't be honest, I myself have never been to Ethiopia, but my friends from there have.

                                  A and W, have you been to Ethiopia and eaten there? What are the nuanced differences?

                                  Notice, I make no assertions about the quality of DC Ethiopian, nor do I tell people not to go there. NExt time I'm in DC, I honestly want to try it again to compare!

                                  I know what I like, I know what I think tastes really good, and I love the LA Ethiopian! Rahel and MEssob are my personal favorites, other chowhounds have others.

                                  1. re: Diana
                                    Das Ubergeek RE: Diana Mar 26, 2008 07:31 AM

                                    Diana, I have eaten Ethiopian in DC and Ethiopian in LA (and in SF, and NY). It's not that the Ethiopian here is bad. It's that it's not a cuisine we in LA are especially known for, and it's possible to get much better Ethiopian (and a wider variety) in DC.

                                    It'd be like going to Minneapolis and being told to try the Korean food -- while there is probably good Korean food in the Twin Cities, it isn't going to measure up to the Korean food we have in Koreatown.

                                    It's not bad, in fact I love Ethiopian in LA, but I wouldn't make it a highlight of a Chow tour of LA, not when there are so many other things that are brought to their pinnacles in LA.

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                      Servorg RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 26, 2008 07:36 AM

                                      Hard to fathom how LA can't be one of the two best places in the US for Ethiopian chow since we have the second largest (to DC) population of Ethiopians in the US living here.

                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
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                                        Diana RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 26, 2008 07:57 AM

                                        Now I MUST go to DC to compare! Thanks D.U.!\

                                        But I still say to someone from NY, try LA Ethiopian!

                                        1. re: Diana
                                          a_and_w RE: Diana Mar 26, 2008 01:12 PM

                                          Diana, I respect your opinion and admire your passion, but I stand by my advice. Visitors to LA should focus on our city's comparative advantages like Chinese, Thai, Korean, Mexican, etc. To use another example, I think LA pizza is a lot better than most hounds admit, but I would still tell NY'ers to skip pizza in LA.

                                          BTW, you don't have to go to DC to get a sense of how much better Ethiopian food can be. If you find yourself in the SF Bay Area, check out a place in Oakland called Cafe Colucci -- truly spectacular. I've linked their website below, so you can see the menu. Notice how many interesting (non-traditional) vegetarian offerings there are even as compared to a place like Rahel's, which specializes in vegetarian cuisine.

                                          I would love to see someplace in LA do a California twist on Ethiopian that combines traditional methods with our abundant and delicious local produce.

                                          http://www.cafecolucci.com/

                                          1. re: a_and_w
                                            d
                                            Diana RE: a_and_w Mar 26, 2008 01:17 PM

                                            You know, I was up in SF in Feb, and I so WANTED to go to Colucci! No one else did :(. Now I MUST go back and try it!

                                            Have you been to Meals By Genet? She's non traditional, sort of.

                          2. wutzizname RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 11:00 AM

                            Since you'll be on the westside, a place that rarely gets mentioned but which I think you'd really like is Piccolo in Venice. Tiny little Italian, just off the boardwalk/beach. Great service and food. No reservations.

                            Also second Lou on Vine, and Luques, and A.O.C. for your trip.

                            -----
                            Piccolo
                            5 Dudley Ave, Venice, CA 90291

                            1. g
                              gsw RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 02:45 PM

                              Check out Abode in Santa Monica.

                              http://www.aboderestaurant.com/

                              1. n
                                nosh RE: sam1 Mar 20, 2008 05:33 PM

                                If you and your GF are spending four days in LA, there is a very good chance you will visit the Getty museum in Brentwood, not far from Santa Monica. In any event, you should. Convenient just off the 405, a fun little tram shuttle up the hill, amazing gorgeous gardens, and we haven't even gotten to the art and architecture. The Restaurant at the Getty is surprisingly good, pretty upscale, and features immense floor-to-ceiling picture windows with views stretching from the ocean to downtown.

                                I would suggest Wolfgang Puck's seminal fusion restaurant, Chinois on Main, on Main in Santa Monica. Bold flavors, dramatic and kitschy decor, good service, everything served to share. Stick with the small plates -- they are more interesting and a better value. If you must share an entree, choose the whole deepfried catfish or the sliced filet in szechwan sauce.

                                Agree that you should check out the stretch of Japanese places on Sawtelle, which runs parallel to just west of the 405 freeway, just north of Olympic. The place I'd try is Orris for small plates designed to share -- no reservations but a couple shouldn't have to wait long.

                                Be sure to sample an In-n-Out burger while here. There is one just north of LAX and another fairly convenient to the Getty in Westwood Village on Gayley, just south of UCLA. Get a double-double and if you must have fries, order them well done.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: nosh
                                  J.L. RE: nosh Mar 21, 2008 12:20 AM

                                  Order "Animal-Style" on that In-N-Out double double, por favor.

                                  1. re: J.L.
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                                    sam1 RE: J.L. Mar 21, 2008 08:51 AM

                                    um, thats like the first thing we're eating when we arrive.

                                    so, we made 2 reservations so far...lucques and the little door which was highly recommended by close friends of mine.

                                    any opinion on little door?

                                    we have one more nice dinner to plan...it's between joe's, jiraffe, hatfields, or josie...any final choice on these four? we'll probably be in westwood that night.

                                    we're also going to langers of course...and lots of taquerias for snacks.

                                    1. re: sam1
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                                      nosh RE: sam1 Mar 21, 2008 11:57 AM

                                      ok, now we are comparing slightly better for this or that...

                                      i prefer aoc to lucques, and perhaps the grill on the alley or jar to the little door. if you want a place convenient to westwood for an additional dinner, i'd suggest nook, orris, or upstairs 2, and i'd still guide you to chinois rather than joe's, josie or jiraffe for the bold contrast to the cal-med you're already doing.

                                      1. re: sam1
                                        d
                                        Diana RE: sam1 Mar 21, 2008 04:36 PM

                                        Rather than the Little Door, which is nice but nothing spectacular and rather overpriced, get a picnic basket put together from the items at their little cafe/shop, "The Little Next Door" All sorts of good meats,cheeses, salads, terrines, pates, and nice dessert yummies. They carry tapanades, spreads and some nice drinks, and you will be able to get a good spread. Take it up to Will Roger's Park (not the beach, but the Park off of Sunset in Pacific Palisades. One of the few parks in the area where you can take a nice bottle of wine, which you can pick up at, Vendome, or Wally's or something (look online for wine tasting times in wine shops in LA.

                                        I found the Little Door just not as nice as Chez Mimi in Santa Monica, which is way more, well, French, and has a samshingly nice patio.

                                        For Mexican, I reiterate Sabor A Mexico (slwoish service, but good food) or Senior Fish.

                                        You really should hit the Origianl Farmer's Market on Farifax and Third. Ignore the massive scary mall connected to it, just go into the farmers markets. The stand in there serve some good stuff. You can find good doughnuts, mexican, brazilian, creole, an OK diner, baked goods, Ice Crem, mexican and more. Plus great people wtching and a beer drinking spot and an OK place for wine and cheese.

                                        Don't mis, if you can help it, Ethiopian on Fairfax south of Wilshire. Just go down Fairfax till you hit Little Ethiopia. I reccomend Rahel Vegetarain for the best flavors and service. Order a Hudade or Special Combo for your whole party and you will LOVE it.Plus, the price is so affordable, and you'll leave happy and stuffed. A bonus, Rahel doesn't charge corkage, since she doesn't serve alcohol herself. bring a good Reisling, Mead, Sake, Viognier, Non oaky Chard, Chablis or something. or great beer!

                                        Try not to just see LA through the fancy, high priced (albeit good) places. LA, like New York, shines for it's variety of ethnic foods.

                                        1. re: Diana
                                          mollyomormon RE: Diana Mar 26, 2008 01:59 PM

                                          I don't mean to nit pick, but you seem to consistently call it "Senior Fish" when it's actually "Senor Fish." Could be confusing for someone trying to google the place although I gigle every time since it evokes an image of a restaurant that specializes in old fish. I do love their scallop burritos.

                                        2. re: sam1
                                          n
                                          New Trial RE: sam1 Mar 21, 2008 07:06 PM

                                          Of those four, I would rank them (in descending order): Hatfield's, Josie [closest of the four to Westwood, though], Jiraffe and then Joe's. I agree with the others that Little Door would be a waste of a meal that could be better enjoyed elsewhere--either another one of the four or one of the other great recommendations made by others here.

                                          1. re: sam1
                                            a_and_w RE: sam1 Mar 25, 2008 02:26 PM

                                            For taquerias in Santa Monica, try the chorizo and cheese tacos at Tacos Por Favor. You might also try some Oaxacan at Monte Alban -- my favorite is the "chicken tacos enchiladas" with red or black mole.

                                      2. t
                                        tagsiemers RE: sam1 Mar 21, 2008 10:19 AM

                                        As a New Yorker living in LA (for 15 years and still a NYer), I recommend AOC on Beverly; Lucques; Joans on Third; and -- to the likely horror of other Angelenos -- La Vecchia Cucina on Main St, Santa Monica -- fabulous chocolate cake and decent Italian.

                                        1. Emme RE: sam1 Mar 22, 2008 09:27 PM

                                          You've got some great advice thus far, so I'll try not to repeat... though, I do agree re The Griddle, Ethiopian, Korean BBQ (Sa Rit Gol or Soot Bull Jeep would be my suggestions), Hatfield's Josie...

                                          In SM, Bread and Porridge does good breakfast, as well as Snug Harbor, both on Wilshire.

                                          3 Square would be another good place to visit in Venice.

                                          For lunch or hearty snack, visit Bay Cities Deli on Lincoln.

                                          Pricier than La Vecchia Cucina, I prefer Via Veneto in SM.

                                          For lunch in Venice, both Lilly's and Rose Cafe are nice.

                                          One night I'd get appetizers and/or drinks at The Lobster, just to watch the sunset.

                                          In addition to Lou on Vine, I also like Cube for small plates.

                                          1. Mr Taster RE: sam1 Mar 23, 2008 10:45 AM

                                            My opinion on the differences between dining out in NY vs. LA:

                                            - NY shines with its bounty of high end places whereas LA shines with its vast array of more authentic ethnic holes-in-the-wall (Of course NY has their share of basement dives like Wo Hop, but note my "authentic" qualifier). LA has quite a lot of lousy (or at least not worth the money) high-end restaurants (see Crustacean, Mr. Chow, etc.). Having said that, we do have our fair share of pricey chic restaurants. But for sheer maximization of cost:deliciousness, LA's ethnic cheap eats are the way to go. Read Jonathan Gold in the Eat+Drink section at www.laweekly.com, and check out LA's essential 99 restaurants as well as "where to eat now."

                                            - LA's ethnic dives are much more accessible than NY's because of the geography of NY + the ability to move around with a car. The authentic ethnic eateries in NY tend to be on the fringes of Queens, and even people that have cars (most notably my sister and her friends) equate a drive to queens with a drive to hell. In Los Angeles, Koreatown, Thai Town and Little Tokyo are all very accessible, and the San Gabriel Valley with its plethora of outstanding regional authentic Chinese food is just a short drive further.

                                            My recommendation to you: Go to Little Tokyo. Make a reservation at Sushi Gen. Sit at a table (not the bar) and order the Sashimi Deluxe ($35- cheaper at lunch). You will get a huge platter of very good quality fish, in an authentic Japanese environment (which is to say with lots of wood panels and a cozy atmosphere with lots of Japanese people noisily enjoying their food, not zen and tranquil like a trendy Brooklyn yuppie joint that caters to Americans. As it should be!

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                              a
                                              andytseng RE: Mr Taster Mar 25, 2008 02:32 PM

                                              I agreed with Mr Taster up until his 3rd point of recommending Sushi Gen.

                                              Anyway, if you decide to take a trip down to the San Gabriel Valley, I'd say the must-haves are Golden Deli (Viet), Mandarin Noodle Deli (Chinese), and Babita (Mexican).

                                              Whenever I have friends in town, I rarely take them to the fancier restaurants of LA, because that's not what LA is really about.

                                            2. s
                                              sam1 RE: sam1 Mar 24, 2008 08:53 AM

                                              hey everyone...you've been nothing short of great.

                                              last request for information...

                                              if you can pick one, would you go to hatfields or grace?

                                              also, we have some excellent italian in nyc but Angelini Osteria looks delicious...should i go or skip it?

                                              thx again

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: sam1
                                                SauceSupreme RE: sam1 Mar 24, 2008 12:37 PM

                                                I'd personally choose Grace over Hatfields, since I prefer New American versus French cuisine. And I like the room better. That's how close it is in my opinion; in terms of quality it's a tossup.

                                                If you're still sticking with the original post for something small, go with Hatfield's, but they're both intimate rooms.

                                                Owing to the cost of rent in LA (not as expensive as Manhattan, but still up there), there are quite a few small-ish nooks, and not just constrained to the pricy-est part of town.

                                                For example, Koreatown (aside from the big BBQ joints) is nothing but small nooks.

                                                1. re: sam1
                                                  tatertotsrock RE: sam1 Mar 24, 2008 10:13 PM

                                                  I adore GRACE!
                                                  I have been there for special occaisions, dinner with friends, nights at the bar for a cocktail and a taste, Burger Night with one other person and Burger Night with 6 friends, and most recently, I went for a Burger and a Glass of Wine, solo, after a long day of too much physical activity...always perfect, always great service, always great food!
                                                  I am a total meat eater but would happily go vegan/veg if I had the money to eat there everyday...GRACE really rocks the vegetables!
                                                  All the game, fish, meat, grains, vegs, are excellent, and the wine list is dreamy and the somm is sooo helpful and far from snooty.
                                                  It's a "grown-up" room without being too stuffy.
                                                  Enjoy!

                                                  1. re: sam1
                                                    e
                                                    ElissaInPlaya RE: sam1 Mar 25, 2008 10:28 AM

                                                    Grace!

                                                    1. re: sam1
                                                      a_and_w RE: sam1 Mar 25, 2008 02:29 PM

                                                      I haven't been to Angelini, but I was underwhelmed by La Terza, which is owned by the same guy. The only Italian that's really impressed me thus far in LA is Osteria Mozza, but you can get the same or better food at Babbo, Lupa, and Del Posto in NYC.

                                                      1. re: a_and_w
                                                        SauceSupreme RE: a_and_w Mar 26, 2008 12:25 AM

                                                        I don't crave Italian food the way I do for other cuisines, but my favorite at the moment is Osteria La Buca.

                                                      2. re: sam1
                                                        f
                                                        Food Good RE: sam1 Mar 26, 2008 02:25 PM

                                                        HATFIELDS is intimate, Grace is loud. I liked Grace, but the best meal I've had in LA is at Hatfields. Bouley was the best I've ever had, Hatfields was pretty close but much more relaxed vibe about the place.

                                                        Angelini is good, but I don't think it's a must.

                                                        I'm a NY transplant, so take it from me, if you love the Chinese food in NY, skip the Chinese food here, and eat all the Sushi you can.

                                                        If you are in the Melrose Ave, check out Azami.

                                                        1. re: Food Good
                                                          Das Ubergeek RE: Food Good Mar 26, 2008 07:55 PM

                                                          If you love the takeout Chinese food in New York and don't want to eat "real" Chinese food (which, admittedly, you can get in Queens), then yeah, skip it. We don't do fat egg rolls and chow mein as well as New York.

                                                          What we do have is the San Gabriel Valley, which puts Queens to shame.

                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                            a_and_w RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 3, 2008 09:30 AM

                                                            Can't recall if it was DUG or ipsedixit who mentioned NY eggrolls. Whichever it was, you were totally right -- I stand corrected:

                                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/503659

                                                      3. j
                                                        JE33 RE: sam1 Mar 24, 2008 11:22 AM

                                                        I'll make this easy for you--very santa monica centric

                                                        Giorgio Baldi’s=Babbo
                                                        Lucques=Mas/Farmhouse
                                                        Melisse=Bouley
                                                        Urasawa=Masa
                                                        Mori=15 East
                                                        Comme Ca=Pastis
                                                        Providence=Oceana
                                                        La Botte=A Voce
                                                        Josie=Blue Hill
                                                        Del Posto=Valentino
                                                        Lupa=Cafe Delfini
                                                        Capo=Waverly Inn
                                                        Craft=Craft
                                                        Nobu=Nobu 57th Street
                                                        Nobu Malibu=The original Nobu

                                                        That should just about do it. Oh, there are plenty of posts on great breakfast spots. My favorite is the patio of the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills hotel.

                                                        Good luck and have fun!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: JE33
                                                          b
                                                          Bria Silbert RE: JE33 Mar 25, 2008 02:00 PM

                                                          Agree with the others (and being an XNYR as well, hope that carries some weight) - Grace is such a pleasant experience, it's on my top five list of restaurants in LA. Speaking of which, L.A. Magazine rated Lucques as their #1 restaurant in L.A.

                                                          http://www.lamag.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?s...

                                                          1. re: JE33
                                                            a_and_w RE: JE33 Mar 25, 2008 02:30 PM

                                                            JE33, I haven't yet been to most of the LA places you mention but am familiar with almost all of their NYC equivalents. Thanks for a very helpful list!

                                                          2. e
                                                            ers258 RE: sam1 Mar 25, 2008 05:49 PM

                                                            skip angelini osteria - it is very hit and miss and considering your options, why take the chance? especially since you can find better in nyc... perbacco on 4th is better and cheaper

                                                            and if you have not made your final decision, go to Providence over Grace over Hatfield's... someone below made the comparison to Oceana and that is not appropriate only because Providence has a much more nuanced tasting menu and an excellent pastry chef. plus, the room is nicer... it is more similar to Le Bernardin but will be a little less money and a much less formal atmosphere (no jacket required)

                                                            and additional note, if you are going for mexican, you should go to Loteria in the Farmer's Market (Fairfax and 3rd)

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: ers258
                                                              s
                                                              sam1 RE: ers258 Mar 26, 2008 06:51 AM

                                                              any chance you can tell me if the 5 course providence tasting menu will be a full dinner or just sort of a small sampling of their offerings?

                                                              everyone has given me so many great ideas, i think its going to be grace, lucques, and then providence...and ill throw joe's, langers, and some mexican in for lunch.

                                                              1. re: sam1
                                                                d
                                                                Diana RE: sam1 Mar 26, 2008 07:14 AM

                                                                Each course is small in itself, but combined, you will be satisfied. Ther is also a fabulous bread basket, and a few courses somteimes sneak in as extras. Still, I recommend the 9 or even better, the Chefs Tasting menu. I have done both, and I leave satisfied and stuffed.

                                                                I myself am going for a super special blowout at Providence in April. More on that later ;)

                                                            2. s
                                                              sam1 RE: sam1 Apr 14, 2008 07:43 AM

                                                              so, after exhaustive research and subsequent eating, i came back from LA last night and for the most part, went to most of the places on my list.

                                                              here's what i ate and drank:

                                                              - after arriving at the W in westwood, i walked the 6 blocks to gayley for in n out. the well done fries were just like dry chips...not for me. i actually think this branch didnt have the quality down like my other times at in n out. i ended up going to in n out on sepulveda a few days later and had a much better burger and fries.

                                                              - dinner at AOC. probably not the best idea to have this food since i eat this a lot in NYC at ino and gottino and a bunch of other places. that said, i liked AOC. service was quite good and i enjoyed my rillettes (great but more like pate than should be), chicken liver crostini with bacon (gluttonously delicious), and even my tuna and avocado dish. my girlfriend's steak with roquefort butter was quite good too. we split a slice of excellent almond cake which we loved. with a bottle of barbara d'alba, 5 plates and 1 dessert was around $150 after tip. jon voight sat behind us.

                                                              - breakfast at toast on 3rd...meh. nice enough and i know its just breakfast but it did nothing for me. i spent most of my meal scooping off the cream and butter from my french toast. latte was weak too. eating outside was nice though.

                                                              - sushi snack at kanpai on lincoln. i needed something to tide me over before dinner and snuck away to kanpai since i was nearby. it was here that i realized i needed to eat more sushi in LA and that you guys are very lucky to have so many great sushi joints. i had a basic sushi deluxe and a giant scallop sushi with sea salt and lime from the specials menu. food was fantastic...particularly the scallop. the place was empty and the chef was very nice. a bit expensive for what i was expecting for a joint but the quality was there. i wish i got to try more of the specials.

                                                              - dinner at lucques...i think their pr person deserves a bonus because this place definitely isn't the best restaurant in LA. i was pretty underwhelmed by this place. nice room, friendly service but the food was pretty damn boring. after eating the sushi, i opted for a light starter and had a salad of oranges and avocados...which was quite boring. for an entree, i had the beef short rib with horseradish cream...apparently a popular dish. while the short rib was quite good, the cream made the dish a total heavy mess. i spent more time nibbling on the greens and grilled onions. my date's mushroom lasagna was sort of good but quite heavy. i guess i wasnt expecting such a heavy meal here. dessert was a vanilla crepe that was wimpy and mediocre. its a shame but i was not impressed with lucques at all.

                                                              - breakfast at cora's in santa monica. once again, its breakfast but i didnt get the fuss about this place. its just some eggs and bacon and pancakes with orange juice in the batter. took us quite awhile to get our food. i probably shouldve gone to shutters down the block instead.

                                                              - snack at the ivy...not my idea but after shopping on robertson, the girl wanted to go. it was lame. i cant see how any celebrity would eat at such a tourist trap. its like looking for celebrities at planet hollywood. instead, the place was packed with wealthy women and their teenage daughters. in their defense, i had a decent caesar salad and the diet coke was heavenly.

                                                              - dinner at hatfields...this was my last chance to feel good about my eating in LA and i left totally, totally happy. from the minute we walked in, the service was friendly and professional. we had a great table in what was a pretty basic room but i was happy the food was the focus. we had a quite inexpensive bottle of muscadet that we loved and i ordered the croque madame and the rack of lamb. the croque madame seemed weird but one bite in and i was incredibly pleased. it was very buttery but surprisingly, everything in the dish worked well. the rack of lamb was cooked rare and was probably the best preparation ive had. it was ridiculously tender and the sort of maple sauce was surprisingly good with the root vegetables with the dish. for dessert, we opted for the strawberry napoleon which was a glorified shortcake and absolutely excellent and the chocolate peanut butter truffle cake that was good but a bit heavy and predictable. dinner for 2 with 1 entree, 3 appetizers, a bottle of wine and 2 desserts was around $200 and very worth it in my opinion...i really liked this place.

                                                              i got to eat lots mexican while in san diego but wish i ate more ethnic food...it just wasnt what the girlfriend was into. that said, i had a great time and looking forward to eating there again.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: sam1
                                                                wutzizname RE: sam1 Apr 14, 2008 09:15 AM

                                                                Sorry you didn't have a better experience at Luques. I've never been disappointed. But not sure how you ended up at Toast. My god. For most on this board, it's the butt of all breakfast jokes.

                                                                1. re: wutzizname
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                                                                  sam1 RE: wutzizname Apr 14, 2008 10:18 AM

                                                                  i thought it was a consistent favorite...i guess i messed that up.

                                                                  after dinner at aoc, we had drinks at the bar at little door. im very happy i didnt eat dinner here like i first intended. the place looked a bit scrappier than the website and i just couldnt see paying $35 entree prices in that spot.

                                                                  1. re: sam1
                                                                    Servorg RE: sam1 Apr 14, 2008 10:24 AM

                                                                    Little Door is another spot that mostly earns pans here. Which I & O on Sepulveda? Was this in the SF Valley? On the west side I only know and go to the one on Venice Blvd. in CC / WLA and the one at Costco in Marina Del Rey on Washington.

                                                                    1. re: Servorg
                                                                      Servorg RE: Servorg Apr 14, 2008 10:38 AM

                                                                      Sorry, I never think of the LAX / Westchester I & O as being on Sepulveda but rather on Lincoln. Mystery solved.

                                                                      1. re: Servorg
                                                                        mollyomormon RE: Servorg Apr 14, 2008 11:02 AM

                                                                        There's another on Sepulveda near LAX.

                                                                2. flavasista RE: sam1 Apr 14, 2008 01:17 PM

                                                                  in the mood for Korean? LA does it better...these spots aren't elegant, a little harder to find, but quite tasty

                                                                  for spicy crab soup:
                                                                  ONDAL 1
                                                                  (213) 382-8844
                                                                  3160 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                                                                  Ondal 2
                                                                  Neighborhood: Mid-City
                                                                  4566 W Washington Blvd
                                                                  Los Angeles, CA 90016
                                                                  (323) 933-3228

                                                                  for the best BO-SSAM (somewhat similar to momofuku ssam bar) check out
                                                                  Kobawoo House
                                                                  698 S Vermont Ave Ste 109
                                                                  Los Angeles, CA 90005
                                                                  (213) 389-7300

                                                                  Have a great trip!

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