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Apr 8, 2008 10:34 AM

At what LA restaurant do you overlook horrible Food/Decor/Service for something great of theirs that you have to have?

For me:

1) Jerry' Famous Deli: Really terrible service, but the pastrami reuben is soooo good.

2) Hungry Cat: I have never had good service there, but I crave, crave, CRAVE their cocktails

3) Genghis Cohen: I eat at Genghis at least once a week (for the last 5-6 years). I like a lot of what's on their menu, but if I get one or two certain members of the waitstaff, I know we're in for sloppy service.

4) Rainbow Room: parking is such a nightmare, and the servers all seem like they are high (me: "what borbons do you have?" waitress: "Uh, Dewar's, and I think Tanquerey.") but to me, the Rainbow Room's pizza ends the Vito's/Village debate.

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  1. Monte Alban. I'll look for parking forever, wait to be served for some time (it's always because I'll have several servers, never just one who has the table), and terrible decor. But the FOOD! Yum.

    1 Reply
    1. re: yogachik

      I've always found it easiest to park on Santa Monica, a bit east of Monte Alban. Their parking lot is more frustration than it's worth.

    2. Jerry's, but I gotta have the Midnight madness now and again, or maybe the matzoh ball soup.

      Sabor A Mexico-lousy service and wait, great food. I like the Quesadillas and the veggie burrito.

      Yum Cha. You have to fight through all the ladies, and then the counter people look at you like you're from mars. But those sweet brown rice cakes! MMMMM!

      1. 1) Marston's - service can be lackluster and parking potentially horrific, but I love their various omelets, pancakes & chopped salads.

        2) Tokyo Table - generally not a big fan of modernized-fusion-Japanese, but I caved into their sushi pizza, mochi gratin & honey toast.

        3) Clemetine - also horrific parking and sometimes crazy crowds, but what I get is always delish.

        4) Boule - service is more miss than hit here with the staff caring less about customers and generally snooty in attitude, but I love their macarons, ice creams and caneles.


        1. Any and every vietnamese restaurant.

          10 Replies
          1. re: ns1

            Ha, quoted for truth! How many pho places are just dingy and reeking of laziness in terms of decor, but churn out fantastic food?

            I go to Weiland's in DTLA for their 2.50 pints of microbrews and garlic fries despite some of the slowest bar service I've ever experienced.

            1. re: ns1

              Expand on this? I've heard this one before on here...

              At times, the parking lot & lunchtime crowd hungry for Godmother sandwiches at Bay Cities feels a bit like the end of The Day of the Locust. lol. It's usually worth it tho.

              1. re: petradish

                It's a catch 22 in my opinion.

                Vietnamese people, as a whole, don't wanna spend on decor/ambience. They want cheap, good food. It usually comes at the expense of cleanliness and server attitude. There are a few exceptions, but in general, they suffer from the "builder's triangle" (modified), which follows

                Good, cheap, ambience, pick 2

                There are many vietnamese places with excellent food and decent decor. They all suffer from piss poor service.

                Actually, now that I think about it, most suffer from piss poor service anyway. The only restaurant that I know breaks this rule is Favori in Santa Ana.

                It's a catch 22 because if a restaurant tries to excel on service/decor, their prices will be higher than the general (vietnamese population) would pay for. Therefore, they would either "alter" the dishes to favor the "regional taste buds" *cough*, or just go out of business (which is the usual case).

                Therefore, it would seem, that the most successful vietnamese restaurants are fairly dirty, with piss poor service, that serve excellent cheap food.

                1. re: ns1

                  Yes I whole-heartedly agree about Vietnamese restaurants. Every time I go, I either bring my own water bottle or else have to stand up and go fill the water glasses myself. It seems like once they take your order, they are pretty much done with you as you have to pay at the cash register. The food, however, is soooo worth it. Vien Dong on Brookhurst is my favorite.

                  1. re: ns1

                    It's one thing to say that X% of all Vietnamese restaurants that you've ever been to have poor service (or, as you insist on putting it, "piss poor service") and uninspired ambiance, quite another to claim racial or cultural characteristics of the Vietnamese people as a whole. I haven't been to a lot of Vietnamese places in Southern California, but they're all over the Washington, DC, area, where I used to live, and many had not only great food and fine decor but also acceptable service, even to those whose cultural experiences are limited.

                    1. re: Mel Gee

                      Well, seeing as how I am vietnamese and have been around vietnamese culture and people for the past oh i don't know, 24 years, I'm gonna say that I have a pretty good grasp of what works and what doesn't.

                      w/o having experienced vietnamese food in wash. dc, but having experienced vietnamese foods in other "low vietnamese population" cities, i'm gonna daresay it's an entirely different "experience"

                      remember, key points here are "cater to the demographic" and "what the market will bear"

                    2. re: ns1

                      Gotcha, makes sense.

                      Service-wise, I really like the efficiency & nononsense attitude of your typical cheapo pho long as the food is good and my table is set up with utensils & condiments, I'm a happy camper. I usually get filled up on one lemonade soda or coconut water, but can see how refilling/importing your own water would be a drag, as ExtraCheesePlease said.

                  2. re: ns1

                    Any and every CHINESE restaurant.

                    Fixed that for you.

                    1. re: WBGuy

                      Well, it actually depends on the restaurant. The higher end Chinese restaurants in the SGV tend to have better service, decor, and prices. But if you're referring to the low or moderately-priced restaurants, I would agree.

                    2. re: ns1

                      I must say that the one exception, in terms of cleanliness, decor and friendly service, is the Vietnam Restaurant in San Gabriel. Very cordial people, pleasant if not lavish decor, excellent food carefully prepared.

                      The Chinese-Vietnamese place (whose name I think we've never known) at the right rear of a small indoor mall on Alpine, in Chinatown, has very friendly staff and good cheap food, but it's a real dump. We like it anyway...

                    3. Thank heavens the service at EuroPane has improved, but I will put up with the lines and with having to get up early on weekends (shudder) to make sure I'm there in time for croissants, ginger scones and rosemary currant bread.