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Places that feel like home...

Tom P Apr 12, 2008 07:29 AM

These may not be the best restaurants in LA … though they certainly might qualify. These are, rather, the places where for whatever reason you feel the most comfortable, the most relaxed, a place you might choose after a hard day because you want to be taken care of without a lot of drama, a place where you know what to expect and will always get it, a place to go with friends for a worry-free experience or a place you can go alone and still feel warm and welcome.

Mine:

TAYLOR’S STEAKS – Not the best steak in town, though I do enjoy their steaks, particularly for the price. Not the best martini, either, but it is durable and well worth ordering (though I do wish it were larger!) For me, to go to Taylor’s with 2 or three friends, settle down into a comfortable red booth, have a Molly Salad (damn, so good) a solid steak and some red wine … well, few things make me feel more content.

MUSSO & FRANK’S – Similar to Taylor’s in many ways, this is another place I feel so comfortable. Walk in through the back (so cool), slide into a red booth, order one of the best martinis imaginable, and just relax. I often go solo, with a book, and even then I am always taken well care of in the servers’ caringly gruff manner. To have a martini with Manny’s Caesar, and then either thick, juicy pork chops or a filet, with creamed spinach and fries or a baked potato (both are great dipped in the pork au jus), I go home happy and sated.

LUCQUES – Besides being simply some of the best food in Los Angeles if not the country (I really love Suzanne Goin’s cooking), Lucques is comfortable for me because it is remarkably dependable, you know exactly what you are going to get. And it is such a relaxed meal. I love how you are never rushed: the courses come out leisurely, sometimes almost deliriously so. Slide into a booth (note recurring theme) to experience excellent cocktails or wine, great food, attentive but not cloying service…it’s always a wonderful evening for me, whether with friends or solo at the bar.

CANELE’ – While I’ve gone to the places above for many years, this is new one for me. Besides being close to home so it is very convenient, the food is stellar. Although small, the restaurant has an open, comfortable feel. Again, I just know exactly what I am going to get, and I like it very much. It has replaced Blair’s for me as my ‘neighborhood’ joint.

Anything qualifies, please chime in. (I wish I had a classic Cantonese chinese restaurant I could add to the list...anyone? )

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    glutton RE: Tom P Apr 12, 2008 10:19 AM

    Monte Alban does the trick for me. I've never had the service complaints that I see on this board -- I just walk in, sit down, and a bowl of chips is on my table seconds later. My food comes out quickly, the servers are incredibly kind, and the food is unbelievably good. It's a can't miss place.

    4 Replies
    1. re: glutton
      Tom P RE: glutton Apr 12, 2008 01:36 PM

      Where is this place? I'd love to try.

      1. re: Tom P
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        glutton RE: Tom P Apr 12, 2008 05:55 PM

        Santa Monica Blvd at Brockton in West LA.

      2. re: glutton
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        ChewUrFood RE: glutton Apr 14, 2008 12:03 PM

        The service is unbelievably incompetent. I was there last weekend with a menu in hand for 20 minutes before the server came over....with a glass of water. He then disappeared from the scene and came back 15 minutes later asking about beverages. The food is ok, but its not worth the trouble.

        1. re: ChewUrFood
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          glutton RE: ChewUrFood Apr 14, 2008 07:01 PM

          If you were there on Saturday night, then I can confirm that service was slow. That's the slowest I've ever seen it. When I asked them about it, they told me that one of their busboys did not show up. I'm not a fan of excuses, but it at least gave me the confidence that it's not likely to be that slow everyday going forward.

      3. y
        yoginla RE: Tom P Apr 12, 2008 10:34 AM

        Since anything goes I thought I'd chime in. I love going to Louise's on Pico. The food is very average but the staff is so attentive and I've gotten to know them over the years so it's the one place I feel comfortable dining alone. Would love to hear where others feel comfortable dining solo.

        1. Maxmillion RE: Tom P Apr 12, 2008 02:09 PM

          I, too, love Lucques.

          For a more local, neighbourhood trattoria vibe, my fave go-to place is Mezzomondo in Studio City.

          1. b
            brandygirl RE: Tom P Apr 12, 2008 02:25 PM

            I love Ruth's Chris in Woodland Hills, either at the bar or in the dining room. Everything I have ever ordered there has been perfect and the servers make me feel so comfortable. No matter what, I always start with a martini and end with creme brulee. For a light dinner, I'll have the Ruth's Chris salad and the BBQ shrimp. If I'm having a full dinner solo, I skip the BBQ shrimp and order the filet, either a spinach dish or the asparagus, and maybe mashed potatoes or shoestring fries. If I'm dining with others, I add the shrimp and the sweet potato casserole. It's so worth the food hangover.

            1 Reply
            1. re: brandygirl
              Tom P RE: brandygirl Apr 13, 2008 01:12 PM

              I was a waiter for ten years at the Ruth's Chris in Beverly Hills. I agree that the BBQ Shrimp, particularly paired with the garlic bread to dip in the juice, is incredible.

            2. JeffW RE: Tom P Apr 12, 2008 03:13 PM

              Well, o.k., since you specified a "home" feel, I will use this as the only criteria for a place that indeed is our home away from home. El Coyote on Beverly Blvd. When we arrive, we enjoy hugs and kisses from 80% of the people who work there, and if that doesn't feel welcoming, I don't know what does. We've been visiting "The El" since we were bar tenders at the Shubert theater, over 20 years ago. Decades, and different careers later, we feel very much a part of this restaurant. And regarding the food and drink---well we even enjoy that too! Some don't agree with my last sentence, but over the years, we've come to actually crave it. Are we craving the warmth of the vibe, or the food itself, who can say---but I guess it really doesn't matter. At "The El", we are definitely home.

              Good post Tom P!

              Cheers,

              Jeff

              P.S.
              Your take on Canele is agreed on. We've only been once, but we enjoyed it so much, that I was moved to write a Chow post at that time. I guess it's time to return---and if we do so on a regular basis, well maybe we'll have found another home away from home!

              1. mollyomormon RE: Tom P Apr 12, 2008 04:24 PM

                Gilbert's El Indio is like that for me. Pretty much everyone who works there knows me by name and knows both my food and drink order. Warszawa and Musha also feel very homey to me.

                6 Replies
                1. re: mollyomormon
                  JeffW RE: mollyomormon Apr 12, 2008 04:58 PM

                  Yes, Gilberts! There was a time that the host (Fernando?) would call us by name, every time we would walk in. Now that we live in Sherman Oaks, Gilberts is a very rare occurrence. I remember enjoying their marinated carrots. Warszawa has been way too long since going for us, and as for Musha---it has been on my "to do" list for a really long time.

                  This thread is getting good!

                  1. re: mollyomormon
                    Servorg RE: mollyomormon Apr 12, 2008 05:00 PM

                    As you and dtud below say, it's "where everybody knows your name....and they're always glad you came" and they all yell "Norm!!!" when you walk in. ;-D> We are known like that at Anna's on Pico. 25 years of going, being served by the same waiter, the same bus boy (now a man). It's home away from home.

                    1. re: Servorg
                      JeffW RE: Servorg Apr 12, 2008 05:04 PM

                      I grew up at Pico and Roxbury Dr. Anna's was a place that I went as a child. Any recommended dishes? I think that in those days, the only thing I would eat is pizza.

                      1. re: JeffW
                        Servorg RE: JeffW Apr 12, 2008 05:20 PM

                        We like the tagliatare pasta chiati and I've always been partial to their vegetarian lasagna and their meat ravioli. Lately I have been having their pork sausage with green peppers and I do like their thin crust pizzas with sausage, egg plant and onions and their special yaneeze pizza with mozzarella, bleu cheese, parmigana, tomatoes and onions and finally their green salad with their combination vinagrete / bleu cheese dressing is addictive.

                        1. re: Servorg
                          JeffW RE: Servorg Apr 12, 2008 05:42 PM

                          Oh boy! When we go back to Anna's, your reply will have been memorized. Thank you so much for taking the time. The salad does sound tasty indeed!

                          Jeff

                          1. re: JeffW
                            Foodandwine RE: JeffW Apr 12, 2008 05:45 PM

                            Dine with caution. IMHO the place is a home for the aged and tastebuds to match. No offence Servorg I was there based on their tenure and hosted a party of 3. Gosh did the food underwhelm all of us including my 10 year old.. Pizza was acceptable the rest stunk..

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                    dtud RE: Tom P Apr 12, 2008 04:46 PM

                    philly west - westwood blvd. and don antonios - pico blvd. i feel like the previous posters - they know me, know what i like and i can just sit and eat food with friends and - always - have a happy (and tasty) time.

                    and my best friend has been going to el coyote w/her grandma for probably 20+ years. most people may not like the food - but whenever they go, it's hugs, kisses, and happy memories! that's more valuable than anything imo.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: dtud
                      JeffW RE: dtud Apr 12, 2008 04:58 PM

                      Right on!

                      1. re: JeffW
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                        Gingergirl RE: JeffW Apr 12, 2008 06:18 PM

                        Oh my . . . Anna's . . . I have not been there for 20 something years, so I can't comment on any recent visits. However, the best thing on the menu used to be a mixture of different seafood items, including shellfish, that was roasted at high heat for exactly the right amount of time in an oven-proof baking bag. Highly seasoned with fresh garlic, wine and herbs, it was brought to the table, (still in the bag), and ceremoniously punctured so the whole room was treated with an aroma so deliciously tantalizing that other diners would stop eating just to inhale the goodness and crane their heads around to see it's source. Served over pasta, it was the only thing I ever ordered and returned for time after time.

                        1. re: Gingergirl
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                          ronla RE: Gingergirl Apr 13, 2008 06:10 PM

                          we just ate at warsawa for my mom's birthday. definitely homey. a good time was had by all.

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                      Diana RE: Tom P Apr 14, 2008 11:51 AM

                      Rahel ethiopian. Rahel herself makes one feel at home, and her food is pure comfort.

                      Providence. I don't know, it ust is relaxing to walk through the door, rarelt as I can make it.

                      The Robin Hood- it reminds me of home with food like Grandmum made.

                      It Tirmisu- Peter treats us like friends.

                      Leda's bake shop- she puts up with me hitting the samples hard! With a smile, even. Course, I always buy a few things, too.

                      Angeli Caffe-The waiters sometimes sit at the table to chat, the food is always good, and the family style dinners are homey and fun.

                      Lucky Baldwin's- not as glorious as it once was, but the atmosphere is a good one!

                      Woodland's Pure (Chatsworth). the buffet makes me feel happy.

                      Gelson's-OK, not a dining place, but I hit the salad bar at least once a week, and the gang in Encino especially, recognize me and make me feel good. Great service all around. I also love the deli and produce.

                      I wish I had a homey Sushi place. We need to establish ourselves ar "regulars" again somewhere.

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