Places that feel like home...
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.
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? )
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.
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.
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.
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.
I, too, love Lucques.
For a more local, neighbourhood trattoria vibe, my fave go-to place is Mezzomondo in Studio City.
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.
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!
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!