Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
May 7, 2008 08:49 AM

Westside Dinner Alternative to Nook

Friends coming from San Francisco. The plan was to go to Nook on Friday night but they are booked. Any ideas for an equivalent alternative?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: a_and_w

      agree w/ violet.

      casual american also at 26 beach in venice.

      cafe montana and 17th st cafe also have similar traditional and comforty food types as well.

      musha might be another way to go.

      similar to the good idea of jiraffe, rustic canyon or axe,

      1. re: silence9

        Jiraffe is another excellent choice.

      2. Bandera on Wilshire & Barrington. Excellent American food and in particular, the best French dip in the city (made with their prime rib)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ernie

          $20 seems a little steep for a French dip sandwich, but this place nonetheless sounds intriguing. I especially like that they have Allagash White on tap, according to menupages.

          1. re: a_and_w

            Definitely try it! The crab cakes and cornbread are also fantastic. Big fan of their mixed drinks as well, especially the bloody mary, which all use fresh juices. It's owned by the same restaurant group as Houston's so if you've had the french dip there, it's the same at Bandera. It's my favorite chain.

        2. Once I called Nook to make a reservation, but they were booked, so I asked the host if he had any other suggestions in the area. He recommended Fraiche ( ). I have not been there yet, but it recently received a rave review in the New York Times ( ). I suppose you could do a search for it on the chowhound boards as well... if you go, please let us know how it is!

          1. Go to Nook anyway. They don't reserve after 8, and they say if you came in then, a normal wait for a four-top on a busy Friday would be about 45 mins. I'm a big fan of Nook, so I understand why you called them first. A few years ago, many were comparing Literati 2 to Nook, but I found it much more expensive and pretentious, and I hated paying for a valet in a shopping center. I'd get myself on a waiting list at Nook, and if I needed to kill a bit of time I'd go across the street and a bit down east and have some crudo at Il Grano since Nook doesn't really have a bar area to wait.

            4 Replies
            1. re: nosh

              I like Nook but I also think Literati 2 was nice. I've been twice and I've had perfectly fine meals there and the staff was attentive and friendly. I didn't find they had anything to be pretentious about since they don't aspire to such great heights to begin with. The space is fancier and less homey than Nook but I found I preferred it to Violet, which I also think is decent. I also just park on the far outskirts of the lot for Vons and I've never had a problem, although I can see not wanting to risk that.

              The bottom line is that while Nook is nice, it's only worth waiting for if you have a specific craving for it. You can go to a number of restaurants in the area that are comparable in quality, price, and experience.

              These include (many mentioned already):

              Bar Hayama
              Literati 2
              Rustic Canyon

              1. re: Frommtron

                What did you like at Literati 2? One time I tried it, I was underwhelmed.

                1. re: a_and_w

                  I had a fritto misto at Literati 2 that was crispy and light and tasty, but the portion was so skimpy as to be insulting. Their burger from the woodburning oven was smoky and gave up almost all its juice when cut into, but then again they nickel and dime you by adding a couple of bucks for cheese (unneeded) or fries (yeah, not everyone wants them, but this is a high-end maincourse burger in the midteens anyway). The service was oversolicitous, and I just can't get over being charged for valet or risking getting towed or ticketed in the Ralph's (not Von's) big parking lot, where Literati is off in a corner not even requiring the prime close parking slots for the supermarket.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    I had the bruschetta with baby octopus and the roasted brown turkey figs. For my entree I had the pork chop. I thought they were all quite good and I was pleased although since I had neither a horrendous experience like nosh nor a sublime one I can't remember enough of to comment on a meal that I had nearly a year ago. It was certainly at the same level of quality and taste as what Nook offers.

                    In terms of parking, I'm comfortable parking illegally at Ralph's. Also, a huge number of restaurants do not have free self parking. Literati 2 is not alone in that. There is limited parking on the street nearby. It's not really an issue for me.

                    The burger doesn't sound good to me from nosh's review but I'm also not phased even a little by the fries being a la carte. That's a very common practice and one that I appreciate. For instance, at Father's Office I'll order the beet salad more often than the fries.

                    I personally prefer Nook because I like the atmosphere more but I think Literati 2 and Violet are very much in the same vein and offer up a comparable experience. They have real differences but I think they each have merit.