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Good (& reasonably priced) French

TwoGuys90068 May 27, 2008 04:51 PM

We relocated to LA a few months ago from Atlanta and are enjoying our time exploring this great city. When it comes to food, our weakness is French but more often than not, it's VERY pricey and sometimes just not that great given the prices charged. (For anyone who knows Atlanta, our favorite was Babette's Cafe...yum!) If anyone has any suggestions on where to try, it would be greatly appreciated. We'd also love to hear your favorite menu items too if you have any!

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  1. Chowpatty RE: TwoGuys90068 May 27, 2008 04:58 PM

    What neighborhood are you in? As you know in L.A., drive times can be very long so that will help us guide you.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chowpatty
      TwoGuys90068 RE: Chowpatty May 27, 2008 05:02 PM

      We live in Hollywood near The Bowl.

      1. re: TwoGuys90068
        Chowpatty RE: TwoGuys90068 May 27, 2008 05:28 PM

        Oh, right, 90068, got it. I'm not sure of the price levels in Atlanta but it's true it tends to be pricey in L.A. There's Pastis on Beverly which is nice, and Comme Ca which is of course a bit more. I haven't been for a while but Le Petit Bistro on La Cienega is reasonable and very traditional.
        The Little Next Door on Third St. is very French, great for pastries, coffee, sandwiches, etc. -- they're not cheap but since it's more of a cafe, it's not that bad.

      2. re: Chowpatty
        Terahertz RE: Chowpatty May 30, 2008 03:15 PM

        I will second La Vie for very inexpensive traditional French food. I believe the entrees are around $15 including soup, salad and coffee. I really like their duck ala ronge (sic), and the orange souffle is a must.

        As for Bistro de la Gare, we had a few decent meals there, but our last meal about 4 mos. ago was unforgivably bad (I will never go back), and it is more expensive.


      3. Will Owen RE: TwoGuys90068 May 27, 2008 05:50 PM

        Le Petit Cafe on Colorado in Santa Monica is a bit of a drive, but if you happen to be in the vicinity it's a nice stop for lunch or dinner. Somewhat Californiated Alsatian bistro food: the duck confit is served with a salad, and is my favorite lunch when I'm there midday. Not cheap, not expensive - lunch $20-ish without wine, dinner more.

        For truly old-fashioned French dirt cheap, you might consider ranging clear out into the predominantly Asian territory of the San Gabriel Valley, where a classically trained Vietnamese chef and his family run La Vie, on San Gabriel Boulevard. The cooking is reliably good, the offerings exactly what you'd expect - excellent escargots among the starters, the typical preparations of duck, rabbit, chicken and fish, plus a pretty good steak, and if you want a soufflé for dessert it's best to order it up front. Cost-cutting shows up in the form of the same vegetables on every plate, and the atmosphere is more friendly than elegant, but you can get a decent Beaujolais and escape for maybe $50 apiece. My in-laws are all either French or French-related, and Pops loves the French food he ate in pre-war France as much as he hates to spend money, so we go there a lot.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen
          monkuboy RE: Will Owen May 27, 2008 09:07 PM

          $50? I haven't been there in several months but it seems you would be hard pressed to spend anywhere near that much per person unless you really splurged. I agree with you, La Vie is a good value, though.

          1. re: monkuboy
            Will Owen RE: monkuboy May 28, 2008 12:50 PM

            I was assuming two people, one bottle of wine, two servings of the escargot to start, two $20-ish entrées, two soufflés and a proper tip. I think you could hit $100 with that. With our typical table of six and just two bottles (two non-drinkers), I think it's more like $35-$40 per head. Since the paterfamilias won't show anyone the check I can't be sure.

            1. re: Will Owen
              monkuboy RE: Will Owen Jun 5, 2008 10:36 AM

              I guess that makes sense - you could have quite a feast for $100 that would cost you twice as much on the westside.

        2. e
          estone888 RE: TwoGuys90068 May 27, 2008 06:01 PM

          I like Mimosa pretty well. It also has a sister restaurant that I don't like quite as much but is closer to where you live and has a very nice atmosphere. You can find out pretty much everything about either at: http://www.mimosarestaurant.com/clien...

          I also think Cafe Beujolais in Eagle Rock on Colorado Blvd. isn't bad. Not great, but pleasant and very reasonable.

          3 Replies
          1. re: estone888
            slacker RE: estone888 May 28, 2008 12:13 AM

            I like Mimosa a lot. A very nice French bistro, relaxed, unpretentious, good food, and the best bouillabaise--leaps and bounds above the ones at La Cachette and Comme Ca.

            Cafe Beaujolais is reasonably priced, with shockingly large portions. I didn't care for it.

            Anisette is opening soon, in Santa Monica, don't know about the pricing.

            1. re: slacker
              Foodandwine RE: slacker May 28, 2008 06:42 PM

              Third on Mimosa.. Have always been a fan..

              1. re: Foodandwine
                foodiemahoodie RE: Foodandwine Jun 5, 2008 11:02 AM

                I've only been to Petit Cafe and I was pretty underwhelmed. It's like an average (or below) French restaurant you'd eat in a French tourist town.

                I do have a Parisian friend who knows food (we've eat at l'amis Louis a few times) and endores Mimosa.

          2. f
            fdb RE: TwoGuys90068 May 27, 2008 06:20 PM

            Not in your neighborhood, but La Vie in Rosemead is worth the drive. It's one of the most reasonably priced French restaurants in LA.


            La Vie
            2547 San Gabriel Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

            1. j
              Jack Flash RE: TwoGuys90068 May 27, 2008 10:58 PM

              Another vote for La Vie in Rosemead.

              I've read good things about Bistro 39 in Alhambra (located at 39 W. Main St.), but haven't been there yet. Note to self: we should go there this weekend.

              There's also La Parisienne in Monrovia. In recent years, it has declined according to most reports. I haven't been there in about 5 years, but I've read that it may have new owners and/or management, who have reportedly pumped some life back into it. Perhaps others could chime in.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Jack Flash
                heckonwheels RE: Jack Flash May 28, 2008 08:40 PM

                La Parisienne is no more. It is now something called Three C's - California Cuisine and Cocktails. Haven't tried it yet so I cannot tell ou how good it is.

                1. re: Jack Flash
                  evilbeefchan RE: Jack Flash May 31, 2008 07:30 PM

                  I'll second Bistro 39, as everything I have ordered has tasted great, and majority of entrees are around the $17 and under range. I will say that the last time I was there they did take a while with our dinners, but it was still really good.

                  1. re: Jack Flash
                    babette 888 RE: Jack Flash Jun 5, 2008 02:48 AM

                    we do love bistro 39 ,great food. wine and beer lover this is the right place
                    great price for the quality of the food try it

                  2. f
                    Francesca RE: TwoGuys90068 May 27, 2008 11:18 PM

                    Chez Mimi in Santa Monica - they serve lunch, dinner and now Sunday brunch. Charming patio and cozy fireplace indoors.


                    1. c
                      cfylong RE: TwoGuys90068 May 28, 2008 08:43 AM

                      It's a little farther, in Beverly Hills, but Cafe Fiore is quite good, the service friendly, and the prices very reasonable for BH. The cafe itself is casual but has that HB elegance about it.

                      1. Servorg RE: TwoGuys90068 May 28, 2008 09:23 AM

                        For an early dinner, (they are open until 7 pm).


                        1. g
                          gordita RE: TwoGuys90068 May 28, 2008 09:43 AM

                          I like Bisto La Garde in So. Pas right by the metro station. Previous owners had Beaujolias in E.R. Lunch is a steal, traditional french food, great bistro. Nicoles is the neighbor, stop for pates and lovely takeout things on your way home.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: gordita
                            Jack Flash RE: gordita May 28, 2008 11:29 AM

                            It's Bistro de la Gare (Gare is the word for train station in French). It's a tad more expensive than it should be, but it's another fine choice for French cuisine.

                          2. DanaB RE: TwoGuys90068 May 28, 2008 11:18 AM

                            From Hollywood it's a little bit of a drive, but for price and ambiance, I think that Cafe Beaujolais in Eagle Rock can't be beat.

                            1712 Colorado Blvd
                            Los Angeles, CA 90041
                            (323) 255-5111

                            I also second the recommendation for Le Petit Bistro on La Cienega, and there's also Mimosa on Beverly and at a little bit higher price point, Cafe Stella in Silverlake. Cafe Stella is in Sunset Junction and has a real feel of a Parisian sidewalk cafe (and also has the added benefit of being right next door to the Cheese Store of Silverlake).



                            Cafe Stella
                            3932 Sunset Blvd., L.A.

                            Another place worth checking out if you are ever in downtown L.A. is Cafe Angelique.


                            8 Replies
                            1. re: DanaB
                              Henry2054 RE: DanaB May 28, 2008 12:35 PM

                              I'd like to add a few more more to the list - in fact I'm surprised a couple of them haven't been mentioned yet:

                              Taix: One of the oldest and most beloved (by some) restaurants in LA, they serve excellent traditional French country-style food. They're not chic at all - located at Sunset and Alvarado in Echo Park - and their prices are superb relative to the quality. They also have a very interesting and reasonaly priced wine list. This should be high on your list.

                              Cafe des Artistes: This is by the same people who run Mimosa. They food is very similar in both places, though I think the space as CdA is a bit nicer - an old home, you sit in the living room. Great food. It's fairly expensive but not unreasonable for an elegant sit down meal. It's pretty convenient for you as well located on McAdden Place off of Sunset in Hollywood.

                              Cafe Angelique in Downtown is also one of my favorite places for a weekend brunch or lunch. Good qualify French country cooking and a nice patio for outdoor seating. Very cheap - more of a casual lunch place than an elegant sit down experience. Highly recommended.

                              Julienne in South Pasadena used to be good. Has anyone been recently?

                              I strongly second Pastis - one of my favorite places. Depending on what you order you don't need to spend a lot to have a great meal there.

                              1. re: Henry2054
                                Will Owen RE: Henry2054 May 28, 2008 01:00 PM

                                Julienne is more California than French, and they serve only breakfast and lunch. It is a lovely place, though, and they have an excellent takeout deli attached. I love the roasted-lamb sandwich. If you're visiting Huntington Library & Gardens on any day but Sunday, this is a fine place for an alfresco lunch. They are MOST unfortunately closed on Sundays.

                                I thought I'd read here that Angelique got sold to someone and had gone seriously downhill.

                                We took the in-laws to Taix one night, and Maman was so happy to find moules-frites on the menu that nothing could annoy her after that. We all enjoyed our meals very much; there was much laughter over some of the fractured French on the menu, but the food itself, if not brilliant, was quite satisfactory.

                                1. re: Henry2054
                                  Mel Gee RE: Henry2054 May 28, 2008 06:27 PM

                                  Taix is on Sunset closer to Glendale than Alvarado -- correct? It sounds great, like an old place we frequented in San Francisco a long time ago, so I've put it on *my* list.

                                  Getting back to Alvarado, in the Eighties, there used to be a great burrito stand on the southeast corner of Sunset and Alvarado -- right in front of the car wash, but I can't remember the name. I don't associate this neighborhood with French cuisine.

                                  1. re: Mel Gee
                                    Will Owen RE: Mel Gee May 29, 2008 09:46 AM

                                    When Papa went to Taix forty-some years earlier, with his mother, it was and had always been downtown. Seems to me I read it was forced to move sometime in the '60s, which was well before that part of Sunset became so predominately Latino.

                                    1. re: Mel Gee
                                      mollyomormon RE: Mel Gee May 29, 2008 10:32 AM

                                      No, I think Taix is pretty much right at Alvarado and Sunset.

                                      1. re: mollyomormon
                                        DanaB RE: mollyomormon May 29, 2008 03:05 PM

                                        It's actually at Sunset and Park Ave, one block east of Alvarado and kind of above Glendale Blvd. if you want to get technical :-)

                                    2. re: Henry2054
                                      Foodandwine RE: Henry2054 May 28, 2008 06:45 PM

                                      Nice tip on Taix it is under the Radar.. as well as Angllique.. nice lamb fritte there..

                                    3. re: DanaB
                                      gordita RE: DanaB May 28, 2008 06:35 PM

                                      I have to say the last time I had lunch at Angelique it was a HUGE disapointment. Gross in fact. Beaujolais in ER on the south side is fine for dinner, the north side(petite) is really not french at all and is mostly pressed sandwiches and such.

                                    4. e
                                      ExtraCheesePlease RE: TwoGuys90068 May 28, 2008 02:06 PM

                                      You are right down the street from LaPoubelle. The last time I went there was about a year ago and the service was atrocious but the food was quite good and the check for three with wine (lots of wine) was under $100 before tip.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ExtraCheesePlease
                                        ellaystingray RE: ExtraCheesePlease May 30, 2008 04:57 PM

                                        FYI with LaPoubelle, the service always sucks, on purpose. That is not to say there aren't nice people who work there but part of the owners schtick is to be an angry French guy and the staff takes on whatever level of snootiness works best for them individually. The owner is know to roam around behind the bar and regularly takes a drink order and then refuses to make it for some reason. Not given properly, too frilly, who knows.....it is not consistent.

                                        However, if you go in knowing that is their thing, it is a really fun place with good to very good reasonably priced French food.

                                        And the translation of LaPoubelle--The Trashcan (or dumpster).

                                      2. t
                                        TwoGuys90068 RE: TwoGuys90068 May 28, 2008 04:18 PM

                                        Thank you to everyone for the wonderful suggestions! There are several that I have added to my list and plan to check out.

                                        1. p
                                          paprkutr RE: TwoGuys90068 May 28, 2008 04:22 PM

                                          I have to add my thoughts about Le Petit Bistro. Have been going there since they opened and still love it. The menu is reasonable, and is very good.

                                          1. love2eat RE: TwoGuys90068 May 28, 2008 05:07 PM

                                            For reasonably priced French I go to Cafe Du Village in Larchmont Village. Non-fussy French country cooking. Nice dinner specials. Brunch on the weekends. Nice back patio. I believe the owners are two French brothers (handsome) although it could be a whole family involved. BYOB.

                                            Cafe Du Village
                                            139 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004

                                            1. k
                                              karamazov RE: TwoGuys90068 May 29, 2008 09:39 AM

                                              I would second the recs for Mimosa and Le Petit Bistro. Both are great. A very casual restaurant is Michelle Richard on Robertson. It's a restaurant that's almost like a cafe. They sell a lot pastries and some specialty produce over the counter in addition to their menu items. It's not a special dining experience, but it's probably the cheapest good and "true" french place in LA.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: karamazov
                                                mollyomormon RE: karamazov May 29, 2008 10:47 AM

                                                Just in case someone is trying to google it, I think it's actually Michel Richard.

                                                1. re: mollyomormon
                                                  Mel Gee RE: mollyomormon May 30, 2008 12:08 AM

                                                  It is indeed Michel Richard, the same Michel who was the James Beard Chef of the year in 2007 for his efforts at the outstanding Citronelle in Georgetown, which is a very different kind of restaurant from the one being discussed here. Richard is no longer associated with his old bakery and restaurant on Robertson. I haven't been there, but their menu looks very nice (for this kind of place).

                                                  Incidentally, if you're visiting Washington and want to see where Michel Richard's ideas are nowadays, I highly recommend Citronelle -- even if you don't have a lobbyist picking up the tab!

                                                  Maison Richard Restaurant
                                                  707 Stanley Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046

                                              2. Baron RE: TwoGuys90068 May 30, 2008 06:27 AM

                                                The Taix is not only a bargain but a refreshing change from the joints trying to be ultra chic with names like “Spoon.” Sadly, old line restaurants like Taix are on the endangered species list. I had lunch there a couple of weeks ago before my trip to the new Planetarium in Griffith Park. I had the best trout almondine that I’ve had in memory. It included the soup of the day, which on Friday was clam chowder. They don’t just give you a cup or a bowl, but a terrine of freshly made and perfect
                                                chowder. Good bread. Good, professional service. Price $15. I almost felt guilty paying such a small price for such an excellent lunch. I forgot to mention the comfortable booths and the quiet room. They also have a huge wine list with fair prices and a separate bar room with TV's. Try it, you'll like it.

                                                1. b
                                                  BeckyLee RE: TwoGuys90068 May 30, 2008 09:05 PM

                                                  We actually really liked Comme Ca, however we went for an early dinner (5:30ish) on a Saturday. I can see how the space would get really noisy if it was full.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: BeckyLee
                                                    DanaB RE: BeckyLee May 31, 2008 09:02 AM

                                                    I've really enjoyed my meals at Comme Ca, but refrained from recommending it in this thread because it's a bit on the expensive side, and the OP was looking for "reasonably priced."

                                                  2. g
                                                    grubtrotters RE: TwoGuys90068 May 31, 2008 04:20 PM

                                                    Another vote for Mimosa.

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