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The prices these days and disappointing meals

We went to Americana yesterday for the first time (I know, I know) and had lunch at Frida. Spent over $100 for 3 people on mediocre Mexican food. Shoulda known better. But how about Langham Huntington Hotel for lunch, formerly Ritz, a special occasion a few months ago, expensive for a barely average meal? (note that the hotel public areas looked a little worn compared to old times, as well). There have been more of these experiences than I care to remember.

To be positive, we enjoyed lunch at Anisette recently which seemed a good value for the excellent quality. But that's in Santa Monica (traffic & gas). We also enjoyed Wilshire for another occasion a few months ago.

But the pricey, blah food experiences are painful these days, & though I enjoying cooking a lot, I really appreciate meals out for the occasional break.

But what to do?? Anyone else feeling this way? How can you be sure your money won't be wasted?

I would appreciate any new recs for areas near Mt. Washington for delicious meals which don't break the bank during these times. Nice ambiance is appreciated. TIA

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  1. Define Nice Ambience. I read Frida, Ritz and Anisette and I think to myself that you're looking for something more than merely nice on the ambience scale. Lower the brow a little and you can eat really well at an ethnic joint.

    5 Replies
    1. re: SauceSupreme

      Okay, perhaps I didn't pose my query well. The brow is lowered.

      If we are going to splurge on lunch for a special event, we are disappointed to spend high prices on a mediocre meal.

      I was hoping for suggestions.

      1. re: Babette

        Did you happen to catch this recent review of Cliff's Edge? While this is a dinner report I think you might enjoy yourselves at brunch there eating outside on their beautiful patio.

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/538175

        1. re: Servorg

          Thank you. We haven't tried Cliff's Edge yet but that's the kind of suggestion I was hoping for. Any tips for what to order?

          1. re: Babette

            I tried the poached eggs on the crab hash with the red and green salsas and thought it was tasty. Their whole brunch menu looked pretty good to me.

            http://www.cliffsedgecafe.com/files/h...

            1. re: Servorg

              Great burgers and Bloddy Mary's on the brunch meno too.

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        1. I'm not familiar with Mt. Washington but I empathize. The SO and I are regulars at Square One and we've noticed a strong price jump, the saving grace being the food is as good as ever there so it's still worth it, just on a less frequent basis.

          I consistently find myself at a loss when it comes to eating out in Santa Monica/Venice. The places that aren't mediocre are expensive, and the ethnic options leave much to be desired.

          1. Ah, I see where Mt. Washington is now. You're definitely in range of both Lot 1 and Palate. I had a good dinner at Lot 1 (it was their 3rd day, so some kinks to work out) and a great lunch. My dinner was very solid at Palate, and both restaurants are fairly priced imo

            4 Replies
            1. re: fooddude37

              I will second the recommendation for Palate, however, it is NOT inexpensive. My party felt that, for the quality of the food, the price was warranted, but it was $80 per person (including tax and tip).

              1. re: DanaB

                I noted that it is fairly priced, not inexpensive. I feel that Palate falls in the same price range as Lou. If you eat a full meal accompanied by wine, it will not be cheap. It is in juxtaposing that with a meal at the Huntington Hotel or Anisette that it becomes "fairly priced" in my book.

              2. re: fooddude37

                I sympathize; the Chowspouse has taken me to a bunch of out-of-town business meetings this year, and I mostly have been way happier, everywhere from Boston to Vancouver to LA in Chowhound rec'd holes-in-the-wall than in the various "fine dining" establishments, at which we have dropped beaucoup (often deductible) bucks.

                I'm walking a fine line between chowspouse's demand for ambiance and my demand for bang-for-buck these days...

                So, to answer your question, and respond to some of the suggestions:

                Though their food is interesting, the consensus seems to be that Lot 1 won't be "inexpensive", unless you and other members of your party tend to eat like wanna-be-runway-models. . . . and the "ambiance" is . . um. . . unusual.

                15 is worth a go, for you, even outside of the "special", which, as noted elsewhere, is now $19, not $15. Their wines by the glass a re pretty good, too...

                Aroma, like 15, doesn't look like much on the outside, but they're perfectly presentable on the inside, and they apply the $$$ they're NOT spending for Santa-Monica-"almost-ocean-view" rent to getting really good ingredients for their specials.

                Chichen Itza never disappoints, always priced reasonably; see if the tasting menu's back up.

                Clif's Edge is "pretty", and the food's pretty good.

                There's more, but I've got to go earn a living, so I can eat in places like these....

                r gould-saltman no avatar

                1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                  Thanks for these suggestions. We will put 15 and Aroma on a to try list and will explore Lot 1 further. And thanks for the reminder about Chichen Itza.