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A Week of Eating Alone at LA's Best Restaurants

Lexie Jul 15, 2008 03:46 PM

I'm coming to LA for a week and am looking for great places to eat alone, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I already love Lucques, AOC, Cora's Coffee Shop, and Mozza, and want to discover other restaurants that are quite farmers'-market-driven and have a unique, strong, sophisticated but rustic point of view. I'm just looking for the very best places -- I'm open to any cost, ethnicity, location, etc., and even places that are a bit of a drive or require an overnight stay are fine. Thank you so much!

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    Adsvino RE: Lexie Jul 15, 2008 04:40 PM

    Animal on Fairfax at the bar. Bloom on Pico for organic breakfast.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Adsvino
      Lexie RE: Adsvino Jul 16, 2008 12:19 AM

      Animal sounds totally perfect. Looking forward to trying it. Thank you.

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      paigeharrison RE: Lexie Jul 15, 2008 05:05 PM

      I'm jealous! Being that I enjoy those same restaurants (except I've not been to Mozza) I would suggest Josie, Anisette, Jiraffe, Wilshire and Rustic Canyon (these are all in Santa Monica, which is what I know best)

      1. Ciao Bob RE: Lexie Jul 15, 2008 06:23 PM

        Josie and Wilshire are good choices for what you seek, as is animal. I would also look into Hatfield's, La Terza/Angelini, one of our great sushi palces (Zo, Mori, Kiriko, the Hump, Nishimura, and, especially, Urasawa if affordable), The Foundry on Melrose, Gordan Ramsay at the London, Ortolan, Spago.

        1. c
          cincyn RE: Lexie Jul 15, 2008 06:32 PM

          well, since you love lucques and aoc you should visit her husbands restaurant the hungry cat. (sunset and vine) Animal is a good choice, for breakfast la lotaria, were suckers for Jones on third for coffee or lunch although hounders might disagree,

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            exilekiss RE: Lexie Jul 15, 2008 06:42 PM

            Hi Lexie,

            If you're open to any cost as you're saying, one place to try (call ahead as soon as possible to try and get reseravations) would be:

            Urasawa. :)

            Wonderful food; a true L.A. Treasure. Do a search on the LA Boards to read the various reviews.

            Urasawa Restaurant
            218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

            4 Replies
            1. re: exilekiss
              Lexie RE: exilekiss Jul 15, 2008 11:59 PM

              Thank you for this -- glad to hear an endorsement, since it's such a commitment of time and money. I just reserved. Will report back.

              1. re: Lexie
                Ciao Bob RE: Lexie Jul 16, 2008 12:17 AM

                Good -- no great -- choice!
                Need a dining companion? I'll pay my own way, rcwoll@aol.com.

                1. re: Lexie
                  exilekiss RE: Lexie Jul 16, 2008 09:06 AM

                  Hey Lexie,

                  That's great! :) Hope you enjoy your visit with Chef Hiroyuki Urasawa. It's one of my all-time favorite dining destinations in the world.

                  (BTW if you're unsure of what type of Sake to get at Urasawa, they'll recommend (and I recommend :) Kubota Manjyu - so clean, light, wonderful. :)

                  Just sit back and enjoy the great food and humble musings from Chef Urasawa (feel free to chat with the chef as well). :)

                2. re: exilekiss
                  Lexie RE: exilekiss Jul 16, 2008 12:12 AM

                  It's more the feeling of a place that's important -- I'm happy to sit at a table in the dining room alone, but the vibe has to be right for that... If it's a convivial eating bar, all the better, but as long as I feel moderately comfortable, it's the food that's most important to me.

                3. f
                  foodiemahoodie RE: Lexie Jul 15, 2008 09:48 PM

                  Just curious, because you mention being alone. Do you want a place where you can feel comfortable sitting at the bar and eating? A place you can eat well and possibly meet someone?

                  I ask because you can eat pretty much anyplace solo.

                  One place that sounds like what you're looking for is Rustic Canyon Winebar on Wilshire in Santa Monica - very locavore. It's a good place to drop into and either eat at the bar or in the little lounge area.

                  1. b
                    bulavinaka RE: Lexie Jul 15, 2008 10:44 PM

                    Give Axe on Abbot Kinney in Venice a try. Very farmers market-driven, excellent range of choices, nice wine list, very casual, and mid-priced.

                    1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      Lexie RE: bulavinaka Jul 16, 2008 12:00 AM

                      I've eaten there too, and loved it. Any other ideas in that vein?

                    2. lotta_cox RE: Lexie Jul 16, 2008 05:56 AM

                      if you want a rustic farmer's market approach and don't mind driving, saddle peak lodge in calabasas....one of the best meals of my life and they shop their local famer's market several times a week. also, josie in santa monica on pico. she used to cook at saddle peak, and her food has a very similar esthetic.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lotta_cox
                        cls RE: lotta_cox Jul 16, 2008 07:37 AM

                        I was just going to chime in with Saddle Peak.

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                        nick_r RE: Lexie Jul 16, 2008 09:01 AM

                        Others on this board turn up their noses at it, but I think Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga would fit your criteria nicely, both for the food and the wonderful scenery.

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                          budlit RE: Lexie Jul 16, 2008 10:34 AM

                          Anisette is a fun bar to eat at solo, and the food is good too.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: budlit
                            deadre RE: budlit Jul 16, 2008 11:14 AM

                            I totally agree about Anisette. Great food, casual atmosphere, highly recommended. Less pricy re Japanese, how about Hamasaku on Santa Monica Blvd in West L.A.

                            1. re: budlit
                              slacker RE: budlit Jul 16, 2008 12:14 PM

                              Anisette for sure. I got there early for dinner thinking I could have a drink at the bar, but the bar was filled with diners, and they set place settings on the bar, knowing people will dine there. I really like the food.

                            2. p
                              Psiweaver RE: Lexie Jul 16, 2008 11:59 AM

                              I would say Providence would be a good choice as well. They use very fresh ingredients. You could also try Fraiche in Culver City and Akasha there as well.

                              1. SecretHeadquarters RE: Lexie Jul 16, 2008 02:37 PM

                                You will surely want to check out Palate in Glendale - it sounds exactly like what you're looking for...there is some really inspired food being served there.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: SecretHeadquarters
                                  Lexie RE: SecretHeadquarters Jul 17, 2008 12:06 AM

                                  Just read through the menu -- this place sounds INCREDIBLE. Thank you so much for the tip.

                                  1. re: Lexie
                                    Servorg RE: Lexie Jul 17, 2008 06:07 AM

                                    One more suggestion, just to make it as difficult as possible... ;-D


                                2. l
                                  Lexie RE: Lexie Jul 17, 2008 06:44 PM

                                  THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH...

                                  Here's my (sort of) final list. Grilled cheese night (tonight) at Campanile; Hungry Cat; Chateau Marmont (w new chef from Spotted Pig in NYC); Urasawa; Animal; Lou; Palate in Glenwood; then possibly some of the following: Village Idiot, Comme Ca, Anisette, Orris, Rustic Canyon, Lot 1, Nishimura, depending on who serves lunch, etc. If there's any gross omission, PLEASE let me know. Otherwise, I'll report back when I'm all done...

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: Lexie
                                    josephnl RE: Lexie Jul 17, 2008 07:54 PM

                                    I would substitute Sona for Comme Ca. Same ownership but much better food...and less of a scene. Definitely more formal, quieter and more expensive, but overall if it's food you're after, you will surely like Sona better. They have a nice quiet bar where you could eat, but I would take a table for one in the dining room.

                                    1. re: josephnl
                                      Lexie RE: josephnl Jul 18, 2008 09:06 AM

                                      I've been to Sona already, on a previous trip. I liked it, but found it was a little precious without being particularly inventive.

                                      I am, however, happy that I went and I'm sure you're quite right.

                                    2. re: Lexie
                                      love2eat RE: Lexie Jul 17, 2008 08:28 PM

                                      I would skip Anisette. I went alone last night for dinner. Everyone I encountered was icy as hell! Like seriously, do you know how to smile? The only smiley person there was Alain. I guess I wouldn't have minded if I had good company but if you are alone it is a huge turnoff.

                                      The hostess was not friendly. When I was walking to my seat at the bar one of the managers looked at me and then back at the hostess and did the whole, "Did you see him? Is it okay for him to be here?" thing. How welcoming. The bartenders were not much friendlier.

                                      Anyway, I was there for the much lauded food. I think exilekiss or someone in that long Anisette thread mentioned that the vegetables in papilllote was very good..."that they had never tasted vegetables so fresh." I thought it was going to be an entree because it is in that section and priced at 18 bucks. I ordered it. What a mistake! I thought because it was the day of the Farmer's Market around the corner it was going to be a bounty of exciting interesting fresh vegetables. No, it was like the side of vegetables they would give you with your salmon at Applebees. I am not exaggerating! It comes in a pouch like the French name suggests and the foodrunner tears the pouch open at the table. The vegetables were carrots, cauliflower, button mushrooms, cippolini onions, snap peas and that's it. Just laying there on a piece of ugly foil. The foil made me feel like a crackhead eating it. It came with a side of butter sauce? I'm not really sure what the sauce was because it had no flavor. The vegetables had no flavor either and felt like they were overcooked. Oh well.

                                      I would add Osteria La Buca to the list. I've eaten there alone a couple times at the bar and it was pleasant. It's like a warmer cozier Osteria Mozza.

                                      1. re: love2eat
                                        josephnl RE: love2eat Jul 17, 2008 09:49 PM

                                        Agree...almost anywhere is warmer and cozier than Mozza, There are few restaurants in L.A. less comfortable than either of the Mozza's.

                                        1. re: love2eat
                                          New Trial RE: love2eat Jul 17, 2008 11:53 PM

                                          Strongly disagree, I have had several wonderful solo meals at Anisette, both at table and at the bar. The food has always been great (not had the vegetables in papillote though) and the service has been at least warm and welcoming.

                                          1. re: love2eat
                                            Lexie RE: love2eat Jul 18, 2008 09:11 AM

                                            I'll definitely reconsider Anisette after hearing about your crummy vegetables. As for service, I'm from New York, so warm and cozy are not necessarily the most important qualities I look for. I've really liked the experience at both the pizzeria and osteria at Mozza, mostly because I found the food to be totally spot-on. I'll look into Osteria La Buca too.

                                            1. re: Lexie
                                              budlit RE: Lexie Jul 18, 2008 09:24 AM

                                              Really, I have had opposite experiences every time I've been to Anisette. I found the atmosphere and service to be extremely friendly. I haven't had the vegetables en papillote, but everything I have had has been very good.

                                              1. re: budlit
                                                love2eat RE: budlit Jul 18, 2008 10:42 AM

                                                Was your visit during dinnertime? I could maybe see it being friendly for breakfast or lunch. I will give it another shot but not for dinner.

                                                1. re: love2eat
                                                  budlit RE: love2eat Jul 18, 2008 11:01 AM

                                                  all dinners, a few at the bar and one at a table

                                            2. re: love2eat
                                              exilekiss RE: love2eat Jul 18, 2008 03:38 PM

                                              Hi love2eat,

                                              Sorry to hear about your experience. Like New Trial and others I'd have to chime in and say every visit to Anisette has been wonderful so far (fingers crossed :). I've had nothing but good service and have enjoyed the food.

                                              BTW, please don't put words in my mouth. Here's the quote from my review on the Vegetables:

                                              "The Farmer's Market Vegetables "En Papillote" (baked in Parchment Paper) came next. This is the classic cooking technique of cooking various ingredients in Parchment, and the dish arrived in a beautiful, striking, pillow-like shape. Our server cut it open to let out the steam, and immediately the aroma of fresh vegetables came pouring through. These were all fresh vegetables from the local Farmer's Market, and was served with a delightful Sauce Mousseline, made of Clarified Butter emulsified and lightened up with Fresh Cream. It was a wonderful dish and a nice pairing with any of the entrees throughout the night."

                                              I found the Vegetables to be a nice pairing, and the Sauce Mousseline (served on the side that they pour over the vegetables afterwards), was just right for me. It was light (not super rich / complex). But again, your mileage may vary.

                                              1. re: exilekiss
                                                love2eat RE: exilekiss Jul 18, 2008 07:04 PM

                                                Sorry, didn't mean to misquote you. Should have reviewed that thread first. For 18 dollars I guess I was expecting something a little more creative with the veggies. Also, IIRC it was not listed on the menu under the "sides" but mixed in with the main courses.

                                                There were a few things that I liked that I forgot to write about in my OP and I definitely would not judge a restaurant solely on one vegetable dish. I ordered 3 Kumamoto Oysters and they were perfectly refreshing. Also, I loved the olive bread! Probably, the best olive bread I've ever had. I will most likely return to sample other things when I am more hungry. I just wanted to post my experience because the OP wanted to know about the best restaurants to eat alone. I wanted to give my honest opinion as I figured that the service and general vibe of a place is taken more into account when dining solo than when in a group.

                                          2. Baron RE: Lexie Jul 18, 2008 07:27 AM

                                             I would suggest the Border Grill in Santa Monica on 4th (or is it 5th?) They have a communal table for single folks and they look like they’re having a good time. I haven’t been for a while but I’ve always been happy with the food and the service. Authentic, gourmet Mex.

                                            1. avivale RE: Lexie Jul 18, 2008 03:29 PM

                                              Last Friday night I had a perfect dinner by myself at a restaurant called Fatty's in Eagle Rock. I've been passing by the place for the last four years-- my boyfriend lives in the neighborhood-- but never gone in because they always seemed to be closed! As it turns out, they are open for dinner only, Tuesday through Friday (or Saturday, I forget which).

                                              It's a VEGETARIAN restaurant, but they don't whack you over the head with their eco-consciousness. The atmosphere manages to be both elegant and down-to-earth at the same time. One wall is bare brick, and little strings of lights are hung across the ceiling which almost make you feel like you're outdoors.

                                              They have one communal table, where I was seated and shortly made some new friends. A small selection of wines by the glass, though the one I ordered suited my mood and my meal perfectly. All the plates I saw going by looked delicious. Great little rolls sweetened with honey. Service was great, and the food was elegantly served and hearty-- you won't leave hungry. Something different and worth a visit!

                                              1. Foodieaholic RE: Lexie Jul 18, 2008 11:58 PM

                                                Try casual EuroPane Cafe in Pasadena for pastries & coffee, good sandwiches & soup. Owner is Paris trained pastry chef & at least weekly is shopping the farmers mkts. Eating solo is common & comfortable there. NY Times recently said it's one of the places to visit when in Pasadena.

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