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Wow restaurants in L.A. area

I will be in L.A for the OSU/USC game & am looking for a great place for dinner our last night (Sunday) with a really wow factor. Someplace who's interior and ambiance is above the rest or that transports you to another place. This can be cheap, middle of road or expensive. I do have a car & am staying in Culver City but have no problem driving within an hour. I want 1 dining experience to really wow us on our last night in town. Thanks so much for the suggestions & sorry to do this to you L.A. folks but~~~~~GO BUCKEYES!!


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  1. Do you care about the food or is the interior/ambiance more important?
    What was the score of the game the last time these to fierce competitors met?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Burger Boy

      What difference does it make? Beanie Wells went down in the game yesterday against mighty Youngstown State, so OSU has no chance against the Los Angeles Rams. What's that? Sorry -- I meant USC.

      This board is the wrong place to emphasize ambiance over food, but if you insist on being transported to another place (and time), check http://www.latimemachines.com for a great collection of LA classic restaurants.

    2. Yamashiro on a clear nite would work....

      1. beach views
        The Lobster
        The Penthouse at the Huntley

        city view

        the sushi wow

        if you want good food, and a transporting place, i like Pane e Vino's back patio

        if you decide food is paramount, not too far from you are Joe's and Jer-Ne at the Ritz

        1. For L.A. wow factor I don't think you can go wrong at Spago, Wolfgang Puck's flagship restaurant in Beverly Hills. Very impressive restaurant with a beautiful patio, star factor, great food, and excellent service. Not too far away from Culver City.

          Cut, Puck's steakhouse in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, is very impressive, with architecture by Richard Meier, but is closed on Sundays. If you like buzz, over-the-top '80s decor, and really tasty bold flavors, I recommend Puck's fusion restaurant, Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. All of the dishes are served to share. If you like marina views with lots of boats, Cafe Del Rey in Marina Del Rey has nice views, good wine, and fine seafood and some sushi -- a straight shot west from Culver City on Washington then a bit south off Lincoln and then Admiralty Way.

          The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel is on the top floor of a high-rise in Santa Monica with extensive views and a cool elevator. Great for drinks, but the food is overpriced and not well-regarded, except by a 'hound or two who have enjoyed the brunch. The Lobster is crowded but right on, actually over, the water, but is more than a bit a tourist trap. Yamashiro, on a cliffside overlooking the city, ditto.

          Maybe you'd like to spend Sunday driving up the coast to Malibu. Geoffrey's is on a cliff overlooking the ocean, Moonshadows is on the water, search the board for Malibu for others. Or you could head south to Long Beach -- traffic won't be too bad on a Sunday -- and hit the Queen Mary, which is definitely unique. Campanile on La Brea just east of Beverly Hills is a gorgeous main room in a converted bank building with a very high main dining room that looks wonderful as the light fades. Come to think of it, maybe you'd like the simple but excellent prime rib served from impressive silver carts from uniformed servers at Lawry's, an L.A. classic, where the Rose Bowl teams go for the Beef Bowl before the game.

          3 Replies
          1. re: nosh

            Great recommendations. Thanks so much for everyone's help. In Beanie we trust :)

            1. re: nosh

              Campanile was originally built for Charlie Chaplin's office, but he lost it in a divorce. (was it ever a bank?)

              The new Nobu is pretty cool looking and if you've never been there - it's great (if you have been going to his restaurants for the past 20 years, then it's nothing new). Geisha House, and Falcon's Lair too.

              But IMHO - the best combo of food and style would Citrus at Social Hollywood - great vaulted ceilings and great food by a star chef. Hipper than Spago.

              Ortolan is very good food and very, very, very cool design. When I say cool I don't mean cold. Place is very sexy.

              Downtown you'd find Zucca to be a very stylish restaurant. I've never had a bad meal there either.

              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                check out cicada downtown for decor. And sometimes a memorable meal - never a bad one, i'll say that.


            2. I would add Saddle Peak Lodge into the mix, though, with those winding mountain roads, it probably would make the drive a tad more than an hour from Culver City.

              Saddle Peak Lodge
              419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302

              1 Reply
              1. re: New Trial

                I think it'll take maybe 30 minutes tops going by freeway, if you don't get lost.

                And for a restaurant suggestion, there's always Crustacean, with the indoor river thing. Har, har.

              2. btw
                not really a WOW
                but if you're in culver city - for an evening, consider Ford's Filling Station or my non-high end fave, Ugo's.
                The gianduja and hazelnut ice creams, the cassata as well are breathtakingy good. The pasta dishes are fine and the service and ambience is great, particularly late. The front of the house is more snacks and ice cream, back a bit is a cafe with a more extensive menu and the bar is the third area closer to venice blvd.

                But ford filling station and ugo's are both wonderful if you're in culver city.

                As well, look at father's office for an OFF THE CHART good burger and a great selection of beers, and beacon for higher end fusion.

                Melisse is pretty impressive. Santa Monica.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jerome

                  Sorry Jerome, nothing personal, but I have to disagree with you regarding Ford's Filling Station... it is inconsistent and overpriced. My last 2 visits were terrible, both served poor choices of meat. Ordered "roasted" lamb sandwich as their specialty - the lamb came out literally RAW (how is that roasted?) and there were so many sinews that it was inedible... all for a nice ~$20 bill. No thank you.

                  While the menu might be eclectic and seem inspired, the poor execution from chefs, and the lack of care from waiters to serve such disappointing creations, is a major strike out. Will never return. Go next door and order a hot plate with Angus Beef at Tender Greens for half the price!

                  To be fare, you did say it was not a WOW restaurants, so even if execution was perfect, Fords serves by no means WOW food.

                  Fathers Office, on the other hand, I would categorize as WOW. Their interpretation of a burger is unconventional and will surprise your taste buds with flavors that work great, especially with a nice fresh beer on tap.

                  1. re: justified

                    to be fair, i prefer Ugo's to both father's office and ford's filling station.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        haven't tried it. i get other things there.

                2. Check out Patina at the Disney Concert Hall-- the interior is really modern and has amazing curved wood walls. We have been for dinner a few times and attended a rehearsal dinner for a wedding there and the food was delicious and it is nice to be able to walk around the "garden" at the Concert Hall.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: roxhills

                    I need to know if it's time to retry Patina. A combination of high expectations based on the old Melrose location, and a probably chance series of REALLY bad times soon after they opened at Disney, made this a must avoid. Other than the decor, can you recommend Patina as a restaurant that will not make you feel ripped off based on the food and service versus the price at this time?

                    1. re: Griller141

                      As far as I can tell, Patina has neither sung any new tunes nor learned any new tricks on my last disappointing meal there 3 months ago...

                      1. re: Griller141

                        I've been to Patina before Disney Hall events....and recently had several lunches there when stuck on jury duty. I enjoyed all my my meals there.
                        Food was lovely, service was first rate. I'm not sure I'd make it my one night destination, but I think it's a nice option when downtown.
                        And...go Buckeyes!

                    2. Cafe la Boheme in West Hollywood has a beautiful interior, they've returned to the dark and dreamy gothic look. big chandeliers etc. The food is good too.

                      1. Sona has the most exciting food in town. Avery elegant room, with amazing service. The best wine list in town. The tasting menu was a musical taste experience. Some Asian,some French, some one of a kind. This will be expensive but memorable.