Restaurant ideas for a Chicago hound?
Hello! I will be in the LA area with my family for a wedding in October. We are all food lovers and enjoy trying new restaurants together. We will be staying in Santa Monica, but will drive almost anywhere for good food. Our favorites are French, Italian and seafood, but we are quite adventuresome and enjoy all kinds of food. Entrees in the $20-$28 range would be ideal. Also, a nice atmosphere and maybe outside seating would be good too. I have thought about Lucques and Osteria Mozza (the pizza place too) so let me know if you have any thoughts on those places. Thanks so much for the help!
Just in case you make it to downtown around lunchtime, go to a Los Angeles institution--Philippe's. I'm from Chicago and if I moved back, what I'd really miss foodwise in LA, is the French dip sandwich from Philippe's. Of course, I'd be back in Italian beef sandwich heaven so I think I could survive. Other than that, you can't go wrong with any of the other recs.
Definitely check out the link that bulavinaka posted up, it's a good thread with many recent recs.
A few CH'ers have brought up some good points recently: You might want to try some restaurants that reflect L.A.'s strengths, and cuisine that you normally don't get very much back home. That being said, you could consider:
(For all of these, do a Search on the L.A. board and you'll find a lot of reviews / info :)
*** Authentic Japanese Cuisine ***
This goes beyond Sushi, but some standout places would include:
* Musha (Progressive Japanese "Tapas" Small Plates / Izakaya) - since you're staying in Santa Monica, this is in the area. Fun, energetic little Japanese "Pub" with good small dishes and drinks.
* Gaja ("Japanese Pizzas") - This is a place where you can create your own (or have the kitchen make it for you) Okonomiyaki, which are fun savory "pancake" / "pizza"-like dishes where you can choose various meats / seafood and vegetables and grill them in front of you. It's a bit of a drive, but a really fun, interactive experience. :)
*** Authentic Chinese Cuisine ***
The San Gabriel Valley is about ~45 minutes away from Santa Monica (depending on traffic), but is the hotbed of authentic Chinese Cuisine in L.A.
* Sea Harbour (Brunch / Lunch) - Dim Sum. Arguably the best Dim Sum in L.A. along w/ the next listing. Get there early to beat the crowds.
* Elite (Brunch / Lunch / Dinner) - Dim Sum. The other great Dim Sum restaurant in the SGV. For Dinner, Elite specializes in great Cantonese / Hong Kong Seafood. Arguably the best Dinner spot of its type. Live Seafood, Shark Fin Soup, etc. Lots of good variety and a good menu.
* Noodle House (Mian Hsiang Yuan) - Homemade, Made-to-Order Baozi (Steamed Buns) and Jiaozi (Dumplings). This is a total hole-in-the-wall, family operation, but so good. They are a specialist in these types of items. And dirt cheap as well. :)
*** Authentic Korean Cuisine ***
* Park's BBQ - Great Korean BBQ, grilling premium cuts of Beef, Pork, Chicken and more.
*** Italian ***
There are many great Italian restaurants in L.A. and many arguments for and against various places. For a nice, romantic evening, I enjoy going to:
* Valentino - Classy atmosphere, homemade Pastas, and a wonderful Chef's Tasting Menu (if you're in the mood) and great Wine selections.
*** French ***
Since you're in Santa Monica, for an informal, newer L.A. Brasserie you can try:
* Anisette Brasserie (Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner): Great French Onion Soup, Beef Daube, Lamb, and more. Fun, lively, informal place.
*** American Seafood ***
* Providence - Chef Michael Cimarusti provides some excellent creations with his Tasting Menus. Creative, interesting dishes on the regular menu as well.
There are many more great eateries as well. I just wanted to throw out a few ideas to get you started. :)
955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006
5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754
424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
2383 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717
Valentino (Santa Monica
)3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405
Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA
225 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
Noodle House (Mian Hsiang Yuan)
958 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755
I can't say much about the non-Chinese restaurants, but the Chinese restaurants are great selections. I would also add:
Seafood Village (Temple City): Chiu Chow cuisine (subset of Cantonese cuisine)
Tasty Garden (Arcadia): Hong Kong-style cuisine
101 Noodle Express (Alhambra): Shangdong style cuisine (beef rolls in particular).
Newport Seafood (San Gabriel): Vietnamese/Cantonese-style seafood.
Jin Jian (San Gabriel): Shanghai-style cuisine, especially the xiao long bao
Nem Nuong Ninh Hua (Rosemead): Central Vietnamese cuisine
Golden Deli (San Gabriel): Southern Vietnamese cuisine
Phong Dinh (Rosemead): Southern Vietnamese, family-style cuisine
Here are some restaurant reviews I have: http://www.geocities.com/raytamsgv/chinese_restaurants.html
There are also excellent Vietnamese restaurants in Orange County, but I do not have the information availab.e
BTW, exilekiss' blog is great. As his warnings go, he does a decent job with the romanizations for the Chinese dishes. They are usually in Mandarin even though some of the restaurants are Cantonese, so be aware of this if you intend to order in Chinese.
A recent thread from a NY hound has some similarities and maybe some useful responses:
I might add another rec to poster Bria's recs on Mako, and the Chayas. Orris is a small but very reputable and well-loved place performing wonderful cross-pollination between Japan and France. Most consider the love children to be very Chowhoundish...
Orris is great, but you are right about the wait -- Musha is a similar japanese tapas place on Wilshire and is an all tiem fav of mine. They do take reservations, and it is less expensive than Orris.
I personally think Ocean Ave Seafood is better than the Lobster... and have heard good things about Joe's on Abbot Kinney for French.
The Chicago hounds were so helpful to me two years ago that while I normally don't weigh in on these matters, I will tell you where my husband, our son (age 24) and I enjoy:
Love Lucques and equally love AOC (their tapas version of Lucques). I find Grace Restaurant to be along the same lines as Lucques.
The ultimate seafood experience (not counting sushi) would be Providence, but it's going to be more expensive. You could try the Lobster in Santa Monica for the great view, but it is a bit commercial.
For Italian, everyone who answers this query is going to have a different opinion. Not having been to either of the Mozzas, I will let others comment.
For French/Japanese/fusiony food, we really like Mako in Beverly Hills. We're also fans of Chaya Brasserie and Chaya Venice.
I'm interested to see what others weigh in with. Enjoy your stay here - there are loads of cute bistros and places for a bite to eat in Santa Monica such as Bread & Porridge, on Wilshire Blvd., and the many restaurants along Montana Avenue,
re: Bria Silbert
Thank you so much for all of the suggestions! I have been looking at the menus (when I'm supposed to be doing work) and they all look great! I will report back and let you know where we go. I think we'll have to check out AOC for sure! It looks like the kind of place we love. Thanks again.