Foodie parents visiting town. Recs near WLA please
I am new to LA, and my parents will be visiting town in early January. I was hoping you folks could recommend places serving great food in or near (read: up to a 25 min drive from Westwood) West LA.
Places I've been to LA and might take my parents to: Angelini Osteria (made a reservation), Jar, Josie, Cut.
Any other recs? Thoughts on Lucques and AOC.
Also, any thoughts on best Chinese food in West LA? Might be a good idea to do Chinese one night.
Hole in the wall places also greatly appreciated.
Lucques is excellent. So is AOC but most of the dishes are small plates and it's more informal than Lucques. Angelini is hit or miss and it can be so loud there on weekend nights that it's difficult to have a conversation. I'd heartily recommend considering The Foundry on Melrose and Hatfield's.
My favorite continues to be Campanille on La brea. Mark Peel continues to outdo the original Cal folks such as Wolfgang and Joe. He is deeply involved ijn every dish and drink. Been eating there continuely for almost 20 years and it is truly great. Solid reasonable winelist in a wonderful space (the first Chaplin studio....Have a ball!!!!
D Hound -- Several details will help us help you. Where are you and your parents from? Are they more comfortable in a certain high level of service and ambiance or would they enjoy and appreciate more informal places? Any food or dietary preferences or aversions? Where will they be staying (if a hotel) and for how long?
Since you have almost two months until their visit, that gives you almost a month to read through this board and perhaps survey some of the local blogs from some of our regular contributors and reviewers. (Most restaurants only accept reservations a month in advance.) You can also read the reviews in the Wednesday L.A. Times and determine how much you agree with S. I. Virbila, and check out the L.A. Weekly for J. Gold's recs. Wouldn't be a bad idea to buy the most recent Zagat as well -- their numerical ratings are pretty useless, but it is a good guide for basic info and fits in the glove box in the car.
In answer to your specific question, the best Chinese food in W.L.A. is at Hu's, in the Palms/Rancho Park neighborhood on National where it makes a 90-degree turn S/E of Overland and N/W of Motor and Palms. Get the dumplings, the kung pao shrimp or chicken, the twice-cooked pork, and the eggplant or green beans in garlic sauce. The only dim sum on the westside is at VIP Seafood, on the second story of the minimall on the N/W corner of Wilshire at Barrington. The best Chinese food in the L.A. area is out in the San Gabriel Valley, which is about a half-hour drive east on the 10 to where it turns into the 60, and then north in Monterey Park, Alhambra, or Rosemead.
For casual, Monte Alban is excellent Oaxacan Mexican regional, with several moles, located in the minimall on the N/E corner of Santa Monica Blvd. at Brockton. Shamshiri is tasty, very generous servings of Persian fare, with good kebobs, shawarma (chicken better than beef), stews, and homemade flatbreads. On the east side of Westwood Blvd., just north of Santa Monica Blvd. For wonderful croissant, quiche, soups, and other bakery items, by far the best is Amandine, on the north side of Wilshire a block and a half west of Bundy. There is all sorts of Japanese -- sushi, ramen, izakaya, curry, etc. -- on Sawtelle between Olympic and Santa Monica Blvd. -- my favorite is the small-plate fusion restaurant Orris. For excellent Cal-comfort cuisine with good service and a nice vibe but amazingly reasonable prices, my favorite is Nook Bistro, hidden in the back corner of the minimall on the S/E corner of Santa Monica Blvd. at Barry.
You don't say where your parents are from, but if they live in a pretty big US city and they are "foodies," the odds are that they already know restaurants similar to the ones you mention.
My guess, however, is that they have not had much (if any) experience with regional Mexican food -- something with which Los Angeles is abundantly blessed and most other US cities are not. I suggest taking them to Monte Alban (Sta. Monica Blvd. between Bundy and Barrington) for some Oaxacan food. It is neither fancy nor a hole in the wall; just an excellent, inexpensive restaurant with wonderful food and good service.
As to "best Chinese food in West LA": good luck. But if it's not rush hour, you can get from Westwood over to Monterey Park in 25 minutes, and find Chinese food of all sorts that will rival -- well, ALMOST rival -- Hong Kong or Shanghai. Same deal: all US cities have Chinese restaurants; only Los Angeles is the Queen City of Asia.
Any type of food is fine (the one exception is Mexican food, if only because they live in Mexico and eat top notch Mexican food regularly, esp. Oaxacan). We're all very adventurous eaters (offal is fine etc). A mix of high end, neighborhood places, and maybe one or two hole in the wall places, would be perfect.
Staying in Westwood. We can drive around, but probably not more than 25 minutes.
The recs provided here are all extremely useful. I'll definitely include Lucques in the list. And at least one place in Sawtelle. Also great - the Chinese recs in WLA (just because I'm not sure we'll end up driving all the way to Monterey Park... now, if we were to indeed go all the way to Monterey Park, where should we go to?) And from looking at Nook's website, I'm pretty sure I'd love that place.
We'll report on our chowing tour in January. As of now, I think we'll pick two from Lucques, Angelini, and Jar; one of the Chinese places you are recommending; and Nook.
Incidentally, any places in Westwood that are particularly good for breakfast?
re: D Hound
I would go to Lucques over JAR any day - though I like JAR, Lucques is a unique and special place - do yourself a favor and check it out.
I would recommend going to Amandine on Wilshire for breakfast - it's not exactly Westwood - but it is hard to beat for croissants and other bakery goodies.
It doesn't appear that places like Craft, Fraiche or Providence are on your list yet.
Tasca on 3rd near the Beverly Center gets high marks for great wine and tapas.
As others have mentioned, Chinese = SGV. The easiest for me would be dim sum at either Sea Harbour or Elite - both are on the top of the dim sum list. Go early or the wait will exponentially increase with each passing minute after they open. Weekdays are the best for ease of entry.
If you want to stick to West LA for Chinese, also consider Hop Woo on Olympic, just west of Sepulveda. I personally think they're the best Chinese in the Westside. The focus is mostly on Cantonese of course, but the specials on the whiteboard are in Chinese - that should tell you something about some of their patrons, and you should by all means ask about those specials. The last find we had off the board was braised pork belly with pickled vegetables - really good.
West LA and the surrounding areas have a fair amount of food places. Some not mentioned yet (I think) are Nook - a favorite for most in West LA. The few blocks along Sawtelle north of Olympic is dense with Japanese joints. Orris probably gets most praise, but Bar Hayama is no slouch, Kiriko is still near and dear to my heart as well as J. Gold. Robata-ya just recently opened (Mako Tanaka of "Mako" restaurant) - I haven't been yet but word has been positive so far. And while not in the immediate neighborhood, Sushi Mori, Sushi-Zo and of course Urasawa should be considered as well.
Venice is well within your radius and Abbot Kinney is the place to eat. Joe's for lunch or brunch; Axe for Venice-style Alice Waters; Lilly's for good French cafe food and good wine list. You were asking for a good breakfast place in Westwood. You might consider good breakfast place in Venice instead - 3 Square.
Here's the links I forgot to add, the info for Robata-ya - no link yet but just tried adding it:
2004 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9, Los Angeles, CA 90025
9411 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
10100 Constellation Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067
5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064
2006 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754
11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
8108 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Lilly's French Cafe & Bar
1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
3 Square Cafe
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA
1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
11300 Nebraska Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025
11110 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
los angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Brentwood area has several great Italian places including Toscana, Palmeri, Pecorino, Vincente, Osteria Latini, etc. There is also a Katsu-Ya in Brentwood.
For hole in the wall lunch type places, there is Zankou chicken, Cha Cha Chicken, Clementine, Baby Blue's BBQ, Cora's coffee shop, Alejo's, Nate n' Al's
I will admit that John O'Groats has its supporters, thus the lines and wait on a weekend. But in my opinion, it is overpriced and tired. The much-lauded biscuits are dry and powdery, portions are small, the staff has attitude, and it is just not worth it. For the best diner breakfast on the westside, go to S & W Diner on Washington in Culver City -- get the homemade corned beef hash, eggs properly prepared to order, and have one person be sure to order the pancakes as their side and the other get the hash browns (well done) and toast and share. Big portions, low prices, fast service, friendly attitude and fellow customers. If you need a breakfast on Pico, go a block further east and eat at the cafe at the Rancho Park golf course or a few blocks west and have a breakfast special at Junior's deli. If you are eating more lightly, definitely take the drive to Amandine for quiche, omelettes, amazing croissant, good coffee, and scrumptuous desserts.
For dim sum, I would take a big pass on VIP (or anywhere in Chinatown for that matter, including Empress Pavilion) and head to MP for Capitol Seafood or Elite (although I like Capitol better) or Triumphal Palace in Alhambra or 888 in Rosemead (I haven't been to Mission 261 in a while, but it used to be good too)
La Cachette is nice for French, second Fraiche (and you can walk around Culver City and catch a show or have a drink at a wine bar after dinner), I like the onion rings and turkey burger at Akasha. Mastro's for steak in Beverly Hills is yummy, but $$$, I've had really nice sushi at the Hump in Santa Monica airport (you can see the runway)
Snug Harbor for breakfast is an alternative to John O'Groats or NY bagel on San Vicente.
My parents were just here and they are MAD for the Nook--we ate there three times in 10 days. I would also suggest Urth Cafe for breakfast--just to get a very California scene--might be nice to do it on Sunday and include a tour of the Farmer's Market?