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Please help me pick an anniversary dinner restaurant

It's our 11th anniversary, and, economics being what they are, we haven't much of a budget for our celebratory dinner. I have a few ideas, and I'd love your thoughts/opinions on them. Or, if something particularly inspiring strikes you, please let me know!

Some options:
-Taste on Melrose
-Itacho
-eat on sunset
-ciudad
-Ford's Filling Station

As you see, our tastes are varied, and we're willing to go as far as Downtown from West L.A.

Thank you in advance for your help!

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  1. How important is ambiance (romantic or just a nicer room) vs. food? Service? Is your price range $50 pp + tip or are you trying to eat for less than that? Do you always split a dessert after a nice dinner out? Coffee too? What are a couple of places that you and your SO go to now that you both love?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      I'd rather have really good food than an elegant room, but there should be a small degree of ambience--i.e. no Thai Town noodle joints, even if the rad na is outstanding. $50 pp is a little steep, perhaps something more like $30 pp. We share dessert and maybe have a glass of wine (or beer) each. A place that we've gone and liked many times is Nook, also Bombay Cafe. Something along those lines of price would be great.

      1. re: LAmonkeygirl

        In downtown LA, you might want to consider Colori (for Italian) or Chichen Itza for (Yucatan Mexican).

        Colori Cafe, 429 W 8th St, (213) 622-5950

        Chichen Itza http://www.chichenitzarestaurant.com/

        1. re: LAmonkeygirl

          Take a look at the website / menu / pricing for Tasca Wine Bar (Spanish food for the most part) and see what you think.

          -----
          Tasca Restaurant
          8108 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          1. re: Servorg

            That looks promising, as long as we keep our ordering in check. I'm a dessert fiend, though, so how are their desserts?

            1. re: LAmonkeygirl

              I have been off of desserts lately so I can't tell you. Maybe someone else will chime in here?

            2. re: Servorg

              Tasca's desserts are great, the perfect end to their meal. The chocolate mousse/pot de creme glass with whipped cream on top is perfectly smooth and not too rich. The creme caramel with spun sugar topping is equally good for those who don't like chocolate.

        2. My first thought was Nook, but alas it is already one of your faves. Have you tried Brunello's in east Culver City? It is a current board darling for Italian, though I haven't read much about its desserts. Maybe a tartlet or piece of moussecake from Amandine or a Trader Joe's frozen cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, or chocolate opera cake defrosting in the 'fridge waiting at home.

          5 Replies
          1. re: nosh

            I know that the tiramisu is an old homemade family recipe at Brunello. It's pretty darn good.

            1. re: nosh

              I really, really liked the food and service at Brunello's. Unfortunately, the decor reminded me of a retirement home dining room.

              1. re: nosh

                Brunello is definitely reasonable price wise and I enjoy their tiramisu and other dessert lots! I've had their espresso creme brulee, lemon gelato, some choc. grand marnier thingy and I can't really remember what else. Unfortunately I don't know the prices of these items because Bruno keeps giving me dessert on the house...

                1. re: nosh

                  if you are going to do a trader joe's frozen anything, i'd suggest their frozen apple tart. a friend of mine served 4 of them at her Thanksgiving party. None of the guests guessed the source (including me!). They were wonderful

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    I'm an avid home baker, so I think that if we did do dessert at home, I'd make it myself. But thanks for the suggestion!

                2. Chez Mimi in Santa Monica has good food and a nice romantic vibe, you can check the menu prices online to determine if it's in your budget: http://www.chezmimirestaurant.com/din.... You might also consider Violet in West L.A....their small plates can be fun and romantic to share, I like the food and the space. I don't really remember the desserts in either place, so I can't comment on that. From your list, the only place I've been is Ciudad and I wasn't impressed (wouldn't return).

                  5 Replies
                    1. re: Nicole

                      Haven't been to Chez Mimi, so that will be offered up as a possibility to the hubs. We did eat once at Violet and were not much impressed, though perhaps it was an off day.

                      1. re: LAmonkeygirl

                        Love Chez Mimi! Ask to sit in the back or the room with the fireplace. Tomato soup, sand dabs and lemon tart, can't go wrong with the food. Wait staff super.

                    2. Luna Park has pretty private booths, lots of candlelight and good food in your price range. Also, not sure what night the big day is but Larchmont Grill has half price wine on Tuesdays. Amalfi on LaBrea is another one that has romantic ambiance and good food. There's also a little hole in the wall on LaCienega SOUTH of WIlshire called Caffe Carerra that has amazing Italian, dark, good ambiance. Haven't been for about a year but a real hidden gem. Congrats, celebrating my own 4th anny. tomorrow!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: PinotPlease

                        We have been to Luna Park several times and enjoyed it, and the private booths. Looking for something a little different.

                        Congrats on your own anniversary!

                        1. re: LAmonkeygirl

                          We ended up going to Bashan in Glendale/Montrose for our anny. In a weird location but warm and nice room with great service. They have a $40/pp chefs tasting menu with app. main and desert that was out of this world. We had a cauliflower soup with Marcona almonds and dates, NY steak and choc bread pudding, although there are about 5 choices for the first 2 courses and 2 for the desert. It was really lovely and the quality of the food and the plating would not be out of place at somewhere for triple the price. Quite a find!

                      2. What's the day? Maybe you can get a deal by going to a special promotional day.

                        If it's on a Sunday how about Lucques's Sunday Supper? Jiraffe used to be nice (haven't been in a very long time) and they have a prix fixe deal on Monday Bistro Nights. Cmapanile does one, too. Jar does a casual Mozzarella Monday that could be fun. Ciudad does Paella on Tuesday nights. Josie's dos a Farmer's Market prix fixe on Wednesday. Campanile does a Grilled Cheese Thursday. Maybe not romantic but really fun.

                        Friday and Saturday are the biggest restaurant nights so I don't think you're likely to find a special those evenings.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Frommtron

                          Max's Restaurant in Sherman Oaks is reasonably priced and dishes can be shared without a plate charge (as I recall). On Monday there is no corkage and on Tuesday any wine on their list is 50% off or reverse that possibly as to the days. My wife and I went with another couuple, had three appetizers, split two main courses, two desserts and corkage (it was a Thursday) and we still got out the door for $75 per couple including tax and tip.

                          1. re: Hughlipton

                            Maybe Beacon in Culver City? I also like Jiraffe and Lucques Sunday Supper is an all time favorite. I would skip Ciudad. Also Blair's in Silverlake and Canele in Atwater. Those are pretty good, in my opinion.

                          2. re: Frommtron

                            Alas, it's on a Saturday. We've done the Sunday Supper at Lucques and enjoyed it, but, given that they raised the price to $45 pp, a $90 dinner really is too expensive (which gives you an idea of our limited budget). Some time ago, we did the Josie's Farmer's Market prix fixe and, while I'm not a big eater, found the portion size to definitely reflect the lower price.

                            1. re: LAmonkeygirl

                              Fair enough. How about Tlapazola on Lincoln?

                              1. re: Frommtron

                                What is the Lincoln location like as far as interior ambiance vs the one on Gateway and Barrington (if you know)? I guess I am assuming they have the same menu. Maybe that's a bad assumption?

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  It's the same menu. I think the ambiance in the new location is superior, primarily because it doesn't feel like a storefront.

                                  Rejjie: I've had a nice meal at Beacon the one time I went. I think that's a nice suggestion.

                                  OP: You might also want to try Pizzicotto on San Vicente. I think you should be able to get out of there under your target price. If you're thinking Japanese then maybe try Place on Sawtelle. Great restaurant, although they have a tendency to play smooth jazz during dinner service.

                          3. MELROSE BAR & GRILL has a nice atmosphere (some booths, fireplace, small bar area) with reasonable prices. It's on Melrose west of Robertson Blvd. Great wine list!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bruinike

                              I second Melrose Bar and Grill, the service is always great and it's very reasonable. You mentioned Taste which is always lovely.

                              Dominicks on Beverly is nice and romantic as well. Affordable.

                              Vivoli Cafe on Laurel and Sunset is a tiny, sweet spot as well and very possibly where I'm having my affordable, romantic 10th anniversary next week.

                            2. I love Ita Cho but it's not romantic -- if anything, a little stark. Also, not a dessert place (though you could head to Milk across the street) You could go to Angelini Osteria for that price if you stick to pasta, or what about Angeli Caffe?

                              1. You might also consider Lou on vine - www.louonvine.com. I bet you could get in and out for under a hundred and maybe have dessert too

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: JPomer

                                  Good suggestion. In that vein, there's also Upstairs 2.

                                  1. re: JPomer

                                    On Monday nights they have a prix fix menu with wines to match....very reasonable.