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Feb 7, 2009 03:51 PM

Inexpensive, cool atmostphere

Hi, I'm looking for a dinner spot for 3 couples, that has a trendy atmosphere, good food but somewhat decent prices. It's for my bday, but I want to be budget conscious. I'd love to go to somewhere farily new, non chain of course. Sushi, Seafood, or Latin are best. No Italian.


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  1. Any location preference? What does "decent prices" mean to you in terms per person $$ (with dinner, drinks and tax) before tip?

    20 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Decent Prices with dinner, drinks and tax would be around $25-$40 per person. Thx!

        1. re: Servorg

          I live on the Westside, so I kinda want to venture out East...Beveryly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood would be great! Still open to Westside too. (no Valley since guests are driving from OC).

          1. re: Amethyst221

            Your budget is going to be very tough to meet but, depending on how much you eat, how careful you are about the dishes you order and holding yourselves to one glass of wine apiece you could maybe hit your $40 pp figure (I have doubts about the "with tax" requirement) at Tasca Winebar.


            I don't know what your idea of cool is but really good Oaxacan food (Latin cuisine) can be had at Monte Alban on Santa Monica Blvd. just east of Bundy in WLA.

            Monte Alban
            11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

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

            1. re: Servorg

              One other idea. While I wouldn't call the ambiance cool I would say that it would be a cool thing to go to Thai Town in Hollywood and dine at Jitlada. Jazz (the waitress) would help you create quite the feast centering around their Southern Thai specialties, and your budget would be safe.

              5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

              1. re: Servorg

                Great suggestions! I like all 3! One of the people in my party can't handle spicy foods, and one doesn't do seafood, but I think they can find things to eat on any of these menus.
                I'm so intrigued by your great restaurant selections...where would you recommend for a budget of $40 - 60 per person?

                1. re: Amethyst221

                  If you can stretch your budget I like the food at Mako in Beverly Hills a lot. It's Japanese/French Fusion and it's both creative and delicious.

                  Mako Restaurant
                  225 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Lot's of great reports on Animal (on Fairfax in the West Hollywood are) but we haven't been yet. Maybe going in a week or two to check it out.

                    435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                    1. re: Servorg

                      I love Animal, a lot! They really come up with some fantastic flavors, but it is not inexpensive and really has no atmosphere, a plain loud rectangular room.

                    2. re: Servorg

                      Thank you! I'll write back once we decide on one of these spots!

                  2. re: Servorg

                    at jitlada, be sure to clearly tell Jazz about your budget constraints BEFORE she starts recommending dishes.

                    there are many expensive things on the menu there as well as inexpensive things. ( i believe it was the fact that we ordered two whole fish that drove our tab way up one time.)

                  3. re: Servorg

                    While I absolutely LOVE Monte Alban, I wouldn't call it a cool atmosphere. In fact, it's the opposite of cool. That room makes me want to order the food to go, it's so bad.

                    Arsenal should fit the bill. Especially on the patio, and the menu is in your budget.

                    Another idea is Bar Pintxo.

                    Arsenal Bar
                    12008 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                    1. re: yogachik

                      yogachick, agree about Monte Alban and raise you Jitlada and Mako. Jitlada the food is great and in a funky way cool but not in the way the OP has requested.. Mako is so off I would not eat there.. Just a pass of a name by someone whom has not been there in a long while.. Very old school..

                      1. re: Foodandwine

                        Orris may be of interest. Good food, not that cool of an atsmosphere.. but the food and prices are spot on! Any you own wine is welcomed with a reasonable corkage.. Some Bubbly, White and Red will go great with the food. I would bring 1 or 2 or each depending on your drinking desires..

                        2006 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        1. re: Foodandwine

                          my party wasn't able to get out of orris for under $40/pp.
                          imho, even if you bring your own wine, you still should be tipping for the service in addition to paying corkage;
                          and, for the purposes of this thread, you should add in the cost of the wine to the budget--after all, decent wine is not free.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            seems like everybody has to lecture these days on this board.. How to eat, tip, why not get back to what we do best. Let others know about places to eat, what to order and what we liked .. westsidegal.. I appreciate your comments but Im getting a little frustrated by everyone attacking what another says.. I feel you are saying to people how they should tip and on what amount. Please keep that you yourself.. Its just not useful to others. Gosh.. People are skilled at those kinda things and the OP seems smart enough to figure that out.. Mollyomorman has a nice point below.. she was right on point..

                            1. re: Foodandwine

                              my comments were made in the spirit of having the OP be able to accurately calculate what the tab would be.

                              often, folks on this board only have 'soft' financial constraints;
                              sometimes, though, the constraints aren't so soft and to end up with a more costly bill would be a significant problem.

                              fwiw, it took me longer than i care to admit to learn how to fully load a restaurant's bill so that i could realistically predict how much money i would need to fork out. i don't assume everyone in the world is born knowing this information, and i did assume that the OP would take it in the spirit with which it was shared.

                              also, my personal experience with the prices at orris made me believe that coming in at the stated budget would not necessarily be a slam-dunk. with a party of 6 'careful ordering' is often more difficult than it is with a smaller party.

                              i was just trying to be helpful.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                westsidegal, thanks for taking the time to reply. I see your point and appreciate your posts in general. If I was a bit strong your way, I apologize. Just browsing here lately and reading so much inconsistent nonsense makes we want to look elsewere to find good spots to dine at. So much soap boxing, grandstanding, etc.. Like the Titos thread is just not fun. Any way.. Perhaps we will see each other at Chente some time as we both seem to like that spot.. Take care and to Orris I do like that place regardless of cost..

                                1. re: Foodandwine

                                  you'll recognize me at chente by the ungodly number of dishes you see on my table. come by and say 'hello.'

                                  i just can't seem to control myself at mariscos chente: must have this, and that, and that, and that.. . . . .

                        2. re: Foodandwine

                          My last meal at Mako was average at best. That place needs a makeover.

            2. You could probably do Loteria Grill in hollywood for around that.
              Good food, drinks, cool atmosphere.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ldodb

                I'm of two minds about Loteria in Hollywood. Yes, the food is good, and the prices are less than at almost all other Hollywood eateries. But when I see the small portions, and realize what a premium I'm paying vs. other Mexican places, it is hard to call it a value. The clincher -- with six people, add parking in Hollywood for at least two cars; I can have two good lunches for that money.

              2. Try East in Little Tokyo, especially on their Salmon Tuesday(?) or Tuna Thursday. Not out of this world, but fairly decent and fun, with great prices on those nights. I haven't been in awhile, so I might be off on the nights. Little Tokyo's a good place to walk after, especially if the Museums are open in the area. It also seems like a good halfway point between the O.C. & Westside.

                1. I usually get out of Primitivo for about $35/person, including wine. They have many good/decent wines at $30 a bottle, and the shared plates are all in the teens.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: yogachik

                    Wow. I usually get "out" of Primitivo at $65-70 per person. Obviously ordering incorrectly...or drinking too much:)

                    The great advantage to Orris, Primitivo or Tasca, or Bar Hamaya is that you really can order lots of different tastes without blowing the budget. I think all of these could be fun.

                  2. Mushu's in Santa Monica would definitely fit your budget & you can reserve one of the back tatami rooms which makes dinner feel very festive & private. I've been to several b-day celebrations here, consumed lots of sake & eaten numerous dishes (all of which are shared) w/out spending more than $30--40 all in.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: archer

                      Father's Office in Los Angeles would be great for a birthday celebration. Great food and alcohol in a nice space, as long as you don't mind ordering at the bar.

                      The Village Idiot on Melrose in LA is also a possibility.

                      Lastly, P Mozza is a possibility. Pizzas average about $16. Figure one of those per person plus a split app--another $6 and you're at $25 with tax just for food.

                        1. re: archer

                          Musha is a great suggestion. I definitely think you could do Orris at $40 pp; I have plenty of times even with wine (although you obviously couldn't go crazy with the wine). I would also add Robata-ya on Sawtelle to the mix.

                          1. re: mollyomormon

                            Also, another thought is Furaibo on Sawtelle. Casual & doesn't accept reservations, but wait is rarely long. Young, hip crowd. Very inexpensive but tasty, fun menu.