Chowhound Lost in West Los Angeles
- Richard Jun 23, 2004 10:54 AM
I am a Philadelphia Chowhound who will be visiting the West Los Angeles Area (near UCLA) for the first time while on a business trip. I like all types of food and especially enjoy local cuisine. I will have access to a car. Can fellow Chowhounds suggest any places worthy of a Chowhound visit in the West Los Angeles/UCLA area? Thanks in advance.
Hi Richard, welcome to Los Angeles. For what it's worth, though West Los Angeles is indeed nearby to UCLA, the community and neighborhood usually associated with UCLA is called Westwood. Also extremely nearby to UCLA is the tonier area known as Brentwood. And Santa Monica, the nearby beach community is a mere 10 minutes away. As you see, the UCLA/Westwood area is within ten minutes of many enclaves under the umbrella of the 'westside', and this includes Westwood, West L.A., Brentwood, and Santa Monica/Venice. Within these interweaving borders, there are dozens upon dozens of great casual and haute dining experiences. Los Angeles county may be vast, but the area you mention is very accessible and doesn't require time loss on the jammed freeways. And with a car, the UCLA area is less than 15 minutes from the ocean. Others here can offer great suggestions, but i wanted you to know that the geography is in your favor, as regards westside options...
In the UCLA area, Persian food is the best thing going. The best I have found are Sherahazade (sp?) for food, and Shamshiri Grill for atmosphere (and great food).
Persian food is really tasty, if you're not familar with it, it kind of stradles the line between Middle Eastern Med food and heartier Afghan/Pakistani/Indian food. Lots of rice dishes and grilled meats. YUM.
And you can't ask for anything more 'local'! LA has the best Persian restaraunts in the States.
re: Ted S.
for great, cheap Persian in Westwood, don't miss Attari Sandwich Shop. It's just east of Westwood on Wilkins, which is the street SOUTH of Borders, you enter through a little courtyard on the north side of the street. they have wonderful Persian sandwiches on baquettes - think of banh mi and you'll get the idea. I like something called kuku which is kind of like a fritatta very intensely herb-y and spinach-y, also the chicken sandwich is good. They have several other items which I'm dying to try. Their soup, or Ash, is a thick moosh of lentils beans, greens, spices, with crispy onions and a dollop of sour cream on top - one bowl is a whole meal for a small person! If you search this board you'll find some more reviews. It's a little-known jewel.
In West LA, there's also the Sawtelle strip (a smaller version of Little Tokyo), which is just a few blocks west of the 405, on Sawtelle between Santa Monica and Olympic. Lots of great choices of sushi, noodles, fusion, curry, even yakitori and shabu-shabu. I recommend 2117 for fusion, and Sawtelle Kitchen for homey Japanese cooking. Do a search on Chowhound for "Sawtelle" and you'll find plenty of recs.
When I'm in Westwood, I also like to hit Ambhala Dhaba for Indian, and Diddy Reese for their $1 ice cream + cookie sandwich. Can't beat that deal.
Having spent my grad school years in Philly (a great eating town, in many respects better than here), I'd say that what we have that you don't is great Japanese food, and great Mexican food. You've already been steered toward Sawtelle; Hump at the Santa Monica airport is also good for sushi and a fun atmosphere; Echigo and Sasabune are also talked about a lot on this board. I like Kiriko on Sawtelle. Mexican recs are plentiful on this board, I like Lares on Pico and 30th in Santa Monica for good food and live music (usually classical guitar) on weekends; Tlapazola Grill on Gateway has more upscale (and delicious) dishes, but in a casual atmosphere; and people on this board also seem to like Juquila on Santa Monica Bl, which is more of a hole in the wall. Border Grill in Santa Monica is popular for "Cali-Mex." I wouldn't bother with Italian in LA - you have much, much better in Philly.
If you've want to enjoy a quintessential LA experience, drive to Santa Monica (you can take the freeway to 4th Street and head west from there), or take Wilshire or Santa Monica Blvds. to their western ends, and head a few blocks south. Directly south of the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier (at Colorado Avenue, AKA Route 66 - yes, that one!), is The Lobster. Make a reservation for dinner (ask for a table by the window) or treat yourself to a drink on the outdoor deck and enjoy the sunset over the ocean. After dark, the ferris wheel lights sparkle over the water.
True, you've got great seafood in Philly, but you don't get it with a view of the sunset over the Pacific. Their seafood and service are always good, too. If it's in your budget, it's a great place (though noisy) to take your clients.
if you are going to go to santa monica from westwood, it's better to take the side streets.. you never know what the 405 will be like... and that way, you can see what the different restaurants are and see if anything strikes your fancy...(there are a TON that line up both sides of these busy streets)
I think I see this happen quite a lot. People ask for a recommendation that will get too broad a range of responses. More information on what you might like to be experiencing is required. Otherwise you'll potentially get 'sky's the limit' variety of responses which will not bet all that helpful, IMHO.
Business trip, 1st question, can meals be deducted/paid for by the business? Either way, how many days, on the weekend only or during the week (popular restaurants can be impossible to get a good experience, if you can get in at all, on weekends)? Do you have a budget range in mind? Are there any particular types of restaurant food you like? How far do you want to travel to eat dinner, very close (keep in mind if you want to eat on weekends or week nights before 8PM, you'll run into heavy traffic in many areas) or beyond 5 miles? Dinner only, or do you want breakfast/lunch recommendations. Dim Sum, in a few west-side Hong Kong style restaurants, there are weekend specials during lunch you may like to try.
There are hundreds of restaurants ppl here can recommend. Valentino in WLA is a perennial favorite Italian, which is probably better than most Philly Italian restaurants, but it will cost you a pretty penny, to eat a nice meal at Valentino. If you are thinking pasta mainly, then there is a place in Beverly Hills that would serve you better than Valentino. Same could be said of Mori Sushi (better than the bad service you may experience at Sasabune on Sawtelle Blvd.). Mori is just a few blocks south of that concentration of Japanese businesses on a 2 block section of Sawtelle, but you usually need a reservation.
If you really like Mexican, you should not miss La Serenata Gourmet on Pico, the westside offshoot of legendary Serenata De Garibaldi.
Unique, gourmet Mex with an emphasis on seafood, featuring masterful sauces. If you like heat, get whatever fish is fresh, grilled with the molcajete sauce. Outstanding stuff.
We still talk about a special Sardine Quesadilla we had one time...we turned our noses up the minuto the waiter mentioned it, but he convinced us it wasn't anything like we were thinking, and right he was. Just wonderfully mild yet rich fish with masa, herbs and a killer tomatillo sauce.
No place like it on earth...
Just to add or agree-
Shahrzad in the1400 block of Westwood blvd. Great bread. Try estamboli polo, or the zereshk polo or if you like chicken, the fesenjan.
Sunnin down the street for excellent lebanese food, cooked to order.
Some like Ambala dhaba, somedon't. it's a fun riff on a type of Indian food not widely available.
One of my faves in the area is Pomodoro, small Italian across from the borders bookstore. Not an extensive menu but everything is quite good, even the pizze.
The W is fun for drinks, a hotel in Westwood village. I don't care forTengu in the village, too fusiony for me, but it's a beautiful space and if you like fusion japanese and sushi then you may like it.
And in Brentwood, I still like Di Vino - great panna cotta nice service good food, but a bit pricey for the quality.
For addresses go to
And if you like, you can search by zip codes, 90024 or 90025 for Westwood and West LA.
You definatley do have to try the persian food here, and it is the best in the states. (chicago is #2) Being a persian myself, I am picky when it comes to persian food. If you love MEAT, order the "Soltani" at any of the restaurants. Its a skewer of barg (thinly sliced filet) and Lule (ground beef) Kabob. All of the Khoresh's (stews) are good too.
Of the restraunts, Javan has the best Kabobs, extremely tender filet. Probably the best quality meats, and a nice atmosphere it is on Santa Monica Blvd.
My 2nd choice would be Shamshiri Grill on Westwood blvd. Bring your appetite, the portions are huge. I was very suprised by the number of people that recommended Shaharzad, thats not one of my favorites. The bread is good as someone else mentioned, but its only bread.
In westwood village, Diddy Reese for the ice cream sandwich. Only a dollar.
And of course a double double from in-n-out or a fatburger, ok make it a kingburger from fatburger, both in westwood village. If I had to make a choice, Fatburger wins hands down for burger in westwood.
On Monday night head over to Lamonico's Pizza in westwood for 2 for 1 pizza, buy one pizza get one free. Just mention it to them when ordering. ALOT of good quality cheese, and dough imported from NYC. Two Large one toppings will set you back less than $12 on monday. Thats a deal for GOOD pizza.
And the MONGOLIAN grill right next to Lamonico's will test your engineering talents. You are given a bowl to stuff to your heart or rather stomachs content. Ket here is to wash your hands first them keep pressing everything on your bowl so it doesnt slip off before you hand it to the cooks. I have seen bowls stacked up over a foot high.
I'm fond of Le Saigon, a Pho n' wok place on Santa Monica Bl a few blocks west of the 405. Also in the same area is Javan, a date-worthy persian place others have mentioned on this thread. Additionally, two doors down from Le Saigon is a Oaxacan place with awful convenience-store atmosphere but some ok eats. There's another Oaxacan place down by the Santa Monica bowling alley on Pico, too. I can second that emotion on Sunnin, the lebanese counter on Westwood Bl, and the Malaysian sit-down place next door is pretty good, too.
I'll just throw a bunch of recs out for different meals, different price ranges, and cuisines.
One morning, head down to Primo's for a quintessential LA buttermilk bar.
One morning, head to Griddle Cafe on Sunset for a decadent breakfast. Toast and Doughboys are other options.
Another morning, drive down Wilshire to Amandine for a croissant.
For a fun LA lunch or dinner, head over to Farmer's Market for Loteria, Gumbo Pot, Bob's, Marcel Monsieur's, etc.
Both Shamshiri and Sawtelle restaurants are great recs.
In Westwood proper, Diddy Reese is somewhat of an institution. Stan's Donuts for the chocolate PB monstrosity. Gardens on Glendon and Palomino are also good.
Musha in Santa Monica.
For great Korean BBQ, consider making the drive to Soot Bull Jeep.
Tacos Por Favor or Tacomiendo for good cheap Mexican. Guelaguetza is another good option, IMO.
Down in SM, is Father's Office for a unique burger and Bay Cities Deli for sandwiches.
Valentino is great, but for good affordable Italian nearby, head over to Pizzicotto on San Vicente.
Do you have a yen to try In'n'Out (right by the airport)... do that after you land, and stop at Pann's as you leave?
More reasonable dinner options in SM include Violet and Nook.
If you can swing it, Urasawa is the tops for sushi. Otherwise, Echigo and Sushi Zo are good options for reasonable omakase.
Spago is also a good expensive option, but for a great meal, I'd also recommend driving a bit to Providence or Grace.
Hungry Cat, Mozza, Cobras and Matadors, and Hatfield's (also a bit of a drive) are worthy of consideration.
No, a lot of these recs are not in Westwood/UCLA area or west of the 405, but you asked for chowhound worthy, and I think all of these are worth hitting up... given you either stay for a good number of days, or eat 10 meals a day :)