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visiting from nyc. staying at hyatt century plaza.. recs??

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I will be staying at the Hyatt Century Plaza on a business trip from June 22-26. My food budget is about $50-60/day but I can certainly pay more out of pocket if necessary.. though I'd like to keep it reasonable. Can anyone recommend some nearby restaurants? I have a rental car but have heard nightmarish things about LA traffic so I'd like to avoid it if possible.

I love Mexican, American and Italian.. not a huge fan of Asian (Thai, Japanese, Chinese, etc) or Seafood.


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  1. LA traffic is not as bad as you might have heard, especially at non-rush times. Indeed, my experience is that driving in LA is, by and large, easier than in midtown Manhattan -- though that isn't saying much, is it?

    That being said: Get in the rental car, zip over to Santa Monica Blvd., turn left (west) and head to Monte Alban. It's on Santa Monica Blvd. in west LA, between Barrington and Bundy, on the north side of the street -- that is, on your right as you are heading toward the ocean. Probably a 15-minute drive from the Century City area if it's not rush hour. Excellent Oaxacan food. My fave is the barbacoa de chiva (a nice hunk of tender braised goat, sweet and not in the least gamy, in a dense red broth), but all of their moles are also excellent. Everything I've ever had there is excellent, and the prices are well within your budget. Not a fancy place, but by no means a dive. If you have never had Oaxacan food, you are a in for a treat.

    1. I worked for a time directly across the street from the Century Plaza.

      On the upper side of things there's Clementine, across Santa Monica Blvd. from the Century City Mall, and Breadbar actually in the mall, and Craft on Ave of the Stars and Constellation behind the CAA building. Houstons steakhouse is in the mall as well and is pretty good. Honestly though on $50 a day these places can be difficult. (You're in a pretty high-rent district.)

      Agree on the Monte Alban recommendation -- it's only 10-15 minutes by car unless you are truly unfortunate with the traffic, and it will fit your budget just fine.

      On Venice Blvd., just down Motor Ave., is Cafe Brasil which has tasty Brazilian food in a sort of shack-like atmosphere. I'm not the world's biggest fan of Versailles Cuban on Venice but I know a lot of people really like it.

      1. You could get easily into Beverly Hills and try Enoteca Drago for Italian...
        For pure fun you could have the classic McCarthy Salad at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel.
        In nearby Westwood is the Nook Bistro

        1. Tom Colicchio's restaurant Craft is in Century City. While that is probably out of your allotted daily price point, he has turned part of the restaurant into a tapas sort of place, Craftbar, so you could have some small plates and a drink and still pick up some of the Craft experience.

          1. I know you have one in NYC, but go across the street to Craft.

            Monte Alban, for sure.

            Driving isn't a hassle at all on surface streets, head to Mozza, eat at the bar.

            10100 Constellation Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067

            Pizzeria Mozza
            6602 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

            Monte Alban
            11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

            1 Reply
            1. re: yogachik

              know that you will, for sure, far exceed your entire daily budget at one meal at craft.

            2. Try Kay n Daves on Pico in Rancho Park. Great mexican food and drinks. Great happy hour too, M-F 4-7. Voted Best Westside Happy Hour in L.A. Weekly last year. I work near your hotel and stop here once or twice a week, it's only a few miles away. You can easily make happy hour dinner and help keep you on budget.


              1. if you are open to persian food, go west to westwood blvd and go to shamshiri grill. there are tons of delicious things to order that will come in well below your budget.

                1. Get out of Century City and go to the beach. It's a straight shot west on Santa Monica Blvd, when you see water, park.
                  Since you're from NYC I would not go for Italian....seems like you can get that at home.

                  La Serenata de Garibaldi
                  Cora's coffee shop
                  Chez Jay
                  My Father's Office
                  Border Grill

                  A straight shot in the other direction will run you right to Dan Tana's and The Palm.

                  Chez Jay
                  1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                  Border Grill
                  1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

                  Boa Steakhouse
                  101 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                  Dan Tana's Restaurant
                  9071 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                  Cora's Coffee Shop
                  1802 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                  Cha Cha Chicken
                  1906 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: foh

                    I really can't recommend the Westside branches of La Serenata. They're just not as good as the Boyle Heights original, the place is noisy as hell, and the service the few times I've gone has been completely and utterly noncommittal. Oh, your dinner didn't come out with everyone else's? Sorry, I must have forgot to put it in. I'll put it in now behind all the other tickets in the kitchen, and you can have it in half an hour after everyone else is done and staring at you.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Surprised no one has thrown out Apple Pan, Marty's, or John O'Groats. They're cheap (although O'Groats less-so), close-by, and people swear by them. If you want a Hollywood-like experience, try the Ivy on Robertson or the Grill on the Alley.

                      You're from NY so don't bother with Italian here, unless you want to drive to Pizzeria Mozza.

                      1. re: 2ndAvenue

                        although i like john o'groats, i wouldn't recommend it to anyone on a business trip because the wait for a table there can be unbelievably long and the service can be VERY slow. i'll tolerate the wait when i know i am in no way pressed for time. i absolutely do like their food, though.

                        the particular appeal of the apple pan is lost on me, but then again, i never tried their pies. maybe i have to try the pies to 'get it.' for the calories and the money that would be involved at the apple pan, i could put together a much more satisfying meal at the deli counter at gelsons market in the century city shopping center and polish the meal off with a cone of the gelato they sell there.

                        for a pricey dinner, i concur with your recommendation of the grill on the alley in beverly hills. i've never had a bad meal there. heck, i've never had a bad menu item there. simple chop-house food of superb quality presented and prepared simply.

                        also concur with your suggestion about pursuing something other than italien food while in LA.

                    2. re: foh

                      know that for sure, you will far exceed your daily budget having one meal at boa steakhouse. it is one of the most expensive restaurants in town.

                    3. That's a good location. West of you in the Brentwood area I would recommend checking out the new Tavern as well as the Nook. Sunnin in westwood is good home style Lebanese

                      You are aslso 5-10 minutes from Culver City and Fords Filling Station, Fraiche and Akasha. Good Coffee can be found at the Conservatory for Coffee and tea or the Luxx Brentwood.

                      Nook Bistro
                      11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                      9411 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                      Ford's Filling Station
                      9531 Culver Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90232

                      Conservatory For Coffee
                      10117 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                      9543 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                      11648 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

                      1. one more

                        Sunnin Lebanese Cafe
                        1779 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                        1. Some cheap lunch options within easy driving distance:

                          Cabbage Patch cabbagepatchbh.com
                          Mulberry St Pizza a few doors down (if you're missing home)
                          Attari Sandwich shop on Westwood - be sure to get the soup!
                          X'otik Kitchen xotikkitchen.com - Indonesian inspired but you wouldn't really know it from most of their dishes. Their skirt steak is fantastic. Take-out, or there is a tiny counter & very limited outdoor seating.