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Any must-try restaurants for UCLA visit?

My son and I are going to be in LA in Sept. to visit UCLA and USC. We will be staying in the Westwood area at the Palomar Hotel. We will not have a car, and are willing to walk or take a taxi when need be.

I am looking for restaurants for 2 nights where you can get delicious food in a comfortable atmosphere. Nothing too fancy. It doesn't have to be cheap, but I don't want to break the bank either.

We aren't picky eaters, and we enjoy good food.

Thanks for any advice that you can offer!

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  1. as as start, since you'll be staying at the Palomar, this post might help. It has a number of recommendations within the immediate area as well as Westside, e.g. Spago.


    1. Thai House on Gayley is a pretty good option. It's not the greatest Thai food, but it's tasty, the interior is nice and clean and I've never had a problem with the service.

      1. Westwood Boulevard, south of Wilshire, has a lot of good Persian eateries. I like Shaherzad. The bread is great.

        1. Take a 2 mile cab ride west to San Vincente Blvd. in Brentwood where there are over a dozen good choices. Some are Tavern, Vincenti, Sor Tino, Toscana and Osteria Latini, Pecorino and Chin Chin.

          1. try gypsy's cafe. great Mediterranean food. Also Diddy Riese cookies.. delicious !

            1. There are no "must-try" restaurants in Westwood Village, adjacent to UCLA, or within walking distance of your hotel. For a memorable dining experience, either head a bit east to Craft or the less expensive Craftbar in Century City or Spago in Beverly Hills, or west into Brentwood for the newly opened Tavern.

              In Westwood Village, i agree with the above about Thai House, which has real glassware and silverware, good table service, and a quiet, civilized atmosphere at the same moderate prices as many of the student joints. My mom and sister recently praised their dinner at Yamato, which is in a gorgeous, historic building, though it has received at least one scathing review that has been removed from this board. For more upscale and pricey but still fairly casual, there are Napa Valley Grille, Hamlet Gardens, or Tanino. Palomino, ground level in an office building, has a great happy hour with small pizzas for $5 and other half-price appetizers.

              My favorite moderate restaurant in the area is Nook Bistro, hidden in the back corner of a minimall on Santa Monica Blvd. in W.L.A. west of the 405 freeway just east of Barrington. There is also Sawtelle Blvd., home to a large variety on Japanese restaurants between Santa Monica Blvd. and Olympic, and Westwood Blvd., with a number of Persian and middle-eastern restaurants where Shamshiri is my favorite.

              Diddy Riese, on Broxton just south of campus on Broxton, is indeed a great place to stop for big, inexpensive cookies and ice-cream sandwiches. Gypsy, however, is awful, full of faux Europeans and teenagers fouling the sidewalk with hookahs. You should enjoy the Palomar -- my dad stayed there recently and thought they did a fine job with the remodel.

              3 Replies
              1. re: nosh

                I was going to recommend Diddy Riese as well. If your son goes to UCLA, I'm sure he will become very familiar with this place.

                1. re: crystaw

                  The only complaint I've experienced about Diddy Riese (other than the difficulty finding parking) is that most of their cookies are very soft. If you prefer crispier cookies, they harden up nicely after a little while in the refrigerator.

                2. re: nosh

                  the only draw for yamato is that it is cheap. i went 1x and doubt i'd be back. the fish was not fresh and everything i tried had a tinge of fishiness. no bueno.

                3. I just got an email from Kimpton about Blvd 16 (their restaurant at the H. Palomar apparently) offering a $33 chef's menu 3-course with free wine pairings thru December 30, dinner only.

                  Probably worth a try.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mlgb

                    Blvd. 16 opened to some fanfare nearly a year ago, including a review by SIV in the LA Times. Haven't heard much since then, but you certainly can't go too wrong if that special deal is being offered during your stay. Please report back.

                    1. re: nosh

                      Do you have a price range and or cuisines of particular interest (or cuisines to be avoided)? Within walking distance I would recommend Attari for a quick Persian sandwich, the Persian ice-creams across the street for some wonderful saffron & pistachio, falooda, etc ice-cream. Further away (read car/taxi required), there are a bunch of places that may be of interest: all the way from Josie, Angelini, Jar, Providence, Craft (in no order whatsoever, and without meaning they are comparable) to Mariscos Chente or The Office.

                  2. Some places in the village that will be places your son would be going to once you are gone,all walking distance from hotel...prices and ambience are on the lower side of the scale compare to other places mentioned, falafel king is great place for lunch..great homemade chips..its down the street from diddy riese..stans donuts in the village has great stuff. The Stand is a good place for dogs and burgers, San Sai has good 'fast food" sushi and Japanese grill.food. (not sawtelle sushi but no cab involved..good lunch) my son and his friends like BJ's for pizza and their own brew...have fun GO BRUINS

                    The Stand
                    1116 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dendet

                      Diddy Riese is a UCLA institution, true, but...

                      Actually, all of us Bruin Alumni lived on Sak's Teriyaki at one point or another. It's not French Laundry, but the food is decent and high bang-for-the-buck.

                      Sak's Teriyaki
                      1121 Glendon Ave
                      Los Angeles, CA 90024
                      (310) 208-2002

                      I have a degree from both UCLA and a degree from USC. Do your son (& your pocketbook) a favor and "urge" him to attend UCLA (if he can get in).

                      1. re: J.L.

                        sak's was a lifesaver during my years at ucla. lols.

                        1. re: wilafur

                          I much preferred the chicken bowls at Gushi more so than at Sak's.

                          1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                            i don't think gushi was around during my tenure at ucla.

                    2. Wow! You are all great! Thanks so much for the suggestions. I'm making note of them, and will be sure to report back on what we tried.

                      1. As we are obsessed with Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft cookbook, I know my son would love to eat at Craftbar.

                        Does anyone know if they take reservations there? I can't find it on their website.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: goldenmama

                          I know Craft is on OpenTable, though I am not sure about CraftBar.

                          1. re: goldenmama

                            If you go to Craftbar and if they have it - LAMB BELLY.

                            To be honest though, while I was blown away by that dish, everything else I ordered was just so-so.

                          2. For a good breakfast that is just (easily walkable) outside of the Village (South of Wilshire) on Westwood Blvd. try Mary & Robb's.

                            If you want to take a look at an online menu just follow this link for Menupages and click on either of the two choices: http://losangeles.menupages.com/resta...

                            Mary & Robb's Restaurant
                            1453 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                            1. We've had divine meals at The Garden in Westwood. Over Christmas, our son and a fellow alum (2004 grads) invited our respective families out and chose this restaurant. We are all glad they chose UCLA!


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: DonataGuerra

                                If you go to Gardens, get their tableside-prepared guacamole.

                              2. I also think the food at the Palomar is decent -- if nothing else, I'd recommend the bar in the restaurant, and the bar food, in a pre- or post-dinner snack and is in order.

                                1. Also on westwood blvd on the corner of Wellworth and Westwood blvd. is the BEST sushi place called AZUKA! The Chilean Sea Bass is my fave dish and the owner is this little Japanese man that is there everyday and always makes sure you get impeccable service.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: romina

                                    Spell it right. It's Asuka, and it's nothing special.

                                    1. re: romina

                                      Gosh if you think Asuka is the best...I am speechless.

                                    2. OK, I know I might get some negative feedback here because of the
                                      "must try" bit but IMO this place is a must try because of what they do really good -- Delicious food + comfortable / nothing too fancy + cheap + healthy + succulent + walking distance = California Chicken Café. IMO, the best Chinese Chicken Salad I have had anyplace and many other really good items -- Caesar Salad, fruit salad, soups, wraps and Rotisserie Chicken dinners. Check-out the menu.
                                      2005 Westwood Boulevard (between Olympic and Santa Monica)
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90025
                                      Tel: (310) 446-1933

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: JeetJet

                                        Grew up in Westwood. Went to UCLA for undergrad and Ph.D. Sounds like a college visit, so your son needs to know where he's really going to find the good eats once he's set loose and put on a budget.

                                        Sepulveda between Olympic and Wilshire has many good, cheap eats mostly of the Japanese variety. Hide Sushi, Furaibo (drinking food, appetizers), Asahi Ramen.

                                        In Westwood: Diddyriese (ice cream sandwich, cookie), Saks (I subsisted on this).

                                        USC is surrounded by a slum but there are some really good taco stands. But Chinatown is a quick drive. Empress Pavilion for dimsum. Sam Woo for late night chinese.

                                        Perhaps totally irrelevant: I'd suggest getting a car with GPS, unless you really don't know how to drive. Cabs are hard to get. Most trips will cost you 25 dollars at least. And you will feel stranded and marooned.

                                        1. re: docgradusadparnassum

                                          You meant (of course) Sawtelle Blvd., between Santa Monica and Olympic (and not Sepulveda between Wilshire and Olympic) for Hide, Furaibo, Asahi Ramen (plus 2117, Orris, Place Yuu, Bar Hayama, Kiriko, etc.).

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            You're right. It's Sawtelle. I guess I shouldn't be on the internet so late at night.

                                            1. re: docgradusadparnassum

                                              I know you would find it okay. Just want to make sure that those who come after us who "didn't" go to school in LA won't be driving around in circles cursing the bad info that they got on CH... ;-D>

                                          2. re: docgradusadparnassum

                                            "your son needs to know where he's really going to find the good eats once he's set loose and put on a budget" Hey, even though you wrote at 3:11 am were you reading between the lines on my reply? That is waht was on my mind when I posted "Delicious, cheap , healthy, succulent.... California Chicken Cafe. Those salads are big enough for two.

                                        2. Well as an alumna of the cross-town rival I don't have much to say about UCLA, but as long as you're visiting USC, a stop at La Taquiza on Figueroa and 30th is some of the best sit down Mexican food around. Sure I could be biased, but try the mulitas!