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Layover at LAX

Our flight is coming in to LAX at 5pm on Saturday, and the connection is leaving at 10:30pm. Any suggestions on places to grab a good dinner, either in LAX or nearby (without adding excessive ground transportation costs) ? We are 2 adults with pretty much no food restrictions. Thanks.

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    1. Cafe del Rey in the Marina is a great Southern California restaurant. A cab ride will run about $20 each way. The place certainly qualifies for a "good dinner."


      4 Replies
      1. re: Baron

        i wholeheartedly concur with Baron's recommendation of Cafe del Rey.

        1. re: westsidegal

          The only question with CdR would be what the OP meant by "without adding excessive ground transportation costs" because R/T they are looking at $45 or so for the cab rides/airport pick-up fee/tips.

          1. re: Servorg

            Not sure what they mean by "excessive." They can split the cost of the ride and they have four hours to kill. The marina with the boats and the scene at CdR not to mention the excellent food served = money well spent. Good way to start or finish their journey. Dump123.. didn't mention where he/she is from.

            1. re: Baron

              also, the lounge area at Cafe Del Rey is very comfortable if they finish their meal, take a stroll around the boats, and still have some time to kill.

              no other place comes close, imho.

      2. Right inside the airport complex is the Encouter restaurant. You'll be able to see it as you land. It has a spectaular view of the goings and comings at the airport. I've never had dinner there so I can not vouch for the food. Maybe some others will chime in. No cab ride necessary. Easy walk from where you land.


        5 Replies
        1. re: Baron

          Has this reopened? Last time I was over there, it looked like it was still being retrofitted.

          1. re: lil mikey

            Far as I know they're open. Have you ever had dinner there?

            1. re: Baron

              Yes. I've had dinner and lunch there, but it was quite a while ago. I loved the Jetson's theme.

          2. re: Baron

            Was there last week, it is open and the food is OK, but nothing particularly memorable or spectacular. I got some duck with greens and I cannot remember much more than this. As for the decor I was a bit disappointed, it's not so much a Jetson's theme than a late 1990s interpretation of it.
            I'd say go eat elsewhere and have drinks at the Encounter bar instead.

            1. re: bad nono

              Getting in the car and taking a taxi to Cafe Del Rey sounds like a "tweener" to me. There's alot of traffic out, Del Rey is good, definitely good, but it is it great? Worth the trip? And is it better than The Encounter? I haven't eaten at The Encounter in over a year, but last time I was there - actually the two last times I was there - it was always surprisingly good. Listen, Cafe Del Rey is always surprisingly good too (I expect all restaurants in the Marina to suck, so when one doesn't...)

              The Encounter is a true architectual landmark, it's right there at the airport, so no 5:00 traffic to deal with. And the food is actually pretty good. I'd put it on a part with Cafe Del Rey.

              And it's got a fun, unique wacky Jetsons kinda look to it. Hey, I think it's run by Disney, so once again, the food is surprising.

              Menu at The Encounter.

              Pan Roasted Airline Breast of Chicken On Butternut Squash Puree, SautŽed Spinach topped with a Whole Grain Mustard and Roasted Shallot Wine Cream Sauce
              Peking Style Roasted Duckling On Steamed Rice, Infused in Ginger and Garlic served with Seasonal Vegetables and Sweet Chili Thai Sauce
              Pepper Crusted New York Steak Mid-Western corn Fed, served with Sesame Whipped Potatoes, Steamed Snow Peas, Wild Mushroom Compote in a Pepper Port 5 Spice Reduction
              Flame Broiled Prime Flat Iron Steak Served on Garlic whipped Potatoes, SautŽed Broccolini, topped with a Black Diamond Truffle and Chive Butter
              Apple Compote
              Wild Mushroom Ravioli With Grilled Asparagus in a Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce and Oregon Goat Cheese
              Shrimp Penne Sambucca Pomodoro Jumbo Shrimp Tossed with Fresh Roma Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Basil White Wine in a Citrus Sambucca Pomodoro Sauce
              Sesame Crusted Norwegian Salmon On Ginger, Scented Steamed Rice, Crispy Noodles topped with a Trio of Micro Greens and Sweet Citrus Chili Demi Glaze
              Pan Seared Pacific Blue Fin Tuna Served with Char- Broiled Hawaiian Pineapple, Ginger Scented Steamed Rice, Soy Vinaigrette and Wasabi Foam

          3. Shula's 347 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel.
            Take the free Sheraton shuttle bus to the hotel and back to the airport.
            Nice lobby bar and Starbucks there too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: monku

              Bingo. I was not sure about whether the Sheraton has a free shuttle, I would call first to double check how often it runs. But I agree this is a great option. Gooid work monku

              1. re: JeetJet

                It runs fairly frequently since people are going to and from the airport all the time and the hotel is a block from the entrance to LAX.
                I've met friend's at Shula's who had layovers, since Shula's offers discounted valet parking (used to be free).

            2. it should be noted that the style of food served at cafe del rey is very different from that served at shula's.
              cafe del rey serves cal-asian food and offers a lot of seafood items.
              shula's 346 is primarily a steak/chop house offering the kind of food that can be found in any good steakhouse across the country.

              cafe del rey has a pretty view of the boats in the marina, and from the restaurant it is easy to access the little walkway that rings the boat docks for a lovely stroll after your meal, before you will be cooped up on the next leg of your journey.

              shula's is a high-end airport-hotel restaurant.

              it depends on your personal food preferences and how irksome you would find the cab fares to be.

              2 Replies
              1. re: westsidegal

                Have you ever been Shula's 347?

                Read Shula's 347 menu....You can get a salad, hamburger or sandwich along with other non-steak/chop entree's. http://www.donshula.com/locations.php...
                Shula's doesn't claim to use prime steaks, but something called Shula's cuts which are wet aged Premium Black Angus Beef®. The steaks are priced below what you'd pay at Ruth's Chris or Morton's Steakhouse and they're very good and include vegetables.
                If it were a rip off high-end airport-hotel restaurant I wouldn't go and I wouldn't recommend it.


                1. re: monku

                  #1--i NEVER SAID that shula's was, in any way a rip off. --don't know why you made that up

                  #2 the shula's menu is like most steak/chop houses,and espicially like most airport-hotel steak houses that cater to travelers. just because they offer a salad and a couple of fish choices doesn't mean that the menu doesn't look like a steak/chop house menu. practically every steak house i've ever been to offers a couple of fish choices and salads.

                  #3 i agree that the prices at shula's are good for what you get.

                  #4 will stand by my statement that shula's is a high-end AIRPORT hotel restaurant. not too many AIRPORT hotels offer such a restaurant. i spent over a decade traveling and staying
                  at airport hotels. shula's is up-scale compared to what most of them offered.

                  #5 my MAIN POINT is that the two restaurants offer very different food experiences and environments. in addition one will provide free transportation to and from LAX and one requires the expenditure of cab fare. i never said that the food wasn't good, or that the deal wasn't good.

              2. More details, some new to me even.

                We're coming from the SF Bay Area, headed down under (NZ). The layover precedes a 13 hour flight, with dinner service at 11:30pm. Since we were able to get business class without paying for it, we plan to eat the food (which the online menu describes enticingly).

                So, now the layover meal is shrinking. A smallish meal, followed by hanging out at Encounter or the airline lounge.

                Cafe del Rey sounds nice but probably more of a meal (and an adventure) than we really need. Shula's sounds convenient, but maybe too heavy unless we just stick to starters/salads/sandwiches/burgers (are they any good ?). Aliki's sounds about right. And I saw a mention of Pann's on another thread. The place looks amusing, but how's the food ?

                I know Shula's is accessible by shuttle. Since Aliki's and Pann's seem to be relatively close to the airport, what is the recommended mode of transportation ? We've had problems with airport cabbies refusing to take us when the destination wasn't far enough to justify them going to the back of the taxi line.

                10 Replies
                1. re: dump123456789

                  Now cabbies will take you anywhere from LAX, but the minimum cost is $18 each way, plus tip. With that in mind, you can take the cab a few miles more and it wouldn't cost much more. But a round trip cab trip would be minimally $40 plus tip.

                  Pann's would require a cab ride. I'm not sure albout Aliki's. it might be a long walk away.

                  Re Pann's. the food is very good diner food. Fried chicken, waffles, patty melt and biscuits are their strong suites for me. Their chicken and waffles are better than Roscoes, for what that's worth.

                  1. re: Ogawak

                    Yeah, for a smallish meal maybe a cup of Pann's pea soup (Gots Soul) and then share a plate of wings and waffles with an Orio shake. Grab one of Pann's oversized slices of pie for that 13 hour mightnight flight .Nice Googie ambiance. .I don't know about the cab idea though. It might be cheaper, faster and more convenient to rent a compact car than waiting for a cab to pick you up. Maybe not?

                    Maybe take a cab from LAX to that In-N-Out just outside LAX, order two Animals and fries to-go, drive-thru and head back to LAX to enjoy the LA classic burger and fries on one of those benches near the drop-off curb.The food would still be warm. Now that is LA on the cheap and fast.

                    Shula's has salad and a dessert menu. Maybe someone can comment about the dessert. IIf it were me headied for a seat on a 13 hour flight after sitting for several hours already I would do some serious walking and not sit in a lounge -- gotta stay regular. Salad would help, lots of salad. So maybe Shula's ,they are convenient, have salads, dessert for later, you can walk around the hotel and maybe even ask to try out their treadmills.

                  2. re: dump123456789

                    If you're up for a cab ride, I'd personally feel good about sending you to Pann's. Opinions vary about Pann's on this board, but mostly everyone agrees it's a solid choice. Fo instance, Ogawak thinks their fried chicken and waffles isn't as good as Roscoe's, I think the opposite, but six of one, etc.

                    I haven't been to Aliki yet since I learned about it from epop just this week. If you wanted to roll the dice on Aliki's and minimize your cab expense, take the hotel shuttle over to the Renaissance Airport Hotel. Then walk north on Airport Blvd a few blocks to Aliki's. For a San Franciscan, that little walk ought to be nothing.

                    1. re: Professor Salt

                      Pann's is the one place that will make a memory in both food and ambiance. The wings and waffles are great. Actually Ogawak thinks their chicken and waffles are better than Roscoes. IMO, Pann's has the best fried chicken in LA but Roscoes does waffles better.

                      1. re: JeetJet

                        Oh my bad, Ogawak! Really must learn to master this reading thing.

                        1. re: JeetJet

                          must respectfully disagree about the waffles at pann's.
                          waffles of similar quality can be found in the frozen food aisle in any chain grocery store.
                          i would not spend $48 in cab fare (including tips) to eat their waffles.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            I wouldn't spend $40+ to eat anywhere.
                            It doesn't make any kind of sense.

                            1. re: monku

                              When I visit a city I make it a point to see examples of local architecture, especially as it relates to food. For example, eating any meal in a N.J. dinner makes the food more enjoyable and the visit more special to me. Don’t get me started about my limo foodie excursions during 5 hour layovers in Chicago. Not that I need a limo, it just works out better when a few of us are making the run, cheaper than cabs. In L.A., we have the old Two-lane In-N-Outs and several Googie coffee shops like Pann’s. That giant donut sign at Randy’s Donuts is another example of something to see when you eat which also happens to be near LAX. If it were me I would map out all three going to Pann’s first for pea soup and to share some fried chicken wings, then get a big box of donuts at Randy’s for the midnight flight and just before re-entering LAX I would drive through that cool In-N-Out for an Animal – maybe cut in half to share just to leave some room for the meal on the plane ride. The photos would be worth a million bucks and the memories of eating some of L.A.’s best would be priceless. All those mixed food stains on your clothes would make a great badge of honor for a Chowhound.

                              6710 LaTijera Blvd. Los Angeles

                              Randy’s Donuts
                              805 West Manchester Avenue
                              Inglewood CA

                              In-N-Out 9149 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
                              Westchester, California 90045

                          2. re: JeetJet

                            Yes I do like Pann's better, more for the chicken than for the waffles.

                        2. re: dump123456789

                          can't speak to the 'adventure' side of your concern about cafe del rey, but in terms of the 'meal' side, keep in mind that they offer a very good bar menu of lighter small plates. also, you will be there during their 'happy hour' time, which means that there will be some additional bar menu items available at very low prices. still excellent food.