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Looking for Great Food, Atmosphere, Low Production, Hip but not tragically so, for under $200 for 2

Say that you are in your 30's or 40's... You and your partner, and/or friends want to go somewhere to have a really enjoyable dinner within a 20 mile radius of downtown L.A.. The food should be great and also a little bit interesting -- somewhere between burgers/tacos and molecular gastronomy. The place should be unfussy, low production -- no tuxedoed waitstaff hovering about. The atmosphere should be comfortable and lively -- hip, but not tragically so. The sort of little place where an under-appreciated local chef/owner turns out great food for his/her grateful regulars. This place would likely be near the top of your "Go To" list when you say, "Hey, let's go out tonight! Where do you wanna go?" Total cost with a bottle of wine, tax & tip, under $100 per person.

What is the name of this place?

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  1. Far less than 20 miles... Church and State!

    1 Reply
    1. re: FranklinJefferson

      Thanks for the recommendation - I'll check it out!


    2. Animal works in almost every way you want except it is hardly under-appreciated. And it isn't so easy to breeze in last minute unless you want bar seats.
      Shin, Korean BBQ in Hollywood, is another thought.

      1. Foundry at Melrose. I recommend their grill cheese with short ribs or their Patio burger.

        Or Boho near Arclight Cinema, recommend their oyster po boys and their rice pudding.

        Foundry On Melrose
        7465 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046

        1. Canele on Glendale Blvd. in Atwater.

          1. Lucques, an old standby, would work. www.lucques.com

            Also, Bashan in Montrose would fit the bill. www.bashanrestaurant.com

            1. fraiche in culver city

              1. Palate Food & Wine, Brand Blvd. Glendale

                1. Thanks to all for taking the time to reply! It looks like Ive got some homework to do. I'm bringing my wife to L.A. for our 7th anniversary. :)


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Uptown Dave

                    A lot of these are great recs, but if you plan on going on a busy night like a Thursday, Friday or Sat, I suggest making a reservation, most places recommended will already be full and won't have seating unless it's at the bar (if they have one) or have you waiting around until 10 pm.

                    Esp. Animal, Fraiche, Lucques, & Church & State

                    1. re: peppermonkey

                      I wish I hadn't, and I was expecting far better, but I had a singularly bad experience at Rivera on Sunday night. You can read about it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650609

                      1. re: estone888

                        I've been there many times for food....and also like every other week for drinks....and I love almost everything...looks like you went on a bad night...but I've never had anything bland there...on the contrary, the food is always flavorful

                      1. Animal! I would agree that it fits the bill, creative modern menu, hip location but not over done. Of course I would also throw out Gjelina in Venice.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: zjarrett

                          gjelina in venice is one of the hottest restaurants around.
                          the food is phenomenal, but imho, you have better have a reservation lined up before you go.
                          not the "Hey let's go out tonight" kind of place that the op requested unless a group table or a bar is ok with you.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            Agree with westsidegal, reservations are a must.

                            And, although the food is really good, service can be wildly inconsistent, dependent upon how busy they are and who's there, which IMHO, makes it "tragically hip".

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              A group table and/or bar seat has to be OK with me, especially at Gjelina -- or Animal -- where that's the only way to roll without planning a month ahead. But I agree with you, westsidegal, the op was after something different. Both are consistently improving I find -- phenomenal, indeed!