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Dinner near LAX/Westside with picky teen from out of state?

Heading up from Orange County for dinner with relatives over the weekend. They are staying near LAX, and have a car, but we'd still like to try to meet up somewhere near their hotel. I figured our range would be from Santa Monica to the South Bay, and under $30/person before t&t. I've been told that the teen in the group isn't all that adventurous, so my options have been limited to Mexican, Italian, and burgers/steak/etc. Any Asian food is out, and even seafood may be problematic.
At first I thought of Mariscos Chente (because I haven't been and selfishly would like to try it), but the sight of fish and shrimp with heads intact while on the table may frighten the young lad. My other thoughts were Monte Alban, Guelagetza, Cafe Del Rey, 3 Square, 26 Beach, or C&O's for some Italian that won't scare the kid.
Any additional suggestions or input would be much appreciated.

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  1. I just went to Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach. There is a consensus that it is among the best restaurants in the El Segundo/MB area. I had the hamburger, which, though more gourmet, would appeal to a teen, as would the variety of pizzas. My wife had the short rib sandwich which was delicious.

    I feel similarly about Paul Martin in El Segundo, but I prefer Tin Roof.

    I haven't been to 26 Beach yet, but the menu variety there would appeal to adults and teens.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ogawak

      I live in this area & would have to strongly disagree on Tin Roof Bistro. I had dinner with 4 people there about a month ago & everything was pretty mediocre at best. Prices certainly don't match quality, which is a nice way of saying we overpaid.
      I would much rather have a burger, fries & free refills at Islands Burgers which is right across the parking lot.

    2. I think 26 Beach would br pretty perfect for you. The menu is huge and a picky eater can easily find something there. Plus, it's in your price range. Down Washington there's also Mercedes' Grille where many a picky eater from my family visiting from out of town has had a very good meal.

      C&O's would work too, but I think the food is consistently mediocre.

      5 Replies
      1. re: mollyomormon

        If the kid likes big burgers, 26 Beach is the way to go.

        1. re: mollyomormon

          i agree that of the places listed 26 beach is a great choice. safe, but solid enough in what it does not to bore the adults and more adventurous.

          i know you said "Mexican" was safe, but Monte Alban is Oaxacan and probably not quite as "safe" a choice, even tho it's one of my faves.

          1. re: Emme

            Monte Alban might have enough regular burrito, taco type dishes with a side of rice/beans that might make it safe enough for the teen.

            1. re: Jase

              I tried taking a lot of out-of-towners to Monte Alban, and if they're only familar with tex-mex and they're picky, I foung Monte Alban to be just a tiny stretch too far.

              Also, I'm sorry to also say you're right not to take them to Mariscos Chente. The picky eater types would really struggle there. You'll just have to come back up from the OC again to try it!

              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                I agree. Actually, alot of the "tex-mex" and "americanized Mexican" eaters I've taken there haven't been too fond of Monte Alban. One even referred to his dish as tasting like dog food.

                I like it though.

        2. There In and Out Burger right near the airport :)
          there is also Alejo's on Lincoln-good food -cheap-fun-family

          2 Replies
          1. re: kandykane

            respectfully disagree with the alejo's recommendation.
            good - no
            in order to disguise the poor quality of the ingredients and of the preparation, they use a mixture of cheap oil and minced raw garlic on many of their items. as a matter of fact, they serve this concoction at the table as a dipping sauce for the bread. gotta admit, i does cover a multitude of sins, but, imho, it doesn't elevate the food to "good."

            1. re: westsidegal

              I go and eat the bread and olive oil until I'm full and supplement with the pasta. =P I wonder where they get their baguette.. Or if they make it in house?

            1. re: shelbo

              Extremely mediocre Mexican. If you want better Mexican, I'd go to Tlapazola on VeniceBlvd/Abbot Kinney or Lula's on Main St. in Santa Monica.

              As to LAX area: Truxton's on Truxton Blvd just south of Manchester; good food, some of the usual stuff, some different, or go to the Howard Hughes Promenade on Getty Center Dr and Sepulveda, where there's Kabuki (our local sushi/sukiyaki joint), Wild Thai, Callender Grill (a more upscale Marie Callendar's), and if your teen wants something more common, there's an Islands and a Johnny Rockets there, plus the movie theatre and a GameStop and Borders.

              Getty Center
              1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049

              Main St Cafe
              450 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245

              Wild Thai Restaurant
              6081 Center Dr Ste 209, Los Angeles, CA 90045

              1. I was startled by just how one-note Mariscos Chente is--and, although many posters have talked about it being bare-bones, perhaps I didn't pay close enough attention before I went there. It really is a dive. This is fine for an adventure, but not at all for a reunion with out of town relatives including a picky teenage eater. My picky eater teenage eater and I recently had a lovely dinner at Pann's. Right by the airport, great googie architecture to admire, and fried chicken and biscuits.....

                5 Replies
                1. re: coffeebrownies

                  thankfully for me, their "one note" is superb mexican seafood.

                  allthough it certainly is not a fancy restaurant, imho, mariscos chente is far from a dive.
                  the seating and the flooring are new and clean.
                  the restrooms are clean.
                  the restaurant is spacious.
                  within the food category of "seafood prepared in the style of nayarit and sinaloa" they offer a very deep bench.

                  imho pann's is just as much of a 'one note' place, it just plays a different note.
                  granted that the pann's note would likely have more appeal to a picky teenager, but when i brought my picky teenager and her boyfriend to pann's, they were not impressed at all-- they asked that we go back to 26 beach or c&o for the next dinner together.

                  fwiw, my picky teens also liked houstons.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Pann's does have some other things going for it that 26 beach and c&o don't however. Classic googie architecture for one and one of the best old time, classic rock & roll sound tracks playing in the background at an appropriately not too loud level (along with a clientele that really does span the UN feel of Los Angeles where you cross paths with a nice spectrum of races all coming together for a unique dining experience). Those are things I treasure and enjoy about Pann's - plus some of the best fried chicken in LA, great split pea soup and a patty melt that inhabits my dreams.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          and the wings and waffles... second the biscuits, third the patty melt... Sundays are great because it's like the parade of crowns.

                    1. May I suggest that you not cater to the unadventurous lad, and instead show him some interesting food which you like and which expands his horizons? Nothing outlandish, but maybe for him a bit "challenging." That's how our tastes grow up.

                      He may actually find out he likes it. Having new experiences is why people travel. Otherwise he'll end up in Paris some day ordering a Big Mac.