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Two days in LA - Where to take out-of-towners (non-tourist trap)

My sister is coming in town for 2 days (separated by a week of work). She likes quality and is willing to spend the $$ if it's worth it. She's not the most adventurous, but we're asian so we eat more than chicken and veggies. I want to give her a taste of LA but not get stuck in a total tourist trap. I'm thinking one day will be doing the hollywood thing with stops at Roscoe's and Skooby's. And then I'd like to end the day at some place cool/nice/quality for dinner. Originally thinking somewhere in Malibu, but am open to suggestions.

I'm also open to suggestions on a possible itinerary for day 2.

Oh and though it's not required, a celeb-sighting or two could make the night interesting.

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  1. If you want scenery then Malibu if fine (and maybe even a celeb siting if you go to Nobu in Cross Creek) but for excellent food not such a good idea. If you want great Thai food then you'll be near the mecca of LA Thai, Jitlada in East Hollywood (Thai town). They specialize in Southern Thai food and you should consult with Jazz (she is one of the owners) if you go about a menu for you and your sister.

    Here is a recent thread about celebrity spotting in LA that is very recent:


    5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

    Nobu Malibu
    3835 Cross Creek Rd, Malibu, CA 90265

    1. Hollywood is not that far from Langer's.

      Langer's Delicatessen
      704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

        1. re: samtron608

          you wouldn't be "ending the day" at langers because langer's is not open in the evenings.

          imho, langers is the culinary equivalent of a one-trick pony. the trick (their pastrami) is amazing, but i wouldn't bring a visitor with very little time in LA into that part of town for a pastrami sandwich, no matter how terrific it may be.

        2. Giorgio Baldi is what you seek.
          Besides meeting your cool/quality/Malibu-ish/not-too-adventurous needs it is the surest bet for celebs in the city.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Ciao Bob

            We took out of town visitors from France last weekend to Pizzeria Mozza. They loved it!!!!!

            1. re: Ciao Bob

              Giorgio Baldi is good if you're a celebrity yourself, or one of their longtime regulars. Otherwise, expect cramped seating, shockingly rude service*, and tired, apathetic cooking. After getting this treatment two years ago, we nevertheless returned a few months later, thinking "that must have been an off night ... it can't possibly be THAT bad", and sure enough, it was once again THAT bad.

              [* Seriously, our waiter made the dim sum cart ladies at 888 seem downright charming by comparison. And on our way out, we were treated to the sight of the manager screaming at a waiter - sadly, not ours - in the parking lot.]

            2. "And then I'd like to end the day at some place cool/nice/quality for dinner. Originally thinking somewhere in Malibu, but am open to suggestions"


              One possibility, if the dinner is on a Saturday, is the Restaurant at the Getty Center.

              Another possibility is Saddle Peak Lodge.

              Another cool spot to consider would be Animal.

              1. The Penthouse in the Huntley on 2nd in SM has views that have a lot of Malibu restaurants beat. I hear food is pretty decent.

                Geoffrey's in Malibu is nice for a brunch, right on the ocean, and usually a celeb or two.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Phurstluv

                  i've only been to the penthouse at the Huntley once, but when i was there the food was substantially BETTER than 'pretty decent"
                  the crab cakes were about the best that i've had in my whole life.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Good to know. Have only been for drinks, myself, we've never stayed for dinner, but I've heard good things re: the chef. And you just can't beat that view with a stick!!

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      I had the exact opposite experience at the Huntley. I find it pretentious and trying way too hard to be something its not in a place like Santa Monica. We practically had to stand on the table to get service, the 'happy hour' is a joke (by which i mean anything worth drinking you have to pay the normal ridiculous hotel prices for), and the food was mediocre at best. One of the dishes we ordered was rotten and tasted spoiled - when we told the waitress she replied that maybe we just weren't used to the pungent flavor of goat cheese.

                      1. re: ibaumann

                        gee, even your service was bad?
                        the service for our party of 8 hard-to-please folks (substitutions and special requests on many of the dishes, brought our own wine which required decanting, etc.) was absolutely perfect.

                  2. The Restaurant at the Getty if it's a Saturday night. For Sunday do a brunch on the beach, and end the weekend up at Griffith Observatory.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jackattack

                      Further north on PCH up to zuma beach is The Sunset, and it is literally right on the beach. Decent food for brunch.

                    2. A taste of LA can mean so many things.

                      If you read Jonathan Gold's article in this months Saveur it so amazingly lays out the vast food world that is LA.

                      All of these IMHO have good food... but they all have different spins on what is LA.

                      For Gossip Column LA: Bazaar or Spago (it lives up to the hype)
                      For Foodie LA: Mozza Osteria or Pizzeria or Animal
                      For Old School LA: Musso's or Dan Tanas
                      For Melting Pot LA: Jitlada (Thai) or Langers (Pastrami) or Matsuhisa (Sushi) or Lotteria Grill (Mexican)
                      For Newest Fad: The Alameda Food Truck Lot for lunch http://losangeles.grubstreet.com/2010...

                      4 Replies
                        1. re: mc michael

                          Truly enjoyed this piece - thanks for posting it. As I read it I thought, "this cat really knows how to write, and write about food from all over but LA in particular. This piece has a nice cadence, rhythm and flow. Nice choices - not the usual suspects. And as I got to the end of the essay, I smiled when I noted who wrote it. :)

                            1. re: mc michael

                              And works like this from 10 years past show why this honor was long overdue. Thanks again...

                      1. You didn't mention where your sister is from or her age, etc. My go to place for out of towners is Cafe del Rey in the Marina. Great food, lively place, slick service and a view of the marina and its selection of beautiful boats of all kinds. Never fails. Especially on a balmy evening in February. Sunday will be in the high 70's. It's a real treat for the East Coasters. The Getty is another place for the East Coasters who always brag about their "great museums." there is also have a fine restaurant at the Getty. You might also want to go to the Disney concert hall and try a down town restaurant such as Drago Central for wonderful Italian. Also is the old and new Farmer's Market. Hope you enjoy her visit.

                        1. Depending on where she's from; I'd recommend Koi for the quintessential LA experience. Brought some out of towners there this past week, lots of scene and I went in terrified of bad food but it turned out better than I expected.

                          Yeah you can get better food for less, but it's a nice overall package for guests visiting LA for the first time IMO.

                          730 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                          1. langer's
                            pizzeria mozza
                            a taco truck
                            golden deli

                            that's my list of good stuff that u probably can't find in most regions of the country.