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"Hidden" restuarants around LA/OC?

Hello all,

Can anyone recommend a good "hidden" restuarant in the LA/OC (preferably OC) area? The only one I can think of is The Little Door, which I stopped going to a few years ago after some pretty terrible service.

Have some out-of-town friends coming in, and would like to take them someplace unique.

The Little Door
8164 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

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  1. I don't know about unique, but I recently had some very nice sand dabs at Amelia's on Balboa Island.

    1. The first place that come to mind that fits your criteria is Saddle Peak Lodge.

      Saddle Peak Lodge
      419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302

      1. Sabatino's in Newport is pretty well hidden and excellent.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JAB

          2nd Sabatino's. It's amazing.

          251 Shipyard Way, Newport Beach, CA 92663

          1. re: cls

            I was also about to rec the same place - in Silver Lake.

          2. If you can get reservations and can blow a boatload of cash, the only place I can think of is Totoraku.

            Maybe Varnish for drinks after?

            10610 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

            1 Reply
            1. re: andytseng

              yeah, club 33 as disneyland might bee a good choice. i've hear messa in costa mesa is pretty hidden low-key.

              and totoraku is the ultimate in that kind of stuff, very pedestrina looking ffrom the outisde and on the inside, but once you tast teh bbq on that bincho grill all betts are off. yes, pricey, about 180 per person, without drinks, but beers are only like 3 bucks a piece. so not too bad.

            2. The Hobbit in Orange is hidden in plain sight, and its a pretty unique set-up. It's a 3-4 hour dinner, that won't blow your mind away, but it can be fun.

              1. Park Ave in Stanton, dine in the adjoining "park" & visit the garden where they grow their own produce. Not unknown or unheralded, but hidden in a town that time forgot. All in all, rather cool.

                5 Replies
                1. re: bernardo

                  I recall a writeup in the LA Times Food section about six months ago on this place - very positive things were mentioned. Do any hounds go here? Sounds like the restaurant has some nice concepts.



                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    Simultaneously retro and modern, traditional and creative, but invariably friendly and inviting. Is homegrown produce a trip or could you care care less? Do you find juxtapositions, ambiguities and paradoxes stimulating or annoying? Would you excuse an overabundance of cruciferous veggies? Arguably not everyone's bag, but despite all odds we find the chow and ambiance funky and curiously titillating. But try it and see.

                    1. re: bernardo

                      yeah, it sounds good, in bustling downtown stanton no less. but usually i don't end up at stanton that often, maybe just to get through to buena park for a once in a blue moon visit to knotss berry farnm.

                      1. re: kevin

                        We used to go weekly. Prices went up, excellence went down. Still, it would be worth a visit.

                    2. re: bulavinaka

                      I've been about 8 times in the last few years. It's more of a chophouse than it used to be, but I really like it - Especially since there are not many American restaurants in the area that have good food, professional service, and a lovely atmosphere. I think you can eat in the garden now too - which is beautiful.

                      ( Last I knew, the chef commuted from Manhattan Beach! )

                  2. … all in OC, in order of “hiddenness” ...

                    Club 33
                    … really, really hidden … requires membership or member courtesy to get in

                    725 Baker Street
                    Costa Mesa, CA 92626
                    (714) 557-6700
                    … hidden in plain sight at The Camp … no name, no signage … cool vibe … good food

                    Studio at the Montage
                    30801 South Coast Highway
                    Laguna Beach, CA 92651
                    (949) 715-6420
                    … exquisite dining awaits you … through the resort and down the path to the seaside

                    2930 Bristol Street
                    Costa Mesa, CA 92626
                    (714) 556-0176
                    … great Cuban cuisine … in the back corner of The Lab, behind the bushes on your left

                    Old Vine Café
                    2937 Bristol St
                    Costa Mesa, CA 92626
                    (714) 545-1411
                    … down the path at the back of The Camp … delicious BLD

                    735 Baker St, Suite C
                    Costa Mesa, CA 92626
                    (714) 556-7822
                    … tucked away in back … excellent sushi/sashimi … not well known “out of the circle”

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: degustateur

                      Oops... had "decided" three times now and striking each time. I guess Monday night is dead night for many of these spots :(

                      1. re: simmoja3

                        Lot's of places are closed on Monday night as it is usually the "dead" dining night of the week. Just goes to prove that giving "full information" when posting is important to getting recommendations that work in all aspects! If you are considering the Studio rec at the Montage (as long as you have plenty of room on a high limit credit card it's a great experience) it may be open on Monday night since it is attached to a hotel and their restaurants usually don't take a night off.

                        ADD: Well, scratch that. Studio is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          How about Church & State downtown? It is off the beaten path and I know they are open on Monday's.

                          Animal (my favorite LA restaurant) is somewhat hidden in that they don't have signage up and they are on a very non descript strech of Fairfax. I think they are open Monday but not positive.

                          435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                          Church & State
                          1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

                    2. All,

                      Thank you VERY MUCH for all your replies and suggestions. Just discovered this board yesterday, and I think already have my meals for the next three months lined up! I've clearly been missing out on some great experiences the last few years.

                      Thanks again!

                      1. Nook and, by name as well as location, Cache would probably qualify.

                        Nook Bistro
                        11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        3110 Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90291

                        1. While you really don't go for the food, the Magic Castle is a unique night to show out of town people, if you know a member that will give you a card.

                          1. Hey, simmoja3

                            I don’t know how I didn’t think to include The Cellar in my original reply. It meets your criteria exceptionally well, perhaps the best of all (except, of course, for Club 33).

                            Hidden down a dark flight of stairs in the basement of Fullerton’s historic Villa del Sol, The Cellar is an architectural marvel designed and built by the same team who created Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean. It has an otherworldly feel from another time and place. The French-Continental cuisine and the old world service are excellent. The cave-like ambience and romantic vibe are sensational.

                            I highly recommend that you check this one out. In fact, it’s time for my own return trip.

                            The Cellar
                            305 N Harbor Blvd
                            Fullerton, CA 92832
                            (714) 525-5682


                            The Cellar
                            305 North Harbor Blvd, Fullerton/Anaheim, CA 92832

                            1. La Fontana in Huntington Beach. Located on Beach Blvd just south of Talbert on the east side of Beach. Very nice Authentic Italian Food.

                              1. I'll give a late 3rd to Sabatino's and throw in one of my favorites....Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse in Trabuco Canyon. A different kind of adventure finding it vs Sabatino's but equally satisfying and enjoyable. Unique locale and atmosphere, and the food is really good.

                                251 Shipyard Way, Newport Beach, CA 92663

                                1. Neither would really work for a "wow factor" dinner, but two hidden favorites not yet mentioned...

                                  Brodard in Westminster (hidden behind 99 Cent store; great nem nuong rolls, sweet potato fritters, and duck salad) is a yummy, tough-to-find choice for a casual lunch

                                  Bulgarini Gelato (in back of small shop alley next to pharmacy and auto parts store) is a delightful dessert choice on weekend evenings if your friends make it as far as Altadena. They show old Italian films outdoors on Saturday nights in summer; not sure if they've started that yet this year.

                                  [Speaking of hidden favorites, am I the only oldster here or does anyone else have fond memories of the Espresso Bar, which was basically 3 shoulder-rolls off of Raymond in Pasadena? This was just before Old Pasadena gentrified (and espresso machines popped up everywhere) so my high school buddies and I would park on Arroyo and run past the junkies for our espresso/bizarre entertainment fix. Ahhh, good times... ]

                                  Bulgarini Gelato
                                  749 E Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA 91001

                                  Brodard Restaurant
                                  9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844