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3 Restaurant Reccs needed: Specifics Within!

Hello dear LA chowhounders! Longtime SF chowhounder here, throwing myself on the mercy of your wisdom and experience.

My family and I are getting together in LA during the 3rd week of June, and we have a passel of special needs and conflicting opinions about what and where to eat. I'm looking for suggestions for all three nights.

For all nights there will be one person who is vegan *and* gluten-free, and one person who only has the use of one rather shaky hand (this means she needs to eat stuff like risotto or stew that can be eaten with a spoon and will stick to the spoon, or Asian dishes with lots of cut up pieces that can be scooped up, or lamb chops or chicken prepared in such a way that it can be picked up to eat it, or finger-food. Anything that needs to be stabbed (like salad), cut (like most meat), or twirled (like pasta) is not doable for her.).

I am the vegan/GF person and as long as I can somehow meet my caloric intake for the evening I'm not particular. I'd love to go somewhere with awesome choices for me, but family harmony is MUCH more important to me on this trip than fine dining. Bonus points for any place of the sort that I can call a couple days ahead and ask them to prepare something that meets my needs, something which more "chef-y" restaurants are usually happy to do.

Several members of my family, including me, love restaurants which focus on fresh, local, seasonal food, and I know there's a great scene for that in LA these days, but probably not in our price range/the areas we'll be in. But anything like that would be very exciting. Being from SF I'm pretty comfortable with any cuisine, and as long as the food is good I think (I hope!) the rest of my family will be, too.

Restaurant #1: Something near LAX, in the price range of around $13/entree. We'll have our largest group of people this night, around 8-9. This night really won't be about the food, more about the company. The restaurant the LA-dwelling family member suggested for this night is Truxton's Westchester, but at the request of some other family members I am looking for something "better." What does that mean? I'm not too sure... Classier? More creative? Maybe not so much with the burgers and pizza?

Restaurant #2: Near the Ahmanson Theater, at the Music Center in Downtown LA. Something really delicious would be great on this night. We could go up to around $20 an entree.

Restaurant #3: We'll be in the 90025 zip code, which my Googling tells me is West LA/UCLA area. I think we could do up to around $20/entree this night, too, but more moderate would be better.

Thanks so much in advance. Any suggestions that seem like they might work would be so appreciated, and then I can go do the work of actually digging into the menus to make sure there's something that everyone can eat. If you ever come to SF, hopefully I can return the favor!

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  1. fwiw, even though the menu at truxton's is meat centric, they do have one dish that will fit your needs AND that one dish (a grilled tofu with vegetables) actually tastes good. even though i am not vegetarian, that is the dish that i order when at truxton's.

    (can't remember what they offer for the person who has manual dexterity problems.)

    1. the other restaurant in the LAX area that would meet your needs for something more exotic is AYARA THAI CUISINE.
      they have a whole section of the menu (FROM THE WOK) with dishes that can be made with tofu.
      you will need to specify that fish sauce is not used on your food, but i'm sure they will be able to come up with something tasty for you.
      all the dishes from that section of the menu are also 'cut up' so that someone with a big spoon can eat them. (as a matter of fact, that is how i NORMALLY eat my prik king when there.)
      you will have your choice of brown rice or white rice (i.e. gluten-friendly).
      also, there is A LOT of finger food offered there: sate's, rolls, etc. there are seafood soups, etc.

      this is a small restaurant, so you will need to get this arranged ahead of time for a party of your size. it is a pretty restaurant, but i wouldn't say that it's classier than truxton's.

      1. since i'm GF and a dear friend nicknamed me Mariposa a long time ago, i feel it's my duty to chime in and help out my fellow butterfly ;)

        for Restaurant #3, go for Persian. you'll be in the right neighborhood, it's typically a safe bet for GF and vegan options, and the family member who is limited to one hand will have plenty of stews, kebabs, and easily "forkable" things to choose from...plus there's always the option of scooping things up with bread. 3 CH faves that should all be within your budget - Shamshiri Grill, Shaherzad & Javan. you can search the LA board to read all the feedback about them.

        (BTW, Mariposa + GF + SF = any relation to the bakery?)

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        Shamshiri Grill
        1712 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

        Shaherzad
        1422 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

        7 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          i've never been able to get a straight answer about what kind of fats the persian restaurants use in their rice/stews.
          sometimes they say it's vegetable oil (which would be ok for a vegan), but other times they say it's butter (not ok).
          i have a suspician there's butter in there. . . .

          1. re: westsidegal

            i thought about that, but i guess worst-case scenario one could stick with things like baba, dolmades, hummus, etc...i know Shamshiri actually has vegan items marked on their menu, or at least they used to.

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            Shamshiri Restaurant
            19249 Roscoe Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              (shamshiri is on my regular rotation.)
              as i recall they call that section of the menu VEGETARIAN, not vegan.
              i thought about the hummus, but mariposa can't eat the bread, so she'd have to eat the hummus with a spoon.

              the big question, it would seem to me, is whether the rice is made with butter. if not, mariposa could have the adas polo specialty rice (i have them make it for me with brown rice), which would contain lentils as a form of protein. there is another specialty rice dish that is made ahead of time (only with white rice) that contains legumes (can't remember name of dish or details).

              i find it hard to believe that there is no butter in that delicious rice. . . .

              1. re: westsidegal

                "i thought about the hummus, but mariposa can't eat the bread, so she'd have to eat the hummus with a spoon."
                ~~~~~~~
                i can't have the bread either - i always eat the hummus & baba in restaurants with a spoon...or if i see dishes garnished with tomato or cucumber slices i'll request a plate of them.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  hadn't thought of that.
                  good to know for when i am searching for GF choices for my GF friends.
                  thanks

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    you can always pick my brain when it comes to GF issues - i've become rather resourceful by necessity :)

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      thank you so much!
                      although i am not GF nor even a vegetarian, i often have to plan dining outings for groups that include GF, vegetarian, low-saturated-fat, low calorie, members.
                      i am learning as i go along.

        2. We've been pretty impressed lately with Second City Bistro in El Segundo, a small town just south of LAX. It's on a quiet street in a sleepy corner of the town, parking is pretty easy (street plus public no-pay parking lot across the street and to the south), and it's very safe around there. The kitchen is very competent, the wait staff is friendly, professional and accommodating, and the ambiance is casual but neat. They have a couple of really good burgers - nothing to fru-fru - just well-executed. Beef and lamb, and you can order rare to well-done. The fries are excellent as well (regular and the best sweet potato I've tried). If the member of your party with the dexterity issues likes and can do fries, this would be a good one - for you as well.

          I don't know what the limits are of the person with the dexterity challanges, but SCB has a daily rack of lamb that is always good. It's not common for a place to offer a daily rack of lamb, but SCB seems to have this cut nailed. We went Friday night, and the special for that night was the rack rubbed with Cajun spice, and finished with a teriyaki glaze and blackberries. I was kinda thrown by the combo when our dear waitress told us about it, but intrigued as well. Long story short, it was killer. I ordered it medium rare, and it came spot-on medium rare. The rack comes in a pair of three ribs, and if someone cuts the ribs individually, your party of interest will be fine.

          They do have some nice soups, as well as a nice steamed clams app. I think these might fit the bill as well.

          They only have one vegan dish, as far as I know - linguini with a variety of vegetables. But you might try calling if you're interested in this place. I think they'd be able to accommodate you. They have nice salads as well - some with meat, most vegetarian-friendly. So nixing the cheese from one of their app or entrée salads would be a cinch. Oh yes, they have pretty nice wine list as well. A fair amount from NorCal (I hope that is a complement to you folks up there!).

          http://www.secondcitybistro.com/

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          Second City Bistro
          223 Richmond St, El Segundo, CA 90245

          5 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka

            I just reread your post and realized your price-point for entrées is around $13. SCB's entrées tend to start around $13, so I need to temper my rec with this caviat, but they're well worth it. Sorry about that...

            1. re: bulavinaka

              second city is not set up to serve ANY vegan forms of protein. also, the GF vegan wouldn't be able to eat the pasta. not much left to eat after that. green salad for dinner?

              also, how, do you see the manual dexterity person eating a rack of lamb without "stabbing" or "cutting?" (op said that the person can't stab or cut)

              bulavinaka, i know you like this place, but am truly puzzled about how it's food could work for this group, and to top it off, virtually all the regular entrees are substantially more expensive than the op's budget.
              whenever i've gone there the tab, all in, normally runs about $40/pp, sometimes a little more.

              imho, it's a 'fine-dining-wanna-be' kind of restaurant that obviously rings your bell, but i don't see the fit here. . .

              1. re: westsidegal

                You're right - I was sloppy in my assessment. I guess the buzz phrase that caught my eye was:

                >>or lamb chops or chicken prepared in such a way that it can be picked up to eat it, or finger-food.<<

                SCB has a great rack of lamb that the kitchen would gladly cut into separate ribs for the diner. They also have the clams and mussels that would work, and they seem to regularly offer risotto on their daily specials as well.

                But I wonder what makes you feel SCB is a >>'fine-dining-wanna-be' kind of restaurant<<? It's just a place (Bistro is in their name) that offers good food, good wine, good service in a casual atmosphere, no? I don't think they've ever claimed to be anything else. Lots of regular customers there, as its location kinda calls for that. I go because I feel it is NOT trying to be something that it is not.

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  i drew that inference because of the general price level.
                  far higher than casual dining, but a little lower than fine dining.
                  their assortment of menu items also seems to lean that way to me too in that the preparations are fussier than one would expect from a casual dining restaurant.

                  please know that i don't dislike second city at all. i was sloppy in my phrasing because i didn't mean it in a pejorative way, yet as i reread my comments now, they certainly do sound pejorative.
                  my apologies for that.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    :)

                    I know they are priced higher than a traditional bistro, but I think their ingredients and serving sizes put them there. They remind us a lot of places one finds up in the general Bay/Wine Country area: not too big or small, cozy and casual, and good wines to go with their good food. They also remind us of Metro Cafe in the fact that the kitchen is strong, the ingredients are good, and the food, while nothing whimsical, is just solid - SCB just pumps up the portion sizes. I know this place isn't for everybody, but it hits a sweet spot for us.

            2. For the restaurant by the Ahmanson, you might try Ciudad, though it may be above your price range. ($20 for entrees is almost impossible at any of the nice restaurants downtown). Ciudad's dinner menu is http://www.ciudad-la.com/pdf/Ciudad_D... . I'm not that big a fan of the food, but you could make a meal out of some of the salads and sides, plus they indicate that they will do less meat and dairy. The person with the shaky hand could probably eat the rabbit paella, soups, empanadas, ceviche and some of the sides.

              I am not a fan of Ciudad and find their food rather lacking, but it is one of the only restaurants downtown that I can think of that comes close to fitting your criteria.

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              Ciudad
              445 S Figueroa St Ste 100, Los Angeles, CA 90071