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One night in LA. Give me your picks.

I know this question has been asked a zillion times but for most up to date, figured I'd try again. Chowhounds give the best advice, you know :)

I have 1 night with my husband and parents in LA in November. We love any and all kinds of food and are looking for recommendations for a great meal. Nothing too fancy or too casual, but a place that takes reservations most likely. I have never been and know nothing of the food or restaurants in town.

Where's the one place you would go?

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  1. Nothing too fancy...sounds like a trip to Animal to me. Not too fancy...it's a bit on the casual side, but the food (I hear) is amazing...so long as you're not opposed to meat. There have been plenty of positive reviews on the board. I think it's worth a consideration.

    3 Replies
    1. re: attran99

      I saw Animal. Looks nice, and that theyre definitely crazy about fois gras!

      1. re: jmorri26

        Strong plus 1 for the Animal recommendation. With four people you could try quite a few dishes (especially if you concentrate on the starters - which are pretty substantial) and their cooking is a real treat if you're looking for something that is both inventive and delicious. Great, unpretentious service too.

        1. re: Servorg

          The thing I like about Animal is that it unlike any other restaurant you've ever been to. Truely a one of a kind place and with four people you can almost try a bit of everything.
          http://www.animalrestaurant.com/

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          Animal
          435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

    2. This is a BIG village! Where will you be? With just one night, I'm sure you wouldn't want to be schleping across towns, in traffic. This is a mecca for regional foods.; Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese... Maybe choose a location radius and a type of food, something different from where you live. Then you may get more responses...If you're coming from Detroit as your ID states, you might favor a California feel good place like 26 Beach in Santa Monica. Sit out on the patio.

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      26 Beach
      3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

      3 Replies
      1. re: Kitchen Queen

        Well, we're staying in the San Pedro area with a car. We're all from New Orleans (husband and I live in Texas now) with very open palates. I know we're planning to drive to Hollywood and surrounding areas to say we saw everything, so we'll be in that area if it helps. My mom thinks LA, she tends to think celebrity chefs (not my favorite, but still.)

        As far as food styles, nothing too specific (eg- no sushi or mexican) looking for a more all around contemporary type restaurant.

        1. re: jmorri26

          If you're going to be in Hollywood, I definitely vote for a trip to Animal. The two chefs used to have a show on the Food Network (Two Dudes Catering) and have received a ton of national press. It's also currently my favorite restaurant in the city. They take reservation and are neither too fancy nor too casual.

          1. re: jmorri26

            I would say Spago but for your "too fancy" admonition. It is kinda fancy but in LA even fancy is pretty casual. You get great food and Wolfgang Puck must still be the most famous "celeb" chef in the America -- even with all these new TV chefs.

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            Spago
            176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

        2. I think my pick would be AOC. Although it's no longer new and trendy, I still love it and find each visit to be memorable. Another option for you would be the Lazy Ox Canteen. Both of these fit the not too fancy/not too casual requirement. Neither is particularly convenient to San Pedro, however (nor is Animal). Personally, I liked Animal but not as much as others here do - it was just too much meat for me. I like my meat more tempered with other types of food, I guess - but that's just a personal preference.

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          AOC
          8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          Lazy Ox Canteen
          241 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

          4 Replies
          1. re: aching

            Although I will say that some of my favorite dishes at Animal have been vegetarian, so definitely check some of those out if you decide to head back! for example, the carrot salad on the current menu is really delicious.

            1. re: mollyomormon

              I don't remember even seeing such a thing as salad on the menu! We did have a vegetable of some kind - I can't remember what - but it was so richly prepared that it did not provide a foil for all that rich meat (although it WAS good). Another issue for me, again totally personal, is that I just don't love foie gras - I want to love it but I don't. But I do love lots of other types of meat. You're right, we should give it another shot.

              1. re: aching

                Haha! Well, notwithstanding the carrot salad, you are absolutely right that it is no way a light meal!

                1. re: mollyomormon

                  On Animal's latest menu I counted 7 non-meat dishes.

          2. Animal was just OK for me...i would not recommend as you are picking one spot..I'd say Spago or CUT or Mozza - as they really offer that LA experience + deliver GREAT food

            This chow board also likes Providence & Bazaar - though they are not at top of my list

            1. i recently had one night out in LA last week and i wanted to dine somewhere that seemed very LA, so i decided against bazaar or mozza or some other places i thought i could easily seek out on the east coast (i live in nyc). i left it up to either omakase at one of the many excellent sushi restaurants or animal. i made the wrong choice!

              i found the food at animal to be disappointing/subpar in comparision to several restaurants with inventive menus in new york, like momofuku, degustation, kuma inn, vinegar hill house, etc. and i'm not new york snobby--i'm well aware that LA has awesome food.

              my friend and i ordered:
              1. burrata with tomatillo sauce: tasty, simple, nothing new, burrata is delicious all the time.

              2. pork belly sliders: high fat to meat ratio, even for pork belly, making for an overly mushy bite (and i really like momofuku's pork buns) and a bit too sugary overall, as the bbq sauce, slaw and brioche were all sweet. i still ate it all.

              3. grilled octopus with chorizo: this was both puzzling and disappointing. the octopus was delicious and perfectly prepared, but was atop a dry, crumbly and bland chorizo that sadly didn't resemble mexican or spanish sorts. the chorizo was sitting on a very sweet pickly, oniony relish and it really didn't make very much sense in terms of melding the octopus and chorizo.

              4. quail fry: this just made me sad, i should have known better. quail is a tiny bird. deep frying and breading pretty much masks all the taste of the bird, it was a bit like eating miniature chicken wings, minus flavor. the greens and grits were buttery and good, but nothing special and the few chips of bacon were sort of a side note. i didn't understand it at all.

              5. panna cotta. yum.

              6. the wine was really the highlight of the meal, but at $50/bottle, i didn't feel like splurging for another one (and i couldn't because they liquor license doesn't allow wine after 11 pm on weekdays. strange).

              the food is reasonably priced and we were both full. also, the service was really good and friendly and the restaurant had a nice warm feel/vibe. it's a nice experience if you are less excited by actual taste/flavors and more about interesting ingredient combos or presentation. otherwise, i think you'll find a better meal suggestion elsewhere on this board.

              anyway, that's my two cents. i managed to also eat spectacularly yummy lunches at jitlada and monte alban, which totally made up for the average meal at animal.

              next time, it will definitely be omakase or korean bbq...

              4 Replies
              1. re: bina

                "next time, it will definitely be omakase or korean bbq..."

                Try Park's BBQ in Koreatown. It is wonderful. Best short ribs I've ever had. You will not be disappointed.
                http://www.parksbbq.com/

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                Park's BBQ
                955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                1. re: wienermobile

                  i also was going to recommend korean bbq, i've heard Parks is great, but i was going to recommend soot bull jeep. they don't take reservations but if you get there early enough- around 6 or 7 you'll be fine. it is pretty casual and you come out stinking of smoke, but it's a great experience. it's too bad you don't want mexican because LA has some great places. i'm actually not a fan of Animal. just nothing very special to me. i would recommend AOC- ask for the black kale. i would also recommend angeli caffe - this place is one of my favorites in town. not too fancy or too casual! and the food is always great.

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                  AOC
                  8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                  1. re: Clyde

                    next time, i will definitely check out Park's as i've read about it before, (probably on this board) or soot bull jeep.
                    I'm assuming AOC is different than the AOC(s) in NYC...if so i'd try it.

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                    AOC
                    8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                    1. re: bina

                      park's is the best kbbq in the city. better than tahoe, soot bull jeep and dong il jang. and AOC is amazing!

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                      AOC
                      8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

              2. Another thread today reminded me - I would highly, highly recommend Gjelina for your dinner! It's more convenient to San Pedro, takes reservations, and has an inventive and delicious menu. Also, both the restaurant and the neighborhood (Venice) are very unique LA experiences - great for out-of-towners.

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                Gjelina
                1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

                1. Just an update- thanks all for suggestions and oddly after reading them all I search on the boards for more on the Bazaar and that's where we ended up making reservations. I'll report back after we go!