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5 hour layover at LAX - accessible by taxi

My friends and I have a 5 hour layover at LAX on a weekday, from 3-8 PM. We would like to go grab a tasty bite somewhere, but it would probably have to be open earlyish for dinner (4ish, or 5) or be a spot that doesn't close between lunch and dinner, and not too far, as we would have to take a cab (which I understand can get pricey in LA). We are from NYC, so great mexican or asian would be awesome, but anything chowhound-worthy and delicious is fine.

Help us west coast Chowhounds! :)

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  1. In n Out Burger is just right outside the airport. Did you say Double Double Animal Style?

    2 Replies
    1. re: wienermobile

      The In n Out Burger near LAX is the first place Anthony Bourdain hits when ever he lands in LA.

      1. Just south of the airport is the city of El Segundo.
        Don't know what price range you're looking at but there is restaurant row South on Sepulveda Blvd and left on Rosecrans Ave...
        PF Changs
        McCormick and Schmick
        Romano's Macaroni Grill
        Daily Grill
        il Fornaio
        Of course there are more in and aroudn the city and further down Sepulveda Blvd
        and neighboring cities..

        2171 Rosecrans Ave, El Segundo, CA 90245

        Macaroni Grill
        , Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

        10 Replies
        1. re: flylice2x

          Everything on that list above is a chain and should be avoided. There's not one restaurant on that list worthy of a cab ride from LAX.

          1. re: yogachik

            In that area I'd suggest Paul Martin's American Bistro, The Counter, or Lido. All are pretty good. From the above list, Houstons is good (but you have them in New York) and the others I'd probably not bother with.

            Paul Martin's American Bistro
            2361 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite 180, El Segundo, CA 90245

            1. re: HastaLaPasta

              If you mean Lido di Manhattan, I respectfully disagree.

          2. re: flylice2x

            One slight glimmer of hope in that list. Fleming's (yeah fine-right-it's-a-chain) does a happy hour menu and has an outstanding $6 prime beef burger with smoked applewood bacon that's absolutely worthy of a cab ride. Open at 5 p.m.

            However, if I had 5 hours of time to kill at LAX I'd probably opt for Al Noor or Mariscos Chente (listed below).

            Then of course (if you don't feel like cabbing it), there's always Encounter (at LAX) for a few martinis and the Ahi Tuna Tartare that's not half bad.

            Al Noor
            15112 Inglewood Ave, Lawndale, CA 90260

            Mariscos Chente
            4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

            1. re: cagey

              Not to quibble, but I would absolutely say that Encounter - the cheesy, pan-LAX non-bar - is at least half bad. Maybe all bad. Ugh.

              Once and never again.

            2. re: flylice2x

              the only two on flylice2x's list that i could tolorate are houstons and il fornaio.
              il fornaio has italien food that is ok or sort-of ok.
              houstons has a great veggie burger and vegetable plate, but other than that, nothing you wouldn't find in most chain restaurants.

              i absolutely would avoid PF chang's at any cost.

              1. re: westsidegal

                "...but other than that, nothing you wouldn't find in most chain restaurants."

                I don't find anything equaling their prime rib dip sandwich at most chain (or even non chain) restaurants.

                1. re: Servorg

                  since i've never been a fan of prime rib, didn't even consider that.

                  in the days that i consumed "hunks 'o beef" i liked steaks better.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    This is a sandwich which has been recommended very, very favorably here on the LA board at least a 100 times (if not more) over the years. Thinly sliced, beautifully rare and meltingly tender, with one of the most savory examples of au jus I've ever had the pleasure of running across and a horseradish sauce that has real bite to it.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      i'll say it, overall, houston's is pretty darn good for a chain whether a cheeseburger with the shoestring fries, an ahi tartare, or a thick steak, or the famous prime rib sandwich, and if they are offering it, also the beef back ribs, actually any joint in the hillstone group from houston's to bandera to gulfstream is pretty darn good, not only for a chain but for pretty decent food in general. though i try not to go to often since a lot of the food is heavy, and there's other places besides chains to check out in LA.

            3. There've been a couple of fairly recent threads on the subject of LAX layovers:


              Pann's is almost always mentioned on this subject, less than ten minutes from the airport perimeter. One of the very last of the classic Googie 1950s diners, with a surprisingly excellent comfort-food menu. Don't miss the biscuits!

              Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
              6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

              5 Replies
              1. re: maxzook

                Pann's! Get the 1/2 chicken Pann's Special with mashed potatoes and the best gravy on the planet, plus any other side, a buttermilk biscuit and a glass of strawberry lemonade. You won't regret it. Went there last night with a group of friends and it was incredible, again. We keep thinking one day we will try something other than the chicken, because it all looks so good...but we never do.

                My second choice would be Three Flames Mongolian Barbeque. Really the only mongolian barbeque in the area that I enjoy. Lots of fresh produce and good quality meat.

                Lastly, as some have said above, Houston's does a very good prime rib.

                Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                1. re: Noclue

                  I think the issue with Pann's is when you do venture beyond and try something else--and nothing else is really that good--especially as compared to great diner food back east. Not sure that a traveller would find it that extraordinary. (Same problem I have with Bay Cities--best in LA, but not necessarily in a category with that much competition. )

                  Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                  6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                  1. re: coffeebrownies

                    actually, i think claro's is better than bay cities, and pinocchio monte carlo comes close. (for market, not for the deli). claro's is in sgv, pinocch in burbank, but then bay citiies is in s monica -so none are in la.

                      1. re: coffeebrownies

                        the location, yes. but i think claro's is better. that's an opinion. check i tout. on valley blvd in san gabriel.

              2. Gjelina. Head straight to Gjelina on Abbot Kinney.

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

                1 Reply
                1. re: yogachik

                  It is the perfect (perhaps, ONLY) time of day to get into Gjelina without significant pre-prep.

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

                2. If you are all interested in more of the "ethnic dive" type places that are really very, very good you might like either Al Watan or Al Noor, both easily reachable from LAX by cab in no more than 20 minutes.

                  Al Watan
                  13619 Inglewood Ave, Hawthorne, CA 90250

                  Al Noor
                  15112 Inglewood Ave, Lawndale, CA 90260

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Servorg

                    Bilal Restaurant (310-641-4435) on Manchester is about 7 minutes by cab from the airport and has really wonderful ethnic dive (Pakistani Halal) food - great birani on Fridays too which sells out before noon.
                    Its in a well lit strip mall cheek by jowl to a 7-11 and truly is airport adjacent. Good take away too if you call when you arrive at LAX

                    Bilal Cuisine
                    1117 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90301

                  2. Mariscos Chente's - Mexican - Inglewood

                    If a picture's worth a thousand words, then the following blog review should help:

                    It ought to be close enough by taxi (2 or three clicks on the " - " button):

                    Mariscos Chente
                    10020 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JBC

                      sergio, the chef at mariscos chente normally is off on tuesdays and wednesdays.
                      dunno exactly what day the OP will be arriving.
                      located on imperial highway near yukon.

                    2. Can you clarify 5 hours?

                      Does your flight land at 3 and then depart at 8? Or is the 3-8 block of time exclusive of de-planing and checking in?

                      If it's the former, then you really only have about 3 hours. If so, I would opt for Father's Office. If the latter I think I would check out Jitlada for Thai.

                      Father's Office. http://www.fathersoffice.com/
                      Jitlada. http://www.jitladala.com/

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

                      Father's Office Bar
                      1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I was going to ask the same thing about time. Traffic in and out of LAX on freeway after 3 pm is a real pain. I would stay on the westside--Venice, Culver City, Santa Monica or Sawtelle Ave. in WLA. Forget about downtown, Hollywood or Thai town--it will run up a scary cab fare during those hours.

                        I think the new Santa Monica Place is a nice lay over for NYers on a nice sunny day. And it's only 30 minutes from LAX. Go to Zengo for Latin fusion or La Sandia for modern Mexican. Soak up the SoCal sun and nice ocean view on the dining deck after. The Lobster by the pier is also nice--good food and you also get to see the sunset. I know my east coast friends long for doing that.

                        Sawtelle Ave in WLA has tons of restaurants. Hide Sushi is open all day except Monday (cash only). Little Hong Kong for decent Chinese food. Manpuku Tokyo BBQ opens at 5 pm. Tofuya for Korean tofu hot pot. Blue Marlin for Japanese-style Italian food. Also Hurry Curry, Asahi Ramen, Yogurtland, Beard Papa....lots of things to eat in the two-block stretch.

                        395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                        1. re: fdb

                          imho, given the frequency of stop-and-go traffic on large chunks of lincoln blvd, i'd not consider a cab ride to santa monica place if there is ANY time constraint involved.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            If OP actually has 5 hours, it wouldn't be a problem getting to SM and back.

                            1. re: fdb

                              the problem is not being able to predict a reasonable time-'fudge factor' on the return cab ride, you could be either sitting at the airport for a very long time (if lincoln blvd is actually clear) or having a white knuckle cab ride being scared of missing your flight.

                              if you are at cafe del rey, however, you can take your sweet time. . .

                      2. if it were me, i'd hit CAFE DEL REY in marina del rey.
                        although i believe the main restaurant area doesn't serve at 3pm, there is a good menu of options that is available in the lounge area.
                        beautiful upscale restaurant with views of the marina.
                        you would be able to stroll around the pretty boats in addition to just sitting and eating/drinking. none of the other options really have anything like it.
                        for what they offer, imho, the prices are reasonable.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: westsidegal

                          that sounds like a good option in general, good food with a view, they are usually inversely proportional.

                          Now why don't i ever go to Cafe del Rey?

                          1. re: kevin

                            add to that good bartender, good wine list.

                        2. There are some interesting choices despite LAX not being in the best foodie area.

                          Towns adjacent to LAX - Westchester to the North, Inglewood to the East, and El Segundo to the South. I'd stay out of Inglewood.

                          In Westchester, there is a good Japanese Grill/Sushi - Kanpai Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill, It's right on Lincoln and not far from airport - hotels nearby call themselves airport hotels.

                          There are some nice spots in El Segundo - Chef Hannes is good, spent time here before dropping off someone at LAX.

                          I agree with previous post - if you're going to taxi over to the chain restaurants, don't bother, might as well stay in the airport. Spending twenty or thirty bucks to go to In and Out burger sounds a little silly.

                          Chef Hannes Restaurant
                          411 1/2 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245

                          Kanpai Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill
                          8325 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kd1133

                            respectfully disagree with the chef hannes rec.
                            would definitely skip this place.

                          2. my vote is for CUBAN food at VERSAILLES in Manhattan Beach...
                            only about 5 miles or so away...
                            they've got a killer 1/2 ROASTED GARLIC CHICKEN , with an amazing orangey, lime, garlic sauce.... including plantains, rice , beans, and pan bread for $9.95...

                            It is their signature dish, and comes out in like 5 minutes....
                            yet, it's always hot & fresh & crispy !

                            VERSAILLES is on Sepulveda Blvd, just past the Target Dept. Store....

                            1. VERSAILLES in Manhattan Beach, for the 1/2 Garlic Roast chicken, as mentioned in my above post .... here's a pic ! (from Dec. 2010, when I took my bf there for the 1st time...
                              he loved it!)

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: ellen4441

                                Versailles is the best!!! I'm reading down this thread and just as I remembered that I would get their fine garlic chicken virtually every time on my way to LAX BEFORE I LIVED HERE, someone brings them up... Depending on the time of day, it's not more than 10-15 minutes away. And probably less than $20, more like $15ish. Thanks for the pic, I saved it!!!!

                                1. re: winstars

                                  tnx for the pic save, winstars !!
                                  I was the same way as you, as I used to go there B4 I lived there, then during my stints in L.A,., and again nowadays, during my visits from my Atlantic City area...

                                  My bf came along with me to L.A. in Dec., , and I just KNEW he would LOVE Versailles !! He loves his black beans & rice, and it's such a nice PLATTER of food , very well presented , .... simple succulence !!!

                                  It's gone up to $9.95 now, for a big 1/2 chicken and all the fixin's...
                                  well worth it !

                                  1. re: ellen4441

                                    i've never really liked versailles way overrated. way overrated. it's like the carbennean chicken version of pink's to me. hate to be a naysayer but that's my honest opinion.

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      hey, I appreciate your honest opinion, Kevin, that's what makes the world go round !!!
                                      On that note, I have found I like the MANHATTAN BEACH Versailes location way better than the La Cienega one... ... as the sauce was much more GARLICKY!
                                      (the sauce was way too thin at La Cienega)
                                      And even the original location on Venice Blvd does'nt taste as good to me as the Manhattan Beach location does...

                                      It's funny, cuz I do like PINK'S, as well.... even tho it IS a very MILD tasting dog, I do like that Hoffy beef ! BUT, I prefer to just get my Pinks fix from the hot dog cart at the Hollywood Park Casino, near LAX, as its the same dog, without the waiting line !

                                      Hollywood Park Cafe
                                      1051 S Prairie Ave, Inglewood, CA 90301

                                      1. re: ellen4441

                                        Hope the mods don't off topic me but one more thing. The MB location does seem better but the La Cienega location does sell bottle's of garlic marinade for use at home, although my chicken does not come out like theirs does....

                                        1. re: winstars

                                          wow, I need to buy a bottle of that garlic marinade next time , tnx !!!
                                          (I'll make sure to check in my luggage , though, for my flight back to NJ...
                                          as I do NOT want that gr8 marinade to get confiscated at the security checkpoint ! (you know, those liquid substance rules, lol..
                                          I once got a special bottle of buffalo wing sauce taken away from me...(tragic!)

                                2. re: ellen4441

                                  The Manhattan Beach Versallies will be closing soon to be replaced by a new medical building.

                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                    that's AWFUL news to me, as you can imagine, wienermobile !!
                                    But I'm glad you told us about it ...(always better to be in the know, lol )
                                    Any timeline given ???
                                    (I'll also try googling for the story , perhaps its in the Daily Breeze, Torrance, newspaper...

                                    1. re: ellen4441

                                      They don't have an official closing date yet but the signs for the new medical center are already up. If the economy doesn't pick up soon they get to stay a while longer.

                                      1000 N Sepulveda Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

                                      1. re: wienermobile

                                        Friend in from NYC, am going to take him there tomorrow for lunch, will have a look...

                                3. Close, historical and a decent steak would be the Buggy Whip. There Green Goddess salad dressing takes me back to my childhood. If you don't like your steaks med rare to rare you're most likely not going to like the Buggy Whip. If in season their crab claws brought in from Florida are more than worthy.

                                  Buggy Whip Restaurant
                                  7420 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Hughlipton

                                    I've never been to the Buggy Whip, what else is good here? It sounds like a continental food joint from the 1940s/1930s, a la Musso and Frank, or Dal Rae, et al. And the remaining ones of these restaurants are few and far between.

                                    do they serve a good rack of lamb here, with mint jelly, and or good beef ribs? etc, cherries jubilee or diplomat pudding for dessert?

                                    Dal Rae
                                    9023 E. Washington Blvd., Pico Rivera, CA 90660

                                    Buggy Whip Restaurant
                                    7420 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      Pork Chops, beef and pork ribs, rack of lamb, various seafood dishes. Not being a dessert eater I can't rcall their desserts but I'll bet you there's cheesecake on the menu. Piano bar by the way.

                                    2. re: Hughlipton

                                      unless you are going to limit yourself to a prime rib and a glass of gin (skip the vermouth), i respectfully disagree with this recommendation.

                                    3. If you're in the mood for some old-school diner food, Dinah's on Sepulveda is about 10-15 minutes outside the airport. Food is pretty good (known for its fried chicken), very comforting historic diner ambience. The photo gallery online has pics of what you can expect, atmosphere-wise. I used to eat lunch there all the time when I worked nearby.
                                      Dinah's Family Restaurant, dinahsrestaurant.com
                                      6521 South Sepulveda Boulevard
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: SpudPal

                                        Does anybody have any rcollection what it was called before it was Dinah's??

                                          1. re: wienermobile

                                            Bah you whippersnapper. Back in the ole days it was a saloon where you could go after gold panning for some whiskey and ladies of ill repute.

                                            1. re: Discokill

                                              I guess Wienermobile doesn't undrestand that in 1959 some of us were 16 and already driving our own cars. Prior to that our parents used to take us there but I gather no one remembers the prior name.

                                        1. re: SpudPal

                                          i've stopped going to dinah's after being a loyal patron since 1982.
                                          their quality has slipped.
                                          the only items that seem to still be consistently good are the baked pancakes.
                                          i tried and tried to deny this truth.
                                          made excuses
                                          finally admitting the truth while tearing up.
                                          i used to love this place so.

                                        2. Venice is not too far from the airport and there are a great number of excellent restaurants on Abbot Kinney Blvd. Also, consider Manhattan Beach and Marina del Rey. If it were me, I would cab it to Venice and go to Gjelina or 3 Square Cafe. Probably a 10-15 minute cab ride from LAX.

                                          3 Square Cafe
                                          1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

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

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: EricV

                                            also, irrc, there is nothing at all like the food at gjelina in new york.

                                          2. given time, i'd think twice about leaving the area for a big adventure around rush hour.

                                            The Best Mexican and Asian aren't around the west side of los angeles. The closest would be some of the asian in Gardena. I'd do a separate thread asking about great japanese suggestions in the gardena/torrance area. As well, there are some simple ethnic hawaiian and samoan and japanese-hawaiian down there.
                                            Nearer - Manhattan beach is simple, close and easy. I think that getting to Venice is farther, also it feels farther given rush hour.
                                            Manhattan beach - or Cafe del Rey in marina del rey - relatively close. not a destination but pleasant.
                                            (i'd actually just go to Quality Seafood in redondo beach, try the live sea urchin - won't be live when you eat it, the various local oysters, the dungeness and the local rock crab which is hard to get even here, but it's very simple, not high end at all - they also have a station selling ceviche and poke, etc but it's very do it yourself. walk around for an ice cream later on the "international boardwalk" area).
                                            In manhattan beach, someone suggested versailles which is cuban which isn't all that hard for you to find. A nice local beach place is Manhattan beach brewing company. nice walk to the manhattan beach pier - decent burgers, bar food, and good ice cream at manhattan beach creamery up the street. and not more than 10 -15 minutes to the airport even at the height of rush hour.

                                            At one time Cafe Pierre in Manhattan Beach had socca.
                                            i don't think they do anymore but check out the menu and location. it's a bit higher end but good.
                                            restaurants like this are a dime a dozen in manhattan but you're limited in time. and why not have something familiar?
                                            in Venice there are a few mexcian places that are decent, my fave is a simple stand on lincoln blvd, not sure there are even tables, but the oysters are pretty good...
                                            La Playita i normally don't post a yelp page but if you really want mexican and an adventure, chekc it out.

                                            sugg. avoid the burritos. stick to the seafood, shellfish over finfish here. the non-seafood tacos are fine but remember, as odd as it might seem to you, people come here for mariscos.

                                            it will be an adventure.

                                            La Playita
                                            3306 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                                            Quality Seafood
                                            130 International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Jerome

                                              if they are going t o do mexican seafood, a lot closer and nicer in almost every way would be the mariscos chente at imperial highway near yukon.
                                              one caveat: must be at a time when sergio is cooking

                                            2. I say, skip the cab ride and walk over to In N Out. Wienermobile had it right on the very first reply to this post! Double Double w/grilled onions and animal style fries. 5 hours seems to be not quite enough time to get away without stress. Traffic on Lincoln/Sepulveda will be slow between 4-6pm.

                                              1. SO,..... what did you do?

                                                1. There are some very nice recommends here and lot of riduclous ones too. (In n Out? C'mon! )

                                                  I would strongly suggest Waterloo & City is in Culver City.


                                                  Chef Brendan Collins has spent time under Josiah Citrin and Alain Giraud and has their blessings. And his partner Tomazos did his time at Per Se and Le Bernadin (both have 3 Michelin stars). You can put together a terrific meal here and at a decent price.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                    1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                      In & Out does'nt do much for me, either ! (except if I get it "animal style"... ) Or else I find their burgers small & dry, with too much lettuce ! ("fresh" lettuce is gr8, but who needs that much, lol ?!?) (I espescially HATE their sawdust tasting fries)

                                                      BUT, it seems to have SUCH a CULT FOLLOWING ! ...
                                                      It's like I've gotta be careful telling people how I feel about In & Out, as fellow foodie buds
                                                      are very protective of their loyalty !

                                                      1. re: ellen4441

                                                        i'm with you, ellen.
                                                        although, i don't eat any meat any longer, i NEVER understood the In & Out meat.
                                                        i could see others around me loving it, but my taste buds were saying "so what?"

                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                          nice to hear ur support, westsidegal !!!

                                                      2. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                        The charcuterie is not to be missed (of course that is if you're drawn to that kinda stuff or are interested) - amazing.

                                                      3. Jungirl...
                                                        Any report on your layover at LAX?
                                                        Hope you had a great trip...