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Can you help me narrow down my choices?

This will be my second trip to LA. Last year you all were very helpful when I planned my dining -- I made reservations last year at: Lazy Ox Canteen, Animal, Bazaar and Rivera. I stayed at the Marriott by LA Live and did not have a car. I ended up cancelling my reservations at Lazy Ox and Animal because of transportation cost issues -- the cab for the trip to and from Bazaar was $60. I ended up adding in Chaya Downtown and Drago (downtown location.)

This year I will be in the same area but Friday and Saturday night I will be with a coworker who will have a car! Yippee! The problem is that I have too many choices and not enough time. My other issue is money -- I am on a company per diem of $60 - 70 a day.

Here are my choices:
Animal
Lazy Ox
Osteria Mozza
Playa
Rivera
Gorbals
Foundry
Susan Feniger street
Jar

Also, I will have a little exploring time during 1 or maybe 2 afternoons -- with no car. Last time I went to CBS Seafood for a little dim sum, Philippe’s for a sandwich, walked through Olvera Street. I also went to see the Chinese Theater/Kodak Theater. What should I check out this time around? Is the Original Farmer's Market worth a visit?

-----
Olvera Street
845 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

CBS Seafood
700 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Drago Restaurant
2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403

Chaya Downtown
525 S. Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071

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

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Gorbals
501 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

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  1. Definitely go to Animal. The food is excellent and it is more budget-friendly than some other choices on your list. I recommend making a meal out of apps rather than committing more $ to entrees.

    Definitely skip Street. I haven't been impressed by anything I've eaten there, and I think the chowhound consensus is underwhelmed and disappointed. If you really want to go to a Susan Feniger restaurant, consider Border Grill (upscale Mexican) in Santa Monica.

    I would also cross Jar off your list. It has good food but it's not that exciting...it's basically well-prepared comfort food. For these reasons, I don't think it's that great a choice for an out of towner...and it's also one of the more expensive choices on your list.

    Re your budget concerns, you might consider Pizzeria Mozza instead of the more expensive Osteria Mozza. Personally, I was underwhelmed by my one visit to Pizzeria Mozza, but everyone else on the board seems to love it.

    -----
    Border Grill
    1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

    Pizzeria Mozza
    641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

    Osteria Mozza
    6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

    1. From that list I would choose Animal (Lazy Ox is great but somewhat reminiscent of Animal and not quite as good), Osteria Mozza (though that will push your per diem), and Playa (Rivera's more casual little sibling). I love Jar but, as Nicole noted, it is [exceptionally] well-prepared comfort food. Sadly, Street is a concept in search of an execution--hanging is too good for it. The Foundry is good and can be fun but not to the point of bumping one of the other three from the list. I have not been to the Gorbals but the reviews on here would also not impel me to bump any of the other three. Hatfield's might be worth considering, though. For your afternoons, you might like JR Bistro (Chinese), Mendocino Farms (excellent sandwiches), Starry Kitchen (Vietnamese inspired cooking) or perhaps Cole's (to compare its French dip to Philippe's--they both claim to have "invented" it) or Grand Central Market.

      -----
      Jar Restaurant
      8225 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048

      Hatfield's
      6703 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

      Grand Central Market
      317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

      Mendocino Farms
      300 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA

      Foundry On Melrose
      7465 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046

      Cole's
      118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

      Animal
      435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

      Rivera Restaurant
      1050 S. Flower Street, #102, Los Angeles, CA 90015

      Street
      742 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

      JR Bistro
      750 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

      Osteria Mozza
      6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

      Mendocino Farms
      444 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

      Starry Kitchen
      350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071

      The Gorbals
      501 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

      Playa
      7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

      5 Replies
      1. re: New Trial

        <<Street is a concept in search of an execution--hanging is too good for it. >>
        So true.

        1. re: New Trial

          I second Jar. It was VERY satisfying. Everyone at the table of quite discerning and picky people was impressed and happy at the end of our meal. Side note: the butterscotch buddino is even better than Pizzeria Mozza's version, it's a must try!

          -----
          Pizzeria Mozza
          641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

          1. re: New Trial

            I second Mendocino Farms.

            -----
            Mendocino Farms
            300 S Grand Ave Ste Lp40, Los Angeles, CA 90071

            1. re: New Trial

              Great recommendations here from New Trial. I would eat with her anytime!!

              1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                Thank you, Elissa; however, I should note that I am a "him" rather than a "her."

            2. Agree with other comments. Animal and one of the Mozzas.

              Just wanted to say, about the Farmer's Market... Maybe it's because I grew up here, but I don't think of it as an attraction I'd spend the day at. I mean, especially if you will be having transportation issues. It's fun to walk around, eat, taste things, etc., but it's not like a tourist attraction. Or at least I hope not. It IS "attached" to the Grove, which is a shopping mall, so if you like shopping I guess you could make it an afternoon. It's relatively close to some of the restaurants you mentioned, so you could go before you eat.

              I don't find most of LA very interesting, or worthy of making day-trips with a few exceptions. I do love going down to Venice Beach every now and then because it really is beautiful and unique down there. I also make occasional trips to Greystone Mansion (they filmed the awesome bowling scene from "There Will Be Blood" in there). My older-boyfriend took me there when I was 15 and I couldn't believe I'd never heard of the place. It's got stunning views and lots of intriguing history, as well as beautiful gardens. Near the Sunset Strip, so you could stop for a drink before dinner.

              Anyway, have fun on your trip!

              4 Replies
              1. re: nothingswrong

                THe recommendation was for the Grand Central Market (downtown), rather than the Farmer's Market in Mid-City. (Also, It think it depends on who you are...some foodies really enjoy the Farmer's Market in Mid-City, and I find it a great place to spend hour or two for a group of mixed-ages and/or international visitors.)

                -----
                Grand Central Market
                317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                  It said "Original Farmer's Market," which is the one at the Grove. Maybe I misunderstood. Anyway, I was a little harsh--it's a fun environment to try new foods and people-watch. I'm just a jaded native Angeleno.

                  1. re: nothingswrong

                    Have you been up to the Getty to eat on a clear day? That should help to "dejade" you a bit... ;-D>

                    1. re: Servorg

                      yes, many times. i went a lot when it first opened and then again about a year ago. my, it had changed! i hadn't walked around the gardens before and it's really quite beautiful. they even have better art in their permanent collection than they used to (including van gogh, degas, renoir--very exciting to have some class in LA).

                      had a $10 veggie sandwich that wasn't all too memorable, but enjoyed the espresso from a little cart in front of one of the museum entrances. and got to thinking about the time i went up in august of '03 or so and the tram got stuck halfway up the track and we were shoveled out a window and forced to hike the rest of the way in the 90+ degree heat carrying two old men who had fainted.

                      i'd rather have my Starbucks and curse at people while i sit in traffic on the 101. but thanks for the fleeting memories. oh, memories...!

              2. Thanks for the information so far. I forgot to say that I will have 4 or 5 nights to plan for. So -- I will do Animal, Playa and maybe Mozza. I can do 2 more. I'm trying to plan Playa and Animal for Friday and Saturday night when my coworker can drive. Mozza has a Sunday dinner deal -- if I can get in on it. Any other thoughts? Thanks!

                10 Replies
                1. re: Disneyfreak

                  Why not go lower-key at least for lunch and try hitting Bay Cities in Santa Monica? Their sandwiches are delicious (and they have the lines to prove it). It's a ways from downtown (only 8 miles or something, but in LA that's tremendous) but if you could make a day out of touring Santa Monica and Venice, it would be a great place to stop for lunch. They aren't open Mondays, FYI. I'm sure other Chows could recommend a great dinner spot. There's lots to do on that side of town--beaches, shopping, bars. There are quite a few nice restaurants down there for dinner too; I personally have been to many but don't have a fave. The aforementioned Border Grill is down there and I've had decent Mexican there quite a few times.

                  I don't know why I'm pushing that area so much, apologies! Grew up on the west side and miss it I guess, ever since moving to *sigh* the NORTHERN part of Los Angeles...

                  EDIT: Oh, and if you head down to SaMo, stop by Bite for one of those luscious chocolate croissants. I dream about them despite eating them constantly... That's it, this repressed foodie is officially checking out the real estate section this weekend.

                  -----
                  Border Grill
                  1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

                  1. re: nothingswrong

                    Unfortunately Bite Bar and Bakery is no more. They closed a couple of months or so ago.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      shows how often i'm able to get to the west side! that is a huge bummer. i'll tell you something though, not sure if this is common knowledge... bite would sell those chocolate croissants frozen by the half or full dozen. you take them home and keep frozen, then thaw and let rise before baking. we used to go and buy a dozen and keep in the freezer but of course they didn't last long. i wonder if you could still special order a dozen frozen...

                      good to know they are closed. i was going to drive out on tuesday. you've spared me the trip! anywhere else have good choc croissants? i've had tons of them over the years, but bite's were my ideal. i've heard europane's are good?

                      1. re: nothingswrong

                        I haven't gotten up to Europane, but have also heard good things about them. We are back getting ours from Amandine on Wilshire just west of Bundy on the N side of the street.

                        ADD: You might check this recent thread on this very subject: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760399

                        -----
                        Amandine Patissiere
                        12225 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        1. re: Servorg

                          that "search" box up there is there for a reason, but i overlook it constantly. will definitely try amandine and take one for the team and go to europane. thanks!

                          1. re: nothingswrong

                            I don't think that you will have to "...take one for the team ..." when going to Euro Pane cause it's one excellent bakery!

                            -----
                            Euro Pane Bakery
                            950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106

                            1. re: sel

                              oh, i know! anything else there especially good? might as well stockpile some carbs if i'm going to make the trip.

                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                Just scope out what looks good to YOU, croissants, chocolate croissants, I love the small custard tarts with fresh raspberries baked in the custard, good sandwiches and drip coffee! I usually leave with a loaf or two of bread, a baguette and a larger loaf, and a bag of granola.

                                -----
                                Euro Pane Bakery
                                345 E Colorado Blvd #101, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                1. re: sel

                                  everything looks good to me, that's the problem. i have literally left bakeries with one of every pastry they have, a few cookies, a few baguettes, all for myself. anyway, thanks for the advice. looking forward to it!

                    2. re: nothingswrong

                      On a sad note; Bite Bar & Bakery has closed it's walk in bakery ( damn I miss their croissants and lots more) and restaurant (need a crab sandwich). Only catering, special events and classes.

                      -----
                      Bite Bar & Bakery
                      3221 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

                  2. Thanks for the additional info! Although I'm probably more confused now. LOL

                    Here is my travel info:
                    arrive Wednesday settle in
                    Thursday set up for the conference then play
                    Friday work all day, go out for dinner,
                    Saturday -- same as Friday
                    Sunday conference, close up booth done by 5pm
                    Monday play till whatever time I fly home.

                    1. You are downtown...Go to...
                      Lazy Ox
                      Gorbals

                      and take car to Pizerria Mozza

                      these will be in your price range and each are excellent

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: radman123

                        +1 on Lazy Ox, it is so worth it, sit at the bar. Even better if you love ales.

                      2. From your starting point at LA Live, you can jump on the subway and enjoy a host of restaurants during your afternoons off. From LA Live, Pico Station (Blue Line) is only a 2 minute walk and the 7th Street Metro Station (connections to Red Line and Purple Line) is only a 7 minute walk.

                        Here is a list of restaurants accessible by the Gold Line (the Lazy Ox is a hop, step and a jump away if you use the subway and a $3 round-trip):
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/436841

                        And here is a list of restaurants accessible the Red Line:
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/436632

                        Here's the LA metro website if you want to plan your trip:
                        http://www.metro.net/

                        1. I agree with many of these recommendations - personally, I prefer Lazy Ox to Animal and Pizzeria to Osteria Mozza - but you can't really go wrong with any of the four. The Gorbals is good but not great - probably not worth spending your limited resources on. I like Rivera but be warned that it's quite loud. Bottega Louie, also very loud, is close to your hotel and is great for people-watching - I highly recommend going there for coffee and a pastry (or a cocktail, if that's more your speed) and checking out the scene.

                          I think you've already figured this out, but most of the offerings at LA Live are mediocre at best. However, WP24 comes highly recommended by many CHs (not me, since I haven't been there yet) and would probably be fun for an out-of-towner since it has great views. It's not cheap, but you could eat in the bar.

                          As far as exploring, visitors and locals alike really love the Getty Center and the Getty Villa. They're not close to downtown but are accessible by public transportation if you have the time and patience (our public transportation system in LA is pretty sad):

                          http://www.getty.edu/visit/hours/publ...

                          -----
                          Getty Center
                          1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                          Bottega Louie
                          700 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017

                          Osteria Mozza
                          6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                          The Gorbals
                          501 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: aching

                            What about LA Market at LA Live?--the food is excellent in my opinion. I haven't tried out WP24 myself either. It's an enterprise run by Kerry Simon, who also has Simon LA at the Sofitel hotel in LA. I second Bottega Louie.

                            -----
                            Simon/L.A.
                            8555 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                            Bottega Louie
                            700 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017

                            LA Market
                            900 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                          2. What conference are you here for Disneyfreak? I am surprised despite your moniker that you aren't going to Disneyland. There is a bus that goes from Downtown to Disneyland.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: apple7blue

                              Last year I visited Disneyland for a couple of days after my business trip. I can't swing the extra time this year -- and the cost of a day ticket is high. Perhaps next time I'm in the LA area.

                            2. No Wurstkuche mentioned yet?

                              -----
                              Wurstkuche
                              800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: cls

                                This!

                              2. I found out I will have 6 evenings for dinners! Yea! I also added Church and State to my list -- because I didn't have enough choices LOL!

                                Any other thoughts for me?

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Disneyfreak

                                  Park's Korean BBQ is wonderful! 10 minutes from downtown and open late.
                                  http://www.parksbbq.com/

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

                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                    This is a fun choice and pretty different from lots on your list.

                                  2. re: Disneyfreak

                                    Church and State is great--the neighborhood is great to explore. The bridges are great especially lit up at night.

                                    1. re: Disneyfreak

                                      Church & State is good choice....just don't make the same mistake I did...ordering MARROW, ESCARGOT, CHARCUTERIE PLATE and PIG EARS -- all for myself...way to heavy. dishes we orded at my table....

                                      MUSSELS (excellent - one of the best i have had with Fries) A-
                                      FRENCH ONION SOUP A-
                                      CHARCUTERIE PLATTER (petite size) B+
                                      PIG EAGS (better than Animal / not as good as Lazy Oxs) B
                                      BONE MARROW (quite good) B
                                      ESCARGOT (couldn't enjoy / too stuffed) B-

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

                                      1. re: radman123

                                        Church & State is good French bistro food, but more traditional than inventive, and may be out of the original poster's budget.

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

                                      2. re: Disneyfreak

                                        I think the happy hour (with food) at Chaya downtown is fantastic, and a fun casual option that is lighter and different from lots of the other places on your list.

                                        -----
                                        Chaya
                                        525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                        1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                                          I just saw that Chaya Downtown has a happy hour -- which runs all night. I might have to hit it one evening. I enjoyed my dinner there last year.

                                          -----
                                          Chaya Downtown
                                          525 S. Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071