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Downtown dinner

If I had to choose one downtown restaurant for dinner, what's my best bet - The Gorbals or Lazy Ox Canteen? Or, are there others I should consider? I'm looking for good food in a casual atmosphere.

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

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

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  1. Lazy Ox is no bum steer; more fun than the Gorbals and (I think) better food. The menu is also more user friendly than the one at the Gorbals.

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

    1. Consider Bottega Louie--good food in a casual atmosphere. Same goes for LA Market.

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

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

      20 Replies
      1. re: apple7blue

        I agree. Bottega Louie is casual and really good food. Long wait on peek times though

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

        1. re: apple7blue

          A dissenting voice on Bottega Louie: Mediocre food in a very LOUD room. I agree that it's casual.

          Colori Kitchen, near 8th & Olive, on the other hand, has fantastic food in a casual atmosphere. Get their otherworldly Tagliatelle all Bolognese, and Ricotta Cheesecake (pre-order it with your drinks so they save you a slice for dessert later; it sells out quick).

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          Colori Kitchen
          429 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

            1. re: J.L.

              respectfully disagree with the recommendation of Bottega Louie.
              absolutely agree with J.L. about the very mediocre food they offer and about the ridiculous decibel level in the room.
              will add that the service there was very poor too.
              it is disconcerting to watch a server wandering around this huge space carrying your pizza and having NO idea to which table it should be delivered.
              once i realized that it was OUR pizza that was taking a multi-state road trip, I GOT UP FROM MY TABLE to chase after him and to claim the pizza. by then, of course, the pizza was room temperature and the cheese was beginning to congeal. . . .

            2. re: apple7blue

              the loudness--or boisterous exuberant yet chill and laidback atmosphere is what makes it casual to me, its not a nunnery or something where you sit in silence apepreciating the food.

              1. re: apple7blue

                When people are bellowing at each other, how can anyone relax? "Casual" to me is synonymous with "comfortable", and that means (among other things) being able to converse in normal tones. I don't want to "sit in silence", I just want to hear what my companions are saying.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  I don't know maybe my hearing is better. You are a bit older than me--could also account for what we find casual, comfortable, and relaxing. Anyway, when I am there I don't bellow at anyone and didn't seem like anyone else was either. I actually have a quiet voice, but it seems like most people are just talking in normal voices and laughing--but because of the acoustics of the place it creates a din. I like it, I also like rocks shows--but feel free to vehemently disagree, just sayin' . . .

                  1. re: apple7blue

                    I like rock shows too, just not while I'm having dinner! Yes, I am a bit older; my first rock shows were at the Fillmore when the Dead were mostly famous locally. But even then I preferred restaurants where the loudest din was of cutlery on the plates, and if there was music you could talk over it.

                  2. re: Will Owen

                    This is a lively place. Great for a bloody mary and some snacks at the bar. But the food is pedestrian and it's true that it's extremely loud - possibly the loudest restaurant I've ever been in. If you aren't into loud this place will make you mad.

                  3. re: apple7blue

                    I like the loud atmosphere and have never had a bad meal at Bottega Louie. If it's too loud, you're (clearly) too old! :) It's my favorite of the moderate priced places in DTLA right now. Good bar, which makes the wait less of a pain and some amazing people watching. Plus, if you're a fan of the business side of things, their operation is simply amazing. They turn over tables fast, deliver the food promptly and attentively and have multiple open kitchens that run like auto-winding watches.

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

                    1. re: JeMange

                      I'm not old, and I hate noisy restaurants. Some of us enjoy conversation while dining out, and prefer not having to shout to be heard!

                      1. re: josephnl

                        If I'm with anyone else, good conversation is as important to an enjoyable meal as good food … okay, MORE important, because the right company can make a so-so meal enjoyable and a bad one hilarious. I remember a meal at a Dalt's one time when they were experimenting with "gourmet" stuff that went all over the map, and when the manager asked a friend of ours how he liked his (ridiculous) dish, Leni equivocated. So the manager offered to exchange it, and Leni said, "Oh, no, please, it's just so amusing. It's like World War III on my plate!"

                        That would not have been possible with the kind of din we encounter too frequently.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Dalt's is dead, right? I ate there a few times and never saw anything approaching gourmet, but that was long ago.

                      2. re: JeMange

                        I like their business operation also. I enjoy conversation while dining out and I don't have to shout at Bottega Louie

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

                        1. re: apple7blue

                          So what off times do you go to BL when you can hear and be heard?

                        2. re: JeMange

                          I go to a concert to listen to the music not to talk to people and like it loud so I can lose myself in the music and rock out. I go out to eat to enjoy the food and company, not to sit and listen to a loud din.

                          1. re: JeMange

                            Je Mange...I've reread your post and am absolutely puzzled, actually astounded, by your statement "I like the loud atmosphere...". I've never been to Bottega Louie, but I can 't imagine why you or anyone would actually like a loud and noisy atmosphere...unless you do not enjoy serious conversation and the noise provides you with an excuse to not engage in such. Tolerating noise so that you can have terrific food is one thing...actually liking it is beyond my comprehension!

                            1. re: josephnl

                              Wow! Talk about projecting your anxieties onto someone you don't know. I'd suggest looking inward and not really worrying about what a complete stranger likes or doesn't like.

                              1. re: JeMange

                                I must say that I continue to be astounded by your statement. As I said, I can understand tolerating loud noise so that you can have terrific food is one thing...actually liking it is something else entirely. Do you truly mean that you "like the loud atmosphere"? What is it about the noise that you find appealing? I have never before encountered anyone who truly likes a loud and noisy atmosphere.

                        3. re: apple7blue

                          My problem with Bottega is you can't have a conversation with anyone except the person right next to you. The acoustics in that room is ridiculous. If there's more than two of you, forget trying to talk to the whole group.

                        4. This so totally depends on your budget and tastes. For my money, probably the best restaurants downtown are Patina (which is dressy, and not casual), and the Water Grill which serves superb seafood and fish. The WG is not overly dressy, and business casual attire would be fine there.

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                          Water Grill
                          544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: josephnl

                            No way the Water Grill would be considered "casual atmosphere" by anyone. Although (as a guy) you won't be thrown out for not wearing a jacket, that's the appropriate attire, add to that waiters in jackets, and the ornate deco interior.

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                            Water Grill
                            544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                            1. re: cls

                              I have been to the Water Grill many times early Sunday evening. We often go there following concerts at Walt Disney Hall. Since we are coming from a concert, I am usually wearing a sport coat. I can't speak for other nights (when people coming from work may dress differently), but on Sunday evenings, I am generally the only one in the restaurant wearing a coat. Others are mostly dressed nicely, but are definitely dressed informally...slacks, spot shirts, sweaters, etc.

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                              Water Grill
                              544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                              1. re: josephnl

                                josephnl, I have seen people at the opera in golf shirts, but I wouldn't call that casual either. I think given the OP's original criterion of "casual atmosphere," Water Grill is off base.

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                                Water Grill
                                544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                1. re: cls

                                  I fully agree with you that the WG is not a "casual atmosphere" restaurant. I didn't say so, nor mean to imply that it was. I was trying to tell the op that if they wanted to go to one of downtown LA's best and were willing to wear nice casual clothing (dress slacks, sport shirts, sweaters...definitely not jeans, or golf shirts!), that the Water Grill was an option. Although I personally wear a sport coat when going to LA's nicer restaurants (Water Grill, Patina, Melisse, Scarpetta, Spago, etc.) sadly times have changed, and most men do not! I agree with you and wish people would dress up more, but the fact of the matter is that nice casual clothing is acceptable (and pretty much the norm) at most of LA's finest restaurants. Indeed, I enjoy "dressing up" and have worn a suit, dress shirt and tie to some of these restaurants, and have unfortunately felt overdressed and uncomfortable!

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                                  Water Grill
                                  544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                  Spago
                                  176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                  Scarpetta
                                  225 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                2. re: josephnl

                                  josephnl, I've reread your comment multiple times and don't understand how someone can wear a sport coat out to dinner or a concert, especially on Sunday evenings. Oh the humanity!

                                  1. re: JeMange

                                    JeMange, please explain your post. I don't understand what you are trying to say...do you think it is inappropriate to wear a sport coat to a concert or dinner in L.A. on Sunday? Really?

                                    1. re: josephnl

                                      No, the post is a jape at someone who lacks the ability to understand that people may have different tastes than theirs. For example, I enjoy going to see loud live music, heavy metal and the like. And I tend to stand right next to the speakers. You, on the other hand, I imagine to be more the Seals and Crofts type. While I might not care for your taste, I do however understand that, in this great big world of ours, someone may have different taste then I do and that's perfectly okay. Get it?

                              2. re: josephnl

                                Also....Bottega Louie is incredibly loud. If that doesn't bother you, ok. But you should be prepared.
                                I've been there three times....and I kept thinking if I saw somewhere else in the room it would be better. Deafening every time.....

                                1. re: perk

                                  I went there on a date once and gave up on talking to my date because I couldn't hear him. It was so annoying. And the food is BLAH. Like, yes it beats CPK, but I can still make better food at home with no effort.

                                  1. re: sushigirlie

                                    had the same experience as sushigirlie when i went there on a date.
                                    noise level terrible
                                    food BLAH to worse-than-blah (and that's being kind)
                                    parking was $7.50, irrc.

                                1. re: samtron608

                                  I agree that Rivera is very good, as are Chaya Downtoen and Drago Centro. I still think that Patina and the Water Grill are the best restaurants downtown. For other options see this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/745858

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                                  Water Grill
                                  544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                  Drago Centro
                                  525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                  Chaya
                                  525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                  1. re: josephnl

                                    I agree with all of this except your comment that Rivera is very good. I've been there twice (albeit for lunch) and was unimpressed both times. So many people like it, however, that perhaps I just went at the wrong time or ordered the wrong things.

                                    I consider the other restaurants you mention the top four restaurants downtown, and I agree that Patina and Water Grill are the two best restaurants downtown.

                                    I don't particularly like Lazy Ox or The Gorbals, but they're both okay and I don't mind eating at them.

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                                    Water Grill
                                    544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                    Drago Centro
                                    525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                    Chaya
                                    525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                    1. re: sushigirlie

                                      I've only been to Rivera twice...about a year ago. We had a pretty nice meal on both occasions, but perhaps it has slipped, or maybe you just had an unlucky experience. Perhaps someone else will chime in re Rivera?

                                2. I recommend The Spice Table. It's a Singaporean eatery in Little Tokyo. Casual, small place with truly flavorful food.

                                  It's new so is a bit crowded but perhaps it won't be so packed after a few months. I recommend making reservations though.

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                                  Little Tokyo Restaurant
                                  150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

                                  The Spice Table
                                  114 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

                                   
                                  1. hands down Colori. Bottega's loud but ok, Gorbals is cool. What's the budget, experience and adventurous palate? The Nickel's ok too.

                                    I need to try Lazy Ox. by that point Jtown's open... that one joint a few spots east of Daikokuya. Honda Ya is out of control!!!!!

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                                    Daikokuya
                                    327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

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

                                    1. Rivera is a great choice for creative Mexican. Always enjoy a good steak and Martini at the Palm. Chaya is another creative choice.

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                                      Chaya
                                      525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                      1. I would say the Lazy Ox for the excellent quality of every item. My new favorites are The Spice Table in Little Tokyo, The Pattern Bar for Tapas, Soi 7 seems to have really improved, Bottega Louie is really loud but the food is really top quality, inexpensive and delicious. Colori Kitchen is always a favorite for excellent pasta and seafood. I do love the Carne Asada and homemade tortillas at El Cholo on Flower. I also love Spring Street BBQ, Church and State, Katsuya and I love to have a beer at the Far Bar and Spring Street and the best $2 beer for happy hour til 7:00 is Urban Noodle (with great rice dishes). The Gorbals is a fun dining experience with some great food and a few misses.

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                                        Colori Kitchen
                                        429 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

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

                                        Little Tokyo Restaurant
                                        150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

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

                                        The Spice Table
                                        114 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA