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Help for visiting San Francisco chowhound

stebro Mar 31, 2011 10:04 PM

My wife and I will be in LA for several days in late April. We like creative, unusual restaurants including what's sometimes called "fusion." We're staying at two different hotels, the London in West Hollywood and the Omni downtown. So far, we have reservations at Bazaar, Red O, Gordon Ramsay (which is in the London) and Noe (because we're staying at the Omni that day and going to the symphony after dinner). Are these good choices? Any that we should eliminate? Any other restaurants that we should add?

Also, we're meeting family for dinner one night in downtown LA. They're not as big into food as we are, and cost is more of an issue. We're looking for a really good, reasonably priced restaurant, preferably not too far from the Omni (but we can always take a cab). One place that sounded good is Drago Centro but, looking at the online menu, it may be too pricey for the others. We're open to suggestions and would consider any nationality of restaurant.

Thanks for any help!

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

Red O
8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

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  1. Das Ubergeek RE: stebro Mar 31, 2011 10:07 PM

    Oh God, the Gordon Ramsay-less Gordon Ramsay. Skip it and the similarly Rick Bayless-less Red O and go to Animal and Rivera (or the new Playa) instead.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek
      wienermobile RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 31, 2011 10:23 PM

      stebro you just got some very good advise.

      1. re: wienermobile
        yogachik RE: wienermobile Apr 1, 2011 07:28 AM

        Absolutely skip Red O and Gordon Ramsay. The London is great on the rooftop for drinks.

        If you want mexican, with great food that's interesting (at half the price of Red O), head to Lloteria Grill or Rivera. Otherwise, there are places like Monte Alban and Tacos Por Favor that are fantastic, but not in any way fancy -- you don't go for the ambiance.

        For a downtown option, Chaya or Rivera or Bottega Louie.

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

        1. re: yogachik
          mlgb RE: yogachik Apr 2, 2011 10:09 AM

          Rivera is more than "Mexican" and pricey but recommended. Review their online menus, they have different menus for different seating areas (strange, I know).

          For the not too expensive and not adventurous crowd, I second the Roy's suggestion below. Colori Kitchen is a not too adventurous, not too expensive Italian, but closed Sun-Mon dinner. Even so, I think the Roy's set menu will be a better value.

          Bottega Louie is very noisy, so don't go if you want to have a conversation.

    2. n
      New Trial RE: stebro Apr 1, 2011 12:16 AM

      For Downtown, you might also want to take a look at Lazy Ox Canteen--very creative and reasonably priced--and the very new Spice Table. In the West Hollywood area, you should consider Eva, the Foundry and Hatfield's (the last of which is owned by chefs who relocated from SF), I agree with Das that skpping both Gordon Ramsey and Red O would not be a loss; and he has given you three great suggestions in Animal, Playa and Rivera (but note that Rivera now offers a different menu depending on which room you are dining in).

      6703 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

      435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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

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

      Eva Restaurant
      7458 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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

      7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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

      1 Reply
      1. re: New Trial
        mc michael RE: New Trial Apr 1, 2011 01:16 AM

        When I recently ate at the Playa Bar at Rivera, I was given a menu that I believe covered all bases.

      2. Servorg RE: stebro Apr 1, 2011 08:50 AM

        One other potential destination is the newest entry from the same guys who brought us Animal (which we love). Son of a Gun. We are still trying to get there, but it sounds great. The other offering from the Father's Office owner, Lukshon should probably be looked at too.

        3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

        Son of a Gun
        8370 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

        3 Replies
        1. re: Servorg
          mc michael RE: Servorg Apr 4, 2011 06:37 AM

          See Son of a Gun comment posted today. It's good. On short notice you may have to sit at the bar or the "communal table."

          Son of a Gun
          8370 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          1. re: mc michael
            Servorg RE: mc michael Apr 4, 2011 07:27 AM

            Wife will not sit at communal tables (hell, she barely accedes to sit with me! ;-D>) so the bar may be it....

            1. re: Servorg
              mc michael RE: Servorg Apr 4, 2011 10:13 AM

              Well, I've sat at communal tables that weren't that full so it wasn't too communal, but here the place is so busy you will have neighbors.

        2. c
          chezwhitey RE: stebro Apr 1, 2011 08:58 AM

          For something cheaper and "less adventurous" downtown, check out Sushi Gen. You can always do the places in chinatown although personally, I would tend to skip that since you can get that anytime in SF.

          1. n
            Nicole RE: stebro Apr 1, 2011 11:23 AM

            For the night you are meeting family downtown, consider Roy's (Hawaiian food). It is a chain, but it's a good one and does not feel like a chain. Their 3-course season prix fixe is always a good deal at $36.
            Hot chocolate souffle is very good for dessert.

            Agree that Animal would be a good replacement for Red O or Gordon Ramsey. I love Hatfield's, which someone else suggested, but I feel like it's probably pretty similar to restaurants you might find in SF.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Nicole
              Peripatetic RE: Nicole Apr 2, 2011 04:41 AM

              > consider Roy's

              Note that there's a Roy's in SF, in SoMa:


              1. re: Peripatetic
                Nicole RE: Peripatetic Apr 3, 2011 11:38 AM

                Good point. (I didn't know, I've only been to various locations in southern ca and hawaii.)

            2. Porthos RE: stebro Apr 2, 2011 06:24 AM

              Keep Bazaar. Drop the others. Replace with Lukshon, Mori Sushi (since sushi in SF is surprisingly mediocre), and Animal if you're looking for things you can't find in SF.

              In downtown, I like Spice Table over Lazy Ox but Spice Table may be too similar to Lukshon if you end up going to Lukshon.

              3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

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

              1. ipsedixit RE: stebro Apr 2, 2011 04:09 PM

                Consider A-Frame.

                12565 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                3 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit
                  ilysla RE: ipsedixit Apr 3, 2011 12:57 PM

                  And be prepared for a long wait. My friend and I went there at 8PM this past Monday; the wait was 45 minutes, and they don't accept reservations. Still, another friend gave it rave reviews (and I've read very good reviews here, too), so if you're not in a hurry (which we sort of were....).

                  We walked next door to Waterloo and the City, which we both enjoyed. Still a bustling environment, but no wait. =) Had the charcuterie plate (very good), the roasted beet salad (excellent), the wild mushroom pizza w/ truffle oil (not a fan of truffle oil, but the pizza itself was very tasty), and the veal and polenta special (also excellent). Also liked their Malbec (but I know very little about wines).

                  1. re: ilysla
                    bulavinaka RE: ilysla Apr 3, 2011 01:28 PM

                    I know it's not feasible all the time, but when it comes to A-Frame, the earlier the better. It's a small place so it does fill up fast.

                    12565 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      yogachik RE: bulavinaka Apr 3, 2011 05:18 PM

                      A-Frame should not be missed and is worth the wait.

                      12565 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                2. CarrieWas218 RE: stebro Apr 3, 2011 01:22 PM

                  Stebro, I am now a NoCal hound (a decade) who lived in L.A. for 18 years. When I "go back south" I invariably want Mexican food - which is WAY different than our Mission burritos!

                  Also consider AOC, Animal, Nikel Diner for breakfast (AMAZING pastries and doughnuts - not like anything we can get!) and Katana-Ya.

                  I also have the tendency to go to Empanadas Place for empanadas (we have nothing like it) and Versailles for Cuban roast pork.

                  And you are spot-on with Bazaar!

                  8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                  Empanadas Place
                  3011 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                  1. c
                    carter RE: stebro Apr 3, 2011 03:34 PM

                    For Turkish/Middle Eastern/Moroccan mezze, the new Mezze at 401 N. La Cienega just opened last week, is fabulously tasty in a way like virtually no other place in LA. Gave me justification to say I can still enjoy a pizza (Merguez flatbread) if you will. And a lamb risotto!
                    Liking lamb is a great help here, and your budget concerns are determined by how hungry you are, as most mezze are in the $12-15 range, generally serve two, or in the risotto case, might serve 3.
                    Housed in the former Sona on La Cienega a couple of blocks north of the Beverly Center, and across from the Coronet theatre.

                    1. sarahbeths RE: stebro Apr 3, 2011 08:38 PM

                      Lazy Ox Canteen is not "reasonably priced" to people who don't care much for food. It's small plates style and the kind of meal that can really add up ($$) with some people maybe feeling they didn't get full or resentful about the bill. The time that I went there I was pretty underwhelmed. Bottega Louie would better fit the bill for a group gathering downtown. Drago Centro is not reasonably priced at all (unless you sit in the bar, they have an awesome Happy Hour menu, but that won't be good for a big group. However, it would be fabulous for you as a snack if find yourself needing a little something at some point.

                      Ethnic food is great cheap eats for LA- Los Balcones del Peru near the Arclight, Don Antonio's on the West Side, or Jitlada in Thai Town, or Korean BBQ (Parks is a fav) are some of the places I take out of towners for a reasonably priced meal. Please be aware that cabs almost anywhere outside of the downtown area from the Omni could be crazy expensive. If you're not going to rent a car, you're either going to be very limited in where you can go or end up spending more on cabs than you would on a rental (Hotwire rentals are like $18 a day.)

                      the Nickel Diner downtown might work (call ahead for a big party just about anywhere you would go), or they have awesome donuts if you wanted to have breakfast or lunch there once.

                      As for your proposed choices, I love Bazaar, if you like creative/fusion you will love it.

                      I had two very wonderful meals at the Gordon Ramsay London and would not eschew it so readily. It's a gorgeous dining room as well. If you are staying there at the London I think you will especially appreciate a dinner there. Another choice for similar upscale dinner is the quintessential Spago if you do the tasting menu (90 for 5 course plus a few amuse and amazing bread basket) and request the patio as the main interior room is tacky.

                      For creative type food I'd also suggest JiRaffe in Santa Monica, Melisse in Santa Monica ($$$$),
                      STREET is kinda fusiony (more global), Gjelina in Venice (supposed to book weeks ahead). Waterloo & City is a really interesting place that makes British food not only edible but gourmet.

                      Another downtown hot spot is Church & State, haven't been but really want to.

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

                      176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                      Nickel Diner
                      524 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

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

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

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

                      , Moreno Valley, CA 92551

                      Don Antonio
                      601 W La Habra Blvd, La Habra, CA 90631

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

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sarahbeths
                        Das Ubergeek RE: sarahbeths Apr 3, 2011 10:19 PM

                        Some good suggestions, but I have to say Park's is not cheap either. It's hard to get out of there for less than $30 a head before alcohol.

                        1. re: sarahbeths
                          linus RE: sarahbeths Apr 8, 2011 09:56 AM

                          i don't recall bottega louie being all that cheap. however, i do recall it being one of the most unpleasant places to dine i can remember.
                          comparing their food to lazy ox canteen is...perverse.

                        2. d
                          d_doubleyew RE: stebro Apr 7, 2011 11:01 PM

                          If you are interested in Italian food for the family dinner downtown, maybe you should try Colori Kitchen. For Brazilian, try Wood Spoon. For interesting Asian fusion, try Starry Kitchen. All three suggestions are reasonably priced.

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

                          Wood Spoon
                          107 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

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

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: d_doubleyew
                            stebro RE: d_doubleyew Apr 9, 2011 12:38 AM

                            Thanks, everyone, for your advice. The concierge at our hotel recommended Takami sushi, which hasn't been mentioned. Not everyone in our group eats sushi, but it looks like they have a variety of other choices.
                            Does this sound like a good choice?

                            1. re: stebro
                              Searching4Dunny RE: stebro Apr 9, 2011 08:03 AM

                              Much better sushi places out there than Takami. That wouldn't even make the top 10 list. If you want sushi, you are better off eating it while you are staying in WLA than DT. Mori Sushi, Sushi Zo, Kiriko, and now Shunji - these are places that get consistently great reviews on this board. For Japanese pub fair near downtown (in Little Tokyo) that is not limited to sushi, Honda-Ya is a solid choice.

                              Sushi Zo
                              9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                              11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                              Mori Sushi
                              11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                              7015 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                              1. re: Searching4Dunny
                                Servorg RE: Searching4Dunny Apr 9, 2011 08:14 AM

                                Takami is for the view. Not for the food.

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