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Animal or Son of a Gun?

My wife and I are headed to LA in mid-June for a long weekend. On Thursday night, we're leaning towards going to Animal, but I'm intrigued by Son of a Gun. Haven't been to either, Son of a Gun is closer to my hotel, and my wife is not a huge fan of non-standard meats. That said, I was prepared to take her to Animal.

For first-timers at either place, what would you recommend? Our other dinners that weekend will be in Anaheim (going there for a concert), and at Bazaar.

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

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  1. Animal is for meat. Son of a Gun is for seafood.

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

    8 Replies
    1. re: mc michael

      I get that. I guess the question I'm asking if that if I want the Animal-type experience, is Son of a Gun close enough, albeit from a seafood perspective?

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

      1. re: wizzy99

        go to son of a gun for dinn...if u can, go 2 animal for dessert (tres leches), but betw the 2 i'd say sog for sure.

        1. re: namstermonster

          I have been to dinner at both restaurants and feel that animal is going to be a nicer evening. SOG is still super trendy and they can really move you along in your dining experience. Gotta flip the table! Animal's staff is friendly, fantastic with recommendations. The pace of the meal at animal is measured and started one plate at a time, lightest to heaviest. The portions are just right where at SOG they were on the small side for the prices. I ate at Animal with a friend who is less adventurous in her eating. So no Foie gras moco loco or pig ears. We still had and amazing meal. The hamachi tostada, BBQ pork belly sliders (you might want two orders), the kale, and fried rabbit legs. Tres leches cake is legendary, but we enjoyed fresh berries with vanilla custard and the crumble. BTW, across the street from animal is the Golden State. You can get ice cream from SCOOPS (Tai Kim) at this storefront... Think tangerine with hazelnuts, basil gelato, etc. Really fantastic locally made ice cream.

          Whatever you do, make a reservation!

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          The Golden State
          426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

          1. re: scout72

            Thanks! I've got a reservation for Animal in a few weeks. Decided last week that even if my wife isn't as adventurous as I, there was as you suggest still enough on the menu to make for a delicious meal.

            1. re: wizzy99

              Even the vegetable dishes at Animal are delicious (and is many cases out do the meat centric dishes). Just a wonderfully creative, playful and different take on food.

              1. re: wizzy99

                Animal's ribs are perhaps the best you'll get in L.A. and there's nothing odd about them. The poutine is 100% win for pretty much everybody who likes meat. My girlfriend's mom might be the least adventurous eater of all time and she loves Animal so don't worry about it

                1. re: starkweather

                  I find the pork ribs al forno with apple cider vinegar, fennel & honey at Pizzeria Mozza (Thursdays only) way tastier than Animal's ribs.

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

                  1. re: starkweather

                    I think we visited Animal about 15-20 times and if I would have to pick one dish which was the most disappointing of all the dishes it would be vithout doubt the ribs. Overall the flavors didn';t come together like other dishes at Animal, way too much sauce etc.

        2. Which did you end up going to (if you've already gone?) and what did you think? I'm debating between the two for a trip in July, but leaning towards Animal.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ksyoung

            Animal is way cheaper. Soag has a full bar.

              1. re: BacoMan

                You don't need to order as much stuff to get full. Pretty sure we could all eat 20 of those lobster "rolls" alone. What is that like, 40 bites? lol

                1. re: ns1

                  Yeah, I suspected that's what you meant. Everyone orders a lobster roll + shrimp toast to begin, which adds $20 to the bill per person, and is not that filling, yes. But you can go and just ignore those items. If you do that, then the meal is the same price as Animal. It's just those two little bites that are very expensive for what you get. Animal doesn't have anything similar really beyond its $3 chicken liver toast.

          2. The good news is you can't go wrong with either.

            3 Replies
            1. re: wienermobile

              Based on my last meal at SoaG, you can go wrong with one of them.

              1. re: BacoMan

                I think their chicken sandwich is really good as are their cocktails.

                1. re: mc michael

                  True. They are literally a chicken sandwich and cocktail/beer bar kind of place.

                  Not exactly the kind of place that is in the same league as the adventurous, fascinating, and tremendously delicious cooking at Animal.

            2. Based on my last meals at both, I would say you should go to Animal by a wide margin.

              My last dinner at Animal was near perfection, which all but one dish (the white chocolate orange sorbet dessert) being plate-licking delicious.

              My last meal at SoaG was incredibly mediocre. Exactly the opposite of Animal. The only dishes that were memorably crave-worthy were the famous lobster roll, and the chips with pimento cheese. Everything else seemed promising on paper, but pretty much failed to deliver on the plate. Their beer selection was good though.

              5 Replies
              1. re: BacoMan

                Baco was your chicken sandwich cold? I thought that to be the oddest thing.

                1. re: set0312

                  No, might wasn't. And it wasn't necessarily a bad dish. If you got a cold one, you should've sent it back (much like my pork neck mistake at Night Market I guess). But what does it say about a restaurant that has a slightly above mediocre fried chicken sandwich as one of the main things its known for?...

                  The lobster roll there remains my favorite in LA, but the overall dining experience is completely forgettable.

                  It's literally a place to go if you want to drink maybe some interesting beer, or a decent cocktail, and eat a fried chicken sandwich, and a lobster roll.

                  Compared to what Animal is...it's a long way off to me.

                  Maybe I just ordered wrong last time I went though. I finally had the uni aglio e olio with clams and found it pretty unremarkable. I remember having more enjoyable meals in the past, but it's never really been as good as Animal to me.

                  Once you've had the lobster roll, and the chicken sandwich (and I guess the shrimp toast) you've exhausted the restaurant's capabilities it seems.

                  1. re: BacoMan

                    Then, perhaps Hungry Cat is for you.

                    1. re: BacoMan

                      Gosh I asked the waitress if it was supposed to be cold, and she said something along the lines that "if it was hot it would kill me." It was literally ice cold.

                      I actually thought Animal was pretty hit or miss with wild highs and a few dishes I didn't get. Still, I'm sure I'll be back soon because the dishes I liked I really liked. What did you get last time that you loved?

                      1. re: set0312

                        Hamachi Tostada.
                        BBQ Pork Belly Sliders.
                        Ricotta Gnocci in 6 hour Bolognese.
                        Oxtail Poutine.
                        Cheesecake Pudding.

                        From prior meals:

                        Smoked Turkey Leg
                        Balsamic Ribs
                        Crispy Pig Head

                        True, I've had some dishes that were odd lows at Animal as well, but increasingly the balance has tipped in favor of the highs.

                        I am looking at their latest menu iteration right now, and it looks like a lot of new dishes have been added. Ones that I really want to try:

                        jack rabbit larb, green bean, herbs, thai chili, crispy shallot

                        roasted peach, hazelnut, buttermilk, blackberry, crispy ham

                        lamb birria, chili de arbol, nopales salad, fresh tortilla

                        santa rosa plums, mascarpone, cabernet, cardamom, basil

                        Also, I keep meaning to order the fried rabbit's legs.

                        Hmm, I am actually excited to go back to try these dishes. Although at the same time they seem risky to me. Larb and Birria? Stiff competition from other players in the low-end spectrum. Can Animal's version hold up in the mid/high-end range? And how are their tortillas?