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Need great downtown LA restaurant

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I'm planning a dinner for friends that live in San Diego in downtown LA. I haven't seen them in 8 months so I want to make sure we can hear each other. We're willing to pay good money if the atmosphere and food is worth it. There's nothing worse than suggesting a restaurant that is expensive and have it be mediocre. We could walk to a bar afterwards if there's something fun close by.

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  1. If having an atmosphere where you can actually have a conversation without a) shouting and b) you can actually hear what your table mates are saying then the Water Grill is probably your best bet downtown.

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    Water Grill
    544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

    1. Drago Centro. Food is great, atmosphere classy/down to earth/fresh, you can hear each other, great bar. Walk to Library Bar, 7 Grand, Mas Malo, Coles, heck anywhere. DT is all walkable.
      Also, Perch should be opening soon, it looks ready to me! So depending on when you're coming, THAT is going to be the place to be.

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

      Mas Malo
      515 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

      7 Replies
      1. re: pley

        I second the Drago Centro recommendation.

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

        1. re: Jack Flash

          Drago is a solid pick. The only quibble I've ever heard is the music they play sometimes seems out of character for the classiness of the place. I also like Rivera if you can get a table as opposed to eating at the bar. I wish I had some of their tortillas and avocado butter right now!

          1. re: mc michael

            I think the noise level at Rivera won't work for this occasion...(going by the OP's wants for this night out)

            1. re: mc michael

              That is very true about the music! Sometimes I'll notice it for a second, but it fades out for me while conversing.
              Also, Rivera is very close to L.A. Live, which is a hopping place.

              1. re: mc michael

                We had a pretty awful meal at Drago Centro a few Sunday's ago. Perhaps it was because it was Sunday, but the bread we were served was dry and really bad. When we complained, they brought us rolls that were even worse...as hard and solid as cannon balls. The server snatched them away saying OMG. Our drinks were not great, and our food was barely ok. Although we had previously had some pretty good meals there, currently I cannot recommend it. Also, if you're looking for a quiet(er) place, the music at Drago C. can be a pain.

                I can heartily recommend without reservation ( but you'll need reservations!) either the Water Grill or Patina. Both are reasonably quiet, have wonderful food and service, and great atmosphere...especially Patina. Both are very solid choices for a quiet wonderful meal, but both are pretty pricey, especially Patina.

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                Water Grill
                544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

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

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

                1. re: josephnl

                  Yikes, sorry about your bad experience. My last visit was two weeks ago, and it was great. Cocktails also good, and good wine list. Celestino Drago happened to be there that night, but mostly I've gone when he wasn't there, and it's good.
                  The music whether one agrees or not, is NOT played at a high volume by any means.

                  Water Grill is always good, and has been so over the 15 or so years I've been going there, under the different chef incarnations. It's elegant and definitely quiet.

                  I haven't been to Patina in a long time, but for the OP's purposes, it's pretty far from the fun stuff in downtown. Hanging out at Kendall's in not my personal idea of a good time.

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                  Water Grill
                  544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

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

                  1. re: pley

                    We too were very surprised be our poor experience at Drago C...especially since it had been quite good in the past. Perhaps just an off night, but the bread and rolls seemed to have been left over from last year!

                    Water Grill is pretty much a sure bet, but if this group wants something even a bit more special, Patina right now is terrific and the room is beautiful and quiet. Can't agree with you more re Kendell's...ugh!

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                    Water Grill
                    544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

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