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visiting SF hound seeks places to take unadventurous parent

I'll be in LA in a few weeks meeting my mother who is *not* a chowhound. Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory suit her fine, as does staying home and eating frozen bagels with instant coffee. Maybe I was adopted.

We're staying with cousins in Brentwood, and I'll have time to visit friends in Venice and the Valley, who are more adventurous eaters but rarely go east of the 405 and are always on weird diets....

So on the one hand I've been scouring the board, looking for great, creative food from the SGV to East LA. And on the other, I'm already pushing my luck.

I have a reservation for the whole hog family dinner at Mozza, and suspect that will use up all my mom points for a year.

Planning to get to:
Musha or A-Frame (first night on my own)
Langer's
Sweet Rose Creamery

Sunday I'm hoping to get a dinner reservation for LQ@Starry Kitchen, highly praised by Porthos and others. But if not, something midrange and fun, with a girlfriend.

Would love recs for: healthy lunches, great salads, bakeries, maybe an old-fashioned breakfast or tea. Preferably in the Brentwood/Santa Monica/Westwood/WLA vicinity. Nice atmosphere, outdoor seating, takes reservations or doesn't need them all wonderful. Lemonade? Coral Tree Cafe?

I'm tempted to stop by Monte Alban since we don't have good Oaxacan in Northern California (will Mom eat mole if I tell her it's chocolate?). I love great Thai, but unlikely I'll get to Thaitown. Not looking for ramen, Indian, or Italian, and always looking for things that are better in LA than San Francisco (whatever those might be).

Highlights from my last LA trip: Kogi, Mariscos Chente, Pizzeria Mozza, the Venice farmer's market. I know LA pretty well, am not afraid to drive, and prefer snacks and ethnic food to brunch lines.

Thanks for all and any ideas.

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Pizzeria Mozza
6602 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Monte Alban
11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Musha
424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Coral Tree Cafe
11645 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

Mariscos Chente
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

Kogi
Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

Sweet Rose Creamery
225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

A-Frame
12565 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

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  1. I'd go to Joe's in Abbot Kinney for sunday brunch. Sit on the patio. They take reservations, it's awfully pretty - and you can get something adventurous - and your mom can get something safe.

    John O' Groats on Pico for breakfast - preppy-ish yummy. Great ham and pork chops, great biscuits. They do not take reservations but if you go on a weekday you should be fine.

    I know there are some fantastic bakery cafes in SM (Huckleberry?) but have not been myself, so I'll let the SM chowhounders step in : )

    If the whole hog dinner uses up your mom points, maybe take her to an early bird dinner at Billingsley's. I've never been but I had a dear friend from Chicago, very sophisticated who would go there cuz it was so comforting and old school.

    http://www.billingsleysteakhouse.com/...

    Happy trip to you!

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    Billingsley's Restaurant
    11326 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

    6 Replies
    1. re: happybaker

      Thanks happybaker. I had no idea John O'Groats was still in business; we ate there at least 20 years ago (and Hugo's and Marix.)

      Joe's is a great idea; I've wanted to eat there for a long time.

      And yes, bakery cafes please. Then I'll head off to the gym.

      (BIllingsley's has a Frisco burger. I'm hiding under my computer, cringing.)

      -----
      John O'Groats
      10516 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

      1. re: Windy

        When you get out from under your computer you might notice that walking distance from Billinglsey's is L.A.'s own "San Francisco Saloon."

        I've never understood why it's called that -- though I do go there to watch UCLA basketball games sometimes.

        1. re: PaulF

          Good burgers at SF Saloon. Decent Thai right across the street and west a bit, Chan Dara.

          1. re: Phurstluv

            Thanks--have been to Chan Dara in Hollywood and liked it, but this is much closer.

            1. re: Windy

              chan dara also offers pretty good happy hour deals.

    2. I like Mont Alban. She may not be down with mole, but there is something for everyone there. Coral Tree Cafe is perfect for your mom, nice atmosphere, the food is 'mostly harmless' . Tavern is almost right across the street.

      -----
      Coral Tree Cafe
      11645 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

      10 Replies
      1. re: AAQjr

        Thanks. What should I order at Coral Tree? My cousins always loved Regular John's, so I doubt it will be a hard sell.

        BTW it looks like Monte Alban moved a few blocks west. Last time I ate there, I could have sworn it was on the other side of the 405.

        -----
        Coral Tree Cafe
        11645 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

        1. re: Windy

          LOL! I did too <3 But then, I was 10

          The Curried chicken sandie is safe, as is the hanger steak panini.

          Nope! same place :) Btw: if you need an espresso fix Luxxe has 3 west LA locations, which is my fav westside shot, Cafe Tomo is a new Japanese pour over/espresso/roastery with sweet potato and cheese pretzels. My favorite drip or pour over is at Conservatory for coffee (also roasts in house) across from sony in culver city [yes I know SF has great coffee, but sometimes you need a fix ;) ]

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          Tomo
          18707 Devonshire St, Northridge, CA 91324

          1. re: AAQjr

            Yes, I saw the Cafe Tomo post. It sounds great (and who can argue with sweet potato pretzels). Will add that and Luxxe to the mix.

            Venice friend had given up caffeine (again) last time I saw her :) Which means I'm likely to want a decent cup even more. Peet's on San Vicente will do for a cup of tea.

            1. re: Windy

              lol, they really didn't sound all that appealing to me! But they were good and more importantly they went well with the coffee. I still am on the fence about it to be honest, I find the cup to be more intellectually interesting than soul satisfying (don't know if that makes any sense, but that's how i feel).

              Frankly for that 10$ (~4.50 pour over) I'd rather just go to Amandine for an almond croissant and Guatemalan drip and keep the change.

            2. re: AAQjr

              Curry Chicken at Coral Tree is very good.

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              Coral Tree Cafe
              11645 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

              1. re: BSW6490

                Thanks BSW. (And once again highlighting a dish I would like and Mom would avoid.)

            3. re: Windy

              agree about Coral Tree - nothing special, but serviceable. in fact, i had lunch there today! i wanted to go to Lemonade but got overruled by the friend i was meeting :) their tuna salad (no mayo, just a light oil & vinegar dressing) isn't bad.

              my hands-down favorite salad on the Westside is still the grilled vegetable salad with shrimp at The Ivy at the Shore. pricey, yes, but absolutely worth the the occasional splurge.

              La Scala in Brentwood also does a great chopped salad. other great Westside places for salads include:
              26 Beach
              Lemonade
              Urth Caffe
              17 Street Cafe

              and if you like beets:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/791140

              other healthy spots:
              A Votre Sante
              Sauce on Hampton
              Figtree's Cafe
              Interim Cafe

              and i haven't been yet, but there's also the new True Food Kitchen at SM Place.

              and finally, for a special and really terrific cup of coffee, go to Funnel Mill in Santa Monica.

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              26 Beach
              3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

              Urth Caffe
              2327 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

              A Votre Sante
              13016 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

              17th St Cafe
              1610 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

              Figtree's Cafe
              429 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

              Funnel Mill
              930 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA

              Coral Tree Cafe
              11645 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

              Interim Cafe
              530 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

              La Scala
              11740 San Vicente Blvd Ste 104, Los Angeles, CA 90049

              Sauce On Hampton
              259 Hampton Dr, Venice, CA 90291

              Lemonade
              1661 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Great list, thanks. I had an awful lunch once at A Votre Sante, but otherwise haven't been anywhere here.

                Looks like I may get to squeeze in a few great coffees too. I'm starting to think the best strategy is to go out for breakfast and maybe bring in lunches....

                1. re: Windy

                  i'm sorry you had a bad lunch at A Votre Sante - ordering there is tricky, and the kitchen can be inconsistent. i used to eat there ALL the time when i lived in Brentwood (and i was a regular at the old BH location as well when it still existed and i lived around the corner). most of the time i was satisfied with what i got. of course i can do better in my own kitchen with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back, but hey, a girl's gotta eat out with friends sometimes and we usually want something light. but every so often they'd really drop the ball. fortunately they were always apologetic and willing to fix it or bring me something else.

                  -----
                  A Votre Sante
                  13016 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    To be fair, I had a good dinner there once too. Just haven't returned since bad lunch (whatever it was).

          2. How about Michael's in Santa Monica? They have a great patio, and the food is great and not all that challenging. You really can't go wrong there. You'll like it (the place is a legend) and I can see Mom thinking it's fancy food, but very accessible. Also open for lunch.

            And there's a place like Lawry's - feels fancy, but the food is very straight-forward.

            2 Replies
            1. re: foodiemahoodie

              I've been to Michael's for a fantastic dinner a million years ago. I suspect it's too fancy for Mom (who doesn't enjoy nice restaurants any more than complicated food). But not for me.

              Will add Lawry's to the research list.

              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                Michael's is a great idea.

                -----
                Michael's Restaurant
                1147 3rd St., Santa Monica, CA 90403

              2. I believe LQ is on vacation until August so, depending on when you are planning to come down, dinner at Starry Kitchen might not be an option. If you are coming down the week of the 11th, you should be aware that the 405 will be closed from the 10 to the 101 starting (with ramps) at 7pm on the 15th and not reopening until Monday morning early.

                Some other new options worth considering are Fig & Olive (upscale med) on La Cienega & Melrose Place, Lukshon (Yang Soon's modern Asian place), Momed (modern Mediterranean), Picca (upscale Peruvian), Son of a Gun (seafood from the guys behind Animal), Spice Table (Vietnamese/Singaporean), and, as an alternative to A Frame if you can't get in or don't like the menu, Waterloo & City which is across the side street.

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                Waterloo and City
                12517 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

                Momed
                233 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

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

                Lukshon
                3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

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

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

                Picca
                9575 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

                6 Replies
                1. re: New Trial

                  Thanks New Trial. First long weekend in August, so LQ is possible, but I'm not sure when they're going to accept reservations.

                  The 405 work even made today's NYTimes. I once walked to the Armand Hammer from Brentwood, and my cousins were appalled, as if it were somehow dangerous, or just not done.

                  Lukshon and Spice Table were on my short list (for me, though, not my family). The only time we could realistically get to Spice Table is for lunch if we go to the MOCA street art show, when they have a limited menu. Still worth it?

                  Will check out the menus for Waterloo and City and Fig & Olive too. Much appreciated.

                  -----
                  Waterloo and City
                  12517 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

                  Lukshon
                  3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

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

                  1. re: Windy

                    I am fairly certain that the Pacific Dining Car on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica still does their "tea" on the weekends. Very comfortable, sedate room with excellent professional service.

                    ADD: Now that I look at the website information they still do their afternoon tea and it is offered every day: http://www.pacificdiningcar.com/after...

                    -----
                    Pacific Dining Car
                    2700 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                    1. re: Servorg

                      That looks fun. And open 24 hours. Any idea how expensive the tea is?

                      1. re: Windy

                        I believe it's $25 pp, plus tax (or right around there)...

                  2. re: New Trial

                    We only ordered pizzas at Waterloo, but all 3 that we had were pretty bad. I'd only recommend Waterloo for their meat or cheese plates and beers. Of course, if the parents aren't very "adventurous" they probably wouldn't take to the more "exotic" and delicious pates and stinky cheeses.

                    1. re: mstinawu

                      I've always enjoyed the pizzas there-unusual toppings and all. However, the mains are generally excellent, too.

                  3. Suck it up and take your parents to Dupar's at the Farmer's Market... Musso and Frank, The Waffle... be a good son. Maybe even Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles.