Going to be in LA next month and was looking for a restaurant not too far from UCLA that has great food without a tasting menu being obligatory.
Really good food is the most important criteria with atmosphere being a distant second or third.
Newer restaurants are great, but established ones are fine as well.
Any food type is fine.
Tavern in Brentwood. Outstanding food created by a great chef, Suzanne Goin. Ten minutes from UCLA. If you want a casual meal, sit in the bar, watch sports on TV and eat from a great bar menu. Nice selection of draught beer Tavern, although only about 3 years old may be considered new but it is also now well established in Brentwood as a favorite neighborhood restaurant and watering hole. Moreover, they serve a great breakfast starting at 0800 and Sat and sun brunch is legendary in WLA
Driving, walking or cabbing? Price range? Lunch or dinner? I would recommend if you only have one night to head towards Santa Monica for dinner. Great restaurants, close to UCLA, a good place to walk around after or before dinner, and you can check out the Pacific after dinner.
This UCLA Alum thinks that Ramayani has pretty good Indonesian food, and most of the Persian eateries along Westwood Blvd. are decent. Do you consider those outside the immediate UCLA area? Or do you mean Westwood as the campus itself? Or just anything north of Wilshire in the vicinity?
OK, here is the lay of the land near UCLA:
In Westwood Village, the best food is at Tanino, Napa Valley Grille, or 930 at the W Hotel. Tanino is Italian, part of the Drago brothers empire, and is on the west side of Westwood Blvd. in the former Alice's space, really nice. Napa Valley Grille is on the bottom courtyard of a remodeled office building, and is California cuisine. 930 seems to go through new head chefs quite often, with varied results in a hip hotel. Palomino, downstairs in another office building, has a good happy hour.
The best food within ten or fifteen minutes? Yes, Tavern on San Vicente in Brentwood is a good choice west. but I'd head a bit south and east to the edge of Century City and go to Craft, Tom Colicchio's restaurant. Excellent food meant for sharing.
1043 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024
Napa Valley Grille
1100 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024