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First time in LA- List in post: Which restaurants would you recommend?

My husband and I will be in LA in a week. We will have a rental car. We will arrive next Sunday around midnight and leave again the following Sunday early morning. We're staying in Culver City. Husband wants to join me for lunch for I'm a little worried about LA traffic to make sure he gets back to work on time (he's @ conferences). We look forward to LA's food scene and ethnic food as well. For what it's worth, we both do not drink but love trying new and unique foods.

We'd like to have 2 "nice dinners" while we're there. The list we're contemplating is:

- Animal

- Providence

- Spago

- Rustic Canyon

If you can help me narrow down this list (and if you've got any entree recommendations), that'd be helpful.

We have a list of casual eateries we're looking forward to try. Not sure when/how, but we're going to try our best!

- Langer's Deli (pastrmi sandwich)

- Pizzeria Mozza

- Daikokuya or Orochon Ramen

- Phillipe, The Original (french dip sandwich?)

- Pink's Hot Dogs

- Porto's (not sure what to order here)

- Umami Burger (truffle, so-cal, or port & stilton) or Father's Office burger

- Bar Bouchon (happy hour)- just looking for appetizers

- First Fridays @ Venice Beach- can't wait for food trucks

- Sprinkles Cupcakes (red velvet) or Joan's on Third cupcakes (chocolate coconut cupcake)

- Diddy Riese cookies

- Bay Cities Deli- Godmother sandwich

- Wood Spoon- chicken pot pie

- Gjelina

- Park's BBQ, Chosun Golbee or Kogi- Korean BBQ ribs

- A Frame- Fried apple pie with Cheddar Ice cream

-----
Father's Office
1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

Daikokuya
327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Spago
176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Orochon Ramen
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St Ste 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Sprinkles Cupcakes
9635 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Kogi
Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

Umami Burger
850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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

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

Gjelina
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

Bouchon
235 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

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  1. First of all, impressive planning! Here are my picks & pans:

    Upscale: Animal, Spago & Providence

    Casual: Langer's (best pastrami in the U.S.) Pizzeria Mozza, Philippe's the Original (French dip sandwich), Porto's for dessert (guava pastries!), Father's Office (FO burger), Diddy Riese (ice cream cookie sandwich), Bay Cities, Gjelina, Park's BBQ

    Skip: Daikokuya (gone downhill; replace with Santouka for ramen), Pink's (go take a picture of the line, though), Umami (unless you just go for their onion rings), Sprinkles (all hype; easily substituted with any supermarket cupcake; replace with Beard Papa's for super cream puffs)

    Suggest: Scoops Ice Cream (near Melrose & Heliotrope), Kiriko (on Sawtelle) for sushi, Sea Harbour (in Rosemead) for dim sum, Bar Marmont (West Hollywood) for drinks (beat those paparazzi back with a stick!)

    Thank goodness you have a car. Happy eating!

    -----
    Father's Office
    1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

    Park's BBQ
    955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006

    Daikokuya
    327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    Pizzeria Mozza
    6602 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

    Spago
    176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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

    Bar Marmont
    8171 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

    Santouka
    3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

    Gjelina
    1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

    65 Replies
    1. re: J.L.

      Sea Harbour is definitely worth the trip for their wonder Dim Sum.

      -----
      sea harbour
      3939 Rosemead Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

      1. re: J.L.

        Thanks for your reviews.
        BTW- We don't drink alcohol. I'd love to try Bar Marmont though- could we just get soft drinks and an app?

        -----
        Bar Marmont
        8171 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

        1. re: MrsDRock

          Soft drinks instead of cocktails at Bar Marmont? Sure, why not?! It's all about the scene, anyways.

          -----
          Bar Marmont
          8171 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

        2. re: J.L.

          re: JL's suggestion of Langers: since your husband has time constraints, and Langers closes early (4pm), i'd suggest going to Langers on Saturday for lunch

          re: Pinks. I COMPLETELY CONCUR with JL on this: skip entirely. Take a picture if you must.

          re: Scoops ice cream, the closest one to where you are staying is on Overland in West LA: i'd go to that location rather than drive to Melrose and Heliotrope.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Thanks.

            We were looking to do the Dim Sum @ Sea Harbour on Saturday for lunch. We don't have good dim sum in Cincinnati (where we live), but we've had a good one in Chicago's Chinatown area. Does this dim sum differ at all or pretty much the same as all the other dim sum?

            Also- What makes Scoops so good- are there unique flavors? Or, is it just another ice cream shop?

            1. re: MrsDRock

              " Does this dim sum differ at all or pretty much the same as all the other dim sum?"

              Sea Harbour, in my opinion has the best dim sum outside of Vancouver. ( as I have not yet traveled to Hong Kong).

              1. re: wienermobile

                Ok. I think we'll do Sea Harbour on Saturday for lunch, and I'll do a take out order or Langer's pastrami sandwich and bring it to my husband's work. Hope it still tastes good as take out.

                BTW- Are there any good bakeries or desserts worth noting in LA? I have been looking into A Frame's Fried Apple Pie with Cheddar Ice Cream, but looking for other options as well.

                1. re: MrsDRock

                  Porto's is actually quite a nice cuban bakery. I also would skip Pinks, and Philippes.

                  Both of these "LA institutions" generate very polarizing opinions.

                  1. re: ns1

                    It's true- some people say you've got to go to Phillipe's while others have told me to skip it. I really like french dip sandwiches, and I've also heard of Cole's as well. Not sure which one I'll end up going to.

                    1. re: MrsDRock

                      Yep. I gave it two tries and that was enough. If you MUST go, lamb > beef, and the potato salad is actually quite good.

                      if you only have 1 sandwich in LA, I'd opt for Langers over Philippes (and it's not really a fair battle)

                      BTW, if you're a french dip lover, you need to know @ Philippes there is NO AU JUS ON THE SIDE. NOT EXTRA, NOT INSTEAD, FLAT OUT NO AU JUS ON THE SIDE.

                      Caps because I was so angry when I heard that.

                      1. re: ns1

                        Interesting... thanks for the heads up.

                        1. re: MrsDRock

                          The best French dip I've had was at Dal Rae in Pico Rivera, which is a bit of a drive from Culver City, but a worthy pilgrimage for the French-dip obsessed. Second best was Houston's, then Lawry's, then Jolly Jug in El Monte. Philippe's and Coles are well back in the pack. Phillipe's is sort of interesting as a slice of old LA, but it's hardly a chow-worthy destination.

                          1. re: Peripatetic

                            That seems to be the vibe... Thanks.

                            1. re: MrsDRock

                              Philippe The Original invented the French dip sandwich that appears on menus all over the world. It is more than worthy as a Chow restaurant.

                              The lamb double dipped is great and not a sandwich you get most places.

                              1. re: scottca075

                                ...polarizing opinion incoming:

                                being the first =/= being the best.

                                if being the first means coming up with the asinine rule of no au jus on the side, I don't want any part of it.

                                1. re: ns1

                                  No one said it was the best, but it is the original. Cole's can claim whatever they like, but they didn't even claim to have invented it until well after it was already on Philippe's menu.

                                  My family has been eating dip sandwiches at Cole's, Philppe's and the now gone Coliseum French Dip since they all opened and in the 1930's there was no controversy over who invented it.

                                  Eating at Philippe the Original is a worthwhile stop and I would eat there any day over pretenders like Father's Office with its bad attitude and service to match. Ditto for the other Emperor's New Clothes establishment of Rustic Canyon.

                                  -----
                                  Philippe the Original
                                  1001 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                  1. re: scottca075

                                    Having never experienced either bad service or attitude (along with consistently excellent and creative food and beer to match) at Father's Office over the years I have trouble with blanket assertions that don't even remotely begin to fit my experiences there.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Servorg: Diddo about Rustic Canyon. In all the times I've been there never an attitude and always great service and food.

                                      -----
                                      Rustic Canyon Wine Bar
                                      1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                      1. re: wienermobile

                                        Ditto for Rustic Canyon.

                                        Ask to have to have the cheese left off the burger.

                                      2. re: Servorg

                                        Ask for your burger without cheese.

                                        1. re: scottca075

                                          I know they have a no changes policy. I don't mind that (especially since I knew going in that that was the case). Having a policy and living by it is not the same thing as having a bad attitude or poor service.

                                  2. re: scottca075

                                    Cole's would dispute that claim: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/...

                                    -----
                                    Cole's
                                    118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

                                    1. re: scottca075

                                      I have to agree. Setting aside my personal issues with this place (not going into detail but they're severe), I think maybe Phillipe's falls more in the category of noteworthy places for their historical value relative to a food item, and for its kitschy feel of old LA. Chow-worthy is debatable - essential for certain other reasons might be more defensible.

                    2. re: MrsDRock

                      the appeal of scoops is, in fact, their flavors.

                      also, on another issue, unless one of you went to UCLA and has a nostalgic feeling about Diddy Reise cookies, i'd skip them too. They are just very sugary cookies made from commercial ingredients that UCLA students learn to love because they are so cheap. For an adult who has not had that experience as a student, and who HAS had the experience of eating cookies made with real butter that are not overwhelmed by artificial flavor and unbelievable amounts of sugar, they are not so special. . . . .
                      i'm sure that you could find many cookies in Ohio that are superior to those sold at Diddy Riese.

                      if you are going to pursue "Cheap Thrill" eating experiences in LA, i'd rather you go to any of the good Mexican/Central American eateries than waste time on those cookies.

                      (i'm now about to be murdered by every UCLA grad on this board for my blasphemy)

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Thanks for the honest feedback. Looks like we're skipping this.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Here is a random sampling of some recent flavors spotted at Scoops (Heliotrope location). The offerings at Westside Sccops is a bit more sparse:

                          Cherry + Kasteel beer (Belgium)
                          Yuzu + Coconut + Pineapple
                          Earl gray tea
                          Durian
                          White chocolate + Peanut butter
                          Hemp (yes, hemp)

                          You can decide if Scoops is worth a taste...

                          As for the infidel blasphemer (yes, that's you westsidegal), watch your back... hehehe :-) Yeah, I suppose Diddy Riese is a purely sentimental favorite these days...

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            Hey, I go to UCLA and I agree with you perfectly! Not gonna lie, I do like a Diddy Riese cookie, but they aren't worth going out of your way for- overly sweet and commercial, I agree. When they're around, I crave them, otherwise, I can make better myself. So you aren't blaspheming, and I won't murder you. :)

                            1. re: frannieface77

                              Great- thanks for replying. One less choice from a list of many!

                              1. re: MrsDRock

                                Just to be a contrarian, I'd take diddy reese over scoops any day! Their admittedly interesting and well done flavor combinations don't make up for the icy ice cream base IMO.

                                Actually I'd go for the foie gras and hazelnut ice cream sandwich at Father's Office or some Sweet Rose Creamery instead. YMMV.

                                -----
                                Father's Office
                                1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

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

                                1. re: AAQjr

                                  ... You had me at hazelnut ice cream sandwiches. Oh yum.

                                  1. re: MrsDRock

                                    Don't forget to add, "foie gras" into that flavor of ice cream...

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      Oops, forgot to include. Have you tried it? If so, how is it?

                                      1. re: MrsDRock

                                        No I haven't - I draw the line at meats in my ice cream. :)

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          LOL. I'm going to have to try it. I'll report back with my thoughts in my blog. I previously posted that I have a food blog, but I think I'm going to post the food pictures and thoughts on my travel blog.

                                          I have a feeling I'm going to eat even when I'm not hungry b/c there are just so many places to choose from. Sigh. It's a good thing I'm working out this week!

                                          1. re: MrsDRock

                                            If you are looking for ice cream sandwiches Coolhaus is opening their first build your own ice cream sandwitch store (at the moment they are only a food truck) in Culver City on Nov. 1st. Take a look at these flavors including their BROWN BUTTER W/CANDIED BACON, BUTTERSCOTCH W/ ROSEMARY, PISTACHIO TRUFFLE and NUTELLA TOASTED ALMOND plus dozens of others at their link:
                                            http://eatcoolhaus.com/los-angeles/pr...

                                            Coolhaus
                                            8588 Washington Blvd.
                                            Culver City. Ca. 90232

                                            1. re: wienermobile

                                              i just looked at the link you posted.
                                              i will definitely be going there.
                                              if it were open now, i'd already been en route.

                        2. re: westsidegal

                          We LA Chowhounds would be remiss to not mention that the Pink's line can easily be avoided at off-meal weekdays. Say, 3:30 on a Tuesday.

                          It's worth stopping for a hot dog if there's hardly anyone at the counter, although I'd avoid getting in line if there are more than 5 people ahead of you, as the lines move unbearably slow.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            No lines ever at the Pink's in LAX on the second floor of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. You don't even have to go threw security for a chili dog.

                            1. re: wienermobile

                              So why is PInk's such an LA institution? Are the hot dogs there unique? Are they even good?

                              1. re: MrsDRock

                                In the past few years Pink's has become a major tourist attraction because of The Food Network and the web. I like their dogs but definitely not worth the over hour line (and some times longer) and that line moves very very slowly. Carney's on Sunset Blvd. in the train car is much better if your are just craving a darn good chili dog.

                                Now Ricky's Fish Tacos in my opinion is worth it's line.
                                http://twitter.com/#!/rickysfishtacos

                                -----
                                Pink's
                                709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                                Carney's Restaurant
                                8351 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                                Ricky's Fish Tacos
                                1400 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                1. re: wienermobile

                                  Got it- thanks for the clarification.

                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                    Totally concur re Pinks. While their hot dogs do not approach the greatness of a griddled Nathan's dog from Coney Island, they're really fine with the snappy skin. It's a proper hot dog. The problem is really the line and the horribly inefficient way they fill orders. As a result it's become quite fashionable over the years to bash Pink's, which is not entirely fair. Their hot dogs are fine. It's the line that's the problem. But as I outlined above, there's a ridiculously simple way around this problem.

                                    As for Ricky's, my one and only visit to his stand was not up to snuff. What I'm looking for in a fish taco is an intense CRUNCH that holds up to the wet salsa and crema, and a well-flavored batter (great fish tacos in Ensenada meet these criteria). Ricky's tacos came up a distinct 3 out of 5 in each of these categories, and I left feeling quite disappointed.

                                    I'd like to give Ricky's a second shot, but the problem (once again) is the line. Do I really want to spend another 30 minutes waiting in line for a taco which has already disappointed me once before? Not really.

                                    Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada has consistently excellent fish tacos, with a well flavored batter and a CRUNCH that holds up over several minutes (not that my tacos tend to last that long). They fry them to order and then you top them yourself, just like at the stands in Ensenada (this is a missing element in most fish taco stands in LA). It's by far the closest experience to actually being in Ensenada that I've experienced in LA.

                                    I've been to the Los Feliz location several times and it's been consistently good. Didn't know until just now that he'd branched out to Boyle Heights and Glendale(!?)

                                    http://www.bestfishtacoinensenada.com...

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      MrT- I've been to BFTiE and RFT dozens upon dozens of times each, and RFT is usually crunchier than BFTiE. You went on an off day, plain and simple. I hate waiting that line too, so you gotta time your visit to be at the beginning or tail end of the lunch rush...

                                      I understand that first impressions mean everything, but for chowhound faves I ALWAYS give them at least 2 shots in case I went on an off day. I didn't write off Pillippes or Pinks until the second visit ;)

                                      1. re: ns1

                                        So if I give him another shot, what time specifically do you recommend? Do people begin queuing up even before his cart shows up? Basically, if you could outline "A Beginners Guide to Not Waiting for Ricky's Fish Tacos" I (and I'm sure many others) would greatly appreciate it. I was under the impression that he's open such limited hours that it simply wasn't possible to easily get a taco-- that once the twitter feed goes out, the lines are out there even before he shows up. Please prove me wrong.

                                        Mr Taster

                                        -----
                                        Ricky's Fish Tacos
                                        1400 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                          Weekdays 1-130 is the best time because you want to avoid the 12pm Kaiser rush.

                                          Weekends are a crapshoot.

                                          I go to RFT during my lunchbreak from Burbank and it's about ~75 minutes round trip - 20 minutes each way and 35 minutes to eat.

                                          I personally feel like the hype for RFT has died down quite a bit.

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            And here's my original account of my RFT experience, with commentary from streetgourmetla...

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6766...

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                              Which location was this btw? Virgil?

                                              In my dozens of visits to RFT I've had a handful like yours (can't always bat 1.00)

                                              1. re: ns1

                                                It was at Sunset Junction. Around the corner from Intelligentsia, if I recall correctly.

                                                I did a search and found yet another post where you offering me similar advice to give Ricky another shot...

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7504...

                                                Is he still open on Fridays?

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  I personally believe that his batter formula changed when he moved from Sunset to Virgil, and when I asked him he said he used basa. I remember Sunset being a more straight up batter, whereas Virgil has a more heavily spiced batter.

                                                  His "normal" hours are Wed - Sun during lunch.

                                                  Now, I understand different strokes for different folks blah blah blah, but I think as a hound you're doing yourself a disservice by giving him a one and out. Two and out, I completely understand.

                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                    Fair enough. I think enough time has gone by that I can muster another potential wait in line :)

                                                    Mr Taster

                            2. re: J.L.

                              Let me just build on what J.L. said and add a few comments of my own based on the OP's list.

                              Skip Orochan.

                              Instead of Sprinkles or even Bear Papa's go to Fugetsu-Do for mochi. http://www.fugetsu-do.com/

                              I would nix Rustic Canyon from your list.

                              I would consider Saddle Peak Lodge. Great food, beautiful setting, esp. this time of the year.

                              For ice cream, in addition to Scoops, I would consider Bulgarini or Mother Moo.

                              -----
                              Saddle Peak Lodge
                              419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302

                              Fugetsu-Do
                              315 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                              Mother Moo
                              17 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre, CA

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  My favorite ice cream in Los Angeles is Sweet Rose Creamery in Brentwood (near Santa Monica). Wonderful house made seasonal flavors like Caramel Apple Ripple with Granola .
                                  http://www.sweetrosecreamery.com/

                                  If your are in the Malibu area Grom has great gelato and it's the same Grom as in Florence Italy. Flavor of the month is Dark Chocolate with candied orange peels.
                                  http://www.grom.it/eng/gusti_mese.php

                                  +1 for the one of a kind rustic setting of Saddle Peak Lodge and their great game meats.

                                  .....and ipsedixit why the nix for Rustic Canyon? It 's one of my favorites.

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

                                  Grom Gelateria
                                  3886 Cross Creek Rd, Malibu, CA 90265

                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                    RE: Rustic Canyon.

                                    Mediocre food, overpriced, loud room.

                                      1. re: wienermobile

                                        And it's not a place that's unique to LA, or certainly shouldn't be on a list for a first-time visitor.

                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                    You may want to check out Mother Moo, Carmela (another artisanal ice cream shop), or Bulgarini the day you have lunch at Sea Harbor. Mother Moo and Carmela get compared to each other, but I think you would be more comfortable at Mother Moo since they have places to sit and easier parking (also unlike Carmela, they accept credit cards). Plus, it's in the teeny town of Sierra Madre-a town I find rather charming. If you do go to Scoops-do try the brown bread flavor!
                                    Since you mentioned that you'd like to try some bakeries, maybe you could check out some Chinese bakeries like JJ Bakery, Cloverleaf, or Cathy's Bakery since there are quite a few that aren't too far from Sea Harbor. I don't know much about Cincinnati but I thought these sort of bakeries might be scarce there!

                                    -----
                                    Cathy's Bakery
                                    708 E Las Tunas Dr, C San Gabriel, CA

                                    Mother Moo
                                    17 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre, CA

                                    1. re: crystaw

                                      Hi crystaw, I'd appreciate more info on Mother Moo, Carmela, Cloverleaf and Cathy's Bakery. I find myself in the SGV quite often and would like to add these to my somewhat habitual rotation - TIA.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        Here are the websites for Mother Moo and Carmela:
                                        http://www.mothermoo.com/
                                        http://www.carmelaicecream.com/
                                        I believe you can also get Carmela at the South Pasadena Farmers Market on Thursday.

                                        Cathy's Bakery is in San Gabriel and they also have a branch called Ellie's Bakery in the Arcadia Supermarket Plaza. It used to be where we would go for Chinese pastries and bread when I was younger before there were so many Chinese bakery options! My mom and her friends like their cakes with puff pastry layers (and one with pudding, taro, AND puff pastry layers). I'm not a fan of puff pastry or taro so I can't vouch for those! Cloverleaf is in Temple City on Las Tunas-I've never been into the store itself but have heard that their bread is comparable to 85 degrees. I had this many layer cake from there that was very tasty!

                                        -----
                                        Cathy's Bakery
                                        708 E Las Tunas Dr, C San Gabriel, CA

                                        Mother Moo
                                        17 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre, CA

                                          1. re: crystaw

                                            > I believe you can also get Carmela at the South Pasadena Farmers
                                            > Market on Thursday.

                                            They're also at the Hollywood Farmers Market.

                                    2. re: J.L.

                                      I agree with a lot of JL's choices, but I am not a fan of Gjelina or Father's Office for similar reasons.

                                      Gjelina, while it has some good food the "no changes" policy is the tip of the ice berg on what I think is a bad attitude at the restaurant. I don't like waiting 30 minutes when I have a reservation. When I get there at 5:55PM for a 6:00 reservation, I shouldn't be seated at 6:25PM. When I make the reservation, tell me nothing is available and tell me to come at 6:30, I could live with that.

                                      Father's Office is the same thing, it is like a SNL skit, "no hamburger, cheeseburger". 'Sorry if you are lactose intolerant or hate blue cheese, we are putting it on your burger anyway'. L.A. has too many good burger places to tolerate that. I'd sub in Mo's in Toluca Lake for a burger and head to Porto's for dessert.

                                      I also think Melisse Restaurant should be under consideration as well, probably over Spago, but maybe because I am just Spago'd out.

                                      1. re: scottca075

                                        Disagree about Father's Office. I won't attempt to rehash the longstanding debate here, but suffice it to say it's a polarizing institution. Personally, I love their burgers, the beer selection is great, and the atmosphere at the Culver City location is great (particularly if the OP is coming from a colder climate). The OP will be staying in Culver City, so I think she might want want to give it some serious consideration.

                                        Edit: saw that the OP mentioned that they don't drink, so that probably lessens the appeal of Father's Office.

                                    3. Where is your husband's conference, and where are you from? These 2 pieces of information would help to set up your tour. Some places, like Portos will be difficult to navigate on a lunch hour unless his conference is somewhere like Universal City (in which case some of these other selections are impractical). And, if you are from Miami, it wouldn't be worth your while to seek out Cuban food (Portos), while, if you are from the Northeast, you will think that the Godmother at Bay Cities is just a fairly good sub, etc. Thai food and Korean food in LA are extraordinary and not easy to find in many other cities....

                                      20 Replies
                                      1. re: coffeebrownies

                                        Our hotel and husband's conference is in Culver City. I plan on dropping him off in the morning and then exploring LA area. I know he'd like me to meet him for lunch, but I feel like I'll be battling LA traffic to get to him from where I'm planning to explore (mostly downtown LA area).

                                        We're from Cincinnati OH and good ethnic cuisine is hard to come by.

                                        1. re: MrsDRock

                                          if you want to try a good japanese restaurant that also has a good sushi bar, located in Culver City, open for both lunch and dinner (but not continuously open between lunch and dinner), very broad menu,
                                          try K-Zo on Culver Blvd.
                                          self parking in the parking structure that also houses Trader Joes

                                          -----
                                          K-Zo
                                          9240 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

                                          1. re: MrsDRock

                                            Well, I travel a lot and I would say that, IMO the things that are unequalled in the northeast are our thai food and our regional Mexican food. Also, for ice cream, youi might want to go to Saffron and Rose in Westwood--Persian style ice cream and they are very generous with offering samples, so by the time you are done ordering, you could have tasted every flavor. You might find yourself nearby if you are visiting the Hammer museum or enroute back from the Getty or from Santa Monica.

                                            1. re: coffeebrownies

                                              What is "Persian-style ice cream"? Just noticed this when I was re-reading my post...

                                              1. re: MrsDRock

                                                Rosewater and/or saffron are the two most notable flavorings in Persian ice cream/ice treats. Pieces of clotted cream might be found in some of the ice creams as well - you might mistake them for "defects" in the churning process. Many potential eaters might balk at rosewater - eating flavors that might remind them of perfume or flowery scents might be a turn-off, but the rosewater (and saffron for that matter) play well against the ice cream base. Other flavors like cucumber, cantaloupe, orange blossom and pistachio are common as well.

                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                  Got it, thanks for the clarification. I'm not a fan or rose water.... but I will try it out if I get a free day (have already Scoops and Sweet Rose Creamery lined up in my agenda).

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

                                                  1. re: MrsDRock

                                                    Actually, there is a Chow-worthy stop (5-10 minutes of your time only) in Westwood, at Persian Ice Cream, near the corner of Westwood & Wilkins.

                                                    The reason: Cucumber ice cream!!! It is just fantastic.

                                                    Yes, their rosewater ice cream ia great too, but since you're not a fan...

                                            2. re: MrsDRock

                                              Since you'll be based in Culver City, the best "ramen for lunch" experience would be at Santouka. They're located in a food court that is attached to the Mitsuwa Japanese grocery store, which is located at Centinela and Venice Blvds in the Mar Vista area (adjacent to Culver City). For another great ramen option that is in Culver City, Ramen Yamadaya is on Washington Blvd, just east of Sepulveda. While Santouka is more "tenured" in the area, Yamadaya is worthy as well.

                                              Another option would be to go to the South Bay for more ramen options, but the two already mentioned would be included - Santouka and Yamadaya are in Torrance as well. The other two that I think worth visiting are Asa Ramen on Western Ave in Gardena, and Mottainai on Redondo Beach Blvd, also in Gardena. Since it appears that you have a sweet tooth as well, you could hit up Bonjour French Pastries in the same shopping center as Asa (great cream puffs/Japanese/French yummies), or head to Patisserie Chantilly in Lomita (IMHO better than Bonjour - black sesame cream filled puffs but further drive). If you go to the Santouka in Torrance (also located in a food court adjacent to the Mitsuwa in Torrance), you could also go to the newly constructed J Sweets, a collection of premium Japanese confections. It's a rarity even in LA to see so many premium offerings from Japan like this. Just their collection of mochi creams alone is amazing.

                                              Another dinner option you may want to consider is n/naka. While I have yet to go, veteran poster J.L. (who has already given you some great recs) has recently been and has posted on his experience there:

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/801429

                                              I think given that they are relatively close to Culver City, that they will offer a very unique dining experience for you (any Kaiseki in your home town?), and you can hit Scoops Westside afterwards (if you still have room), n/naka is a worthy candidate for a nice dinner consideration.

                                              http://www.n-naka.com/

                                              First Fridays on Abbot Kinney is a zoo. Parking is difficult on a good day in this area. Please factor this into your visit here (factor in additional time for finding parking or consider other travel options), as well as to Gjelina, as it is also on Abbot Kinney. And Gjelina does do brunch on the weekends (open at 9AM and parking is wide open on Abbot Kinney at that time, as is Gjelina's seating). They also have GTA (Gjelina Take Away) right next door - you can hit them up from breakfast to supper, so consider dropping by there either during your First Friday visit and/or as a more casual and brief option to Gjelina if necessary. Add in another great dinner option that is in this area - The Tasting Kitchen.

                                              http://www.thetastingkitchen.com/

                                              Porto's has a great quality/price ratio, but IMHO is not worth visiting from Culver City unless you tie in something else with it (maybe Mantee in Studio City area?). Glendale and Burbank are long hauls considering you'd be visiting just one place. While Cuban-style pastries are hard to come by in the general LA area, I personally feel it's not worth the effort in this case. What Cuban is to south Florida, most other cuisines are to LA - but not Cuban. Maybe a "bakery crawl" (or bakery schlep) in this general area would be an alternative: Porto's in Glendale, Euro Pane (the original location at 950 E. Colorado in Pasadena - egg salad sandwich for lunch), and maybe JJ Bakery in Arcadia (located adjacent to Din Tai Fung for elementary xiao long bao experience, but that changes the dynamics again).

                                              Sea Harbour for dim sum is worth the effort IMHO. Personally, I'd shoot for "brunch" instead of lunch - you are going on the weekend, right? if you leave from Culver City by 0915, the drive will be about 35-40 minutes. The drive time will exponentially increase about every 15 minutes later. They open at 10AM, and by 11AM (if you make it by then - traffic), you will have a line to wait in. The wait time will be erratic since I'm guessing it will be a party of two. You may be seated immediately, or have to wait who knows how long. We always show up either before 10AM, or slightly after that, and are immediately seated. The format for dim sum there is going over a pix-included menu and checking off what items you wish to order on a list - no carts. The waitresses will occasionally drop by with trays of appetizing items that may or may not be on the menu - don't feel compelled either way. And don't feel compelled to order everything you want at one fell swoop. Otherwise, everything will come out - in random order - and you might be overwhelmed. If you want to go earlier than 10AM for breakfast instead, consider Elite in Monterey Park - they are in a virtual tie with Sea Harbour for dim sum favorites on this board (I'm in the Sea Harbour camp), they open at 9AM and they are about 10 minutes closer from your Culver City (same ordering format, dining area is less preferable to Sea Harbour IMHO).

                                              Langer's is a must if you appreciate great pastrami or great sandwiches. Langer's is located directly adjacent to Downtown LA - so is Phillipe's. I don' t know if you plan to make repeat trips to the general area, but traffic is everything in LA, and I can't see eating both Langer's and Phillipe's on the same day. If that's the case, go to Langer's. Some may argue it's apples and oranges. If so, I'd say Langer's is a very special apple, while Phillipe's is an orange from the discount bin. Langer's is in a neighborhood that's a little rough around the edges, but I'd walk barefoot over a mile of broken beer bottles for their pastrami. :

                                              )

                                              I don't know the status of ice cream in Cincinnati, but it's quite diverse in LA. I don't know if any are the best in the region, country or world, but they are good. There's Persian ice cream (Super Sun and Saffron and Rose - both on Westwood blvd; and Mashti Malone's on La Brea); Sweet Rose Creamery (traditional in feel but exceptional in taste/quality/flavors) in Brentwood/Santa Monica; and Scoops/Scoops Westside (very unique flavor/flavor combos). These are within a reasonable distance from Culver City. Mashti and the original Scoops would be pushing it in terms of drive effort and time, but Scoops would be within range if you do Park's, and Mashti if you do one of the Mozzas. While going to Malibu for gelato is too far to go IMHO, you would probably appreciate a nice drive up to the coast and maybe a visit to the beach as well - this would be a great excuse to go to Grom.

                                              Father's Office would be a better dining experience IMHO compared to Umami, but since you don't drink alcohol, and FO is technically a bar, you may find Umami a better choice. FO has their own set of rules that may or may not be off-putting, and both places do get quite crowded - go to the location at the Helms Building if you do go. It's much closer (literally on the border of Culver City and Palms), it's not as impacted, and the outdoor patio area worthy on a nice evening. Great beers on tap, but that will be a non-consideration for you folks.

                                              In a similar breath, A-Frame is also a bar, with great beers, and the food is very interesting and unique as well. My favorite seat would be the outdoor patio tables. You're from Cincinnati, so freezing to me will be cool or just right to you - but if you go in the evening, and you sit outside, there's a firepit, heaters, and they will offer you comforters as well - we Westsiders are allergic to any temps below 60 (frozen solid) or above 80 (I'm melting... melting). :) Also on Washington, right across the small side street (Wasatch Ave) is Waterloo and City. Nice place to have various charcuterie - offal made not awful - seriously.

                                              One more place to consider for dinner (nice or otherwise) is Picca on Pico in West LA. Peruvian small plates - also consider the sous vide ribeye if offered.

                                              -----
                                              Din Tai Fung Restaurant
                                              1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

                                              Patisserie Chantilly
                                              2383 Lomita Blvd., #104, Lomita, CA 90717

                                              Father's Office
                                              1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                                              Santouka
                                              3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                              Bonjour Cafe
                                              24633 Del, Prado Dana Point, CA

                                              Centinela Cafe
                                              4800 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                              Mantee
                                              10962 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                                              Asa Ramen
                                              18202 S Western Ave, Torrance, CA 90248

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

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

                                              Ramen Yamadaya
                                              3118 W 182nd St, Torrance, CA 90504

                                              Scoops Westside
                                              10640 Woodbine St, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                                              Tasting Kitchen
                                              1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291

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

                                              Gjelina
                                              1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                                              n/naka
                                              3455 S. Overland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                completely agree with bulavinaka re: portos.
                                                imho, it is not "drive-worthy"
                                                the prices are low, and the pastries look pretty, but the taste imho is not worth driving for. . .

                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                  WOW, thank you so much for your detailed review! This has been truly helpful.

                                                  1. re: MrsDRock

                                                    My pleasure. I think I can speak for all in that I hope you can report back to this thread on your trip. It's always nice to hear a visitor's perspective not only on our local food but on our recs as well. You mentioned below that you have a blog, as do many Hounds. You can either copy and past your blog post to here and/or link your blog site's post as well... Thanks!

                                                2. re: MrsDRock

                                                  Great hole in the wall Indian food with Kerala specialities and wonderful spongy injera like bread. Absolutely delicious food in an unexpected location at Motor and Venice. A real find for an ethnic surprise.

                                                  1. re: MrsDRock

                                                    When exploring downtown, check out Grand Central Market. You'll have your choice of a number of great places to eat, but my fave is Sarita's for El Salvadorean food (namely, Pupusas). Never been to OH, but I'm guessing you don't have too many El Salvadorean restaurants there.

                                                    I think Porto's is worth the 20 mile drive from Culver City. You can mix in some shopping at the Americana. Your husband will be so thankful for the buttery and crazy-flakey pasteries you bring him (my faves are the cheese rolls, pear danish and scone). They have awesome savory items, as well. Their cuban sandwiches are great but the potato balls and croquettas as the stars of that show.

                                                    -----
                                                    Grand Central Market
                                                    317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                                    1. re: L.A. Jay

                                                      Thanks to both. We are making the trip to Porto's.

                                                      1. re: MrsDRock

                                                        I'm among the dissenters about Portos. It's good for the area(s), but I'd be disappointed if I made a special trip.

                                                        1. re: Peripatetic

                                                          I go to Porto's weekly and I'm with Peripatetic - killer bakery if you're in the area, but 20 mile detour just for Porto's = no.

                                                          Porto's is a worthy stop if you're in Burbank for whatever reason (WB studio tour, Conan, etc)

                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                            We will be at the WB Tour so that's when we plan to go to Porto's (for lunch).

                                                            1. re: MrsDRock

                                                              Excellent call!

                                                              Medianoche, some cheeserolls, meat pie..

                                                              desserts I'm particular to the parisian and the carrot cake...and Porto's make the best versions I know.

                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                I do like their medianoche, even if it's a shadow of the ones I've had in NYC (and of course Miami).

                                                                Agree with ns1 -- it's one of the best options in the vicinity of WB studios.

                                                  2. re: coffeebrownies

                                                    Suggest skipping Diddy Reise cookies. They are not all that special and surely not worth a trip to Westwood.

                                                  3. The original comment has been removed
                                                    1. While I love the food at Animal, and you should definitely try it, "nice" it is not--more scruffy (but in a good way). Providence and Spago are great "nice" choices, though Melisse and Osteria Mozza are also worth considering. For casual, from your list, my recommendations would be Langer's, Pizzeria Mozza, Father's Office, Porto's (I like the cubano sandwich), Bay Cities, Wood Spoon, Gjelina, Park's and A Frame. I concur with J.L.'s suggested eliminations and replacements but also offer as equally worthy alternatives Yamadaya for ramen (just opened a branch in Culver City where you are staying [Washington Blvd. East of Sepulveda]] and easier seating than Santouka) and Elite for dim sum. A few "new" casual additions to consider: Monte Alban (Oaxacan food), Waterloo & City (gastropub in Culver City), Spice Table (Southeast Asian) or Lukshon (pan-Asian). For bakery items, add Huckleberry and Bouchon Bakery to the list.

                                                      -----
                                                      Father's Office
                                                      1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                                                      Pizzeria Mozza
                                                      6602 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                                                      Spago
                                                      176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                                      Monte Alban
                                                      11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                      Elite Restaurant
                                                      700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                                      Wood Spoon
                                                      107 W Ninth St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

                                                      Santouka
                                                      3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                                      Father's Office
                                                      3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034

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

                                                      Huckleberry Cafe
                                                      1014 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

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

                                                      Osteria Mozza
                                                      6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                      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

                                                      Gjelina
                                                      1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                                                      Bouchon
                                                      235 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: New Trial

                                                        Lucques should be on the list. It is a great restaurant with a legendary chef at the helm.

                                                        -----
                                                        Lucques
                                                        8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                                                      2. I'm going to guess you guys haven't tried Peruvian food? If not, check out Mo Chica, that's definitely worth your time. You can thank me later.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: chezwhitey

                                                          Thank you, everyone, for all your help. This has been incredibly helpful narrowing down my options. I will definitely be blogging about my experience in my food blog. Thanks again :)