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May 1, 2012 08:04 AM

Sunday night dinner between Griffith Park and Hollywood?

My husband and I will be visiting LA for the first time at the end of May. We'll only have three nights in town, so we want our meals to be memorable. We're planning to do museums and such on Sunday, and the plan is to end up at Griffith Park late in the afternoon. We're staying near Sunset & Vine, so anyplace more-or-less close to either of those locations would be ideal logistically.

We're from Chicago and we visit NYC often, so we're familiar with and enjoy fairly sophisticated food (and simple, well-prepared food) from a variety of cultures and styles. We could handle one splurge meal this trip, but mainly we're pretty frugal.

We're not so much interested in "scenes," but if the food is good we're not above a bit of people-watching.

I'm allergic to shellfish, but other than that we have no major food restrictions.

LA seems to be really confusing for a newbie to get the hang of where to look for knowledgeable food recommendations, plus there's the complication of having to drive everywhere and not knowing how long it's going to take us to get where we want to go.

Any suggestions for this meal or any others (a Saturday afternoon through Monday morning) would be welcome.


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  1. Your Budget for dinner? Splurge means different things to different people.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wienermobile

      Splurge would be anything above $200 for two, before tax and tip. We've done it before, will probably do it again, but if we can find excellent, interesting food for less, we're all over it.

    2. Papilles is near where you're staying and fits the description of simple, well prepared food. They offer a 3 course menu that changes weekly with 2 choices per course. Not sure if that would be too restrictive for you

      3 Replies
      1. re: PattyC

        Second Papilles. It's really good quality food at a fair price. I don't know if I'd elevate it to the level of "memorable" but it is certainly excellent. "Memorable" is a tough one...

        1. re: soniabegonia

          I agree. I would describe it as a very good neighborhood bistro.

          1. re: PattyC

            As much as I love Papilles, I wouldn't rec it to a couple visiting LA for the first time. There are plenty of good bistros in Chicago.

            IMHO, what's missing from Chicago remains Chinese food (every try looking for xiao long bao on Wentworth? Difficult task with mostly crap results), and Japanese omakase/kaiseki style dining.

            While Thai town is great, Chicago has always had a very solid offering of regional Thai cuisines.

      2. The closest neighborhood to Griffith Park (just south) is Los Feliz. There are two good neighborhood Italian restaurants (Little Dom's and Farfalla) and a nice french bistro (Le Figaro). If convenience is a priority, you can get a good meal at any of those three but I wouldn't really recommend any for a "memorable" meal. To the east between Griffith Park and Hollywood is Thai Town. If you like Thai food, there are many great Thai restaurants there, my favorite of which is Jitlada. It is very chowworthy food but in a casual setting in a rundown strip mall on Sunset. The food (order off the Southern Thai specialties menu) would be memorable but the setting would not be. Another option is Los Balcones del Peru on the corner of Vine & DeLongpre (two blocks south of Sunset). It's really good Peruvian, not fancy but not a dive either. I probably eat here more than any restaurant in LA and don't hesitate to recommend it. Another option would be Lou on Vine, a wine bar with very good and reasonably priced food but again its in a strip mall. The owner recently sold Lou and I haven't been since its changed hands but the new owner supposedly isn't changing the concept at all. If you want to splurge, you are within a few miles of Providence, LA's best seafood restaurant and certainly on the short list for best restaurant overall. Also, downtown is only about 5 miles from Griffith Park and West Hollywood isn't far from Hollywood. There are a lot more options if you are up for those relatively short drives.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bg90027

          Jitlada sounds interesting -- I love Thai, especially if it includes pan-fried flat noodles! One thing, though: Since I developed my shellfish allergy, I'm always a little worried there will be shrimp or shrimp paste in even the most non-seafoodish sounding dishes. How are they about understanding and accommodating that sort of concern?

          1. re: ffranny

            Jitlada is great, but I don't think I would trust them with a seafood allergy. If you do go, be specific about your spice tolerance - otherwise, you may end up with a mouth on fire and tears rolling down your cheeks (as I did)!

        2. Just so you know, Griffith Park (depending on where exactly you'll be in the park) is really only about 10-12 minutes from Sunset/Vine. Any place close to your hotel is going to be reasonably close to the park, and vice-versa.

          Since you're staying in Hollywood, you might consider Musso & Frank for Saturday night. The food is nothing to write home about (best menu items are steaks & chops, which you certainly get in Chicago), but it's one of our City's most historic restaurants (open since 1919) and literally oozes Hollywood history. At the very least, stop by for the best martini in town.

          For the budget conscious, Thai food or Middle East-type cuisine are great neighborhood bets (Thai Town and Little Armenia are semi-overlapping neighborhoods between your hotel & Griffith Park). For Thai, I like Yai (there are two of them; the one on Vermont has better parking, better ambiance, takes credit cards and serves beer; the one on Hollywood is grungier and lacks the aforementioned attributes, which actually makes it more appealing to some folks). Marouch, on Santa Monica Blvd., is very good for Middle Eastern cuisine.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jack Flash

            Second Marouch -- you really can't go wrong there. But again, it's in a dumpy strip mall, like so many good restaurants are here!

          2. One of my favorite restaurants right now, Cleo, is very close to where you are staying. They do small plates Mediterranean/middle eastern food. Great place to share a bunch of dishes together. Their bread is fantastic, so order one of their dips. Also really enjoyed the roasted artichokes.

            5 Replies
            1. re: TailbackU

              Thanks for all the good suggestions, but I'm still not sure if any of them are exactly what we're looking for. Are there any chef-owned, not-specifically ethnic, eclectic small-plates type places in the areas we're discussing -- that also have online reservations and are open Sunday night? They seem to be everywhere in NYC and Chicago, but I'm not seeing so much evidence of them so far in LA. Am I looking in the wrong places?

              1. re: ffranny

                Try Tasca and maybe AOC.

                Barbrix might work as well.

                1. re: ffranny

                  Red Medicine. Your budget should cover. They're open Sunday.

                  Eclectic -- check
                  Small plate -- check
                  A bit of fanciness -- check
                  People watching -- sometimes
                  Sunday night -- check
                  Beverly Hills -- well, it's 5 mi away from Sunset & Vine, but I think it's worth the cab.

                  1. re: ffranny

                    It may have been unintentional but you asked about a fairly narrow geographic area. There's not a lot of small plate places in Hollywood, Los Feliz, Thai Town or Little Armenia. Animal isn't really in that area, neither are AOC or Red Medicine. As I mentioned earlier, you open yourself up to a lot more choices if you are willing to drive to West Hollywood, Beverly Hills or downtown none of which are that far away.

                    1. re: bg90027

                      Not being that familiar with LA, I wanted to be as specific as possible, but now that I see the travel times aren't that bad (You wouldn't fool an out-of-towner, would you?), I can certainly widen my scope.