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Sunday night dinner between Griffith Park and Hollywood?

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ffranny May 1, 2012 08:04 AM

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.

Thanks!

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  1. wienermobile RE: ffranny May 1, 2012 08:47 AM

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: wienermobile
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      ffranny RE: wienermobile May 2, 2012 07:25 AM

      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. p
      PattyC RE: ffranny May 1, 2012 11:01 AM

      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 http://www.papillesla.com/

      3 Replies
      1. re: PattyC
        soniabegonia RE: PattyC May 1, 2012 11:37 AM

        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
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          PattyC RE: soniabegonia May 1, 2012 12:05 PM

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

          1. re: PattyC
            TonyC RE: PattyC May 1, 2012 03:42 PM

            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. b
        bg90027 RE: ffranny May 1, 2012 11:08 AM

        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
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          ffranny RE: bg90027 May 2, 2012 07:43 AM

          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
            aching RE: ffranny May 2, 2012 12:27 PM

            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. j
          Jack Flash RE: ffranny May 1, 2012 01:13 PM

          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
            katydid13 RE: Jack Flash May 1, 2012 02:46 PM

            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. t
            TailbackU RE: ffranny May 1, 2012 03:59 PM

            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
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              ffranny RE: TailbackU May 2, 2012 07:49 AM

              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
                ipsedixit RE: ffranny May 2, 2012 07:58 AM

                Try Tasca and maybe AOC.

                Barbrix might work as well.

                1. re: ffranny
                  TonyC RE: ffranny May 2, 2012 10:26 AM

                  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
                    b
                    bg90027 RE: ffranny May 2, 2012 11:21 AM

                    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
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                      ffranny RE: bg90027 May 3, 2012 09:09 AM

                      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.

                2. wienermobile RE: ffranny May 2, 2012 08:45 AM

                  Animal
                  http://animalrestaurant.com/

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wienermobile
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                    ffranny RE: wienermobile May 2, 2012 09:28 AM

                    If I can get over my annoyance at any serious restaurant in this day and age not having a way to take reservations online, Animal might be the closest to what I'm looking for.

                  2. aching RE: ffranny May 2, 2012 12:25 PM

                    I think Hatfield's or Osteria Mozza would fit the bill perfectly (although I guess both are a smidge south of where you will be - but only by a few minutes). Hatfield's is on OpenTable. Osteria Mozza only takes reservations by phone, and you may be on hold for a while.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: aching
                      j
                      Jack Flash RE: aching May 2, 2012 01:27 PM

                      Osteria Mozza most definitely DOES take online reservations via Open Table, as does the Pizzeria.

                      1. re: Jack Flash
                        aching RE: Jack Flash May 2, 2012 01:36 PM

                        You're right, I stand corrected! They didn't used to, and it was a real pain!

                        1. re: aching
                          j
                          Jack Flash RE: aching May 2, 2012 02:20 PM

                          Not sure about the pizzeria, but Osteria has been on opentable for at least two years (that's how I made reservations for my wife's birthday dinner in 2010).

                          1. re: Jack Flash
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                            ffranny RE: Jack Flash May 3, 2012 09:06 AM

                            Yes, Osteria Mozza is on OpenTable, but they have no openings at any time on that Sunday before we would have nodded off for the night. What are the chances of walking in around 7PM without a reservation?

                            1. re: ffranny
                              wienermobile RE: ffranny May 3, 2012 09:22 AM

                              They do take walk ins for the bar but at 7pm on a Sunday you may have a bit of a long wait. Better chance if you go at 5 pm when they open for dinner. The Pizzeria also takes walk ins for their bar but they are open continuously from noon till closing. You can also call the day before to see if there are any cancelations.
                              http://www.mozzarestaurantgroup.com/

                              1. re: wienermobile
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                                ffranny RE: wienermobile May 3, 2012 11:19 AM

                                Thanks, wienermobile. 5PM may be tough, given that our plan for the day has us ending up at Griffith Park, and I'm not sure what time we'll actually be done -- I now have reservations at Bazaar for 7:45 (I figure it's cheaper than flying to Barcelona), but if we call Osteria earlier in the day and get lucky, we can cancel at Bazaar.

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