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Visiting LA. Restaurant recs? (Dietary restricitons)

Hi all, I'll be visiting L.A. soon, staying in Hollywood area. Don't have any huge plans, hope to go to the beach, Venice or Santa Monica at least once or twice and just have a relaxed vacation. I'm trying to gather info on places to eat. I have some dietary restrictions so that makes it a bit harder.

Overall, I don't eat meat, but some fish is ok (strongly prefer wild). I am on the South Beach diet, and though I won't be planning to strictly stick to it on my trip, I hope to still limit grains, starchy veggies, sugars, and fatty foods at some or many of my meals if possible. I may go to a few splurge places too (splurge as in go off my South Beach diet) so suggestions for places that aren't diet-friendly are okay too.

I live in Northern California and if it helps at all in knowing my tastes I like places like Chez Panisse Cafe, Jardineire, Absinthe, Bay Wolf. But I am looking for cheaper, more casual places too. My husband and I may want to go out to a nice dinner or two, but overall we prefer casual places, especially with sidewalk or patio seating. Overall, places that focus on organics, lots of fresh veggies, food that isn't too heavy or rich would be great. But, off-diet suggestions are also welcomed.

What I've found so far:
Off-diet places: maybe Tratkir or Polka, Jerry's Deli, Phillipe
Nicer places: Luques or Ammo
More casual places: Rockenwagner, Huckleberry, Blair's, 26 Beach
Other places I wondered about: Warszawa, Canyon Bistro, The Blue Star (Saw this place in a movie and felt compelled to go there)

Also, many years ago I had profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce at sidewalk table in West Hollywood, maybe on Sunset. Any place like that still around?

I hope I didn't write too much and make this confusing! Thank you!

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  1. Skip Jerry's Deli. If you're going to have(access to) a car and a GPS and want deli, make your way to 7th and Alvarado for Langers (particularly, for their pastrami or corned beef). They're closed Sundays and have limited hours (pretty much a breakfast or lunch place).

    7 Replies
    1. re: DrBruin

      Thank you. I don't eat meat so no corned beef for me. Is it still good for non-meat items? I will definitely look it up. We will have a car thankfully so we have some options in getting around.

      1. re: DrBruin

        absolutely skip Jerry's deli if at all possible.

        1. re: westsidegal

          +3 to skip Jerry's. What is it you want to order at a deli?

          1. re: wienermobile

            From the Jerry's menu things that looked good to me were: potato pancakes, knish, hummus etc, some kind of salad, tuna or veggie sandwich, maybe dessert, etc. Any delis you recommend that are open at night and that have both good veggie and fish options since Langers is only open during the day. Close-ish to Hollywood would be great too.

            1. re: bythebay

              For deli you want to go to Langer's near downtown or Brent's in Northridge. Canter's on Fairfax is open 24 hours but is just ok (but much much better than Jerry's).

              1. re: wienermobile

                Canters has great omelets! I don't eat meat either and they are my go to omelets.

                Jerry's as a good Mexican scramble that is enormous, also meat free. And you might like Vegan Glory on Beverly and Orlando.

              2. re: bythebay

                My suggestion of Greenblatt's as a substitute deli mysteriously vanished, so I am reposting for you. It is close to Hollywood (Sunset between Fairfax and Laurel Canyon/Crescent Heights), is open at night, has a selection of smoked fish and vegetarian items and, surprising for a deli, a great selection of wines.


        2. definitely not Phillipe's if you're not a meat eater (even if you are, it's not so great) and definitely not Jerry's. Huckleberry is great for pastry items and breakfast. You may want to check out their other 2 restaurants, Milo & Olive and Rustic Canyon, which are both wonderful. Just ask Maudie! : )

          11 Replies
          1. re: budlit

            Thanks so much. Will check both of those out.

            1. re: budlit

              +1 for Rustic Canyon. Just what you are looking for. Wonderful food.

              Fig in Santa Monica also.

              1. re: wienermobile

                Thank you! The Fig menu looks good, I have to look at Rustic Canyon again too.

                I'm also interested in Russian, Polish type food. Any ideas if the few places I listed are any good (Tratkir or Polka,Warszawa)? Also any good brasseries? Also I was looking at Ethiopian, Meals by Genet and Awash. Any thoughts on these?

                1. re: bythebay

                  I do like the food at Warsaw but the restaurant is just a little strange. Don't go without a reservation.

                  1. re: wienermobile

                    Thanks for all your input, maybe we'll try that one, looks interesting to me.

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      I read some yelp reviews and one said the smoke from the patio can drift into the restaurant? Have you experienced that? I'd like to go but not if it's smoky. Thank you.

                      1. re: bythebay

                        In Santa Monica, smoking is prohibited in the following areas:

                        • Within 20 feet of entryways and windows of any buildings open to the public
                        • In any outdoor dining areas

                    2. re: bythebay

                      Fig is 50% off most menu items at their Fig at Five special Tuesday-Saturday from 5pm to 6pm. A great deal for great food.

                      1. re: wienermobile

                        +1 for FIG in general, and +100 (if I can do that) for "FIG at Five"! Best deal in town!

                      2. re: bythebay

                        Went to Traktir once yrs ago and very much enjoyed. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the stuff I had (pork chop that was thick, juicy, pepper-y and fantastically cooked, and the dumplings) will be particularly diet-friendly. My friend and I (who are East Asian) also appeared to be ONLY non-Russian people in there, which was interesting for people-watching. =) The waitstaff didn't actually seem to understand much English, although the maitre'd did. Also had really delicious tea thee.

                        Can't compare it to other places b/c I've never had that type of food b/f (or since), but I think it'd be worth a stop if you're close....

                        1. re: ilysla

                          Thanks I think I'll keep it as an option for one of the "go off my diet" meals. It sounds fun, and I like Russian food.

                  2. Another really good place in the Venice area (given your preferred non meat menu choices) is the Tasting Kitchen. Dinner is good but so is brunch (if you do go for brunch try the Grilled White Cheddar with Fig Sandwich) http://www.thetastingkitchen.com/ and if you are looking for a more inexpensive and healthy option (also in Venice) then I recommend Sauce on Hampton http://sauceonhampton.com/

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Servorg

                      Wow Tasting Kitchen menu looks great. Wild fish, orange olive oil cake, yum! Thank you!

                      1. re: Servorg

                        although i like Sauce on Hampton, imho, it is not worth the drive from hollywood.
                        tiny, nice, crowded, neighborhood place that often involves a parking hassle.
                        to me: not a destination restaurant,

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          The OP said "Don't have any huge plans, hope to go to the beach, Venice or Santa Monica at least once or twice and just have a relaxed vacation."

                          I didn't suggest they "...drive from hollywood..." to go there.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            agree with you if they happen to find themselves in the neighborhood.

                      2. You may want to try something altogether different that would be closer by to Hollywood, like Red Medicine - there might be enough non-meat dishes there. As you are already looking at Suzanne Goin restaurants (off the Chez Panisse tree), Tavern might be a nice place.

                        1. Providence, if it's in your budget.

                          1. Thanks everyone for the suggestions, I'm adding them to my list. This is kind of random, but anyone familiar with the Blue Star? http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-blue-star... I wanted to go there after seeing it in a movie ("Broken"), but not sure it's worth it.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: bythebay

                              It's a little place in a VERY industrial area of LA. I've eaten there a couple of times. I liked the food just fine but it's not a destination type of place (unless you have another reason for going into that area I don't think you will be utilizing your "dining time" wisely by driving down there). One of the posters on the LA board was very put off by the barbwire that's in evidence on top of the gates surrounding the building, but the place is nice inside and the Harley riding owner is a very nice guy. You'll see the LAPD eating in there for breakfast frequently. The chicken fried steak has been recommended but I've had their corned beef hash and just a bacon and eggs another time.

                              1. re: Servorg

                                Yeah I don't think I'd be interested just for the food but for some reason it captured my interest after seeing it in a movie, the area it's located in looked interesting also, I don't think I've been to that part of LA before. It's good to know the food was decent. Seems they don't have dinner though, just lunch till 3 I think if I remember right from their site. Thanks for the input, I won't cross it off my list.

                                1. re: bythebay

                                  If you do end up going I'll be interested in reading your impressions. It's very close off the 10 Freeway on Alameda on 15th Street. Just watch out for all the semi's...

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    I'll try to update on this thread after the trip. By the way, if you haven't seen the movie Broken with Heather Graham you might want to check it out, if only because that diner features so prominently. I did like the movie also, but I don't think it's for everyone. Then again living in L.A. I guess lots of spots are featured in movies, so it's probably not all that exciting :)

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Hi Servorg. I ended up loving this place. Can't say exactly why but I loved both the environment and the food. It was very comfortable. I like the modern setting. Veggie burger was great and overall just a nice stop in an unexpected place. My husband liked it too but I think I was much more taken with it than he was. Parking was a little challenging but we did find something nearby after a few minutes of looking. I would definitely return here.

                                      1. re: bythebay

                                        Glad to hear you liked it. It's definitely an oasis in that area. There is another diner in the downtown LA area called the Nickel Diner that you might like next time. They have good food and some absolutely outstanding desserts (some very creative donuts such as their maple bacon). See here: http://nickeldiner.com/

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Thanks Servorg. I do hope to checkout downtown more. We drove through it a little but that was all. I'll add Nickel Diner to my list for sure, looks really good.

                              2. gjelina in venice, great wood roasted vegetables

                                1 Reply
                                1. Here's a couple of spots I like in Hollywood.
                                  I too don't eat meat and also live Gluten Free, Dairy Free.

                                  Cleo Restaurant http://www.cleorestaurant.com
                                  The Golden State** http://www.thegoldenstatecafe.com ...love this place!
                                  And, fun salad bar inside the Farmer's Market @ 3rd/Fairfax: http://www.pampas-grill.com/

                                  If you find yourselves at the South end of the San Fernando Valley:
                                  Daichan Japanese - great spot!
                                  11288 Ventura Blvd
                                  Ste F
                                  Studio City, CA 91604
                                  (818) 980-8450

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                    Great, thank you so much. We'll also have a fridge in our hotel so I'll probably go to Whole Foods and get a few things too. Maybe some of the salad bar stuff would be good for that too.

                                    1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                      +1 on Golden State. One of the best burgers in the city.

                                    2. Any thoughts on Meals by Genet or Awash for vegetarian Ethiopian? Or any other suggestions for Ethiopian?

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: bythebay

                                        Rahel is pretty well thought of, and is completely vegan. They have a few extra vegetarian dishes you won't find at the other places.

                                        I have heard great things about Meals by Genet, though I've never eaten there myself.

                                        1. re: will47

                                          Wow, that looks great, thank you!

                                          1. re: bythebay

                                            Have not eaten at Rahel, we liked Meals by Genet. More so than my last encounter with Ethiopian which was in East Bay around Telegraph quite a while ago.

                                            1. re: thranduil

                                              Thanks. Judging by the photos Meals by Genet looks good and seems to get pretty consistent good reviews. I'm excited to hopefully try one of the Ethiopian places down there, right now leading toward Meals by Genet.

                                              1. re: bythebay

                                                meals by genet is closed on mondays and on tuesdays.

                                        2. re: bythebay

                                          I often go to Merkato as it was recommended by an Ethiopian aquaintance many years ago. Cheap and great for take out! I get the vege meal.


                                        3. Is Polo Lounge worth going to? I always thought the setting looked so nice, but read the portions are small and prices unjustifiably high. I thought for breakfast/lunch it could be nice. Doubt we'll make it there, but just wondering just in case. It's been on my L.A. list as something that sort of appealed to me for some years.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: bythebay

                                            The Polo Lounge is very pretty. The chef was recently changed and the menu is smaller (as are the portions) and the high prices have gone up. Service is still outstanding, but would not recommend for dinner. A nice spot for breakfast or brunch. You will absolutely want to sit on the patio.

                                            1. re: Thor123

                                              Okay thanks, maybe we will try to fit it in then.

                                          2. And, one more question: Any decent, easy takeout in the area near-ish to our hotel? We'll be near Hollywood and Highland.

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: bythebay

                                              I like Miceli's - Great place to eat in but, they also will deliver.....
                                              http://www.micelisrestaurant.com/ -
                                              You want the Hollwood one on Las Palmas (Hollywood/Highland)

                                              1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                                Great, thank you, I was actually looking for something Italian, so this is perfect.

                                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                                    Yum, thank you! Also, how's 800 Degrees for pizza? I saw they have one without cheese, which would be great for me.

                                                    1. re: bythebay

                                                      For an inexpensive pie 800 Degrees is great but it is much farther away from you in Westwood by UCLA (20 -30 minute drive on a good day). For me Mozza is the best pizza in LA.

                                                      1. re: wienermobile

                                                        Mozza is closer, more unique, and I think more delicious. You can get good Neapolitan pizza in the Bay area.

                                                        Mozza has a few good cheeseless options - the marinara is great, and sometimes they have a broccoli rabe / anchovy / olive one which is great, though wasn't on the menu last time I was there.

                                                        1. re: will47

                                                          As long as they have cheeseless (or are willing to modify) I'm good, I'll put it on my list, thanks.

                                                        2. re: wienermobile

                                                          That's high praise, definitely putting it on my list, thanks.

                                                          1. re: wienermobile

                                                            the wait or the scheduling game that is involved with a visit to 800 degrees is exactly what i would be trying to avoid when on a vacation.
                                                            unless you happen to be there at around 11:30AM or 3PM there will be a wait.
                                                            this is a "self serve" pizza place with very reasonable prices.
                                                            they are mobbed during all the "normal" times people usually eat.

                                                            i love them because the food is great for the price, and, since i'm a local, i can easily arrange my schedule to avoid the crowds. i would not love them as a visitor. . . . .

                                                            when traveling, i normally prefer places at which i can get a reservation or places that are not known for their mob scene.

                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                              Thanks for the heads-up. Yeah, I definitely don't want to go anywhere that involves a long wait.

                                                              1. re: bythebay

                                                                If you can't get a rez at Mozza and don't want to wait at 800, check out Pitfire Pizza. They have several locations including one on Fairfax just south of Santa Monica Blvd (which isn't too far from you). I find their pizza just about as awesome as Mozza, it's much more casual (and wallet-friendly) and they have some interesting apps like seasonal veggies served with dip that is SO much yummier than it sounds.

                                                                You might find interesting, even diet-friendly food at Street (good cocktails too), just down from you on Highland & Melrose; though I recent meal I had there wasn't as good as one I had 2 months ago.

                                                                Enjoy LA, there's lots of great food to be had here!


                                                1. During the diet:
                                                  Tender Greens for lunch (locations everywhere, best salads in town and affordable) You can also get a "plate" with Ahi tuna with a side salad and sub the grilled veggies for mashed potatoes, all delicious for $11
                                                  Hugo's is a restaurant that has lots of healthy options.
                                                  Pretty much any nice "california cuisine" restaurant will have salads and low carb options. L'epicure Cafe.

                                                  Skip Ammo (inho) sub Comme Ca, Bazaar, Madame Chou Chou, Blue Jam Cafe, for lunch or brunch or dinner (different experiences, both great) Angelini Osteria (amazing italian place and my favorite restaurnt in town- one time I did low carb here and had the roasted baby artichokes appetizer and then for the main the halibut dish in a tomato broth and didn't miss the carbs at all!

                                                  26 Beach is good, the decor is dated and "random" but the food is good. rockenwagner and huckleberry are pretty ordinary/overrated imo.

                                                  Other organic-skewed places: Akasha, Magnolia, Cook's County, True Food, Tavern (same owner as luques), Gjelina (hard as #$%# to get a table), Spago Seafood: Water Grill, Hungry Cat

                                                  Skip Jerry's and Langer's (only for corned beef fanatics and in a bad neighborhood) Same for Phillipe (only for French Dip fanatics) So many better cheats out there! For Pizza I am loving Settebello in Pasadena.

                                                  19 Replies
                                                  1. re: sarahbeths

                                                    Wow, what a great list, thank you so much. Is there anything similar to Jerrys'/Langer's you'd recommend if I want that kind of food? I want to get like potato pancakes, knish, etc.

                                                    1. re: sarahbeths

                                                      also, re: gjelina
                                                      they will NOT make any alterations nor substitutions to their menu items, PERIOD.
                                                      if you want something "on the side" or "substituted for" or "omitted," from a dish, this will be a problem.
                                                      that said, i really like their food and arrange to go there for lunch at 2:30.
                                                      be aware that during the hours between lunch an dinner (roughly from 3 to 5:30) they only serve an abbreviated menu of charcuterie and pizza, not the whole menu.

                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                        Yeah, I'm definitely a substitutions type, so good to know, thank you! Any Mexican restaurant recommendations? Looking for places that don't use lard on vegetarian beans, etc.

                                                        1. re: bythebay

                                                          the only mexican restaurant that i frequent is in inglewood, nowhere near where you will be.
                                                          it specializes in mexican seafood only.
                                                          no beans served at all.
                                                          the food is cooked in the style of Sinaloa and Nayarit.

                                                          if you're going to be on the westside, give Tlapazola on gateway a call.
                                                          they serve fusiony mexican food that i used to like quite a lot before becoming obsessed with the seafood place. iirc Tlapazola also offers a very nice selection of tequila.

                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                            That was one I was looking at too, thank you!

                                                          2. re: bythebay

                                                            Take a look at Loteria Grill with locations in Hollywood, Farmers Market, Studio City and now Santa Monica.

                                                            1. re: wienermobile

                                                              That looks really good. I also found Border Grill, not sure how good that is. My list is getting too long, I got so many good suggestions. Trying to gather all the info, narrow things down now.

                                                              1. re: bythebay

                                                                Oh for knishes and latkes, maybe Cantor's because its not as far as the other options and open 24 hours. They also have an extensive bakery of sweets. That is just not my comfort food of choice, but I see you really want some of that. I like Border Grill better than Loteria Grill. (you can get a discount on border grill if you go on Savored.com) Oh and does your trip line up with Dine LA restaurant week?

                                                                1. re: sarahbeths

                                                                  Yes, it does actually. Does that mean participating restaurants will have a price fixed menu during that time in addition to their regular menu?

                                                                  Yeah I really have an urge for that deli food. I have to go to one of them, Cantor's or Nate and Al's maybe?

                                                                  Thanks for the discount tip too. It will be interesting to actually go to some of these places in person after reading and asking about them for this whole thread!

                                                                  1. re: bythebay

                                                                    Nate 'n Al's over Cantor's unless you are planning a 3 AM visit.

                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                      agree with Nate n Al's over Cantor's. But no more Larry King, you'll have to find him down the street.

                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                        NO QUESTION,
                                                                        listen to servorg.
                                                                        if at all possible, go to nate 'n al's instead of going to cantor's

                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                          Ha, 3 am sounds fun, but these days I'm not so much of a night owl. Sounds like the concensus is Nate and Al's, so I'll plan to go with.

                                                                        2. re: bythebay

                                                                          Yes, and what's even more awesome is you can look at the Dine LA menus on their site (that link) and pick based on menu. There are lunch deals and dinner deals. Good time to come to LA :)

                                                                          1. re: sarahbeths

                                                                            Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I will definitely update here about where we end up going. I better make it to some of these suggestions at least! I'm not sure what to expect for traffic and parking. I have it built up in my mind as being awful. I've been to L.A. before but not for more than a couple days at a time, and it's been a while.

                                                                2. re: westsidegal

                                                                  Gjelina is not very flexible. But, I believe they will remove cheese from some of the salads on request (just not the pizzas).

                                                                  Some of the vegetable dishes, even those without obvious meat, are also not vegetarian.

                                                                  1. re: will47

                                                                    AND during normal meal times they are a mob scene.
                                                                    once at 9pm on a TUESDAY night, the wait was over 45 minutes for a single at the communal table. no reservations were available.
                                                                    others on this board have complained that they've been confronted with a wait even when they HAD made reservations. also, there is no place to sit while you wait. you end up standing with you back to one of the walls so that the wait staff can get through.

                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                      Thanks Will46 and Westsidegal. Sounds like one to skip for this trip. I want easy and relaxed and somewhat accommodating.

                                                                      1. re: bythebay

                                                                        If by chance you can still get a reservation it's well worth it. Wonderful food.

                                                              2. I've been working my way thru the LA Weekly 99 Essential LA restaurants - am just over 1/2 way done - http://www.laweekly.com/2011-11-10/ea...

                                                                And of the ones I've tried, these are my favorites in order of best to least best (there are no dogs on this list, at least none that i've tried). Here's my cheat sheet - separated by nicer vs. hole in wall - and with the type of food you'll find:

                                                                BEST OF FANCY
                                                                Animal - lots of animal parts but not a lot of starch so not bad for you! - can get seat at bar w/ no rez
                                                                Le Compoir - pop up, french, set menu
                                                                Gjelina - you've seen more on this below
                                                                Rustic Canyon - great small plates, local ingredients, this is right up your alley, same folks as Huckleberry
                                                                Sotto - pizza, great cocktails
                                                                Mo Chica - fun peruvian but downtown, far from you
                                                                Ink. - not good for diets
                                                                Lazy Ox - small plates, downtown
                                                                Ludobites - pop up
                                                                Drago Centro - italian, high end, bad for diet
                                                                Spago - closed for renovation
                                                                A-Frame - upscale picnic food, good diet cheat place! and close to Venice
                                                                Church & State - downtown french
                                                                Picca - peruvian, lots of options for you here, about 60 items on menu
                                                                Playa - upscale mexican in mid-city
                                                                Mezze - upscale middle eastern in mid-city
                                                                Son of A Gun - animal's little seafood-based sister but really buttery
                                                                Bottega Louie - fun italian small plates downtown
                                                                Mozza - you've heard all about it
                                                                Campanile - grilled cheese thursdays!
                                                                Eva - smallish plates
                                                                Comme Ca - fun bistro, mid city
                                                                Akasha - good organic lots of veg options, culver city
                                                                Waterloo & City - culver city gastropub
                                                                Tasting Kitchen - venice; i found it awfully pricey for what it was
                                                                Street - small plates from around the world, veg friendly
                                                                Lucques - was unimpressed here

                                                                BEST OF CHEAPER
                                                                Sapp Coffee Shop - thai boat noodles, worth cheating for!
                                                                Din Tai Fung - dumplings in SGV, too far away for you
                                                                Huckleberry - great breakfast, get eggs poached in whitebeans/tomatoes, stay away sat/sun morning it's a madhouse
                                                                Chego - gut busting fusion for not much money
                                                                Guisados - best tacos in LA (eastside
                                                                )Mother Dough - Silver Lake pizza
                                                                Jitlada - great thai, huge menu, research here before going
                                                                Guelaguetza - oaxacan, lots of mole
                                                                Newport seafood - SGV too far away
                                                                Chung King - SGV szechuan
                                                                Border Grill - eh. better mexican to be had.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: unagithefish

                                                                  Wow, what a list thank you so much! Akasha looks really good to me, will have to look into the rest that I haven't checked out yet.

                                                                  1. re: unagithefish

                                                                    i'd absolutely SKIP bottega louie
                                                                    i'd skip chego

                                                                    1. re: unagithefish

                                                                      for someone who says:
                                                                      <<Overall, I don't eat meat>>

                                                                      i would not think of Animal as being high on the list.

                                                                    2. Anyone eaten at Shamshiri Grill? I was thinking of eating dinner there before a show at the Geffen Playhouse. Any idea how much earlier than the play start time I should plan to get there for dinner, I'm not sure how slow/fast they might be.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: bythebay

                                                                        shamshiri grill is on my regular rotation.

                                                                        since i've never actually timed my meal there, sadly i can't give you any info re: timing.

                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                          Yeah it seemed to be well liked from what I could tell and I like that it has veggie options. I'm getting excited for the trip!

                                                                        2. re: bythebay

                                                                          You probably need a half hour to get back from the restaurant, get parked, and get inside the Playhouse. I would suggest letting them know about your time constraints, so they can advise you on food selections that won't take too much time. Usually we are done after about an hour when we've been there for dinner. We really like Shamshiri, and Persian food is something that we have down here that is not very prevalent in the Bay Area.

                                                                          1. re: thranduil

                                                                            Yeah that's very true and I've not had Persian food in L.A. in the past when I've been there so I really want to this time. Shamshiri looked good and lots of vegetarian and vegan options. Thanks for the tips re timing.

                                                                            1. re: bythebay

                                                                              If for some reason Shamshiri doesn't work out, our preferred Persian place is Shaherzad, just up the street. Really good kashk bademjan, rices, rack of lamb, etc.

                                                                              1. re: PeterCC

                                                                                Thank you, I'll add it as a back-up.

                                                                        3. How is Taverna Tony? I thought if we go to the beach in Malibu it could be an option for a vegetarian meal.

                                                                          1. I'm back from L.A. It was a great trip! Here's where we went:

                                                                            Short version:
                                                                            Loteria Grill, 3 Square Cafe, Tasting Kitchen, Alegria on Sunset, Marouch, Blue Star, Warszawa, Starbucks, Firefly Bistro, Chateau Marmont, Nate and Al's. Also stopped in at Lucque's but did not stay to eat.

                                                                            Long version:
                                                                            First night: Got in much later than expected so Marouch, where I 'd planned to eat, was closed. We had 10 minutes to get to Loteria Grill for takeout before they closed. In the rush, we didn't think to ask about the beans being vegetarian. Both of us got terrible stomach aches, and I later saw on Yelp several people saying they put chicken broth in their beans. Burritos tasted great, in fact I remember commenting on how I'd never had beans that tasted like that before. Now I know why! The stomach problems were a bad way to start the trip. Luckily, everything else went very well after that.

                                                                            First full day in L.A.: Spent the day in Venice. Lunch at 3 Square. My husband had omelete or something else egg--y and I had the tuna burger. Yumm. Both of us were very happy with our meals. Weather was cool and overcast, so we sat in inside. Dinner: Tasting Kitchen. I was so glad Tasting Kitchen was recommended on this thread. I had the salt-roasted branzino and my husband made a meal out of some sides and salads. Both of us were very happy with our food. And we both liked the atmosphere of the place.

                                                                            Second day: This was our take it easy and hang out at the hotel day. Lunch was takeout from Alegria on Sunset. Burritos with vegetarian beans and rice :) Very good, nice and simple, fresh and tasty. Nice owner or manager. Very good iced cinammon tea. Dinner: also take out. We got hummus, falafel, dolma, etc. from Marouch. Good and felt healthy. We were seeing the Exorcist that night and didn't want to rush through a dinner out, so takeout at the hotel ended up being a good choice.

                                                                            Third day: Went to Olvera Street, Echo Park, and Los Feliz. Lunch was at Blue Star. I loved this out-of-the-way place and am so glad we went. Parking down there took a few minutes but we soon found a nearby spot. I loved the atmosphere at the Blue Star. It was pretty hot out so we sat inside, but the outside seating looked very nice too. Very friendly service. We both had veggie burgers. Seemed homemade and very very good. This was one of my favorite dining experiences of our trip. I would definitely return here.

                                                                            Later, coffee, juice at Downbeat Cafe. I hadn't been to Echo Park before, I liked it. Enjoyed just sitting outside at the cafe and relaxing. Dinner was at Warszawa. We made reservations but it seemed to be pretty slow that night, a weeknight. I loved this experience too. Very hospitable service. I love businesses that are located in a house, so the house-like setting was very nice. We had a salad sampler that featured all their salads, it was amazing. I had pierogis and my husband had salmon and we shared both. Desserts were good too although the cheese blintz like dessert was too rich for me. The homemade cookies they served with their coffee were amazing. Wish I'd asked if I could buy a box to take home. Really enjoyed this meal and our experience there.

                                                                            Fourth day: Lunch ended up being a "Protein snack" from Starbucks eaten in the car. We just didn't have the time to stop somewhere for a full meal. Went to an art museum. Then dinner and music at South Pasadena's Firefly Bistro. This was probably my least favorite experience. I didn't really take to South Pasadena. Just not my type of place. We went mainly for the music but in hindsight I think with more looking maybe I could have found a music/food combo somewhere else or just eaten somewhere without the music aspect. The food was fine, nothing to write home about but decent/good. We had black bean veggie burgers, organic beer which was good, and a few sides.

                                                                            Our last full day: A take it easy day, just ate and went to Elysian Park. We had lunch at Chateau Marmont. It was a nice day for sitting outside. My husband had chickpea panisse, I had charred branzino. Both very good. Dinner was Nate and Al's. I was so happy to make here as a deli had been on my want-to-do list all along. We both loved this place. Great atmosphere. Great service. Very very comfortable. Perfect way to end our trip. I had broiled wild salmon with steamed veggies, my husband had breakfast for dinner. I cheated on my diet by sharing ice cream and apple pie with my husband. It was all really good. I wish something like this were available where we live, I loved that wild salmon is a staple on their menu, which I don't find that easy to get at restaurants here.

                                                                            Last day and on the road: We got takeout from Marouch and Alegria again. Coffee at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park. I liked the bookstore but coffee was just eh. Nothing special. Ate our burritos at Silver Lake park. Had the Marouch takeout that we kept in our cooler at some random rest area along the way.

                                                                            The trip was over way too quick. We are both missing L.A. already.

                                                                            Other comments:
                                                                            We did stop in at Lucque's but they only had seats at the bar, we hadn't reserved as we really weren't sure if we wanted to try it or not. It was much less casual than I had for some reason expected. Not the environment we were looking for, so we didn't stay.

                                                                            I felt like overall service was very good and very friendly everywhere we went. L.A. seemed friendlier in general to me than the Bay Area, although maybe being a visitor makes it just seem that way I'm not sure. I was also surprised how many of the place suggested here we ended up driving by. I wasn't expecting that but I was constantly recognizing places we drove past from having read about them here.

                                                                            Parking was much easier than I'd expected. We found nearby street parking everywhere we went. Never used valet service the whole trip and did not look long for spaces at all. We did drive a lot but overall traffic was also much less bad than I expected. I hated being on the freeways though, but taking local streets was a great way to get a better feel for the area and to avoid the worst traffic.

                                                                            Before the trip I wondered about the difference between LA and Bay Area restaurants. I'm still not quite sure I can put my finger on it and I don't eat out a ton here so that probably makes it harder to say too. It did seem like getting things like wild fish is much easier down there. In the Bay Area heavy "comfort food" seems to be really popular and that's not really for me except on a rare occasion. I liked that in LA it seemed easier to get food that I prefer for my health and tastes.

                                                                            Thank you everyone for the great tips, and for steering me away from Jerry's deli. I made a long list of places based on the recommendations here and hope to use more of them whenever we make it down there next. Persian food was one we didn't get to go to so I am saving that for next time too.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: bythebay

                                                                              I mentioned in my original post that I'd been looking for a West Hollywood spot I'd had profiteroles at years ago and I finally found it! Le Petit Four Restaurant. http://www.lepetitfour.net/