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3 nights in LA- recos for MUST eat restos for Lunch and dinner

Hi fellow CHers
My hubby and I (mid 30s) arriving in LA on AUG 10 for 3 nights staying downtown LA. Will have car. What are the MUST EAT/BE @ in LA (Downtown, Beverly Hills, etc)

Nothing spicy please:

1) Lunch: best food trucks and "nice" restos not too formal
2) Dinner: casual and chic/trendy delicious restos but moderately expensive....ie very good but not too expensive (prix fixe welcome, degustation welcome)


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  1. "but moderately expensive....ie very good but not too expensive..."

    Those ("moderate" and "not too") are very imprecise terms that often mean completely different things to different people, depending on their financial circumstances and normal spending habits for dinners out.

    What is your upper dollar limit you don't want to go over for food and drink, per person, with tax and tip included?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      I do agree with you that price is very subjective. For example the Montreal's dining scene at a moderately expensive (Italian, French or market cuisine) would cost approx 100$ per person with one decent bottle of wine and 2 apps 2 mains tx and service incl.
      I guess we r looking into one resto at about 100$ per person category for a MUST eat at in LA
      And a few recos for under that price category


      1. re: CookingQueen

        In that case for your dinner option I like (as recommended below already) Red Medicine in Beverly Hills or Animal on Fairfax just a bit south of Melrose. Downtown you should really look at Rivera.




    2. If you want just about the best seafood in downown you should consider The Water Grill. Drago Central for modern Italian and very good. Check out their websites and menus and you can decide. A few minutes from down town is La Serenata de Garibaldi for gourmet Mexican Food at reasonable price. (not the Westside Location).



      1. Not a truck just a stand setup 4 days a week, Ricky's Fish Tacos in East Hollywood is the best. Lunch only Thurs-Sunday. Always check his twitter account first to make sure he's open and his hours for the day & you can find out his specials. This week he has swordfish tacos too. Not spicy.

        3 Replies
        1. re: wienermobile

          Actually wanted to try a food truck and people are recommending Ricky's so if we r in east LA for sure it's a go!
          Will report back when I return

          1. re: CookingQueen

            Ricky's is not in East LA. He is in Hollywood.

            1400 N. Virgil, Los Angeles

            1. re: wienermobile

              Sorry yes that's what I meant....not exactly same destination though ;-)
              Thank u

        2. 2) Dinner: casual and chic/trendy delicious restos but moderately expensive....ie very good but not too expensive (prix fixe welcome, degustation welcome).
          Red Medicine meets and exceeds every descriptor and requirement you have listed. You can easily get out for $50-$100pp.


          1. Sotto - Italian and Pica - small plate peruvian both excellent.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BSW6490

              Both great selections. I would add Dan Tanas.

            2. +1 on the Red Medicine recs.

              I would also add Hatfield's to your list of considerations. Their prix fixe menu is $63 ($53 for the vegetarian) and the "spontaneous" chef's tasting menu is just under $100, before tax and tip. If one orders the $63 prix fixe and one orders the spontanee, total cost may skirt under your budget, depending on drinks. (http://www.hatfieldsrestaurant.com/)

              FIG in Santa Monica would also be a great choice. They have a "FIG at Five" promotion where nearly everything, including drinks, are 50% off when ordered between 5PM and 6 PM. You'd definitely be able to keep under budget there. Everything I've had there has been excellent. They do have a special dinner event on August 10 (http://www.lafw.com/index.cfm/event-I...), so I'm not sure if they're doing FIG at Five that day, so potentially the only day you'd be able to take advantage of FIG at Five would be Saturday, August 11. (http://figsantamonica.com/)

              1. Wow....great recos everyone!
                So here is where we stand:
                We love the suggestion for red medicine....sold on askan flare
                Drago centro and hatfields look amazing!
                Revamped Modern Italian and beautiful presentation for Drago
                Hatfields : just that croque Madame makes me salivate!!
                I think we will try those in our itinerary!

                If we asked your 2 best Italian and 2 best local-market cuisines Who would it include (same price bracket as above)


                18 Replies
                1. re: CookingQueen

                  I'll leave the Italian recs to others, but the names bandied around are usually Matteo's, Osteria Mozze, Scarpetta, Valentino, Vito (and a lot more I'm forgetting, I'm sure).

                  So many restaurants are local-market or farm-to-table theses days: FIG, Farmshop, etc. Even local chains Lemonade and Tender Greens are excellent for the price.

                  Oh, one rec for lunch, not a food truck, but nice and casual, is UMAMIcatessen. Had a late lunch there this weekend, and it was really good. And it's right in DTLA.

                  1. re: PeterCC

                    So hatfields one night.
                    We added Osteria mozza for our last night in LA (went to Babbo's -another Batali resto in NYC and had a great food, ambiance and service experience) very excited about this one especially mozza bar!!!
                    Lemonade and umamicatessen sound perfect for a lunch!
                    Thanks PeterCC

                    1. re: CookingQueen

                      Glad you liked the recs, and hope you like the food too! ;-)

                      (Oops just noticed I misspelled "Mozza" in my original comment.)

                      So you're from Montreal? I spent a few years there. Lived in Beaconsfield, but fairly familiar (at least I used to be) with NDG and Westmount. Haven't been back in over a decade. Such a great city.

                      1. re: PeterCC

                        Yes, Monty is a beautiful city. Am from saint-Laurent. Been to beaconsfield very pretty neighborhood. Montreal's food scene is great but NOTHING compared to the variety and ratings in California
                        We r also going to SD, SF and napa....let me tell you am having the hardest time choosing from all these restos! I notice Asian flare is strong in LA (love sushi anyways) just surprised that Latin cuisine is not as prominent in LA
                        Any recos for sushi btw? We thought katsuya or katana for taste and presentation and atmosphere but am open to suggestions ;-)

                        1. re: CookingQueen

                          I don't know the sushi scene in DTLA, but I hear Shibucho and Gen mentioned often. In BH there's Sushi Sushi and Kiyokawa and Yojisan. On the Westside there's Shunji, Kiriko, Mori, Zo. These are all relatively higher-end places, and L.A. has a plethora of other choices on the mid-to-low end.

                          For dim sum (since I mentioned it in your SF thread and you sounded interested), and for Chinese in general, you'd want to go to the San Gabriel Valley (Monterey Park, Alhambra, etc). Elite and Sea Harbour are considered the best dim sum in SGV. It's not cart service, as higher quality dim sum restaurants are moving away from that model (not sure if it's moving that way in Montreal). Like sushi, there's a ton of other dim sum options, and there's many other Chinese cuisines available in SGV (Taiwanese, Szechuan, etc).

                          1. re: PeterCC

                            Def going for dim sum in SF but not sure SGV will be in our itinerary... but we'll try

                            Thanks for all the sushi recs....gosh u guys have so many good choices, seems easier to recommend in Montreal ;-)

                            Thanks again !!!

                          2. re: CookingQueen

                            please avoid both katsuya and katana...mediocre to poor sushi in trendy environs. check out one of the places peterCC listed: mori, zo, shunji.

                            1. re: namstermonster

                              Am looking into those sushi places PeterCC listed and I am happy to see they are traditional style Japanese...we don't Really have that style in Montreal except for izakayas. U have the advantage of being closer to the side
                              I'll try to narrow it down

                              1. re: CookingQueen

                                If Asian is on the table...then this thread will light up like a roman candle. Though you helped your cuase by quickly noting the SGV probably won't happen.

                                However, right downtown, Aburiya Toranoko (not coincidentilly right next door to Lazy Ox, they share ownership) is really good. Now, it is not purely a sushi bar and since you say you have izakaya's, it may not whet your whistile, but they are really good at what they do and worth a look.

                                Again, in large part trying to keep you downtown.


                                1. re: ellaystingray

                                  Thanks! I have chosen to try katsuya for its location and food...very cliché
                                  However Since japanese is very big in LA I would like another option that is not as expensive as katsuya. Even if its a very casual place (no compromises on quality of fish...as much as possible if u kniw what i mean- very fresh and tasty for the price

                                  1. re: CookingQueen

                                    You had mentioned Latin food and downtown has one of the better regarded higher end Latin restaurants in Los Angeles, Rivera. They also have a pretty darn brilliant bar and bartenders. Check it out here http://www.riverarestaurant.com/

                      2. re: PeterCC

                        I think its been quite a while since Matteo's made the list and I would not consider Vito a top choice. My picks would be Sotto and Il Piccolino for Italian. Rivera is a great choice for Latin.

                      3. re: CookingQueen

                        I'll chime in to add 2 pieces of advice:

                        1) don't go to food trucks. I know they sound cool but they're no less expensive than equivalent food at restaurants, and I've yet to find one that makes something better than any other real restaurant serving that same dish.

                        2) if you don't get to eat a plate of delicious ethnic food (often out of a styrofoam box) for ten bucks, you're missing a big part of the LA dining experience. For lunch, you simply must go to Thaitown, Koreatown, or the San Gabriel valley (depending on if you want thai, korean, or chinese/vietnamese respectively) at some point for lunch. They're all close to dtown. Going to an ethnic enclave to get an authentic taste of their cuisine is one of the most fun, adventurous and of course, delicious parts of eating in LA.

                        Going to hip restaurants is great, you'll have an excellent meal at any of the places rec'd here (+1 more for Red Med) but don't write off the less (much less) glamorous ethnic holes.

                        1. re: BrewNChow

                          Am always open to cheap eats or ethnic food since I am ethnic (my parents) however its easier to convince me to go to a popular place than a hidden gem (not so popular) when it's my first time in LA and only there 3 nights
                          But i understand what u mean
                          red Med experience wil happen on our first night! Very curious about this one

                          1. re: BrewNChow

                            I agree that the new school of food trucks usually make crappy food relative to brick and mortar restaurants, but I think it's worth it to grab a snack or two 1) for tacos and 2) for the novelty of it.

                            So for point 1, even though I like Taco Zone better on Alvarado, I would go to Tacos Arizas in Echo Park and then walk over to Salina's Churro Truck (not sure if that's the name) to get dessert. (If you do go, I would recommend just the regular churros)

                            And for point 2, I would just go to the one that blew up this whole nonsense of fancier food trucks, Kogi BBQ. I'm assuming that the wait isn't an hour long anymore, but who knows. Or if you've seen Ludo on TV, maybe you could go to that one.

                            Other than for tacos and the novelty, there really aren't any food trucks that are chow-worthy.

                            1. re: andytseng

                              The 2 I heard about were kogi and ludo
                              BarbiesQ, nomnom and grilledcheese trucks were also mentioned to me
                              I hope I get to try most of these places in 4 days!!! Lol

                          2. re: CookingQueen

                            Drago Centro is certaqinly good, but devoid of fun/vibe. Better for a good business lunch.

                            1. re: CookingQueen

                              Drago centro is delicious and has the advantage of being downtown. It is as good as mozza and mozza is very good. Eveleigh on sunset is wonderful for farm to table fare and cocktails. They also do a Friday lunch and brunch on Sunday. (maybe saturday too, not sure) The best Italian in LA is at Giorgio Baldi's in Santa Monica or Madeos on Beverly in west hollywood but both are quite expensive. You might enjoy checking out the Hollywood farmers market on Sunday, there are so many wonderful things to try there from tamales to crepes in addition to all the wonderful California produce available now. Riviera downtown is really good and unique. Chinatown, little Tokyo and olvera street all are downtown and have great restaurants you could try for lunch to get a feel for the city too. Have fun!

                            2. Let's just note, at the wrong time of day, Beverly Hills/West L.A./Santa Monica can be a solid hour from downtown, even during the weekend. So just prepare for that. And I should note, I don't disagree at all with the previous recco's. But here's some more fat to chew on.

                              Since you are staying downtown, check out Lazy Ox. Also downtown and a CH/foodie darling, MoChica. Very casual downtown lunch, Starry Kitchen. And I might get heat for this, but I really like Bottega Louie for downtown lunch--it is a large bustling high-cieling dining room with an Italian inflected menu where it just feels like the table next to you is negociating something really important. Next, super-casual downtown Arts District sausagery, Wurstkuche, is fun and definately trendy though maybe not chic. Lastly, no thread on CH can go for long without mentioning Langer's for a Pastrami sandwhich--not trendy and certainly not chic but damn that's a good sammy.

                              Enjoy L.A.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ellaystingray

                                As per ur recos I am tempted for lunch at lazy ox and Mo-Chica. Mo-chica looks really interesting not sure how I would enjoy Peruvian food.....maybe
                                Starry kitchen is closing for now?!?!?!
                                Bottega Louie I feel it is a gigantic menu (jack of all trades style) but is it good for lunch or breakfast?
                                Not a big fan if sausages so Wurstkuche is out
                                As for a pastrami well no matter how good it can be it will never beat Montreal's smoked meat....ever!
                                Thank u for ur help!

                                1. re: CookingQueen

                                  Haha, I've heard of your famous smoked meat.

                                  No need to get hung up on Bottega Louie, I just happen to love the room and think the food is good enough for a mention.


                                  1. re: CookingQueen

                                    If you enjoy good food, you will like Peruvian.

                                2. also downtown, recommend Spice Table. Lunch and dinner menus are very different. I havent been but baco mercat is popular.

                                  if you're looking for trendy, you could stop at Bazaar for drinks/light bites. It's pricey though!

                                  I agree that given your limited time, skip the new food trucks but taco trucks and such are great. would also skip Lemonade and similar chains if you're only here for a few days. Ktown is right by downtown so I would at least check that out

                                  If you want good sushi at a lower price, you could go to Kiriko in west LA. Their lunch menu or omakase is a lot cheaper than dinner. (lunch on weekdays only) Their dinner menu is better but also a lot pricier.

                                  +1 to Mochica and Animal but make reservations for Animal if you can. and +1 for smoked meat!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: silverlainy

                                    Bazaar was def intriguing from the get-go. Just have to see if we will make it in our itinerary
                                    I will def go to kiriko for lunch!
                                    Singaporian not yet there....baco mercat gets very mixed reviews but looks good especially the crispy pork belly baco

                                    1. re: CookingQueen

                                      Just a last question before I fly towards u!
                                      Should we be trying any of Wolfgang Puck's resto...although am extremely disappointed that Spago is closed for renos
                                      Thanks again and see u soon
                                      I shall be reporting back when I get back to Montreal!

                                      1. re: CookingQueen

                                        Cut in The Beverly Wilshire Hotel is his wonderful steak house. Very expensive. Cuts of meat no one else has. Great service. A Hollywood hot spot with actually good food.

                                        Also Chinois on Main in Santa Monica for his Cal-Asian dishes. Great food after all these years. Love the Whole Sizzling Catfish.

                                        Spago is scheduled to reopen with a new menu and a major remodel sometime in September of this year.