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Los Angeles Food Itinerary

We will be visitng L.A. for 6 days in mid-August and have comprised a list of places that we're going, could you Chowhounders confirm that the following places are worth it?

Day 1:


Dinner at Bouchon

Day 2:

Lunch at Pizzeria Mozzo

Dinner at La Serenata Gourmet

Day 3:

Lunch at Villa Blanca (for the scene and convenience)

Dinner at The Polo Lounge

Day 4:

Lunch at The Garden Terrace Cafe (At the Getty Center)

Dinner at Malibu Seafood

Day 5:

Brunch at The Griddle Cafe

Dinner at Il Pastaio

Day 6:

Lunch at Petrossian


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  1. I would go to Chichen Itza instead of La Sereneta, or if you don't mind the drive to San Gabriel Valley then hit up Babita.

    I would go to the Lobster instead of Malibu Seafood

    10 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      The Lobster would be a quite a jump from Malibu Seafood. I'd recommend Reel Inn as an alternative to Malibu Seafood to be in the same ballpark both price-wise and ambiance-wise, but just as an alternative; not saying Reel Inn is better.

      I guess it depends on why OP picked MS. If it's for the casual fish market atmosphere, then either MS or RI is a wash. If it's for more upscale seafood with an ocean view, I think there are better choices than the Lobster (IMO). If it's somewhere in the middle, I like Duke's.

      1. re: PeterCC

        I think the fish is much fresher at Malibu Seafood.

        1. re: whatsfordinner

          I agree. I don't know how much the OP knows about these restos, or their distances apart. Maybe they are aware of the fact that M'bu Seafood is closed on Mons. & BYOB. The Lobster is a great locay but not so great price to food ratio wise.

      2. re: ipsedixit

        I read the reviews on tripadvisor on chichen itza, and it sounds like its in a food court? That does not sound good at all. Would you reccomend LS de Garibaldi? If not what is the best mexican in the Westside?

        1. re: lhenry

          It's in a food court, but you go there for the excellent FOOD.

          1. re: ns1

            Also, the food court had some charm to it--the table tops have Mexican tiles. There's several types of food in the court. The food is excellent and you can't beat the price! Try the Jamaica juice!

          2. re: lhenry

            I like LS. I also like Frida in Beverly Hills for more upscale Mexican.

            1. re: lhenry

              LS is fantastic...DO NOT drop it....and the Boyle Heights location is a trip into LA history.
              Yes, CI is in a mall/food court, no atmo at all, but very good Yucatecan cooking. For me, it is a lunch or a snack, not a meal that I would consider replacing LS with.
              Have a drink at Polo, not a meal, and try Red Medicine or Shunji's or n/naka (if you are into sushi/keiseki).
              Il Pastaio is nothing special at all...try e baldi across the street or Madeo, if you want Italian (and money is not a prime concern).

              1. re: lhenry

                I like the soup and aqua frescas at LS de G. Everything else is not really my thing. I find that the best Mexican places are food court like, or hole in the walls.

                Also, Griddle is a huge wait for basically for dessert. A bit higher in price, but I like Bouchon and Scarpetta for brunch. I believe Scarpetta is only on Sundays though.

                1. re: lhenry

                  One of the things you need to learn quickly about Los Angeles is that some of the best food is found in the unlikeliest of places. In New York, that's less true (though not entirely untrue). I deal with this with my sister all the time, who insists on bringing her Brooklyn industrial chic sensibility with her when she visits me in LA, and it's a huge mistake.

                  Calling the restaurants in Mercado La Paloma (MLP) a food court is not entirely fair, not because it isn't a food court, but because of the baggage that the term "food court" brings along with it. "Food court" paints the image of terrible fast food in a shopping mall with screaming kids and obnoxious teenagers running around, and that's not at all what Chichen Itza delivers. MLP is a local cultural center for Latin American culture that just happens to have two excellent restaurants. Chichen Itza does provide table service, though you order at the counter.

                  But isn't the real point that you're here to try things you won't be able to get in New York, right? Tell me, where in New York are you going to find extremely well executed cooking from the Yucatecan peninsula?

                  Embrace the differences between LA and Manhattan, and you will be richer for it.

                  Mr Taster

              2. I would nix Villa Blanca. The food is not at all good. If you want a scene and close local, the patio at Ivy on Robertson is a MUCH better choice. Also, although I love the patio at Polo Lounge, there has been a chef change and the prices are very high, the menu is limited and the portions are small. Service remains very good. Il Picolino is a very good Italian also on Robertson that would be a good choice. If you want to stay in the heart of BH you might try Mastroes Steak House or venture a few minutes away to Red Medicine or Sotto.

                13 Replies
                1. re: Thor123

                  I would also miss the Polo Lounge (unless you are just looking to ogle the Pink Palace a bit) and switch off to either Dan Tana's http://www.dantanasrestaurant.com/ for the vibe and great steak or to Animal http://animalrestaurant.com/ or Son of a Gun http://sonofagunrestaurant.com/ for the overall food experience.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Dan Tanas is the call. Ask to sit in the front (bar) room as that is where the scene is.

                    1. re: Thor123

                      Love the bar at Dan Tana's. Taking an old friend there when he visits in October. Spago is also on our list.

                        1. re: Thor123

                          Spago is not scheduled to reopen with it's new menu until September at the earliest. It is a major remodel.

                    2. re: Thor123

                      @Thor123 I would like to stay near rodeo dr. could you reccomend another near there?

                      1. re: lhenry

                        Mastroes is very good. Mr. Chow is a unique experience.

                          1. re: wienermobile

                            @weiner Scarpetta is not open for lunch

                            1. re: lhenry

                              Sorry thought you were looking for a dinner. The Sunday Scarpetta brunch is one of the best in LA.

                          2. re: Thor123

                            @Thor123 Mastroes is not open for lunch, and Mr. Chow is open Sunday-Thursday, Villa Blanca is on Saturday

                      2. @Thor123 and @Servog, I'm going to stick with the polo lounge, I just feel that I can't miss it

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lhenry

                          Thats your choice. The ambiance and service is great. Make sure to sit on the patio. I have had many anniversary dinners there, got married at the BH Hotel and I can assure you, there are currently better choices.

                        2. Remember to suggest a place for LUNCH near rodeo dr. Note: it will be on a Friday

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: lhenry

                            Kate Mantilini
                            E baldi
                            La bottega Marino

                            1. re: lhenry

                              Do lunch on the patio at Barney Greengrass. On Wilshire just west of Rodeo.

                              1. re: Thor123

                                Lunch at the Grill on the Alley. Classic, less than a block from Rodeo and Wilshire. Or a few blocks west -- Craft.

                            2. Is the area around Chichen Itza safe, it looks like its near south central

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: lhenry

                                It's not a neighborhood that you'd probably want to walk around at night in but it's not in s. central. It's pretty close to USC, is very close to the freeway and the mercado has a dedicated parking lot. It's not unsafe.

                                I would probably suggest going to lunch there over dinner though. The food is wonderful but the atmosphere is food court and there's no liquor license.

                                1. re: bg90027

                                  Stop it! You're doing both the poster and the restaurant a huge disservice by saying "atmosphere is food court ", for the reasons I outlined above.

                                  Here's a photo of the mercado, along with some pics of a few dishes. Does that look like Taco Bell to you? This is lovingly prepared food. It is the antithesis of "food court".


                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    I actually agreed with your earlier post and I said that the food was wonderful. I just prefer it for lunch for the reasons I mentioned. The OP should look at the picture of the place and judge the atmosphere for himself/herself.

                                    I go in spite of the atmosphere. I'd go 10X more if it were in its own location in a better neighborhood with a liquor license and would gladly pay higher prices. The food is wonderful though.

                                      1. re: bg90027

                                        Yes, I would go for lunch but only have time for dinner. I also wish it was in another location

                                        1. re: lhenry

                                          For what it's worth, I've only ever gone there for dinner.

                                          I absolutely love the panuchos.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          1. re: lhenry

                                            Shame that location is a deterrent. Places like Langer's and Bludso's are home to many as the best pastrami and ribs respectively (sorry Randolph's) and are in much worse neighborhoods and have a constant influx of tourists and non residents.

                                            I love it because you get a show on top of great food. In a month span, I was offered fake IDs three out of four times at Langer's. On the way driving, I saw two hispanics beating each other up for a parking spot because one guy snakes the other.

                                        2. re: Mr Taster

                                          I agree--calling it a food court completely misrepresents. It doesn't have a bad atmosphere--just not a super awesome one.

                                          I went after work and I find the area to be just fine, easily accessible. If it's light out, you can take the Expo line...and walk to the Rose Garden at USC!

                                      2. re: lhenry

                                        Chichen Itza is next to USC, which honestly is not the safest of neighborhoods to be wandering around at night.

                                        But truly, for your purposes it's really not a concern. The Mercado La Paloma has a small well-lit parking lot and you'll have no troubles zipping in and out. Just use your GPS and you'll be fine.

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                          In mid-August it is still light out until 8. Chichen Itza would be of almost no safety concern. If you want westside Monte Alban is good, very inexpensive, and in a safe minimall with parking on Santa Monica Blvd. between Barrington and Bundy, north side of the street.

                                          Don't understand why you are choosing places similar to what you can get in NYC. Would consider A-Frame, Animal or Son of a Gun, Gjelina.

                                      3. Is the area around LS safe, (remember its for dinner)

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: lhenry

                                          Not particularly, but unless you plan on walking around, there's nothing to worry about...use the guarded parking lot in the back and the rear entrance.

                                          1. re: lhenry

                                            When you drive there try to pass by Mariachi Plaza

                                          2. I'm not too thrilled with the locations, are there any great Mexican or Spanish food restaurants in the west side (Beverly hills/ West Hollywood)) within the same price range, not too much more?

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: lhenry

                                              Actually I just looked at our itinerary and we will be in Santa Monica during that part of the day and planned on driving to LS. I've read some other boards and wanted to suggest FIG at the Fairmont Miramar from 5-6? Also any other suggestions for the west side

                                              1. re: lhenry

                                                If you want Mexican Monte Alban (Oaxacan) or Frida are both quite good. I think there is still a La Serenada branch on Pico but it has none of the charm of the original.

                                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                  Frida is very good and has a nice happy hour.

                                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                    I think I'll switch LS with Frida for Happy Hour, but want to make sure it is good (ranked 93 of 192 in Beverly Hills)

                                                  2. re: lhenry

                                                    Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica (and a new, smaller location on the eastern edge of Santa Monica - in WLA proper) is most definitely chow worthy: http://www.tacosporfavor.net/

                                                2. Does anybody else reccomend barney greengrass for lunch near rodeo dr?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: lhenry

                                                    The only reason I've ever gone to Barney Greengrass is to buy their belly lox, since they're the only purveyor of the stuff in all of Southern California.

                                                    But you're coming from New York-- the birthplace of the Jewish deli. Why would you want to visit an inferior version of a restaurant that you could experience back home? Sure, the scene is going to be pure LA, but the food....?

                                                    It all comes down to priorities. I know that when I visit New York, I spend my time eating only the things I can't get better versions of here. That means Russ & Daughters, Kossar's, coal oven pizza, Indian food, etc.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                  2. I'll post another updated itinerary in a new post within the next few days, and will take into consideration your suggestions.