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Casual Recs An Easy Drive From LAX?

My partner and I will be flying out of LAX on a Thursday night. Our flight leaves at 10:35pm, and we're driving in from San Luis Obispo. We plan on getting into town between 4-5pm to make sure we have time to have a good dinner before heading to the airport, and need some recs for places within a reasonable drive.

We aren't looking for anything upscale, but not completely "down scale" either (burger joints, sandwich shops, etc), just somewhere we wouldn't feel uncomfortable dressed in capris/jeans. Open to pretty much any cuisine type, though Mexican or Italian wouldn't be our first picks (too easy to get around here). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Some likely suspects. Plan Check or Milo & Olive or MB Post. You need to check the opening time for MB Post (I think around 5 PM).




    4 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      +1 for Servog's suggestions....

      and a big Yes Yes Yes to MB Post. Shared farm to table small plates. Veggies, meats and seafood from one of LA's best chefs. Really liked their BBQ MOROCCAN LAMB BELLY harissa caramelized onions, orange curd, japanese eggplant and their BACON CHEDDAR BUTTERMILK BISCUITS with maple butter is a must. Make reservations or communial tables are available for walk ins. Dinner service begins at 5pm. 3 miles from LAX. Valet parking in front of the resturant. One block from Manhattan Beach pier and the beach.

      1. re: Servorg

        Plan Check is phenomenal. Went again for lunch today. Tried the pastrami nosh and that right there has got to be the best pastrami sandwich out there, and I've eaten it all my life. So tender, it melted in my mouth. And their homemade crullers are not to be missed. Excellent cocktails too.

        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

          Great artisan cocktails at MB post too....really nice vegetable dishes, salads, and seafood...I love the green beans and mussels and desserts....really I have not had a bad dish!

      2. Thanks for the recs :)

        See, from what I've been looking at, MB Post is MY choice, but my partner (who'll be driving) seems to think that the 5.8 miles Google says it is from the airport is too far "in LA traffic", and thinks we should go with somewhere that's RIGHT BY the airport (-_-) Maybe if she sees the menu, she'll be better convinced.... Otherwise, it's looking like Truxton's might be where we end up.

        16 Replies
        1. re: DarkRose

          Are you parking in long term (Lot C/D or B?) parking? Really it's not going to be too far to drive from MB Post if you go down Vista Del Mar to Imperial Hwy and then cut through the Sepulveda tunnel. Maybe a 20 minute drive?

          1. re: Servorg

            15 minutes at the most (and most likely not even that, google maps says 11 minutes) and at that hour traffic runs the opposite direction.

            1. re: Servorg

              No, we're parking with LAX Park Place, which, looking at their reviews, I'm now a bit worried about. A lot of people are saying they can be very slow getting you to the airport....

              1. re: DarkRose

                MB Post is on my short list to try next time I'm in the area----if your partner is worried about timing, you could leave SLO 15 minutes earlier ;) (as far as parking---check out park n fly. they are right by the southwest terminal. i've used them on my last 2 trips and they've been great!)

                1. re: DarkRose

                  For LAX I always park at Park N' Fly which is actuallly located on the LAX property (adjacent to Terminal 1 ). I prepay on the internet and get a pretty nice discount. There is a shuttle van but I don't even bother taking it and simply walk to the terminal. It is next door to Terminal 1 -- Southwest and US Air and a 5 minute walk to United at Terminal 7. They have valet and covered parking at a higher cost if you prefer.

                  1. re: jgilbert

                    Thanks for the tip, jgilbert! I'll take a look at them and see how their rates look!

              2. re: DarkRose

                for RIGHT by the airport, i'd go with AYARA THAI CUISINE.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  You can't get any closer to LAX than The Jetson's style dining at Encounter.

                2. re: DarkRose

                  Take a look at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica--similar to MB Post. Also Tasting Kitchen on Abbott Kinney in Venice and Waterloo & City in Culver City might fit your needs nicely. Truxton's is ok but nothing to write home about.

                  1. re: New Trial

                    Tar & Roses is solid! But I would call ahead to make sure you can get a table, it gets busy.

                    1. re: New Trial

                      The issue for any of those (all good suggestions otherwise) may be the timing. Tar & Roses opens at 5:30 and the other two (Tasting Kitchen and Waterloo and City) don't open until 6 PM for full dinner service (and, given the fact that the OP wanted something that would serve between 4 and 5 PM, the later opening hours may not suit them).

                      1. re: Servorg

                        4-5 is when they planned on arriving in LA; however, their flight is not until 10:35 pm.

                        1. re: New Trial

                          I had the distinct impression that they wanted to be eating by 5 PM. Maybe I misunderstood. But the fact that they were worried about getting to the airport from MB Post on time, even though they open at 5 PM for dinner makes me think that they do want to begin eating by 5 at the latest.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            that was my impresson too, servorg.
                            btw, even though MB post "opens" at 5, when i was there last, they didn't actually start seating people until 5:30.

                          2. re: New Trial

                            Santa Monica is a good 20 minutes from LAX even at 2 in the morning when there's no traffic; you'd have to drive through Venice, Marina del Rey and Westchester to get to the Airport.

                    2. You will be coming from the north heading south to LAX. That opens up anywhere in Santa Monica, Venice, or W.L.A. You can probably get one of the earliest dinner seatings at Gjelina, have a delicious and leisurely dinner, and then take Lincoln to LAX -- probably no more than about 15 minutes.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: nosh

                        Do you find parking an issue there during dinner hours? I do at lunchtime.

                        1. re: nosh

                          gjelina, iirc, doesn't start serving their full dinner menu until 5:30, up until then they serve an abbreviated charcuterie and pizza menu.
                          the lincoln blvd drive can, indeed, take 15 minutes, but it can also take much longer.

                        2. Many good recommendations. One - a little more downscale - but kind of a "find", a whole in the wall with surprising interesting and tasty food -Coni' Seafood formerly known as Marisco Chentes.


                          I'm not crazy about the interior - which I find to be 80's say-it-in-cement moderne. In other words - gray and cold. But that's party of what makes it a find. It ain't fancy. But not a dump either.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: foodiemahoodie

                            and a straight shot west on imperial highway to get to the airport.
                            and you can bring your own alcohol.

                          2. Another decent option in the samo/west la area is next door by Josie. Solid food, good bar. Parking lot in back, and I believe they serve a happy hour menu at five. Also close by to the 10 & 405, though personally I'd take Lincoln thru Venice & MDR to get to LAX at that time of day.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                              the last time i drove from santa monica to playa del rey at 6:45 on a weekday night, it took about 50 minutes.
                              lincoln was like a parking lot.
                              the ocean route, just a little better.

                              my neighbor, who had dined with me but arrived in her own car, took even longer to make the drive.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                The ocean route is my standard. Did not want to try to tie a non local directions, tho.

                            2. There are some great restaurants in Brentwood which is right off the 405. The Tavern gets good reviews and there are others.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Baron

                                from a traffic point of view, on a weekday night, brentwood is not "near" LAX.
                                getting on the 405 going southbound at about 7 pm on a weeknight, is to say the least, an iffy proposition.
                                re: The Tavern
                                dinner there starts at 5:30pm

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  I'm a westsideguy and sometimes the 405 is a big mess and sometimes it is not. When there is an issues, I go to google maps and then hit the "traffic" button and plan my route accordingly. Truxtons is nothing special and VERY noisy. Cafe del Rey might work. They can shoot up Lincoln and park in 30 min at most. 15 with no traffic. Its casual and very good and a nice way to start a vacation.

                                  1. re: Baron

                                    imho, i'd be far happier eating at cafe del rey than at truxtons.
                                    (keep in mind that they serve a nice bar menu in the lounge)
                                    add to that that the parking guys will watch the car (which i presume will contain luggage) in their lot which is right i front of the restaurant.
                                    my personal favorite on the bar menu is their truffle pizza. (know going in, that this is a white, i.e. no tomato sauce, pizza).

                              2. I love SLO - nice folks there! Great eats for a big town/tiny city. I'm guessing since you folks are driving all the way down to LAX that you are flying international, which means ideally you need to be checking in around 7:30PM. If you're heading to Asia, the flights are usually full so expect long lines at check-in. Your window of time for eating dinner might be tight since the majority of top recs have seperate dinner start times which usually begin in earnest around 5:30-6PM

                                17 Replies
                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  The reason I rec'd Milo and Olive and Plan Check was because they both serve from lunch right through dinner close.

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    I'm posting from my darn phone - hating it. Touchy touch screen has its own mind - I accidentally hit, "Post my reply." See my edit. On further thought, I'd also rec Milo & Olive as well, but it would rank 4th due to limited seating/popularity quotient and traffic between M&O and LAX at that time.

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      If they arrived at M&O (or Plan Check) at 4 or 4:30 PM on a Thursday seating wouldn't be an issue and they would be at LAX in plenty of time no matter where they are bound for.

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Of the two, I would do Plan Check, it seems easier to get a seat there. M&O is terribly small, & no outdoor seating, I believe. And parking on Wilshire & Harvard at 5 pm is not going to be easy.

                                      2. re: bulavinaka

                                        Sorry Servorg - my edit didn't save off my "smart" phone this AM. I'll try to repeat my earlier attempt.

                                        Dark Rose, the issue of traffic during the PM rush hour during the work week is predictably bad - it's matter of how bad. I'd conservatively estimate driving from much of Santa Monica or West LA to LAX between 6-7PM on a weekday would take about 45-60 minutes. The recs for Santa Monica and West LA are great, but given your relatively small window of time combined with the actual dinner service start time of some of these recs, you'd be pushing it as far as your suggested check-in time. Granted, if all your ducks are already lined up as for as reservations, proper baggage and seat assignments, you probably have at least an additional hour grace period.

                                        Of the recs that I've seen, Plan Check might work since they have a continuous service between lunch and dinner hours. It's also relatively close to the 405 - about three-five minutes from the freeway (a few blocks south of Santa Monica Blvd, on Sawtelle Blvd). While SLO has its share of bars and places with good beer and wine, Plan Check does as well and has a great mixed drink list too. Furthermore, some of their menu items are unique as well as very enjoyable. Their house-made pickles, pastrami nosh, smoked Jidori fried chicken, fresh crullers and house-made ice cream bars are to be noted. The casualness is probably at the level you're looking for, and you can sit outside or in. 4-4:30PM would put you ahead of the beginning of the dinner rush as well. My one caviat is again about the traffic. If you decide to eat here, arrive as early as possible and leave time would be by 6PM to allow for the unpredictables.

                                        Recs closer to LAX would be MB Post and Coni' Seafood - they're both about 15-20 minutes from LAX. I haven't been to MB Post but given the positive response from very reputable LA Hounds, it's worthy of eating there. Reviewing the menu will most likely lead you to here. The only issue is the actual start of the dinner service, which will again eat into your window of time. But you are relatively to LAX from Manhattan Beach.

                                        Coni' Seafood offers some of the best seafood dishes in LA. It's a very casual family-run place that is very well-received on this board. I know you're deferring on Mexican cuisine, but Coni' is nothing like I've personally come across in Central or Northern California in terms of style or quality - very unique. The family takes serious pride in sourcing and preparation. If you enjoy seafood - and it will be unlike any around the Central Coast - consider Coni'.

                                        Have fun, stay healthy and take lots of pictures...

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          Thanks for all the great info, bulavinaka! I really appreciate the detail and honest input about traffic. I've been trying very hard to convince her that we'll be ok to eat outside of the airport (or not in its immediate vicinity), but she's not sold yet and is now making noise that maybe we should just find something at the airport *sigh*. Keeping my fingers crossed - I have a month to convince her....

                                          1. re: DarkRose

                                            Just to add a dash of reality to the drive component of my suggestion of Plan Check to this discussion I actually did a complete "dry run" of the route from Plan Check to LAX last night.

                                            I departed from in Front of PC at 6:17 PM. I went south down Sawtelle to Venice Blvd. (2.7 miles) and turned right (west bound) on Venice Blvd to Inglewood Ave. (0.6 miles) and turned left (south) on Inglewood Ave. to Centinela Blvd. (2.4 miles) and turned left on Centinela (the only direction you can go at that intersection) on Centinela going east bound to Sepulveda Blvd. (0.7 miles) and then turned right on Sepulveda (south bound) to World Way (the entrance to LAX) which was another 3.0 miles.

                                            This entire trip, from portal to portal, took me 41 minutes (plus or minus 20 seconds).

                                            Now, it's true Google mapping says that drive should take about 30 minutes. However, I have an excuse for my slow trip. I RODE my bicycle instead of taking the car for this little exercise (ha ha) in reality.

                                            If I (a 64 and 1/2 year old man) can ride his bicycle (and I purposely rode at a relaxed pace, never getting out of the saddle, even riding up the Sepulveda hill from Centinela) can go from Plan Check to LAX in 41 minutes by bicycle then I assure you that you and your friend can make it going that route by car in MUCH less time.

                                            So, taking one for the team, I found out a couple of things with my little idiotic experiment. One, I'm certain I maxed out my CO saturation level by riding that route at rush hour. And secondly, I recall vividly why I don't like climbing up Sepulveda at that time of the day on a bicycle.

                                            I really didn't want to edge out of the painted bike lane that snakes up the hill there (which I would ordinarily do at off peak traffic hours) because of all the traffic whizzing by on my left. Which then reinforced my recollection of the bumps that the encroaching tree roots have made under the pavement of said bike lane. Damn, that is one bumpy damn climb!

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              it would seem to me, that the trip at that hour could actually take LESS time riding a bike than being stuck in a car waiting for the car in front of you to move. (certainly, my roommate consistently made better time on her bicycle going south on lincoln from santa monica to playa del rey at rush hour than she did driving her car).

                                              also, the route you described is one that locals would feel comfortable in navigating, out-of-towners maybe not so much. . . .

                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                Cars were leaving me in the dust as I pedaled along. If they can't beat my time by 10 minutes I'll eat my Bell helmet, without salt. And that route consists of one right turn, one left turn, a veer to the left when the road you're on runs out and one right turn. Not too difficult a route by my way of thinking.

                                              2. re: Servorg

                                                Wow, not much else going on, huh? ;-D)))

                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                  Got my workout in and proved a point, all at the same time. That's what I call a good day...

                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      Try it from Hunan Seafood next time...I'd like to know.

                                          2. re: Servorg

                                            driving from milo and olive to LAX on a weekday at that time could be a nightmare.
                                            it happened to me the last time i made practically the exact same trip at the exact same time in order to return a rental car.

                                            although Milo and Olive makes my very favorite anchovy pizza in LA, i would NOT consider this option for a preflight meal on a weekday at that time.

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              Bundy/Centinela to Jefferson (veer right on Centinela) to Sepulveda to LAX. No worries. And if the OP chooses Plan Check and elects to sit outside on the patio they can watch their own car parked at the curb 5 feet away the entire time (keeping their luggage completely safe).

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                the bundy/centinela route is the one i took. i had to return my car to the enterprise place on lincoln near washington.
                                                many more people seem to know about this route now than when i first moved here in the late 70's.
                                                once CalTrans started working on the 405, all my "secret" north/south alternate routes got more crowded.

                                                (i have not eaten at plan check yet, but the location is FAR superior in terms of the logistics)

                                          3. re: bulavinaka

                                            SLO is a great area, and SO much better than Bakersfield, where we moved here from (after relocating to Cali from back east - Manchester, New Hampshire for her, Cleveland for me). We love the variety of food options here, not to mention the amazing vineyards - we're slowly making our way through as many of them as possible.

                                            And how I wish we were flying international! No, this time around we're just Orlando-bound, to pay a visit to the Mouse House. It's her favorite vacation destination, and I'm looking forward to reliving some childhood memories.

                                          4. The Counter in Marina del Rey, right off Lincoln and very close to LAX. Upscale customizable burgers, fun vibe and good beers/wines.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Wayno

                                              The Counter
                                              Coni Seafood
                                              Ayara Thai
                                              Cafe del Rey's lounge

                                              would all be easy in terms of getting you to the airport on time AND having good food.

                                            2. Thanks so much to everyone who offered guidance - I knew I could count on my fellow hounds! So many of the places rec'ed sound fantastic, so I'm trying to make a case to my other half about the viable options. I'll report back with what we end up doing!

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: DarkRose

                                                Most of this thread, IMHO, is a preposterous parade of paranioa.
                                                With a 10:35 departure and plans to be in town at 4-5 PM, l do not see any place on this list you cannot do...with plenty of time to spare.
                                                Me? I would be the first on line at animal to sit at the bar - there may even be unreserved tables at that hour.

                                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                  How do you expect to get anywhere with that sensible, balanced (fact based) approach? ;-D>

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    I have dinner in San Gabriel, almost monthly, with many internationals on their way back to China and Taiwan that evening. We start at 6, we eat, we drink, we enjoy, and then they head for the Bradley. No one's ever missed a flight - or a meal!

                                                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                      710 to the 105 for a late PM/early AM flight to Asia? Barring any major tie-ups, it's 65+ all the way!

                                                  2. re: Ciao Bob

                                                    You're probably right, ciao Bob. But all it takes is one accident, or one nut job in the security lines to mess it all up & cause chaos & delay. Perhaps, the OP's partner is a nervous type who doesn't like all the stress that comes with traffic & delays while trying to get to the airport. I had a boss once I used to travel with frequently. He had no problem running to his gate while it started boarding. I prefer to travel with lots of time to get to my gate & chill, before flying, this was all before 9/11 & TSA, mind you, when you really only needed to be there an hour ahead.

                                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                      Yup. To add another facet of reality, I was stuck on the 405 from Braddock to the 10 for over 45 minutes - at 3PM. The culprit? Dead car in the #3 lane just past the 10 - my doctor told me when I arrived 5 minutes late to an appt that I should have been 20-30 minutes early to. Our contractor took 3 hours from Chatsworth to the Westside last Thursday. The unpredictable nature of how bad traffic can get is why I'd caution the OP to keep this in mind and to plan accordingly.

                                                      Knowing that the flight is domestic does give the OP at least another 60-90 minutes. I'd choose MB Post.

                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                        Why I NEVER, EVER take the freeway from the west side to LAX...

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          Neither do I but most who are not from LA do.

                                                2. I didn't read all 62 replies, lol, but The Tripel in Playa Del Rey is the best food directly adjacent to LAX, in my opinion. They open at 5 and its quickly reached from the 405 or any other route.

                                                  If you're arriving earlier, go to Gjelina, which is delicious and open all afternoon. Parking is annoying, but a little less so at 4pm.

                                                  And as someone who loves food, hates driving, flies out of LAX a lot, and lives in Manhattan Beach part-time, my advice would be to spare yourselves the extra 20+ minutes it will take you to drive INTO MB at 4/5pm . It can take me 20 minutes just to get to the Trader Joe's 1.2 miles from my house on a weekday at 5pm. But if you choose MB Post anyway, allow yourselves enough time to make a nice late afternoon/early evening out of it by including a leisurely stroll along the Strand, where you'll walk off the presumably excellent meal you've just eaten.

                                                  Have a nice trip.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Omniverous

                                                    Wasn't sure when they opened but I agree with the Tripel in pdr. Über casual gastropub. Street parking.

                                                    1. re: Omniverous

                                                      Tripel is great but seating is very limited. Granted, if they arrive at the open it'd work.

                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                        The Tripel is on my regular rotation.
                                                        in addition to the problem of limited seating, there is the also the problem of scarcity of legal parking.
                                                        they don't have their own parking lot.
                                                        street parking is EXTREMELY limited.
                                                        who wants to park their car illegally in a lot from which it can be towed (especially when the car is full of luggage)?

                                                        for me it's less of an issue because i can walk there from my house.

                                                    2. Here's what I would do....just stop at La Super Rica in Santa Barbara on the way down. Problem solved.

                                                      622 North Milpas Street
                                                      Santa Barbara, CA 93103