HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Dinner on the way back from Santa Barbara

I will be driving back to LAX on a Thursday night and I'm looking for a dinner recommendation. I have made a reservation at Lucques, because I have always wanted to try it. Now, I'm thinking that I may not want to deal with downtown LA and maybe I should think of somewhere near 101.
I am having dinner @ Gjelina on Tuesday night, for a point of reference.
Thanks in advance

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. MB Post. 3 miles from LAX in Manhattan Beach. Great seasonal small plates from one of LA's top chefs. Great food.

    5 Replies
    1. re: wienermobile

      Ok, you've just made my life easier. The menu looks great, thank you so much.

      1. re: lukshen

        Please note that while MB Post has gotten great reviews on this board and elsewhere, it is actually south of LAX, so you will be driving a bit further and doubling back.

        I'm assuming there is more than one of you, so my rec is Chinois on Main, on Santa Monica. Very convenient if you take the PCH as advised below, and still easily accessible if you go 101 to 405 and then take the 10 west and get off on 4th. Then an easy trip to LAX via Lincoln. Chinois is Puck's flagship fusion restaurant, still going strong, with bold flavors and all dishes served to share. Excellent service. Valet parking. Would be a great match with Gjelina.

        1. re: nosh

          Nosh, I'm really liking your suggestion, a lot.
          There will be three of us. We're in CA for the fancy food show in SF. Our first "meeting" is a bus a trip to Point Reyes Creamery on Friday. On Saturday the real work begins.
          Thank you

          1. re: lukshen

            If you go to Chinois as a party of three -- and I hope you do -- I have an ordering strategy: Most of the dishes they consider smaller plates are almost as big as the larger plates (with the exception of the raw or slightly seared fish) and are supplemented with baby lettuces or herbs. Definitely get the stir-fried lamb in the radicchio cups -- a classic. You can share one or two of the larger dishes between the three of you -- I recommend the grilled filet in szechwan sauce and/or the whole deepfried catfish with ponzu. More of the smaller plates and just one or two of the larger will give you more variety and keep the check in control. If conversation among the three of you is not a top priority (and after several days together it might not be) the rear counter looking into the open kitchen can be great entertainment and even some education for foodlovers.

            At Gjelina, definitely order their butterscotch pot de creme for dessert -- in my experience, it surpasses Mozza's butterscotch budino, which I'm sure it is modeled on. My favorite dishes there are the pork belly with polenta, greens, and vinegar, the gnocchi (if simple, as in a browned butter, and not with a complicated ragu or sauce), the lamb sausage pizza (very thin and blistered, not at all heavy to share)...oh boy, there are more.

            Please report back.

            1. re: nosh

              if you go end up back at gjelina, imho, their vegetable dishes are outstanding.
              theirs is the rare kitchen that can prepare great vegetable dishes WITHOUT drowning them in oil/butter/grease/salt.
              imho, the exceptional vegetables at gjelina are better than the vegetables at MB Post, but the fish dishes served at MB Post are far superior to those served at gjelina.

    2. I don't know how you're planning on getting around, but getting to Lucques wouldn't require you to go through downtown. If you're going from Santa Barbara to LAX, you'll drive through a lot of stuff.

      1 Reply
      1. re: andytseng

        I'm not sure, I haven't looked on google maps yet. I was assuming that if I stayed along the coast, it would be easier...

      2. in Ventura, on E Main Street, is the Sidecar Cafe. It is a charming restaurant made to look like a railroad car from the street view. The owner chef uses local ingredients as much as possible. I think you will enjoy it.


          1. Keep your reservation at lucques. No need to go downtown.

            1. Lucques isn't on the way back to LAX, it's a big detour (although not downtown).

              If you take Highway 1 (cut over Rose from the 101, in Camarillo), which you should to avoid traffic on the 101 and 405, then you'll have a few options in Malibu and also Santa Monica. Nobu is what I would recommend.

              The suggestion for MB Post is also a good idea.

              1. M B Post is fantastic but make a reservation in advance.
                Truxtons is decent (nothing special though) and very close to LAX. Taverna Tony in Malibu is a fun Greek restaurant that is on the way if you take PCH.

                1 Reply
                1. re: flowergirl

                  i think MB Post is the best of your recommendations because the traffic from manhattan beach to LAX around dinnertime is the most predicable and the food at MB Post is great. be aware, just because they say they open at 5pm, doesn't mean they actually open at 5pm. if they are holding a staff meeting that afternoon, they will start serving whenever the meeting is over, not at their stated opening time.

                  Truxtons is truly commercial glop. wait times are unpredictable there. if you are in that area, Ayara Thai (which also can have unpredictable wait times) serves much better food.

                  Taverna Tony has OKish food, but the travel time to LAX at dinnertime on a Thursday, for all practical purposes, is not predictable enough to make it a viable suggestion.

                  I know i'm sounding like part of the SNL skit, "The Californians"

                2. what time do you need to be at LAX?

                  although traffic appears to be lighter during the holiday season, i would NOT want to be anywhere near the 405 around rush hour.
                  i would ESPECIALLY not want to be anywhere near the intersection of the 101 and the 405 around rush hour.