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Weekend visit for a NY hound - recommendations for lunches / dinners this weekend?

Hello LA hounds!

I just got luck with an unscheduled long weekend in LA - but now I need to quickly make my meal list - appreciate your help!

Some parameters:
> Staying 1 night in Beverly Hills, remaining nights (Fri/Sat/Sun) in Santa Monica
> Will have a car, and wiling to drive a bit for a special place -- especially if its a pretty drive along the coast!
> No budget per se, but more interested in great food than expensive food
> Love ethnic food of most types

Thank you so much in advance!

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  1. BH adjacent:
    Red Medicine

    Tasting Kitchen
    Freddy Smalls (more like a bar w incredible food)
    Nobu, Malibu

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

      2nd on Ink. Amazing, creative food, and molecular gastronomy that complements the food--- not kitschy at all. When I was there my favorite was sugar snap peas with a sweet soy glaze, black sesame, and a coconut milk liquid nitrogen ice cream. It worked really well.

      Also really liked Animal for richer, meaty food. Same owners also have Son of a Gun. Friends like it, though I haven't checked it out myself.

      1. re: BekahR

        Love both SOA and Animal. Son of a Gun is their more seafood centered restaurant. Really delicious food and wine there, homemade shandies too.

      1. My 2 favorites in Beverly Hills are Kiyokawa and BierBeisl

        1. get to tacos leo one of those nights. get 5 al pastor tacos. you don't need anything else but the al pastor. go at night to ensure the trompo is out


          hell just go after a "real" dinner and buy a pair of al pastor tacos.

          you could always go to Langers and do the bi-coastal pastrami comparison.

          1. In BH a great lunch at E Baldi
            Dinner at Sotto
            If you like Mexican, Canitas at Frida (thanks Servog)
            another lunch low key option is the duck schwarma at Momed

            On the coast, Ivy at the Shore
            dinner at Sams at the Beach

            10 Replies
              1. re: latindancer

                I think it is impolite to question a recommendation. Obviously,Thor123 thinks it is worthy of recommendation. I also think it is a nice restaurant at the beach and offers good, solid food; not exciting, but a good place to dine. Moreover, our out of town guests always love the food at Ivy at the Shore.

                1. re: maudies5

                  I don't think it's impolite.

                  Why would it be impolite to ask why a specific rec is being suggested?

                  If someone asked for a good pizza rec and someone suggested Enzo, I'd certainly want to know the thinking behind it.

                  By the way, do you also think its impolite of me to question why you think it's impolite to question a specific recommendation? If so, I apologize but I'm going to ask anyway.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    <I'd certainly want to know the thinking behind it>

                    Yes, and that's exactly why I asked "why?".

                  2. re: maudies5

                    <it is impolite to question a recommendation.>

                    Do you? Well, the question was 'why?' and I certainly meant no harm.
                    I'm curious to know what makes this restaurant, from Thor123's perspective, noteworthy for an out-of-towner. Perhaps I'm missing something Thor thinks is great. Personally, I think Robertson is better but that's an entirely different subject.
                    I have no objections to the restaurant, I've been a few times, but when I'm looking for a restaurant to take guests, in that area, it's just not a place I think of.

                    1. re: maudies5

                      We don't mind when people ask questions about why someone has recommended a particular restaurant. Different restaurants appeal to different people, so the more information, the better!

                    2. re: latindancer

                      How dare you ask why! That said, I think its a really nice place to sit, have a Ivy Gimlet. Really like their chopped salad. Also like the pizza and chicken. Truth be told, I have been to the local on Robertson many more times and like that one a lot. Don't f-ckin ask why (he said in a nod to Kevin)!

                      1. re: Thor123

                        <nice place to sit, have a Ivy Gimlet>

                        It's a nice property and the view is beautiful. I must admit, I haven't been in a few years. The food is consistent & I have liked their crabcakes and used to enjoy the tandoori chicken. However, there's nothing else on the menu, other than the bread which I like, that makes me want to come back for more. I do like their cappuccino in those pretty cups and saucers and their raspberry pie was nice. I remember going for lunch with a friend and ordering the 'special' chicken enchiladas for some ridiculous price. They weren't that special, actually quite mediocre, and I'm pretty sure it was the last time I dined there.
                        Thanks for the response, though, I appreciate it.

                      2. re: Thor123

                        respectfully disagree with the recommendation of Ivy at the Shore.
                        pleasant enough restaurant, but at those prices i would hope for better/more in terms of the food they offer. i know others on this board like their chopped salad. to me,it is completely ordinary and unpleasantly oily.

                      3. For something low key, run over to La Cabana in Venice for some Mexican eats and drinks.
                        Higher up the food chain, there are lots of good things to eat in Culver City. Maybe, Father's Office.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: mc michael

                          if you are going to recommend Father's Office in Culver City, i'd also throw Lukshon into the ring.
                          Sang Yoon is behind both restaurants and they are almost next door to each other.

                          i adore Lukshon's food.
                          (asian fusion)

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            <<i adore Lukshon's food>>

                            Me too. However, I was just in NYC and had my first tastes of David Chang's food -- Momofuko Ssam and Momofuko Noodle Bar. I was blown away by both. And they left me thinking, "Why can't Lukshon reach that level of "beyond-beliefedness?" And the the noodles are sooo mushy. Since saregama appears NYC based she, or he, may find Lukshon far inferior in the modern asian category.

                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                              Exactly this with regards to Momofuku Ssam. Probably why I wasn't all too impressed by Lukshon.

                              I thought the ramen at Noodle Bar was horrible. These small plates chefs keep trying to do ramen (Fatty Duck, Noodle Bar, Playground) but they fall short of the dedicated ramen houses. Just goes to show how hard making a good broth actually is.

                              However, Red Medicine can hang with and beat some of NYC's finest.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                That is so interesting, Porthos -- at Noodle Bar I took a look at everyone around me eating "standard" ramen and I intentionally skipped it, instinctively feeling it would not do the trick (for me). I had Smokey chicken wings - fantastic - and I had an incredible Prawn Ramen with curry, papaya broth - it was heavenly.

                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                  interesting because i had the exact opposite feeling at any of the momofuku. thought anything that i had at spice table or a frame was better than momofuku. different palates for different people i guess.

                                  the only thing i've had at lukshon were the chicken pops but i thought they were better than anything i had at either momofuku. noodle or saam.

                              2. re: Ciao Bob

                                Lukshon is poorly executed, and would not impress even if one had never stepped foot in any of Chang's restaurants.

                                When it first opened, you thought, "hey, this sort of has potential!"

                                Now? It's more like, "Yoon should just stick to being the hamburger-nazi."

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  having been to one of changs restaurants, i enjoyed the food at lukshon.

                                2. re: Ciao Bob

                                  haven't been really "dining" in new york for over a decade, thanks for the 411 in case i can wrangle a trip there.

                            2. Oh dear - thank you so much, so many good choices!

                              Here is where my thinking is so far:

                              Red Medicine looks awesome -- think I need to make a visit (even though I am now sitting in Santa Monica...)

                              ink -- they somehow conjured up a 7:30 reservation... I have been to Volt in Fredricksburg with the same friend I'm here with... this may mean we have to go in for the Voltaggio brother duo... glad for the comments that it is worthwhile!

                              Other dilemmas / questions:

                              > I would like a taco stop for lunch... any thoughts on good options along the coast (I am guessing we will do a drive at least one of these days) or in SM itself?

                              > The menu at Animal (and SOAG for that matter) looks delicious... would anyone forego one of RM or Ink for it?

                              > Freddy Smalls... I am very intrigued... same question... trying to figure out how to fit it in

                              > I drove down Abbott Kinney on the way into SM and loved it -- any suggestions/recommendations there? We could swing by there for a wander and lunch / brunch perhaps (read about Gjelina, for example)

                              > Similar question if we drive up towards Malibu or on to Santa Barbara, or then down towards Long Beach / Huntington Beach / Dana Point

                              Also - thank you for the comparison on the Asian fusion to the Momofukus - it saved me another dilemma! (btw - for any LA hounds visiting NY, highly recommend the large format dinners at the Momofukus - my favourite is the duck)

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: saregama

                                I'd put Red Medicine above Ink, Animal, and SOAG.

                                Red Medicine also has some large format dishes if you have enough people. Otherwise it's more fun to try many different dishes. Think of Red Medicine like a hypothetical cross between the Momofuku and Eleven Madison Park.

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Not EMP, more like the love child of Momofuku and Marea.

                                  And I agree, Red Medicine over Ink, Animal and Son of a Gun.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Haven't tried Marea yet so I can't comment but, not much Italian influence at Red Medicine. Bet Chef Kahn could make a killer pasta though...

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      Marea does seafood.

                                      But I'm not really trying to pick up on the type of food, but more the style.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Ah, got it.

                                        I was referring to the presentation and technique at EMP. Look at EMP yelp photos 11, 12, 24, 38 just to name a few. Presentation and cuisine is very similar to some of the dishes at Red Medicine at 1/2 to 1/3 the price.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Every time I've been to EMP (3x), I always feel it's a bit like watching Lady Gaga trying to perform before the Pope.

                                          The cooking can be so much more exciting, but it feels restrained by the circumstances and surroundings.

                                          Don't get me wrong, I think EMP is fantastic, but restrained (or maybe constrained) in some artificial way.

                                          I don't get that sense at Red Medicine. No way.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            I think that's the genius and freedom Chef Kahn has with his more casual setting. Some of his dishes could easily be in a 10 course $195 fancy tasting and I would gladly pay if it were. I'm even happier to pay 1/2 to 1/3 less.

                                            He also has the freedom to do something as simple, complex and delicious as those brussel sprouts or that most missed porridge.

                                      2. re: Porthos

                                        You MUST get to Marea, and get:
                                        --Crostini w Uni/Lardo
                                        --Spaghetti with Uni/Cran
                                        --Fussilli with Bone Marrow and Pulpo

                                  2. re: saregama

                                    In Santa Monica-Venice-West LA there are a few good taco lunch options.
                                    My favs are:
                                    Tacomiendo on Gateway (everything)
                                    Tacos Puntas Cabres on Santa Monica (seafood and vegetable only).

                                    1. re: saregama

                                      My favorite place on AK is Tasting Kitchen, incredible food and cocktails. Afraid they are dinner only, though they have a brunch on weekends, I believe. Gjelina does vegetables dishes, probably some of the best in the city, very well. They are open all day, but serve a very abbreviated menu between lunch & dinner.

                                      I don't think Animal & SOA are better than ink, just totally different styles of food and much less fussy, but not less delicious.

                                      Freddy Smalls is also incredible food & craft cocktails. Again only open for dinner, but I do understand they have a happy hour. It gets quite crowded later in the night, and they don't take reservations unless its more than 8? It's quite small, mainly a bar with about six high four tops and four or five booths.

                                      Malibu does not have a ton of great places, the only place I love is Nobu, and he just opened up a gorgeous place right on the beach. Don't know if they serve all day. Santa Barbara has my favorite taco stand, La Super-rica. I think they are closed either Mondays or Wednesdays, I remember it being an odd day during the week.

                                      Enjoy your stay, we are having great weather right now, much warmer & sunnier inland than the coast, at the moment.

                                    2. Thank you for the many recommendations - here is a brief report of what we made it to.

                                      Lunches: Tacos in various places, Huckleberry, Gjelina
                                      Dinners: Red Medicine, Ink.

                                      Huckleberry: Our first meal of all, and delicious! Brisket hash with eggs was superb. Maple/bacon scone was yummy, if a bit crumbly.

                                      Red Medicine: Delicious, inventive, unexpected! We shared a number of things that ended up being an ad hoc tasting menu.
                                      > Favourites: Snap peas with tofu (this was our first course, and tipped us off that the meal was nothing that we could predict!), Brussel sprouts (yum! just as I was swearing off them because they are everywhere now... redemption!), Dungeness crab (the passionfruit beurre blanc was lovely and not too passionfruity!), Shaved ice dessert (whoa!)
                                      > Also: Lamb's shoulder (good but not as good as some of the other things), Toasted grains and cereals (nice, but they forgot it, and when it came at the end, it had too much to live up to)

                                      Ink.: Lovely meal Maybe we had high expectations after RM, and there were similarities in the creativity so we were a bit wary, but it was extremely delicious as well.
                                      > Favourites: Duck rillette (yummy! I didn't "get" the charcoal waffle because it taste charcoaly or smoky or anything other than a bit sweet, so either I missed the joke or it was too cutesy... but that duck... ), Octopus with shells (fabulous, juicy, the shells were a lovely counterpoint), Greek yogurt dessert (very light, delicious, the blood orange sorbet was amazing, and how the heck did they get the little bits of citrus separated and frozen?!)
                                      > Also: Beef cheeks (the beef was delicious, the turnips were not, and the beef "threads" should be eaten immediately because if they touch the sauce they become chewy and inedible), Popcorn kale (mind you the brussel sprouts from RM were hard to live up to, but my biggest issue with the kale was that the strips of pig ear were (a) not uniformly crisp (b) extraneous. the dipping sauce was refreshing and a nice counterpoint though), Corn (which was lovely, but the favourites were better...)

                                      Gjelina: wish we actually ate our meal here. We had about 45 minutes to eat before the airport, but with a hefty dose of confusion from the server, all we ate was our appetizer because the other food hadn't been fired.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: saregama

                                        Thanks for the report back!

                                        Just continues to prove how RM can please and impress visitors from all over. I wish they still had the porridge. The toasted grains is a clear step down.

                                        I had the exact same impression regarding brussel sprouts in general and the version at Ink. Red Medicine redeems brussel sprouts without even having to resort to trendy pork parts. Also agree the pig ears are totally extraneous at ink.