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very confused foodie need recommendations.

Coming to So Cal area for a week next month. Will be in LA for 2 nights with a 3rd night in manhattan beach area.

I have have a lot to cram in food wise and deff need some help. Im thinking doing brunch on sunday at saddle peak as opposed to tying up a dinner there. So far this is the list im trying to figure out. Open to others though.

-tar & roses
-red medicine
-son of a gun
-osteria mozza

possibly providence or nnaka but im a bit reluctant on those prices as my GF is not a big eater so I hate to do prix fix.

Any places not on here that are a MUST DO? would any of these be better to get some food at then hit another for drinks / snacks afterwards? Im not opposed to jumping to a few places through out each night. I would like to book soon as im coming up on the 1 month mark. Also if it helps we will be going to ritz in laguna right after and will probably do the "romantic" dinner there if that effects opinions at all. Thanks!

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  1. Since you are staying Manhattan Beach one night may I recomend MB Post, one of LA's best. The chef was voted best in LA for 2012. Great small plates including wonderful seafood, meats & veggies....and those amazing bacon cheddar biscuits.

    1. Remove Son of a Gun, Bazaar, and maybe Tar & Roses.

      Add Animal, Sotto, n/naka and maybe Providence.

      12 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        since the OP said that the GF is not a big eater, i would skip Animal and keep Son of a Gun. In fact i just prefer SoG over Animal, period, because while tasty, I find the food ultimately too heavy for me, and I don't consider myself a light eater by any means. I just can't do the super rich fatty fried porky bacony food for an entire meal. Although I tried to order light(er) at Animal (like the octopus, hamachi & some kind of salad interspersed w/ fatty items like pig tails & maple bacon whatever), i still could not sleep that night due to heaviness of the meal.

        OM & ink on OP's list are probably the top 2 in my book. That said, I would go to Alma over any of the above. and I actually dont think n/naka is a crazy amount of food so it would be a decent option even for a light eater.

        1. re: soniabegonia

          Thank you so much for all the help so far! I should have specified that i know i cant go to all these so im trying to limit it down to the best "la experience" in 2 days. Im a foodie the GF is not. She loves good food but is more easy to please than myself. I am a big eater she is not. Shes a little more on the health concious side than i am. The list i made was based on what people seemed to rave about. most on the list are in the price range im comfortable with. nnaka or providence are a stretch but if they are truely something very special i would consider them. we are both in our late 20's but are world traveled and fairly educated culinary wise. Deff think saving red medicine for drinks desert after is smart so i can use a different place for dinner. would bazaar be worth the experience for a drink and a few food items or skip it all together? We live in orlando so we anything is a step up from the big chains "roys, flemings, ocean prime, etc" our 3 favs here are Cask & Larder, the ravenous pig (the only 2 true foodie places) and bull & bear steakhouse. Looking for all around memorable experiences.

          1. re: walker106

            I would do Red Medicine for dinner and dessert. It's much better than Bazaar in all aspects. Pick a la carte and not the tasting menu. There's a great chance it will be the highlight meal of your trip.

            1. re: walker106

              of course you can do ALL of them in 2 days! Heck, where are you going to eat for lunch? That's at least 4 other places over 2 days.

              night 1: cocktails + apps @ Bazaar (portions are dinky small anyway)
              dinner @ ink
              dessert + cocktails @ Red Med

              night 2: cocktails + 1 lobster roll @ SoaG (portions are also ridiculously small)
              dinner at hatfields (get the gf "veg prix fixe")
              dessert + wine @ o mozza. maybe split a burrata dish.

              night 3 in MB:
              dinner @ MB Post, so you can drop Tar & Roses, because they're exactly the same except 17 miles apart

              day 4: gf leaves you for a guy who's got better shit to do than drive around LA doing progressive dinners.

              1. re: TonyC

                "1 sandwich @ SoaG (portions are also ridiculously small)"

                Unless they've "downsized" their chicken sandwich at some point (?) you and I have completely different definitions of the word "small" - especially when affixed with "ridiculously" in front of it...

                1. re: Servorg

                  Lobster roll is ridiculously small.

                  Chicken sandwich is a pretty decent size.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    I agree Servorg, the chix sandy is certainly the exception to the other tiny dishes at SOAG.

                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                      Just pulling back the corner of the "blanket" statement a bit to let the OP know you can't take everything you read at face value...

                      1. re: Servorg


                        now the statement stands? thanks for responding within the 2 hour edit window. the "sandwich" clearly referenced the lobster roll, the "ridiculously small" referenced the uni, the shrimp toast, the salads, and whatever else _I_'ve had there. the blanket statement wasn't intended to be deceptive; as others pointed out, you chose the exception.

                        Again, letting OP know SoaG serves small portions: http://www.yelp.com/biz/son-of-a-gun-... At least I tried to solve his conundrum. Perhaps someone else can provide a better solution to his culinary itinerary quandary?

                        Alternative, we can go about arguing how loud MB Post is on a Saturday night.

                        1. re: TonyC

                          From my standpoint I never have thought/would think of their lobster roll as a sandwich. It's too tiny to be considered anything other than a damn canape as far as I'm concerned. Some of their other items can be substantial and, as I noted, the chicken sando (which is really good) is definitely sized appropriately/fairly.

                          dB issues for me aren't restricted to the higher end places like Red Med or what have you. We were in the San Francisco Saloon last week and by the time we exited I had my normal, noise induced splitting headache. Really gonna start taking 3 Advil "before" I go in for dinner, just in case...

                          1. re: Servorg

                            dB as in decibels, not delta bravos...

                  2. re: TonyC

                    Thanks for the help!! I was in tears when i got to #4.... hilarious!

            2. So you're looking to squeeze all of this in in two nights?!

              Good news is you can do Son of a Gun at lunchtime.

              For the two evenings, I would do Osteria Mozza & Ink.

              Red Medecine you can do for drinks at the bar and/or dessert.

              1. I like ink. I actually prefer Il Grano to Osteria Mozza for Italian, but OM is definitely very good. Bazaar is as much an experience as good food. If food is your only consideration, I would probably skip in favor of another place.

                1. If n/naka and Providence are priced too high. then Urasawa and Melisse are out. (I rank Melisse as the best of it's kind in L.A., but prolly too pricey.

                  Be curious where you're from, what you like there and what you're looking for.

                  For Italian - Angelini Osteria should be considered. I prefer it to OM (which I do like a lot).

                  MB post in Manhattan Beach is pretty fun.

                  1. If you do brunch at Saddle Peak, take the extra 20 min. and take hwy 27 (Topanga) - grab a coffee at Lox Bagel at Mimosa, corner of Topanga and Fernwood - take Fernwood up to tuna and Saddle Peak ~~one of the prettiest drive in the U.S. Peak to Peak at 3500 feet overlooking the Pacific from the rolling ruggedness of SM Mountains is quite breathtaking. Then Saddle Peak Lodge will take care of the rest...Malibu Canyon to PCH and home will get you out quickly midday.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: CharlesKochel

                      I take all my out of town visitors on that ride, at least the Malibu canyon portion of it....most definitely impresses them all! Hate that ride up Fernwood, though, we have good friends that live up there, and every time we visit them we curse that ride! Not for the faint of heart!

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        Ha, I live up this road and agree the Fernwood or hell, our entire little Malibu Hippie Cousin, Topanga is not for everyone. But, From 27 up the mountain, then peak to peak it's the best little mini road trip around...if you do correctly, you can stop off for a wine tasting on the way down with live music outside at Rosenthal, then sneak over to Moonshadows for the sunset - call it a day in west la la land...

                      2. re: CharlesKochel

                        Great tip! I will certainly do that. How long should i plan for the trip to saddle peak using this rout coming from west hollywood? I am actually a stunt driver in florida for my full time job so adventurous roads is my forte!!! Sounds like a win win to me!

                        1. re: walker106

                          Being a stunt driver, you may notice a few of the passes, they have been used for some chase scenes, absolutely gorgeous. Sunday, allow 45 minutes to Topanga and 45 from Topanga across Peak to Peak to Saddle Peak Lodge. Well worth the trip ... if it's clear. If it's a FOGGY DAY, take the quickest either PCH (recommended) or 101...The Fog usually clears after brunch and you can take the scenic route back, but if it's clear the beginning kind of sets the tone and PCH back to W. Hollywood is a nice finishing touch.

                        2. Sounds like you've got the makings of a great trip. Well, my 2 cents:

                          I've been pretty disappointed by the Bazaar. Admittedly, expectations were high due to the association with Ferran Adria etc, but the dishes felt gimmicky, “more show than substance”, and the best tasting dishes were actually the more traditionally prepared ones. I agree with other folks that to satisfy your curiosity it might be worth it just to visit to try some drinks and some of the “classic” molecular “tapas” like the spherical olives along with the liquid nitro cocktails, etc. But for me, after the initial wow factor dissipates, the food doesn’t really deliver.

                          Providence, I wouldn’t recommend- it has gone down hill- it was actually pretty terrible when we were last there- it lacked creativity to the extreme- things like using crème fraiche in two consecutive raw fish dishes with only minor differences, decorating a couple of dishes the same way by just sprinkling the same micro flowers on top of each or just sprinkling crisped rice on top to finish a couple of other dishes. It felt repetitive, boring, and lazy- like they just couldn’t think of anything else to do, and this was off of their own tasting menu.

                          Osteria Mozza is good and we always have an enjoyable time there- sitting at the ‘burrata bar’ (well we call it burrata bar, but it’s actually called the mozzarella bar) for us is casual, lively and fun, and good for just “dropping in”. I would avoid the Pizzeria.

                          Have not been to Son of a Gun yet, but do love the crispy “pig ear” at Animal (a lot!). Am also looking to try Red Medicine when back in town.

                          In the Laguna area I have had one of my best meals at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis (neighboring the Ritz). The food was well-prepared. (We had decided to do a Chateau D’Yquem pairing with everything that night from foie gras to short ribs to Kurobata pig cheeks to apple tart, which was amusing and amazing). However, I believe the head chef has since changed so it probably isn't the same. We also stopped by the Montage and took scotches out on the rocks overlooking the water (however, we weren’t impressed at all by the mcmansion feel of the hotel, but loved what we found outback along the water)- drinks atop the rocks with the waves crashing down below- this might suit the romantic part of your evening (although it’s somewhat of a climb (short but steep) and you’ll probably have to roll up your pants and take off your shoes- but hey, it’s the beach!).

                          Hope that helps some.


                          1. I'd give Tar and Roses a skip. Interesting menu poor execution. Good ambience though. I'd suggest subbing it with Animal.