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Quandary - Birthday dinner

First, my disclaimer. I've lived in LA for 10 years and despite my love of food and the dining experience, the extent of my 'special occasion' restaurant is Water Grill and Patina.

Now my quandary, my boyfriend wants to take me to dinner for my birthday at what I would call a "real" restaurant. Me = foodie. Him = eats to live.

Where would you suggest that would foot this bill:
1: place for a special occasion dinner..
2: < $175 for the dinner (both) - i.e. doesn't have to be $$$$ just
good food in a romantic/intimate environment
3: located preferably in the DTLA, Pasadena, Burbank, NoHo
vicinity(it's a Wednesday nite out and we work in DT and live in
Glendale)
4: category: French, Italian, New American, Mediterranean, Indian...
5: NO Asian or pan-Asian cuisine
6: MOST IMPORTANTLY...a place where he won't feel out of place,
and hopefully enjoy the food as well

Any suggestions would help... I'd like his gift to me, this night out, to be wonderful for both of us. My sincerest thanks.
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  1. You work in dtla? How about Drago Centro, Rivera, Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, The Parish, Macherroni Republic, Mo Chica. Everyone can feel comfortable at these places; they are chef driven, casual, and the food's great.
    Pasadena: Racion. Mmmm I need to go back there myself.
    I consider these all real restaurants, unlike the many others in dt and Pasadena opened by business people or entities with no love of food.
    Not every special occasion meal needs to be Providence, although I definitely wouldn't mind. Oh heck, if your bday falls in Providence's anniversary month, go there! It's a quick drive from dt.

    9 Replies
    1. re: pley

      LOL! Thank you for the detailed and informative reply... and uplifting commentary : )

      1. re: pley

        Hard for me to think of many you list in DTLA as romantic or intimate..... In fact only Drago Centro in your list could be qualified as such....

        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

          It's all what you make of it. You decide what you want to make of your evening, the decor doesn't decide for you.

          1. re: pley

            I understand that, as long as you know what you're getting into.... If not, it might make one feel a bit misled, especially when it was spelled out in the OP what was desired : "just good food in a romantic/intimate environment".

            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

              For clarification..."romantic/intimate environment" = no loud restaurant where you can't hear the other person talking, no children running around, not sitting 6" from the next table, no communal tables. "good food" = quality ingredients, flavor, and awesome execution on classic dishes, or(/and) creative new flavor combinations without exorbitant prices (I like you get what you pay for as far as quality of food goes... not on name/celebrity status of a restaurant.)

              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                The OP is a self-proclaimed foodie and works downtown. Seemed safe to assume she would have some knowledge of these restaurants.

                1. re: pley

                  huh? i'm getting lost in this thread.

                  1. re: puns88

                    I was responding to Dirty regarding being "surprised" about these venues as not being "romantic." Since you're a foodie and work dt, I just assumed you may have already been to most or all of these places, or at least have a feel for them.

                    Btw I just realized maybe my term "self-proclaimed" may not have come across right. Nothing meant by that. I'm a self-proclaimed foodie. Actually, my friends claim I am, more than I do. :)

                    1. re: pley

                      no worries... all the acronyms were getting me confused LOL!

        2. Or even Maximiliano. Nobody ever feels uncomfortable there. The food's good, and everyone's always happy there.
          Any place can be romantic, as long as everyone's feeling good.

          3 Replies
          1. re: pley

            I second Maximiliano's. The food is really good. The deserts are good. The staff is happy. The room is lively yet not too loud. It's casual and comfy.

            1. re: MissBubbles

              Bf has been there with friends... he wasn't too thrilled. Is that an indicator of his likings?

              1. re: puns88

                what didn't he like about it? That might help us steer him in the right direction.

          2. I think Drago Centro is a good idea as well. I love Providence, but I'm not sure you'd get out of there for $175 for both of you.

            7 Replies
            1. re: perk

              So far Drago Centro is the leading choice. I've been there for drinks but never had the food.

              1. re: puns88

                I've really enjoyed the food I've had there, stuck mostly with seafood bc I love seafood. I'm at their bar a lot too, at least once a week. Btw, best bread sticks ever.

              2. re: perk

                That's why I said go during Providence's anniversary month if it coincides with the bday. Providence anniversary = $75 5-course tm.

                1. re: pley

                  darn! off by 6 weeks... that's ok, i'll be on vaca during their anniversary : )

                  1. re: puns88

                    When they started it, the special was for one week. Then they expanded it for the whole month, then the last couple of years, I think, it was expanded for two months. The economy seems to have gotten better, so who knows what the duration for the special will be this year.

                    1. re: pley

                      so i should keep checking their website? do they advertise this? as when i googled it... it wasn't exactly "announced".

                      1. re: puns88

                        I've been on their email list for a long time. If you would prefer not to receive emails, there's always social media. I think they posted it on their fb page last year, right around when they sent the email. Or wait for Eaterla, but it's obviously faster to get it from the source.

              3. I agree that Providence's anniversary tasting menu is a great deal. (though now seems the dates don't coincide.) But....even at $150 for two.....that's tough for a $175 total. Throw in cocktails and/or wine.....tax.....tip.

                1. Would Hatfield's be too far? I think it's pretty romantic and not too pricey (the seasonal tasting menu is $63/pp). Has a little something for everyone, seafood, poultry, meat, vegetarian, etc.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PeterCC

                    : ( yes, a bit, considering we have to head west than head back to glendale after dinner. but a great suggestion for another evening out. thank you!

                  2. Bashan in Montrose (ahem, Glendale).

                    http://bashanrestaurant.com/food_serv...

                    Good, inventive food that will entice you but also please your BF.

                    Romantic? Not per se romantic like, say, Il Cielo (with the charming lights, etc.), but if you're with the one you love and love the one you're with, does it really matter?

                    Price friendly, too.

                    Happy B-day

                    1. The Raymond Restaurant, in Pasadena, is a small, romantic place (hidden gem). The food is quite good- $$$, friendly staff, dressy attire and valet parking.

                      1. How about Alma? Very intimate, fun space. Fantastic food. Even if you go the Tuesday tasting menu, price won't kill you. Plus it's downtown.