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Best Fast-Casual Places

I'll be in town for a few days and I'd like to try some of LA's best fast casual restaurants. What places are hot right now?

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  1. I really like Tender Greens, Burger Lounge, and Lemonade in the fast-casual space.

    19 Replies
    1. re: PeterCC

      Agree with all three on Peter CC's list
      and would also include
      Veggie Grill
      800 Degrees
      TLT Westwood
      Mendocino Farms
      Fundmental LA
      Malibu Fish Grill
      Papa Cristo's
      & Oleego by Park’s Barbecue

      1. re: wienermobile

        Is Fundamental LA considered fast-casual? Haven't been.

        For some reason I had it in my head that it needed to be a chain (or chain-let) but there's no reason for that. I guess my criteria for fast-casual is ordering at the counter but table service after? If so, then I'd also add Thyme and Huckleberry (grudgingly, for the food--service has been poor in my experience) to the list. Would Amandine count?

        (Can't remember now if Farmshop for breakfast/brunch/lunch did the counter-table service hybrid or just table service. City Bakery before that was counter-table hybrid.)

        Haven't been yet but am interested to try Chipotle's sister restaurant ShopHouse. Got some good reviews including this one: http://midtownlunch.com/los-angeles/2.... Will probably wait until SM location opens to try.

        Didn't love Seasalt Fish Grill, but it's another new player in the fast-casual space, and it's seafood, which is still relatively rare in fast-casual.

        1. re: PeterCC

          At lunch you order & pay at the counter at Fundamental LA and then they bring the food to your table. I think that's fast casual.

          1. re: wienermobile

            Okay, that's my definition too (I edited my comment above to include my own criteria, which matches yours).

              1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                +1 Top Round. Just ate there last night, it'd be a fun stop, albeit a heavy one. I recommend the cheesy fries.

              2. re: wienermobile

                Eat to Pround? ;-) It's on my must try.

              3. re: PeterCC

                Is Fish Grill the place w/ 2 locations (Brentwood [in the Ross complex] and Beverlywood)? If so, I don't know if it's that new (I think it's been there for at least several yrs, no?). I *want* to love that place, but the salmon is just a wee bit on the bland side....

                Got a coupon for Burger Lounge. How does the burger there compare to Father's Office?

                To the OP, I don't know anything about industry definitions, but I liked Clusi Batsui on Sawtelle. Also like Milo and Olive (or Plan Check) and Huckleberry, but I definitely would NOT consider the former to be fast and the second is only less slow when going on a weekday.... (although the food at all is wonderful).

                1. re: ilysla

                  Had a lamb burger at the new Burger Lounge in Brentwood the other day (with fries). It was very tasty. Not real large. The fries were good but could have been more well done to my liking. Have not been to FO to compare.

                  1. re: ilysla

                    Seasalt Fish Grill is in SM. Related to Jack & Jill. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/902896.

                    I didn't like the burger at FO as much as I thought I would. Burger Lounge's burgers are much less fussy. And like Thor123 said, not too big, unlike the Counter or even Umami. Their turkey burger is decent, and their special burgers of the month are interesting. I liked the lamb one and also the elk one from a while back.

                    1. re: PeterCC

                      Thanks, Thor123 and PeterCC, for the responses. I don't think the FO burger is transcendent, but it's just a damn good burger. =) Although I think I actually liked the meat quality itself is better at Umani (didn't like anything else about Umani, though).

                      I'm actually fine w/ a small burger (how much red meat does one really need???), and the fact that it's almost w/i walking distance will make me feel less guilty about consuming all that fat if I can convince myself to walk there. =) Very intrigued by a lamb burger.

                      Not at all familiar w/ Seasalt Fish Grill. Will have to catch up on that thread....

                      1. re: ilysla

                        Related to this burger-related line of comments, and also to the thread in general, another fast-casual burger place that hasn't been mentioned here is Pono Burger. They're also not massive in size a la Counter/Hole in the Wall, and they've got some interesting special burgers too. If Burger Lounge is almost walking distance (assuming the SM location) the Pono is probably as well. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/900755

                        1. re: PeterCC

                          I guess I may be in the minority, but I've never considered either the Counter's or HITW's burgers to be "massive". I think they're perfectly sized!

                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                            the Counter serves 1/3 lb burgers.
                            not massive in my book.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              I think when it comes to the Counter people think of them as serving massive burgers because if you want a patty bigger than the 1/3 lb version their menu then jumps up to a 2/3 lb patty and from there to a 1 lb patty. Most other places offer a 1/2 lb patty as their default "bigger" patty. So by comparison to most places the Counter offers what can easily be considered a "massive" patty.

                          2. re: PeterCC

                            No, I'm closer to the Brentwood one. But maybe I can find a BBB that'll take me to Pono. ;)

                  2. re: wienermobile

                    i just ate at veggie grill last week,
                    gotta say, either i've become more picky or it has gone down some.
                    the menu is focused on fake meat.
                    maybe because now fake meat is now widely available at almost any grocery store (gardein brand), i no longer see any reason to drive to veggie grill for a meal that won't even fill me up until dinnertime.

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      PeterCC and wienermobile have all my faves--Tender Greens, Mendocino, Lemonade probably top that list. For tacos, though, I would do either Pinches (the Mexican corn is the best ever) or Loteria. They both serve beer, which is a plus :)

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      At the Oinkster you have to try their Ube shake. Mmmm.

                    2. Awesome! Thanks so much for the great suggestions. I forget to mention that I especially love Pizza & Mexican so keep the suggestions coming!

                      1. Lemonade
                        Mendocino Farms
                        Le Pain Quatidien
                        Olio -pizza

                        1. Any place in SGV that does *not* have cloth tablecloths, or tablecloths at all.