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Jul 31, 2013 06:36 PM

Six meals, ~$200 a day for two people

Hey all, was wondering if people could comment on the choices we're looking at thus far. We have a car and will be staying at the Loews Hollywood Hotel, so traveling is not a problem for us. We are looking for good Italian, New American, Mexican (good tacos, burritos maybe?), a hopefully cheap sushi lunch special, burgers, cheap breakfast spots for a pastry/dought/whatever and coffee, and Asian food, perhaps Szechuan, but we are open to all of the major ones (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.). We will not be drinking wine anywhere to cut costs and will also not be ordering meat entrees if it keeps us within our budget. Besides, the pasta looks great at a few of these anyway.

Osteria Mozza
The Tasting Kitchen

two of these will make up our two most expensive meals of the two days provided it fits within our budget. I'm a little worried about Italian overload, so if someone has other suggestions for dinner, I'd love to hear them. I figure if we do not eat meat entrees at these, we will be in the clear.

Lunch spots:

Baco Mercat
Golden State
Salt's Cure
Church and State
La Casita Mexicana
Tacos Clarita

We're lacking a bit on the cheaper end of things here besides the burger and Mexican spots. Maybe something from one of the cheaper Asian spots? We like dumplings, Szechuan food, etc. Is there a good sushi spot for $40 a person maybe? We are from CT and most of the sushi here is horrendous, so we're probably fairly easy to please here. Food trucks would also be something we'd like to explore.

No ideas yet :(

apologies for the long-winded post!

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  1. It's going to be rather difficult to feed two people on 200/day if you did, for example, Mozza for dinner, Lucques for lunch and some place for breakfast. Even without wine, and without meat entrees, that's a tough sell -- in fact, it would be so restrictive in terms of what you could order it might almost defeat the purpose of going to that particular restaurant.

    All of that said, I wouldn't bother with La Casita, if you want a nice Mexican try Babita.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Ah, that was my fear. Perhaps I will scratch the expensive dinner options for something else.

      I saw La Casita on Jonathan Gold's restaurant list (is he considered reliable?) but will take a look at Babita instead.


    2. Consider Maru for that sushi lunch. Used to be a spot in Valencia that recently reopened in Santa Monica. I went last week and had the $35 sushi special which came with 10 pieces of nigiri and a 6-piece spicy tuna cut roll (it is listed as the 16 piece sushi set). The 10 pieces of nigiri were really good and the variety was better than expected from a "lunch special." I don't remember everything I ate but there were a couple of unexpected ones in addition to the usual suspects like tuna, salmon, eel, etc.. I thought the price was very reasonable for the quality and quantity.

      It's a bit of a trek from Hollywood (I should know.. I make that commute every day) but if you combine it with a day at the beach or 3rd street promenade, it would be time well spent.

      1 Reply
      1. re: soniabegonia

        Thanks, this place looks great! I was hoping to find a Santa Monica restaurant as we will be checking the beaches, walking around, etc.

      2. Pizzeria Mozza has a $20 lunch special that must be eaten at the bar but can be ordered from 12 noon to 5pm. It includes a pizza of your choice (including the $25 burrata one!) a glass of wine and a dessert.

        So I'd suggest doing that instead of the pasta at Osteria Mozza. That frees up lunch or a late dinner for sushi.

        LOVE Guisado's - do the sampler plate and a shrimp taco and you won't regret it : )

        3 Replies
        1. re: happybaker

          speaking of Mozza, there's the bar menu at Osteria Mozza - Sun-Thu, $42 for a mozzarella course, pasta course, dessert and a glass of wine.

          1. re: happybaker

            I had considered Pizzeria Mozza but I've been to NYC and elsewhere and had a LOT of pretty great pizza and wasn't sure how LA fared. It does seem a bit more interesting than most of the NY-style pizza and that is a great deal, however...Will definitely consider this to save money elsewhere. Do you have a favorite pizza there? I love squash blossoms and know I've seen pictures of it before.

            1. re: alexinct

              It's not at all like NYC pizza. It's its own thing.

          2. for sushi you can do Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo. They have sashimi lunch special for about $16 and a sushi lunch special for about the same price, maybe a bit more. The sashimi lunch special is one of the best deals in town.

            4 Replies
            1. re: trolley

              Excellent, I will look into it! I like the very no-frills sushi spots.

              1. re: alexinct

                expect a slight wait but the list moves quickly. here is a partial picture of the sashimi special. it comes with miso, rice, tsukemono and some dessert or maybe no dessert. i forgot.

              2. re: trolley

                Years ago my husband and I went to a japanese festival in Torrance. They had a sushi making competition where, three chefs were given the exact same ingredients, and had to make the exact same dishes. The only difference then, would be the skill they brought to it. My husband was lucky enough to be one of the tasters selected from the audience and the winning chef? From Sushi Gen!

                And FYI, he said you could truly tell the difference between the chefs and the dishes.

              3. Breakfast?

                Square One used to be very good (haven't been in a few years) but for a unique and tasty LA experience I'd say go to Homegirl Cafe (by Chinatown) and get the chilaquiles - the tomatillo version. So bright, flavorful and satisfying, it almost takes your breath away. Then have your partner in crime get a "regular" breakfast dish with eggs and toast, so you can try the wonderful homeboy bakeries bread. You'll be having really great food (the cooks are trained by the border grill chefs and master bakers) and you'll be supporting a unique and important charity.


                That said, have you considered dim sum for breakfast or lunch? That's a delight too, and not so far from Hollywood.

                Enjoy your trip and happy eating!

                6 Replies
                1. re: happybaker

                  Awesome. Do you have other breakfast recommendations, particularly for baked goods? Since you're a happy baker and all.

                  I have considered dim sum, my only apprehension is that in NYC, I feel like I would've been totally lost and frustrated without friends who spoke Cantonese and could order for me. Is this more or less the same in LA?

                  1. re: alexinct

                    Baked goods for breakfast in Santa Monica means Huckleberry and if over in the Glendale area means Proof Bakery and if you are downtown drop into Hygge and if you want something way outside the box then Bhan Kanom and before that, since Thai town is right next door to where you are staying, then go for boat noodles at Sapp Coffee Shop would be an excellent and budgetary meal.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      thought i saw a piece about Hygge closing recently.. are they still around? me, i found their pastries too sweet. Proof, on the other hand.. excellent.

                      I would also add Sycamore Kitchen to this list for baked goods and casual cafe B & L.

                      1. re: soniabegonia

                        Gosh Hygge closed? Really? That would be such a shame. Their breads were amazing, their pizza not classic but Tasty.

                        I called their number, it still rang, and yelp still lists them as open. And for our vacationers, the store at FIDM is open and close to Hygge and can be a FIND, depending on the day.

                    2. re: alexinct

                      I AM a happy baker. Ask me about my shortbread. Or blueberry buttermilk cake. Or challah. Or biscuits. : p

                      There are so many great bakeries in LA, it's more of - what are you looking for? That you can't get easily at home?

                      There are amazing Guatemalan bakeries. I am by Glendale and Porto's, a Cuban bakery, is wonderful. Europane in Pasadena continues to be fab. And we have asian bakeries - like flour and tea in pasadena -
                      Or slightly more hardcore - huge tree pastry in Rowland Heights - It's all good.

                      As for dim sum? I am a round eye. Confess. But most of the places I have been to have been SO kind, and if the servers couldn't help me, the folks at the tables by me did. So I'd rec it - petty darn easy and many of the top places now do sushi type menu's, in English and more, so, easy peasy.

                      I like King Hua in Alhambra (save room for Fosselman's ice cream, one block away!)

                      But many folks swear by Elite

                      So take a breath and play. LA is totally open, whatever you want try try, odds are, you can. Your only obstacle will be traffic and tummy room ; )

                    3. re: happybaker

                      I've definitely been to Square One w/i the last 6 mo and thought it was great, as always. There's something about sitting on the patio and the people-watching that seems very LA to me. To the OP, be forewarned that there can be quite a bit of a wait on the weekend.

                      Another breakfast option might be bld (

                      Also agree w/ the Huckleberry rec (again, the line is very long on Sunday, but I've heard it's quite manageable on weekday mornings) and think dim sum would be both cost-effective and offer something different from what the OP can get back east.

                      I don't speak Cantonese, and I've not had a problem at the menu-driven dim sum places (Elite, Sea Harbour, Lunasia) when I've not gone w/ my cantonese-speaking friend. I think almost all of the menu items have pictures. And ordering something unintentionally might be part of the fun. ;) Glad happybaker found waitstaff at the dim sum places to be kind, but that's not a word I'd normally associate w/ them, even when you have a cantonese-speaking person at the table....

                      I like J&J's in San Gabriel for XLB, but I don't know if ordering there might be somewhat challenging if you're not either familiar w/ the cuisine or speak some level of Mandarin (the staff there *is* quite nice, though).

                      For Mexican, Cacao is great, but, if you happen to be in the Santa Monica area, you could also try Juquila or Monte Alban (West LA). Both are very affordable and a bit hole-in-the-wall (in a vaguely charming way).