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October business trip - suggestions?

jhojati Aug 9, 2013 11:12 AM

I'm heading to downtown LA at the end of October from Chicago. I've been many times before, but haven't really dug into the dining scene and would like to get into a couple of can't-miss places. I've listed some targets below - any guidance on them (would you skip it?) or something that's not listed? We'll have a car, and I'll be there from Thursday night through the following Wednesday night, so a lot of flexibility. We're at a conference at the LA Convention Center M-W and will likely try to sneak out for lunch.

Also, I'm looking for a well-made Old Fashioned - something that I know where and where not to go in Chicago, but have no clue about in LA.

Thanks in advance!

Son of a Gun
Father's Office
Pizzeria Mozza
Hinoki & the Bird
Taylor's Steakhouse
Raffi's Place (I've been to a dozen other Persian places, but never Raffi's)

  1. jhojati Oct 27, 2013 10:22 AM

    Our itinerary:

    Sunday: Father's Office
    Monday Lunch: Drago Centro
    Monday Dinner: Ink
    Tuesday Lunch: Rivera
    Tuesday Dinner: The Gorbals
    Wednesday Lunch: Langer's

    Will report back.

    Thanks all for your input!

    11 Replies
    1. re: jhojati
      Ciao Bob Oct 27, 2013 11:36 AM

      I might consider passing on Drago Centro, depending on your wants and needs. It is quite good but, in contrast to the rest of your places, nothing "uniquely" LA to it, and nothing you cannot find (better) in Chicago. And it is kind of stuffy, IMHO. OTOH, if you have a business meeting as part of the convention/visit, it is probably perfect.
      For food and an LA vibe, I would consider Baco Mercat or Bar Ama or Bestia (if they do lunch) or . Sushi Gen if you like sushi, or Marugame Monzo for udon. Wood Spoon. Spice Table.

      1. re: jhojati
        Sgee Oct 27, 2013 12:53 PM

        I'd add sushi Zo new DTLA location. We have much better sushi vs Chicago.

        1. re: jhojati
          jhojati Oct 29, 2013 05:05 PM

          We had a couple of tweaks to our plans, but a brief review of our trip below:

          Sunday: Father's Office - I really liked the vibe here, and the beer list was good. The flavor of the components of the burger were great, but the burger was unevenly cooked (perfect med rare in parts, well done in others). I can see myself coming here quite a bit if I lived in the area, but I wouldn't take this burger over my favorites in Chicago. Still a great place.

          Monday Lunch: Drago Centro: This place was great. Decor, ambience, and food all were very good, and I didn't find it stuffy at all. The garganelli was a dish I'd drive an hour for. Lasagne also good, although a pretty basic lasagne. The one disappointment was the special, a pasta with dried tuna, which lacked any flavor whatsoever. I didn't get too upset, however, as the other dishes were great, and the pasta itself had a great texture.

          Monday Dinner: Ink: I was actually kind of disappointed with this place. I thought the cocktails were a bit too "unique" (trying to be nice), and the food had several misses. We ordered the charred avocado (awesome), little gems (not great in separate parts, but very good all together), hamachi (way too sweet), la quercia berkshire ham (can't go wrong with la quercia, so this was also good. beets very well prepared), corn (the doritos were an afterthought, but the corn was well executed, although not that impressive), gnocchi (very good when eaten with the mushrooms), cereal (i couldn't get my head around this - way aggressive flavors, but perhaps this was too late in the courses for me to enjoy it), branzino (thought this was a complete miss - dry, flavorless fish), and beef cheeks (good, but not great, although was a beautiful dish). I just didn't care all that much for it.

          Tuesday Lunch: Rivera: A hiccup service wise with it taking 20 minutes for our cocktails, but other than that an enjoyable experience. The duck enfrijoladas was awesome - a huge portion that could easily be split, I'd order this again and again. Cocktails interesting and well balanced, for the most part. A bit of a downer vibe.

          Tuesday Dinner: Bestia: Best meal I have ever had, and I've had some good ones. From the atmosphere, to the service, to the food, just hit after hit after hit. no misses at all. Ordered the salumi, veal tartare, margherita pizza, 42 oz. 28 day dry aged ribeye (bone in), cavatelli, plum crostata, chocolate budino, zeppole. Just an amazing meal. Lots of good looking people, energetic vibe, personable staff. Go here if you haven't been.

          1. re: jhojati
            Servorg Oct 29, 2013 10:20 PM

            Great report and thanks for coming back and reporting on your meals. Bestia sounds wonderful. We don't get downtown much, but would plan on hitting up Bestia (if we could get a reservation of course). How much was your per person food costs for Bestia?

            I take it you didn't make it to Seven Grand for an old fashioned. Maybe next trip...

            1. re: Servorg
              jhojati Oct 29, 2013 11:26 PM

              Shoot, I forgot to mention! Went to Seven Grand our first night (Sunday). Had an old fashioned, and then two more :) While I don't like that they put soda water in their OFs, I enjoyed that place immensely and appreciated the pool tables and eclectic band that played.

              At Bestia, we ordered two bottles of wine (4 people) that added up to $200, and the total bill came to about $120/pp before tax/tip. So without wine or cocktails, could get out of there for under $100 pp after tax/tip.

              1. re: jhojati
                Servorg Oct 29, 2013 11:31 PM

                After 3 OF's I'd forget to mention them too...(g) Thanks for the follow up. So $70 per person, plus tax and tip for food at Bestia sounds like a very fair price for what you had.

                1. re: Servorg
                  Servorg Oct 30, 2013 12:09 AM

                  As to the splash of soda water that Seven Grand adds to their OF's, I've had it both with plain water and with the soda water. I don't mind it either way and I've seen both water and soda water listed as ingredients in recipes. Here is Seven Grand's video of their bartender preparing one: http://sevengrandbars.com/213-cocktai...

                  1. re: Servorg
                    jhojati Oct 30, 2013 02:13 AM

                    I prefer no water at all, and most craft cocktail spots in chicago make it with no water (usually Demerara syrup or the like), but it's merely a preference. Didn't really detract from my experience.

            2. re: jhojati
              ilysla Oct 30, 2013 12:24 AM

              Wonderful report! Agree that the price for Bestia doesn't sound unreasonable. Might try it for a special occasion since it's mentioned so often on the board....

              1. re: ilysla
                jhojati Oct 30, 2013 03:17 AM

                Another data point....of the $280 in food we ordered, $120 was for the steak.

              2. re: jhojati
                jessejames Oct 30, 2013 12:52 AM

                bestia sounds great....sort of a fucked up name like animal tho!

            3. j
              jessejames Aug 15, 2013 02:41 AM

              I would hit up some korean bbq for something you can't get in Chi-town. I like Soot Bull Jeep (divey, actual fire/charcoals on every table), chosun galbi and parks. this is relatively close to the the convention center.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jessejames
                Servorg Aug 15, 2013 02:49 AM

                "Soot Bull Jeep"

                The real deal...no doubt. Just take that first word in the business name "soot" literally, because you will come out of dinner there with more empathy for chimney sweeps than you went in with...(g)

              2. n
                Novelli Aug 15, 2013 02:18 AM

                The Gorbals in DT LA has excellent food and service.


                1. ipsedixit Aug 9, 2013 12:51 PM

                  I would revamp and revise your list with this modified one:

                  Father's Office
                  Pizzeria Mozza
                  Hinoki & the Bird
                  Red Medicine

                  1. wienermobile Aug 9, 2013 08:19 AM

                    I am a big fan of Son of A Gun. Always creative and suprising dishes.

                    Langers for the best pastrami on rye on earth. They close at 4pm daily and all day Sundays. Welcome to LA.)

                    1. t
                      TracyS Aug 9, 2013 05:29 AM

                      Your list doesn't have many spots actually in downtown. Consider also checking out -
                      Baco Mercat
                      Bottega Louie
                      Maccheroni Republic

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: TracyS
                        Dirtywextraolives Aug 9, 2013 08:05 AM

                        I was thinking the same thing.....

                        +1 on Bestia, baco Mercat, umamicatessen

                        Also consider the Parish, Alma & drago Centro

                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                          jhojati Aug 15, 2013 02:04 AM

                          It just seemed that all of the suggested places were a bit outside of downtown. Will add Baco Mercat to the list, but my trip may be cut down to 3-4 days, so going to have to be very choosey!

                          I'm thinking Cole's and Langer's for lunches Monday and Tuesday - doable from the Los Angeles Convention Center?

                          1. re: jhojati
                            Dirtywextraolives Aug 15, 2013 02:25 AM

                            Sure, both are about a mile and a half or so away. Don't know if you're walking, driving or taking a cab or public transit.

                      2. y
                        yogachik Aug 9, 2013 04:50 AM

                        Being from Chicago, you can probably give Taylor's a miss - the food isn't great, it's just a place I like because it's one of the few old LA places with the red booths, etc. Head to Cut if you want a truly great steak. Dan Tana's would be where to go, in its place, if you're seeking an old LA vibe.

                        Definitely go to Seven Grand for that drink, at the end of the day. Also try to get to Rivera.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: yogachik
                          mc michael Aug 15, 2013 03:13 AM

                          +1 on Rivera.

                        2. Servorg Aug 9, 2013 04:27 AM

                          If you are specifically seeking to drink an "old fashioned" and you'll be downtown then there is really only one place to go for it...Seven Grand http://sevengrandbars.com/seven-grand...

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Servorg
                            jhojati Aug 15, 2013 02:03 AM

                            This place looks perfect - it's on the list and will absolutely make it here.

                            1. re: jhojati
                              mc michael Aug 15, 2013 03:16 AM

                              For more cocktail info, go here.
                              And here.

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