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Any top restaurants near LAX for anniversary dinner?

My wife and I will be visiting from San Francisco, attending a conference near LAX that coincides with our anniversary. We're looking for a good, upscale restaurant in the area to celebrate. To give you an idea what we like, some of our favorites in LA are Bazaar, Red O, Mozza and Hatfield's.
Really like creative cuisine. Not into steak houses. I'm willing to drive as long as it's not too far (20 minutes or so) from our hotel. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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  1. depending on the day of the week and the time of day, 20 minutes driving from LAX may not get you very far.
    we are talking about dinner hour? yes?

    1 Reply
    1. re: westsidegal

      maybe they can hit up somewhere in marina del rey, or maybe MB Post (i think you've been but i haven't).

      WG is correct.

      i've sat in traffic before from barring ton to bundy on olympic and it took me the better part of an hour and 15 minutes to drive 7 blocks,

      maybe fishing with dynamite?

      Sadly, none of the hotel area restaurants are good really.

      if you make it to marina del rey, then maybe even Paiche (?) for supposedly great upscale Pervuian food and great cocktails (i've only been to his joint in the mercado la paloma though, which is now closed).

    2. Look into MB Post http://eatmbpost.com/ and their sister seafood restaurant, Fishing with Dynamite http://www.eatfwd.com/ for your dinner.

      15 Replies
      1. re: Servorg

        concur with servorg's list and would add Petros as number 3

        1. re: westsidegal

          Add Chez Soi in Manhattan Beach or the Strand.

        2. re: Servorg

          i missed your list.

          yeah, plus 2 on that.

          1. re: kevin

            "i missed your list."

            I know. It's hard to see all the places that have been recommended in these really lengthy threads...

            1. re: Servorg

              You're telling me.

              The other day I had to check out a 53 thread post on "cronuts" only to finally try it, or a supposed one since they are banned from calling them cronuts at anywhere else besides the namesake joint in NYC, only to find out that those things are disgusting and not even in a good way.

              1. re: kevin

                Thanks for saving me having to read that thread. I was curious and about to tackle all those posts.

                To the OP - if you wait until after 7:30, you shouldn't have trouble getting to Abbot Kinney. I would recommend Joe's for your anniversary dinner. Another idea would be Picollo, one of my favorite italian restaurants - anywhere.


                1. re: yogachik

                  Is the ambiance of the Piccolo in Venice similar to that of the one in Santa Monica? If so, I think the food is terrific (minus the pizza), but it is LOUD, crowded, and not particularly romantic. =(

                  Agreed that traffic tends to die down considerably after 7-7:30PM. Just make sure to traffic sigalert (which is not always very accurate....).

                  1. re: ilysla

                    agree that the pizza at piccolo is very forgettable.
                    sadly, though, wasn't really impressed with the rest of the food.
                    the plating was the prettiest i'd ever seen,
                    the sheer amount of labor that went into those dishes was beyond impressive.
                    service was wonderful
                    both my dining partner and i were were unimpressed with the actual flavor of the food, though.

                    can't understand why, but the food at hosteria del piccolo in santa monica TASTED better.

                    1. re: ilysla

                      Ilysia, I believe that yogachik is referring to Piccolo Venice at 5 Dudley (see the link in her post), not Hostaria del Piccolo on Rose--different place and concept entirely.

                      1. re: New Trial

                        fwiw, have had really good meals at hosteria del piccolo, but the really expensive mealsl i had at piccolo venice were disappointments.

                        1. re: New Trial

                          ::smacks head:: Ah. Thanks for pointing out the link.

                          Yes, that place looks much more romantic. But, from what I gather from WSG's posts, Hostaria might have better food?

                          What about Cafe del Rey? I don't think the food is outstanding, but I imagine the ambiance and service will be what the OP is looking for....

                        2. re: ilysla

                          Fwiw, we had a lovely, romantic anniversary dinner at il piccolo Venice before. Food and ambiance were both lovely. When they have the fireplace going, it gets very cozy and intimate.

                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                            I was referring to the Picollo on 5 Dudley in Venice, a very quiet, romantic, restaurant with outstanding food.

                            1. re: yogachik

                              I haven't been there in years.

                              But I do remember that they had unique raviolis filled with beets in brown butter and topped with poppy seeds ?

                2. re: Servorg

                  Agree highly with Servorg & westsidegal. Manhattan Beach is only 3 miles from LAX. MB Post is one of my favorite restaurants in LA. Great small plates for sharing including meats, seafood and veggies. Don't skip their wonderful cheddar bacon biscuits.

                  Petros has wonder upscale Greek food, homemade deserts and a very nice patio too.

                3. MB Post for the food
                  The Strand for the view

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                    Are you recommending The Strand House restaurant http://www.thestrandhousemb.com/ for the view but not the food, or just recommending to go down on the strand for the view before or after dinner at MB Post? Wasn't sure which?

                    1. re: Servorg

                      The strand house
                      Have not been but it has a killer view
                      weinermobile says the food is not as good as mb post

                      1. re: Servorg

                        The Strand House is a nice scene. Parking is very tough and I found the food, just fair.

                    2. n/naka is perfect and fits the 20min criteria if you take a 8pm seating (after traffic has tapered off a bit). Made it from LAX to Shunji in 20 min at 7pm last Thursday. Taking surface roads after taking Washington/Venice Blvd exit of course.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Porthos

                        I think n/naka is a great idea for an anniversary dinner. Check out the web site and mapquest. and see if it fits. I went early when there were only a few diners and got great service, peace and quiet. Very special place.

                        1. re: Porthos

                          Wow. That's quick.

                          It took me about 40 min from Westchester to Shunjis.

                          1. re: kevin

                            40 minutes? Were you on the 405 in rush hour traffic?

                            Agree with WSG below. 405 is a wild card. Actually, you can almost depend on it disappointing you.

                          2. re: Porthos

                            in my experience the traffic in LA can be very unpredictable.
                            last night i made it from playa del rey to musha in under 20 minutes.
                            at other times it has taken an hour and 10 minutes.
                            also, i look at the 405 as somewhat of a wild card.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              It's not as scary as people make it out to be. Northbound is much better than southbound (south of the 10).

                              I routinely make my 730pm weeknight reservations on time at least 2x/month be it Patina, Shunji, Gjelina, or wherever.

                              LAX to n/naka should be within the 20 min or so criteria especially around 730-8pm and especially considering how much better n/naka would be than MB post for a special anniversary dinner for a couple from SF that enjoys creative cuisine.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                "I routinely make my 730pm weeknight reservations on time at least 2x/month be it Patina, Shunji, Gjelina, or wherever."

                                Now this is the life.

                                Us mere mortals can only dream. :)

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Made my reservations for my birthday next month. Psyched.

                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                    For n/naka? Feliz Cumpleanos indeed!

                                    You'll love the truffle, abalone spaghetti...if you like that sort of thing that is ;)

                                    1. re: Porthos


                                      I was just lamenting to my husband on our vacation up north that we go to visit his dad in Mendocino, but I NEVER get to order any abalone! All I see up there are people abalone fishing off the coast, but we don't go to enough places up there to enjoy it! So I plan to take full advantage of it at n/naka....

                                  2. re: Porthos

                                    <<It's not as scary as people make it out to be.>>
                                    Amen. Whiners.

                              2. You guys might have to extend your 20 minutes to 35 min, but it will be more than worth your time.

                                See below.

                                1. n/naka is excellent, with a kind of kaiseki approach, and is probably doable from LAX in about 20 minutes if not during rush hour, and even then I might be tempted to go via surface streets rather than the 405. Another option would be Tasting Table on Abbot Kinney in Venice (ask for the upstairs as it is quieter). Chinois or Capo in Santa Monica might also be possibilities, if you cut through the Marina.

                                  While I love both MB Post and Fishing With Dynamite, neither is particularly romantic (if you tell the former it is your anniversary, you can probably get a two top rather than the communal seating) and the latter is quite small with only limited reservations offered. Neither is "upscale" in decor or service, though the food is stellar.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: New Trial

                                    Just a warning 20 minutes one day can be an hour the next.

                                    1. re: New Trial

                                      to add to New Trial's comments about MB Post:
                                      in particular, their seafood dishes are, imho, better than stellar.

                                      (i haven't tried Fishing with Dynamite yet)

                                      1. re: New Trial

                                        Not heard of tasting table..... Do you mean tasting kitchen?

                                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                          Yes, I meant "Tasting Kitchen," "Tasting Table" is a food and restaurant (among other things) website.

                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                            Tasting Kitchen is a good choice too. One of the better restaurants in Los Angeles. Do-able timewise - if it's not during traffic hours.

                                            Still, I'd go to n/naka.

                                            1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                              Agree, TK is delicious, but not as much of a romantic or serene atmosphere, compared to n/naka.

                                        2. MB Post in Manhattan Beach.

                                          1. Thank you to everyone for your advice. I'm really impressed by how many people gave jumped in and provided such helpful information. After reading all your postings and looking at the menus, I made a reservation at n/naka. The menu really looks interesting, especially the vegetarian one for us ( although I was amused by the Angus beef ribeye course on the vegetarian menu they have on their web site). Anyway, we're not strict vegetarians, that's the winter 2012 menu, and it all looks good. We're not going until 9 PM so, hopefully, will not experience the worst of LA traffic. I'll post another message after we go there. Once again, thanks to all for your generous help.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: stebro

                                              If you are not strict vegetarian and end up doing the vegetarian tasting, insist on substituting/adding the spaghetti with abalone and truffles. You do not want to miss this dish.

                                              9pm is more than fine. 8 or 830 is also more than fine in terms of traffic.


                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                Portos. Can I just sit at the countr and only grab that dish in the interests of time and money. ??????

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  c/mon kevin. You know quite well they don't have a counter.

                                                  You also know quite well my handle is Porthos (character from Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers who loves food, wine, and...) and not the Portos the bakery.

                                                  I'm on to you master thread extender.

                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                    My apologies, Porthos.

                                                    Sadly, I have never read the classic novel and even more sadly I fell asleep during the film from a few years back.

                                                    But a character who loves food and wine ? Damn, you beat me to it. And I left with the ultimately pedestrian "kevin"

                                                    Anyhow, I was thinking maybe a couple of the regulars at naka could just drop for a dish or two and a couple glasses of wine ? I guess not.

                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      Hey Kevin. N/naka does have what looks like a bar....which was empty when I was there. I doubt that they would change their concept of set courses.....but no harm in asking.

                                              2. re: stebro

                                                Love n/naka. I've only eaten the modern kaiseki, and not sure how the vegetarian menu goes, but I wanted to just caution you that dinners at n/naka can run quite long. Starting at 9pm could easily have you leaving the restaurant past midnight. Just wanted to give you a heads up.

                                                1. re: andytseng

                                                  My experience was different. They contact you a day or two ahead of your reservation and go over your concerns. I told them no eel and I can't sit for long periods of time, the pace was perfect. I didn't time anything but it was certainly under 2 hours. Can't wait to return.