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Date Night? DTLA, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Eagle Rock, etc.

Going on a second date next week. First date was just cocktails.

I tend to be adventurous but also think there are few things more delicious than a well prepared burger. She's a recovering vegetarian, says she's up for something new/inventive.

I'm looking for a place in the environs mentioned above that's conducive to conversation and offers an experience where we can appreciate the menu but don't feel the chef is trying too hard. I'd also like to keep the tab to under say $125 or so for two with drinks. Something casual and fun with a full bar or at least a beer/wine license.

Was thinking of Lazy Ox (have never been) but am open and eager to hear your suggestions.

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  1. I think I saw Lazy Ox on a list of the most deafening restaurants in L.A. Not conducive to conversation.

    The food's not cutting edge, but for a romantic ambiance, Colombo's Italian restaurant and jazz club in Eagle Rock is a good choice. It's real old school, been around since the fifties. On Saturday nights there's a pianist playing old standards. He's truly amazing, and it's a wonderful experience listening to him and soaking up all the old vibes.
    It's not so loud that it will interfere with conversation, but provides a nice diversion if conversation falters. Also nice, big red leather booths for surreptitious groping!

    1 Reply
    1. re: MarkC

      Thanks for the suggestion re: Colombo's. I've been a few times before and I I think I'm looking for something a bit more contemporary. If we do decide to go, should I specifically ask for a "groping booth"? :)

      Also, thanks about the heads up in regards to the noise at Lazy Ox. It would suck to have to shout the entire time. That was one of the reasons I nixed Bottega Louie.

    2. Allumette in Echo Park.
      Went for the first time the other night and was absolutely blown away. Nice, intimate atmosphere; Full bar w/ an expertly curated cocktail menu; menu rivals that of Red Medecine (one of the top restaurants in L.A. IMHO) at 1/2 the price.
      Also, their Cauliflower dish will certainly be appreciated by a "recovering vegetarian".

      18 Replies
      1. re: FranklinJefferson

        As great as Allumette may, or not be, I think OP wants a place that is $125 TOTAL, not $125/per person...

        1. re: Stravinsky

          "I think OP wants a place that is $125 TOTAL, not $125/per person..."

          And that is PRECISELY why I made this recommendation. My companion and I had the Tasting menus w/ Wine pairings, 2 Appetizers and several cocktails. Total was <$250. The OP sharing 3 - 4 dishes and a couple of cocktails/glasses of wine would barely break $100.

          1. re: Stravinsky

            They do a tasting menu at $55 per person, and if you want to go off the menu you can see http://allumettela.com/food.html that their prices are pretty reasonable. Wine can always drive up prices...but that's true wherever you go in this town.

            1. re: Servorg

              $55 tasting (doesn't include drinks) is $110, and a tip would put it over $125... OP wanted $125 total with drinks/tip/tax...

              Wouldn't 3-4 dishes be like, almost not a dinner there (looking at photos of portion sizes)?

              1. re: Stravinsky

                To be fair, I didn't say $125 with tip and, of course, I'll spend more if it's warranted.

                Allumette looks interesting but it might be a bit much at this point. She's made it clear that she doesn't like to be fussed over, which means that a tasting menu with wine pairings may be appropriate down the road but not at this point.

                I'm a firm believer in not pulling out the big guns until I'm a bit further down this particular road. At this early stage in a (proto) relationship, I prefer to succeed (or fail) on my merits, as foolish as that may sound. :)

                1. re: Stravinsky

                  Let's say they order a snack to share, then the blistered cauliflower and the matsutake vegetables along with two mains like the scallop and the octopus confit. Finally they split a dessert. They each have a before dinner drink and then one beer and a glass of house wine with dinner. After tax the bill would be right around $126. Since nothing was said about tax and tip in the OP's post this seems like a very good suggestion by FJ. And, as to your assertion of the meal here coming in at $125 PER PERSON (emphasis mine)...that is laughable.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Thanks, Servorg,

                    And referencing the OP's concern about being 'fussed over', the service was exemplary. there was always a server available but in no way did we feel anyone was hovering.

                    1. re: JeMange

                      Is DTLA pretty much off your radar?

                      In Silverlake, you might also try L&E Oyster Bar.

                      Personally, I might just go to Pho in Silverlake. Casual, pleasant, simple, and the Bun with eggrolls and steak is always good.

                      1. re: Stravinsky

                        DTLA is most definitely not off the radar. In fact, its in the title of my first post. Pho in Silver Lake is a little too downscale but L&E might be a possibility.

                        Thanks

                        1. re: Stravinsky

                          Definitely didn't ignore it - read it and am considering your suggestions.

                          I've been to Baco Mercat for lunch and enjoyed it. Worth considering.

                          Have not been to Bar Ama and it definitely looks like a possibility, along with Spice Table. When you say it won't be around much longer, are they shuttering for some reason?

                          1. re: JeMange

                            The city is building a metrorail through The Spice Table's location next year, so they are being forced to close. It has nothing to do with their quality. They are one of the best restaurants in LA.

                            I would highly recommend it for the kind of quiet, romantic atmosphere you are looking for. It's adventurous, but they also have that killer cheeseburger, so it seems like it literally fits both your idea of a good time, your partners, and it has the right atmosphere.

                            I love Baco, and go there by myself at the bar, on dates, and with my family, but it's not the most quiet place.

                            Bar Ama is more quiet, but I would also say that The Spice Table is better than Bar Ama unless you are REALLY into tex mex.

                            1. re: Stravinsky

                              <highly recommend it for the kind of quiet, romantic atmosphere>

                              Quiet?

                                1. re: Stravinsky

                                  For Spice Table? I've been twice, and the brick + concrete made for really bad acoustics, IMO.

                              1. re: Stravinsky

                                We heart Spice Table. But the back room can be very loud. Deafening almost.

                            2. re: JeMange

                              I'm always a bit worried about restaurants that aren't consistent…with service and food. I've been when the oysters are stellar and come back and they're not the same quality.

                              L&E happens to be one of them.
                              Also, beware they don't take reservations so date-wise it's a crap shoot.

                              1. re: latindancer

                                Thanks for the feedback.

                                Inconsistency is certainly a red flag and the lack of reservations + valet parking sort of makes it a deal breaker, especially given the lack of nearby walkable options other than LA Mill, which I absolutely despise.

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  We eat at L&E about once every couple of weeks. We love it for it's consistency. She's a steady eddy. That being said, we do not eat there on Mondays or Tuesdays. Though there are fresh oyster deliveries on those days, the biggest shipments are on Wednesday-Friday.

                                  Depending upon your arrival time, putting your name in, then going upstairs to the bar as suggested makes for a great date night. And the menus are different upstairs and downstairs.

                                  L&E does have valet.

                  2. If you eat outside, I would say for sure Bäco Mercat. It can bit a bit loud inside at peak hours, but the food and drinks are amazing, and you will definitely come in well under $125.

                    If your partner likes tex-mex, then do Bar Ama instead.

                    Quieter/more romantic perhaps, is Eat.Drink.Americano in the Arts District.

                    Kokkekokorro in Little Tokyo could also work out well, but you'll sit at a bar, perhaps too crazy for recovering vegetarian.

                    The Spice Table is pretty intimate, usually quiet in my experience, and has spectacular cuisine. Probably my top pick if quiet is of the utmost importance. Get the laksa and kaya toast (but they also do a great burger). plus the place won't be around much longer sadly =(

                    1 Reply
                    1. Just a little outside of your geographic bounds, but look at Bashan up in Glendale.

                      In DTLA, try Peking Tavern. It can be a bit loud if you are close to the communal table or bar area, but if you can get a corner or nook table, it's fine for table-side googly-eyed conversation.

                      Also, in DTLA check out The Stocking Frame, bonus points for you if you can get a table by the fireplace.

                      Good luck.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Is Bashan loud/boomy inside? The picture of the dining room on the website makes it look like an echo chamber.

                        1. re: JeMange

                          Though it's been several years since I was last there, I will say that the acoustics were never an issue in my 4 - 5 visits. And I'm definitely in the "old folks" camp where background noise is concerned.

                            1. re: JeMange

                              Bashan is not loud or boomy.

                              There's a nice din to the room, just this side short of quiet.

                              And it's certainly several (stress "several") decibel levels lower than, say, a place like Spice Table that's been recommended up above.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              Is Peking Tavern full service? I read somewhere that you order at the counter, which I don't really want to deal with at dinner time?

                              1. re: JeMange

                                Right. Order at counter. Servers bring food. Sorry.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  No biggie. Glad I caught that beforehand, as I really hate that service model outside of lunch.

                            3. We love L&E Oyster Bar for date nights. It's intimate, casual and laid back. There are veggie and non-raw items on the menu. Put your name in at restaurant at the bottom, then go upstairs for an apertif. Sit by the window and look out.

                              Don't think it's a full bar, but a reasonably price and well-curated beer, wine and cider list.

                              Lighting is great. Have fun and good luck!