Near Music Center early Sunday evening??
We'll be attending a matinee performance at Disney Hall next Sunday and would like to have an early dinner (no later than 5 pm) with visiting friends right nearby. Is there anything good in the immediate area that's open at that time? Is Kendall's Brasserie at the music center decent? It doesn't have to be terrific, but good food and good drinks in a pleasant environment would be just fine. Is there anything?
Yes, Kendall's fits your requirements. Although there are better restaurants downtown (Rivera being a favorite of mine), Kendall's is my usual go-to place when I am going to Disney Hall or the Music Center. It's convenient, the food is good, and everyone I've eaten with at the restaurant has enjoyed it.
After a series of horrible meals at Kendall's, I was dragged there for lunch after court a few times this past year by a client and then went for dinner when the plaza got to cold one night. I was pleasantly surprised. It's not great, but it is serviceable and is convenient.
You also might consider going to Noe at the Omni. It's a short walk from Disney Hall down Grand. You can enter the hotel from Grand.
Kendall's isn't terrific, but it's really quite good, and is one of the very few restaurants open in that awkward "after matinee" hour downtown (Rivera, for example, doesn't open till 5:30). There are usually a few members of the LA Phil there before and after concerts (and certainly in-between shows on Sunday) so that's handy for impressing the visiting friends.
But if you want to impress them with food rather than cellists, Water Grill opens at 4:00 on Sundays, five or six steep (downhill) blocks away.
If you do Kendall's, make a reservation. They're really good at handling a pre- and post-concert rush, but you don't want to be the last-minute people sitting in the bar. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Do not go to Kendall's.
If you want to eat in a nice setting go to First & Hope instead (opens 4:30 on Sunday). Food not great, and in many instances spectacularly mediocre, but in comparison to Kendall's it feels like The French Laundry.
Something a bit more casual, is Pinot Grill right in the courtyard.
There are shuttles that run regularly from the various restaurants in/around DTLA that will take you to the MC, but I can totally understand if you don't want to deal with that hassle, but if you do, repost ...
re: The Oracle
There have been several chef changes over the years, but they seem to be much more competently staffed now. I had lunch there a few weeks ago. Not great, but definitely a lot better than it used to be.
On the other hand, my mom recently went there and ordered the well-regarded mussels, and at least 8 of them didn't open. That's just too many, IMHO.
With all due respect, an equally emphatic NOOOO to First and Hope. I have had spectacularly mediocre food and spectacularly worse service both times I made the mistake of going there. Also, while some people love the purple/blue lighting in the place, it makes me feel like I'm trapped in a tanning bed or a bug zapper.
Wife and I are at Disney Hall all the time, and, sadly, there is zero "immediate area" food that's great. Kendall's has upped its game the last few years, and while not great, IMHO currently has food as serviceable as Pinot Grill, and much more atmosphere. Oh, and bigger drink pours. Caveat: I was never a huge fan of the Pinot brand.
Again, if a ten minute walk or short cab/drive is a possibility, you can upgrade from "decent" to "terrific" by going to Water Grill. (They used to have a free shuttle to/from the Music Center/Disney Hall, but alas no more.)