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LA for 20th anniversary in February...what area gives us maximal exposure to great restaurants without driving all over the place?

We are thinking of staying 4 nights (Sat-Tues) for our anniversary. We live in Portland, which does not have a lot of fine dining, so we would like to do some of that (especially Tuesday night, which is the actual anniversary).

We don't want to be driving/cabbing all over the place, though, so what part of LA makes the most sense to stay for 3-4 fine dining spots at night and other interesting (ethnic/casual) spots for brunch/lunch. We are willing to drive/cab a bit if necessary, but would like a great home base so most nights we can have short rides or even walk (up to 2 miles each way assuming good weather and safe streets).

Also love great craft cocktails, so restaurants that have this would be great or bars nearby to stop before dinner would also work.

We have received a recommendation from non-Chowhounders for Santa Monica, but would appreciate some input from the Board...

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Weho/ Beverly center area near old and new restaurant rows and still near koreatown and Thai town. That's my opinion.

    1. I actually think Santa Monica is a great suggestion (although I imagine staying there will be quite expensive). I don't know about cocktails (since I don't really drink), but you've got everything else you're looking for (including walkability and public transit via the Big Blue Bus).

      Most of western LA county has good weather yr around....

      Santa Monica does have a fairly sizable homeless population b/c of the (now dwindling) homeless resources available there, but it's generally considered a quite safe area (esp in the northern part of the city).

      A search will pull up suggestion, but just off the top of my head, the following are places that I've been too or read good things about

      JiRaffe
      Tar and Roses
      La Botte
      Hostaria del Piccolo
      Milo and Olive
      Huckleberry
      Shophouse
      Stella Barra/Rossa (not sure what it's called now)

      If you're willing to go 3 miles on the bus, then you can go to Monte Alban, Churro Calientes, and access everything on Sawtelle (do a search).

      WeHo/Beverly Center is also a good suggestion, although, IMHO, it's one of the snootiest places in all of LA....

      5 Replies
      1. re: ilysla

        to add to ilysia's santa monica list:
        fig restaurant in the miramar

        1. re: westsidegal

          Yes to Santa Monica but add Melisse ,Rustic Canyon, Water Grill, Chinois on Main. Supera Snack Bar and Gjelina

          1. re: wienermobile

            Oy, can't believe I forgot those! (although I've only been to Melisse and Gjelina myself) But I agree that those would be great for someone coming from out of town (Melisse esp for a special occasion).

            WSG, does Fig do the 1/2 off happy hr (might be useful for the OP)? I've not been there myself...

        2. re: ilysla

          I live in Santa Monica and agree that it would be a great single spot for dining in LA.

          For Santa Monica I would add:
          Rustic Canyon
          Melisse (for really fine dining)
          Hungry Cat
          Catch
          Musha
          Zengo for Sunday brunch.

          A trip to Malibu should include Nobu for a great ocean view and sushi, and maybe Grom for gelato.

          Just a few miles south is the Venice area which has great restaurants as well, but Santa Monica's atmosphere can't be beat

          1. re: Ogawak

            Nobu Malibu Is the most beautiful restaurant in Los Angeles.

        3. I suggest you stay in West L.A., which borders Santa Monica.

          From West L.A., you can easily get to Sawtelle's "Little Osaka" area, try n/naka, get great Persian fare in Westwood, go the Century City and try Hinoki & the Bird, Craft, and reach Beverly Hills for all its Chow-ish places. Culver City is also nearby, featuring Father's Office, Bucato, etc.

          Will you have a rental car to drive or are you cabbing it for 4 days? Cabs may get expensive.

          1 Reply
          1. re: J.L.

            a big +1 for Craft. Great place for actually anniversary dinner.

          2. I'm of the opinion that you should stay near a red line stop, e.g. Hollywood or DTLA

            2 Replies
            1. re: ns1

              Santa Monica and near 405 boring overpriced and worst traffic in all of la. If you want to walk and have fine cuisine w variety I would not recommend.

              1. re: jessejames

                If you're west of the 405 the traffic isn't that bad. Getting past the 405 during rush hour is pretty frustrating.

                As as boring (or overpriced) - I strongly disagree.