Favorite Restaurants West of Downtown
Some friends are coming to LA in early Feb and they've asked me for recommendations on the BEST restaurants in LA IN or WEST of Downtown.
No cuisine or price restrictions. They just want food that amazes.
This forum always has great recommendations, so I was hoping to get some feedback. What are your favorite restaurants right now? Can be new and trendy or just age old and timeless.
Providence comes to mind. What else?
How many meals do you need to schedule?
So many places that should not be missed.
Bäco Mercat for certain in downtown, but even better for those with no price restrictions is Centeno's newest high-end restaurant Orsa and Winston (get the 18+ course chef's omakase menu!)
Also, Alma is downtown, and they were named the best new restaurant in the country by Bon Appetit last year.
Of course, Bestia also serves food everyone loves in the Arts District.
Moving west. You HAVE to go to Chi Spacca. It's completely unlike any other restaurant in LA, or anywhere else for that matter. Concentrated on the meat dishes of Italian cooking, everything there is insanely good. I would say it's in the top 5 restaurants in the city, and does not get nearly as much love as it should. Maybe it's because they don't do tasting menus, or hyper-detailed presentations. They just cook all kinds of meat that they self-butcher in a variety of ways that makes it taste unimaginably good. I would say it's far superior to both the Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza; but Pizzeria Mozza is great for the pizzas (which you won't find at Chi Spacca).
Now, if you want the best pasta and bread you've ever eaten, go to Bucato in Culver City instead. Very new, but somehow they make the best pasta I've eaten in LA.
Everyone else has already mentioned Animal and Son of A Gun, and Trois Mec...
Surprised no one has thrown out Tar and Roses in Santa Monica. Pretty good food there.
You know what a sleeper hit is though? The coffee shop called Paper or Plastik in mid-whilshire. I recently tried their dinner menu (the seared venison) and found it to be remarkable. It's like michelin star food served in a very non-michelin star atmosphere. It's also, by default, the only restaurant you can get a great espresso at after your meal.
In Venice, I would ignore the hopelessly overrated Tasting Kitchen, and perhaps the age-old Gjelina (unless you've never been I guess) and go for the new guy on the Abbott Kinney block: Willie Jane. You could also try out the creative Cali-Italian at Superba Snack Bar, though my experiences there haven't wowed me.
In that same vein, I would say that The Hart & The Hunter on Melrose in WeHo gets overlooked for the fine-dining southern food they've been doing for a while now. The biscuits they do are possibly the best appetizer in the city.
Speaking of pork chops and WeHo, the small place Salt's Cure makes a pork chop that will change your life. They also make the best dessert in LA: a grapefruit pie. it sounds crazy, but just try it and you will see what I mean. If you ever go to breakfast/lunch, they do the best basic plate of bacon/sausage/eggs/oatmeal griddle cakes/biscuit you will ever taste in your life (to order this, ask for the All Star, it's not on the official menu).
Another incredible place to go that no one has mentioned yet is Sqirl in Silver Lake. It's a unique place that specializes in jams and toast. Now they do daily specials, too. They also have a wonderful rice bowl. But the daily specials are always interesting, and taste great. A very unique dining experience. It is a SUPER "hipster-y" place though...if that bothers you or your guests.
Also, Allumette is in Echo Park, which is a newcomer aiming to do some very creative food. I haven't been yet though, but it seems very promising.
It's a shame about the East of downtown rule, as you are missing a few places that are really unique. Mainly, imo, Corazon y Miel in Bell.
I guess my final recommendation would be Girasol in studio city. A very new place following loosely in the style of the famous Noma in Copenhagen. Certainly worth checking out!
Honorable mentions: Starry Kitchen (never really had anything else like it...but they relocate/close down so often I am not sure where they are anymore). The three Manhattan Beach restaurants: MB Post (American small plates), Fishing with Dynamite (great oysters/clams + fried snapper), and Little Sister (high-end resignations of Vietnamese dishes).
Also surprised no one has mentioned the Bazaar for those with no price restrictions and food that wows. I guess Red Medicine and probably Ink should both get mentions as well...though by now they are staples, so I assume you know about them.
Do NOT let anyone convince you to go to Hinoki & The Bird, Le Ka, or Laurel Hardware. All of these places are very popular, and have even passed through the food press's scrutiny somehow, but in reality they are all image, and little substance.
Sorry for the long post...to recap, my absolute top picks would be: Bäco Mercat, Chi Spacca, Bucato, & Paper or Plastik.
I've also aimed a bit high here. Lower end stuff that is amazing: Taqueria Los Anaya's huevos rancheros, chilaques, tacos, banana cream pie, etc... (most underrated taqueria in LA probably); the somewhat Americanized bun thit nuong at Pho Cafe in Silver Lake; the al pastor at Leos Tacos; the pork jerky, and salty turnip and egg pancake at Ruen Pair; any of the high-end tacos that Guerrilla Tacos makes. All of these represent food that amazes, though it is not served in glitzy atmosphere, and is priced quite cheaply.
Mozza is a must, especially the pizza, Bouchon is awesome and considering how impossible it is to get reservations at the French Laundry, Bouchon may be as close as some of us will ever get to Thomas Keller's culinary style. For over the top decadence, set aside 3 hours and do the tasting menu at Providence, absolutely stunning presentation. Water Grill DTLA for seafood, Sasabune is one of the best sushi places in Los Angeles….hidden gem DTLA would be Colori, great Italian food, and for a spectacular sandwich DTLA, Mendocino farms is a must
Blue C Sushi in hollywood was a major surprise. This place is a conveyor sushi spot. Conveyor sushi is not typically very good but this really is the exception. They have some serious talent handling food there. Try to sit by the conveyor so that you may ask the chefs for of the menu dishes. Joel and Warren work their magic with the ingredients. The best fish tacos i have ever had
You might want to check out Animal (meats), Son of A Gun (seafood) and Trois Mec (+Ludo) all from the same chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook,
Wonderful Korean Food at Park's BBQ in Koreatown. Some of the best meats in LA grilled at your table.
and you can't go wrong at any of the 3 Mozza Restaurants.
For lunch Langer's Deli for the best Pastrami on rye on earth. Open till 4pm and Closed Sundays.
Where are your friends visiting you from? This will help me a bit in seeing what might "amaze" them more (or less). For example, if they are coming from Tokyo, then I may not end up suggesting some places...
Just curious: Why not Downtwon or east of Downtown? Have they had suboptimal experiences there before?