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Help w Birthday dinner for adult son who works in food biz!

Headed to LA area with husband in 2 weeks to visit son who just moved to Venice area. He is in the food industry and is picky with food and vino. Considering Rustic Canyon, Tar & Roses or Tasting Kitchen; perhaps even Luques for his BD dinner. Said son formerly worked in very high end place in Boston, lived in Italy for a bit and also dined in many starred Michelin restaurants in US and Europe, But....we are not looking to have that kind of experience.Don't want to bust our budget on one night. Want something unpretentious, high-quality, not too noisy and fun! Any ideas? While in the area we hope to have some local tacos and Asian food, and will probably try some places on Gold's 100 list, etc.

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  1. I love Gjelina and Superba Snack Bar both in Venice.

    for tacos try Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica.

    6 Replies
    1. re: wienermobile

      have you tried superbas brunch? I was extremely underwhelmed/thought it ludicrously expensive.

      1. re: wienermobile

        I'd put Tacos Punta Cabras well above TPF these days.

        1. re: cacio e pepe

          TPC only has fish or seafood tacos.....

          TPF has everything else...... Apples to oranges.

          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

            True, though tacos were mentioned and type was not.

            That said, I think TPF is pedestrian at best while TPC is very good. I'd sooner steer someone towards TPC's more limited but superior menu.

          2. re: cacio e pepe

            Agreed on TPC, and for non-seafood tacos, I'd steer toward La Playita over TPF. La Playita also does a mean seafood cocktail; I actually prefer it to TPC's regular coctels, though TPC occasionally breaks out some special coctels that can't be beat (uni, pismo clams, ikura, anyone?).

            1. re: TheOffalo

              Exactly. Their specials are just that!

              Sadly, there aren't a whole lot of non-seafood tacos on the westside that I truly enjoy. Just a couple of places that scratch an itch well enough.

              Loteria Grill, of all places, has a couple of guisados that I think are pretty good.

              I suppose one could make an argument that Tacos Leo is westside. When the trompo is going I really enjoy those al pastor tacos.

        2. For Asian in the area try the new Meizhou Dongpo at the Westfield Mall in Century City, A part of a Chinese restaurant group, opened in Beijing in 1996, Their menu mixes regional Chinese specialties from dan dan noodles to pan-fried pork dumplings to sliced pork ear, the house special is a Meizhou Roasted Duck, which is presented like Peking duck with rice pancakes, scallion, cucumber, and duck sauce for $68. But most items are in the $15-$20 range. Almost like going to the SGV without the drive.

          1 Reply
          1. re: wienermobile

            Meizhou Dongpo works fine for Westside trafficphobes. But food-wise, I'd still rather drive to the SGV.

          2. I really enjoyed my visit to Tar & Roses recently. Creative and well-executed dishes with good and interesting flavors. Excellent cheese selection too

            1. Tsujita

              It's artisan Japanese/ramen, and for someone like your son who can appreciate cooking as a craft and an art, I think he will enjoy Tsujita. You will as well.

              From my limited times at both T&R and Tasting Kitchen, the noise level at both places do not fit the "not too noisy" description.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Agree with you on all counts.

                I had the Black Cod at Tsujita recently…some of the best I've ever had, anywhere.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  If only they served the Tskemen (and ramen) at night.

                  They turn into a Kaiseki joint at night.

                2. Too bad Gjelina is so noisy as it meets all of your other requirements

                  1. Ended up eating at both Tar & Roses (LOVED IT) and also Gjelina (Liked it, but some dishes were too heavy-handed with acidic notes and herbs). The scope and feel of the menu there reminded me of Jamie Bissonnette's Coppa in Boston, but IMHO it wasn't as stellar. We also ate at AXE in Venice (meh), R&D Kitchen on Montana (can't-go-wrong, well-prepared American fare) , were treated to dinner at Yamashiro in Hollywood (iconic) and had a very nice lunch at Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger's Border Grill in SM.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: ceegee13

                      "...treated to dinner at Yamashiro in Hollywood (iconic)..."

                      Let's parse that sentence a bit. Treated means someone else paid but not that the food was a treat I take it? Iconic. I got conned into going to Yamashiro and the food was a bit on the "ick" side perhaps? (g)

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Iconic setting, yes. The.food was....better than I expected.

                        1. re: ceegee13

                          "Better than expected" is exactly my review of Yamashiro as well -- went there last weekend, under mild duress because my mother-in-law really wanted to go. The food was not great but not bad either; in fact the wagyu steak on a sizzling Himalayan salt platter (my MIL's selection) was actually rather tasty, in an unsubtle and expensive way.

                      2. re: ceegee13

                        "...treated to dinner at Yamashiro in Hollywood (iconic)..."

                        Serious loss of cred with me right there.

                        1. re: J.L.

                          Yah, well. But we had no choice about the venue, bc a biz associate arranged this dinner, paid for it, etc. One glimpse of the place and I feared the worst, but it wasn't really. These institutions exist in every city (think 21 Club, Sardis, Space Needle restaurant, Harry's Bar in Venice, and practically every dining establishment with a "scenic view")--and locals always shun them. But I bet if you heard that Yamashiro was being converted into condos, Church or an Asian food mart, you would be a little sad.

                          1. re: ceegee13

                            Heheheh no worries. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I get dragged to Yamashiro once in a blue moon as well. :-)

                            1. re: J.L.

                              So you're headed there ... next July 31st?

                              Have fun.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Astronomical odds of that happening

                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    That's why I said "next July 31st"!

                                    I usually book it for every Lunar blue moon, which for me means it's Oct. 24 *this* year.

                                    I'll report back and let you know what to order, or not order.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      A stiff drink, most likely, is what I'll be ordering...

                                      1. re: J.L.

                                        Maybe one Blue Hawaii just to keep the theme going? I gotta think that this whole Blue Moon thing has to appeal to ipse if he can just dovetail it with his blue food quest...

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Blue foods... Hmm sounds like I now know what to nominate for DOTM in April!

                          2. re: ceegee13

                            Glad you liked Tar & Roses! It's a cool place

                          3. Sotto has very good Italian. Great pizza, pasta and pork dishes. Full bar.

                            1. Rustic Canyon would be a very good choice. Tar & Roses as well, but T&R is very small, and cramped and quite loud. Rustic Canyon is, instead, basically michelin star food in a casual, quiet atmosphere.

                              If you want to stay in Venice and try something a bit more fun I would recommend going to Willie Jane. Very fun interpretations of low-country cuisine. A pork chop brined in sweet tea, shrimp n grits, and an oatmeal cookie sandwich with mascarpone cream that is to die for.

                              1. Piccolo in Venice
                                Milo & Olive in SM
                                Salt's Cure, Connie & Ted's, Son of a Gun (a fitting name for your occasion) all in West Hollywood area

                                1 Reply