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Jun 12, 2014 04:30 PM

Where Are the Joints? aka smaller, individually run neighborhood places?

After recent travels over the least year to Barcelona, Paris, NYC, SF, Nashville and others, I'm left wondering, where are the neighborhood joints in LA? I've seen versions of this thread before, but not recently. By joint, I mean smallish (anyone where from 5-10 tables? though this is arbitrary) neighborhood places that are operated by individuals with good to great food, and fun atmosphere (again an arbitrary term) and moderately priced. The type of place equally good for a weeknight or weekend, on a date or with friends in town.

I can think of many examples of these in other cities but I'm hard pressed here in LA. Is it just that I live in West Hollywood? I'm sure there are probably places in Venice or on the eastside but they don't immediately come to mind.

For example:
-Angelli Cafe & Lou before they closed would be good examples.

-Salt's Cure would maybe fit the bill, but it's a bit pricier than what I had in mind. Same for Son of a Gun & Animal. (Though about 5 years ago, one could eat at the bar at Animal very reasonably (couple apps, some house wine, cake for about $30-40, not sure if this is still true).)

-Night +Market does fit the bill, but in my arbitrary criteria I was thinking less culinarily adventurous. (Admittedly this is dumb and it should count)

-Vivoli may have counted once upon time in the wasteland that was Weho/Sunset in the early 2000s, but it's slipped a lot in recent years.

-There was briefly a place on LaBrea called GOAT (from the guy who owned Cobra's & Matadors), but it lasted all of 3 minutes.

-Cynthia's (god forbid and RIP) was a version of this.

-Papilles qualified when it first opened, less so since they raised their prices.

-Alma meets some of the criteria, but is now way too foodie/expensive.

-I haven't been but The Park in Echo Park would seem to foot the bill.
Bludso's on LaBrea maybe, though for factors other than the BBQ and it's a bit big. (Get the chicken, have a beer, and hang out - it's different than if you go expecting great Q).

-Covell sort of fits the bill, as does L&E, though again like Night & Market, I'm thinking a little more down the middle food wise.

Do they economics of LA simply not support places like this? IE, here you can have lots of space so what's a small neighborhood place in another city is BLD here, or your can open a "concept" high margin pizza/burger place that seats 80-100 and turns over, so why open a small place?

Do I need to get our more? Is it just West Hollywood and environs, or am I looking in the wrong place? Would love to hear what other people think. Is it just not an LA thing? Do we make up for it with all of the great tiny sushi places, thai restaurants, etc?

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  1. I think it's WeHo.

    Go to a more ethnic part of the city and you'll see lots of joints (pun intended).

    also see this thread:

    12 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      That's also a great thread, but not quite what I had in mind. I'm not excluding ethnic joints, but that thread is more focused on bargains, much of it lunch oriented/fast-ish food.

      In everyone one of those cities above, I've been taken to or found places, where you could go a get a good or great sit-down dinner and some cocktails/wine in a small but fun atmosphere for a reasonable price. I find in LA those places are either not small or not as reasonable, hence the post.

      1. re: VealParmGuy

        Check out Sawtelle (Clusi Batusi for one).

        1. re: VealParmGuy

          fair enough.

          angelini osteria is often thrown around as replicating that neighborhood italian joint feeling, although it's a little bigger than you described.

          clusi batusi is barely bigger than you described but the menu probably not as deep as you like.

          1. re: ns1

            Great minds and all that (g)

            What about Plan Check? Too big? What about Josie Next Door? http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/next-d...

            1. re: Servorg

              I've only been to the Plan Check on Fairfax, which feels too big and too burger-y. But maybe that's what the LA version is circa 2014.

              Haven't been to Josie Next Door, but looks about right. Nook also fits the bill.

              1. re: VealParmGuy

                Try Meals by Genet. Also the Ethiopian Mercato on
                Fairfax serves good food. Both are Ethiopian.
                Also Fat Cow at the Grove is fun, but parking is hell.

                1. re: VenusCafe

                  if you go to meals by genet, BE SURE TO go on one of the days that they are open.
                  check before heading out there.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    What? And miss all the fun of going to Rahel instead?

                    (Just kidding. Genet is good. Worth going. But Rahel is fantastic.)

                    1. re: Bjartmarr

                      i concur about rahel.
                      also, i love the food at AWASH, but the decor at awash (or lack thereof) throws off some folks.. . .

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      after they deleted their Salmon pizza, so was I

          2. re: ns1

            ns1-is the board ready for a review re edibles

          3. I was gonna say Pot. Bad joke.

            The Six (Pico & Overland) still serves its locals well.

            1. The Rustic Spoon in North Hollywood. Thai Food

              1 Reply
              1. Doya Doya on Artesia in Gardena has no equal that I'm aware of. A few other Kansai-style oko joints exist around LA - no Hiroshima-style specialists that I know of. But IMHO, Doya Doya is the best from what I've tried.

                1. If I understand you correctly, and there's a good chance I am not, I think the entire 'hoods of Silver Lake, Echo Park and environs are populated with places you describe.

                  Some that come to mind incl. Little Beast, Trencher, Milk Farm, Forage, Four Cafe, etc.

                  I could go on and on and on, but I don't want to bore you, or anyone else.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Beat me to the punch. The Park in Echo Park pretty much epitomizes a neighborhood place.

                    1. re: JeMange

                      Good to know. I had it on my list above, I'm curious and am somehow on their email list, but have never been.

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      You're on the right track, and yes I think spots like these are more plentiful on the eastside.

                      Little Beast seems possible, not as sure about Forage or Four Cafe. They are a little too cafe/casual, less a place for a bday dinner with friends or a date etc.

                      I realize i'm creating an awfully limited target here...

                      1. re: VealParmGuy

                        I realize i'm creating an awfully limited target here...

                        Seems, then, the problem is with you, and less Los Angeles.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Ha. I was never disputing that LA has quality places to eat...just noticed that a certain type of restaurant is found fairly easily in other cities but is less prevalent here.

                          1. re: VealParmGuy

                            LA, unlike the other places you've mentioned (NYC, SF and especially Nashville, which I love btw) is a very expansive and spread out metropolitan area.

                            I have spent most of my adult life -- in one form or another -- living in LA and sadly there are still major pockets that represent culinary blindspots for me.

                            More options to explore, I suppose.

                            1. re: VealParmGuy

                              Could you say what some of these other places are so we could look them up and get a feel for what they are like?

                              It sounds kind of odd...you want a place with outstanding food, but only 4 tables, yet with enough glamor in its atmosphere that it would be a viable candidate for big celebrations, and special occasions, all with a price that is just barely above fast-casual dining?

                              Sounds like a dream. I'd be fascinated to know of some of these places so I could visit them whenever I manage to visit SF, or NYC.

                              1. re: BacoMan

                                You are nit-picking what is already a small target, I gave a range of tables to signify smaller than say Terroni or BLD. I didn't say "big celebrations" but rather nice enough to be a step above a cafe and appropriate for a night out. And where did I say priced barely above fast-casual? I gave some examples of where I estimated the price range tops out, and in another comment specifically said not in the sub-$10 range.

                                As for specific examples off the top of my head that inspired this:
                                NYC - Frank in the east village. Brooklyn also seems to be rife with them, but I don't know first hand.
                                SF - Brenda's, Aperto in Potrero Hill (I think this is the place I'm thinking of), Canteen (now closed)
                                Paris - L'Entree Des Artistes

                                1. re: VealParmGuy

                                  Well, fast-casual is like $15-$20 a person. Salt's Cure is like $40/person. Salt's Cure doesn't qualify for being too costly though, so you want something in that $25-$30/person range I assume, which is sort of just the next level up from fast-casual.You said birthday dinners, which is usually stand-in for big celebrations.

                                  It's tough to find much of anything in that price range in LA. You already seem to know about places like Night + Market, but want less adventurous cuisines. I guess I can't blame you for being hopeful...it would be nice to see cooking like N + M's in other cuisine types for $25/person. (Why is Thai food the only seemingly cheap cuisine in this regard?)

                                  I said it lower in the thread, but Paper or Plastic might be what you're looking for.

                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                    Maybe it's possible to get out of there for less, but Salt's Cure has always seemed more than $40/p. Most of the entrees start at $25+ and inch close, if not top, $30. With any salad, side, dessert or glass of wine, you're easily above $40 pretty quickly.

                                    But yes, that's what I was trying to find, places more or less in the $25-40ish range.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              How does that connote a problem with the OP?
                              Isn't this a perfect format for revealing the parameters of a limited target?
                              I'd say it is more of a challenge, which is probably why he started this thread.