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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.

                        2. Nook, on the west side, in a strip center on Santa Monica, fits that bill.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Wayno

                            imho, if you go to nook, stick with the "comfort food."

                            the more saturated fat in the dish, the more likely it will be edible.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              Saturated fat: Time magazine's cover story this week.

                            1. Niroj Lebant Cuisine in Agoura Hills would fit.

                              1. Cayenne on Beverly Blvd just west of LA Area. Cozy on a nice night sit outside. Nice for casual but nice to go with a group of friends.

                                1. Cynthia's fried chicken.
                                  Cynthia's quirky personality that made all of us regulars feel welcome and satisfied…the minute the doors closed and the speculation began I knew years later she and her place would be missed…she and a few others on 3rd were iconic, never to be replaced.
                                  I live on the westside too, by weho, and I'd love a joint in my neighborhood, other than LA Conversation, to go to where everyone knows your name.

                                  26 Replies
                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    as a neighbor I can say that I am really sad that Cynthia's closed and Son of a Gun moved in (not!). but I did like her berry cobbler dessert...Joans sort of fills the bill for a neighborhood joint and I can always trust Jose not to put mayo on my sandwiches...nice folks, good food.

                                    sad that st. nick's bar is closed.

                                    1. re: jessejames

                                      Well, needless to say, Joans is really my go-to for consistent, good food.
                                      It's not within easy walking distance, which would be my preference, but I certainly find it the best there is for me around these parts…anytime night or day.

                                      1. re: latindancer

                                        us too. some many great options and outstanding service/nice folks. I have so many favorites but there's always something new too, and something sweet!

                                        1. re: jessejames

                                          I can't imagine my life without Joan's.
                                          The consistency of the quality of the food, the service, the staff…the best eggwhite omelets in town and we love the short rib sandwich.
                                          The entire operation is stellar.

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            Yeah, Joan's is ok. But would you really have a birthday dinner there?... They don't really do dinner.

                                            1. re: BacoMan

                                              <They don't really do dinner>

                                              What do you mean 'they don't really do dinner'?
                                              I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there….
                                              If you're comparing it to a full service dining experience, well no. It's not that kind of place.
                                              For me? Joan's is more than 'ok'… For instance, I was just at Superba on Lincoln…couldn't wait to try it out.
                                              Eh…ok. I'll take Joan's any day.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                Did you go to Superba for the dinner service? or just stop in for sandwiches?

                                                The dinner at Superba F+B blows anything I've ever had at Joan's out of the water.

                                                I say that as a fan of Joan's, too. The chicken wings are great, and they do the only version of a Chinese Chicken Salad I like. But Joan's is not fine-dining, and I although I might pickup a cake from there for a birthday celebration, I would never hold an actual birthday dinner there.

                                                When I first moved to LA, I also ate at Joan's all day every day, but to remain with Joan's as the pinnacle of your LA dining experience is like staying in kindergarten your whole life.

                                                1. re: BacoMan

                                                  As a side note…as an adult I think, no I know, there are lots of kindergarteners I'd rather spend my time with rather than some of the more 'evolved' of we humans when it comes to food or anything else for that matter.
                                                  Now…Joans' is NOT fine dining, you're so right. I'm a fan of her cooking, her service and her attention to detail. The times she's catered for me were met with high regards by those who also love her cooking.
                                                  It's comfort food, simple food. I'm not sure where the reference to 'birthday celebration' began…but for those I've eaten with at Joan's and had long conversations, and outstanding food, with the others at the communal tables, it sort of felt like some sort of celebration. It's good, consistent, simple and unpretentious….my kind of place.

                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                    I guess I thought it was obvious, but I was using a metaphor earlier.

                                                    1. re: BacoMan

                                                      Yes, it was obvious, and I got it.

                                                      Bottom line for me is….the taste of the food. I don't care what the chef does, as long as it tastes good to me then I'm all in.
                                                      Joan's food tastes good and judging by the long lines I'm assuming every other diner there feels the same way. I hate it when she's out of the roasted chicken. Hers comes close to my version and it's nice to be able to pick one up and take it home, without having to prepare it myself.

                                                        1. re: jessejames

                                                          JJ, who's fried chicken ???

                                                          Joan's on Third ?????

                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                            yes, Joans. Comes up every week or so....I love it. I also very much enjoy her beef burgundy (which sometimes is done with short ribs) but basically meat dark gravy and carrots and various lasagna offerings...and don't get me started on the chocolate chip cookies! the muffeletta is also done right.

                                                            1. re: jessejames

                                                              chocolate chip cookies are dope there ???????

                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                yes. if they put nuts in they'd be perfect for me.

                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                    then check em out! im still good for a few a week....sweets wise, i'll take old joan over magnolia bakery across the street any day

                                                                    1. re: jessejames

                                                                      i haven't been to joan's on third in a few years.

                                                                      i remember they had a pretty good turkey meatloaf sandwich back in the day.

                                                                      but truth to tell, i was never really a joan's fan.

                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                  What did you have at Suberba Food + Bread? I'm thinking about trying the fried chicken Sunday night special one of these weekends.

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    You should be wary. I recently went, and I loved it. I have noted that you and I have nearly opposite tastes in food. So I think you should be prepared for disappointment there.

                                                    Or just don't order any of the dishes I ordered maybe:

                                                    Toasts: testa, snap pea, avocado.
                                                    Broccolini / egg / harissa
                                                    Black Rice Salad
                                                    Rotisserie Duck (only available on Tuesdays anyway)

                                                    The only dish I didn't really like was the avocado toast.

                                                    1. re: BacoMan

                                                      I love Animal. I felt completely underwhelmed by Chi Spacca. I enjoyed Superba Snack Bar. I am planning on the fried chicken at S F + B.

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        Maybe the fried chicken is different, but so far as I could tell the usual entrees are not served with anything. So sides/toasts/dessert are somewhat nice to have there. Maybe not 100% necessary though. The toasts are actually somewhat filling.

                                                        1. re: BacoMan

                                                          The fried chicken is served with collard greens and biscuit. I'll probably order some type of potato side dish too such as the roasted potatoes schmaltz, pimenton.

                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            Probably a good choice. I wonder how their biscuit will compare to the other famous biscuits in the LA dining scene.

                                                            Are you headed there tonight?

                                                            1. re: BacoMan

                                                              Probably we'll go sometime in the next few weeks.

                                                    2. re: Servorg

                                                      I'll be back for the fried chicken after hearing so many great things about it.

                                                      I went for lunch. I was very impressed with the amount of overhead…I was waited on by several very friendly, accommodating people and the service was stellar.
                                                      I ordered the Salmon Belly BLT. I'm a huge salmon fan and am always interested to see what people do with it.
                                                      The salmon, itself, was prepared with great expertise…moist, flavorful, done to perfection. It was placed on their seeded bread, spread with tomato jam, crisp bacon and pickled onion and romaine. I'm a purist when it comes to any sort of fish and I found the tomato jam too sweet, the pickled onion overwhelming and the bread not my choice for this sandwich although toasted it'd probably be good, I'm thinking.
                                                      This is, of course, my own personal taste. I wouldn't order it again. I took home Kouign amman, currant scone and their buttermilk biscuit. The Kouign amman was on par with Bouchon's…I prefer Bouchon. The currant scone was very nice as was the buttermilk biscuit…nice texture and flavorful I preferred the scone over the biscuit. As I was going out the door the very friendly guy at the counter gave me a baguette. It was good...hard surface with a moist inside and flavorful.

                                      2. Another place my wife and I like to go on date night sometimes is Sprazzo http://www.sprazzo.net/home.html and I think you should check out Fundamental LA http://fundamental-la.com/ too for this particular hunt you're on.

                                        1. I'm going to echo the notion that we don't have "neighborhoods" in much of L.A. like in other cities, so you don't see neighborhood places as much. But I live in the South Bay, and because we're sort of out of the way from the freeways, we have our own little neighborhood places, like Gina Lee's Bistro in Redondo Beach, or Trani's in San Pedro.

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: moreplease

                                            I live in a wonderful neighborhood on the westside….
                                            There are lots of great neighborhoods all around me so I'm not sure what you're saying when you say 'we don't have neighborhoods in much of LA'.
                                            We're much more spread out than most US cities but that doesn't mean people don't live in neighborhoods where little 'joints' aren't possible.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              And yet... no recommendations..

                                              The Westside is just a weird place, especially WeHo. Having lived in WeHo for a few years, this may sound ridiculous, but I would say that the neighborhood restaurant is pretty much the Ivy on Robertson. At least that's how the place is treated...

                                              Not that I would ever go there.

                                              I guess other people would probably say Cuvee, or Pizzeria il Fico though.

                                              1. re: BacoMan

                                                I think Dominick's is the most neighborhoodie place I've come across in WeHo.

                                                Doesn't seem to fit the OPs criteria though.

                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                  Not sure how I left Dominick's off the list initially. It's a little bigger than what I had in mind, but fits the bill on all other counts.

                                                  1. re: VealParmGuy

                                                    It does?... You've totally lost me then. That place is bigger than Salt's Cure. It's fucking loud, and rowdy. It suffers from a horrible crowd...the worst of LA's superficial, obnoxious crowd.

                                                    Have never understood why people like it so much. The "thick" spaghetti is ok I guess.

                                                    There is a place in Huntington Beach called Basilico's Pasta e Vino that strikes me as an actual neighborhood place. I think the restaurant barely seats 20, old school red-checkered tablecloths, baskets of fresh-baked bread with tons of balsamic and olive oil, free, simple side salads with huge plates of house-made, garlic-heavy marinara and alfredo sauce made by a woman that's been doing it for 50 years. Cheap wine to guzzle down. It's not fine dining or anything, and it isn't hyper local produce, light-on the oil, exquisite technique cooking of places like Bestia, Bucato, etc... but it's a pleasant, soul-satisfying experience.

                                                    That's what I imagined you were thinking of originally... not the obnoxious pseudo-glamour, and overpriced spaghetti of some place like Dominick's...

                                                    1. re: VealParmGuy

                                                      I agree, VPG. It's big and the bar scene kind of moves it out of what you're referring to as a "joint."

                                                      Still, it somehow serves its own community very well. *Mostly* locals in the neighborhood eat there and do so fairly regularly.

                                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                        I said Dominick's fits except for being bigger than initial criteria. I came into the exercise looking for places that fit all 4 - (size, price, food, atmosphere) but perhaps in LA 2 or 3 out of 4 is the best one can do. I realize this is the internet, but I'm bit surprised by the number of posts that are "shocked", or "confused" when I allow that my admittedly fungible criteria might be flexible.

                                                        Is the food at Dominick's great? No, of course not, but it's good enough, the place is lively and it's reasonably priced (many sub $20 entrees compared to many of the other places discussed). The sunday supper with $15 bottles of (off-label) Palmina wine is also a good deal if one likes that weekend's menu. It's also quieter on Sundays per your complaint above.

                                                        1. re: VealParmGuy

                                                          You're responding to BacoMan, no?

                                                          I'm in agreement with you on all counts. 2 out of 3 definitely works. Frankly, it's better than most of the joints I can walk to in my neighborhood.

                                            2. Do you have one example that fits your description?

                                              I noticed you had about 10, but none quite nailed it.

                                              Would this be the equivalent of a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin guide?

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                I had to look that up, but yes that seems about right. I'd be a bit more flexible, but the general criteria fits.

                                                Interestingly a bit more googling turns up that for 2014:
                                                New York 138
                                                San Francisco 83
                                                Los Angeles 0
                                                (I could be wrong but that's what a quick search turns up).

                                                1. re: VealParmGuy

                                                  Well, that's cuz there's no Michelin in LA.

                                                  And, really???? Bib Gourmand is the true magnetic north that is guiding your culinary compass in this query???

                                                  I totally don't get your question then ...

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      The Bib Gourmand's I've been to in Europe were small, interesting, local "joints". They seemed to have a strong neighborhood following.

                                                          1. re: BacoMan

                                                            Cotogna is like paying Quince prices without the same level of service or comfortable dining room.

                                                            Food is great, but it's not a neighborhood joint (as much a FiDi lawyer's hangout as it would be something of a local's joint), and unless you're using Silicon Valley pricing, it's kind of expensive for what the OP is thinking of.

                                                            Again, all that said I think it's fine but just not what the OP is looking for/describing.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              All wine at Cotogna is $40 per bottle. That puts it in my neighborhood.

                                                            2. re: BacoMan

                                                              SF Bib Gourmands that might qualify as joints as the OP thinks of them:
                                                              Bistro Aix

                                                              The ones with asterisks are slightly larger and/or more upscale than the exact thing I think OP is talking about, but similar. Bistro Aix has a large patio but it still feels more "joint-ish". Fringale is in the middle of nowhere (SoMa) and no one goes there who isn't going there to go there -- if you get what I mean.

                                                              Most of the other SF Bib Gourmands are "going out" type restaurants or else much larger or else both. (eg. Dosa is a great inexpensive local place in the Marina, but it is quite large whereas Kokkari is a power lunch and elegant dinner destination.)

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          No, I was going by the criteria of a place where you could "good cuisine at a reasonable price" with "two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included), and are often of most value to a city’s residents, who regularly dine in neighborhood restaurants."

                                                          It wasn't being a stickler for the format, but the idea was you could get dinner, share a dessert, have a drink etc, and be in that ballpark.

                                                          1. re: VealParmGuy

                                                            My only question about Bib Gourmand regards how they define "course". And are the prices averages of all the prices per category? Because otherwise, I would imagine most places would have a bread options that was pretty cheap. Does that count as a course?

                                                            Cotogna is on the list, and I am not sure how. Their apps all cost $13, and all pasta/pizza cost $17. Desserts are $9. So it makes sense, in a way they are almost hand-made for the list. But what if you want to get a secondi dish which runs like $28? Then you're way over the limit...

                                                            There are restaurants where it ranges a lot more as well. It is a semi-well known secret that you can eat at Spago's bar for like $30/person. So is Spago on the Bib Gourmand list?

                                                            Kind of weird.

                                                            1. re: BacoMan

                                                              In France, there's often a charge for the bread and butter which is basically a cover charge.

                                                              1. re: BacoMan

                                                                You make a great point here. Yes, at places like Spago, Cotogna, Animal, Salt's Cure, Lucques (at the bar) etc, one can eat more more reasonably by ordering in a certain way, but I think that's a different, though also worthy list.

                                                      1. Here are some Mexican joints with decent food:
                                                        EK Valley in Culver City
                                                        Salsa & Beer (the one on White Oak in the Valley)
                                                        El Abajeno on Inglewood in Culver City

                                                        A more upscale but still moderately priced place:
                                                        Fundamental on Westwood Blvd.

                                                        Golden Spoon downtown

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: bundyal

                                                          salsa & beer is definitely not a joint as described by the OP. Pretty much the opposite of "smallish".

                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                            Here is what the OP wrote:
                                                            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

                                                            I think the White Oak location has less than 20 tables/booths and meets the other requirements.

                                                            1. re: bundyal

                                                              Based on my experience, I concur. However, there always seems to be a wait--but not too long.

                                                              1. re: bundyal

                                                                Ah I was probably thinking of the noho location which is huge. My bad.

                                                            2. re: bundyal

                                                              Are you conflating Wood Spoon downtown with Golden Soon Rowland Heights?

                                                              1. re: bundyal

                                                                Yes to El Abajeno. I used to live right around the corner from that place. Simply fantastic.

                                                              2. Couldn't think of SQIRL? Daily Dose? Maximiliano?

                                                                That's 3 neighborhoods without lifting a Yelp finger.

                                                                Papille's is no more expensive Lou's. Your criteria is inconsistent and frankly a bit odd, especially: "I was thinking less culinarily adventurous", which screams: I want middling, boring sandwiches and salads. Which leads to the question: why bother posting?

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: TonyC

                                                                  Haven't been to Maximiliano but seems to fit. Squirl as of the moment is not yet open for dinner. I don't know Daily Dose.

                                                                  Papilles is certainly more expensive than Lou since they switched to a la carte, but let's not quibble and then accept that Papilles possibly fits.

                                                                  Your taking things a bit out of context. "less culinarily adventurous" was in specific reference to Night & Market. I love Night+Market, but it's admittedly not for everyone. In fact, I'm specifically not looking for middling, boring sandwiches and salads, and gave several examples that were not this. I didn't think looking for a middle ground between boring, and trendy was so controversial. But perhaps, given that it meets all the other criteria than maybe places like Night & Market are the LA versions.

                                                                  1. re: VealParmGuy

                                                                    Maximiliano was my first thought - it's our neighborhood "joint". Wouldn't travel across town for it, but it's a great, casual date night place that doesn't cost a fortune. Also good for brunch.

                                                                    Le Grande Orange is kind of like this too, though the food is hit or miss - at least the one in Pasadena.

                                                                    1. re: Savour

                                                                      Savour - Maximillano is not that far from us either and I have wondered about it... Maybe this discussion will get me off my tush to try it!

                                                                      1. re: happybaker

                                                                        They have a lovely patio in back. It's a very pleasant place for a pizza and a glass of wine.

                                                                        1. re: Savour

                                                                          I did not know about the patio!

                                                                          Cuz good wine and pizza outside? Heaven.

                                                                          THanks for the info!

                                                                2. does pizza count? If so then South End in Venice fits your criteria, especially the small part.

                                                                  1. Not L.A., but if you are in Long Beach (2nd & Orange}, "At Last" I believe is exactly what you are looking for - fine food, but not overboard fancy, the dream of a great chef / owner for the last half of his career. Parking is tough as it is in a dense residential area, but well worth a couple blocks walk.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Bruce Kerr

                                                                      If in Long Beach, another place I would say might be Number Nine. Somewhat limited menu, but always my favorite neighborhood place in LB.

                                                                    2. I just moved to the mid-Wilshire area and I've found two places in the hood that are becoming regular "haunts."
                                                                      Hiatus Urban BBQ...which is more of a take out place, very very good. And Chic Wine Bar.....which has good food, a nice wine selection, and seems to be a real hang out for locals. Very nice people as well.

                                                                      21 Replies
                                                                        1. re: perk

                                                                          Speaking of the Mid-Wilshire area...the most neighborhood-y place in LA, and the place that actually feels to me like it perfectly fits OP's description: Paper or Plastik!

                                                                          Shoot. I guess they rearranged their dinner, but when they were serving Jeremy Fox's menu, the place was the best kept neighborhood secret in all of LA. Top notch espresso, great craft beer and wine selection, and food prepped to the same level as any of the best restaurants in LA for about 2/3-1/2 the price. (for example, expertly plated venison was $24 there, and something similar at Church and State is $48).

                                                                          I haven't been back since they supposedly changed up the menu though, so it might've declined in quality, not sure.

                                                                          1. re: BacoMan

                                                                            Thanks jessejames and BacoMan. I'll check out both those places. I know I'm not far from lots of good places if I head a bit further north and west....but I really do like finding good neighborhood joints!

                                                                            1. re: perk

                                                                              You live in Mid-Wilshire right? What constitutes a neighborhood? Technically all of Hollywood is a neighborhood, so is Silver Lake, Echo Park, etc... right? Neighborhoods are pretty huge in LA. I think P or P actually is in your neighborhood, isn't it?

                                                                              1. re: BacoMan

                                                                                Yea, I'm in Mid-Wilshire. But I guess that I'm thinking that a neighborhood place is about more than geography. There are some "go to" places that are IN a neighborhood....and then some that seem to exist to serve the neighborhood. P & P looks great. I'll definitely try it this week!

                                                                                1. re: perk

                                                                                  Yeah...I suppose so. It's a tricky distinction sometimes. P or P is almost good enough to be a destination place.

                                                                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                                                                    My last house was in Carthay Circle. I could (and did) walk to Red Medicine. But I never thought of it as a neighborhood place.....just a great place that I was lucky to have in the neighborhood.

                                                                                  2. re: perk

                                                                                    Oh, I hope you get a chance to do a write-up here after your P & P meal. I've been wanting to go, but could use a little nudge -- my Westsider provincialism is rearing its ugly head. (If you could keep an eye out to try to get a sense if it would suit a solo diner, that would be great.)

                                                                                    1. re: spoonlicker

                                                                                      i will certainly report back....and i'll be going solo, so will address that as well!

                                                                                      1. re: spoonlicker

                                                                                        It's extremely well-suited to solo dining.

                                                                                2. re: BacoMan

                                                                                  Went there for lunch today. I have mixed feelings. I understand that it's a cafe.....casual....and not fine dining. Order at the counter. Food is then dropped off. The girl behind the counter was pleasant and welcoming. Menu looked interesting, if a bit limited. (my comparison for this kind of place is always Clementine's.....which was in my old neighborhood. though Paper or Plastik has wine and beer, which is a huge plus.) I ordered a bistro salad....their take on a nicoise i think. I asked about wines...she said they had a nice rose....brought some for me to taste....very nice...took it to my seat. and waited. and waited. and waited. i mean...it's a salad. after ten/fifteen minutes, the guy running food (they were not busy....only a few people) saw my looking anxious and said "your grilled cheese is coming right up." i said "um....not grilled cheese. a salad." so he comes out a few minute later with the wrong salad. i mention that isn't what i ordered. he comes back with the correct salad. it was fresh. fine. good. a bit under seasoned. the other annoying thing was the manager/owner? loudly complaining about something going on in his life.....dropping lots of F bombs....saying he was sick and tired of "whatever." i'm far from a prude....not bothered by profanity in general....but don't think patrons of a restaurant, casual or not, need to be in a situation where they are forced to hear his rantings. he finally sat down with the people next to me and said "i'm sorry to go on and on. this just really bothers me." i thought.....don't apologize to your friends. apologize to your customers. or the ones you have left. i will certainly give it another try. maybe for dinner. or a snack at the "bar." it's got a nice feel. food has potential. but so far....i'm a bigger fan of chic wine bar. though it's just open for dinner. and hiatus urban bbq.

                                                                                  1. re: perk

                                                                                    Thorough field report -- thank you.

                                                                                    Oof, I would not have been thrilled with being subjected to El Jefe kvetchin' and a-cussin' while I try to enjoy a relaxing meal. That kinda sucks. Do people not realize how their bad mood infects everyone around them? Esp. if they are handing out f-bombs like lollipops...it's tiresome, really.

                                                                                    What's the parking sitch -- metered street?

                                                                                    1. re: spoonlicker

                                                                                      If you don't mind walking a block, there's usually parking a little down the street past the meters that are right next to the place. Meters are free after 8 pm, too. I've never paid for parking to go there, and never have an issue finding any. Of course, I am one of the few people in LA that doesn't mind walking a block from my car to a restaurant.

                                                                                    2. re: perk

                                                                                      I think the better meal was always dinner as opposed to lunch, but it seems they may have reconfigured the dinner menu, so idk if it is still the hidden gem it once was =(

                                                                                      The place is usually pretty boisterous, and generally rough around the edges. If you aren't into that kind of atmosphere it might just not be for you (not good, or bad, but worth pointing out for others interested).

                                                                                      The owner knows the majority of the customers it seems like, so most likely everyone else cut him a lot more slack than you did/just didn't care.

                                                                                      I guess I don't mind seeing people expressing genuine emotion though. I find it preferable to pretending they have none. Makes me feel like I am surrounded by automatons sometimes. To me, the bonus to going to places that are more freewheeling, and rough hewn, or simply non-corporate mega chains, is to (hopefully) have a more human experience.

                                                                                      Well, that's just my perspective on it.

                                                                                      In the end, did the food actually match Clementine? Clem is pretty high quality in my experience, though lacking severely in good espresso/coffee. But Clem certainly have vastly superior pie to PoP hah

                                                                                      1. re: BacoMan

                                                                                        no, i don't think the food....or at least what i had....is as good as clementine's. but, i just had the one salad. so it's hard to compare. and i've had lots of things at clementine's. as for the "emotion", i'm not really bothered by a place that's lively. but whatever he was bitching about seemed to be making his employees uncomfortable. i didn't get the idea he was berating them. but he kept yelling "you have to handle this". other patrons seemed uncomfortable as well. but again...i'll certainly give it another try. i'll go for an early dinner and report back.

                                                                                        1. re: perk

                                                                                          lemme know what you think of CJ's when you get over there -- great breakfasts with Mexican stuff, fried catfish and friendly folks...

                                                                                          1. re: perk

                                                                                            perk, which joint is this in regards to ?????


                                                                                              1. re: jessejames

                                                                                                got it, the pico one, or the one located on la brea near rodeo ??????

                                                                                                thanks JJ.

                                                                                  2. Does Cooks County count? Not too expensive. Good food. All that fun stuff.

                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: set0312

                                                                                      Cook's County is the same price as Salt's Cure though, i.e. like $40-$50/person easily. And he said Salt's Cure was disqualified for price. =/

                                                                                      1. re: BacoMan

                                                                                        When hearing about Salt's Cure, I can't help but wonder what the original malady was...

                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                            Well salt peter had a different adversary

                                                                                            1. re: jessejames

                                                                                              So did Peter Peter. He was eating pumpkin when he should have been eat...er...never mind.

                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                Who's on first what's on second I don't know on third and Peter behind the plate

                                                                                            2. re: Servorg

                                                                                              "Scurvy." What a Dreadful Great answer.

                                                                                            3. re: Tripeler

                                                                                              It refers to how they cure meat.

                                                                                              But to keep in theme with the joke... hmm... lack of awesome fucking pork chops and grapefruit pie? Also, the non-existence of real bacon.

                                                                                        1. Canele in Atwater Village
                                                                                          Red Hill in Echo Park

                                                                                          1. What the OP is referring to as "joints" have largely disappeared as higher end food became more casual. At this point, those kinds of places are just as expensive (and not as good) as a lot of places.

                                                                                            I think Osteria Mamma and Franco on Melrose both count as joints.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Haeldaur

                                                                                              Yep, Osteria Mamma is a good one. Should have had that on the initial list.

                                                                                              I realize I shouldn't have used the word "joint", which seems to have a very specific meaning, although different for each person using it.

                                                                                            2. We used to go to The Kitchen, in Silverlake a lot. BYOB, most entrees $10 - $15 - well prepared, what's not to like? We could have a fab meal and get out of there for $30.

                                                                                              Now their prices have gone up. $12 - $19. They have a liquor license.

                                                                                              But, corkage is only $10. And prices have gone up all over. So maybe it's time we go back. That turkey burger... Mmm....

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                That's true. I used to go there as well. The fried chicken was always pretty tasty. Not a bad place. Fits the joint mould. Also open fairly late.

                                                                                                1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                  Wow. I completely forgot about the kitchen. Didn't used to be called The Lunch to Latenight Kitchen. I remember them making some seriously exceptional meatloaf.

                                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                                    Kevin -

                                                                                                    Yes, I think it used to be called that. Now just "The Kitchen."

                                                                                                    Haven't had the meatloaf (though my hubby liked it). But can agree with BacoMan - the fried chicken was tasty and consistent.

                                                                                                2. Cafe Verona, 201 S. La Brea, although they recently revamped their dinner menu into something smaller & pricier. Still very much a joint at breakfast & lunch/brunch.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: katydid13

                                                                                                    and next to an oil change.

                                                                                                    Much better is Sycamore.Kitchen, up the block. Cuz, "stroller parking".

                                                                                                  2. Should follow up to my earlier post about Paper or Plastik and say that I had e-mailed the restaurant....basically copying my post on chowhounds. I got an e-mail from the manager. She apologized for my experience. Said the person who was "rather vocal" was an employee who was off duty and dropped by. But she didn't make excuses for his behavior. I got the sense that had been relayed to him. And she also apologized for the confusion about my order. It was nice of her to respond and question the staff about what had happened. I'll certainly give it another try.

                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                        is that the joint on beverly a couple blocks, or maybe just a block east of fairfax in a tiny, pod mall ??????

                                                                                                        thanks man.

                                                                                                      2. Nata's in Sherman Oaks - cute, hidden (next to Casa Vega, of all places) and Portugese; I believe it's the only authentic Portugese bakery (and restaurant) in L.A. Fatima is the owner and almost always in-house; there's a small little patio but the inside literally feels like you've been transported to Lisbon; she had the tile shipped in, the tables, everything. The wine is Portugese and so is the coffee; get the bacalao or just gorge on pastries. Really cool, cute place.

                                                                                                        1. All' Angolo on 3rd St in Koreatown is both insanely good and insanely inexpensive, has just a few tables and is definitely a neighborhood joint. The pasta there beats most places that charge 2x as much or more. I know what kind of place you are thinking of, and this is maybe a bit more diamond-in-the-rough than your ideal spot, but I highly recommend trying it. Caveat: parking in that neighborhood is horrible if you can't get a spot in the cramped lot in front.

                                                                                                          1. Maybe Blair's in Silverlake?

                                                                                                            1. I'll give my regular shout out to to Fiddler's Bistro, on 3rd about mid-point between Fairfax and La Brea. I've been going there for years and never had anything which isn't excellent.

                                                                                                              Great breakfasts, salads, soups, chops, fish, sandwiches and also solid service.


                                                                                                              And a plus is that it's close to West Hollywood.