Where to eat in LA
June 20, 2005 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I eat out a lot. I go to the same restaurants a lot. I want to branch out and try some new places. First, what are some restaurants in Los Angeles that provide good value (not necessarily the cheapest, expensive is fine too, but you should get what you pay for in terms of food quality and ambiance). Second, is there an on-line resource that tracks this kind of thing so that I could easily figure out what's cool/hot/good/whatever in LA dining?
posted by willnot to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like a job for Chowhound.com.
posted by scratch at 8:45 AM on June 20, 2005

You don't say where you are in L.A., but I kind of like the Italian place on Sepulveda and Washington- Villa Italian Restaurant, 3973 Sepulveda. Lots of food for a reasonable price. I recommend the linguini with white clam sauce.

Also on the west side (Marina del Rey): Jerry's Famous Deli.
posted by Doohickie at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2005

Also good in that area: Islands, 404 Washington Boulevard, Marina Del Rey. Cheers-like atmosphere, Hawaiian theme, burger menu.
posted by Doohickie at 8:52 AM on June 20, 2005

I've never used it in LA, but I've had very good luck with Citysearch in other cities (Boston, San Francisco, Chicago). The editorial reviews tend to be accurate, and the user reviews let you know if the place has gone downhill since it was reviewed.
posted by occhiblu at 8:58 AM on June 20, 2005

Tuk-Tuk is very good Thai. It's small, and has good ambiance. The prices are extremely fair, too.
posted by tomierna at 8:58 AM on June 20, 2005

Food Network has lots of suggestions for places to eat in LA
posted by geeky at 9:07 AM on June 20, 2005

Chowhound is an excellent resource, but requires a fair amount of effort - As is true of all review sites, you need to get used to the reviewers, so you can figure out where your tastes overlap, or at least gather some data points so you can see where things that bothered or excited a particular reviewer will resonate with your tastes.

Chicago-based lthforum also has an excellent board for things Beyond Chicagoland where many hot tips for LA can be found.

willnot, why don't you tell us some restaurants you like? LA is one of the great food cities of the world. Off the top of my head, I can't see anyone who enjoys food going wrong with Soot Bull Jeep for (very smokey) Korean BBQ, CaBrea or Zucca for (not cheap, but good value) Italian, Gueleguetza for Oaxacan Mexican food, Philippe's for the original French Dip sandwich, Doughboys for soups and salad, Delice for French pastries and bread, Nick's on Pico for greasy-spoon diner food, Sakura for good sushi and other Japanese food, Crazy Fish for cheap sushi and a fun atmosphere, Langer's for Pastrami, La Dijonaisse for comfortable and cheap-ish French Bistro fare...

Also, read Jonathan Gold's reviews in the LA Weekly and get his book Counter Intelligence at the book store of your choice.
posted by mzurer at 9:25 AM on June 20, 2005

Insert "sandwiches" between the soups and salads at Doughboys above. But not at the restaurant, the portions are huge.
posted by mzurer at 9:27 AM on June 20, 2005

Second the recommendation of Philippes -- great sandwich (ask them to double-dip) and great sense of history.

I'd recommend just about all of Thai Town for great food at great prices. If you're feeling particularly cheeky check out Palm Thai -- home of the Thai Elvis impersonator who takes the stage nightly. They are moving to a bigger location, so I can't vouch for the new spot, but the one place was great.

The LA Farmer's Market has some great spots -- the Mexican, Crepe, Brazil, and Gumbo stands are personal favorites. And meals come in around the $8.00 range.
posted by herc at 9:45 AM on June 20, 2005

Here in the Bay Area, I find Zagat's Guide helpful in finding new places. The Zagat LA/SoCal restaurant guide is available from Amazon.
posted by istewart at 10:42 AM on June 20, 2005

I've found Chowhound helpful when searching for opinions on specific restaurants, less so when cruising through looking for new places to try.

For good food-to-money value, you can't beat Palermo's in Los Feliz. Bustling, noisy neighborhood Italian place crammed with headshots on the walls, friendly waiters [aspiring actors, of course] and delicious pizza. The other dishes are okay, and the portions are huge, but the pizza is really the standout. Supremely friendly staff, quick service, and free drinks while you wait for a table.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 11:08 AM on June 20, 2005

If you'd like to splurge on great French bistro fare, Cafe Beaujoulais in Eagle Rock has always been wonderful every time I've gone -- it doesn't get the press/business that a lot of the other French restaurants get, but I think the food's every bit as good. For much less expensive (but still very tasty) fare, the wine bar/cafe at Monsiuer Marcel's in Farmer's Market is an amazing value of low price + great food.

I love Cobras & Matadors for tapas (I've only been to the one on Beverly -- haven't made it to the newer one in Los Feliz), though I long for the days when it first opened and you could just walk in on a Friday night and get any table you wanted, and the owner was so happy to have the regular business that he'd send complimentary dishes over all the time.

Incredible Oaxacan food is to be had at Guelaguetza. There are a couple of locations -- most recently I've been to the one on Olympic (for the MeFi Meetup in May!). Amazing!
posted by scody at 1:23 PM on June 20, 2005

I'm a fan of Open Table. They handle mainly nice-ish (spendy) restaurants - the kind that needs reservations, since they're a reservation site. But you can search by area and they usually have links to reviews and menus. Plus they have interesting factoids like the Top 10 booked restaurants, outdoor dining, etc.
posted by FreezBoy at 2:14 PM on June 20, 2005

The wife and I go to the following places quite a bit:

La Belle Epoque is great for dinner and their brunch is pretty good. For a great breakfast, though, we prefer Eat Well in Glendale (there are other Eat Wells in Silverlake and WeHo but the clients tend to get in the way of the eating experience). If you like simple but great tasting Italian food, I suggest Pomodoro's in Westwood. Definately great value although it's a small restaurant and tends to get packed around 6:00pm (closed on Sundays). Down the street from Pomodoro's is Sunnin Cafe. Damn Good. Just do a search on it on Chowhounds for raves.
posted by inviolable at 2:55 PM on June 20, 2005

If you haven't been to Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n' Waffles, you haven't lived...
posted by joedan at 4:14 PM on June 20, 2005

I'll recommend Chowhound as well- you definitely need to use the search function in your browser, but the people there are FANATIC about good food, so it's almost always good info.

That said, I can heartily recommend Versailles, which is a Cuban restaurant that has 2-3 locations in LA. You never spend more than $20 and the food is AWESOME. Not much for ambience but that's not what you are paying for.
posted by gen at 6:27 PM on June 20, 2005

Response by poster: willnot, why don't you tell us some restaurants you like?

I was in meetings all day, and this question is about to scroll off, but...

I find myself going to a lot of middle-range chain type restaurants. So, I'll frequently go to Islands or Jerry's Deli mentioned above. I go to a place called Mimi's Cafe which is in Rolling Hills (and I think a few other places). Paradise is another one that's good. Lucilles for BBQ. Sometimes I go to this place called Chicago for Ribs for BBQ as well. The food isn't quite as good, but I like the atmosphere for some reason.

The thing is, I'm looking to expand beyond those restaurants into some of the more unique flavors and ambiances. Someplace with tasty food that I can go to myself, or someplace with nice ambiance where me and five friends could sit around a table for a few hours really enjoying ourselves and having a nice meal.

Because of that friend thing, something centrally located where nobody coming from all corners of LA have to drive to far would be good but really any location would be good for a start.

I'm in the South Bay/Torrance area though for whatever that's worth.

And, thanks all for the answers so far.
posted by willnot at 9:52 PM on June 20, 2005

I'll second Versailles and I think there's even one in Manhattan Beach. They have great Sangria. A place with nice ambiance and great Mexican food is La Serenata de Garibaldi in Boyle heights just east of Downtown. Pricey but well worth the food. Also, we like to have a nice steak every now and then and when we can't afford Arnie Morton's we go to Clearman's Northwoods Inn in San Gabriel. There are other Clearman's around LA. The steaks are great and it's a place where you can throw the peanut shells on the floor. And they've got the coldest Bass on tap in the city.
posted by inviolable at 11:08 PM on June 20, 2005

Also, check out la.foodblogging.com. It seems like they are just starting out but it could become a great source.
posted by inviolable at 11:22 PM on June 20, 2005

Few personal suggestions:

$$: Delmonico's seafood heaven. Try the soft-shell crabs when in season.. *drools

$: *hevy sigh
I spent the last hour trying to find the name and location of my favourite Persian restaurant.
It's a gem of a place, and worth your time trying to find it so here's some approximate directions:
From Wilshire, turn south on Westwood Boulevard and you should be in the heart of L.A.'s Iranian commercial area. Continue down Westwood until you hit the huge Marshall's store. Right across the street from Marshall's is a vine-covered place called either "Samshiri" or "Shahrzad". Parking's on the street, the window's are darkened, and you'll know you hit the right place if once inside, your back to the main entrance, straight ahead of you, you see a modern open kitchen at the rear.
sorry for the sucky directions :(

1/2$: any one of the Versailles Cuban food restaurants. Exotic feast for pennies. Note that these restaurants are actually cafeterias. You stand in line to order your food, pay at the counter, etc, etc..
posted by ruelle at 4:55 AM on June 21, 2005

The two Versailles branches I have been to (On La Cienega and on Venice) have been sit-down restaurants with waiter service.
posted by mzurer at 10:01 AM on June 21, 2005

Heya there Will!

I suggest a few places in Manhattan Beach. They are all around the main intersection of Manhattan Beach Blvd. & Highland Ave.

1. Ebizo's Skewer - A terrific little joint that has a japanese/korean theme. Yummy small plates to try, or proper entrees. The prices are reasonable, it's clean & bright, plus they have a wicked 'shabu-shabu'.

2. The Kettle - This is a 24hr. diner, famous to the locals. Lot's of variety, and KILLER muffins (I suggest the honeybran sticky yum!). You can sit outdoors or in, the staff are friendly and down to earth. Whatever you want, they have it. I especially enjoy their omlettes, their french onion soup, and their southwestern poached egg.

3. In the city proper - well at the Beverly Centre - there's a restaurant called "Grand Lux Cafe" which seems to be part of the larger cheesecake factory chain. It's upscalish in style, but the prices still wont hurt much. They make really great chicken quesadillas, and their salmon is lovely as well. This is another place that has major variety on the menu, so you're apt to find something.

4. Just down the road from B.C. is "Matsuhisa" - a very wonderful japanese joint that I went to for my birthday last december. The food is divine - and the prices reflect that. If you've never been, I *highly* suggest you go. :D
posted by Radio7 at 12:01 AM on June 25, 2005

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