My boyfriend and I will be stopping in L.A. for about 3 or 4 days on our way to Hawaii. We love to eat and we've heard really good things about the food scene there--any good suggestions?
Comme CA - It's insanely noisy so you can pretty much forget having an intimate chat, but if you want one of the best meals of your life, this is the perfect place for it. Not cheap, for sure, but totally worth it and fabulous people watching. I still have dreams about their oysters.
Pace - While I find the peace, love, and happiness theme here annoying, I have to admit, the food is freakin' fantastic. Really hearty, not mamby-pamby like a lot of places that pride themselves on an "organic" menu and you get one tomato that still has dirt on it. Fantastic, cosy vibe, too. Great place to go when it gets a little chilly.
Astro Burgers - his is the place Hilary Swank stopped off to have a bit to eat after winning her 2nd Oscar and with good reason. The veggie burgers here are incredible! Best I've ever tasted! I don't know what they do to them, but when I get a craving for one I've gotta have it! Make sure you try them out!
Monsieur Marcel - I'm a fondue fanatic, so if I give the thumbs up to a fondue place, it's got to be good! You will NOT be disappointed in Monsieur Marcel! Great fondue and a fabulous atmosphere to go with it. Would absolutely recommend as a fun, lively spot to have dinner!
Lemonade - I usually shy away from restaurants that seem to market themselves as the "Next Big Thing" before they even open, but Lemonade deserves all the popularity being heaped on it. Think of the cafeteria you went to with your grandparents after church only with incredibly inventive dishes and fresh decor and you've pretty much got Lemonade. It's reliable, inexpensive, and a nice place to be all around.
Mandarette Chinese Cafe - I don't know why but for some reason Angelenos love taking all the fun out of Chinese food by making it a little too healthy. Mandarette is the only place I know in the city that manages to make it light but tasty. Great prices, interesting menus, and always great celeb watching.
Genwa - If you come to L.A. and you don't have Korean BBQ, you're missing one of the great delights of the city. Basically they serve you a slew of raw meat, veggies, etc., and then you cook them in a little fondue pot-looking thing in the center of the table. It's a lot of fun and relatively speaking, pretty cheap. Also, if you see a "B" health rating on the door, don't panic. That's usually mandatory since the meat arrives uncooked.
The Great Greek - Whenever I know I'm having dinner at the Great Greek I can barely function during the day because I love the food so much. It's always, always fresh and cooked perfectly. The food, though, is almost secondary to the atmosphere. When the music starts the waiters stop what they're doing and dance with their arms around each other's shoulders, eventually inviting the customers to join them. I've actually seen the line get so long it goes out the door. Whatever you do, get an order of saganaki which is cheese drenched in cognac and set on fire. I want to be there just thinking about it!!!
Joan's on Third Cafe - One of my favorite eateries in the city, Joan's is always dependable for great, fresh, inventive food. Been here a lot and have yet to have a bad meal here. And, not to harp on this, but the people watching is insane.
Musso & Frank - I used to work across the street from Musso and Frank's so for a while I was going there quite a lot. Quite honestly, the food is fine--not great, just fine, but the atmosphere and the history is off the charts. It's L.A.'s first restaurant (it opened in 1919) and it feels like someone stopped the clock at a few points in time since then. Every star in the history of Hollywood has eaten here and there's a great story about Cary Grant and Grace Kelly having dinner here and then realizing neither had any money on them so they washed dishes that night. Even if you can't make it for a meal, stop in for a drink.
Polo Lounge - If you love old school places but aren't into anything grungy looking, the Polo Lounge is perfect. While good, the food is fairly basic but of course you're not here for that, anyway. You're here for the people-watching which, on the right day is phenomenal and I don't just mean celebs. Lots of Beverly Hills types come here to see and be seen and it's a lot of fun to watch them show off for each other.
One Pico - Hands down, this is my favorite restaurant in L.A. My family and I have a tradition of coming here every year when they're in town and their food never fails. That said, I probably couldn't tell you anything I've ever had here because when you're here all you can concentrate on is the view. It goes almost directly on to the beach and it's absolutely mesmerizing. They have another restaurant at Shutters that's great for brunch, but One Pico will always be my fave.
Farmers Market - I ended up here the very first night I was in L.A. and all I could think was "Where the hell am I?" and I'm from New York! Thankfully, the creation of the nearby Grove shopping mall did nothing to change the vintage charm of the Farmer's Market which is essentially a menage of eateries. It looks virtually stopped in time which is what I love about it and all the quirky little stores that have been there for years are still there. This would definitely make my list of the top three things to do in L.A. so don't miss it!
The Dresden Room - The food here is both reasonable and reliable but the real lure is the decor which looks as if it hasn't been touched in at least 40 years if not more. After you've had dinner in the Dresden's dining area, make sure you head over to the piano bar where Marty and Elayne belt tunes on the weekends (something they've been doing for 30 years this year). You really haven't seen L.A. until you've had the Dresden experience.
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Bottega Louie is one of the best restaurant spaces anywhere. I personally like to sit in the bar. If you sit in the restaurant, make sure to be near the walls... it gets crazy loud in the center of the restaurant. I like the pizza at Wolfgang puck at LA Live better, but this setting is tough to beat.
As I mentioned, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill probably has the best pizza in town and maybe anywhere, IMO.
North End Caffe is my favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner spot.
MB Post is the best new restaurant in L.A. Even if you don't do dinner, try to stop in for a snack and a drink... biscuits, pretzels... its all good.
Another good spot in MB is Manhattan BrewCo. It used to be called Manhattan Beach Brewing Co, but now its called "Brewco" - its been here forever, but after Simmzy's (more on that later) opened up, they remodeled, stopped brewing their own beer and now have a ton of great beers on tap. Food is very solid, bar food. A lot of TV's. Very good place to watch a game.
Simmzy's is a gastro-pub with great beers and food and even better vibe. Serve breakfast on weekends, 11 until 2:30 and I highly recommend the breakfast burrito (ask for a side of au jus). Otherwise, lunch and dinner. Great fish tacos, sandwiches, burgers (including the hummus burger, which is one of my favorites). And of course, great beer selection.
Venice Ale House has a great beer selection right on the Venice boardwalk... good beer + good people watching = great times.
Petros is a nice one. The watermelon salad is out of this world. As is their normal house salad.
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A few of my favorites:
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