Last night I I had the most delicious dinner with girl friends at Ryan Gosling’s Moroccan restaurant, Tagine. Normally with I dine with friends it’s at CPK or one of the local pizza joints, so going out to a real adult restaurants with amuse bouches to start and a fancy dress code was such a treat! There’s nothing better than catching up with old friends over great food!
This week and next week, DineLA is making it easy for everyone to get a chance to enjoy delicious food from some of the city’s most talented chefs. Over 250 restaurants are offering 2-course lunches and 3-course (or more if they are small plates) dinners so that you can sample some of the city’s most talked about fare. Prices vary to fit any budget with $15, $20, or $25 lunches and $25, $35, 0r $45 dinners. With so many options, it’s hard to decide where to go during the 12 days of food sampling, so I helped narrow it down with my list of the top 8 DineLA picks.
Dinner at AOC: This French bistro/wine bar on West Third Street was one of the first restaurants to jump on the small plates trend and continues to craft delicious, seasonally inspired dishes. Their DineLA menu includes a salad with tzatziki, cucumber, and cherry tomato; pork belly, nectarines, ricotta salata, and abbamelle; crushed fingerling potatoes with creme fraiche; and olive oil cake with plums, mascarpone, and pistachios.
Lunch at Asia de Cuba: This Latin-Asian fusion restaurant st the Mondrian Hotel offers incredible views off of Sunset Strip. Yelp reviewers have even described the massive planters on the outside balcony as creating a whimsical “Alice in Wonderland” feel. The lunch and dinner menus are extremely similar, except for the $20 discrepancy in prices. Start with the smoked salmon pancake or the Asian noodle box, then move onto the pallomina of beef or the wild coho salmon. After enjoying the side of plantain avocado fried rice and wokked vegetables, end the meal with a dessert sampler.
Lunch at Babalu: Spend the morning shopping along Montana Avenue (and maybe catching a YogaWorks class at their Montana location) then head on over to this Santa Monica Caribean stand-by. Although it may be known best for its brunch and bakery items, this 5-star yelp restaurant also has tons of savory island-inspired dishes. Begin with the blue crab cake, then move on to the sweet summer corn agnoloti or the vegetarian burger and finish it all off with a slice of the key lime pie.
Lunch or Dinner at Bar & Kitchen: This small bar in Downtown’s O Hotel immediately won me over with the sweet blurb at the top of its menu that claims “we’ve created this menu specifically for you! why? well. it’s because we love you.” After reading something that sweet, how could anyone resist giving the restaurant a try? They incorporate the freshest summer produce into both their greatly varied lunch and dinner menus, so it’s hard to choose which time of day to come. Come at lunch to get the tomato gazpacho with lump crab and the restaurant’s famous shrimp & grits. Or come for dinner and get the tuna crudo with yuzu puree, the sweet corn risotto, and the peach panna cotta.
Dinner at Craft: This is your chance to try the raved-about fare from celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s Century City restaurant at reasonable prices. The restaurant run by Top Chef’s head judge is quite the place for power lunches, so instead come by in the later hours for a leisurely dinner. Enjoy the more relaxed, peaceful atmosphere while sharing the endive and arugula salad, the ham with fig mosteada, and the diver scallop ceviche with the whole table. Then chose from dishes including the corn agnolotti, Alaskan salmon, and flatiron streak. Finish off the decadent meal with the brown sugar pavlova with peaches and blueberries.
Dinner at Culina: Enjoy the upscale Italian fare of the Four Seasons in the heart of Los Angles’s hip East side. This restaurant is a real gem because in addition to the beautiful gardens to dine in, the chefs are masters of preparing raw seafood crudos and steamy pizzas alike. Start off with the crudo sampler of intricately dressed ahi tuna, salmon, and yellow tail. Then move onto the delectable Prince Edward Mussles. Next enjoy the Maine lobster farro or the lamb chops. Finish off the meal with macerated stone fruits and house made gelato.
Dinner at Ray’s: This is the place to go for the quintessential evening in LA. Spend the afternoon walking around the Grove, then head on over to LACMA for some museum perusing. Next head to Ray’s, the new farm-to-table restaurant at LACMA, and finish off the night at a concert at the Wiltern. Enjoy charred octopus, squid ink pasta, and market stone fruits at this hip new space that simply oozes culture.
Dinner at Scarpetta: I know, I know, not another hotel restaurant, but the Montage’s modern, seaonally-inspired Italian restaurant Scarpetta really is such a treat that it can’t be left off the list! While the Montage’s other restaurant, Bouchon (another DineLA contributor) usually gets most of the fame, I think that Scarpetta’s delicate preparations make this restaurant the hotel’s real gem. The prices are usually pretty steep, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to try the delicous food at discounted prices. Start with truffled mushroom polenta, then move on to the short rib agnolotti or the mediterranean branzino, and end the evening with the coconut panna cotta with guava soup and caramelized pineapple.
Where are you going to participate in DineLA?