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My son wants steak for his graduation dinner

Mastro's without a doubt. I've found quality and service to be excellent and extremely consistent there; Cut, by contrast, can be really hit or miss depending on the day. And while not inexpensive by any means, Mastro's is also a notch below Cut in terms of price, it seems to me.

The suggestion of Fogo de Chao is also a great one -- it's not exactly a steakhouse but still feels upscale, and might be ideal for a young man (or group of young men) capable of devouring pounds of meat in one sitting. But it won't work if your son would like a single, large steak versus smaller parts of many steaks (and other meats).

Best solo sushi lunch

Longtime LA chowhound here, exiled to small-town Pennsylvania for the last year+. The food situation here is bleak, to put it mildly...I thought every region had its delicacy but it appears Western PA is an exception. (Unfortunately, Primanti Bros/Pittsburgh-style sandwiches may look interesting, but after trying the real thing several times I'm sad to report they are extremely lacking in the flavor department. In fact, they taste like nothing at all.)

Anyway, except for two stops at Sushi Yasuda in NY, it's been over a year since I've had really good sushi and I'm going through withdrawal. BUT! I'm heading to SF tomorrow for the USC-Cal game...my flight gets in around 11 and I'll be taking BART to Berkeley from there. My thoughts immediately ran to stopping for sushi somewhere in SF en route to Cal.

So here's what I'm looking for:

*friendly to a solo diner
*chef's choice+++/omakase+++
*the more traditional the better (i like to keep the blowtorches/jalapenos/handrolls to a minimum)
*money is not an issue here, I'm just looking for quality, whether it's a hole-in-the-wall or a Michelin-star operation
*accessible from public transit in some form -- I'm willing to make a detour within reason but it can't be in San Jose or something

My thanks in advance for your advice.

Zankou Chicken

the westside zankou is good in a pinch, and the items they serve seem to be as good as those at the hollywood location. BUT, as chowpatty referenced, the hollywood menu is much larger, and a lot of the kebabs and other items only found here are really delicious and cooked to order -- which adds a few minutes to your wait but is worth it in quality. i highly recommend the shish tavouk.

Aug 29, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Formal Restaurant

I agree with Kevin that very few places in the city require it (except private clubs like Jonathan and some country clubs.) That said, there are places where it wouldn't at all look out of place to be dressed beyond L.A. casual, and for an anniversary especially, I think the restaurant at the Bel Air Hotel would be perfect. People also tend to look pretty nice at Cicada and Patina downtown (big pre-opera/theater/symphony crowd). Patina attracts mixed reviews from hounds and in my own experience; Cicada is really solid, high-end Italian and the room is absolutely gorgeous. Anyway those are my thoughts, I'm interested in what other hounds have to say on this.

Aug 25, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

The Counter MDR

I have to say, beyond Sang Yoon's food-nazi mentality (which I might have a bigger problem with if the food at FO weren't so good), I don't understand the attitude problem that's been mentioned here.

I mean, there is the bouncer at the door (it's a bar), but beyond that, I don't get it ... the bartenders have always been friendly and do everything I ask of them -- going over the menu when I ask a question, taking a fair amount of time to explain the beers and find one to match my tastes. (I'm a wine guy and totally in over my head at FO with the beer selection.)

Granted, it's a busy place and they don't have 20 minutes to chat about life, but they always get the job done well and in a professional manner. So as far as attitude -- I simply don't understand the complaints, and suspect this may be projecting a bit of the trendy factor and perhaps some of the crowd here, onto the staff itself.

FWIW, I've only gone to the LA location and have heard the SM one can be a drag.

Aug 25, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Bandera in Corona Del Mar--Fries??

well that explains it. i've never cooked beef ribs so my only experience with them is on my plate at a restaurant. the things you learn...

Aug 23, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Near Disney Concert Hall

this is a little late, but for next time, cafe pinot and cicada are both nice post-disney-hall options and are both open sunday.

Aug 23, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Hoagies & Wings - WTF?

FWIW, they messed up our Super Bowl order (~100 wings). They were really apologetic when we called, told us to hold onto the wings (which were the wrong flavor but, it being a super bowl party, no one minded having extras), and pretty quickly delivered 100+ of the right kind + some fries gratis. So while they do tend to mess up orders, they're pretty cool about setting things straight if you ask.

Aug 23, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Lunch spots near Staples Center

Colori Kitchen is a great lunch spot, quality homestyle Italian made by its chef-owner, and it's one of the better deals downtown in terms of price. It's probably a 20-minute walk from Staples, but if that's a bit much the DASH buses downtown cost a quarter and run every few minutes so that's an option. Very popular with the office crowd and you can have a nice meal and get out in 45 mins (though they don't rush those looking for a longer lunch).

If you disregard all semblance of health, some of the best fried/broasted chicken in L.A. is a stone's throw from the convention center across the 110. It's called Mr. Sippee and is located in a gas station. But seriously, it's amazing if you don't mind the resulting heart attack. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/442746

Aug 23, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Bandera in Corona Del Mar--Fries??

i'm at the cdm location frequently. never had the fries but their ribs are out of this world. they're succulent, unbelievably tender, well seasoned, and are individually cooked i believe (not as a rack) so they're not a mess to eat. in fact i might have to go tonight just from talking about them... highly recommend for anyone at the table who is feeling carnivorous.

Aug 23, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

must eat in Old Town Pasadena tonight. Help

i'm going to have to disagree with that blanket statement as far as shabu-shabu is concerned. but on the whole, yes, boiled meat is not very good.

Aug 22, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Best Moderately Price OC restaurant with Live Entertainment and/or Good Energy

no entertainment but habana at the lab "anti-mall" near south coast plaza has a really cool vibe and good energy. i used to take out-of-towners there when i lived in the oc. the patio especially has a really great vibe and is pleasant this time of year.

if laguna isn't too far, you might consider a couple places there. i'm thinking sapphire, again on the patio, which has an energetic vibe and is much livelier, at least on weekends, than a lot of restos in the oc. plus, since you're going via limo, you can grab a drink at sandpiper or something after.

hope that helps, let us know what you decide on!

Aug 20, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

looking for new place near Arclight

second the bowery. try the moules frites, they are outstanding. also it's on the next block so you can just park at arclight and walk over to eat and still stay within arclight's 4 hour validation.

Aug 14, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Help at Palate Food + Wine

Could you elaborate on the SIV point? Just curious if hounds share my own criticisms of her -- primarily that she can put inordinate focus on ambience above food -- and/or what other issues hounds have with her reviews.

Aug 14, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Veggie Burger at 8oz any good? What about Father's Office?

They've also had a really, really good beet salad recently.

Aug 12, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Wine Bars in Orange County...

Haven't been there but I would recommend Wine Gallery in Corona del Mar, which is in the same vein. It's part wine shop -- compact but with a good selection, a bit California-centric for me but good range of prices and hitting most major counties -- but also has a nice serving bar and a communal table or two facing out on PCH. The ambiance is pleasant and convivial and more like you're in a wine bar and less like you're sitting in a shop compared to the hybrids I've been to in LA.

As an added bonus, Rothschild's next door will serve and carry over anything on their menu -- a couple apps, a full meal, whatever -- complete with place settings and restaurant plating. I can't vouch for the food, having neither done this nor been to Rothschild's, but regulars I chat with seem to enjoy this option.

Aug 11, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Zankou Hollywood closed? If so when?

That explains so much. Some of the kebabs they have are delicious (the spicy ground beef one comes to mind) and I was disappointed when i dropped by the Westside location for it.

If you can get through the legalese, this article explains the family split pretty well. It's also from the Metropolitan News Enterprise, whose office is downtown by the Edison...but until this story I had never come across any evidence that the paper actually existed.
http://www.metnews.com/articles/2006/...

Aug 01, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Hungarina wines -both white and red -purchase in Southern CA?

silverlake wine occasionally carries them but it's worth calling before you head over

Jul 31, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Pre-Dodger/Red Sox Coliseum Food Suggestions?

as an SC student i second langers ... walking distance from the coliseum puts you in a culinary wasteland. but if you really don't want to stop on the way here, i suggest either the 29th street cafe (great atmosphere but the food is mediocre), or you can reverse the situation at la taquiza. you might also try chichen itza -- it's across the 110 but not by far, and gets pretty good reviews on here though i've found that location to be off-and-on. if you have a couple beers at the game, chano's is a wonderful postgame option -- it defines uber-greasy calmex goodness -- but for the love of god don't go there sober. sorry i can't be of more help but foodwise, usc's area leaves a lot to be desired.

Mar 24, 2008
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Laguna Beach

i love both studio and sapphire but dont think they should be mentioned in the same breath as they are very different restaurants at very different price points.
sapphire definitely seems like the better date spot to me -- studio is wonderful but somewhat formal and very expensive. also though montage is beautiful it is a somewhat staid resort.
sapphire meanwhile has that wonderful upscale but laid-back laguna thing going on-- rustic design and a cool perch just south of the village on PCH. much more energy and buzz there than at montage.
food is interesting but soulful california cuisine, compared to montage's highly complex menu, and a compact nicely composed wine list that doesn't break the bank compared to montage's mammoth list (in terms of both options and prices).
so it really depends what you're looking for but for a date i vote sapphire.

Nov 21, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Drinks near Walt Disney Concert Hall

oops, as far as i know library bar serves no food though you can order in from the wolfgang puck cafe nextdoor. given that nick & stef's bar sounds like the ticket. (i'm judging by other comments as i haven't been.)
i disagree, however, with posts calling library bar-disney hall unwalkable -- it's about 5 blocks door-to-door (6th/hope to 2nd/grand) and tops out at a pleasant ten minutes. perhaps a long walk by westside standards but then getting out and walking a little a la manhattan is part of downtown's appeal.

Nov 07, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Did Mode Open Yet? Any Early Reviews?

anyone know if it's opened since this post?

Nov 07, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Drinks near Walt Disney Concert Hall

blue velvet is cool but a drive from the music hall. library bar is one of my favorites but also intimate and low key; if ciudad is too low key you should look elsewhere. to me the edison fits the bill perfectly (though i can't vouch for the food) -- lively bar scene, great atmosphere, close to the music hall. you definitely don't need to reserve a table to grab a drink -- if you want to eat you should probably call them to verify since i've never eaten there or seen anyone do it. but it is a pretty huge place and more bar than restaurant in terms of setup so reserving a table isn't necessary to get in unless you want to make absolutely sure you will have one. (whenever i've been there, again except late on peak nights, there have been plenty of free tables in the various rooms off the main bar.)

Nov 06, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Restaurant near Sports Arena/USC

i second el cholo -- la barca is also awesome if you want to be closer to the arena. BUT if you go tuesday get there early or you will wait for an hour+....it's $2 margarita night and half of USC's undergrads flood the place.
mercado is one of my favorites and has great food, but it has -0 atmosphere so is probably not what you're looking for pre-springsteen concert.

Oct 23, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

L.A.'s Worst Wine List...go!

i have been underwhelmed twice but both times i've been there it's been absolutely packed. god knows how they're doing it but they have some time to go i think.

Oct 02, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Royal Claytons Downtown

nooo i was just victimized by the pub a few weeks ago...management is of course to blame for the many service woes, but equally at fault for ruining RC is the new chef who dropped the very appealing, well prepared old menu for this pub crap. and that's coming from someone who loves a good pot roast and shepherd's pie...but have either at RC and you'll see that this kitchen should not be attempting these. companions' dishes were equally gross. hopefully the old chef left for greener pastures because if they fired him for the pub cook, well that was just dumb.

Sep 27, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

If I was to eat 5 meals in LA in one day, where...?

if you are willing to reconsider the no-asian stipulation -- definitely make one of those meals in koreatown. of course you can't go wrong with any of the suggestions made here, but k-town is really unique to L.A. and offers food and an experience found nowhere else in the country. not to mention that korean bbq-type cuisine is very different from other asian cuisines popular in the u.s. (more carnivorous -- resembles u.s. bbq more than chinese/japanese cuisine) so it might pleasantly surprise you by fitting in with your tastes. whatever you decide to do though enjoy la and happy hunting!

Sep 27, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Newport Beach One Night Only [moved from Los Angeles board]

indeed, the distance between bayside and basilic is negligible, though parking on the island can be a bit of a hassle if they don't have valet. bayside does have the view but for my money the picturesque post-dinner walk around balboa island's shoreline (there is a nice path between the houses and the sand) beats a view through the windows anyday.

Sep 20, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Royal Claytons Downtown

this place has absolutely nosedived in just a few months. the service has always been iffy but i didn't really mind -- the food was good and the vibe was really cool. the new chef, however, has really messed it up -- the new menu is a hodgepodge of bizarrely traditional english/welsh pub fare that couldn't fit less with the crowd or the place's general vibe. it maybe could work if they were good but unfortunately ours were really quite terrible except for the cod soup. it's a shame -- they had so many good options on their old menu but our waiter explained the new chef really wants to take ownership of the place and so tossed off all the previous chef’s recipes, except for some of the bar snacks. bad choice. this was a neighborhod gem and i loved taking people there but if i go again it will be for drinks only. unfortunately i can see other people feel the same way -- friday night a few months ago i was happy to wait an hour for a table and play some pool; this last friday night, there were 2 other groups at 8:30pm.

Sep 09, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area

Forced to go to Geisha House! am I screwed?

I agree -- it is a bit expensive for what you get, but the food is much better than other threads here suggest, and the drinks and atmosphere are great if you're looking for the night-in-hollywood vibe.

Sep 07, 2007
jbeecher in Los Angeles Area