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Drago Centro or Hatfields for GF's BDAY?

I'm trying plan a nice night out for just the two of us as a moderate price ( we're currently long distance so we try not to spend to much so we can use the money save on tickets to see each other more often). I was primarily debating between Hatfields or Drago Centro( have a BBE for DC) since they're not too pricey.

Which one of the two would my fellow hounds recommend for me to take her to? Are there any other places you might recommend? She tends to like light flavors and nothing too meaty or rich (i.e. no Animal which is my personal fav or classic french). Places low on dairy would be another plus.

Another place I was looking into was The Bazaar but its hard for me to gauge how much it would cost to take here there. My gut feeling is its gonna be out range i promised i wouldn't go over( about $60 a head before drinks/tax/tip)

Thanks In advance.

Drago Centro
525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Jun 14, 2010
Mando in Los Angeles Area

The Return of the Japanese Food Fair! The 2009 Mitsuwa Umaimono Gourmet Fair! (Torrance and Costa Mesa) [Report] w/ Pics!

Sounds Awesome, I'm planning on going over the weekend.

By any chance did you see the Curry Pan vendor from last year? Been dreaming of those curry pans since i finished my stash from last time!

Jun 05, 2009
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Philly's Best Opening in Pasadena (Del Mar Station)

I've eaten at both regularly being I live in Arcadia and work in Irvine.

Fredos is hands down better imo.

Feb 20, 2008
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Help! Good, nicer ethnic places in Pasadena?

try saladang and saladang song for thai. Same owner both popular choices. Ones is more authentic, other more a date spot.

Jan 09, 2008
Mando in Los Angeles Area

BDay for mid-20's crowd? Studio City to Pasadena

might have to call in advance but how about the red lion in silverlake?

Nov 27, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Scared of awful Burbank restaurants....

I haven't been but i do remember hearing about Chadaka Thai. If i'm not mistaken they're owned by the same pple as Rambutan in Silverlake and TukTuk out west. The pedigree might explain the reason its done so well. ^_^

Nov 12, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

May Garden (Santa Ana)

Wow so thats the secret of this place.

I went here last week with a couple of co-workers to indulge the curiosity of one of them. The food was good but the menu didn't seem very authentic (see lots of things like orange chicken and other P.E. regular dishes, I grew up in the SGV). Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the food, but i thought of it more as "Chinese" food then Chinese food.

Glad to see there are more traditional offerings being served here. Will have to call in advance next time before we drop in.

Oct 25, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Best Dim-Sum in Chinatown (downtown)

2nd this place. Its probably the best i've had in Chinatown

Oct 05, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Visiting LA for the First Time

Ok I expect opposition and flaming for this but w/e. I'll try to give you a quick heads up on the food in L.A. to my knowledge, and I'll give you my picks and try to work with your perceived budget to give you a good food tour of L.A. from one 20 something to another. Please keep in mind i am an Eastsider, born and raised so someone will need to flesh out the Westside for miss NYC here.

My first Generalization is about the general areas. "West Side" - Better higher end dining, More Sophisticated food, not to say there aren't good local/hole in the wall places. Just imo this is the west sides strength. East side is more Hole in the wall and ethnic joints and in general a much cheaper area to eat. Its not to say whats a foodie area etc. its just different strokes for different folks. IMO you can find any cuisine you want in L.A. is just about finding it and making the trek to it. Granted we have some places we're weaker than then others ( looking at this board, jewish deli's, pizza, and indian food) but you can find anything here.

Specific strengths - L.A. is a burger City. We have great Burgers. When talking L.A. mexican Tacos are king. and We probably have osme of the best asian cuisene in the U.S. I high end can go toe to to with anyonew as well

That said I'll try to sweep through each 'area' with what i would do when taking someone around.

East Side - Strengths Asian specifically Chinese and Vietnamese we arguably do this the best in the country. Mexican food


1) Babita- Arguably the best mexican restaurant in the city. It might be a bit expensive for mexican though I would skip and save your money for one of the Westside places since you can def do mexican on a lower budget.
2) Mexican -First and foremost tacos are king here. with that i'll give you a burrito joint lol. Manny's El Tepayac comes to mind. L.A. Institution, grab a friend and order an hollenbeck and split it. this place is known for big burrtitos and its not "L.A. Mexican" but its own beast. While you're out here get a real fish taco ( dunno what you have in NYC but i think of rubios and cringe) good choices are Tacos Baja Ensenada and El Taco Nazo. For other L.A. mexican you can hit up the boards. if you're feeling adventurous hit up a taco truck during the day or a truck and/or taco stand at night. This is probably the best mexican the city has to offer. you can search for locations of 'regular' trucks/stand on the boards.
3) Dim Sum with a friend- When you're in town you gotta do dim sum and do it while your in Alhambra/SGV. This area has probably the most selection and highest quality Chinese in the country and no its not like NYC Chinese. I recommends dim sum cuz its probably one of the most popular and unique Chinese food experiences. If you've never been go to NBC or 888 since they're more traditional and you can see what you order (they bring it around in carts). Aim for this at breakfast/brunch time.
4) Other places i like in the area. Saladang Song in pasadena for great ambiance and good food that won't break your wallet. Fossilman's Ice Cream (L.A. Institution they've been doing it themselves for like over 50 years). Coffee shops in South Pas. Marstons, Julienne for breakfast. Lots of Burger Joints. i would say Pie and Burger, or Tops for the Kobe beef, also the hat is an l.a. institution but i would skip it unless you like greasy pastrami. A little more north and central is Porto's for great desserts and Cuban faire and very cheap prices.
5) Places to chill - Old town ( food is lacking though) Eagle Rock, Los Feliz/Silverlake - Argueably Central L.A., but this is were the hipsters lie. Nice trendy restaurants and bars which won't break bank. I would go here if oyu wanna go out at night but don't wanna drive westside, imo its better then Alhambra Main and Old Town Pas. Restaurants off the top of the head. Malo, Rambutan Thai, Cobras and Matadors, GIngergrass.

Central L.A. - Strengths, Thai , and Korean, Downtown Eateries

1) Thai Town- Next to Silverlake - Go if you want good, basic thai ( the two mentioned above are a little more "dressed up" and not hole in the wall though i wouldn't call them fancy. Rec is Jitlada.
2) K-Town or Koreatown - Go for the BBQ or Soondobu ( spicy tofu soup). Probably one of the best k-towns in the country. Check the boards for recs.
3) Downtown - Some cool bars are springing up like the Edison. One good palce to eat in the area is the Grand Central market. Just a fun cheap way to experience a lot of what L.A. has to offer.
4) Philipes - L.A> Institution. Cheap eats and supposed birthplace of "the french dip" get the lamb over the beef imo. While your there you can take a quick food tour where you can hit Olvers Street for mexican food and/or snackies. Chinatown is right there too though imo SGV as Surpassed it for chinese cuisine. Just down Alameda is the Fisherman's Outlet mentioned below. and a few blocks furether is J-town aka Little Tokyo. imo this is a good place to go. Good food ( honda-ya, daikokuya, several sushi places) and a lot of fun little shops to peruse.

Westside - Strengths, Farmers market, High end Dining, Jewish Deli's, Oaxacan and Ethiopian, L.A. Institutions

1) Institutions- original Tommy's, Pinks, Titos Tacos, Johnnies Pastrami, Apple, Pan, etc. Each has their supporters. the only one i would take an out-of-towner is pinks cuz its probably the most famous l.a. Landmark Eatery and its relatively close to Melrose though other could probably give you better suggestions in that area.
2) Jewish Deli's - Canter, Langer,s etc. NYC probably has better so i'll skip over those.
3) Santa Monica - Promenade is a fun Place to hang out with the boardwalk and shops. Plus its right by the beach. I don't know the eateries that well but if you go sunday an i think thurs night there are farmers markets which are great options. I know AOC is there, not sure what else.
4) Westwood Village- Cool place to chill lots of fun shops and its right by UCLA. I would go there to walk around and while there stop by Diddy Reese for some fresh cookies and Ice Cream Pies. Totally worth it imo. i don't know much about anything else in that area. I like native foods but unless your a vegan you should pass not a place i would take someone on vacation.
5) Ethiopian - Little Ethiopia is over there. i wouldn't take someone personally. its good but i think there are more memorable places i would take an out of towner. Just my 2 cents everyone has thier own opinion. You can search the boards. I go to Mercado cuz i just don't taste much of a difference in the food for the price maybe i'm just uneducated in the subtleties of ethiopian cuisine.
6) south Bay- Lots of Japanese food here. i would pick here or j-town but not both unless you love japanese.
7) Sushi - West probably has it beter than eastside. Go to Sushi Zo if you want sushi here. Concensus best is Urusawa but i doubt you wanna spend $200 a head.
8) High End - Spago, Providence, Grace, AOC, Mozza, Hatfields, Craft, the list goes on and on. I would save up for one of these places as your splurge night. Probably Spago since its a name everyone back home has probably heard of, the food is great, and its quintessential fusion like you mention in your post.

Lastly, one place i do like on the west side which is relatively cheap in my limited knowledge is California Chicken Cafe. One of the best Chinese Chicken Salads in the City imo

Anyways that my quick breakdown. Please add to it, especially westsiders. Hopefully that helps give you a better picture of the L.A food scene in a nutshell. Sorry for the long post.

Oct 04, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

King's Hawaiian (Torrance)?

from the entree the lau lau was good .. everything else i tried was pretty much forgetable

Oct 04, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Tacos in Pasadena/SGV valley

El Taco Nazo for Fish Taco's/Burrtios

2 locations 1 on garvey just east of rosemead. ( It moved to this new facny looking place on the south side of the street used to be in a hole in the wall right across the street)

2nd is off Azusa ave just north of the 210.

IMo some of the best fish tacos i've had though they look like they've gone a little more commercial lately ( catering trucks and nicer, chain/looking restaurants)

Also, if you're gonna go to a La Estrella go to the one on Foothill. You can check he boards but apparently the owners divorced and the husband got the foothill location while the wife got the other 2 and started experimenting with the menu at those 2 locations. Concenus on the boards is the one on foothill has stayed truer and has better food.

Tonny's is good too . Love getting the fresh juice with my food too.

Oct 04, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Tacos in Pasadena/SGV valley

plus theyre open til 3 on weekends but if you're parked on the streets at 2 YOU WILL GET TICKETED. The ticket squad comes out in force out in oldtown ( i seriously saw 10-15 meter maids handing out tickets)

Oct 04, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Current BEST in Artesia Little India?

I always go to The India Restaurant. To me its the best i've had out there.

Oct 01, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

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

What kind of palate are you looking for?

More nice, trendier restaurants? Low budget ethnic eats? Anything you don't eat? Also what part of L.A. are you talking.

L.A. has a plethora of great places to eat, one of the things though is that its so big its hard to just give pple straight recommendations unless we really know what to dial into.

here are a few Generic Recs. Like I said I'm not sure if this is what you're aiming for so more feedback would help.

Dim Sum in SGV - Numerous Choices I like NBC, 888 for traditional, Mission 261 and sea harbour tend to be popular of nuevo style.

Lunch - Silverlake has a few nice places. I you can always do something like Phillipes for a cheaper lunch. Its an L.A. landmark for a reason (and get the lamb over the beef). The place is in Downtown right between chinatown and GC station. Can always go to olvera st afterward and get some churro's, or those wheat chip things with the chili or some other kinda snack as well.

Dinner - I would say somewhere in K-town for a reasonably priced decent dinner. Korean BBQ or Soon Doo Boo.

Those are some quick recs. Nothing too trendy of flashy but solid and playing to some of L.A. strengths in its ethnic diversity as well as its history.

Sep 25, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Pls recommend lunch/brunch for Silverlake/Pasadena/H.Wood

Julienne in San Marino
Marstons in Pasadena
Dish in La Cañada
Camillos, Alcove, Madam Matisse in Silverlake

There's my quick list

Sep 21, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Outdoor morning burger in Pasadena?

Can throw Connals there too even though its way north.

What part of pasadena are you gonna be in?

Sep 20, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Girls lunch in Pasadena?

I think green street would be perfect. Its not casual, but also not formal. Good food, and I know a lot of girls like their choices for salads and sandwiches( I have 2 older sisters and ex's who frequented these places). Menu can be found here

Julienne recommended below is also a great choice. I'd never go there alone (i'm a 25 year old dude who uses the word dude lol enough said), but I've been dragged there by ex-gf's and sisters and can appreciate it for what it is. I know a ton of girls who love this place for breakfast/lunch/brunch.

Sep 20, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Coffee Shops in Pasadena

Its a pretty kool area. Nice to walk around with all these interesting shops (I wouldn't buy anything from them but they're fun to look in imo). Next time try heading a block south to El Centro and you can scope out Kaldi as well. I dunno why but i've always gone here instead of Busters, might just be a force of habit from growing up around there. they have a good selection of drink and I've always gotten great service from the Baristas.

You can also chill for a bit at the Fair Oaks Pharmacy. Its a nice change if you're looking for a place to chill and talk and/or study mid day and don't wan't coffee. they have an old school soda fountain which is always a nice thing to enjoy.. Only knock is it closes early ( think 8 weekdays and weekends except 6 on sundays)

But I agree with you. When i do make it to busters its really hard to stay away from that fossilmans.

Sep 20, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Recommendations for best Indian in OC?

Not to knock but IMO you can probably find a ton of better options for much cheaper if the op were to drive to Little India ( the aforementioned Pioneer Blvd area of Artesia). My personal fav is The India Restaurant. Its a little more north of the main strip in a litte complex across from the 99 ranch. Its more north indian so expect tandoor etc. Only problem is thats probably 15-20 minutes from the area the o.p. was looking to find things in.

Sep 20, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Great Medium Rare Burger in Glendale, Pasadena, or Burbank

The talk is specifically the Kobe Beef Burger. I wouldn't say its the best overall sice i'm sure you can get a better burger if you spend a significant amount of money, but for $6.50 its probably one of the best for quality/cost. I don't know if they do medium-rare though

Sep 19, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Porto's Bakery -- I am speechless!

I love Porto's. Try the Mango and piña colada mousse, imo their best desserts hands down. Their chorizo omelette sandwich and medianoches are great too. I've actually never had something bad there. I personally prefer the Burbank one all the food with half the crowds, but lets keep that between us, I'd hate to see it get as chaotic as glendale.

Sep 17, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Authentic taco catering in LA or OC???

i love taco nazo, but its speicalty is fish tacos so expect that kinda far ( though they have asada and the other regulars) not your typical taqueria food.

Sep 17, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Coffee Shops in Pasadena

Kaldi is the one on the corner right by the library.

Busters is the one right by the train tracks if i remember right.

Both good. I really like beantown too a) cuz its closer to me in arcadia and b) cuz they serve fossilmans ( busters does too if i remember right)

Sep 17, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Fredo's Phillys - and Bar-B-Que!

Yea I went over there on Sat to grab a few of the works and while I was waiting I chatted up with Dan about the whole BBQ thing.

Basically is like what Bigtums mentioned above. The BBQ lady found that she really needed about 3 people to help her with the BBQ and basically there just wasn't enough room for them and the pple running the grill for the Cheesesteaks in the kitchen. He said they're thinking of opening up somewhere close or just looking for another space they can do the BBQ.

In addition I found out that Dan's signed them up with a delivery service so in a couple of weeks expect to be able to phone in delivery orders given a minimum order price. Also, he's thinking of opening on Sundays at least for lunch and eventually full time once he can get a second manager up so he doesn't ahve to be there all the time ( he said he's training one now but doesn't expect to be able to take days off the restaurant for like 2 more months).

Anyways theres an update of any of you who were wondering.

Sep 17, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

$5 lunch in Pasadena-- is it possible?

if its still around ricks is pretty good and dirt cheap. I haven't been in a while and they posted that they were closing down but everytime i drive by they're still up. The spuderito is $2 if i remember right and its downright addicting. They make a pretty good burger too.

Its right at your limit but at Fredo''s Philly, cheesesteaks start at about $6 and go up to $7 and i'm sure that if you don't eat much it can easily last 2 meals. I've never had anything other than the steaks because thats just enough food for me. + Dan the owner is one of the nicest guys you'll meet. Only drawback is its only open from 11-8 and i don't work in the area so i can only go on weekends but i'm still addicted! If you search the board you'll see i'm not the only hound who really likes this place.

Sep 14, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

ISO the best orange chicken and chow mein

The orange chicken at plum tree inn in chinatown was the best i'd had. I tihnk they just know how to to batter really well there.Thier general tsao's chicken their sweet and pungent shrimp and honey walnut shrimp have always been some of the best i've had.

Sep 14, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Where to eat in San Diego?

I love Pokez. Its a place i found while doing my undergrad and i still think it has the best salsa i've ever had.

Just an FYI though its a pretty out there spot. The kind where they have White waitresses with dreadlocks and the like and lots of Veg and vegan options. Some of hte things i regularly get there are the soyriso and tofu,mushroom, and potato burritos and the potato rolled tacos. I don't tihnk i've ever ordered the meat there though the do serve chicken and carne asada, etc.

Sep 13, 2007
Mando in California

Hawaii Supermarket, Rosemead :)

2nd this. Prices are cheap but trying to shop there is a nightmare. I've pretty much given up and go to san gabriel super store or vien dong in rosemead

Sep 11, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Just moved to Monrovia - what's good?

oh ok. the Calabasas thing totally threw me off

Sep 11, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area

Just moved to Monrovia - what's good?

Welcome to the Eastern side of L.A. County!

Guess the biggest question is how far did you want to travel? Pple above have left you with a good amount of options but theres toms more to see and do just a little further west when you move into Pasadena, So. Pas, and San gabriel

I live right over in Arcadia.

Places I frequent are

Jim's Burgers on Duarte and 6th Right by the Super A. Foods. Its just your Classic Neighborhood Burger joint. Great Fied Zucchini. Some of the best fries in the area in huge portions. Great Patti Melt and chili cheese fries.

Lo Chile's Locos - 88 cent tacos after 5pm and a pretty good chile relleno burrito. This place is where i go when i get the late night mexican cravings i picked up living in san diego.

T Burgers - Good burger Joint as well. I tend to go to jims cuz i grew up on it but this place has great burgers and stuff as well.

Din Tai Fung - XBL (aka soup dumplings)
Tasty Garden - HK style cafe.
Beard Papa's - Its a chain you may have tried it before
Young Dong - Good korena tofu soup w/o having to drive to K town.

If you like Hard shell picadillo/ground beef tacos try taco lita. I've never been a fan of these types of tacos but if you like them they do them well here.

Royal Hawaiian BBQ - In the Pavillions shopping center. its pretty good for Hawaiian. Def better than L & L though i've had better.

Sep 11, 2007
Mando in Los Angeles Area