The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism) promote a biannual event to highlight the best of LA’s culinary scene. This winter’s dineLA week(s) run from Monday, January 18 to Sunday, January 31, 2016, excluding weekends. Participating restaurants feature a prix fixe menu for 2 weeks. Although in the beginning, all of the restaurants followed the same set price, they began to vary, and many restaurants included the opportunity to add on a more expensive option or course for an additional price. This year there will be a super frou frou “Exclusive Series” for 95 bucks.
But we are all about finding the biggest bang for our buck. Lunch is always a better deal, but sometimes it’s worth a little splurge when the dinner menu is exciting. Note the hours, as many of the finer restaurants close between lunch and dinner service. So here is a list of what we consider to be the best meals at the best price at some of our favorite restaurants:
A-FRAME Los Angeles, Dinner: $29.00
Roy Choi’s restaurant empire started with his famous food truck, but this early brick and mortar is already a classic. Order: Roasted Kabocha Squash, Cracklin’ Beer Can Chicken, “Choco Loco” Chocolate Hazelnut Panna Cotta
AKASHA Culver City, Dinner $39
Akasha Richmond’s organic comfort food at her Culver City restaurant/bakery is always delicious. Order: Albacore Crudo, Citrus Braised and Crispy Duck Leg, Lemon Budino.
AQUI ES TEXACOCO Commerce, Lunch: $15
Known for their traditional barbecued lamb, Texacoco is a food critic’s darling, in spite of its out-of-the-way location amongst industrial parks. Order: Chicharron de Queso (toasted cheese), Lamb BBQ Plate: Ribs and an Agua Fresca.
CLIFF’S EDGE Silver Lake, Dinner $39
This Silverlake restaurant is known almost as much for its gorgeous patio as for Chef Vartan Abgaryan’s seasonal modern California cuisine. Order: Quail, Flatiron Steak and Homemade Donuts.
CONNIE & TED’S West Hollywood, Lunch $25
Michael Cimarusti’s restaurant named after his parents, married East Coast clamshacks with West coast seafood. His dineLA deal also includes a drink, including homemade lemonade. Order: Jo’s Wicked Good Chowda Sampler (New England, Manhattan, and the lesser known Rhode Island Clear), Batter-Dipped Cod Sandwich and a Whoopie Pie. Heaven.
DRAGO DOWNTOWN DTLA, Lunch $25
Celestino Drago’s downtown LA outpost in City National Plaza focuses on contemporary Italian cuisine. The room is very elegant, so you feel spoiled, and the menu is much more exciting than Drago’s in Pasadena. Order: Poached Egg, Smoked Salmon, Semolina Gnocchi with Asparagus. You really can’t go wrong with either of the pastas. Hankerchief Pasta with Lump Crab and Arugula Pesto or Garganelli with Pork Sausage, Parmesan and Fennel Seeds.
HANJIP Culver City, Lunch $15
Restaurateur Stephan Bombet’s new-style Korean barbecue joint from Chris Oh is the hot restaurant on everybody’s radar. Lunch comes with banchans, side orders in little bowls, like kimchi and potato salad. Order: Poke Bowl: Tuna, Uni, Salmon Roe, Marinated Prime Beef Short Rib.
KNUCKLE & CLAW Silver Lake, Lunch $25
Fiancees Nikki Booth and Chloe Dahl opened Knuckle & Claw last March in a surprisingly small space on Sunset in Silver Lake. With top East Coast seafood purveyors flying in lobster daily, “Nikki’s Secret Seasoning” and a friendly, easygoing vibe, it is a welcome addition to the Eastside. Order: 1/4 dz. oysters (3), Specialty Lobster Roll, Chips & Beer.
PIZZARIA MOZZA Mid-Wilshire, Lunch $15
It’s exciting to even get a reservation for Mozza, much less to dine at these prices. This pizza restaurant from Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich has not waned in popularity since opening day. Order: Arancini alla Bolognese, Pizza with Fennel Sausage, Panna, Mozzarella, Red Onions and Scallions.
REDBIRD DTLA, Lunch $25
Neal Fraser’s long-awaited restaurant in the gorgeous Vibiana building downtown made every single Best New Restaurants list for 2015 that I read. Order: Albacore Crudo, Duck Confit with Wild Rice.
SETA Whittier, Lunch $15
Hugo Molina’s Setá is a contemporary, upscale steakhouse with Spanish and Asian influences. Hidden away in Whittier, it is one of my secret splurges. Order Soup of the Day (Seta serves amazing soups), Seafood Fettuccini with Black Mussels, Clams, in a Marsala Cream Sauce.
THE LARDER ON BURTON WAY Marina del Rey, Lunch $20
The latest from Restaurateurs Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne served fresh American food, simple but impeccable. Order: Simple Salad, The Argentine: Roast Beef on a Baguette with Chimichurri, Seasonal Fruit Crumble.
VIVIANE Beverly Hills, Lunch $25
Stephane Bombet teamed up last year with Chef Michael Hung, who made a name for himself with his impeccable cooking at Faith & Flower. Dine next to the pool at the mid-century modern-influenced restaurant in the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills on Chef Hung’s modern take on classic American and Continental cuisine. Order: Asian Pear and Chicory Salad, Prime Ribeye Sandwich, Collection of Homemade Cookies.
The Midnight Mission Partnership: Together with OpenTable, dineL.A. will promise $1 of each seated reservation booked through www.discoverLosAngeles.com/ dineLA to The Midnight Mission. One nutritious meal will be provided to someone in need for each dollar given.