Twenty-One Reasons to dineL.A.: January 19 – February 1, 2015

Lobster Roll – Blue Plate Oysterette

DineL.A. is back and it’s time to scour the menus of participating restaurants all over town. I’ve come up with some reasons to jet to a particular dining establishment near you, whether for lunch or for dinner. Some restaurants offer exclusive dishes to dineL.A., others are offering a particularly enticing lunch and/or dinner menu. There are also participants that might normally be out of your price range or sense of adventure, but dineLA might just be the right occasion to give them a try.

I recount a few highlights I’ve encountered while scanning through all dineL.A. options [one page]. While I won’t get through all of them, it’s completely possible for one to physically do all of them with 2 meals per day over the course of 14 total days – with some meals to spare. So get on with it: Your deal-grubbing taste buds and gym membership await.

Watermelon Radish Salad at Brilliantshine

Santa Monica:

1) The $15 lunch at Bar Pinxto

Whatever neighborhood-y feels you get in Santa Monica are in large part because of Joe Miller’s Bar Pinxto, the local and more than capable Spanish tapas go-to here. Because before there were small plates, there were tapas. Three courses for $15 prove to be a delicious bargain, and includes selections like Mussels, Maya Head-on Shrimp, and Tortilla Espagñola.

2) The lobster roll at Blue Plate Oysterette (also a 3rd Street location*)

Taking into consideration that: 1) The lobster roll normally costs $24 at Blue Plate Oysterette, 2) It’s available for both their dineL.A. 2-course lunch and 3-course dinner options and run $25 and $50 respectively, a cost-benefit analysis would conclude that you get a free appetizer or dessert, also respectively. Also consider: 3) Freshly delicious, well-seasoned seafood.

3) The 3-course, $30 dinner at Brilliantshine

Paiche veteran Richie Lopez creates cocktail-friendly, Peruvian food to enjoy in the confines of this adorable space near the beach where Julian Cox and Josh Goldman’s cocktails shine. You’ll be coming here as much for the cocktails as for the food you order. You can find the 3-course prix fixe menu here.

West L.A.

4) The 4-course, $40 tasting menu dinner at Fundamental L.A.

Truth be told, the dineL.A. deal isn’t any less expensive than the already terrific deal you can get the rest of the year, but it’s worth noting that the seasonal cooking at Philip Pretty’s Westwood restaurant is worth revisiting exactly for that reason. Everything is likely different from the last time you visited. And besides, foie gras is legal now. You might as well also go for the $18 wine pairing.

5) The $40, 4-course dinner at The Wallace

Run the gamut at Culver City’s The Wallace, from jarred treasures like Smoked Trout to a strangely addictive vegetable course. Move on to a main feature featuring the land (Fried Mary’s Chicken) or sea (Alaskan Cod), and finally finishing out, of course, with dessert, such as a Salted Caramel Pudding. A cocktail by Greg Bryson will surely complement the food nicely.

South Bay

6) The 4-course, $50 dinner at The Strand House

The Strand House is most certainly one of the only places to eat in Los Angeles where you can enjoy the food while also enjoying beachfront scenery. With re-imagined, traditional dishes by Chef Greg Hozinsky on the main menu and one-offs by guest chefs during their Culinary Masters Series, The Strand House has become a Manhattan Beach destination. Their dineL.A. effort also goes above and beyond by including a starter, pasta, main course, as well as dessert for $40. A main course on the regular menu would be nearly that much, alone.

Moules au Safran at Bouchon

Beverly Hills/Century City

7) The 2-course, $25 lunch and 3-course, $50 dinner at Craft

As one of the long standing stellar – but pricier – dining options around town, Tom Colicchio’s Craft is offering prime dineL.A. opportunities to enjoy their food at deep discounts. Lunch entrees regularly start at the price of their Restaurant Week deal. Dinner entrees are easily in the mid-$30’s price range, which makes their Restaurant Week deal extra appetizing – and you have a selection of 7 mains to choose from, to boot.

8) The 3-course, $25 lunch at Bouchon

Whether you go for lunch or dinner, Bouchon’s Restaurant Week deal is 3 courses, so for the best deal, you’ll want to make it for lunch. Start with a soup or salad and move on to classic Plats Principaux such as Croque Madame, Moules au Safran, Gnudi or Cassoulet with a $10 supplement. Top it all off with Valrhona Chocolate Brownies or Meyer Lemon Bar.

9) The 3-course, $40 dinner including the dineL.A. exclusive Lamb Spezzatino with lemon & egg semolina at Sotto

A night at Sotto with Steve Samson’s cooking is always a winner, so when you get 3 courses for $40 while dining with friends so everyone can share? A real stunner. From Pork Meatballs to the exclusive Lamb Spezzatino, Rigatoni with Chicken Liver Ragu and ending with a Cannoli or Olive Oil Cake, all diners at the table are in for a treat.

West Hollywood

10) The 3-course, $25 lunch at Connie & Ted’s

It’s hard to top a three-part lunch for $25, with the first course including the choice of a half-dozen chef’s choice oysters. The choice of second course includes their Hook Burger, Fried Oyster Sandwich and more for some impressive dineL.A. options. On the other hand, if you’re into the Lobster Roll, you’ll have to opt for the $40 dinner, plus the $5 supplement.

11) Night + Market Song offerings at Night + Market WeHo for $40 dinner and wine pairing for add’l $35

Kris Yenbamroong brings favorites from Night + Market’s new Song location in Silver Lake back to where it all started, in West Hollywood. Score three courses for $40, including fried octopus and pork khao soi, and you’ll want to add in the pairing, for sure, with delightful gems such as a Pinot Blanc and Litrozzo Rosso.

12) The $20 lunch and $30 dinner at Gracias Madre

Vegans and non-vegans, rejoice! You’re in for a gluten-free treat where everybody’s happy because somehow it’s all pretty delicious even if you’re without dietary restriction. Sweeten the deal by adding an agave-based cocktail, or even flight, by Jason Eisner.

Repeat: The lobster roll at Blue Plate Oysterette on 3rd Street (see Santa Monica entry)

The Pikey Pub Room

Hollywood

13) Five plates per person for $30 dinner at Cleo

Cleo is a great place to graze on plates of capable Mediterranean fare for a night out on the town with the girls. With a choice of two mezze, salad, main and dessert per person for only $30, it’s too fun not to share. The fantastically stylish space is designed by photographer and film-maker Matthew Rolston, so if you’re not at least a little in it for the scene, you might want to take dineL.A. off Hollywood Boulevard. This is SBE, after all.

14) The 4-course, $50 dinner at Rao’s

Truth be told: I’ve never been to Rao’s. But if there were ever an occasion to indulge one’s curiosity about the Hollywood outpost of the notoriously star-studded, New York restaurant, it might as well be dineL.A. You get an appetizer, a pasta, an entree, and then a closing cannoli, probably all worth about $75-$100 per person. And then you can say you’ve gone.

15) Two-course English lunch by Chef Ralph Johnson for $20 or three-course dinner for $40 at The Pikey

Take it from the chef with numerous top London restaurants and New York’s The Spotted Pig on his resume. Make the deal even sweeter with a dram of whisky from a closed distillery from owner Jared’s vintage stash. Repeat for dinner, not necessarily on the same day.

The Burger at Butchers & Barbers

16) Dinner for $40 at Butchers & Barbers

Now is as good a time as any to check out the Houston Brothers’ new-ish Butchers & Barbers in Hollywood, with American comfort food by Luke Reyes. Delicious cocktails complement the menu, of course, with this being the brothers’ first restaurant effort after having successfully built a high end cocktail empire in and around the neighborhood. The 3-course dinner for $40 including an exclusive crispy duck breast sounds more than promising.

San Fernando Valley

17) The 6-course tasting menu at The Gadarene Swine

One of the hottest restaurants to hit L.A. happens to be a vegan fine dining effort by Phillip Frankland Lee, and for $50, you’ll get a 6-course tasting menu. It’s quite the steal and promises to be an innovative dining experience, whether you’re vegan or not.

Silver Lake

18) The Potato Tartine with black truffles at Cliff’s Edge

Chef Vartan Abgaryan has an exclusive dish to offer for their 3-course, $50 dinner offer, and there’s a good chance that, like his other cooking, it’s going to be as beautiful as it is delicious. The Potato Tartine uses Morbier cheese, black truffles and mushroom vinegar. Pair that with a cocktail or two by Richard Swan either in their rustic interiors or out on Cliff’s Edge charming patio and you’re golden.

19) Dinner for $30 at Alimento

It’s one of my favorite newcomers this year, so dineL.A. is another grand opportunity to partake in this place if you haven’t experienced it, already. Spoiler Alert: You’ll definitely want the Tortellini en Brodo whether it’s on the prix fixe menu, or not. But almost everything on Zach Pollack’s menu is pretty spectacular – including their Chicken Liver Crostone.

20) Dinner for $40 at Black Hogg

You get a choice of 2 small plates and 1 large plate per person, which is a great deal. Prepare for really robust flavors in these American dishes with Korean influences, in Eric Park’s gastropub to outlast them all. Bone marrow lovers (me) will rejoice. Then, go across the street for an after-dinner show at Silverlake Lounge for some added adventure.

Downtown L.A.

21) The 3-course, $25 lunch and 4-course, $50 dinner at Faith & Flower

If you work downtown, this will be the lunch to get – especially since they’ve had awhile to streamline their lunch service since opening 10 months ago. Selected cocktails by Michael Lay are $10 each, as well, to sweeten the deal. Michael Hung’s menu at Faith & Flower has consistently been at the top of its game.

***

Don’t forget to “Dine. Snap. Win.” when you’re instagramming. Tag your photos with “#dineLA” and you’ll be entered to win a 2-night stay at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena with breakfast and valet.

And with that, I have just two parting tips to share for ultimate #dineLA etiquette:
1) Please instagram after you’ve eaten some hot food, or even after the meal – not beforehand so that your food isn’t hot anymore!
2) Do tip on the full value of the meal, because your food is most likely valued more than what you were actually charged for it. Don’t penalize your server for the great deal you got!

Now make those ressies, and enjoy!

January 19 – February 1, 2015

Full list of participants

Faith & Flower
705 West 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
213.239.0642

Black Hogg
2852 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
323.953.2820

Alimento
1710 Silver Lake Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
323.928.2888

Cliff’s Edge
3626 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
323.666.6116

Tipple & Brine
14633 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
818.528.2550

The Gadarene Swine
11266 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604
818.508.5500

Butchers & Barbers
6531 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.461.1464

The Pikey
7617 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323.850.5400

Rao’s
1006 Seward Street
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323.962.7267

Cleo @ The Redbury
1717 Vine Street
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.962.1711

Gracias Madre
8905 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90069
323.978.2170

Night + Market WeHo
9041 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310.275.9724

Connie & Ted’s
8171 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
323.848.2722

Sotto
9575 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90035
310.277.0210

Bouchon
235 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.271.9910

Craft
10100 Constellation Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
310.279.4180

The Strand House
117 Manhattan Beach Boulevard
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310.545.7470

The Wallace
3833 Main Street
Culver City, CA 90232
310.202.6400

Fundamental LA
1303 Westwood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
310.444.7581

Brilliantshine
522 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310.451.0045

Blue Plate Oysterette SaMo
1355 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310.576.3474

Blue Plate Oysterette 3rd Street
8048 W 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323.656.5474

Bar Pinxto
109 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310.458.2012