DineLA’s summer restaurant week started Monday. I’m one of those people who started planning where I wanted to eat as soon as the dates were announced (I then adjusted after the participating restaurants were listed, and adjusted again when the menus went live).
Each year there are two dineLA restaurant weeks. The first one is always at the end of January. This is the first time the second week will take place in July, and it’s also the first time a restaurant week has included Saturday nights as part of the deal.
My husband, Kenley, and I probably dine out too much as it is, so we don’t need dineLA to encourage us to get out of the house. But we use it as a reason to explore new places and to try restaurants that are too expensive for us during other times of the year. And we’ve only lived here a year and a half, so there are still a lot of places that are new to us.
Kenley and I went to Craft (by chef Tom Colicchio) and Bouchon (Thomas Keller) in October, and to Spago (Wolfgang Puck) and Lukshon (Sang Yoon) in January. I recommend them all, and all are participating this time around, except Spago, which is closed for renovations until autumn. We hope Spago will be back on the list for January’s restaurant week so we can check out the makeover. In the meantime, other Wolfgang Puck restaurants — including Chinois on Main — are participating.
This time, we’re planning a repeat trip to Lukshon in Culver City. The $15 DineLA lunch menu includes its dandan noodles. Kenley and I recently sampled this traditional Sichuan spicy-noodle dish for the first time at Jose Andres’ China Poblano in Las Vegas, and we loved it. Plus, Sang Yoon’s version at Lukshon was recently featured in LA Weekly’s top 100 dishes in Los Angeles. We’re looking forward to trying it.
My lunch choices? Dandan noodles and milk chocolate cream. Lukshon’s dinner menu includes its famed spicy chicken pops, which are also a must-try.
We’ve also made reservations at Tres by Jose Andres, which is in the lobby of the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. Andres is our favorite celebrity chef. We were introduced to his Mexican small-plates concept at his Oyamel restaurant in Washington, D.C.; we’ve been to Jaleo and China Poblano in Las Vegas; and The Bazaar here in L.A. is our favorite splurge.
Tres’ dinner menu doesn’t seem as experimental as The Bazaar’s Spanish tapas menu, which features Andres’ trademark “molecular gastronomy” (a fancy term for food-chemistry experimentation). But I expect the dishes at Tres will still have an Andres twist, and it will be a fun experience.
My dinner choices? Waldorf salad, salmon and dark chocolate mouse cake. (Read my blog post about The Bazaar.)
Other restaurants on my dineLA wish list include:
- Farmshop: The dinner menu looks pretty basic (chicken and salmon), but I expect the food will be expertly prepared. The chef and owner got his start at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, Calif., and its executive chef was a semifinalist for the James Beard “rising star chef of the year” award this year. Plus, I can window shop in the Brentwood Country Mart. Farmshop’s three-course, family-style dinner is usually $55 per person, so you save $10 per person during restaurant week. My dinner choices? Avocado hummus, roasted jidori chicken and chocolate peanut butter tart.
- Post & Beam: The Baldwin Park restaurant has gotten great reviews since it opened early this year, and dineLA gives us a good push to get there. The dinner menu looks better than the lunch menu, but our work schedule will only allow us to get there for lunch. I think it’s still worth checking out. My lunch choice? A classic Caesar salad and the natural turkey burger.
- Whist: I’ve been wanting to eat dinner at the restaurant in the Kelly Wearstler-designed Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica ever since I had drinks with friends in the bar last fall. And I find that small-plate restaurants are fun during dineLA, especially if you go with a friend or date, because you’re able to try a lot of the selections. In this case, for $35 per person you get to choose one bite, one “from the garden,” two plates to share, and a dessert. My dinner choice? Market squash, roasted corn, broiled halibut and a crispy corn bread waffle.
- Luna Park: I was pleasantly surprised the first time Kenley and I ate at this dark and romantic restaurant on Wilshire. The location near one of my freelance gigs was driving this choice, until I looked at the menu, which seems to be one of the most fun, especially for $25 per person for dinner. My dinner choice? Warm goat-cheese fondue, breaded pork cutlet stuffed with cheeses, and “make your own” s’mores.
- MEET in Paris: Kenley and I recently tried this cute bistro in downtown Culver City. We want to go back to sample the moules bisque, which are mussels in a lobster broth, and that happens to be one of the dishes on the $35 dinner menu. My dinner choices? French onion soup, moules bisque and creme brulee. Sounds lovely.
I also can recommend Akasha, A-Frame, Bar|Kitchen, Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar, Cafe del Rey, Comme Ca, Ford’s Filling Station, Lazy Ox Canteen, Rush Street, SUGARFISH, Sunny Spot, The Six, and Waterloo & City.
DineLA runs through July 27. You can see all of the participating restaurants on dineLA’s website.
And be sure to check back. I’ll write about our experiences at the places we make it to. Plus, I’m already taking notes for where I want to eat in January. Let me know what restaurants you’d recommend.