dineL.A. returns for the second time in 2017 from July 14-28, featuring over 375 options for lunch and dinner. American Express is sponsoring an Exclusive Series of restaurants starring deluxe menus that start at $95. You’ve only got 30 meals to work with. Discover my recommendations for every slot, not including Hall of Fame choices like Craft, Fogo de Chao and Lawry’s The Prime Rib, which still warrant consideration. Make your calendar count.
Numbered establishments on the map correspond to information below for easy reference. Establishments also appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
1. 1212 ($15)
Could the Third Street Promenade finally have an interesting independent restaurant? Chef Walter Greenwood previously cooked at Bartolotta in Las Vegas and Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and now combines Southern and global flavors in Santa Monica.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Crispy Fried Chicken • Mentaiko Spaghetti • Coconut Panna Cotta
2. Chaya Venice ($25)
Chaya has endured for nearly 400 years since starting in Hayama, Japan. The company’s “new” 1990 restaurant is serving a luxurious four-course, $95 dinner for the Exclusive Series. Chef Yuichi Natori applies some of the same creativity at lunch for a fraction of the cost.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Thai Clam Chowder • Crispy Branzino with Santa Barbara uni risotto • Beni Imo Cheesecake
3. Chez Tex ($20)
Jesse “Tex” Feldman and wife Hayley honor his grandfather with a stylish Cali-French restaurant on the Santa Monica-Venice border, an area that’s experienced a renaissance.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Tex’s Chopped Salad • Dry-Aged Burger
4. Church & State ($25)
Yasminn Sarmadi and chef/partner Tony Esnault also run Spring in DTLA and have kept seasonal Church & State bistro vital beneath the historic Biscuit Company Lofts.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Soupe de Mais et Vanille • Roulade de Porc • Clafoutis a la Peche
5. Farsi Café ($15)
Farsi Cafe’s owners started with a counter at Westwood’s Super Sun market and upgraded to a fashionable restaurant next door. Saffron-stained chicken drumsticks are destination worthy.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Mast O Khiar • Chicken Drumsticks Kabob
6. Fishing With Dynamite ($25)
Chef David LeFevre and the Simms family, who own M.B. Post and The Arthur J in Manhattan Beach, also run this airy seafood spot. LeFevre divides his menu into Old School, New School, and After School. Indulge in all three categories for dineL.A.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Rockfish and Shrimp Ceviche • Softshell Crab Po Boy • Banana Toffee Cream Pie
7. Fundamental LA ($15)
Jeffrey Faust and Woogene Lee bring global influences to their minimalist Westwood restaurant, which features sandwiches at lunch, and more ambitious fare at dinner.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Smoked Mahi Mahi Sandwich • Orzo • Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie • Real Vanilla Cream Soda
8. Hanjip Korean BBQ ($15)
Chef Chris Oh and partner Stephane Bombet planted premium Korean food on the Westside for the first time. For dineL.A., they’re serving AYCE meat, seafood, and vegetables.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Beef Tongue • Marinated Short Rib • Spicy Chicken • Garlic Chicken • Spicy Pork Belly • Spicy Calamari • Baby Octopus • Kimchi Fried Rice
9. Maple Block Meat Co. ($15)
Divide + Conquer, Inc. co-founders Daniel Weinstock and Mike Garrett, who also brought us Lunetta / Lunetta All Day, continue to smoke out Culver City with Maple Block Meat Co.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Brisket • Ribs • 2 Sides • Handmade Soda • Cookie
10. Officine BRERA ($25)
Chef Angelo Auriana and front of house partner Matteo Ferdinandi already served some of L.A.’s best Italian food at The Factory Kitchen in downtown’s Arts District. The duo further enhances their reputation with nearby Officine BRERA, named for a neighborhood in Milan.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Riso Farcito • Paletta e Salsicia • Biscotti
11. Osteria Mamma ($20)
The spirit of Loredana “Mamma” Cecchinato lives on at the restaurant her son Filippo Cortivo runs on Melrose. Osteria Mamma’s comforting Italian food remains a draw.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Frittura Mista • Linguine alla Carbonara
12. Parkway Grill ($25)
The Parkway Grill is the flagship restaurant from the Smith Brothers – Bob and Gregg – right across the parking lot from sister Arroyo Chophouse. Seasonal American cuisine benefits from herbs and vegetables grown on-site, a mesquite grill, and oak-burning oven.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Hamachi Crudo • Lobster Club, herb and garlic French fries
13. Restaurant 917 ($25)
This restaurant at the Porsche Experience Center in Carson is named for the 917 racecar that provided the German car company with victories at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970 and 1971. The car’s design inspired the space and menu and features views of the track.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Spanish Octopus • Wild King Salmon
14. Spice Affair ($20)
Dr. Puneet Chandak and wife Sonia Batra created L.A.’s fanciest Indian restaurant by opening Spice Affair on La Cienega’s Restaurant Row in 2014. Despite flashy design flourishes, the food is often classic, just with higher end ingredients and refined presentation.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Scrumptious Mr. Chicken Tikka • A Fish Curry with Spice Affair • Mango Mousse
15. Sweet Chick ($20)
New York-based restaurateur John Seymour and business partner, the rapper Nas, bring chicken and waffles and a high-energy vibe to thriving Fairfax Village.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Mac and Cheese • Chicken and (Rosemary-Mushroom) Waffles