dineL.A. returns from July 12 – 26, featuring over 400 high-value, prix fixe options for lunch and dinner. Read my recommendations for 10 lunches and 15 dinners, not including Hall of Fame choices like Craft, Fogo de Chao and Lawry’s The Prime Rib, which still warrant consideration. You’ve only got 30 possible meals. Make your calendar count.
Numbers on the map correspond to listings below and appear in alphabetical order instead of order of preference.
1. Bistro Jolie ($20)
Thomas Plejer runs Bistro Jolie and Jayde’s Market at the top of Beverly Glen in Bel-Air. Salad Niçoise normally costs $21. You’re already getting a dineL.A. discount just with that lunch choice, which teams seared albacore tuna, haricot vert, hard-boiled egg, Niçoise olives, potato, fennel, and sundried tomatoes. From there, dessert is simply a bonus. I suggest cherry clafoutis with lemon curd, McConnell’s vanilla ice cream, and candied rosemary.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Salad Niçoise • Cherry Clafoutis
2. Brunello Trattoria ($15)
Bruno Morra’s casual Culver City Italian restaurant serves two courses for $15 for dineL.A. lunch. For balance’s sake, I suggest starting with Caesar salad. Spaghetti with clams, cherry tomatoes, hot pepper, and white wine makes a nice entrée.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Cesare • Spaghetti Vongole
3. Carbon Beach Club ($25)
A three-course meal for $25 on the beach in Malibu? Carbon Beach Club pulls it off for dineL.A. Start with two seafood courses, given the location. Tuna tartare teams Pacific albacore with Hass avocado, Persian cucumber, Calabrian chile, chives, and Italian crackers. Linguine vongole is one of L.A.’s best versions, pairing Spanish clams with California olive oil, parsley, garlic, and a white wine broth. Finish with coconut panna cotta with passion fruit and black currant sorbet.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Tuna Tartare • Linguine Vongole • Coconut Panna Cotta
4. Hinoki & The Bird ($35)
Indulge in three courses of comfort food on a prime Century City patio for lunch. Start with fried chicken flavored with chile Japones and yuzu kosho honey. Continue down chef Brandon Kida’s vivid culinary path with steamed hamachi collar, garlic chive, and Szechuan peppercorn. Finish with miso donuts drizzled with honey caramel.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Fried Chicken • Steamed Hamachi Collar • Miso Donuts
5. Kali ($25)
Chef Kevin Meehan and wine-fueled front of house partner Drew Langley are finally starting to get more recognition on Melrose. Lunch is a great time to get a taste of what they offer with two courses for $25. Their signature black barley risotto with black garlic and a crispy disc of local cheese is a modern classic. Striped bass is a new preparation that’s no less interesting, plated with whole-grain spaetzle, turnips, zucchini, charred Meyer lemon, and sea lettuce.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Black Barley Risotto • Striped Bass
6. Massilia ($15)
Massilia is a charmer near Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade from Zinque owner Emmanuel Dossetti. Their two-course dineL.A. lunch deal starts with salad. Order ahi tuna and grapefruit plated with Asian greens, avocado, cucumber, and citrus-sesame dressing. Tagliatelle with morel mushrooms and cream sauce is a seasonal treat for the main course.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Ahi Tuna and Grapefruit Salad • Tagliatelle aux Morilles
7. Openaire ($25)
Lunch is the best time to eat at Openaire, the LINE Hotel’s rooftop greenhouse restaurant. Josiah Citrin and executive chef Richard Archuleta have put together a summery two-course dineL.A. lunch menu. I recommend sweet pea toast co-starring avocado, pickled Fresno chile, and lime. The main course should involve grilled King salmon with summer squash, Brentwood corn, and tomato vinaigrette.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Sweet Pea Toast • Grilled King Salmon
8. Pacific Dining Car ($25)
Get a taste of history at Pacific Dining Car, a downtown restaurant that dates to 1921. Their $25 dineL.A. lunch is downright luxurious. Keep it old school with shrimp cocktail starring large shrimp, house-made cocktail sauce, and lemon. Each beefy main course comes with a complimentary sauce and side. Go with their baseball steak, a thick-cut aged top sirloin, and add sautéed mushrooms and onions, plus complementary creamed spinach. Their hot fudge brownie is tempting, but I suggest New York-style Dining Car cheesecake with shortbread cookie crust and raspberry puree.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Shrimp Cocktail • Baseball Steak + Smothered Mushrooms and Onions + Creamed Spinach • Dining Car Cheesecake
9. Santuari ($25)
Santuari resides at Toluca Lake Tennis & Fitness Club, but doesn’t eat like country club food. Executive chef Brandon Mica has put together an interesting two-course Mediterranean menu for dineL.A. lunch. Black sea bass ceviche is his boldest starter, plated with charred Poblano crème, Fresno chiles, lime, cilantro, sumac, and garlic chips. A half-chicken stars in their second course, served with carrots, leeks, hen of the woods mushrooms, grilled lemon, and roasted jus.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Black Sea Bass Ceviche • Half Chicken
10. Simonette ($20)
Simonette, the versatile new French bistro from Pali Society that’s tucked away in downtown Culver City, serves their two-course dineL.A. lunch menu daily from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Oysters for breakfast? Why not? Start with a fresh-shucked trio served with mignonette, lemon, and parsley. For the main course, I would order chicken paillarde with lemon beurre blanc, crispy capers, sweet potato, and arugula. Everybody gets madeleines for dessert.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Oysters • Chicken Paillarde • Madeleines