dineL.A. returns from January 11 – 25, featuring over 400 high-value, prix fixe options for lunch and dinner. American Express once again sponsors an Exclusive Series of restaurants serving deluxe menus that start at $99. Read my recommendations for 10 lunches and 10 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. Bone Kettle ($29)
Chef Erwin Tjahyadi and brother Eric showcase the flavors of their native Indonesia at Bone Kettle in Old Pasadena. For dineL.A. dinner, beef makes the most sense. Bone Kettle plates oxtail dumplings with seasonal mushrooms. Bone broth with noodles are the main event and are available with more hearty braised oxtails. Finish with pandan crème brûlée for more Southeast Asian flair.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Oxtail Dumplings • Braised Oxtails w/Bone Broth & Noodles • Pandan Crème Brûlée
2. Breva ($39)
Italian maestro Casey Lane takes on Spanish cuisine in DTLA’s revamped Hotel Figueroa. Several dishes are exclusive to their dineL.A. menu. To start, fried oysters are tempting, but I suggest delicata squash with jamon Serrano, pecans, and maple Dijon vinaigrette. Devote the meat of the meal to Spanish-inspired steak frites starring chile-rubbed flatiron steak with tomate & fennel butter. Dessert calls for carrot cake with ginger and salted walnuts.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Delicata Squash • Chile Rubbed Flatiron • Carrot Cake
3. Chateau Hanare ($49)
This high end Japanese restaurant from Reika Alexander of Manhattan’s EN Brasserie opened last year at Chateau Marmont on the Sunset Strip. Each meal starts with complimentary house-made tofu. The three proper courses present a series of choices. Obanzai involves ingredients inspired by Kyoto cooking traditions. Saikyo miso black cod is the most promising main dish.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Assorted Obanzai • Saikyo Miso Black Cod • Hojicha Ice Cream
4. Chianina Steakhouse ($49)
Chianina showcases signature beef in myriad ways at one of Michael Dene’s restaurants along Long Beach’s Belmont Shore. They put together another nice dineL.A. dinner menu. Start with carrot cavatelli tossed with Chianina short rib, pickled peppers, and carrot top pesto. Chianina beef is pretty much required, and flank steak comes with smoked potato leek puree and black trumpet mushrooms. Finish with butterscotch cremino layered with dark chocolate and pecan praline.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Carrot Cavatelli • Chianina Flank Steak • Butterscotch Cremino
5. Farsi Cafe ($29)
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 their signature dish, but they don’t stop there. For dineL.A. dinner, grilled salmon comes with baghali polo, basmati rice folded with dill and lima beans. They also offer a choice of two starters. I’d suggest kashk e bademjon, roasted eggplant dressed with whey, mint, and garlic; and tahdig, crusty rose mixed with yogurt and egg, topped with a choice of stew. Finish with house-baked baklava.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Kashk O Bademjon • Tahdig • Salmon • Baklava
6. Ma’am Sir ($39)
Charles Olalia brings serious value to dineL.A. with a three-course dinner menu. Expect a complimentary glass or red or white wine and a choice of two appetizers, one entrée, and one dessert per person. Longanisa burger features house-made pork sausage, kewpie mayo and punchy atchara. Sea urchin lumpia touts shrimp filling, lardo, and spicy vinegar. Happy Birthday fried chicken comes with house-blended spices, lettuce, and gravy. Banana bibingka with brown butter cream and sea salt provides a big finish.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Longanisa Burger • Sea Urchin Lumpia • Happy Birthday Fried Chicken • Banana Bibingka
7. Noree Thai on Beverly ($29)
Fern Kaewtathip and Noree Pla provide plenty of flavorful Thai options for dineL.A. dinner. Somtum is a particularly punchy green papaya salad s. Grilled salmon comes with aromatic, umami-rich jaew sauce, vegetables, and white rice. Mango sticky rice dressed with coconut milk is always a welcome finish.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Somtum • Grilled Salmon • Mango Sticky Rice
8. Orsa & Winston ($29)
Josef Centeno doesn’t give menu away about his three-course, $29 dinner in DTLA’s Old Bank District. The menu is as follows: I. Crudo. II. Protein. III. Dessert. Then again, Centeno’s clearly a chef who’s earned trust, so just book a reservation.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Crudo • Protein • Dessert
9. Redbird ($49)
Neal Fraser and wife Amy Knoll Fraser have put together a strong three-course dineL.A. dinner menu that starts with shrimp & grits and progresses to ribeye cap, one of my favorite cuts. They start diners with a complimentary amuse bouche and even offer a dineL.A. Spritz with Sauvignon Blanc, pamplemousse, bianco vermouth, and grapefruit essence.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Shrimp & Grits • Ribeye Cap • Blood Orange Panna Cotta
10. Tallula’s ($29)
Executive chef Saw Naing oversees Tallula’s on a nightly basis for chef/partner Jeremy Fox and even makes heirloom corn tortillas in-house. Their three-course dineL.A. dinner menu is crammed with value, beginning with complimentary guacamole with salsa and chips and spicy pickled vegetables. Considering the quality of Tallula’s tortillas, tacos are definitely the way to go for the main course, especially the duo topped with local rock cod, malt tartar sauce and dill-pickled onions. Dessert includes other options, but dineL.A. clearly calls for churros.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Little Gem Caesar • Local Rock Cod Tacos • Churros