Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where to Eat: Dining Like Royalty for the Price of a Pauper @ dineL.A. restaurant week

It’s a joyous occasion in the city; it’s dineLA restaurant week! From Monday, January 23rd through Friday, February 4th (excluding Saturday, January 31st), restaurants participating in these festivities are offering pre-fixed, three-course lunches and/or dinners. The range of dining options is vast, covering most of the Los Angeles area, from Santa Monica to downtown, and everything in between. And, the cuisine is varied, from Mexican to French, Italian, Contemporary, Traditional and anything else that you could ever imagine.

I’m personally excited because I can now wine and dine at some of the city’s most renowned, most expensive, most exclusive restaurants at really affordable, irresistible prices. Lunch ranges between $16 to $28 for and dinner ranges between $26 to $44 at restaurants where on any given day, you could easily spend $50+ for lunch and $100+ for dinner.

With almost 300 restaurants on the dineLA restaurant week list, it can be daunting to decide on a place to go, so I’ve taken the liberty to offer my list of “Best Of” restaurants. Some are new but most are Los Angeles staples that have proven again and again, they are worthy of our patronage. Happy exploring!

Best Exclusive Staples of the City: These restaurants have become synonymous with the glamorous life of Los Angeles, but most importantly, they have the culinary prowess to back it up. They include: Craft Los Angeles, Crustacean Restaurant Beverly Hills, Inn of the Seventh Ray, Morton's The Steakhouse - Downtown, The Lobster (pictured to the right) The Penthouse at The Huntley and Water Grill.

Best Newcomers: In recent years, we’ve seen tons of new restaurants emerge on the scene. We anxiously awaited for the opening of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, which lived up to expectations. The buzz behind Waterloo and City was insane, and rightfully so. And, we saw both Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood and Oliverio emerge from former restaurants to make a name for themselves.

Best One-of-a-Kind Dining Experiences: Whether it’s a funky interior or funky food creations, these restaurants have something to offer, more on the extraordinary side. Cafe Was’ unusual d├ęcor will have your eyes roaming from stairs leading nowhere to portraits cut off by ceilings. With its “no substitutions” rule, The Hungry Cat (pictured top left) combines the most unlikely ingredients to make masterpieces. Maison Akira artfully blends French and Japanese cuisines together, and 94th Aero Squadron Van Nuys (pictured to the left) is nostagically old-school, in a quirky way.

Best Ones I’m Personally Looking Forward To: I know it’s hard to believe, but even I haven’t been to all of the city’s restaurants. There are still a few on my list that I’m excited to try. They include K-ZO, Little Next Door, Jar Restaurant and The Bazaar by Jose Andres.

Best of Just Really Good Places in General: The following restaurants have provided me with one thing: a memorable dining experience each and every time. They aren’t necessarily trendy, newly opened or innately decorated, but they provide quality food at quality prices. They are places I’d visit even if it weren’t dineLA week: Gonpachi Beverly Hills, Katana, Katsuya - Hollywood, Napa Valley Grille, Parkway Grill and Taste on Melrose (Pictured to the right).

Previously reviewed on Wilson’s “Where To” Guide: Here are a few places that I have already reviewed, which obviously, already come highly recommended by me: Bar Pintxo, Cliff's Edge, Nic's Beverly Hills, Obika Mozzarella Bar - Century City and RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen.

Perhaps I'll see you at lunch or dinner these upcoming days!

For more information:
*All photos from restaurants' respective websites.

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