as chowhounds, we can all pretty much agree that food is everything. every meal o' the week. eating is so basic, so imperative, that few things in life are more important. in fact, i can but think of one - MATING. as such, when it comes to finding a place to eat, the ONLY times when other factors (besides quality of the food), should ever be taken into consideration are when one is - as my english friends like to say - "on the pull."
that said, it's pretty apparent that LA is probably the least pull-friendly town in the world for the gastronomically inclined. not because there aren't great restaurants around, but simply because, to get to most of them, you have to drive clear across town no matter where you're coming from!
nothing kills a vibe quicker than walking out of a damn good yakitori joint or oxacan-molestravaganza to suddenly find yourself... in a desolate strip mall in torrance or el monte. in fact, i'm guessing that that's how the dreaded "asian circle" arose. i don't know if your peoples do it, but mine certainly do - where you and your friends stand around in a huddle outside a restaurant for two hours after the meal, shooting the shite about nothing while deciding where to go next.
needless to say, that won't do on a date. in any other major city in the world, you could probably get some kick ass food relative to your locale, stumble into a bar for a kip, then proceed straightaways to snogging in a nearby park, all without having to tip the valet.
in LA, you can always DRIVE SOMEWHERE ELSE, but damn if that ain't inconvenient, and not just for drinkers.
i live at the bottom of a tonkotsu vat, so this doesn't necessarily apply to me. but where would you go that is ped-friendly (ambulators, not children) AND chow approved?
third street santa monica is nice, if you don't mind dining at buca di beppo or monsoon.
the grove? is there actually anything good there? i've heard a good thing or two about that french bistro-y place next to the wanna-be bellagio water fountain but ain't ever tried it, as it reeks of faux-ness.
hollywood and highland? sure, if CPK is your thing. hardly chowish.
i guess you could say i'm looking for the proverbial kick-ass-northern-chinese-hot-pot, that's right next to the city-square-with-the-ice-skating-rink-and-the-jugglers. kind of like finding the supermodel who's also a harvard grad, without having to compromise. does it even exist?
suggestions? you know, for my less dorky friends who actually have social lives ;).