Here are the facts:
I work in Culver City near Main & Culver
I get an hour for lunch
I usually eat alone
I'm willing to drive for a good meal, within reason. I've gone as far as Koreatown.
What I've been eating:
Natalee Thai fairly reliable if not great. Gets too crowded for my taste so I dont go often.
Thai Thai BBQ The salad bar was surprisingly fresh but the main course was nasty. Another turnoff is that it smells like musty old carpet inside.
Miyako inedible chicken teriyaki and very mediocre tempura.
Santa Maria BBQ Co. disappointing. Got the beef brisket sandwich meal and found the meat tough and completely lacking in flavor. The sides (beans and I can't remember what else) were... bad is such a strong word.
Thai Dishes used to like it and frequented it but after several disappointing experiences, ready to give up.
Mrs. Garcias I've tried a few things here and have concluded that the steak burrito is about the only decent thing. Even then, sometimes the beef tastes a little off. Last time it was definitely off. I'm not as enthusiastic about it anymore.
Tokyo 7-7 literally 30 steps from my work so I go here quite regularly. Generic sandwiches and home-style Japanese food. The yakisoba is pretty tasty, though the noodles are usually overcooked. Their new sushi items are fairly decent for what they are... I mean, you can't even put this in the same category as most sushi but I found the spicy tuna roll quite palatable and a good value. I'd say, it's on par with Noshi Sushi (which Ive sworn off, by the way, but thats another story).
Quizno's been twice and will not go back. I got a half sandwich, chips, a drink and it came to 9 bucks! For fast food? Not worth it and not very good, either.
The Chinese place a few doors down from Quizno's went there once and have no need to go back
La Dijonnaise went there for lunch once and didn't see a need to go back. Not that it's bad, but it's not walking distance from my work and the food just wasn't good enough to warrant getting in the car. Grand Casino has pretty much the same kind of fare for less $ and within walking distance. Sometimes I stop here in the morning on the way to work to grab coffee and a pastry. Their cinnamon twist and brioche are pretty good and cheap ($1.25 each). Although, at those prices I'm convinced they use quite a bit of shortening in place of butter.
Daphne's next closest thing after Tokyo 7-7 so Ive been here several times. Similar to Thai Dishes, though, I had a few really mediocre (more mediocre than usual) experiences and have no desire to go back now.
Double Dutch fairly good sandwiches and salads but for some reason, I don't go here much. I think its should try it again.
A Taste of India really crappy, I mean, absolutely, positively the worst Indian food I've ever had. In fact, some of the worst food I've ever eaten. What did I expect? I found it on Yahoo restaurant search, for cryin' out loud. That's how desperate I was.
India Sweets & Spices should have gone here first. The food it good. People are grumpy. I sort of like that. I've gotten all sorts of curries here and the dosa, pakora, & samosas. Its all been good. The chai gave me a bit of a tummy ache... I don't know why. Its not just ISS. The chai at Paru gave me a tummy ache too. Didn't make me sick or anything, but it just didn't sit well.
Novecento co-workers love this place but I found it just ok. I don't feel strongly about it either way but if I had to vote, I'd give it a marginal thumbs down.
Grand Casino Bakery nice soups and sandwiches on large French baguettes (the kind you find in supermarkets, not the real French baguette). Good, casual vibe. Good value.
Ventures to WLA:
Yabu wrote about this place last week. Love it. My current favorite lunch place. Fast service.
Ramenya I tried miso, kimchee, seaweed, mabo tofu ramen and I can't remember what else but the only thing I like here is the spicy egg flower ramen. Very often the broth is so salty I can't even eat it. I have to ask for hot water to dilute it. Egg flower ramen, I found, is fairly consistent. Also very fast.
Shabu Hachi I wanted to try Raku but apparently they're not open for lunch so I ended up here. I had my first shabu shabu experience many years ago when it was probably under different ownership. I thought it was nice and the ice cream (plum wine) was very good. Took too long though. I only get an hour for lunch and with my 10-15 minute drive each way, this just isnt a great option.
Furaibo had been here once before. The chicken wings are their signature dish and are tasty. The lunch special I had (chicken w/ mustard sauce) was bland.
Places I'm thinking about trying (comments appreciated):
Smitty's this place... I've driven by and walked by it so many times and I'm just afraid to try it. It just reeks of "chain restaurant"ness. It's the comic sans serif font of the sign; it's the bright, primary colors of the sign; its the squeaky clean environment with harsh fluorescent lighting.
Roll 'n Rye the guy on the radio ad who sings the Roll 'n Rye ditty is somewhat disturbing but I should probably give this place a try. They've been around for so long, they must be doing something right.
Johnnie's Pastrami Of course, I'd heard of Johnnie's but didn't realize how close it was. I'll definitely try next week.
Victor Jr.'s every time I pass by this place it's mobbed so I'm leery but I should give it a try some time.
Now, if you're still reading this...
What else? I've been a Japanese kick lately and would love rec's for non-sushi, non-noodle Japanese places. Oh, and non-teriyaki. Something along the lines of Nanbankan that is open for lunch with reasonable prices and easy parking. I usually avoid Sawtelle because parking can be aggravating when I'm on a schedule. Off-Sawtelle places like Yabu & Ramenya are ideal. And while I'm not uncomfortable eating by myself at a table, solo-friendly places would be ideal. Easy freeway access is even better. I know these are rather tight parameters but I know there are options out there!
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