These may not be the best restaurants in LA … though they certainly might qualify. These are, rather, the places where for whatever reason you feel the most comfortable, the most relaxed, a place you might choose after a hard day because you want to be taken care of without a lot of drama, a place where you know what to expect and will always get it, a place to go with friends for a worry-free experience or a place you can go alone and still feel warm and welcome.
TAYLOR’S STEAKS – Not the best steak in town, though I do enjoy their steaks, particularly for the price. Not the best martini, either, but it is durable and well worth ordering (though I do wish it were larger!) For me, to go to Taylor’s with 2 or three friends, settle down into a comfortable red booth, have a Molly Salad (damn, so good) a solid steak and some red wine … well, few things make me feel more content.
MUSSO & FRANK’S – Similar to Taylor’s in many ways, this is another place I feel so comfortable. Walk in through the back (so cool), slide into a red booth, order one of the best martinis imaginable, and just relax. I often go solo, with a book, and even then I am always taken well care of in the servers’ caringly gruff manner. To have a martini with Manny’s Caesar, and then either thick, juicy pork chops or a filet, with creamed spinach and fries or a baked potato (both are great dipped in the pork au jus), I go home happy and sated.
LUCQUES – Besides being simply some of the best food in Los Angeles if not the country (I really love Suzanne Goin’s cooking), Lucques is comfortable for me because it is remarkably dependable, you know exactly what you are going to get. And it is such a relaxed meal. I love how you are never rushed: the courses come out leisurely, sometimes almost deliriously so. Slide into a booth (note recurring theme) to experience excellent cocktails or wine, great food, attentive but not cloying service…it’s always a wonderful evening for me, whether with friends or solo at the bar.
CANELE’ – While I’ve gone to the places above for many years, this is new one for me. Besides being close to home so it is very convenient, the food is stellar. Although small, the restaurant has an open, comfortable feel. Again, I just know exactly what I am going to get, and I like it very much. It has replaced Blair’s for me as my ‘neighborhood’ joint.
Anything qualifies, please chime in. (I wish I had a classic Cantonese chinese restaurant I could add to the list...anyone? )