Okay, so here's the situation. I visit L.A. roughly once every other year, and my next visit is this coming October. I'll probably be around SoCal for 5-7 days. I'll have a car, of course (there are some other cities where this is not a given). I'll be staying near downtown and spending time with friends who live and work in Beverlywood, weho, and Hollywood, so geographically those areas would be best, but other areas not terribly far would be okay too, areas like Westwood, Santa Monica, and even Pasadena.
What I'm looking for are recommendations for absolutely terrific food, with some variety. And when I say terrific food, I mean the places where dish after dish, you take one bite and think, "wow, this is amazingly good", places that you go to and the food was so delicious that you're still thinking about it a day or a week later, and eager to return. I'm hoping for recommendations for multiple types of food, at a wide range of price points. (I'm not trying to economize, but I'm not looking for fancy fine dining every day.)
I would love to hear anyone's list of their two, or five, or ten "do not miss" favorites, the places you take friends from out of town you want to impress with how great L.A. food is. To give you an idea of what I'm looking for, check out the first reply in this topic, which is my "do not miss" list for a first-time visit to Chicago:
1 night in Chicago - www.chow.com/topics/977381#8971167
As you can see, there are recommendations for categories including fine dining, casual dining, ethnic dining, breakfast/brunch, and snacking, at prices ranging from haute cuisine to cheap eats.
I'm open to most kinds of food, although I don't care for raw food (e.g. sushi) or Korean, and I don't eat pizza out of town because I love the deep-dish back home in Chicago. I'm not looking for anything that's necessarily different from what we have in Chicago; I'm just looking for places that are amazingly delicious, even if we have similar places in Chicago. (California Pizza Kitchen!!! Just kidding, of course.)
Along with any recommendations, I'd be interested in hearing tips for whether it might be difficult to get a reservation, or tips for places that don't accept reservations where waits to be seated are likely to be lengthy. Oh, and I hate places that only offer communal seating.
The last time I was in L.A. I ate at Animal and absolutely LOVED it, and I may go back there during this visit. I've also been to Moles La Tia in Boyle Heights, which I enjoyed, but not enough to return on this trip. Similarly, I've been to Griddle Café in weho, which I enjoyed, but I'd be interested in getting a couple more super-creative breakfast/brunch oriented recommendations.
I've looked over the recommendations in this other discussion, which sound like candidates, except that (as noted there) many of them are rather similar to each other in price, style, etc.:
Guidance needed for week-long LA visit - www.chow.com/topics/984817
I've also looked over Eater's 38 essential L.A. restaurants at
With both of those other discussions/lists, the biggest problem I'm having is identifying the absolutely phenomenal "wow do NOT miss" places, as opposed to those that are "merely" very good and worthwhile. Hope that makes sense.
I thank all of you humbly in advance, and offer my help here on Chowhound for anyone traveling to Chicago.