TBL3 @ George’s California Modern (La Jolla, CA)


TBL3 @ George’s California Modern
1250 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92039
(858) 454-4244

Wow – let’s just say this post has been in OHT limbo for just about the entire year. I have been pessimistic to the point of not even knowing what to say anymore, because I didn’t think my words would do it any justice. Luckily, all that anyone needs to know is that my dinner at George’s in February, specifically the one at TBL3 (a spontaneous 12-to-14 course dinner prepared for one party seated at the best table in the house once a night – see details in link above), has withstood many, many wonderful meals that followed it to remain as my clear choice for favorite meal of 2014.

Chef Trey Foshee and his talented team are just firing on all cylinders when it comes to TBL3, whether it be the bright vegetarian dishes with the amazing product from Chino Farms, to the local shellfish prep with fennel butter than has become one of Chef Trey’s standbys, to the fun and creative desserts, down to a single fish taco which was my gateway drug  to this man and the restaurant – this is classical and technical perfection taken to the next level by local inspiration and sourcing. This is Michelin-star level execution in a warm atmosphere, all while the kitchen is essentially serving THREE different restaurants simultaneously. The serving was befitting of a classic fine-dining institution, yet had the calm and joy that resonated with the nearby sea. And don’t even get me started on what a value TBL3 is.

Conclusion: my favorite meal of 2014, and even better than my meals at 2-Star Michelin restaurants.

Funny story – so I dined solo here, where I had been chatting with the courteous FOH and briefly with Chef Trey. When I had gotten to the last savory dish, I felt EXTREMELY FULL all of a sudden. Those of you who know me know that I can eat a lot (I did eat 36 tacos at Tacolandia this year), and all I ate beforehand were 2 tacos + appetizer at Taco Maria for lunch. But for some reason it all just weighed down on me, as if I just went 8 rounds at a Vegas buffet. So the belt got unbuckled, the shirt untucked. I even started doing stairs inside the restaurant (it’s 3 floors) between the intermezzo and dessert courses. By the time Chef Trey was sending me off I had a feeling that most of the restaurant was laughing at me – with love of course.


Northern Divine Caviar – white radish


Celeryroot – smoked apple, Buddha’s hand, Dungeness crab


Chino Farms Carrot – whey, chamomile, raisin, fresh cheese


Fish Taco


Local Spiny Lobster – fennel butter


Wild Salad


Black Truffle Omelet – sea urchin, hollandaise


Braised Cabbage – smoked bone marrow, crispy rice, bacon-kombu broth


Rabbit – Chino Farms asparagus, rhubarb, black trumpet mushrooms, tarragon


Pink Trout – chrysanthemum, bonito butter


Lamb – cauliflower, sage honey


Apple Celery Consomme – fennel, confit, sheep’s milk frozen yogurt


Sarsaparilla Rice Pudding – red kuri squash, madarin, curried pineapple, coconut ice milk


Peach Blossom – chocolate, marzipan

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
American La Jolla $$$$ A+

George's At The Cove on Urbanspoon


Photo credit: Darin Dines

203 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-0690

Kokekokko, the yakitori-ya in Little Tokyo specializing in chicken skewers, is a oft-misunderstood spot. The restaurant is probably most well-known for the attitude of its head chef/owner, Tomo-san, and his reluctance to serve first-timer or newer patrons off-menu skewers which are “reserved” for the regulars and black plate customers (true VIPs who have customized plates made for them by the restaurant). I completely get it – this is America, after all. I myself was guilty of hating on Kokekokko for its elitist attitude and had been scared off trying the place for the longest time…until Food’s Eye View insisted I go with him (after he had somewhat established himself with a few visits in the weeks before).

In essence, the way Kokekokko is run is akin to the tiny basement restaurants plenty in Tokyo, which are either invitations-only or give priority to regulars (Totoraku is probably the most famous in town for doing this). Due to their size and lack of self-promotion, they want to reward their loyal customers for their continued support or being the early adopters. In fact, this system is probably passively present at some of your favorite Japanese restaurants in LA. Not the most democratic of systems I know, but for those actually considered as such, there is major gratification to be had for essentially racking up points on your rewards club card. It’s like getting a FastPass for everything at Disneyland because you’ve been there a dozen times already. There is also a sense of camaraderie and friendship that comes out of a relationship like this.

But how do noobs approach Kokekokko? Like you would with any restaurant – sit down, be respectful, and eat what’s in front of you. That’s it really. Kindly ask for the off-menu stuff. If you’re nice and they have plenty, then there’s a high probability you’ll receive at least some of it. How do you think people ascend to regular status? You can be an asshole and go to a restaurant multiple times, and Japanese restaurants like this won’t elevate you to VIP status. They’re not in it for the money, but rather to serve patrons who love and respect their craft. If you go again, they’ll likely recognize you (since it’s pretty much the same servers working there on the regular), and try to hook you up. Just don’t act like a Yelp Elite, and odds are you’ll be fine.

Still, there’s an actual reason why people want to go to Kokekokko outside of its relative exclusivity, right? It’s because the chicken is damn delicious. First of all, they only use Jidori chicken, and get it fresh daily (I think they might even be butchering it themselves), which makes a huge difference in the quality of meat. Add the use of binchotan charcoal, which technically produces no flames or smoke but is able to maintain an extremely high temperature consistently, and the deft skills of men whose grilling skills would make most backyard chefs cry, and you got yourself amazingly grilled skewers of basically every edible part of chicken than can be put on a stick. In fact, this is a great place for offal (attn: The Offalo), as some of the best skewers at Kokekokko are of the organ variety, like the three varieties of heart.

But don’t forget about plain ol’ chicken breast, as the version found here is probably the most well-cooked piece of breast I’ve had in recent memory. The reason: it’s cooked rare. You can request it well-done or what not, but you’ll probably see Tomo-san looking really pissed/sad grilling that breast, because he’s basically cooking the shit out of it. The quality of chicken is here good enough to eat raw even, due to how their source the chickens. So please try it rare or medium-rare at least, if you dare. Besides the skewers, Kokekokko might just be serving the best versions of chicken gyoza, soboro-don, and chicken ramen in LA, as well as other great small plates like chicken-stuffed shiitake mushrooms and smoked duck (see a trend here?). I’d go for the chicken ramen alone (seriously).

However, there’s another reason I’m mentioning Kokekokko: the restaurant is closing in late January 2015. This has been rumored for a while, as a certain favorite sushi chef of mine hinted at this over a year ago. It’s not because business wasn’t good (they’re doing well enough to self-justify the preferential treatments), but rather a new landlord is squeezing the current tenants out. After 25 or so years doing this, I doubt Tomo-san is going to open up another Kokekokko. So at least give them a shot in the next 3 months if chicken skewers remotely interest you. If it doesn’t work out, then fine – there’s always Torihei and Shin-Sen-Gumi. But you’d be yourself a disservice by not going to the only yakitori joint in town that could truly belong in Japan.


Sasami (breast)

Sunagimo (gizzard)

Hatsu (heart)

“Special” hatsu

Toku-hatsu (special special heart)

Negima (thigh w/ leek)


Kawa (skin)

Tebasaki (wing)

Seseri (neck)

Chicken-Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms

Roasted Duck Breast


Chicken Ramen

Grade: A-
Cuisine: Japanese (Yakitori-ya, to be specific)
Neighborhood: Little Tokyo
Price: $$ (probably more like $$$ though)

Kokekokko on Urbanspoon


Photo credit: Allumette

Allumette – CLOSED
1320 Echo Park Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 935-8787

Another ambitious restaurant that was too ahead of its time? Or one that was the victim of the wrong location and target clientele?

I’ll let you decide. In the meantime, another critically-acclaimed restaurant in town decided to call it quits. On the surface, Allumette closing up shop at the end of June can be perceived as a huge surprise, as the restaurant was named as one of Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants and LA Weekly’s 99 Essential Restaurants for 2014, as well as being short-listed for Bon Appetit’s 10 Best New Restaurants for 2013, among other accolades. However, the place was certainly hurting for business, and it was evident when we went the week before it was slated to close, and there were still maybe less than a handful of covers all night.

That’s a shame. While I’m not ready to bow down to the genius of Chef Miles, the talent is there, and Allumette had nowhere to go but up as time passes. A lot of the dishes were indeed very ambitious and loaded with multiple flavor components and textures. It was just a bit too…busy for me at times. But the vision is there – just needs time and editing (and restraint, to a certain extent). Unfortunately, this version modern American cuisine, one being targeted at a more approachable level and price, is not working in LA. Red Medicine, a restaurant I consider to be the finished product of what Allumette was headed towards, is closing at the end of this month, and from my visits (after the first time) there I can confirm that they were never nearly as busy as it was assumed.

As a town that has diminished the importance of Michelin-esque fine dining in favor of cuisines that capture a more approachable, global essence reflecting the melting pot that is LA, this type of cooking should be something that we self-proclaimed sophisticated diner should strive to accept. We don’t need another farm-to-table restaurant, or a gastropub. We need to start pushing the envelope, or else LA as a culinary haven will be left behind once again, and this time rightfully so.


Potatoes a la Plancha – furikake aioli, parmigiano-reggiano, katsuobushi

Potato Chips – smoked whitefish, uni cream, chive

Baby Torpedo Onion Panisse – meyer lemon mustard, hibiscus, cilantro

“Bread & Butter”

Mini Lumpia

1st Course:

Cucumbers – apricot fennel compote, ripe & unripe berries, white chocolate

Blue Prawn – vinegar meringue, rice paper, leek

2nd Course:

Summer Squash – white corn fondue, june garlic miso, sage

Arrowtip Squid – pistachio ponzu, cherry, black mint

3rd Course:

Octopus – za’atar yogurt, okra caviar, plum

Ivory Salmon – soured celtuce, radish, beet syrup

4th Course:

Branzino – shellfish tapioca, fried broccoli, lemon

Pork Collar – pho charcoal, eggplant mayonnaise, pickled wasabi

5th Course:

Toasted Barley Pot-de-Creme – jasmine, strawberry, rosemary

Lemongrass Bavarois – hibiscus, oat, tangerine

Grade: B
Cuisine: American
Neighborhood: Echo Park
Price: $$$

Allumette on Urbanspoon


Photo credit: Eater LA

212 S Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 859-3418

This was unexpected…

TV chef Curtis Stone, most recently known as the host of Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Duels, opened Maude in Beverly Hills at the beginning of the year. But if you’re expecting a large, corporate, tourist trap of a restaurant that usually comes with the territory of being a celebrity chef, then you’d be completely wrong. What we have here is a passion project of sorts for the chef, a small, quaint spot neatly tucked away on the southern part of the city’s Restaurant Row.

Despite spending more of his career on screen than in the kitchen, Stone’s culinary resume is fairly impressive. And at Maude, he’s assembled a staff that can tout similar levels of experience. The restaurant focuses on a primary ingredient every month, and constructs a tasting menu (only option available) of 10-14 courses around that, at a reasonable price range of $75-95/person. For the month of June, the ingredient was morel mushrooms, so the tasting menu was $115/person.

What I really liked about the focus and progression of our dinner at Maude was that the restaurant never tried to force the issue of reminding the diners that morels was the main ingredient, and that it needed to be the centerpiece of each course. Rather, there were courses where morels were barely utilized or creatively integrated, but were there because they fit well within the scheme of things. That’s what a great fine dining restaurant tasting menu strives for – having a central focus, but keeping a nice progression, and taking chances here and there.

By those accounts, the morels menu at Maude definitely knocked it out of the park. And from everything I’ve heard from previous and future months, it seems as if the restaurant has maintained that high level of creativity and execution throughout. And by creativity and execution, the kitchen has done a good job tip-toeing between respecting the classic approaches and exploring the more progressive formats. It’s a very smooth integration of both – none of the tongue-in-cheek executions you’d see at modernist places.

Also, I was also very impressed at how light the food was. By light, I don’t mean that it’s under-seasoned or healthy, but rather in comparison to how each course appeared and the components involved. I was eating this huge raviolo with consumme (a course that was brought out by Chef Stone himself), expecting it to be very heavy. But it was actually rather refreshing, and the broth even balanced out the dish – just an example.

So yeah – definitely very impressed with what Chef Stone has accomplished with Maude. It’s pumping out Michelin-quality cuisine at a reasonable entry price and neighborhood-esque comfort level. Despite that, the front of the house is extremely professional, knowledgeable, and runs like clockwork without being stuffy (I’m talking about you, Manresa). I’m definitely looking forward to future meals…if I can even get a reservation.

Risotto – citrus butter, chicken mousse

Kampachi – avocado, herbs, passion fruit snow

Scallop – wild garlic, watermelon mind, roe

Duck Egg – summer squash, horseradish, smoke

Raviolo – consomme, truffle crumble, watercress

Pork Belly – jalapeno, daikon, carrot

Lamb – green garbanzo, eggplant, leek

Taleggio – onion, charred peach, nasturtium

Ice Cream Bar – coffee, chocolate, cocoa nib

Black Forest Floor – dark cherry, chocolate, hazelnut

Mignardises – blueberry financier, tropical fruit tart, raspberry bonbon

Morel salt

Grade: A-
Cuisine: American (probably appropriate to say Californian, to be more specific)
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Price: $$$$ (June tasting menu featuring morels was $115/person, but excluding that and most likely the upcoming November menu featuring truffles, the price range of the menus is $75-95/person)

Maude on Urbanspoon


Photo credit: b.o.s. Facebook Page

424 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 700-7834

Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, right?

Planned by The Offalo, five of us had an amazing dinner at the soon-to-be-closed restaurant in Little Tokyo. I’m sure I’m not alone in trying to squeeze one meal in before the end of the month (they close on 9/27), and I’m sure that most of us are kicking ourselves for realizing just now what we’ve been missing out on for the past year. Yes, one year can be considered too soon for owner Jun to be throwing in the towel, but he’s a realistic person, and he and Chef David weren’t going to compromise their vision of how the restaurant should be in order to keep things barely afloat.

But seriously – what’s there to be scared about when it comes to eat offal? I mean, beef cheek, tongue and oxtail are considered offal. Those taste EXACTLY like regular beef! People eat hot dogs all the time. Do you people really want to know what goes inside most casings? With foods like bone marrow, uni (sea urchin roe), and foie gras (duck liver) still so hot right now (the latter outside of CA), there is definitely room for offal to be accepted by mass society. If there was only a place you can find such ingredients executed in an approachable manner from a classically-trained chef…

Instead of dwelling on what happened or what could’ve been, I just want to encourage everyone (all ten of you readers) to check out b.o.s. before their closure. While the restaurant has been labeled as a “nose-to-tail” restaurant this whole time (perpetuated by reviews and blog posts), it really isn’t trying to cater to the offal whores, but rather treat offal as you would a normal protein to integrate it into a more chef-driven form, with the hopes of making it more accessible to the common diner.

You can definitely see the passion Jun and David put into this effort, and while it was a losing one, they are going down swinging. There’s something very… romantic about that, and it shows up in everything the restaurant does. I’ll definitely try to squeeze in another visit during the b.o.s. swan song, and again I encourage everyone to do the same. Let’s send these guys out with a bang! I will keep tabs on both guys re: future projects.


Carpaccio of Tongue – pea sprouts, avocado, pickled shallots, Isaan dressing

Sizzling Thai Tongue – Thai aromatics, lime chili sauce

Crispy Curried Calf Brain – butternut squash puree, arugula gremolata, grape compote


Grilled Miso Heart – king oyster mushrooms, yuzu miso vinaigrette

Sweetbread Tacos – salsa verde, pico de gallo, sriracha sour cream, pickled radish

Housemade Turkish Sausage (off-menu) – ground beef, small intestines, rice

Fried Tripe “Calamari” & Small Intestine Chicharron – cilantro garlic yogurt dip, Isaan dressing

Roasted Bone Marrow – housemade furikake, 61-degree egg, sesame gochujang paste

Braised Veal Cheek Pasta – shiitake mushrooms, braised sauce, olive oil poached tomatoes, homemade pappardelle

Whole Roasted Oxtail – ras el hanout, farmer’s market vegetables (130-degree poached tomatoes, roasted heirloom carrots & peewee potatoes, pickled cauliflower w/ North African spices)

Beef Tendon Risotto – English peas, pea sprouts, radish, lardons

Grade: A-
Cuisine: Asian Fusion
Neighborhood: Little Tokyo
Price: $$$

B.O.S. on Urbanspoon

Sushi Tsujita

sushi tsujita

Photo credit: Sushi Tsujita

Sushi Tsujita
2006 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 231-1177

A brief first look at the new sushi restaurant from the Tsujita group that opened on Sawtelle last month, less than a block away from their ramen shops: we went a week after they opened, and my first impression was how pleasantly surprised I was by the dinner (disclaimer: we ate gratis , not as media, but as friends of Kenta-san, the Tsujita corporate chef). I say that because this is Tsujita’s first foray into sushi (to my knowledge), and I didn’t know how proficient they’d be at this. I’d say that for now it’s still below the likes of Shunji and Kiriko when talking about sushi in the area (as well as the city), but they compare very favorably to Q. The Tsujita folks certainly aren’t messing around when it comes to pumping money into the restaurant, and it shows in everything from the decor to, most importantly, the sourcing of the ingredients.

The restaurant brought Kato-san over from Japan to head the restaurant, and while he’s on the shy side (as well as speaking no English), he is surrounded by amicable itamae, who are veterans of places like Shunji. But make no mistake – Kato-san is the man in charge here. He’s doing the sourcing, he’s buying the groceries, and he’s doing the prep, right down to the soy. If I have any criticism, I’d say that the sushi rice can be inconsistent on a couple of nigiri. But it was only a week since opening, and there is nowhere to go but up for Sushi Tsujita. I look forward to returning soon, and hopefully will have the time to give a full, truly unbiased view. But thanks again to Kenta-san and the entire crew at Sushi Tsujita, who were excellent at making me feel at home.

FYI – they also started serving lunch, which includes chirashi and sushi set meals, respectively, at more economic prices.


Steamed awabi (abalone)


L to R: Aji nanbanzuke; Ayu w/ yuzu; Tamagyaki, hamoko (pike eel roe) & caviar


Anago shinjo (sea eel cake/paste), yuzu & okra in dashi


Whole steamed lobster


Hata (grouper) kobujime sashimi (from Miyazaki)


Momotaro tomato gazpacho w/ wine-soaked blueberry


Kurodai (black sea bream)


Shima aji (striped jack)


Akami zuke (soy-marinated lean tuna)


Kuromutsu (black porgy)


Alaskan king salmon


Hata, chutoro sashimi






Santa Barbara uni








Miyazaki wagyu








Melon compote

Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi
Neighborhood: Sawtelle
Price: $$$$ (omakase price points at $120, $150, and $180)

Disclaimer: Food for this meal was hosted (not for media, but f&f)

Sushi Tsujita on Urbanspoon

dineLA Summer 2014 (7/14-7/27) Picks

It’s that time of the year again. This is probably the bi-annual event most people in LA look forward to the most. For this Summer 2014 season, I’ll feature 2 new options at each price point – 12 restaurants that haven’t been featured in previous iterations of my dineLA analysis, as well as previously-featured options that remains such (let’s call those my “greatest hits”). Fear not, however, for I will also provide a breakdown of the other previous selections at the very bottom.

By the way, dineLA – what happened to the $85 dinner price point?

(all photo credits below belong to Discover LA)



(Sandwiches, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Sun 8am- ) Optimal Lineup:
– Toscano
– Spinach + arugula
– Milk chocolate cupola mousse
– (soft drink)
Estimated Savings: $9
Notes: Ciboteca is a new panini shop from the Piccolo group (whose Hostaria was and still is a BUY at $15, and whose OG Piccolo is pretty much a dineLA HOFer at $45). They don’t feature the sexy $9 panini options for dineLA though…except for the Toscano, which has Finocchiona (a Tuscan fennel salami). That’s why I’m here folks – to dig this type of information up and game the system. But this is a very good deal for $15: you get a panini, a salad, a pastry, and a fancy soda. Not too shabby.

Settebello (Marina del Rey)
(Pizza, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Sun 11:30am- )
Optimal Lineup:
– Panzanella
– Settebello
Estimated Savings: $8
Notes: This deal is only for the Marina del Rey location – sorry Pasadena folks. I like Settebello. I think it deserves more love amongst pizza lovers in LA, especially seeing how Neapolitan pizza is so hot right now. And for dineLA, you basically get the first course for free. There’s lots of parking, and they don’t get very busy from my experiences. lazy-ox-canteen533920_10150815488361072_476536022_n010GREATEST HIT – Lazy Ox Canteen
(American, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm) Optimal Lineup:
– Shishito peppers
– 7oz lazy ox burger
– Rice pudding
Estimated Savings: ~$15
Notes: I’ve been disappointed by Lazy Ox Canteen by their progress (or lack of) in recent years. After Chefs Centeno and Rocher left, it’s as if the restaurant became content served a limited menu of their greatest hits from Day 1. In the case of dineLA though, this works to their advantage. Proven dishes at a STEEP DISCOUNT – this menu was already a BUY at the $20 price point, but they went ahead and took it a step further. Percentage-wise, this might be the best dineLA deal of the season, lunch or dinner.


Border Grill (Downtown)
(Mexican, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Fri 11:30am- )
Optimal Lineup:
– Scallop tiradito
– Enchilada de camarones
Estimated Savings: ~$9
Notes: The menus for the Downtown and Santa Monica locations of Border Grill, respectively, have different menus for dineLA. However, the savings actually look to be almost exact – which means both locations are a BUY. I chose the Downtown one to highlight, because it’s within walking distance from my work. But if you prefer tacos over the other entrees, go to the Santa Monica one.

Muddy Leek
(American, dineLA menu, website, Tue-Fri 11am-3pm)
Optimal Lineup:
– Tomato salad
– Shrimp & grits
– Gluten free beignets
Estimated Savings: ~$10
Notes: I actually don’t know much about Muddy Leek, other than that I used to live near the restaurant, and that J. Gold wrote about it last year. I had assumed it was just a run-of-the-mill farm-to-table restaurant. But the menu reads rather…Southern? Pretty interesting. The shrimp & grits is probably their signature dish, and it is on both the lunch and dinner dineLA menus. Lunch is the preferred choice, as you’re bound to save ~$10 no matter what you choose. This is what dineLA should be all about – letting people try out new places at a friendly entry rate without dumbing the menus down. GREATEST HIT – Lukshon
(Asian, dineLA menu, website, Tue-Fri 12-3pm)
Optimal Lineup:
– Crab fritter
– Grilled squid salad
Estimated Savings: $4
Notes: I actually previously featured Lukshon at the $25 dinner price point. But with every one of my previous $20 lunch selections either moving weight classes or not doing dineLA this year (with the exception of The Pikey, but it’s really hard to determine value with their menu), it’s worth bumping the dineLA HOFer here. Two of their regular dishes at $20 is a very good deal. Minor rant though: their dinner menu at $35 looks like a HOLD this time around (for the first time ever – they’re usually a strong BUY).


Bourbon Steak
(Steakhouse, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm) Optimal Lineup:
– Burrata
– Black Angus skirt steak
– Vanilla custard
Estimated Savings: $20
Notes: 3 courses for $25 at the new steakhouse from Michael Mina looks like a great deal. Even if you choose the cheapest options for the first and second courses, you’re still going to save ~$10. But for a restaurant with “steak” in its name – you’d probably want to choose the steak option as entree. The skirt steak is definitely not as sexy as the higher-quality selections of beef that the restaurant offers, but do you really need more than a prime-grade steak for lunch? Water Grill
(Seafood, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Fri 11am- )
Optimal Lineup:
– Roasted beets w/ organic apples
– Wild Copper River sockeye salmon
Estimated Savings: $23
Notes: I believe both locations of Water Grill (Downtown and Santa Monica) are offering the same menus for lunch and dinner. Dinner at $45 is a BUY – ~$20 in savings. But you’re saving just as much during lunch at a much lower price point. The entree options bottom out at $19 (the shrimp banh mi), so you’re guaranteed to save money. If you order either of the fish options as the entree (and why wouldn’t you), it’s a double-digit savings AT LUNCH. The Downtown one’s a block away from my office, so I’m very likely going to this one. GREATEST HIT – Bouchon
(French, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm)
Optimal Lineup:
– Salade de Chou Frise
– Saucisson a l’Ail
– Bouchons
Estimated Savings: ~$20
Notes: It’s difficult to lock down actual savings at Bouchon each season, but I am fairly certain one can saving at least $10 regardless of the selections every time (mostly because I take the cheapest dish of each category from the regular menu as a price floor). Every one of the previous choices at the $25 price point remains a BUY, too (at least the ones that have posted a menu online).



Komodo (Venice)
(Asian, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Sun -9pm)
Optimal Lineup:
– Trio of Morsels
– Kimchi Nachos
– Mochiko Fried Chicken
– Traditional Mexican Flan
Estimated Savings: ~$10
Notes: I’ve always assumed Komodo was a cleaner, more expensive version of Kogi, and after reading the menu I can say that I was right…somewhat. There’s definitely the Asian Fusion thing going on (with the tacos in particular), but the dineLA menu doesn’t include the tacos. Instead, you get to choose from some rather traditional-sounding SE Asian/island dishes. The savings might be even more if you choose the salmon, and I did go conservative on the appetizer trio estimate. As good of a time as ever to try Komodo.

Mohawk Bend
(American, dineLA menu, website, Sun-Thu 4-10pm, Fri-Sat 4-11pm)
Optimal Lineup:
– Heirloom tomato salad
– Roasted king salmon
– Peach sorbet
Estimated Savings: ~$10?
Notes: I hate to keep bringing this up season after season, but the $25 dinner dineLA options remain weak in my opinion, especially considering how I’m trying to feature new options. You know how desperate I’m getting when I’m recommending a vegetarian/vegan spot… But Mohawk Bend is indeed a good value at this price point, and you’re more likely going for their excellent beer selection. Makes drinking all them carbs go down a little easier, knowing that you’re eating relatively healthy with the beers. GREATEST HIT – The Corner Door
(American, dineLA menu, website, Sun-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am)
Optimal Lineup:
– Pappardelle
– Steamed mussels
– White chocolate snickerdoodles
Estimated Savings: $15
Notes: The Corner Door really has this dineLA thing down. What they’ve managed to do is include the majority of the menu without the restraint of serving them in courses to maximize diner choices (and savings). The choice of two dishes is already a BUY (as long as you’re not choosing two vegetarian dishes), but you get a dessert as well?!? This is a really, really good dineLA deal. Use the savings on their wonderful drinks, or on another dish to share with your crew – it’s a fun place to hang out with friends.


Tipple & Brine
(Seafood, dineLA menu, website, Sun-Wed 5-11pm, Thu-Sat 5pm-12am)
Optimal Lineup:
– Fried octopus
– Market Fish
– Chocolate Cremeaux
Estimated Savings: ~$10
Notes: Tipple & Brine is a new restaurant in Sherman Oaks that focuses on seafood. I’ve read pretty good things about it, and not just pretty good for Sherman Oaks, although you’ll probably want to wait until traffic dies down a bit before heading north for dinner. But the 3 courses at $35 looks like a great value. Feeling guilty about not visiting my mom in the area after dinner though? Not as great of a value. Willie Jane
(Southern, dineLA menu, website, Tue-Thu 6-10pm, Fri-Sat 6-11pm)
Optimal Lineup:
– Hanger steak tartar
– Fried chicken thighs with pimento mac
– Willie Jane red velvet cake
Estimated Savings: ~$9?
Notes: I’m glad Willie Jane moved down from the $45 price point, because it was definitely not a good deal then. But it’s now following big brother Post & Beam’s footsteps in becoming a dineLA value fixture. It’s somewhat difficult to lock down actual savings (I averaged the appetizer prices, and I’m not sure if the fried chicken here is the same as the regular one – but it does come with a side as well), but it looks like you can save $4-9 here. Their fried chicken has a really good reputation, and you know how much I love fried chicken. Plus those first courses sound pretty darn good as well. GREATEST HIT – Black Hogg
(America, dineLA menu, website, Tue-Sat 6-10:30pm)
Optimal Lineup:
– Pork belly taco
– Brussels sprout hash
– Marrow burger
– Milk & Honey
Estimated Savings: ~$10
Notes: I was going to go with the clams caribena as the entree choice to maximize savings, but “limited quantities” definitely catches the eye – I’m assuming the marrow burger is a dish created specifically for dineLA. Anyways, the entrees’ price range is $16-18, so you’ll still save $5-10 regardless, depending on the combination of dishes. There are plenty who go to Black Hogg expecting this Animal Part Deux, but it’s just a really nice neighborhood spot serving well-executed dishes that are inspired by multiple influences.


(America, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Sun 5-10pm)
Optimal Lineup:
– Pao de queijo
– Roasted medjool dates & kale salad
– Tuna tartare
– Scallops & slab bacon
– Snickers
Estimated Savings: $22
Notes: That Tin Vuong – so hot right now. The chef went from this one Manhattan Beach restaurant to a local empire that now includes the critically-acclaimed Little Sister, Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza, and the new Dia del Campo (the latter also a BUY at the $45 dinner price point). But let’s not forget about the OG here. Just stay away from the cheapest options from the “ruffage” category and the noodle dish from the “carnage” category, and you’re bound to save double-digits. Use those savings on their excellent beer selections. Faith & Flower
(American, dineLA menu, website, Sun-Thu 5:30-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am)
Optimal Lineup:
– Summer squash salad
– Longanisa sausage
– Mesquite grilled skirt steak
– Seared steelhead trout
– Peaches & Cream
Estimated Savings: ~$25
Notes: Man this place looks sexy. And the savings at dinner for dineLA look even sexier. I’m fairly certain about the estimated savings here – the dineLA menu items that are not on the regular menu have comparable counterparts on the regular menu. The floor here is probably $5+, but obviously in choosing the two proteins as mains, you’d get the ~$25 savings. The best idea, actually, is to go as a pair to get one of everything on the dineLA menu. You’ll still save $15/person, which you can apply towards drinks or something else off the regular menu (oxtail agnolotti?). GREATEST HIT – Fogo de Chao
(Steakhouse, dineLA menu, website, Mon-Thu 5-10pm, Fri 5-10:30pm, Sat 4:30-10:30pm, Sun 4-9:30pm)
Optimal Lineup:
– Menu the same as regular
Estimated Savings: $16.50
Notes:  Ah, Fogo de Chao – dependable as ever during dineLA. You know exactly what you’re getting, and you know exactly how much you’re saving. Just make sure to make a reservation, and preferably not at peak hours, because it gets PACKED during dineLA (including plenty of UCLA students – I know from personal experience). Luckily, service doesn’t get compromised, and selections remain consistent and plentiful…unless the Brazilians are still too depressed from the World Cup.

So there you have it – 2 new selections at each price point along with an additional “greatest hits” selection, for a total of 18 again this time around. I hope everyone enjoys these next 2 weeks of grubbin’, because I certainly will. And bonus: AMEX brought back the dineLA $5 statement credits! And it’s for each meal you spend > $21 too!

Previous Selections:

LUNCH ($15)

Fundamental LA – BUY (up to $7 in savings)
The Larder at Burton Way – BUY ($11)
MessHall – BUY ($4)
Next Door by Josie – BUY (~$4)
Short Order – ???
TLT Food – BUY ($6)


The Pikey – HOLD (~$3?)


AOC – BUY ($6)
Drago Centro – ???
Little Dom’s (up from $20) – HOLD (~$3)
Mo-Chica (also up from $20) – HOLD (~$4)
Paiche – BUY (~$10)
Rivera – ???
Tavern – BUY ($15)



Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar – BUY ($8)
Hostaria del Piccolo – BUY (~$10)
Post & Beam – BUY (~$10)


Freddy Smalls Bar + Kitchen – HOLD? (???)
The Gorbals – HOLD? (???)
Gusto – ???
Lukshon – HOLD ($2) – surprise here, as they’re usually a strong BUY
Night + Market – BUY if you refuse to go to Sliver Lake, SELL if nothing’s holding you back
Waterloo & City – BUY (~$10)


The Bazaar – BUY ($22)
Craft – BUY (~$10)
Lawry’s The Prime Rib – BUY ($16)
Lucques – BUY ($15)
Patina (down from $85) – really hard to tell, but you’re getting 5 courses! Has to be a BUY.

dineLA Stock Legend:
BUY: > 20% in savings off optimal lineup
HOLD: 5-20% in savings off optimal lineup
SELL: under 5% in savings off optimal lineup