DineLA is back again for Winter 2016 (Jan 18 – Jan 31).
If you don’t know what DineLA is, please, welcome to Los Angeles. If you live in LA, you are required to take advantage of the diversity of food and unique blends of cuisines so readily available all over the area. DineLA is your twice-a-year opportunity to try restaurants across Los Angeles for less than you would normally pay on a regular day, as well as your chance to discover the new, up-and-coming restaurants.
How it works: Restaurants opt-in to participate and will prepare a set (prix fixe) menu. In many cases, this means 2-3 courses for a $15-25 lunch and 3-4 courses for a $30-50 dinner. Just make a reservation at your venue of choice and if not automatically provided to you, be sure to ask for the DineLA menu. This means you can finally go to that restaurant you could never afford with friends, with yourself, or with a hot date.
DineLA also means goodbye to our paychecks and hello to all of the beautiful plates of food. While it’s easy to spend a ridiculous amount of money on DineLA, this year, I’ve pledged to play it smart.
Here’s a guide based on a few things I’ve learned from my past experiences with DineLA. It’ll help you snatch up the best deals during the next 2 weeks, so you can get your money’s worth, which also means you’ll be able to hit up more places. Warning: as a result, you may possibly end up eating out and spending more than you intended. But, in the end, you’ll reason with yourself that “it’s okay you won’t be able to feed yourself for a week” because you at least got to feed yourself in the best way possible for 2 weeks.
Assessment criteria: This list of restaurants has been compiled based on the quality of the restaurant in terms of its food, reputation, and atmosphere. Also considered were quantity, quality, and excitement factors of each restaurant’s menus. Finally, the price – obviously.
1. Hanjip – Korean BBQ – $15
Why it’s featured: Hanjip is a growing, popular venue for good quality Korean BBQ. While their menu is not your perhaps usual “All You Can Eat” K-BBQ, it’s definitely killer. The DineLA menu is simple but flavorful with lots of great side dishes (arguably the best part of eating Korean food).
What to order: (1) Tuna poke bowl with sea urchin and salmon roe (2) Marinated prime beef short rib
Also includes banchans (side dishes).
2. Fundamental LA – American (new) – $15
Why it’s featured: The best way I can describe this place is that it makes you feel like a classy hipster. The presentation is beautiful. The ingredients are well-selected. The dishes are flavorful without being overly complicated. The chicken torta pictured above exemplifies this.
What to order: (1) Smoked brisket or chicken torta – it’s hard to decide (2) Dirty potato salad
Also includes cookie and drink.
3. Faith & Flower – Californian – $49
Why it’s featured: This place could be your new favorite. This restaurant has the perfect ambiance with a more upscale feeling without feeling snobbish. It’s beautifully designed and balanced – just like its food. More importantly, its DineLA dinner menu is 4 courses with a beverage included.
What to order: (1) Winter chicory salad (2) Maine scallop ceviche (3) Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin (4) Hazelnut chocolate feuilletine
Beverage choice: hibiscus fizz
4. Viviane – American (new) – $49
Why it’s featured: This new restaurant has had various rave reviews, thanks to its talented chef, formerly from Faith & Flower, and beautiful, modern design. The food is meant to be shared and features some bright, fresh plates as well as the more rich and flavorful. The DineLA dinner menu is a 4 course steal.
What to order: (1) Foie gras mousse (2) Filet mignon carpaccio (3) Truffled blanquette of pork tenderloin (4) Meyer lemon tart
5. Scratch Bar & Kitchen – American (new) – $39
Why it’s featured: This needs basically no explanation. Everything is made from scratch and you couldn’t possibly have any regrets coming here. The DineLA dinner menu is a whopping 7 courses and will be tailored by the chefs specially for you. Learn more about why this place is awesome here.
What to order: Green mussel & sea urchin sake shooter, marinated scallops with crème fraiche apple & jalapeño, roasted yet raw prawns, fire roasted acorn squash, steak & potatoes, homemade cheese, dessert
6. Sushi Roku – $39
Why it’s featured: The design concept for this chain of sushi restaurants is absolutely gorgeous. Aside from that, you get generous portions of fish compared to the price you pay. Add to that… A TRIO OF APPETIZERS. Sushi Roku is also on this list of 50 Best Things to Eat in LA Before You Die.
What to order: (1) Trio of appetizers (from the sea OR from the farm) (2) 5 piece Roku’s signature style sushi (3) Sorbet & fresh fruit
Also includes miso soup & steamed rice.
7. Vege·ta·ble – Vegan – $39
Why it’s featured: Organic. Plant-based. Guilt-free. Comfortable food. This is the best vegan option out of all the DineLA restaurants for this winter. The menu is exciting with great combinations of ingredients and is very generous in courses and choices.
What to order: (1) Grilled spiced dual-color cauliflower (2) Hearts of palm ceviche (3) Wild mushroom farro risotto
Also includes soup of the day & seasonal dessert.
8. Simbal – Vietnamese – $39
Why it’s featured: Simbal is another restaurant featuring a wide-range menu. The flavors of the ingredients shine in dishes of simplicity. However, this is not your basic Vietnamese restaurant.
What to order: (1) Lemongrass and chili grilled pork ribs (2) Braised pork belly (3) Broiled black cod (4) Coconut flan or banana cake (featured above)
9. The Corner Door – American – $29
Why it’s featured: This casual spot features good food and a low price DineLA menu.
What to order: (1) Salmon tartar (2) Short rib ravioli (3) Angel food cake
10. The Bellwether – American (new) – $29
Why it’s featured: This restaurant is a must try, both for DineLA and any regular day. Just pictures of the food this restaurant serves makes you experience hunger pains. For $29, this is going to be one of the best deals you’ll find.
What to order: (1) Crispy Brussels sprouts (2) Meatballs (3) Seared swordfish or New York steak
11. Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse – $39
Why it’s featured: Your steak will not be as rare as in the photo. Instead, expect it to be perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned. $39 is a great price for a full meal with a steak. Just please, order medium rare.
What to order: (1) Basil infused tuna (2) Château steak (3) Oatmeal cookie with mascarpone cream and red fruit compote
12. Cliff’s Edge – American – $39
Why it’s featured: The patio is one of the best designs blending a casual comfort and date night feel. The food similarly impresses, making this restaurant somewhere you want to try for this DineLA.
What to order: (1) Quail (2) Wagyu flat iron (3) Housemade donuts
13. Birch – Mediterranean – $39
Why it’s featured: I will never forget Birch’s sunchokes in curry. By unforgettable, I mean that I just drank the entire bowl of curry sauce because it was too good to let go. That being said, all of the food is great and in good portions. Birch has yet to be fully discovered, so you need to check this out.
What to order: (1) Curried kabocha squash soup (2) Sunchoke curry OR palm sugar glazed pork chops (3) Sticky toffee pudding
Also includes choice of house signature cocktail or glass of wine.
14. Mare – Seafood – $29
Why it’s featured: Fresh seafood in a beautiful setting. Mare will be one of your best seafood options for this season’s DineLA at a great price.
What to order: (1) Arugula salad (2) Whole branzino (3) Blood orange trifolo
15. Maison Akira – French – $49
Why it’s featured: This may not be the most affordable and the interior decoration reminds me of an old, cliché Chinese restaurant but not exactly in a good way. Despite that, the menu is incredibly exciting based on the ingredients and items it boasts. The fusion of Japanese and French creates for some interesting dishes that will have you curious to try.
What to order: (1) Wagyu raviolis (2) Duo of Chilean sea bass and rock shrimp (3) Flourless satsuma tangerine cake
Lunch or Dinner
16. NIGHT + MARKET – Thai – $15 Lunch, $39 Dinner
Why it’s featured: NIGHT + MARKET serves very traditional “street” Thai food. Despite the hole-in-the-wall type interior, the food will surprise you and is something worth trying if you’re feeling slightly adventurous.
What to order:
Lunch – (1) Moo sadoong (2) Khao soi gai
Dinner – (1) Nam khao tod (2) Golden triangle (3) Boudin noir
Bonus recommendation – It’s off the DineLA menu but be sure to try the ice cream sandwich.
17. Pok Pok LA – Thai – $15 Lunch, $29 Dinner
Why it’s featured: This is one of the newest and hottest Thai spots in LA having expanded from its Oregon origins. Pok Pok is a low-key star that is much needed in the Chinatown food scene. One bite of that chicken pictured above or of many of its other dishes will tell you why Pok Pok can stand out among the other more well-known Thai restaurants of LA. This is your best opportunity to try Pok Pok for an affordable, filling, and satisfying meal.
What to order:
Lunch – (1) Laap thawt isaan (2) Khao soi
Dinner – (1) Neua khwai sawan (2) Cha ca la vong (3) Papaya pok pok
Bonus recommendation – It’s off the DineLA menu but Ike’s fish sauce wings is a popular can’t-miss menu item.
18. The Arthur J – Steakhouse – $95
Why it’s featured: I know what you’re thinking: this is incredibly expensive. I could buy a new pair of shoes with this money. However, the extensive menu is amazing and for the price, it’s definitely worth it. This is not going to be your typical dinner on your college budget, but sometimes you just gotta TREAT YO’ SELF.
What to order: (1) Hamachi tartare (2) Alaskan King crab (3) 16 oz. Angus rib-eye (4) Topping: shaved black truffles (5) Side: spiced acorn & butternut squash (6) Baked Alaska
Honorable mentions: Fogo de Chao, Lawry’s, Cardamom, Badmaash (menu not yet available), Messhall, Redbird, Terrine, The Little Door, Little Next Door, Chaya – Venice
Reserve your spot now for you and your friends, your date, or just yourself here with discoverlosangeles! Tables go quick!