Where to Eat

Online Reviews

  • http://losangeles.citysearch.com
  • http://www.la.com/
  • http://lowendrestaurants.blogspot.com/ (Written by a member)

Restaurants within 5 miles of UCLA http://food.uquad.com/ucla/

L.A. Living by Eugene Volokh

Based on 28 years of living and eating in Los Angeles, including 3 years as a UCLA law student and 10 years as a UCLA law prof. (reproduced with permission from the author)

EATING CHEAP

(about $15 or less, less if you economize)

Argentinian: Empanada's Place, 3811 Sawtelle Bl., pretty much on the corner of Sawtelle & Venice, (310) 391-0888, open until 9 pm every night, but only until 8 pm Mon; also 1040 Holloway, just a bit north of Santa Monica on La Cienega, (310) 358-0588, open until 9 pm every night. This is a hole-in-the-wall that specializes in the stuffed Argentinian pastries called empanadas. I love both the chewy dough and the yummy fillings, of which they have about a dozen varieties; I also recommend the Argentinian tamale, which is more like a corn pudding than like the Mexican version. They have little else - just sandwiches and a not very interesting salad - but the empanadas are well worth the trip. No liquor license, so bring your own beer or wine.

Brazilian: Cafe Brasil, 10831 Venice Bl., Culver City, (310) 837-8957, open until 10 pm daily, 10 or so minutes from campus if there's no traffic. Very good stuff, cheap, and mildly exotic; again, bring your own alcohol.

Cambodian: Battambang, 648 New High St., Chinatown, (213) 620-9015. Cambodian is, unsurprisingly, like Thai and Vietnamese, but there are quite a few differences. Try pretty much any of the dishes that aren't the normal Chinese ones. The sour fish soup and the sour beef soup are particularly good, as is the "curry fish" entrée (which I believe is actually made with fish and pork).

Chinese: JR Seafood, 11901 Santa Monica Bl., a bit east of Bundy, (310) 268-2463, open Sun-Thu until 10 pm, Fri-Sat -11 pm. Seafood and a lot more. Particularly good: Their special pork spareribs (under specials, not appetizers) and the orange beef. Call ahead for reservations, since it's usually jammed.

Chinese Islamic: China Islamic Restaurant, 7727 E. Garvey Ave., Rosemead, (626) 288-4246, open daily except Wed until 9:30 pm. This is probably my favorite of the regional Chinese cuisines. There is no pork or alcohol, because of Islamic dietary laws, but there are excellent lamb, bread, and lots of other goodies. Especially noteworthy: Lamb with green onions, sesame bread (add some hot chili oil or soy sauce to liven it up), any noodle dish with dough slice noodles, chicken curry, and sliced ox tongue (get over your inhibitions). Go about 15 minutes east past Downtown on the 10, take the Del Mar exit south to Garvey, take Garvey west a few blocks. It ends up being about 30 minutes from the interchange of the 10 and the 405, but very much worth the drive. As with most food in the New China­town area of Monterey Park/San Gabriel/environs, the prices are very low.

Cuban: Versailles, 10319 Venice Blvd. (near Motor), Palms, (310) 558-3168, open daily until 10 pm. Versailles, it turns out, is the name of a town in Cuba, not just a palace in France. Cheap, tasty, quick (but not fast) food. Check out especially the garlic roast chicken and garlic roast pork.

Dim Sum: There are no great dim sum restaurants on the Westside, so one still has to go to the old Chinatown in Downtown or the new one in Monterey Park. Try Empress Pavilion, 988 N. Hill St., (213) 617-9898, in Chinatown (open until 10 pm), or Ocean Star, 145 N. Atlantic Bl., (626) 308-2128, in Monterey Park (only about 10 minutes further than downtown). The time to go on a weekend is 10:30 am any later, and you can get lines that are 30 minutes to an hour long. For Ocean Star, take the 10 east to Atlantic, Atlantic south a few blocks; after dim sum, stop by Shun Fat, a Chinese supermarket that's just a block north.

Italian: Cafe Angelino, 8735 W. 3rd St., in Beverly Hills a few buildings east of Robertson, (310) 246-1177, open daily until 10 pm. Tasty and inexpensive California Italian food. I particularly recommend the Antipasti Assortiti (a plate of roasted and marinated vegetables), the roast chicken with potatoes (I believe a leg and thigh with potatoes is still only about $4), and the spinach and ricotta ravioli with alfredo sauce (on the menu it's with tomato sauce, but it's best with the alfredo).

Indonesian: Indo Café, in a little strip mall at 10428 National Bl. (between Motor and Over­land), (310) 815-1290, open Tue-Thu until 9:30 pm, Fri-Sun until 10 pm, closed Mon. As you might guess, Indonesian food is akin to Thai and other southeast Asian cuisines, but a bit different. Indo Cafe is a good specimen of it - interesting, tasty, and cheap.

Japanese (Noodles): Yashima, 11301 Olympic Bl., on the corner of Olympic and Sawtelle, just a titch west of the 405, (310) 473-5297, open daily until 10 pm. No sushi, but excellent noodles, rice dishes, and tempura.

Mexican: La Serenata, 10924 W. Pico Bl., (310) 441-9667, a couple of blocks west of Westwood Bl., about ten minutes from campus, open until 10 pm during the week and 10:30 pm on the weekend. A bit more expensive than most Mexican holes-in-the-wall, but worth it. Make reservations.

Middle Eastern dive: Falafel King, 1059 Broxton Ave., a block west of Westwood and a few blocks north of Wilshire, (310) 208-4444, open daily until midnight and Fridays and Saturdays until 1 am. Very cheap and very good, even if you (like me) aren't wild about middle Eastern food. I go for the various salads, mostly with eggplant, zucchini, and the like, and for the best potato chips (batter-fried!) I've ever had; but the meat is very good, too.

Middle Eastern dive: Sunnin, 1779 Westwood Blvd., a block north of Westwood, (310) 477-2358, open Monday-Saturday until 9:30 pm, Sundays until 9. Also very good; I like Falafel King a bit better, but other friends of mine disagree. Note: No liquor license, and they don't let you bring your own. Drat.

Middle Eastern: Gaby's Mediterranean, 10445 Venice Blvd., (310) 559-1808, open Sunday-Thursday until 11, Fridays and Saturday until midnight. A bit less downscale than Falafel King and Sunnin, but still inexpensive and good.

Sushi: Hide Sushi, 2040 Sawtelle (a few blocks north of Olympic and West of the 405), (310) 477-7242, until 9 pm weekdays, 8 pm Sun, closed Mon. Cheap, tasty, and usually crowded, unless you get there early.

Thai: Sanamluang, 5176 Hollywood Bl., a few blocks east of Western (and the 101) in Hollywood, (323) 660-8006, open until 4 am. Much better and much cheaper than most Thai places in West L.A., and I imagine more authentic, too. Try especially the roasted duck noodle soup, the Indian curry soup, and the Pad See Ew; but it's all great.

If the Thai dessert place, Kamonthai Ramsong, 5185 Hollywood Bl., (323) 667-2055, across Hollywood is open - it closes at 10 - go there and try the little corn-and-coconut pancakes, about the size of an old Eisenhower dollar, but thicker. They're very good, and virtually never seen at Thai restaurants.

EATING MUCH LESS EXPENSIVELY THAN YOU’D THINK

(about $20-$30 a head, but for fabulous food)

French: Soleil, 1386 Westwood, 310-441-5384, open Mon-Sat until 10 pm, closed Sun. Very good food and a great deal at those prices.

More French: Cafe Bizou, 14016 Ventura Bl. (east of Hazeltine), Sherman Oaks, (818) 788-3536, about fifteen minutes from Westwood north on the 405 and the east on the 101. The last reservation during the week is 9 pm, Fri-Sat 9:30 pm. Deservedly popular; make reservations a few days in advance.

Still More French: Le Petit Bistro, 631 N. La Cienega Bl. (a bit north of Melrose), West Hollywood, (310) 289-9797, open daily until 11 pm and Fri-Sat until midnight or so. Excellent food, fun and bustling atmosphere. Whatever meat dish you order - and [EV1] there are lots of great ones, from the lamb chops to the veal short ribs to the duck - make sure you have some of the french fries (pommes frites). Half a block south of the real Melrose Place, a little one-block street occupied largely by very ritzy furniture galleries, with no apartment houses filled with sex-crazed young adults to be seen.

Southwestern: Authentic Cafe, 7605 Beverly Blvd., between Fairfax & La Brea, about 20 minutes east of UCLA, (323) 939-4626, open Sun-Thu until 10 pm, Fri-Sat until 11 pm. Great food, and a pleasant, busy ambiance.

BAKERIES

Good cakes are the key to a fulfilling, meaningful existence, just as supermarket pastries are a sure ticket to Hell. They liven up big parties, are a must for dinners, and let you have cute little sit-down teas for eight to twelve of your friends, where you just have tea or coffee with two or three desserts - no cooking, little expense, and you can feel like you're entertaining. Be sure to invite me. My mother discovered the first two bakeries listed below within about a year of our family's arrival here from Russia, and we've been living off them ever since.

Central European: B & L Gourmet Pastries, 8556 W. 3rd St. in West Hollywood (between Robertson and La Cienega, a block or so from the Beverly Center), (310) 271-8333. Closes at 6 pm weekdays, 5 pm Saturdays, closed Sundays. Fabulous pastries, great prices - you can get wonderful cakes ranging from $7 to $15 or so.

Try the Chocolate Truffle Cake, the Vienna Cheesecake, the Vienna Apricot Cake, the Nusse Torte (hazelnut mousse), the almond cookies, and anything else. The fresh plum tart is amazing, but it's only available from mid-August to mid-October (if for that long). If you need bread for canapes, buy a sliced French baguette; French bread usually bores me, but this one is excellent.

Oh, and the owners' daughter-in-law is a UCLA Law School graduate, and was in one of my classes. Small world; this was many years after I'd started shopping there.

French: Michel Richard, 310 S. Robertson Blvd. in West Hollywood (between 3rd St. and Burton Way), (310) 275-5707, open Mon-Sat until 10 pm, Sun until 4 pm. Besides Central European, the other great dessert cuisine is French, and Michel Richard is a wonderful specimen. It's more expensive than B & L, though no more expensive than most good French bakeries. The best things here are the coffee eclairs, but everything else is good, too. Try the chocolate eclairs, the mado, and the tarts.

Russian: Gastronom, 7859 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, on the northeast corner of Santa Monica and Fairfax, (323) 654-9456, 9 am to 9 pm daily. Russian cuisine is not one of the world’s finest, but it has its high points. To begin with, my mother did write an excellent Russian cookbook called The Art of Russian Cuisine (MacMillan), which you must go buy right now. And on top of that, the Gastronom Russian Deli has an excellent cake called a Smetannik - a sort of honey cake with a tasty icing that my American-born friends rave about. Try also the Napoleon, a custard layer cake that's in my view much better than the small French pastry of that name.

FOOD STORES

East Asian Supermarket: See Shun Fat, mentioned above under "Dim Sum"; the supermarket in the San Gabriel Square shopping mall, mentioned below under "Fun Food etc. Shopping"; and 99 Market, mentioned above under "Vietnamese". If you don't want to go to Monterey Park or the Valley, try Bangkok Supermarket, 4757 Melrose Ave., 2 blocks east of Western, in Hollywood, (323) 662-9705, open 9 am to 9 pm.

Good Cheap Yuppie Food: Trader Joe's, which you must have heard about. It has many locations, but the one closest to UCLA is at 10850 National, on the corner of National and Westwood, just south of the 10. Anything TJ's has is probably cheaper than at the supermarkets, as well as generally more interesting and often tastier. Especially good for cheeses and similar snacks, beer, and wine. (310) 470-1917, open 9 am to 9 pm.

Russian Market: See Gastronom, mentioned above under "Bakeries - Russian." If you like pickled herring, the Latvian pickled herring is fabulous.

Wine: The Wine House, 2311 Cotner (between Olympic & Pico, immediately to the east of the 405), (310) 479-3731. Not as cheap as Trader Joe's, but not very expensive, a vast selection, and reliable advice. Open Mon-Thu 10-7, Fri 10-9, Sat 10-7, Sun 11-6.

BETWEEN MEALS

Bookstores, specialty:

  1. Cooking: Cook's Library, 8373 W. 3rd St., a couple blocks west of La Cienega in West Hollywood, (323) 655-3141. Mon 1-5, Tue-Sat 11-6, closed Sun.
  1. Movies: Samuel French, 7623 Sunset Bl., a couple blocks east of Fairfax in West Hollywood, (323) 876-0570. Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat 10-5, closed Sun.

Cleaners: Hollyway Cleaners on 8359 Santa Monica Bl., a few blocks east of La Cienega in West Hollywood, is a good cleaner that keeps amazingly good hours: It's open every day, Mon-Fri until midnight, Sat-Sun until 9 pm.

Fun Food etc. Shopping: The San Gabriel Square shopping mall, a giant East Asian complex with restaurants, a great supermarket, a Japanese-accented department store, and lots more. Valley Bl. & Del Mar in San Gabriel, a few blocks north of the 10 Freeway (Del Mar exit), about 15 minutes east of Downtown.

Target Shooting (Pistols and Rifles): LAX Firing Range, 927 W. Manchester, a few blocks west of the 405 on Manchester, about 20 minutes from campus. An indoor range, most­ly for pistols though you can also shoot rifles. You can rent a gun for $5 and buy ammunition at competitive rates (some ranges charge big markups on ammunition, but this one doesn't). Between range fees, gun rentals, and ammunition, about $20 a person. (310) 568-1515, weekdays 12-10, Sat 11-10, Sun 12-6.

Target Shooting (Trap and Skeet): Triple B, 831 N. Rosemead Bl. (immediately off the 60 Freeway), South El Monte, (626) 579-5201. Tue-Thu 10-9, Fri 11-5, Sat-Sun 8-5. An outdoor range for shooting at moving clay targets with shotguns. Between range fees and ammunition, $13 per round of 25 targets. If you need to rent a shotgun, you can do so for $10 per day.

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