The Tam O’Shanter

Prime rib English cut

Toad in the hole

Exterior

Bar

Interior

***** (5 stars)

Opened in 1922, Tam O’Shanter is one of LA’s oldest restaurants. Although it is owned by Lawry’s, the atmosphere is quite different, with cozy nooks and fireplaces everywhere throughout the rabbit warren of rooms.

As at Lawry’s, prime rib is a major attraction, but there are many other interesting dishes, some with an Old World history, such as Toad in the Hole, which here is served as a large Yorkshire Pudding filled with stew ingredients.

The wine list at first looks small, but it is simply compact. Extensive selections are available in every category, and pricing is reasonable.

Our server, Mark, was that rare mixture of professional waiter, interesting personality, and gracious host, and he made our evening a delight.

The Tam O’Shanter
2980 Los Feliz Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 664-0228
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-tam-o-shanter-los-angeles

Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen – Little Tokyo

Yaki ramen and sides

Hamachi carpaccio

Hakata ramen and sides

Exterior

Interior

Menu

**** (4 stars)

Whatever type of ramen you like, you’ll find it here. The order form is quite ingenious, allowing you to specify how soft you want your noodles, how strong the brother, and how much oil. There are also lots of inexpensive sides you can use as toppings.

The interior is bustling and crowded, but the outside seating was wonderful.

Excellent service.

Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen – Little Tokyo
132 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-7108
https://www.yelp.com/biz/shin-sen-gumi-hakata-ramen-little-tokyo-los-angeles-4

Pacific Dining Car

Onion rings

Lobster Mac and cheese

Chilean sea bass

Scallop appetizer

Sign

Interior

**** (4 stars)

Great ambiance and excellent food are the highlights at this historic restaurant near downtown.

The original section, build in 1921 to look like a dining car and actually equipped with wheels, was indeed moved to its current location a few years later. The rest is added on.

Steaks are excellent here, but my favorite item was the wedge salad, which had an interesting balsamic ranch dressing and real Roquefort cheese. Onion rings and truffle lobster mac were also excellent sides.

The Chilean sea bass was the best I’ve had, a giant piece perfectly seared and not overcooked.

Chocolate souffle didn’t seem particularly special but was okay.

The downside here is the pricing, which is 50-100% higher than any other steakhouse in LA. $26 for a salad appetizer? True, it could be split, but still…

Oddly, the wine pricing is very reasonable, so if you order a couple of bottles you might come out even.

Professional service that didn’t rush us, even on a fairly busy day. It’s interesting that the restaurant is open 24/7. I wonder what a fine dining resturant is like at 5am.

Pacific Dining Car
1310 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 483-6000
https://www.yelp.com/biz/pacific-dining-car-los-angeles

Stan’s Doughnuts

***** (5 stars)

I can attest to the fact that Stan’s has been making the best donuts on the planet for forty years. My favorite is the glazed buttermilk bar, but anything with buttermilk or maple in the title is a winner. I don’t really understand why anyone would eat a donut from anywhere else. I’ve even ordered them shipped to Florida!

Stan’s Doughnuts
10948 Weyburn Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 208-8660
http://www.yelp.com/biz/stans-doughnuts-los-angeles

Vibrato Grill Jazz

***** (5 stars)

This is my favorite spot in Los Angeles, and I have hundreds of candidates for that list. I like to go around 6:30 because the opening act is great dining music. It’s usually piano and bass. The place has amazing acoustics, and you can hear every note perfectly, yet still have a dinner conversation in a normal voice.

And what food! Anything beef is great, but I like the tuna tartare, salads, and enjoy the lamb lollipop appetizer as an entree.

Great wine list–although somewhat pricey, there are a few gems. Check out the Opaque Petite Verdot if you like big, chewy monsters.

Vibrato Grill Jazz
2930 N Beverly Glen Cir
Los Angeles, CA 90077
(310) 474-9400
http://www.yelp.com/biz/vibrato-grill-jazz-los-angeles

RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen

***** (5 stars)

Amazing decor, and great food. I love being able to get Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cuisine all in one place. Favorites were the summer rolls, samosas and short rib vermicelli bowl. The two or three course lunch is a great deal. It was our server, Jordan’s, first day, and she did an amazing job.

RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen
10250 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(310) 552-9988
http://www.yelp.com/biz/rocksugar-pan-asian-kitchen-los-angeles-2

El Cholo

elcholopatio

img_0511

***** (5 stars)

I’ve been going to El Cholo for so long I can remember when the kid’s menu was spaghetti! If you don’t remember when the place was a little house, you won’t remember that. Since then they’ve added a bar, the world’s best margaritas, the best nachos anywhere, guacamole, and about 200 seats. But the number 1 dinner is identical to the one they served back in the 60s, and probably back in the 20s, when they opened. Sure, it’s not 25 cents any more, but what is?

If you’re going to El Cholo for authentic Mexican food or for Tex Mex food, you won’t find either. The fact is, El Cholo invented what they serve, and it’s simply El Cholo food. For example, their “taco” is meat rolled in a corn tortilla and fried, sort of like a taquito, but then buried in lettuce, tomato and so on. What is it? Who knows, but it’s good, just eat it! The cheese enchilada has green onion in it, and is smothered in a delicious red sauce. Paired with a taco it’s called a number 1, and I’m making myself hungry just describing it.

Service is always friendly, and it’s not unusual to have a server who has been working (and eating) there for 30 years. It’s a fine tradition to uphold.

El Cholo
1121 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 734-2773
http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-cholo-los-angeles

Kiriko

***** (5 stars)

I’ve had sushi all over the world, and this is as good as it gets. The omakase is the way to go. At dinner it was $84. The sashimi was a particular standout, combining extraordinary freshness and garnishes that added wonderful textural and flavor complexity. Friendly service that provided just a bit of guidance as to what not to put soy sauce on, without the didactic pushiness of the other high end sushi places in LA. Definitely a favorite.

Kiriko
11301 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 478-7769
http://www.yelp.com/biz/kiriko-los-angeles