When I'm in El Lay, or more exactly, Beverly Hills, I like to dine at THE STINKING ROSE. It's a garlic restaurant, where every dish is cooked with an overabundance of garlic. I'm sure you can get them to tone down the garlic if it's not your thing, but if you're like me, and love a little food with your garlic, then it's damn near worth hopping a plane just for a meal at this fine restaurant. http://www.thestinkingrose.com/index.htm
It's not like I'm a globetrotter or a purveyor of fine dining, but I do like a good meal for a reasonable price. And when you're in LA, the term "reasonable price" is a relative thing. But THE STINKING ROSE is not so expensive that it makes me have a meeting with my banker and financial planner before I dine there.
I have not been to LA in several months, but am planning my next trip right now. And inherent in that planning will be a meal at this fine dining establishment. The shrimp appetizer, served broiling hot from the grill on a fajita like platter, with a ratio of about one clove of garlic per shrimp, is to die for. In fact, the last time I visited, I simply ordered the large shrimp appetizer, baked to perfection in their brick oven, instead of my usual filet mignon.
A drummer friend of mine was headed out to LA last week and emailed to ask some good places to eat. Of course, you need to hit Pink's hot dog restaurant once in your life, and there's a dandy decidedly unfancy place in Beverly Hills called the Fish Grill, which features fresh and kosher grilled fish served cheap in an unfancy environment. Here's a review on Fish Grill restaurants in the LA area: http://www.qsrmagazine.com/articles/ones_to_watch/131/fishgrill-1.phtml
But my friend wanted a nice dining experience, but didn't want to pay more than $30 a person for food. Any of the above will accomplish that, but I urge anyone visiting LA to try THE STINKING ROSE. They have valet parking on their site, which if you've ever visited LA you know is mandatory for hassle free dining.
Some of my more monied friends who are starstruck as why I don't eat at KOI or DAN TANA's, where the chance of seeing a movie star or music star is high. The answer is, everyone I know who has eaten at these "star" eateries has been unhappy with the level of service that they have received since they are not stars.