People Do Walk in LA: Go Metro to dineLA Restaurant Week (July 16 - 27, 2012)

[caption id=“” align=“aligncenter” width=“500”] Salmon, Pea Risotto, Shaved Chorizo & Yuzu at Haven Gastropub (Pasadena)[/caption] Times: They are a-changin’. So much so, that I’ve grown to love my neighborhood - even after some growing pains - for its walkability to certain things, including the Los Angeles Metro Red Line. Now the fact that this summer’s dineLA Restaurant Week¬†(which started yesterday)¬†has been scheduled for the very first time in one block instead of only on the weekdays, makes for good incentive to diners to capitalize on the Metro rails and the destinations to which they flow. What better way to enjoy your wine or cocktails with dinner than to finish the trek home liability-free? (Perhaps you’ll want to make a reservation on the the last day of dineLA - the very first day the Metro runs until 2 AM,¬†on July 27 - and make that one a late night?) For the n00bs, lunches range from $15, $20 or $25 while dinners vary from $25, $35 or $45 for a 3-course prix fixe meal. It’s all so simple.¬†Look below for some of my dineLA Restaurant Week recommendations along the Metro - all sorted according to the rail lines along which they are situated. (Sorry, Westsiders - you have Beverly Hills to blame for your dearth of rails.) Expo Line Sang¬† Yoon‚Äôs Lukshon (3239 Helms Avenue, Culver City)in¬† the¬† Helms¬† Bakery¬† building (one¬† block¬† east¬† of¬†the¬† elevated¬† Culver¬† City¬† Station) ¬†blends¬† stand-out¬† design¬† with modern¬† takes¬† on¬†South-East¬† Asian¬† fare in the form of shared,¬†small¬†plates.¬†Try the¬†Hawaiian¬†butterfish:¬†half¬†inch¬†slices¬†of¬†melty cured¬†fish¬†layered¬†just¬†so¬†and¬†finished¬†with¬†slivers¬†of¬†pretty¬†pink watermelon¬†radish¬†and¬†nahm jim,¬†a¬†coarse, nutty¬†Thai¬†sauce. [caption id=“” align=“alignleft” width=“240”] Steamed Black Cod, Lukshon[/caption] Nearby is one of the stalwarts of Downtown Culver City, Chef Ben Ford’s Filling Station (9531 Culver Boulevard, Culver City), with classic, non-nonsense American pub fare with an seen-and-be-scene outdoor patio with views of passers-by and available dineLA lunch and dinner menus. Or stop in at Akasha¬†(9543 Culver Boulevard, Culver City)¬†for dinner, with some farmer’s market-fresh, contemporary American fare offering unexpected twists on otherwise-classic dishes. On the other end of the Expo¬† Line¬† is¬† the ¬†brand new & highly anticipated ¬†Mo-chica (514 W. 7th¬† St., Downtown),¬† whose¬† playful¬† and¬†inviting¬† space¬† is¬† located¬† just¬† a¬† few¬† blocks¬† east¬† of¬† the¬† 7th¬† Street/Metro¬† Station.¬† The¬† newest¬† restaurant (or re-location from Mercado Paloma, depending on who you ask) from¬†2011¬† Food & Wine¬† Best¬† New¬† Chef¬† and¬† owner¬† Ricardo¬† Zarate¬† is¬† loaded¬† with¬† playful¬† design¬† details including colorful¬† ekeko¬† figurines¬† decorated¬† by¬† chef¬† friends¬† of¬†Zarate. Try the¬†sun¬† dried¬† potato¬† stew with peanuts¬† and¬† chimichurri and bisteck a la pobre (skirt¬† steak with¬† fried¬† egg¬† and¬† pan¬†fried¬† bananas). Gold Line Stop¬† one¬† is¬† Maison Akira¬† (713 E. Green St.,¬† Pasadena)¬† where¬† chef¬† Akira¬† Hirose¬† has¬† been¬† quietly¬† crafting¬†modern¬† Japanese -French¬† fare¬† for¬† almost¬† 14¬† years.¬† This¬† gorgeous¬† restaurant with butter¬† yellow¬† walls, is a healthy walk from Lake Station. But when you dine, you’ll definitely want to choose the tempura soft shell crab served atop wasabi potato mousseline. [caption id=“” align=“alignright” width=“240”] Oyster Plate, Aburiya Toranoko[/caption] Haven Gastropub (42¬† S.¬† De¬† Lacey¬† Ave.,¬† Pasadena),¬† which¬† opened¬† last¬† December,¬† is¬† just¬† a¬† few¬† blocks¬† further¬† south on¬† the¬† other¬† side¬† of¬†Colorado.¬† With forty beers on tap including a handful of in-house brews, Haven¬†is¬†happiness¬†for¬†beer¬†lovers.¬†But the excellent food will surprise you. Try Chef¬†Greg¬†Daniel‚Äôs¬†deviled¬†eggs made with smoked serrano powder and topped with Maldon smoked sea salt and crumbled, house-made bacon (on¬†the¬†lunch¬†menu). For dinner, try their¬†flavorful¬†lamb¬†burger¬†finished¬†with¬†onion¬†jam¬†and¬†tzatziki¬†sauce. At¬†the¬†opposite¬†end¬†of¬†the¬†Gold¬†Line in¬†Little¬†Tokyo,¬†is¬†Aburiya Toranoko (243¬†S.¬†San¬†Pedro¬†St.,¬†Little¬†Tokyo) -¬†four¬†blocks¬†Southwest¬†of¬†the¬†stop¬†on¬†Alameda and a¬†pleasant¬†walk¬†past¬†Japanese¬†Village¬†Plaza. Snap up one of the all-time lunch favorites during dineLA Restaurant Week, such¬†as¬†their¬†bento¬†box. At¬†dinner,¬†a¬†ten¬†ounce¬†New¬†York¬†steak¬†with¬†garlic¬†soy will do just fine. Red Line A five minute walk from the Hollywood¬†and¬†Vine station lies Papilles (6221¬†Franklin¬†Ave., Hollywood)¬† at¬† Argyle¬† and¬† Franklin. If you’re not keen on them already, don’t let the strip¬† mall deceive you when it comes to this quaint little bistro with one of the simplest yet satisfying menus. Go prix fixe as per usual in this quaint spot, which hosts¬†just¬†a dozen tables in its cozy dining room complete with low ceiling, red¬† walls and open kitchen.¬†For¬†dineLA¬†Restaurant¬†Week,¬†choose¬†from¬†dishes¬†such¬†as¬†roast¬†hanger¬†steak¬†with¬†potato¬†gratin¬†and¬†shelling¬†beans,¬†or market¬†fresh¬†fish¬†with¬†red¬†quinoa¬†and¬†roasted¬†corn¬†slaw. Don’t forget the wine, as Santos Uy has just the perfect pour to complement the excellent food by Chef Tim Carey. [caption id=“” align=“alignleft” width=“240”] The back patio at Sadie[/caption] Try Cleo (717 Vine Street, Hollywood) inside the fabulous Redbury Hotel, which serves up Mediterranean fare for dineLA dinner. Start off with two enticing appetizers before indulging in the Chicken Tagine or the Grilled Daurade. You’ll be enjoying the best of what Hollywood has to offer - trends and tastes to tantalize your tastebuds - all for $35 prix fixe. It’s one of the glitziest places in Hollywood, much less LA. At Sadie Restaurant (1638 N. Las Palmas Avenue, Hollywood) by the Hollywood and Highland station, you’ll get the best of both the food and cocktail worlds thanks to food by Mark Gold and cocktails by Giovanni Martinez. Enjoy their Parlor Room, Lounge, or beautifully lit back patio for a customizable dining experience - all areas with elegance to spare. Start off with the Basil Risotto topped with olive oil-poached baby tomatoes. You’ll have trouble deciding your main entree, whether it be Ocean Water Poached Scottish Salmon with “hazelnut brown butter” or the Creek Stone Beef Shortrib, complete with potato creameux and roasted forest mushrooms. Blue Line [caption id=“” align=“alignright” width=“240”] Flan de Elote, Rivera[/caption] For dineLA lunch or dinner, stop by Rivera (1050¬† S.¬† Flower¬† St., Downtown), John¬† Sedlar‚Äôs¬† gorgeous,¬†modern Latin eatery across the¬† street from¬† Pico¬† Station. Stellar food and cocktails (by Julian Cox) align at this stalwart Los Angeles establishment with no lack of sophistication in any of the senses. Try the ¬†handmade, crisp corn cones¬† filled¬† with¬† fresh crab salad¬† and¬† finished with a tequila chipotle vinaigrette. Order the sous¬†vide¬†beef¬†shank¬†with¬†roasted¬†summer¬†vegetables or the Agave-roasted duck. Corkbar¬†(403¬†W.¬†12th¬†St.,¬†Downtown), just a few blocks east, is a solid wine bar with great food to complement the all-Californian list. What better way to take dineLA local than to drink the finest wines in the state.¬†Chef¬†Thomas¬†Lamont‚Äôs¬†dineLA¬†Restaurant¬†Week¬†menu¬† features¬† house¬† made¬† corned¬† beef¬† brisket¬† sandwich with¬† pickled¬† cabbage¬† and¬† steamed¬† mussels with¬†linguini. Purple Line There’s no better time to revisit Water Grill¬† (544¬† S.¬† Grand¬† Ave.,¬† Downtown), around¬† the¬† corner¬† from¬† Pershing¬† Square¬† Station, since it has just undergone a¬†facelift with more casual but hip sights in mind. New are chocolate¬†leather¬†booths¬†and¬†a¬†wall¬†of¬†antique¬†fishing¬†rods. But the constant, thankfully, is the beautiful raw bar. Try Chef¬†Damon¬†Gordon’s¬†pan¬†seared skate,¬†finished¬†with¬†brown¬†butter,¬†red¬†grapes¬†and¬†arugula. Perhaps the pan¬†saut√©ed¬†wild¬†sockeye¬†salmon¬†with¬†asparagus¬†chutney¬†and raw¬†asparagus¬†salad is more your speed. No matter what, your seafood craving will go more than satisfied. Border Grill Downtown LA (445¬†S.¬†Figueroa¬†St.,¬†Downtown)¬†always¬†feels¬†like¬†a¬†party, thanks to its festive interior and buzzing vibe.¬†Just¬†a¬†short¬†walk¬†from¬†7th¬†Street/Metro¬†Station, Border Grill is featuring grilled¬†local¬†yellowtail¬†with¬†seared¬†greens and¬†quinoa. Vegetarians will appreciate and love their ¬†take on chilaquiles on the¬†lunchtime¬† restaurant¬† week¬† menu. Think tomatillo salsa and melted panela cheese draped over asparagus,¬†fresh¬†fava¬†beans,¬†artichoke¬†hearts¬†and¬†a¬†happy¬†mix¬†of¬†soft¬†and¬†crispy¬†chips. It’s summer! Bar | Kitchen (819 S. Flower Street, Downtown) is one of my favorite places in LA for a cocktail and a bone luge, so why not pony on up to their lunch or dinner menu for some Shrimp & Grits for lunch or Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop for dinner? Just a block away from the 7th & Metro station, this stellar restaurant inside the O Hotel is just what you need for some instant satisfaction.

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So enjoy dineLA, Los Angeles. The plethora of options can definitely be overwhelming, but as with anything, a little bit of online research will go a long way. Just use this map for your convenience (bravo, dineLA, on the re-design!), keeping in mind that not all places offer lunch. And remember, whenever you can: Go Green! And Go Metro!

[mappress mapid=“253”]

Lukshon 3239 Helms Ave Culver City, CA 90232

Ford’s Filling Station 9531 Culver Blvd Culver City, CA 90232

@chefbenford

AKASHA 9543 Culver Blvd Culver City, CA 90232

@akashacc

Mo-chica 514 W 7th St Los Angeles, CA 90017

@mochicala

Maison Akira 713 E Green St Pasadena, CA 91101

Haven Gastropub 42 S De Lacey Ave Pasadena, CA 91105

@havengastropub

Aburiya Toranoko 243 S San Pedro St Los Angeles, CA 90012

Papilles 6221 Franklin Ave Los Angeles, CA 90028

@papillesla

Cleo in The Redbury Hotel 717 Vine St Los Angeles, CA 90038

@cleorestaurant

Sadie Restaurant 1638 N Las Palmas Ave Los Angeles, CA 90028

@sadierestaurant

Rivera 1050 S Flower St Los Angeles, CA 90015

@riveradtla

Corkbar 403 W 12th St Los Angeles, CA 90015

@corkbar

Water Grill 544 S Grand Ave Los Angeles, CA 90013

Border Grill Downtown LA 445 S Figueroa St Los Angeles, CA 90071

@bordergrill

Bar | Kitchen 819 S Flower St Los Angeles, CA 90017

@barandkitchen