He of Cronut fame is joining the dineL.A. lineup for the first time ever, and anyone who’s been to Dominique Ansel’s café or 189 at the Grove knows that we can expect much more than pastries. Get a taste of Ansel’s French culinary background with his dineL.A. three-course lunch prix fixe ($25), where you can feast on dishes such as roasted radicchio with honeycomb and hazelnuts; seared sirloin with Japanese parsley; and pavlova with passion fruit curd. At dinner ($49), your three courses include options like scallop and uni crudo; crispy confit duck leg; tiger shrimp with orange fennel salad; and dark chocolate cake with peanuts and bergamot caramel. Hungry yet?
There are few scenic patios better for sipping wine and eating during the warmer months, which makes this DTLA oasis a perfect pick for dineL.A.’s summer event. At lunch ($25), stop by the French-influenced Café Pinot for a two-course meal that begins with your choice of watercress and endive salad with Humbolt Fog cheese; a tomato-coconut bisque; or comte chicken salad, then move on to an entrée of steak au poivre, baramundi, or corn with black truffle (for an additional supplement). During dinner ($39), those strings of soft white lights switch on for a meal of crispy lamb sweetbreads, Icelandic cod, frozen foie gras, and burrata with stone fruit—there’s even an oysters-and-champagne add-on for $15, to really make the most of it.
Downtown Financial District
Looking for dinner with a view? Burbank’s recently reopened Castaway is diving into dineL.A.’s summer session with one of the best scenescapes in the area. Castaway—with its new charcuterie station front and center in the dining room—is clearly a place with a meat-forward menu, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t veggie dishes for dineL.A. guests, too. The special three-course dinner prix fixe ($49) involves peach gazpacho with poached prawns and yuzu cream; steak tartare draped with beef carpaccio; kale caesar with whipped ricotta; mushroom pappardelle; steak frites; wagyu brisket; and a sweet-spicy jalapeño-passionfruit cheesecake. Phew.
Not that there’s ever a terrible time for seafood, but summer is perfect for cool crab, oysters and lobster with a bright squirt of lemon on a hot day, so leave it to Michael Cimarusti and his dineL.A. menus. On the $25 lunch prix fixe, grab a non-alcoholic drink, an app such as clam chowder, salad or oysters, then an entrée like a tuna melt, burger or a fried cod sandwich, and end with a whoopie pie or cookie. At dinner, the $39 menu nets you an appetizer—hey, grilled calamari with San Marzano tomatoes—plus fish and chips, Portuguese fish stew, that excellent lobster roll (for an additional $3), or the grilled fish of the day. Don’t forget the included dessert—the craveable blondie—and you can even reel in a special dineL.A. cocktail for $10 more.
It feels like Filipino-American brothers Chad and Chase Valencia are finally getting their dues, with LASA receiving national accolades like Food & Wine’s best restaurants of 2018. If you’re already a fan, look at this as an opportunity to score a great deal, and if you haven’t, as an introduction to one of our city’s top spots. The dineL.A. lunch menu (at $15) includes a seriously tangy caesar salad, plus your choice of drunken pancit noodles, a bowl of chicken coconut adobo or crispy, fatty lechon kawali, and you can wash it all down with an included tropical iced tea. On the dinner menu ($39), dig into a three-course meal that includes the brothers’ composed plates, like brown rice flour crepes with black kale, summer root vegetables and a peanut-soy vinegar.
This old-school L.A. institution just turned 80, and to celebrate, we vote that you head to Beverly Hills for its $49 dineL.A. special: Your first course starts with that famous tableside spinning salad before you proceed to an entrée of either roasted prime rib with lobster tail, mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, or Atlantic salmon with broiled lobster tail and seasonal vegetables. Finish with your choice of flourless chocolate cake, some English trifle or a classic crème brûlée, and watch those iconic silver serving carts go by.
Those looking for big flavor on a little budget should head toward David Kuo’s modern temple to Taiwanese soul food, where you can snag a starter like chili wontons or eggrolls, plus an entrée, for only $15 at lunch. Considering that’s less than the regular cost of some items—we’re looking at you, addictively sweet and crunchy $17 walnut shrimp—this is a definite score. The dinner prix fixe (at $29) takes it a step further with an added snack (marinated cucumbers) and a dessert of sesame balls with taro ice cream for a sweet finish.
Find dinner and a show at this stalwart, where chef Ren Zheng Bing and his team are slicing, dicing and noodle tossing communal-style dinners—so bring a friend or two. At lunch ($25), this minimum-of-two-guests feast includes dishes such as water dumplings, beef with oyster sauce and velvet chicken. At dinner ($49), also for a minimum of two, look for crispy beef, five-spice tofu, green prawns, crab and the famous hand-pulled Mr Chow noodles, a menu staple since Michael Chow first opened his London location in the ’60s. (Note: The Beverly Hills location is serving both lunch and dinner, while the Malibu restaurant is dinner-only.)
Philip Frankland Lee’s Encino tasting-menu spot just underwent a bit of a renovation, which now includes a new cocktail experience to kick off your meal. Enter through the freshly unveiled bar and check out the new format before enjoying a 15-course dinner at a fraction of the regular cost. This dinner normally runs at $145 per person, so while the dineL.A. menu may be one of the higher-ticket options, at $115 it’s still a deal. Watch out for the desserts made by Margarita Lee, whose skill is worth a trip to the restaurant alone.
Echo Park’s charming neo-diner is a perfect place to perch day or night, which makes picking between the lunch and dinner menus even harder. For a $20 midday meal, begin with either gem lettuce salad or some peaches-and-cream chia pudding, then move on to the comte-laden egg sandwich with your choice of meat, or instead go for the pork milanese with egg, asparagus salad and grilled lemon. If that sounds as good to you as it does to us, just stay all day and and then order the dinner menu ($29) for spinach hush puppies or an heirloom tomato salad, plus your choice of roasted swordfish or short rib pot pie, which all ends with a summery miso pavlova. See you there?