DineL.A. is so big that it’s actually 15 days, with meals starting at $15 as well as extravagant tasting menus worth their three-figure prices.
Now that there’s consensus building about L.A. being America’s best dining city, it feels like the right time to make the case that L.A. has America’s best restaurant week. The extravaganza known as dineL.A. is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, with nearly 400 restaurants participating in the 15-day Winter dineL.A. January 12-26. (Like NYC Restaurant Week, one week simply isn’t enough.) Best of all, dineL.A.’s affordable meals start at just $15 for lunch and $29 for dinner.
With a variety of $15, $20 and $25 lunches and $29, $39 and $49 dinners all over L.A.’s diverse dining landscape, dineL.A. is a great way for locals to score a bargain meal at their favorite spots. In addition, some top-tier restaurants are offering $95-plus baller tasting menus that justify their price tags with a cavalcade of luxury ingredients.
DineL.A. is also about driving tourism, helping people discover new restaurants and reminding the world what makes L.A. food so special: There’s a rousing 10th anniversary video featuring A-list chefs Roy Choi (repping Kogi), Steve Samson (Rossoblu), Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill), David LeFevre (Fishing With Dynamite), Suzanne Tracht (Jar) and Neal Fraser (Redbird).
You can see the entire list of 388 dineL.A. participants, check out menus and book reservations here. And these are our picks for the 10 craziest deals of Winter dineL.A.:
Dinner at Lasa, $29
Lasa started as a pop-up and is now a restaurant (inside Chinatown’s Far East Plaza) at the peak of its powers. Chad and Chase Valencia are the kings of the L.A. dining scene’s modern Filipino movement, and the Valencia brothers’ dineL.A. menu is a fine way to explore how they blend their heritage with a bounty of local ingredients. Start with your choice of a winter citrus and radicchio salad or Lasa’s OG pancit (egg noodles, calamansi butter, patis-cured egg yolk). Entrée options include crispy duck arroz caldo and lumpia sariwa (a crepe made with brown rice flour and lots of vegetables). Dessert is either chilled fruit ginataan or condensed milk ice cream.
Lunch at Badmaash, $20
Chef Pawan Mahendro’s righteous Indian food shines at an attitude-driven downtown restaurant that blasts Biggie Smalls as diners pound butter chicken that they spoon over perfectly cooked rice. Badmaash’s $20 dineL.A. lunch, with your choice of an appetizer or a dessert along with an entrée like the restaurant’s famed butter chicken, saag paneer, Goan pork curry or chana masala, is a steal. Every meal comes with pickles, raita and basmati pilaf.
Dinner at The Bellwether, $29
Chef Ted Hopson’s deeply pleasing Studio City restaurant is all about blanketing the table with a bunch of globally influenced food meant for sharing. There’s no better time to do this than during dineL.A., when $29 gets you your choice of three plates, with options including chicory salad, tempura cauliflower, saffron-mushroom ragu, braised lamb, grilled skirt steak, meatballs (with some of the best red sauce in town) and Jameson bread pudding.
Lunch at Uovo, $15
Uovo serves remarkable pasta that’s made in Bologna and rests on the plane as it flies to L.A. So a $15 lunch of tagliatelle Bolognese, with a side of roasted cauliflower, is a good introduction to this Santa Monica restaurant where you can sit at the counter and watch the preparation of your perfect pasta.
Lunch at HiHo, $15
Next door to Uovo in Santa Monica is sister restaurant HiHo, which serves its version of a classic Southern California roadside cheeseburger with grass-fed, grass-finished New Zealand wagyu. The generous lunch deal here includes a double cheeseburger, hand-cut fries, an organic iceberg lettuce salad and either a slice of pie or an organic Straus Family Creamery shake. This is next-level fast food.
Dinner at E.P. & L.P., $29
This West Hollywood restaurant is shiny, sexy and (often) star-studded, but the main reason to go is Australian/Fijian/Indian/Chinese chef Louis Tikaram’s bright and bold cooking. For dineL.A., this modern Asian hot spot is offering your choice of sticky spare ribs or papaya salad to start, followed by either a twice-cooked short rib or a red vegetable curry. The latter dish is a new seasonal offering inspired by a recent trip to the farmers market when Tikaram saw winter produce like butternut squash, radishes and salsify. Finish your meal with either the signature E.P. & J dessert (with roasted white chocolate, peanut butter and strawberry jelly) or young coconut sorbet.
Dinner at Cosa Buona, $29
Chef Zach Pollack’s delightful Italian-American place in Echo Park is about betting the house on red sauce. So dineL.A. at Cosa Buona means you can choose a margherita pizza, chicken parm or eggplant parm as your main course. (There’s also the option of a sausage pizza with mozzarella, mustard greens and chilies.) Every meal starts with a snack of pickled vegetables, mozzarella and salami before your choice of salad, soup or chicken wings (with Pollack’s own Zach’s Red Hot sauce and gorgonzola dip). It’s hard to choose between cheesecake, cannoli and cookies-and-cream semifreddo pie, so you’ll probably want to visit with at least two other people.
Dinner at Union, $100
If you want to go big with one of dineL.A.’s Exclusive Series tasting-menu dinners, we really like how Bruce Kalman (a contestant on this season’s Top Chef) is amping up luxurious dishes at Union in Pasadena. His five-course dineL.A. feast features potato-leek agnolotti topped with white truffles. Instead of the Flannery Beef short rib special he’s recently featured, he’s making things even more special with a Flannery Beef rib eye. Other dishes include citrus-cured yellowtail, a little gems salad and olive oil cake with salted honeycomb gelato. And that doesn’t count Union’s bread service with cultured butter, sea salt and giardiniere.
Dinner at Cal Mare, $49
Chef Adam Sobel’s buzzworthy Beverly Center restaurant is all about channeling the spirit of the Amalfi Coast, so you should use dineL.A. as a way to load up on seafood. We recommend starting with calamari alla diavola (California squid with fregola and spicy tomato broth) before feasting on ricciola e peperoncini (amberjack with Sicilian peppers, capers and lemon) and the fisherman’s catch of the day with potato, bottarga and roasted garlic. The meal ends with seasonal gelato and cannoli.
Dinner at Tsubaki, $39
Chef Charles Namba’s Echo Park izakaya with co-proprietor Courtney Kaplan’s fantastic sake list has a dineL.A. deal that includes booze and four courses. Choose between on-tap Bushido Ginjo Genshu sake or Asahi Super Dry lager and then enjoy your choice of savory dishes like tofu salad, ocean trout crudo, assorted grilled skewers, shumai, buckwheat curry noodles and beef-and-potato stew. Dessert is roasted green tea soft-serve.