DineLA Returns on Jan. 22 + My Top 5 Picks

Happy 5th anniversary to DineLA! Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the DineLA deal: Two weeks, 300+ participating restaurants serving specially-priced, three-course prix-fixe meals for lunch and dinner. This year, Jan. 22-27 and Jan. 29-Feb 3 are the dates to remember. All you need to do is choose a restaurant, make a reservation and relax while sampling signature dishes provided by some of LA's top chefs. For its 5th anniversary DineLA is going big, signing on the likes of LA Mag's "Best New Restaurant" award-winners Sotto, Picca, The Spice Table, Mezze and Ray's & Stark Bar. Not to mention Italian hotspot Mercado di Vetro. Now the decision is up to you: where are you going to go?

I've already got my list ready ready and waiting. Here are my top 5 DineLA picks:

1. Sotto: I've been there. My husband hasn't. Enough said. I get Test Kitchen deja vu walking into the Pico Blvd. sub-level restaurant, but it's a whole different animal now. Co-owners and chefs Steve and Zach have transformed the place and are serving incredible Southern Italian-inspired dishes. The thick-cut bread with lardo is dangerously indulgent, the Guanciale pizza arrives with glistening house-cured pork cheek and blistered crust, and you'll want to lick the plate of grilled pork meatballs. Don't worry, no one's watching.

Spice Table's Catfish Banh Mi
(Photo courtesy of GrubstreetLA)
2. The Spice Table: Sure, it's cheap even without DineLA's special pricing. And its rumored to be crowded and loud. Whatever. TST has been on my "list" for a long while now. I don't know why, but we haven't quite gotten over the downtown dining hurdle unless we need to kill some time before a concert or Lakers game. I'm willing to brave the crowds and the noise for Spice Table's Southeast-inspired Banh Mi (lunch only), Kaya Toast and Beef Randang.

3. Mercado di Vetro: From hotels to restaurants, SBE just does it right and MDV seems to be no exception. It's the place everyone is talking about, raving about its wood-oven pizzas (tomato ricotta with basil and balsamic... mmm), cured meats and housemade pastas. I can't wait to try the warm farro salad, Ceci crostini and ravioli pasta stuffed with an oozy egg yolk.

4. Grub: A favorite brunch and lunch spot of Bryan and mine for years, Grub is now serving "supper." The menu is creative and indulgent with dishes like potato chip-crusted fried chicken, "crack" bacon quesadilla and Irish nachos (who needs chips when you can load up bits of potato?). Don't forget dessert: the luscious chocolate bacon sandwich is sure to blow your mind. And your diet.

Short Order Burger
Photo courtesy of ShortOrderLA.com
5. Short Order: Right by my work and a perfect place for a colleague lunch. Short Order is the genius brainchild of Nancy Silverton and the late Amy Pressman. Nancy's Backyard Burger (Nancy Silverton's beef blend, Artisan bacon, Comte, Avocado, Tomato, Onion, Iceberg, Spicy Mayo) and Amy's Turkey Burger (Organic Turkey, Sage Cheddar, Melted Celery, Leeks, Mustardy Mayo) are worth every penny plus some. Even though it's not on the lunch menu, get a side of spuds. You won't be sorry.


  1. Spice Table may "look" cheap, but it's only barely more affordable than Picca. To be moderately full, you need at least 3+ of the small plates, or 2 of the larger ones. Spent ~$100 after tip/tax.

    Mercado di Vetro does seem to be a hot spot, doesn't it?

  2. Potato chip crusted chicken...my God does that sound delicious!

  3. Tony - Good to know re: Spice Table. Looking forward to trying it and will give you an update. MDV is pretty hot... Wagstaff is doing a good job. :)


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