“The Dish on Dining”

Suzanne Dranow diningThere’s eating and then there’s dining. I appreciate good food, but the food is made even better when atmosphere sets the table for an exceptional dining experience. People who know me often asked for my dining recommendations (like their own personal Yelp), so in no particular order, here are four of my favorite places to dine (and eat):

Hinoki and the Bird
My current favorite restaurant. Walk through the huge doors and you enter a space with a “relaxed cool”/lounge-meets-restaurant lounge meets restaurant vibe. Unlike other flavor of the month restaurants, H&B doesn’t try too hard to impress. Inspired cocktails and dishes (miso cod and the lobster roll are two “must haves”) are just some of the reasons I keep making excuses to end up in Century City around the six o’clock hour.
10 W Century Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(310) 552-1200
Nobu, Malibu
Those of you who know me know I love sushi.  We are lucky in LA to have so many fantastic sushi restaurants.  Matsuhisa, Roku, Katsuya, Sugarfish (to name a few).  But with an ocean view that can’t be beat, Nobu is my number one Malibu pitstop. The regulars are interesting and friendly, and basically any table (or just sitting at the bar) provides the perfect backdrop to sip a Spicy Açai Martini, snack on shishito peppers, and experience masterfully designed hot and cold fish dishes.  The ahi tacos are incredible!
(Tip: I personally avoid Friday afternoons and weekends, where the scenery is less about the ocean and more about the celebrity wannabes.)
22706 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 317-9140
Santa Monica Yacht Club
From the people who brought you Tar & Roses, SMYC offers crafted cocktails and a seafood centric menu that is nothing short of inspirational. The Peter Tolkin designed interior feels at once new and vintage, with an unmistakably east-coast flair. Though the menu is maritime oriented, the land-based food is equally exceptional. My suggestion is to go with a group of friends (who like sharing) so you can order several dishes and enjoy as much of what the menu offers as you can. Favorites from my last visit: Lamb kabobs, rock shrimp dumplings and whole roasted dover sole.
620 Santa Monica Blvd,
Santa Monica 90401
Although it’s been around for a while, Mozza still affords high marks for constantly staying relevant in an ever-changing culinary landscape.  There are two sides to Mozza — the pizzeria and the osteria — and whichever side you pick you will get a culinarily memorable dining experience. Pizzeria Mozza is a wonderful late afternoon and early evening stop, especially before going to theatre, or if you want a delicious place to alight before enjoying the homeward commute. If you can get there in time for the bar special you’ll find it’s a nice introduction to the flavours they offer from the pizza to the wine to dessert. If you can’t make it, don’t fret because it just means you’ll be able to enjoy everything else on the menu.  The caprese is insane!
On the Osteria side, the Amaro Bar Special is a good intro to the restaurant’s taste philosophy, but just as with the Pizzeria, missing out on the special only means an opportunity to try the baby celery & cetara anchovy, burrata & braised leeks, the tagliatelle with oxtail ragu, grilled whole orata… each dish is an out of body experience that can be paired with selections from the extensive wine collection. Whatever you order, make sure to finish with the torta della nonna.
6602 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 297-0100
(The Pizzeria is around the corner on Highland)

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