Every time I go to Barney's Beanery, I remember how much I disliked it the last time and wonder to myself why I thought I should go back. The place is always crowded, usually with too-drunk frat boys and straight couples hanging all over each other (despite its West Hollywood location, the clientele is overwhelmingly straight). Although it's kind of fun to laugh at the fashion victims in boob shirts (girls) or sideways baseball caps (guys), the frat-boy atmosphere soon wears thin and neither the menu nor the tap selection can make up for it.
PROS: good beer selection, friendly staff
CONS: frat-boy crowd
Located improbably next to/on top of a car wash, the Outdoor Grill barbecues steak, chicken, and pork in the parking lot right outside their door. Their (affordably priced) dinners and sandwiches come with sides from a steam table, and the portions of everything are very generous. The cornbread is sweet and almost cakelike (a turn-off for some, a joy to others), and the barbeque sauce is distinctive, although not hot. Despite its apparent classification as a "pub restaurant," there is no alcohol.
Located in the Japanese enclave on Sawtelle Boulevard, this sushi place is extremely cheap for the quality it offers. The fish is very fresh; it's got a pretty quick product turnover rate. Hide Sushi doesn't deal in huge rolls with puzzling names. Instead, they focus on getting the best fish they can from the table to your hands. The atmosphere is usually raucous and crowded, and they only take cash.
If you want a margarita, you probably should stop wasting your time at chain Mexican restaurants or bars filled with "well"tequila. Instead, come here, where there are zillions of tequilas and mezcals for your sampling pleasure. Prices vary a great deal, of course, but their "house" margarita made with Patron Plata will only set you back about ten bucks and it's pretty large. Their menu is limited, since the focus is all on the tequila, but it's affordable and pretty good.
Honestly, I don't know what's going on with this place. I walked in expecting some sort of variation on the theme of Vietnamese sandwich. I exited with chicken satay in a bun. That would have yielded no complaints, except that the satay tasted like feet. My friends who were with me concurred on the feet-taste question, both in my sandwich and their own. I certainly hope that they get their spice combination right soon so that their sandwiches taste more like curry and less like socks.
In the Little Ethiopia section of Fairfax, there are several Ethiopian restaurants all stuck together in a row. Unfortunately, I've never tried most of them because Nyala is so tasty and affordable. The waitstaff is friendly, the menu is varied and uniformly delicious--even the kitfo! Their honey wine is a little bit on the sweet side for my taste, but other than that, it's an all-around great dining experience. Perhaps I don't actually need to try those other restaurants at all...
Ramayani is a family-run Indonesian restaurant in Westwood. It's remarkably cheap for the area, and the food is quite good. When I ate there, I was with two vegetarians, who suffered a little bit, but I was fine with the menu. Of particular interest here is the dessert menu that contains several different kinds of shaved ices and drinks with things like grass jelly (better than it sounds) and durian fruit (better than it smells). The place can get a bit crowded, so be patient.
My part of Los Angeles has a lot of fantastic restaurants of all sorts, which is what makes the relative scarcity of decent Indian food so strange. Fortunately, there is the All India Cafe on Santa Monica Boulevard. There's plenty of food for vegetarians and carnivores alike, since Indian cuisine is one of the very few places where vegetarians don't suffer. I'd recommend the Lamb Korma and the Shahi Paneer. Prices are reasonable, and the service is good.
When I went to Camille's on a friend's recommendation, I knew that I had made the right choice. The shop was brightly tiled, sunny, and airy. Tasteful and well-selected classical music played on the sound system. The barber, Camille Nouni, took his time cutting and shaping my hair. He also gave me a shave with hot towels. It was one of the more relaxing experiences I've had in a while. Now I understand why men used to go to a barbershop once a week to get a shave.
I have a very traditional (and very short) haircut; I have no idea how Camille would handle longer or more modern styles. Also, sadly, he only does men's hair.
For a cheap sushi place, the food here is awfully good. The fish is pretty fresh, and I haven't had anything here that is unsatisfactory. My enjoyment of this restaurant goes up dramatically, though, when the sushi becomes half price after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends. The atmosphere is good for a casual after-work dinner, but there are no alcohol sales.
PROS: Good food, cheap sushi pricing
CONS: no alcohol