TheatrEats: Celebration Theatre
It’s time for the second in a series about where to eat before/after the show. It’s time for TheatrEats: Celebration Theatre. Celebration Theatre is LA’s LGBTQ theatre, and it’s located in Hollywood at 6760 Lexington Ave (Seward is the cross street), Los Angeles, 90038. Dinner and a show are always a great combination, but where do you go? Options abound. Here are some of my favorites:
Otus Thai Kitchen
On La Brea by Fountain, Otus is about a 15-minute walk away, and it’s serving some of my favorite Thai food in town in a very comfortable and aesthetically pleasing environment. Particular faves are the green curry (I love it with tofu, and it comes with roti, a flaky bread which is out of this world), ga-prao (ground chicken with basil, which I accessorize with a fried egg and long beans), yellow curry (they use sweet potato instead of regular potato for a healthier twist), and their fried rice is really nice and clean tasting (but noodle dishes are yummy too). They also do a great (all-day) breakfast if you’re headed to a matinee. I live a block away, so I’m here often. Have a dog or just like the outdoors? They have a nice little back patio area. On top of that, they serve Intelligentsia coffee (as well as wine and beer) and have a selection of pastries and delicious dessert roti.
This is a little family-owned Indian restaurant at Santa Monica and Highland. It’s no more than a 5-minute walk to Celebration Theatre. They have white tablecloths, but it’s not fancy. The food, however, is honest, and tasty. The best bet is one of the thali platters, which is a complete meal: main course, vegetable side, lentils, raita, rice, naan and dessert. I tend to get the lamb there (e.g. the lamb coconut curry or lamb saag or lamb jalfrazzi), but on my most recent visit, I got the bharta chicken (chicken with eggplant), which was quite delicious.
Want something more in the soup, salad and sandwich line, or simply more “Americana”? This could be your spot, and it’s just a couple blocks south of Santa Monica on Seward, making it another easy walk to Celebration Theatre. Co-owned by a former Top Chef contestant, it’s a great casual spot to get a good burger or comfort food like mac and cheese. They’re also particularly known for their tuna melt and the After School Special, a grilled cheese sandwich served with a cup of tomato soup.
I have not yet visited this restaurant, but my friend Catherine raves about it, and it’s probably the closest restaurant to Celebration Theatre. It’s upscale than the first three choices (though it’s not exorbitantly priced–think upper teens to mid-twenties for the most part), with a focus on serving local ingredients. In fact, they’re so committed to being locavores that their website stat, “If it’s not within six hours of the restaurant, it’s not on the plate.” They also have a full bar, so if you want to get your drink on before the show… And rather than a happy hour menu, they have an anti-gridlock menu (which includes a reasonably priced burger).
Two other good walkable choices on Sunset between La Brea and Highland are Roro’s Chicken, a solid Middle Eastern restaurant (though it’s fairly short on ambiance), and Luv2Eat, an excellent Thai restaurant that is particularly beloved by the food blogging scenesters. The food is indeed excellent, and it very much feels like a Thai Town spot with (at least since its renovation) a slightly more upscale vibe than the typical Thai Town hole in the wall.
Of course, if you drive just a little ways down Highland near the Highland and Melrose intersection, you run into a group of restaurants, any of which would make a great pre-Celebration Theatre dinner.
Some of LA’s best pizza, though don’t overlook their other dishes. It can get very crowded, so you may want to reserve ahead or get there early. And yes, there’s plenty of alcohol here, so don’t worry. (I remember back in their early days meeting Nancy Silverton, one of the owners along with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, sitting at the wine bar–always nice to get to talk to a genius chef.). An awesome seat if you can get it is at the pizza bar, where you can watch them making the pizza.
This is an expensive night out and probably not a meal to rush, so I’d make a reservation on the earlier side. That way, you can enjoy your dinner and then wander up to the show. To me, their strengths are their mozzarella bar and their pastas, both of which are top class. I didn’t think my main course (i.e. “secondi”), while good, was as stunning as the pasta that preceded it, and it’s a lot of food to do both, so perhaps go for the pasta and various appetizers paired with a glass (or bottle) of wine.
Ludo Lefevbre’s no-reservations counter spot is a French bistro extraordinaire, serving quite possibly the best omelette I’ve ever eaten. They also have things like bouillabaisse, confit fried chicken leg, a cheeseburger, great French bread and side salads and a full bar. They don’t take cash, and they add an automatic 18% service charge to the bill. Seating is limited, so get there early or be prepared to wait. It’ll be worth it.
Mud Hen Tavern
This is another restaurant to which I haven’t been personally, though I went to Street, its previous incarnation from the same owner (acclaimed LA chef Susan Feniger), on a number of occasions. Think lots of small plates with a global flair, along with some larger plates as well (and they too have a burger!). The good thing about Mud Hen is that they are open until midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so not only is it a good spot before the show, but it’s a good spot after too!
Of course, there are many other spots that could work for your Celebration Theatre pre-show dinner, depending on your needs–for example, Mendocino Farms at La Brea and Santa Monica does really good sandwiches for a chain place, and Rao’s, the LA outpost of NY’s legendary old school Italian restaurant, is on Seward just up from Grub. And Formosa Cafe next to Mendocino Farms is beloved by many as a post-show watering hole. Any way you slice it, you’ll never go hungry or thirsty before or after you see the production at Celebration Theatre.
6760 Lexington Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038