Dear Mr. Gold:
My parents are coming to visit, very parenty parents, and I was wondering if you have any idea where I might take them for dinner in Echo Park or Highland Park on a Saturday night. I want to show them my neighborhood, but I'm thinking of just abandoning the idea and dragging them to the Korean hot springs instead. If you mention Les Freres Taix, I'll scream.
–Daniela, Echo Park
Do your parents have much tolerance for funk? Because local Mexican dives like El Huarache Azteca, My Taco, and Metro Balderas have wonderful food, but are probably too basic, too sticky for all but the most forgiving of parents. (Do you want to see Mom and Dad tackle a pig uterus taco or El Atacor #11's porno burrito? Didn't think so.) The wine-centered Barbrix has considerable virtues and delicious Italian food, but may be too crowded and too loud.
Have you considered Larkin's, the evolved soul food place in Eagle Rock? It's edgy enough to remind them that they are in Los Angeles without being overwhelming, and serves nice, mostly non-porky food that manages to be genteel almost in spite of itself. As far as taverns go, the York in Highland Park is ideal: decent if not amazing food, great beer, even a wine list.
Your parents are probably splendid, adventure-seeking eaters. But for many parents, I suspect the classic cocktails and fusiony small-plates cooking at Allston Yacht Club may be more to their general taste. The room is nice; the wine list is quirky… and the friendly boy-food roster of pork belly, barbecued duck confit, and cedar-plank salmon runs about half of what it might on the other side of town, on the off-chance that you might be picking up the tab.
Allston Yacht Club: 1320 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park; (213) 481-0454.