Dear Mr. Gold:

I’m wondering if you know of any steak-house restaurants between Monterey Park and downtown L.A. My friend usually likes to go to the Venice Room in Monterey Park, but I’m looking for something new.

—Warren, Monterey Park

Dear Warren:

I love the Venice Room, which sometimes feels like the happiest place on Earth. As far as I know, it is the only place in town where you can grill your own steaks. The drinks are strong, the prices are low, and the murals of the Doge’s Palace are just great. Still, I can understand why you might want to go to a restaurant where somebody else cooks the food. It’s civilized that way.

There’s not much in the way of steaks in the San Gabriel Valley itself, unless you count the stuff at Hong Kong–style cafés, which I don’t. Steven’s in nearby Commerce may be a civic institution; however, the steaks aren’t much. But there has been a growth market in downtown steak houses lately, including branches of Arnie Morton’s and the Palm, Nick & Stef’s, L.A. Prime on top of the Bonaventure, the clubby E3rd, and Riordan’s, a chophouse owned by the former mayor (as is the basic-but-steak-serving Pantry). Still, for my money — and a steak there costs a lot of it — I like the venerable Pacific Dining Car, where the meat is dry-aged to a fine pungency, the martinis are massive, the wine list is profound, and the customers include most of the suits downtown who still believe that a good conversation is more entertaining than ear-splitting house music or the Clippers on a dozen large-screen TVs. And it is open 24 hours a day. 1310 W. Sixth St., downtown, (213) 483-6000.

—Jonathan Gold

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