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Late Night Eats: e3rd Steakhouse

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e3rd Steakhouse isn't your average late-night dining spot. Its vibe is less "let's go soak up all that alcohol" and far more "let's have a fabulous meal post-theatre." Located in the growing Arts District downtown, e3rd's premise is promising: a steakhouse owned by the guy who owns Zip Fusion Sushi, the most popular sushi restaurant in the area. When we asked owner Jason Ha why a steakhouse - and why a steakhouse only steps from his famous sushi mecca - he said he's always loved steak prepared differently, but that everytime he put steak dishes on the menu at Zip, no one ever ordered them. (Which makes sense, why order steak when you've come for sushi?)

So: what does "prepared differently" mean? It means delectable, oh-so-tender rib steak marinated in pear & soy sauce. It means copius amounts of kimchi...in their mash potato sides, in their oh so good kimchi burger, and oozing out of their perfectly prepared kimchi fillet mignon. It means the Alba-cado - seared Albacore Tuna wrapped in avocado, drizzled with Oonagi Sauce. Good. Very, very good. But not cheap. While the burger will set you back $13.95, the fillet goes for $22. And as good as the Alba-cado is, the $11.95 price tag makes it an expensive appetizer by most late-night-eats standards. But did we mention it is good? Oh- so-good?

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Yet, no matter how good the food is, it isn't late night dining if the drinks aren't up to snuff. This is where e3rd shines. Their wine list is robust, with a few well-priced (and a few over-priced) standouts. Their well-edited offering of martinis (soju and vodka) offers a few twists on old standards that encourage you to have to try one -- maybe two -- even if you prefer less foufy drinks. The Key Lime martini and the Sour Cherry soju-tini did the trick for us and kept our late-night buzz humming right along, allowing us to soak in the scenery.

What we like most about this late-night eats spot is that it feels...loungey. It is dark. Very dark. We were able to use our table candle, but other late-night diners next to us asked for a flashlight so they could read their menus. Some might say that is just too dark, but when it's 1am, too dark is a welcome antidote to the too-bright lights of other after-hours eateries. Plus, they brought out these very cool opera-binocular-like flashlights to read the menu.

e3rd has been criticized for trying too hard, for being just another generic "hip" lounge in a sea of restaurants offering the same, overly-cultivated ambience with smooth clean lines and modern decor. Maybe. If it were in Hollywood or on the Westside. But it's downtown, in the Arts District, where there's nary a place like it for blocks. And so what if it is a bit contrived, with its pink neon bar and round leather ottoman-style seating in the center of the restaurant. There's a charming outdoor patio, candlelight flickering on every surface and three jumbo tvs to distract you if you're too tired or too bored with your date. The staff is attentive and funny (offering to move us after an over-cologned man sat down next to us), they often have a dj spinning mellow-Morcheeba grooves and even when it's packed, it's chill.

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We say: if the food is this good, they serve until 1am, and we can walk to it, we're in. Just not every late-night. We think of it as a special treat, a way to celebrate a great night out with fabulous food. Would we hit e3rd if we'd had too much to drink and needed a big greasy burrito to make it all go away? Not a chance - that's what TV Café is for.

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e3rd Steakhouse & Lounge
734 E 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
213.680.3003
Late night dining until 1am
Bar & lounge open until 2am

Photos by Callie Miller for LAist