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LA

Review

Los Angeles has the best Thai and Korean food outside of Thailand or Korea, the best tacos in America, and the best French Dip sandwich in existence. There’s incredible Chinese cuisine in the San Gabriel Valley, a run of fantastic sushi spots from Torrance to Encino, and great burgers on basically every corner. Yet despite all that, LA does have one rather glaring weakness: This has never been a steak town.

So if we ask you to think of an LA steakhouse, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s a chain that feels better suited for Vegas (although probably not). Maybe it’s an old-school joint with great martinis and bad food. Or, it might be American Beauty. This spot in Venice is definitely a steakhouse - they’ve got an entire section of their menu dedicated to dry-aged steaks, a wine list thicker than a James Joyce novel, and a dark, horseshoe-shaped bar straight out of The Sopranos. But there’s also a lot more to this restaurant than just big cuts of meat and booze in decanters - which is why American Beauty just might be the perfect steakhouse for LA.

For starters, we don’t know many steakhouses where you could safely bring a pescatarian without also bringing a pocketful of protein bars for them to snack on. But here, they’ve got enough great seafood options to satisfy an entire boatload of non-red meat-eaters. Start with the colossal prawns - they’re the size of hot dogs, but unlike hot dogs, they don’t only taste good when you’re watching Clayton Kershaw pitch. They’re sweet, meaty, and so rich that you won’t need the lemon butter on the side (you’ll probably use it anyway - that’s OK). Similarly, if there’s anyone in your life who hasn’t really bought into the hamachi collar thing, the ones here will change their mind. They’re like chicken wings made out of fish - crispy, and covered in jerk seasoning and mint. The scallop carpaccio and ocean trout steak are also great.

Jakob Layman

And our favorite thing on the menu is the whole orata. This clean-tasting white fish is buttery and cooked to a perfect flakiness. It’s highlighted by the smoked eggplant underneath, with tomato and fennel. At $30, it easily feeds two, so it feels like a steal in the context of this kind of big-production Westside restaurant, where you expect to drop three times as much on dinner.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the seafood (this is an LA spot, after all), but as far as the actual steaks go - all are good, and a couple are great. Each is seasoned simply with butter and salt, and cooked on a grill over almond wood, which gives each a distinct smoky, nutty quality. The most reliable cuts, by far, are the prime spinalis (ribeye cap) and the hanger steak. Both are consistently cooked to a warm-in-the-middle medium rare, packed with flavor, and large enough to be shared. (And, in another welcome departure from steakhouse tradition, neither costs more than $50.)

If you’re the kind of person that wants a $125 steak, their tender, funky 30-day dry aged porterhouse is a very good one. And the steakhouse burger - different from the version served at the Win-Dow outside - comes covered in melted Swiss and caramelized onions. Even though it tends to be overcooked, it’s still big, satisfying, and sort of sloppy, which is exactly what we want if we’re ordering a burger in lieu of a big slab of beef.

American Beauty doesn’t nail everything - outside of the stuffed hash browns, the sides are pretty disappointing for a steakhouse, as are the vegetables (especially when the cheapest option is some $10 corn). The charred long beans with anchovy are somehow both overly salty and not quite briny enough, while the maitakes are so heavily salted that any trace of the tender, earthy mushrooms is obliterated. But you probably didn’t book a table here expecting a thoughtful take on edible fungi. It’s more likely you came for the big, bold steakhouse experience, which you get at American Beauty - especially thanks to the seriously great seafood. And that’s fitting. Like we said, LA’s never been a steak town.

Food Rundown

Jakob Layman
Grilled Flatbread

A pillowy hunk of dough with visible salt crystals on top, this flatbread comes with a side of addictive labneh and smoked honey. It’s a great way to start a meal, but we’d also happily end one with it, too.

Jakob Layman
Sea Scallop Carpaccio

Scallop, mint, honey, mango. All good candidates to be our next mantra, and also to order as a fresh and very clean-tasting appetizer before you get to the heavy stuff.

Jakob Layman
Whole-Cooked Orata

Whole fish still freak some people out - this one won’t. It’s buttery, virtually bone-free, and served over excellent smoked eggplant.

Jakob Layman
Hanger Steak

If you want to try some steak here, but don’t want to spend too much, fear not: This hanger steak is among our favorites, and only $24 for a substantial 8 oz. portion.

Jakob Layman
Iowa Prime Spinalis

Our other favorite cut - this ribeye cap is fatty, but not stringy, and a good bet if you’re looking for a steak that’s special and unique, but still doesn’t cost more than your coffee table.

Jakob Layman
Steakhouse Burger

This burger is elegant but also a little messy in the best way - we could imagine Olivia Colman munching on it in The Favourite. It’s a huge patty, covered in melty Swiss cheese and caramelized onions, and served on a poppy seed bun. It’s not always cooked perfectly, but the flavors are good enough that you won’t mind.

Jakob Layman
Stuffed Hash Browns

An essential side order here - this is basically a latke stuffed with sweet caramelized onions and sour cream. It won’t disappoint you, unlike your uncle every Rosh Hashanah.

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