$90 for dinner? Welcome to Echo Park’s new dining hot spot

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It was only a short time ago that you would have had a hard time to get foodie friends to dine out in Echo Park. That’s changed with the arrival of some new and upscale restaurants, the most recent being a temporary restaurant called The Vagrancy Project, which has taken up a summer “residency” on Monday and Tuesday nights at Allston Yacht Club.  Foodies and bloggers have been buzzing and snapping photos of such dishes as rabbit liver ravioli and a raw oyster served with kimchi gelée  In addition to expanding the culinary horizons of Echo Park’s dining scene,  24-year-old chef Miles Thompson is also pushing the limit of neighborhood restaurant prices.

The prix fixe, five-course meal at The Vagrancy Project will set you back about $90 when tax and a 18% mandatory tip are figured in. (The base price is $70.)  Add another $50 if you want to pair your courses with specially selected beverages. Then, there is also a separate bar menu, that one night included a $175 Stemple Creek Ranch bone-in ribeye steak, according to the L.A. Times.   Reviewer Jessica Gelt described the steak as “buttery” and hailed Thompson’s skills:

The juxtaposition of Thompson’s serious food — including a clever dish of John Dory on a black-bubble bed of miso tapioca “risotto” in aromatic candied shiitake butter — with the unpretentious familiarity of his staff and the laid-back atmosphere of AYC makes for a playful dining experience tailored for lazy summer nights.

Of course, this being Echo Park, those who can’t or don’t want to spend a $175 on a steak on a lazy summer night still have plenty of options. Directly across Echo Park Avenue from The Vagrancy Project, Little Caesars is hawking a large pepperoni pizza for $5 while the menu down the block at Los Burritos tops out at $8.25 for an Asada Burrito Plate.


  1. The Vagrancy Project = PERFECT name for a restaurant that charges that much.

    • Yeah. Perhaps they should call it THE FLAGRANCY PROJECT.

    • angelino heights

      or – The Gentrification Project

      • sounds like there’ll be less people to get a reservation before i get one!
        dishes sound great and now we dont have to leave the neighborhood to get some tasty eats.

        maybe we’ll even walk!
        fyi. been living in echo park for 23 year.

        • I will happily join you. I have worked hard all my life starting with laying bricks in New Jersey and other crap like that. I am an old man now and I have gotten some money because of my hard work. I look forward to spending some of it. Lived here for 31 years not that it matters.

    • EVERYONE who goes to this restaurant should be deeply ashamed of themselves for spending that kind of money on a single meal for themselves, when that money could have been devoted to feeding so many of the people starving on the streets, feed probably 20 of them!

      It is impossible to have very rich people without having very poor people. There was a time when people in Echo Park understood this.

    • This is so offensive. I not only don’t want this kind of place in my neighborhood, I don’t want it in my city, I don’t want it in my country. To my mind, this is criminal.

      • What would you recommend as the top price to pay for a meal and have the price not be criminal?

      • To be honest, “your city” wouldn’t be much without all the money brought in by wealthy people. It probably wouldn’t even exist. I believe in a more equal distribution of wealth, but your comment doesn’t make any sense. Don’t like a place or can’t afford it? Don’t go. But the expectation that there will only be available a given price level of restaurants (or anything for that matter) smacks of Soviet-style communism. Here’s your one model toaster. Here’s your one type of bread.

        This place is too rich for my blood, but who cares if it exists. I’m all for some economic and class diversity.

        • Vanity and Inneficiency are the only reasons for a middle class.

          Anyone interested in a more equal distribution of wealth should applaud high priced restaurants. They are one of the few examples of trickle down economics actually working.

          If the rich didn’t have high priced vanity items to buy, the money would be spent on investments.

          Restaurants like this pay the most egalitarian wages in the service industry.
          Do you think Little Caesars is paying a livable wage?

          • YourFoodIsn'tThatGood

            What a totally asshole thing to say. Inefficiency….spelled with one ‘n’ and two ‘f’s’, your spell check be damned, is not the only reason for the middle class. People like you make me sick.

  2. Re: Angelino Heights – thanks for straight up ruining the fun of this article and comments.

    • I know. As soon as I saw the headline I knew that some buzzkill moron would eventually drool the word ‘genterification’ across the keyboard. What a noob.

  3. Regardless of the juxtaposition and seriousness of the chef’s food or how buttery his meat is, the idea of a $175 steak being served in Echo Park makes me want to… But instead I’m just going to zip it and take the high road in hoping that the type of people who are into that kind of thing enjoy the heck out of it for however brief its — and their — visit to the area.

    • What is so special about Echo Park that would disallow highend steak to be sold here? I don’t follow…as a very wealthy gentleman I am happy that I will be able to try this out.

      • Henry: What’s easier to swallow for some, isn’t so easy for others. To you it’s a unique opportunity to see what a $175 steak is all about — and more power to you. To me a $175 piece of beef doesn’t interest me, regardless of where it’s being served or how good the critics say it is. It’s not that Echo Park’s so “special.” It’s that this place seems to think it is. There are certainly an increasing number of upscale eateries in the area and that’s awesome, but Chef Thompson seems to be pretentiously crossing a line to serve up food in the center of a neighborhood where such price points will be openly ignored — especially when it’s being done by someone just visiting and seemingly striving to be so disconnected from the majority community that surrounds it.

        And then there’s the name: The Vagrancy Project. Why not Nomad? Or Temp? Or something far less elitest and and arrogant that doesn’t remind me of the vagrancy issues imbedded all around us every day.

        With Thompson’s culinary creativity having been so well received in the media, the place might very well be a success. But if so it will not because it was patronized by area residents but rather by other visitors who’ll venture from outlying areas of affluence.

        I hope you enjoy your meal. I’ll be at Rodeo enjoying the carne asada plate.

  4. The no thank you very much, please show a modicum of respect to homeless people project.

  5. the average income is hardly going to allow this idea to succeed and there are still many people that think Echo Park is the skids. The appeal of this kind of spending is for those bougie hipsters that want to believe this is an “edgey” adventure. Yup, there are still good affordable food places in Echo Park.

    • luckily with this “pop-up” concept getting a ton of press, i don’t think they are depending on local foot traffic. people will drive from other locations to come here just for the experience. people will travel for amazing food.

  6. I find this to be really disgusting

    • its ok for silverlake to have those prices and for downtown as well, but in echo park its disgusting?

      ruth, do you not go to nice restaurants on occasion?

    • What’s disgusting about it?

      • What is disgusting is that you people would actually DEFEND such outrageous and piggish gouging. Tell me, what justifies a steak, no matter what it is or how it is prepared, to be priced at $175? Why is it at that price? Where do you see basic decency in such a price — I’m not even asking about fairness, simply about basic decency?

        You have to be completely detached from the world about you to defend that — and if you are so detached, there is no way to explain to you, you are not capable of understanding.

        • I’m capable of understanding that no one is forcing anyone in “the world about me” to buy a $175 steak. Everything around you derives it’s monetary value solely from what people will pay.

          The knee jerk reaction of outrage on this blog is laughably predictable.

          If you’re not interested in the place you shouldn’t go. There are plenty of people who are.

          (EP since the dawn of time)

    • I also don’t like mandatory tipping for people just doing their jobs. Can I get an extra 18% from my long hours of hard work too?

  7. But have you tried the new $75 burrito at Tacos Arizas yet??

  8. Wow, everybody here needs to chill out. This is a pop-up project, thus it has no set location – hence the play on the word “vagrancy.” Are we so sensitive that certain words can now no longer be used in jest?

    Furthermore, this is at Allston Yacht Club, which also has great nightly specials and has a $5-only menu that it serves on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Guess what, killjoys? It’s a goddamn restaurant and an attempt to let a young up-and-coming chef have his own kitchen for a couple nights a week. Miles is a young guy who’s a great cook – shouldn’t people be happy that he’s being given some space here in the neighborhood to raise his profile.

    Anyone who takes offense at the prices here needs to reexamine their sense of outrage. Too expensive? Don’t go to his nights. Hell, I don’t go to Ruth’s Chris – too expensive for a chain. But I’m not offended at their existence.

    This is extremely high quality food prepared lovingly by a very talented guy (and yes, I know him) in very limited portions at a place where the owners have decided to give him a venue. Again, if you think it costs too much, nobody is forcing you to go in. End of story.

    • well spoken…. who cares how much is charged, if you arent interested, dont go

      • YourFoodIsn'tThatGood

        Actually BD, that isn’t the “End of Story.” I’m glad you have a chef wanting to make his mark; although your inclusion of “Young, up and coming” seems irrelevant and trite in this town) but it is a very valid argument to speculate on the desired crowd that a $175 plate of food is to lure in.
        Limited portions of food makes no difference to the cost. It only helps justify to pretentious assholes, such as the proprietors and wealthy yet nugatory diners their decision to be such indulgent dickwads.
        The repeated argument of, “If you don’t like it, don’t go,” isn’t an argument as much as it is an abdication of argument, much like saying, “If you don’t like black people, don’t talk to them.”
        There are PLENTY of ways to make a name for yourself in this town and in this world using your TALENT and not by charging $175 a plate at some ostentatious pop up to a room full of grandiloquent and self praising chow zealots. BAAAAAAAAARF. I hope you all crash into each other in your Audi’s and Mini Coopers trying to find parking for this haughty dinner.

  9. It is a little Marie Antoinette and tone deaf for these economic times. Not sure which is the bigger turn off, the name of the restaurant or the $175 steak. Both have a whiff of “ick” to them.

    • Nailed it.

    • Yeah, I find the name offensive as well. It reminds me of the license plate I saw on a newer Rolls-Royce or Bentley at a Pavilions in Sherman Oaks years ago – I think it said “RUFN IT” or something like that. It struck me as arrogant and almost poking fun at folks who have less.

  10. If you are so offended by the expensive steak, then don’t eat there. I personally wouldn’t spend the money, but they have every right to engage in capitalism, same as Masa or American Apparel or the Short Stop. I guarantee all of the people so outraged in these comments spend an inordinate amount of money on sweat shop Apple products, ridiculously marked up West Elm and Buttercup furnishings, and a good percentage probably drive German luxury cars. We all work for our money, and can spend it however one wishes.

    • Yes Kyle…but nobody said they didn’t have every right to it. They said they found it tasteless and were offended. And we have that right as well.

    • YourFoodIsn'tThatGood

      I for one don’t engage in or purchase any of those things you just listed and I don’t drive a car, much less a German car. I work for my money, yes, but I know a lot of people in this town that don’t as this town is full of both in state and out of state trust fund kids, most of who drink at the Short Stop,wear American Apparel and drive an Audi or BMW. You can probably find all of them at Vagrancy Project should you decide to go.
      I think the restaurant is disgusting and I won’t go there. I also have never owned an iPhone and don’t know what the hell Masa, West Elm or Buttercup even are.

  11. I’ve had some amazing experiences with $1.00 street side tacos and some pretty terrible dinners for more than $175. However lets put it in context.

    As far as fine dinging goes, $140 per person ($90 prefix dinner + $50 drink pairing) is not bad at all. A dinner at a REALLY nice restaurant like the french laundry averages $957 per person.

    25 most expensive Restaurants in the US:

  12. What’s so shocking about Brentwood East?

    You people act like economic disparity never existed in EP before or that EP’s food offerings shouldn’t rise above the familiar and often mediocre.

    Middle-classers only care about the have nots when they too can’t afford something they’re used to affording.

  13. JG right on!

  14. Obviously, if you’re complaining about this, then you shouldn’t be going! Regardless, how is this something that’s bad as a whole for Echo Park? Bringing in higher retail/restaurants will only make the area BETTER! What’s to complain about?

    • YourFoodIsn'tThatGood

      Make the area better? For who? For the retailers who are going out of business because the new neighborhood won’t support a business that has been there for years because it doesn’t have some sort of hipster garbage or celebrity tie in? People with disposable incomes are NOT THE ONLY PEOPLE IN THE WORLD and not everyone wants to live by their self indulgent and megalomaniac standards. Therefore, every opening of a new bar or cafe or coffee shop or overpriced clothing boutique where a hardware store or discount store and taco stand once stood is not a welcomed sight and is in fact, not making the neighborhood better for anyone except the people who will not move there until every trace of it current residency is vacated and resurfaced. Here’s an idea. Go somewhere else.

  15. If you want to complain about or praise this restaurant, please list how many years you have lived in Echo Park. That way, people will know how much merit to give to your opinion. No, I’m serious. The longer you have lived in a place, the more important your thoughts on that place become. That’s why when law-makers propose new legislation for their districts, they ask members of the community to list “length of residency” on their Submission of Important Opinion forms (SIOs).

    • Nicely played. I thought the same thing myself. Because Echo Park was such an amazing neighborhood when the city all but abandoned it to the gangs from the 1970s-1990s, so anyone who’s lived here THAT long is automatically an authority.

      When will people learn that BOTH longtime residents and newcomers can play important parts in a neighborhood’s revitalization? The newcomers bring energy, the longtimers provide it with soul. Shouldn’t a good neighborhood have both?

  16. Hahaha orrale.. now I know where you gringos with $$$ are guna be eating.. easy money.. que no.. hahaha.. you bettr run home when you leave that spot.. easy pickings.. for the Homies.. La pura neta.. hahaha..

    • you bettr run home when you leave that spot.. easy pickings.. for me to sell my hiphop CDs.. La pura neta.. hahaha..

    • Hey, Sunny, how about this – I’ll go down here (where the “pickins are easy”) and wait for you to show up. How’s 8:00pm tonight sound?

      Have you not noticed that absolutely no one is scared of you?

    • Also, as a wealthy man living in an urban area I exercise my second amendment rights. Try it…I can afford better weapons and more training. I also fought in a war.

  17. I ate here a few weeks ago and loved it. I live in Echo Park, not too far from the restaurant. And I volunteer at the LA Food Bank. What’s so terrible about all that?

  18. I ate at one of the tasting dinners at AYC earlier this month. It was fantastic, special, and delicious… and yes, although I felt a bit of pain at spending that much on dinner, it was a fun and unique experience that I felt totally fine splurging on. I sure don’t eat that way every day! I work, and I don’t have a family or a mortgage so I can spend my money on what I damn well please. I don’t think the price is a careless a flaunting of expensive meal pricing for the area. AYC is giving these guys a way to showcase their love for what they do and to experiment. Offering a “residency” in their space on dead summer Mondays and Tuesdays is a shrewd move. The chefs behind Vagrancy (particularly Miles himself) truly care and LOVE what they do so more power to them to bring this to the next stage of Miles’ vision. The food is high-quality, fresh, and inventive. They know they have an audience (foodies) who will spend this kind of money. So why not offer a super-high-end experience to people willing to pay for it? This is a fun foodie experience, not class warfare on a plate. Jeeeeeezus! Chill out!

  19. How much is a steak dinner at Taix?

  20. I think Henry is really funny. Ruth’s Chris. “As a very wealthy gentleman.”
    just wanted to point that out amidst all the outrage.

  21. Ok bottom line for a fine dining experience I am not going to the “yacht club” there are many fine dining options in los angeles and the “yacht club ” is not one of them.
    No apologies for noting this, I have given this establishment many a visit and it has always been very bad they need to first establish a modicum of taste before they take a leap into the deep end!

    • you do realize that the “yacht club” is the location of a pop-up restaurant/chef that shares nothing with the space except for the use of the kitchen? it’s about the food. the food on these nights is not usual fare.

  22. Hey, isn’t this exactly what makes Echo Park so cool? Where else in LA can you get a $175 steak across the street from a $5 pizza? Nowhere!

  23. I love rabbit liver ravioli! I’ve been waiting for someone to serve it up in EP for ages. (I’ve lived here 42 years.)

  24. I had the cheapest thing on the menu; pear reduction on top of a La Brea Bakery bread croissant. For refreshment a fresh-squeezed grapefruit gin martini. It knocked me out of the park for $35.00 plus gratuity

  25. I love it! It’s my decision to spend my money how I want to. For those who are complaining, you can go to Micky D’s and have yourself a Happy Meal! This is America and you can do what you want but please don’t preach to me about your beliefs and how I spend my hard earned cash.

  26. ayc is better than pcp and not as good as aoc or bld.
    It doesnt have a wall blocking it from the sidewalk like stella, where the dinners are this $$$ everyday.

    i know its fun to complain to the max on this site.
    and your comments give me reason to laugh about how crazy people can be.

    but seriously folks.

  27. This is not my cup of tea. But I think it is great that they are giving it a go. If you don’t like it do go there on those nights. We live in a CITY for Christ sake. Diversity, options, lots of things going on. EP is not some commune where we all have to agree. I’m grateful I can walk to a dozen good/great restaurants.

  28. I’ve lived in EP for 150 years, and I say if you want a $175 steak you should have it, if you would rather eat $1 tacos made from God knows what and keep it real: go right ahead. Calm the f**k down people.


  30. Henry: Why do you feel the need to announce in every post that you are wealthy? Compensating for something?

  31. Eriberto Aguilar

    And here’s the downside to effete hipsters moving into an area that they looked down their nose at only 10 or 15 years ago, if they even lived in L.A. then.

    There’s something fundamentally wrong about a 24-year old charging that much for food, and something even worse about people paying it. Can’t the kid just go to the westside where he really wants to be?

  32. Wasn’t this right in front of where those guys got shanked recently?

  33. The Vagrancy Project was damn tasty, went a few weeks back.
    And c’mon… this is the former sous chef from Son Of A Gun. So instead of spending 120bux there and drive across town, you can walk here and enjoy a highly inventive five-course pre-fixe for $70 by one of the better chefs working in the city.
    Not to mention that there was also a guest bartender mixing amazing cocktails.

    Get off your high horse everyone, this is only happening on Mondays and Tuesdays — AYC is usually closed mondays. It’s not like it’s affecting the regulars from eating here.

    Not to mention that AYC is a GREAT neighborhood restaurant, with most of their dishes being priced at $5 EVERY Wednesday and Sunday evening!

    Pop-up restaurants are in, face it.

    I’m checking out the Ceviche Project pop-up at Blossom in Silver Lake this Sunday afternoon. 4 dishes + wine pairings for each dish for $70. Really, do you think this is ridiculous pricing for a great meal?

  34. steak is NOT supposed to taste “buttery”, that’s for pancakes……

  35. Henry, you are damn funny. Rich, bald, troll, whatever, who cares. Funny!!

    And these replies are incredibly entertaining. The crazy attitudes and high horses, and rampant negative assumptions about people’s morals and intentions and lives … well, frankly, it’s a little sad.

    If you’re concerned that a pricey pop-up restaurant is going to ruin your neighborhood, perhaps you should become more actively involved in your local city council, or some such, and get some influence over zoning regulations and the like. Or perhaps you should start a business (it creates jobs by the way) that you feel is more suitable for EP. Perhaps you should step up and do something positive to make your neighborhood the way you want it to be instead of whining here about how the world isn’t what you thought it would be.

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