To valet or not to valet

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From a reader about the recent Hungry Cat Santa Monica review: ‘Your review made me want to go there. Until I read it will cost 6 bucks to park. Are the McCourts running the parking lot? Seriously, L.A. ain’t Manhattan. We don’t walk, take cabs or ride the subway to get to places. We drive there. I can afford the 6 bucks. I just won’t pay it.’

I wrote the guy back, but can’t find my reply. Here’s more or less what I wrote:


I feel your pain. But I hate to tell you, $6 is just about average these days. It can be much, much more. I’ve encountered $9 or $9.50 numerous times and not always in traffic-stressed neighborhoods. Bar Marmont on the Sunset Strip used to sock it to you with an $18 charge, far cheaper, though, than getting a parking ticket by parking in an illegal spot. (These days, it’s $12 for the first three hours with validation, $28 after that.) The best strategy for a night out on the Strip is to carpool and share the cost of the valet.

I occasionally encounter a $3 valet fee, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. Cheapest valet in town? That would have to be Taix in Echo Park with a charge of $2.50, and they struggle with the valet company to keep it that way.

The idea of just handing your car over to a stranger and getting a mere slip of paper in exchange is an odd one. It works most of the time, funnily enough, though it’s disconcerting to be waiting for your car out front of a restaurant and see it racing by and screeching to a halt at the valet station.

One of the few times I didn’t valet park, I decided to walk from my then-apartment in West Hollywood the few blocks to a restaurant on La Cienega. On the way back, the four of us were mugged at gunpoint by two gentlemen who stepped out of the bushes. Fortunately, nobody tried to play hero. We gave up the goods and that was that.

While I’m not exactly ecstatic to pay for valet parking everywhere I go, I also know how much a cab costs in New York City or parking is in San Francisco. Even the subway is up there with the cost of valet parking in Los Angeles.

Anybody else have thoughts on the subject? Or favorite valet experiences?


The Review: Hungry Cat Santa Monica Canyon

Larry’s opens in Venice

Bouchon Bakery opens this week

Demitasse in Little Tokyo

-- S. Irene Virbila