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Best Kosher In Los Angeles

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  • Heimish Harry May 12, 2006 10:42 AM
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Recommendations please. If they are relatively closer to LAX, all the better.

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  1. Sounds like you are going to be stuck at the airport, maybe on a layover. There's nothing kosher that I know of that is especially close to LAX, so I think your best bet is to drive north up La Cienega Blvd. to Pico Blvd. (about five miles, I estimate), then head left/west.

    Personally, my favorite kosher food in LA is at the simple but excellent Pico Deli, located on Pico just west of Robertson Blvd. The pastrami and chopped liver combo sandwich there is the best I've had anywhere.

    A little further west is what many consider to be LA's finest kosher dining restaurant, Pat's, which I suppose could be called a steakhouse. It's a pricier but overall worthwhile establishment.

    I'm a big fan of The Milky Way, on Pico and Doheny. It's a dairy restaurant own and run in a very hands-on way by Steven Spielberg's mother. She is almost always there and does a meet-and-greet with every single patron. I think the food there is first-rate, and it offers many dishes that are unusual kosher fare (e.g., chowders, mexican-style latkes, and more). It's quite reasonably priced, and has always been an enormous success with any guests I've taken there from out of town.

    If you want Chinese or sushi, the only kosher legitimate option that I know of in LA is Shanghai Garden, on Pico a couple of blocks east of Beverly Drive. IMHO it's OK but not nearly as good as the Asian equivalents found in other cities like New York.

    If you're interested in sampling some of the cuisine from LA's famed Persian community, the easiest (although not necessarily best) choice would be Kolah Farangi, also on Pico. (They also serve Chinese food there, which you MUST avoid!) I recommend their kabobs, but have found their stews to be somewhat lacking.

    Finally, there seems to be an endless number of kosher fast-food joints on Pico. My two personal favorites are Jeff's Gourmet Sausages (located one long block west of Robertson) and Nathan's (of Coney Island fame). Jeff's is outstanding and and extremely rare kosher option, and I know it has begun to develop a great reputation nationwide. Nathan's, on the other hand, is about as close as kosher people can get to the traif fast-food experience, plus you can get those famous hot dogs and unusual lightlyl breaded (I think) french fries.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Arthur

      Pico Dli is crap, Jeffs is way better. Was just at milky way on Sunday, the food was utterly tasteless.
      But for Better than Pats (which is good) is La Gondola on Wilshire Blvd near the Federation Bldg.
      Jeffs is delicious. No way it could be called fast food. I would stay far away from the Persian places.
      Shanghai Gardens is a very good all around chinese restaurant with passable Sushi.
      Nagila meat is a good fast food rest.
      Unfortunately thats it.

      1. re: Mark

        Based on a visit to L.A. last summer (disclaimer: Things may have changed), I agree with some of Mark's comments, but disagree with others.
        Jeff's is a worthwhile experience, since the food is really tasty, and unique to the kosher world, but you should be aware that it is still a fast food place.
        The Shabbos take-out that we had from Pico Deli was so-so, nothing special.
        We weren't at all impressed with La Gondola, which to us was more like an upscale food wanna-be.
        We thought that Pat's was excellent. Pricey, but worth it.
        Milky Way was an experience, for the interesting opportunity to chat with Mrs. Adler, a charming hostess, and Steven Spielberg's mother. But we also thought that the food was very bland.
        We heard good things about Shanghai Gardens(I think that that's the correct name, but didn't have a chance to eat there.
        For a special treat, I would recommend Delice Bakery for it's gourmet breads, beautiful cakes and french pastries, and an excellent brunch.
        I would also check out the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Chain.

        1. re: L.A. Eater

          I have to disagree strongly with the negative statements about Pico Kosher Deli. To me, the sandwiches are better (and less expensive) than at all the big (nonkosher) delis in town.

          Also, while Jeff's makes great food, the tiny restaurant itself is cramped and overcrowded. I recommend just buying a package of sausages and taking them home.

          1. re: TedSez

            As a gentile guy living in Los Angeles I'll have to say that Jeff's is one of my favorite places in the world.

            Honestly. I love my bacon and cheese with meat, but Jeff's just does it so I don't care anymore.

            Plus, there's a copy of the Larousse Gastronomique to read while waiting for my food.

    2. haifa (on pico and sherbourne, i think) is in the same general "kosher restaurant row" area, and has great israeli food. i love their falafel and lentil soup.

      real food daily in west hollywood is a completely vegan restaurant that was not certified until recently (but i confess, i still ate there when it wasn't...just avoiding the grapes :)). so it is not marketed toward the kosher consumer and as a result has a different feel than most kosher places, plus it is very "california" with the natural foods, not to mention delicious! it is not as close to lax as pico, though. there is a branch in santa monica that is not certified, but the menu is identical.

      i am not as in love with shanghai, as a vegetarian every time i go there i get a tofu dish that is not great. i am very much in the minority about this though, which is why it is also very crowded.

      i second the food at the coffee bean, it is surprisingly good for pre-packaged, chain-store fare. especially the salads.

      1. The best kosher is Tierra del Sur in Oxnard. Read a long story about it in The Jewish Journal's archives at www.jewishjournal.com. I agree with The Journal that the best kosher is Magic Carpet, a Yemenite place on Pico. It's not fancy but it is a restaurant with consistently good, sometimes wonderful, authentic food and very nice service, which is as rarer than pork in most kosher restaurants, where customers are often treated as if they are lucky to be served at all.

        Two new places, Shiloh, a steakhouse on Pico near Doheny, and Cow Jumped Over the Moon, a French dairy cafe on Rodeo in BH are supposed to be good, but are very new-- I haven't been to either. They are owned by French Jews, and according to friends who've eaten at them, are very good.

        Pats is second rate hotel food-- great for strictly kosher people who don't know better. La Gondola makes Pat's look like Lucques. I ate there once and enjoyed burned pasta-- figure that out.

        Pico Kosher is a passable deli, not horrible, but the corned beef and pastrami is cardboard compared to langers. Milky Way is only worthwhile to shmooze with Spielberg's mom. The food is as close to inedible as any I've ever had to pay for. In fact, when friends insist on eating there, I just order a soda-- it's that bad.

        The Fish Grills are good, though hardly a restaurant experience, ditto Jeffs. If someone offered to treat me to a kosher dinner, I'd choose either of these over Pats any day.

        Of the Israeli places, none stand out as great but Sassi in Encino, Haifa on Pico and HaBayit on Pico in West LA are all good, as is Shula and Esthers on Fairfax. At least HaBayit is one the Westside and the owner, Amir, is a really nice guy.

        If you're not kosher, don't bother with the kosher Chinese place, whatever it's called these days. You pay a few dollars more for the privelege of mediocre Chinese food.

        The best kosher food in the city tends to be at banquets-- Wolfgang Puck does kosher at the Kodak Theatre that cannot be approached by any other place in town. The Four Seasons also has excellent kosher food at banquets.

        We can only hope that a new influx of Francophone Jews will raise the quality of kosher food here-- we deserve better.

        1 Reply
        1. re: spaniel27

          A Cow Jumped Over The Moon is an "interesting" experience (not able to really call it dining), as you are literally sitting a foot away from the underground valet parking garage(but at least its on the shi shi famed Rodeo Drive). They do get points though for making the most of the decor(lots of the color orange) which can be considered quaint. Now to the food. A sliced fresh french bread (baugatte) is brought to the table along with butter which was quite good. I had a scottish smoked salmon sandwich with avocado and sprouts with a mayonaise spread that was very tasty. This was served with a nice cucumber salad. My partner had the salad nicoise, the portion size being large which was also done very well. Prices are a bit high but not terrible. Nothing really noteworthy dessert wise but they do import some very nice parve and milchig (not cholov yisroel) chocolates at about a dollar a piece).

          They are opening a Prime Grill on the level directly above very soon, which shouldn't hurt this milchig establishment - and most likely help it). I do think the main portion of the business (if they survive)!! will come from the small gourmet shop inside which had a very nice array of imported items not found anywhere else. The owner also mentioned he had several bottle of wines from France made especially for them (as noted on the bottles) and that PG had already placed an order for these to serve in their restaraunt. They also put together some very nice gift baskets.

          IMHO, Pats is still the number one choice for a meal that never disappoints and worth the $$$ for quality, service and taste.

          Milky Way should have closed months ago. Leah Adler can only get by qvelling about her Steven (Spielberg) for the first or 2nd visit. The food is simply inedible. The last time I ate there (and I mean very last), I almost had to have my stomach pumped. Shanghai Garden is decent with quick service and has a great (value-wise) lunch special.

          Fish Grill is also safe for fresh fish and their fries are quite good.

          My meal of choice at Jeffs Gourmet are their burgers which are nice and juicy.

        2. I'll agree with Spaniel on some not on others, was at Tierra the portions were small and the food very salty, I had the venison and it was unedible, my wife had a good steak. Pats is good, I have eaten at La Gondola many times with non-Kosher associates the food was very good most of the time, I think it is very good.
          Milky way should be shut down its that bad and spielbergs mom just walks around with a spacy look on her face. Shilo had a great review lately, Pico Deli has horrible (used to be much better) Deli but the Kishke (derma) is to die for. The fish grills are good but small and Jeff is VERY VERY tasty, not quite like NY deli but passable.
          There is some nice rest in the Valley especially Sushi.
          Wolfgang Puck Is good but you have to be ivited...
          and...nobody makes a great Cholent and Potato Kugel in LA like you can get anywhere in Boro Park or Williamsburg, I would die for some Gottleibs...

          1. how could i forget milk and honey...the stuff there can be rich and there are huge portions, but very tasty. they have a great mushroom appetizer in puff pastry.

            1. Prime Grill is opening December 1. With that, Tierra and Shilo, LA may finally get some very good kosher food.

              I found a new Iranian place using the kosher search button at jewishjournal.com but I don't remember the name. It was also good.

              In fact, come to think of it, the kosher catering done by some of the Iranian caterers can be superb-- when they stick to traditional dishes. At a bar mitzvah I had a stew with beef, artichoke, lemon and greens that was unbelievable.

              Okay, Pat's isn't awful, but it certainly isn't great. It's just that we kosher eaters have had our expectations lowered....

              1. This is my kosher update as of 10/23/07. I eat at kosher and non-kosher places regularly, and I foolhardedly hold kosher places to the same standards as other restaurants. (Easiest way to find an UPDATED list of kosher restaurants is at www.jewishjournal.com) So:

                The new koser Subway on Pico. Better than your average Subway. Fresher, big turnover, great meatball sub. Long lines and noisy, but, hey, it's kosher.

                Prime Grill is super expensive but decent. I've eaten there once, had a good meal but not worth the almost 150/person (with wine). Very subdued, handsome place.

                Shilos on Pico can be excellent if you order steak (30-60 bucks), or the whole roasted fish. The pastas and chicken are average at best. Located in a mini-strip mall, it is short on atmosphere.

                Tierra Sur in Oxnard still reigns supreme for freshness, inventiveness and execution; on the downside the service can be desultory or uncaring, which is inexcuable at those prices and after people have made the journey up from LA.

                Bistro Baguette on Wilshire in BH is a great place for lunch, as is Delices bakery on Pico. The baguette sandwiches with a North African flair are very fresh and good. Whne Delices expands it will be a real neighborhood treasure.

                Hill Street Pizza downtown is fine, as is Pizza World on Fairfax, if you've never had Abbots Pizza or real good NY pizza. Both have substantially less grease than other kosher pizza places.

                Just ate at Magic Carpet. You know what? The Yeminite hicken soup, humous, kibbe and shaslik were sublime. We brought a good bottle of kosher wine, the owner (Nili) greeted us like family (which she does when she's not doing her books at the corner table), and it's not more than 20 bucks a person. Still the best.

                2 Replies
                1. re: spaniel27

                  BS"D

                  Yesterday, I ate lunch at Milk and Honey. I had the Tostada Salad, basically a large flour tortilla fried into a bowl shape, full of lettuce and grilled vegetables, with quite a lot of sauteed fresh Ahi. I found it to be very good, quite large, and a great value at $13.95. I don't usually eat out, especially lunch, and don't usually eat dairy out, but I must admit, I was impressed. I also ate dinner at Pat's with my wife. Service was good but not exemplary. I had the Rib Steak ordered medium rare, came to me almost medium. Usually, I'll order rare at a restaurant and it comes to me raw, so I tried to adjust my strategy. In any case, it was flavorful, and it wasn't well done, so I was pleased. My wife had the "BBQ" Ribs, which of course weren't really BBQ, and they were somewhat overdone (fall off the bone tender, but that's too well done for beef ribs in my book), but solid quality for a braised, mass produced rib with a tomato-based sauce. Both came with mashed potatos, sauteed yams, and fresh green beans. A solid effort, if unimaginative both on our part and on the part of Pat's. I felt I got my money's worth. And Pat's didn't start having empty tables until well into the 9:00 hour.

                  I know that for lunch, I looked at Pico Deli and it was packed. I wouldn't be surprised if they serve well over 100 lunches, maybe even double that, and possibly and equivalent number of suppers. So someone likes it, at maybe an average price of $9 per sandwich. For dinner, we looked in on Shilo, and it was pretty busy around 8:30.

                  I've never been to Magic Carpet, so can't comment, except to say that we'll probably head over there sometime based upon the recommendations here.

                  1. re: spaniel27

                    Magic Carpet is closed...sad but true. There is a treif Indian restaurant in it's place.

                  2. I eat kosher in LA sometimes b/c of my future sister-in-law. I agree for the most part with spaniel.

                    Pico Kosher Deli (the kids call it PKD) - you're right on. The texture of the brisket sandwich can only be described as cardbord. The turkey sandwich is only turkey, no onions tomato or lettuce.

                    Magic Carpet - Fantastic food. Great flavor flav. I'm glad you mentioned it b/c I need to go back.

                    Pats - I disagree, for the most part. Service is fantastic. They are catering my wedding and my gf and I went and ordered a ton of food to sample. Appetizers were great, salad was fantastic - it was of the complex type with fruit, etc., as was dessert. Steak was good but not phenom. It was probably Outback quality, but not Ruths Chris or Mastros. Chicken was cooked right and flavored well.

                    I agree about the Asian place on Pico. It's novel b/c it's kosher but I would never eat there otherwise. Some things, like the rice, were just embarassing. My little Japanese grandma would make a face at this rice. This is what I imagine Asian food would taste like in white suburban Milwaukee. The veggies and such were fresh, though, and it's a pleasant place to dine.

                    -----
                    Pat's Restaurant
                    9233 W Pico Blvd # 200, Los Angeles, CA

                    Magic Carpet (CLOSING)
                    8566 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Soulja Boy

                      I agree about Pats - I have eaten there 4-5 times over the past couple of years and the food and service is excellent - My last trip I did go to Prime Grill and I have to say it was excellent - but you do pay a premium - It is nice to see a Kosjer restaurant make it on the trendy LA restaurant scene -

                      1. re: Soulja Boy

                        BS"D

                        You talking about Shanghai Diamond Garden? We ate there once. Sushi was OK, but Chinese food was somewhat inferior. We orderdhot and Sour soup, and it was so over the top with cornstarch, so goopy, that I'd be embarassed to serve it. Since that was the first thing that we had after the suchi, it severely negatively impacted our initial impression of the place, and none of the other food was more than standard quality. So for us, a thumbs down. That said, a lot of people like it. We have a very difficult time finding decent kosher Chinese anywhere in the country, but this stood out as one of the worst. A place that gave us initial positive impressions was Shalom Cuisine on Fairfax. The first time we were there (and the only time I was there with the rest of my family), the food was decent, served family style (as it should be), and well priced. The second time, when I was busy, my bro-in-law and family came in from Irvine, and my wife took them out. My wife and bro-in-law are Cantonese, and my Bro-in-law and family are not Jewish. So what happened? After ordering, a bunch of Jewish Deli-type appetisers appeared on the table, then everything was served on individual plates with a scoop of rice, much as one might expect in a nonChinese restaurant. My wife was embarassed, but the food was evidently OK. I suppose that if decent Chinese kosher is so hard to come by in the rest of the country, LA should not be faulted for its inability to produce it. However, in a place with so many Chinese immigrants of various regions, it seems strange that at least 1 or 2 of the decent (in their styles) Chinese chefs could not be hired by a kosher restaurant.

                        1. re: ganeden

                          Good call about the chef situation. I think there's a lot of money to be made from a high-end kosher Asian fusion or even Indian place where a "native" chef plans a menu under supervision of a Rabbi.

                          I understand about your wife's embarasement. I'm half Japanese and my fiance suggested sushi at our wedding. I had to say no b/c I know my family would be like WTF when the kosher sushi came out.

                      2. Anyone ever eaten at Canter's (24 hour deli)? Heard things but never gone, don't know about proximity to LAX, however.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mambaker

                          NOT Kosher. And not close to LAX either.