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May 12, 2006 10:42 AM

Best Kosher In Los Angeles

  • h

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.