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Top 10 Tastes of California [L.A. Area]

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I have an interesting request, and hopefullty a fun one that will spark some great ideas...

First, the facts:
-- I have never been to California. I am from San Antonio, Texas, and go to school in New York City.
-- My father and I will be visiting some schools in California from Saturday August 26 to Friday September 1. We fly into LA and out of SF.
-- We will be renting a car, so mobility won't be much of an issue. The plan is to make the drive between the LA area to the SF area along the coastline highway, which I understand is beautiful.
-- The only two places we must go are Pasadena and Stanford, but those will likely be just during the day on Monday (Pasadena) and Wednesday (Stanford). All areas surrounding these cities (say, less than a 2-hour drive one way) and the environs in between are fair game. We are willing to travel for great food.
-- Nothing is set as of yet, although I plan to make reservations at Manresa in Los Gatos and Chez Panisse in Berkeley. And I've already been placed on the waiting list at The French Laundry. Also considering Lucques when in LA, but that one's not as certain, it just happens to be one of the few LA restaurants I've heard of).

Now, the question:

What are the 10 things you think it would be absolutely criminal to leave California without tasting?

-- We love all kinds of food, from fine dining to hole-in-the-wall taquerias and everything in between. That being the case, any and all suggestions are welcome. I wouldn't mind, for example, seeing Oysters and Pearls from TFL on the same list as an In-n-Out Burger. That's exactly what I'm after, in fact. Regardless of price, regardless of location we just the best food, period.

And and all help is greatly appreciated.

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  1. 1) Soot Bul Jeep (Korean BBQ)
    2) Tacos Baja Ensendada (Fish/shrimp tacos)
    3) Chung King (Sichuan)
    4) Lucques (there's a reason you've heard of it)
    5) In-N-Out
    6) Quan Hy (Northern Vietnamese)
    7) Langer's (better pastrami than NYC's)
    8) Guelaguetza (Oaxacan)
    9) The restaurant at the Getty Museum
    10) Renu Nakorn (Issan Thai)

    Would be happy to help with addresses, if needed.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Mrs Fang

      With regards to Langers, few people claim that it's better than Katz's...which is where the top pastrami in NY is (since the closing of Second Avenue). Most people who think Langer's is better than "NY pastrami" are those that went to Carnegie Deli...which is leagues below Katz's...it's like comparing chuck steak to ribeye. Skip Langers. If you want a sandwich with old school charm, try Philippe's, the alleged birthplace of the french dipped sandwich.

      Soot Bul Jeep isn't better than Kang Suh in NY. But Beverley Tofu House is special.

      Again, I like AOC over Lucuqes. I didn't think the flavors at Lucques was much more outstanding or refined than AOC and at AOC, I was able to try 8 little dishes versus a standard offering of 3. The brioche is excellent, as are most fish preps. If they have house-made sausage, get it. The wine list is excellent. The place is very conducive to lingering over glasses of wine and catching up.

      If you've been to Sushi Yasuda, Kurumazushi, or even Jewel Bako, skip sushi in LA unless it's Urasawa.

      1. re: Porthos

        I've been to Katz's and that's exactly why I made the Langer's recommendation!

        http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content...

        1. re: Mrs Fang

          Modernist- absolutely right Langer's beats Katz to a pulp. NYs can keep it along with Stage, Wolf's, any other pastrami joint. To add, la has the best Korean food in America, and is a must.

          1. re: Schweinhaxen

            TIme for a Langer's visual aid:
            http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v22...

            The lists are looking good so far. A few thoughts:

            -Mashti Malone's Persian ice cream
            -Beverly Soon Tofu over BCD or Sokongdong
            -Tommy's chiliburgers over IN-N-OUT? (might be controversial, this wacky California "chili" :-P )

        2. re: Porthos

          jonathan gold has made this claim, and i would agree.

          about two years ago i had a langers pastrami sandwich and then flew to new york the next day and had katz's.
          langers is the superior of the two imho.

          sliced bread out of a plastic bag at katz' just doesnt compare to the bread at langers. i found the pastrami flavor to be superior as well. the vibe is great though...

          1. re: modernist

            That's funny because my sister and I always comment on how much more flavorful the pastrami was/is at Second Ave and even at Katz's. The texture is more pronounced at Katz's but just as tender. I can't argue with you on the bread though. That Langer's has hands down. But pastrami to pastrami, I still prefer Katz's.

          2. re: Porthos

            I guess I'm one of the few. I've been to Katz, Carnegie and Langers. No doubt Langers is the better pastrami. Better rub on the outside, not as fatty as Katz and sliced just right. I found Katz to be too thick of a cut with too much unedible gristle.

          3. re: Mrs Fang

            Nice List, Mrs. Fang!

            Oaxacan is a great idea. This "Ultimate List" posted by modernist is an invaluable resource for LA hounding.

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            1. re: Ciao Bob

              there is an updated version somewhere, (slightly more curated with top picks out of each category) but i've lost track of it since the reformatting of chowhound. im gonna update that updated version and post it again sometime soon.

            2. re: Mrs Fang

              Great list, Mrs. Fang. I'm not sure if there is much Yucatecan food in San Antonio or NYC, but check out Chichen Itza at Mercado La Paloma near USC for cochinita pibil.

              It is a delicious and tangy marinated pork roasted in banana leaves. Very reasonable but excellent and the Mercado La Paloma is a fun place to browse the various other food and crafts booths.

              1. re: Mrs Fang

                I definitely 2nd that Soot Bull Jeep has among the best korean bbq in town. But it's hella SMOKEY, if you want something less smokey and just as good, try Cho Sun on Olympic in K-Town. It might be easier for non-korean speaking diners.

              2. I am sure the moderators will tell you to post on the California and SF Boards for non-LA recommendations. Here in LA, for things a Texan-NYer (Rock On Kinky!) isn't likely to find at home(s), I would recommend
                1) Japanese:
                Sushi: The Hump, Sushi Wa Bistro, Nozawa, Tsukiji, Sushi Gen
                Non-Sushi: Nanbankan, Yabu, Manpuku, Kokekoko, Mako, Torafuko, Sanuki No Sato, see the Tuempura Bar thread below, KaGaYa, Otafuko, Kotohira, Diakokuya
                2) Chinese
                Dim Sum/Cantonese : Ocean Star, New Concept, Mission 261, NBC, Capital Seafood
                Noodles/Dumplings: Dumpling 10053, Dai Ho, Heavy Noodling
                Szechuan (the real stuff, not NYC Szechuan/Hunan): Lucky Dragon, Chung King
                Shanghai: Mei Long Village, Green City

                3) Korean
                BBQ: Chosun Galbi
                Tofu: BCD Tofu House

                4) Thai: Nadpob Thai Cafe, Thai Paradise Restaurant

                5) Mexican: Babita, La Sernada di Garibaldi (Boyle Hieghts location), Grand Central Market,

                6) California: Luques, Micheal's, Spago

                7) Peruvian: Los Balcones Del Peru

                Search this Board or google for locale/hours.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Ciao Bob

                  Ciao Bob, only twelve of us on this board are old enough to get the Kinky remark!

                  Mei Long Village is a good call. Pork pump and xiao long bao are standards, and jade shrimp (order with spinach) is wonderful, a thing of dreams. I recently ate there with a large party and even the more Cantonese-style dishes were excellent.

                  Giang Nan is another Chinese outpost that has never disappointed.

                  1. re: Mrs Fang

                    Needn't be an old fart to get references to the Texas Jewboy - he even has a 'houndish pedigree (what else would you call, 'Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed'?). Besides, he's going to be governor one day.

                    As for on-topic food, as a former NYer and SF Bay resident, I'd say that LA's plethora of great Thai options is worth checking out. Getting to NoHo or Thai Town is easier than getting out to Sriphapai in Queens, probably. In NoHo, there is the much discussed Wat Thai on the weekends - although recent weather has made that skippable. I realize the 108 degree tempratures make for a more authentic Thai experience, but still...

                    For air conditioned selections, Sri Siam and Krua Thai in NoHo are constant favorites.

                    I'd also try some 'California idea of food' food. In the Bay Area, try Hobee's for breakfast. In LA, Lazy Daisy or Doughboys are solid choices.

                    Enjoy.

                    1. re: igj

                      please skip Doughboy's... it's terrible and I don't think I'm the only one that thinks so on this board.

                  2. re: Ciao Bob

                    i agree that BCD is a stronger choice than Beverly.

                  3. Top 10 things to "taste"?

                    In no particular order:

                    *Beef roll at 101 NOODLE EXPRESS

                    *Fish tacos at TACOS BAJA ENSENDA

                    *Ice cream (any flavor) at FOSSELMAN'S

                    *Knife-cut beef nooodles at HEAVY NOODLING

                    *Pork rump at CHIANG'S GARDEN

                    *Any dessert (but especially the coconut ananas cake and the peanut-butter sesame cookies) at JIN PATISSERIE

                    *Korean BBQ beef tongue and short ribs at SOOT BULL JEEP

                    *Shrimp Topolobampo at BABITA

                    *House special crab at SEAFOOD VILLAGE

                    *French-dipped sandwiches (beef, lamb, turkey or ham) at PHILIPPE'S

                    1. Best sushi in LA and possibly in the Americas, sorry Masa!
                      Go to to Urasawa!

                      1. LA- Phillipes for the **LAMB** dip- its the best sandwich
                        Santa Barbara- Super Rica for Taco's
                        San Luis Obispo and/or Cambria- Linns' Fruit Bin for Ollalieberry Pie, but don't eat lunch there.

                        are you driving LA to SF and back? the drive on highway 1 ( San Luis Obispo-Big Sur-Carmel) is much prettier coming south if you have a choice.

                        1. Considering that you are a student, that you are from Texas, I think you should focus your attentions in LA primarily on the many good Asian choices that have been presented. With one (also Asian) addition, the for real, imported from Japan Kobe steak at Cut in the Beverly Wilshire.

                          1. Just a reminder, please discuss chow available in the greater L.A. area on this board, however, chow in California locales that are north of Ventura County is discussed on the California board, and San Francisco Bay area chow is discussed on the S.F. board.

                            Please feel free to start a thread on the California board discussing chow on your road trip between the L.A. area and the Bay Area.

                            Please do not post comparisons of restaurants in L.A. against restaurants in S.F..

                            Thanks for helping maintain the focus of this board on L.A. area chow.

                            1. Great question, it really makes one think. I always put places like Taylor’s Steaks on my favorites of LA List, but you can get good steak anywhere. I also agree Mrs. Fang’s post was top-notch. Here are mine:

                              1) Fish Tacos, for sure
                              2) Sushi – I am not a fan myself, but it seems California does it best. There are numerous posts about specifics on the LA Board
                              3) Langers – I have had pastrami all over NYC and I second (or 3rd or 10th, or whatever) that Langer’s is the best you can find anywhere. And thanks, Petradish, that photo ensured I am going to gain some weight this week, after clicking on your link, there is no way I can miss getting down there ASAP.
                              4) Casa Bianca – Sure you can get pizza anywhere, but Casa Bianca’s Homemade Italian Sausage and Garlic pizza is a complete original, from the crust on down to the way they cut it, and it is so, so good. Some people like to add the fried eggplant; I think it is better with just the Italian sausage and garlic.
                              5) Phillip’s – I am partial to the pork and blue cheese there, but msmd310 is right, the lamb is also divine.
                              6) Pollo a la Brasa – their roast chicken is so good, it is worth trying, even though you can get it where you live. If you like roast chicken, don’t miss it. (I also like Zankou Chicken, another Chowhound favorite, but Pollo a la Brasa wins in my taste test by a large degree.)
                              7) Lucques – For the food, the service, the whole experience. The short ribs are a good bet for your first time, but all the food is wonderful.
                              8) Yuca’s Hut – in Los Feliz. A little ‘taco’ stand that is mouthwateringly good. If you like a taco where the juice just runs down your arm no matter how you eat it, this is the place.
                              9) In and Out – yes, you should check it out and see what all the fuss is about.
                              10) Grilled Cheese Night at Campanile – If you are here on a Thursday night, hit Campanile for their grilled cheese night. Just get the original, which comes with arugula salad and a huge portion of fries, and enjoy. It can’t be beat.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Tom P

                                Casa Bianca is good for Angelino Pizza, I would never, ever suggest it to a NYer.

                                Langer's, however, beats it's East Coast COmpetition

                              2. I'm not sure about the In N Out stop. I eat there all the time, and it's the best of our fast-food burgers, but it's not like it's a great diner burger. I'm always surprised by people who build trips to town around it.

                                I agree about grilled cheese Thursdays at Campanile. But Mozzarella Mondays at Jar are raved about and are probably more in sync with your itinerary.

                                A divey, semi-cool lunch counter in Pasadena with a great burger is Pie And Burger. I think the burger's as good and the atmosphere's better at the Apple Pan in West LA, but neither is anywhere near as cool or as good as the place in Greenwich Village with the great burgers (name escapes me now.) Or even the burger at the White Horse in NY.

                                In the town of Arcadia, a few offramps east of Pasadena on the 210 Fwy, is a great dumpling place called Din Tai Fung. As far as I know it's the only American branch of the Taiwanese restaurant. There is always a line. Use the search function here and see if it excites.

                                Also, a few minutes south of Pasadena (I'm assuming CalTech?) are Alhambra & Monterey Park, which have some of the best Asian restaurants in the country.

                                Also, a couple of days ago, the New York Times did a great article on a taco road trip from LA to the Bay Area on the coast road. It's a fun read, especially when they're accosted by David Crosby of CSNY in Santa Barbara. (Why am I not surprised that he can be found loitering at taco stands?) Their LA picks were El Parián and Tacos Baja Ensenada. Full article linked below (free registration might be required.)

                                http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/07/21...

                                Quick note: If you're in Pasadena through Monday and need to spend Wednesday in Palo Alto, I'm not sure Hwy. 1 is the right route, despite its beauty. It's a lonnnnng trip along the coast. (The authors of the NY Times' taco road trip took five days to do it.) The 101's a good trade-off between speed & beauty, but even the ugly 5 will take 6 hours or so.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Alimentary My Dear Watson

                                  "...neither is anywhere near as cool or as good as the place in Greenwich Village with the great burgers (name escapes me now.)..."

                                  Corner Bistro?

                                2. You've generated alot of suggestions so far, confused yet? I have your itenary as arriving LAX Sat. 8/26 and driving out of L.A. to S.F. Tuesday morning, so you need:

                                  Dinner - Sat, Sun, Mon.
                                  Lunch - Sat (?), Sun, Mon.
                                  Breakfast - Sun (or Brunch), Mon, Tues (?).

                                  Total = 6 to 8 meals in L.A. Problem - Some good places are closed Sunday or Monday or both.

                                  I did a search on the Texas board for "Sushi San Antonio" with only 1 post:

                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                  Sushi for Dinner Saturday (or Monday). Best Sushi dining experience in L.A. (or anywhere in the USA?) is Urasawa (Beverly Hills {310} 247-8939) but it's going to be approximately $300 to $350+ a person depending on your drink orders. Is it worth it? The only way to make an intelligent decision is to read the links below (most are long!!!):

                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                  Backup Sushi spots that have very good reviews here lately at $50 per person (approx.) food only:

                                  Azami - Hollywood
                                  Zo Sushi - WLA

                                  Do a chowhound-L.A. search for more info.

                                  Dinner Sunday - Lucques $40 Sunday (3 courses). It's good value.

                                  http://www.lucques.com

                                  Dinner Monday (or Sat.) - Wolfgang Puck or Graduate. (California Cuisine, or Cal/Asain, or Cal/French fusion/variations). There is a reason why he's become so well known.

                                  Spago - Beverly Hills - International (?) Cuisine.

                                  Chinois on Main - Santa Monica - Cal/French/Asian.

                                  http://www.wolfgangpuck.com

                                  His Graduate student:

                                  Mako - Beverly Hills - Cal/French/Asian

                                  http://www.makorestaurant.com

                                  Dish recomendations - Several, best to wait till if you decide on them for now.

                                  Lunches - Any days they're open and your in that neighborhood:

                                  El Parian - Best Carne Asada Tacos - fairly near Staples Center downtown (213) 386-7361.

                                  Babita - High-End Mexican Cuisine with complex flavors - San Gabriel (626) 288-7265.

                                  Local Chain Restaurant - Zankou Chicken - Armenian with raved garlic paste - 6 (?) locations around L.A. (Many posts on CH).

                                  http://www.zankouchicken.com

                                  Warning - In-N-Out Burger. Really it's just a good chain burger for the money, NOTHING special! Any outdoor BBQ burger back home with some decent condiments will taste a whole lot better. Don't waste your short stay in L.A. on it.

                                  Breakfasts - Not an area I know much about.

                                  Bottom Line - Too many places, too little time, and NO 1 right answer.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JBC

                                    I agree. I DO NOT get it--about In-N-Out Burger. They stopped handing out the bumper stickers (cut off the B and the r from Burger) years ago. There's always a line, and my husband can do better anytime on his Weber.

                                    People who go there rave about how fresh the food is. I say if any food you eat isn't that fresh, what are you thinking?

                                    They started because they had a potato rancho, and got tired of wrangling them, so they sold French fries. If you think those are good, you'll really love Tops or Mr. B's fries. If your signature dish is second rate, what's the point?

                                    The best thing is the milk shake, but you have to order two to get a real American overportion. The coffee is good for late night drivers.

                                    Otherwise, I don't get In-N-Out.

                                  2. I completely agree about the bottom line. My assumption is that you've had a lot of steak and burgers and Mexican and Italian. I further assume that either at the French Laundry or elsewhere you'll get high end French or Cal-French. I also think that breakfast just does not vary that much from one part of the country to another. So, I would concentrate on lunch and dinner. And to be able to compare and contrast, I again emphasize the Asian cuisines and the link to moderist's "ultimate" list above. I eagerly await the reports (on the multiple boards) of your adventures.

                                    1. Be sure to have a steak burrito with cheese at Taqueria la Cumbre on Valencia near 16th in SF. Incredible.

                                      1. OK. Top ten in LA and the environs, eh?

                                        1. Wat Thai, Coldwater Canyon 1 block south of Roscoe, North Hollywood. Weekends only, 11-3. A bunch of people who set up Thai food stands and donate the entire profit to the temple. A quart of the best papaya salad you've ever had costs $3. Duck soup for $3. Coconut pudding-stuffed kabocha pumpkin quarters for $3. Kanom krok for $3. There's absolutely nothing like it in San Antonio or New York.

                                        2. Guelaguetza Oaxacan cuisine -- your choice of locations, Westside or Koreatown.

                                        3. Beverly Soon Tofu, Olympic and New Hampshire (one block west of Vermont), Koreatown. Absolutely zero frills. Fantastic soon dubu. BCD wishes it could be this good.

                                        4. Babita Mexicuisine, San Gabriel Blvd. 1 block north of the 10 freeway, San Gabriel; ask your server what's good and then order it.

                                        5. Fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenada in East L.A. You have to.

                                        6. Studio Yogurt, Ventura Blvd. and Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City. The yogurt is very good -- but this is about as L.A. as it gets. Also a good choice is Pinkberry, in West Hollywood -- but the parking is scary and the lines are worse.

                                        7. Mandaloun, Maryland Ave., Glendale. Armenian food at its finest. There's somewhat of a rivalry on this board between Mandaloun and Carousel, which is three blocks away. In my mind, Mandaloun blows it away.

                                        8. Skaf's Lebanese Grill, Laurel Canyon and Oxnard St., North Hollywood. The very best grilled meat, and far and away the best hummus, in the entire county.

                                        9. Thai Nakorn, Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove. Well worth the drive (yes, it takes you PAST Renu Nakorn, but you know what? this one's better) if you get mango salad with crispy shrimp or catfish, and the wild boar in basil sauce. Low prices for a sit-down Thai place -- I think the boar is $8.

                                        10. Pacific oysters during happy hour at Ocean Avenue Seafood in Santa Monica. The rest of the food on the menu is just OK, and it's expensive, but during happy hour you get oysters quite cheaply and they are excellent.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                          Ara is truly a wonderful chef at Mandaloun, as he was at previous restaurants on Central Avenue in Glendale. Only other one close is Marouch in East Hollywood on Santa Monica at around Edgemont. Carnival and Carousel cannot keep up.

                                        2. If you are going to be in Pasadena, it would be criminal not to stop at Pie 'n Burger and have a slice of the fresh peach pie. And the hamburger or patty melt isn't shabby at all.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Dave Feldman

                                            Yep, and Pie N Burger is just down the street from Cal Tech. Stick with the burger (with grilled onions) and the pie (I love their coconut meringue). Fries are so-so but they have good hash browns and make their own dressings.
                                            Also, if you go to Tacos Baja Ensenada (which you should) in addition to their fish tacos, try their fish ceviche - none better!! Good luck!

                                            1. re: WildSwede

                                              Yes, the hash browns at P&B are excellent, as are the fountain Cokes (stirred by hand).

                                            2. re: Dave Feldman

                                              Any of the *fresh fruit* pies are worth ordering...and please, please try their whipped cream, its the real deal!

                                              Europane, another bakery in Pasadena, has fantastic croissants, and other French goods.

                                              If you find yourself in Little Tokyo, I can't stop thinking about the ramen at Daikokuya!

                                              Happy travels!

                                            3. I'll just chime in to encourage visiting La Babita for an unusual Mexican experience, Mei Long Village for the XLB, and Sapp Coffee House on Hollywood Blvd. for the uniquely-flavored boat noodles.

                                              1. Probably won't come up with 10, but when I am in SoCal, these are the places I try to hit. Some already mentioned, and rightfully so.

                                                Philippe's - unique eatery, excellent food and beer/wine selection. A DO NOT MISS for any foodie visiting the area. I like the lamb sandwich, double dipped with bleu cheese.

                                                Serenata De Garibaldi - gourmet Mex unlike any other style you may have experienced.

                                                Brent's Deli - all other LA delis are crap compared to this place. Would it compare favorably with NYC delis? I think so. Great food (except the potato skins) and excellent service with plenty of deli tude. One of the few things I miss not living in SoCal anymore.

                                                La Super Rica/Santa Barbara - if you are taking the coastal route this is another DO NOT MISS. Order any of the daily specials that look good, and anything in their cream sauce.

                                                Jocko's/Nipomo - another worthy stop on the 101. Quintessential Santa Maria BBQ.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                  I agree with your praise of Brent's. They have a stellar menu with the horrid exception of the potato skins. They are truely awful.

                                                  I order the "Jucy" Pastrami. The regular is simply too lean for me. One of the few deli's that list the juicy pastrami on the menu.

                                                  1. re: Wes

                                                    Agreed on Brent's tater skins. Everything else on the menu totally rocks. Go figure.

                                                    Do not miss dishes for me are the whitefish salad, chopped liver (sweet version with caramelized onions) and whatever omelet is on special for breakfast. The homefries are killer, I like mine well done, with grilled onions added.

                                                    And the pastrami to get at Brent's is their Black Pastrami reuben. Far from lean, and with a flavor unlike any other.

                                                2. In-N-Out is indeed a very good fast food burger. But it certainly isn't great when compared to other places throughout California (anybody ever been to King Falafel in Santa Maria? THAT'S a great burger).

                                                  Phillipe's, as somebody mentioned above, is a fav for delicious cheap eats in a unique atmosphere. I recommend the lamb, double dipped. And be sure to slather on that great mustard (Coleman's?).

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Bostonbob3

                                                    Can't believe I forgot In N Out. I'm still undecided on animal style...I find that the addition of dill pickle clashes with the curry-like undertones in the spread. Extraextra crisp animal fries are pretty danged tasty though.

                                                    And the mustard at Philippe's is their own brew. Definitely English in nature, but MUCH hotter
                                                    than Coleman's. I'm also a lamb double dipper, with bleu cheese baybay!

                                                  2. Also, while I hesitate to offer taco suggestions to someone from San Antonio, I highly recommend the fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenada in East Los Angeles. Some of the best I've had outside San Felipe, Mexico.

                                                    1. what a great thread !! i can probably come up with 10, but most of the places listed, i would go with. since you have your dad with you, i figure you want good food but just as important is to experience the people, the culture of la and damn it, we do have culture !! i suggest places you can do some people watching -

                                                      philippe's / the pantry - downtown - especially philippe's - it's a great cultural melting pot and they make damn good sandwiches...if you want you can share a sandwich, then walk up to olivera street and get some taquitos

                                                      tommy's / pinks - both institutions - i team these together because part of the experience is standing in a long line ( especially pinks ) and you get a taste of la and some damn greasy food.

                                                      i strongly recommend dim sum at any of the places mentioned before and you gotta get some sushi ( is your dad up for that ?? )

                                                      also, lately i've been on a banh mi kick - try mr baquette - it's awesome !!

                                                      but then i thought, you mentioned french laundry and chez...you and pops like the good stuff !!! both focus on farm fresh ingredients, and perfect preparation ...hmmm...what do we have to compete...i think lucques is decent, you may want to try water grill in downtown la, spago beverly hills, to name a few

                                                      enjoy !

                                                      1. if you're going to be in the Pasadena area, i second the Din Tai Fung rec in Arcadia. There Juicy Pork soup dumplings and pork buns are faboulous, and I found them to be better than Shanghai Joe's in NYC.

                                                        Langer's is a definite must. The #19 sandwich is the most popular and there's a reason.

                                                        I don't think you need to waste your time at Phillipe's. The sandwiches are ok (imho). Same goes for Tommies, Pinks, and Titos. Long lines, lots of nostalgia. But food is ok.

                                                        Korean restaurants are a must in LA as well as the Vietnamese Pho restaurants (and i second the banh mi sandwiches!).

                                                        If you must go to In-n-Out, make sure to get your double double "animal style".

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: eatslowly

                                                          Agree, Phillipe's is OK, but definetly not worth a special trip. Not in the top 10, but maybe the top 30.

                                                        2. Great list, great thread, the best of the best of Chowhound!

                                                          Two comments: even as a blow-in NYer, I'm old enough, sadly, to get the Kinky remarks. Second, I think Phillipe's is worth the special trip because it's special, and it's only a tiny detour on the road from Pasadena.

                                                          Good luck with your college choice, Tupac-de-Texas

                                                          - Sean

                                                          1. What a great topic! First, a general recommendation: in addition to chowhound, check out Jonathan Gold's food reviews at www.laweekly.com. His "Counter Intelligence" column (he also wrote a book by the same name) is a great way to find out about great restaurants.

                                                            You can't visit L.A. without trying Thai food, and you can't go wrong with most of the restaurants in Thai Town (Hollywood Blvd.) or on Sherman Way in North Hollywood. Yai, hidden in a Hollywood strip mall behind a 7-11, has fantastic grilled beef salad. Sri Siam in North Hollywood has FANTASTIC northern Thai food. Try the spicy pork ribs, the catfish custard, or the nam prik oom (not sure of the spelling -- it's a spciy vegetable based dip.) Palms Thai on Hollywood Blvd has very good food and will provide one of those "only in L.A." experiences of watching a Thai Elvis impersonator perform.

                                                            1. SUSHI: Sushi Nozawa in Studio City.
                                                              TAPAS/SCENE: Cobras & Matadors
                                                              SANDWICH: Phillips
                                                              FANCY PANTS: A.O.C. or Grace
                                                              AMBIANCE: Little Door
                                                              WINE BAR: Lou (also has great little dishes)
                                                              TACO: Yuca's Hut
                                                              BURGER: In-n-Out
                                                              CHINESE: Ocean Star

                                                              And on the drive north, get yourself some pea soup from Anderson's.

                                                              1. A few thoughts: I think many people are right on about in 'n' Out -- very good chain/fast food burger, but don't get your hopes up too high -- it's great only in comparison to mcDonalds and that ilk. Tasty, though, and worth a visit if you're in LA for the 1st time. Also, if you're on the westside and want some "LA atmosphere," one good one that was mentioned is Michaels (Santa Monica), others include Hal's and Chaya (both Venice, both are pretty good, not great, food but fun places) and Nobu in Malibu (very good sushi in the middle of Malibu). Melisse in Santa Monica also has great food, but very expensive.

                                                                1. I like the Apple Pan. Even if you're not a big fan of the griddled burgers they do there, they have great coffee and pie. (NOT espressos and a selection of desserts, but great coffee and pie. Get some cream for your coffee: they give you the real thing. They are all about purity and simplicity there. It's an institution. It's also closed on Tuesdays, I think.)

                                                                  1. This is an edited post that will hopefully stay focused enough on LA to keep the moderators from deleting it again. (Though I'd like to get the perspective of what people think about the total package of my itenerary while in CA, but whatever...)

                                                                    Reservations booked so far:
                                                                    Lucques -- "Sunday Supper". We have reservations Sunday August 27 at 7:00pm -- West Hollywood
                                                                    Jar -- "Mozzarella Monday". We have reservations Monday August 28 at 7:00pm -- LA
                                                                    I'm thinking I need to cancel this one because I read today that the Mozzarella Monday thing is only done in the bar area. Is that information accurate?
                                                                    (..other non-LA places the next few days...)

                                                                    Any substitutions/additions/deletions you would make?

                                                                    Question marks that remain:
                                                                    LA area:
                                                                    - Dinner (and of course dessert) Saturday
                                                                    - Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch/Snacks/Bread/Sweets/Ice Cream during the day Sunday
                                                                    - Lunch Monday near CalTech (thinking Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles for this one)
                                                                    - Dinner Monday night as possible alternative to Jar (Hopefully the new Batali/Silverton place if it's open then. But doesn't have to be a similar style of food. Doesn't have to be right in LA, for that matter. Can be a short drive there, and then we'd crash in the city for the night.)
                                                                    Between LA & Los Gatos:
                                                                    - Possible dinner Monday night??
                                                                    - Breakfast/Lunch Tuesday

                                                                    Places that I'm still considering:
                                                                    Too many I have a massive list I'm slowly trying to whittle down.
                                                                    Some places that look the most interesting so far, though, are:
                                                                    LA area
                                                                    -- Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles
                                                                    -- Tacos Baja Ensenada
                                                                    -- Langer's
                                                                    -- Philippe's
                                                                    -- Doughboys
                                                                    -- In-n-Out
                                                                    -- La Brea Bakery
                                                                    -- AOC (only if we don't do Lucques)
                                                                    -- Jin Patisserie
                                                                    -- Boule
                                                                    -- Spago
                                                                    -- Providence
                                                                    -- La Super Rica (Santa Barbara)

                                                                    Still in search of...:
                                                                    -- Olallieberry Pie (Duartes? Linn's Fruit Bin?)
                                                                    -- Date Shake (I understand this is a SoCal thing)
                                                                    -- Pick-your-own strawberries, olallieberries, etc somewhere between LA & Los Gatos. Or just a place to buy some awesome fresh tiny strawberries (there's probably a French name for them that I don't know )
                                                                    -- Some good artichokes (Castroville the place to go?)
                                                                    -- Some good avocados

                                                                    Thanks again for all the help everybody. There are so many great options. The hard part now is choosing which ones.

                                                                    Wow, thanks so much everyone for all the great suggestions. There are just so many options! I'm working on narrowing down my list of possibilities some, and I'll post it in the next day or two to see what you guys think. Thanks again for the help.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: tupac17616

                                                                      On the pie front, you might check what's available at Pie N Burger in Pasadena. It seems you're avoiding Asian--a pity but you can't do everything. Of your current list, I see Roscoe's, Philippe's and In N Out as fillers--places you go if you're hungry and they are nearby at the moment. LA institutions yes, but not the best the town has to offer. Regarding the rest, I would emphasize Langer's, Spago (or Cut) and AOC if you don't do Lucques--tho you could do both. I share your interest in the new Batali/Silverton venture, but honestly it seems most new LA high enders take a month or so to settle into their true character. Some stuff doesn't work. Some gets revamped. Servers get more responsive, etc.

                                                                    2. The BEST Date Shake I've had is at Go Veggie on Centinella right off the 90. If you guys do end up going to Jin, it's not too far at all and on the way to and from the 405....

                                                                      http://local.yahoo.com/details;_ylt=A...

                                                                      1. Just curious as to why everyone is so crazy about DOUGHBOYS...

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Liquid Sky

                                                                          I agree (assuming your post = you're NOT crazy about Doughboys). Four of us went there a few months ago and got four different dishes. The Sourdough Semolina Waffle had a day-glo, overly jelled cherry "compote" with it; it didn't taste that bad, but, really, don't call it a dried cherry "compote" when it looks like fake cherry goo. The Waffle Stack was probably the best of the bunch, but not worth returning for. The Scrapple and SOS (creamed chipped beef) were downright gross, imo. I know that might sound dramatic, but I honestly couldn't eat them at all and wanted to spit out my bite of the SOS. Yuck.

                                                                          1. re: Liquid Sky

                                                                            uugh... we went there on a rec from a hound... NEVER AGAIN! NEVER! This place is just downright DISGUSTING. I think the appeal might be the young, hip, beautiful crowd lounging about and barely eating anything they order. the food is YUCK YUCK YUCK!

                                                                          2. "fraises des bois" are the bomb small strawberries. i've had them at chez panisse. the flavor of these little flavor bombs will make you look at even organic strawberries as dull useless packages of fiber and water.

                                                                            you've got a shitload of stuff to compile and process.
                                                                            heres my updated survey of la culinary madness - its pretty long:

                                                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: modernist

                                                                              I think the fraises du bois season is over - at least it has been in my garden for a couple months now. They're a spring crop (although I'm keeping my fingers crossed for late fall as well).

                                                                              I'm not sure about strawberries in general - it's pretty late. I did get an intensely tasty basket of strawberries at the Westwood/VA farmers market about three weeks ago and was surprised they still had them. Try other berries! Sorry for no specific recs.

                                                                            2. I would knock off the first 7 on your LA question list & for Mexican, hit Babita, near Pasadena. A review is in the LA Weekly's recent list of 99 essential restaurants, in alphabetical order:

                                                                              http://www.laweekly.com/general/featu...

                                                                              Babita Restaurant
                                                                              1823 S San Gabriel Blvd
                                                                              San Gabriel, CA 91776
                                                                              (626) 288-7265

                                                                              On the trip to San Francisco, I wouldn't miss Chef Rick in Orcutt (near Santa Maria). Possible Tuesday lunch.

                                                                              http://www.chefricks.com/home.htm

                                                                              Enjoy your trip & please report back!

                                                                              1. Jiraffe in Santa Monica is my favorite place on Monday nights for the pre-fixed bistro menu...Spago for the LA experience and of course the food.

                                                                                1. I think I may be officially the most indecisive person in the world. I'm not sure if this list of LA area options is getting shorter or longer, but here is the current one, sort of grouped in (very) rough categories. My fellow 'hounds, help!

                                                                                  Lucques (already have reservation for Sunday Supper)
                                                                                  Jar (already have reservation Monday, but thinking about cancelling, as I hear Mozzarella Mondays may be on the way out)

                                                                                  Tacos Baja Ensenada
                                                                                  El Parian
                                                                                  Langer’s
                                                                                  Philippe’s
                                                                                  Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles
                                                                                  In-n-Out Burger
                                                                                  Pie n’ Burger

                                                                                  Hatfield’s
                                                                                  Grace
                                                                                  Josie
                                                                                  Table 8

                                                                                  Spago
                                                                                  Providence
                                                                                  Sona

                                                                                  Sweet Lady Jane
                                                                                  Boule
                                                                                  Jinn Patisserie
                                                                                  La Brea
                                                                                  Frances Bakery
                                                                                  Bread Bar
                                                                                  Susina Bakery
                                                                                  EuroPane
                                                                                  Kee Wah Chinese Bakery

                                                                                  Fosselman’s

                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: tupac17616

                                                                                    FWIW, after hearing about Tacos Baja Ensenadas, we made the trip (not convenient to get to even from Pasadena, let alone BH) last weekend, only to find a B health rating in the window (many hounds don't mind that, I prefer to frequent A establishment with our hard earned cash & not iron stomachs) & graffiti scrawled windows. If that appeals to you in your limited amount of time, go for it, but I still recommend Babita in San Gabriel for Mexican, see Weekly review as posted above.

                                                                                    For dim sum, consider Triumphal Palace or Mission 261 (this one is also in the Weekly's list of 99 essential restaurants.

                                                                                    Among your list of finalists, I'd second Spago, for sure; Campanile & Providence are also nice but I'd choose Spago first. EuroPane, for your bakery choice, yes.

                                                                                    But you are still missing Josie in Santa Monica, Osteria Angelini on Beverly, & Water Grill downtown.

                                                                                    Have a great time & please report back!

                                                                                    1. re: Babette

                                                                                      Just a friendly reminder, the focus of this thread is finding examples of great cuisine in the L.A. area, this is not the forum to discuss Health Department ratings. Please confine the discussion to the food here please.

                                                                                      Thanks.

                                                                                    2. re: tupac17616

                                                                                      Jar is worthwhile even without Mozzarella Monday but "on the way out" is not the same thing as "already gone" so, if that was the primary draw, just contact the restaurant to confirm if it will still be offered when you want to go.

                                                                                      1. re: tupac17616

                                                                                        Don't know if anyone's mentioned this, but do try one of Mashti Malone's wafer ice cream sandwiches if you stop by. The wafer might sound a little boring, but it comes together with the rosewater ice cream and turns into something wonderful.

                                                                                        1. re: tupac17616

                                                                                          i love your choices. i am an avid traveller and eater of new york city culture as well.

                                                                                          i think for the quintessential LA experience you should focus more on ethnic food-particularly the more ghetto joints. while the fine dining is good here, it doesnt really make an impact if youre used to new york fine dining. hatfields and sona (just had the 9 course on friday) are good, but you guys have wd-50 and jean goerges. angelini osteria is my favorite for italian in la, but you guys have babbo and lupa.

                                                                                          quintessential la that you cant get nearly as good in new york is the vietnamese (particularly in little saigon - about a half hour south of LA proper) thai food (wat thai, thai town) chinese food (monterey park), korean (in ktown - tang song sah on 6th and berendo is quite the korean pub experience), japanese and mexican (you should hit at least one truck or street side table and you must go to the mercadito on 1st and lorena for mariachi upstairs and mexican street foods outside, then eat a taco at tacos baja ensenada and then find a street side pastor pit on the road. theres a good one back towards the city on vermont between washington and venice on the east side. opens at 7ish 8ish. have a fine dining mexican experience at la casita mexicana, la huasteca or babita. i prefer la casita) non sushi japanese for izakaya or monjayaki and well crafted udon, ramen dishes can be found in garena/torrance but not in new york)

                                                                                          somre more notes: i love lucques sunday supper. its a great value.
                                                                                          i find jars food to be boring and a bit bland.
                                                                                          el parian i'd stick to the birria (goat: get the costillas -rib - cut) i know the asada is popular on this board and its good but not revelatory. get one taco. theyre pretty big)
                                                                                          langers is amazing. had it for lunch today.
                                                                                          roscoes (culturally fun but not great food)
                                                                                          in a similar cultural vein i'd rather go to babe and ricky's inn in leimert park and hear mickey champion and sould food dinner for 8 bucks - they serve at around 11pm so snack beforehand)
                                                                                          in n out. good for what it is - double double animal style protein style for the la thing).
                                                                                          tommy's (on rampart!) you should go after bars at 2am for the full cultural impact. sorta gets gangster but thats what you want.

                                                                                          doughboys im not a fan of. but very la.

                                                                                          hatfields grace, aoc, table 8 campanile are all very good, but not as good as what new york fine dining offers.

                                                                                          same with spago, (slight touristy feel) providence (overly trendy food - take it easy on the yuzu already!) sona (nice modern food) and melisse.

                                                                                          the rest are good although i'd fill up on dim sum in san fran over LA as its better up there. if i were you i'd focus on islamic chinese, northern chinese, chiu chow, shanghainese and taiwanese)

                                                                                          1. re: modernist

                                                                                            Modernist, you definitely told tupac. I get the feeling, however, that either he or his dad is just not ready to plunge headlong into Asian cuisines. Maybe next trip.

                                                                                            1. re: mc michael

                                                                                              Thanks, guys. Mc_michael is right. My dad is not too fond of Asian cuisines. The one exception he has made for this trip is that he wants some dim sum, but for some reason, he has it in his head that the dim sum is better in San Francisco, and that we shouldn't even consider dim sum places in other cities. I don't agree, but that's beside the point. Main thing is, I'll unfortunately have to save some of that for another trip.

                                                                                          2. re: tupac17616

                                                                                            Why is Doughboys still on this list? I'm really curious about why you want to go here at all. Please share your insight.

                                                                                            1. re: banquisha

                                                                                              Doughboys was only still on the list because I thought their menu looked good, if a little excessive in terms of options. They're now scratched from the list, though. Thanks!

                                                                                            2. re: tupac17616

                                                                                              Langer's is good but not THAT good. Save stomach space for something else that is uniquely L.A.
                                                                                              I'll agree with:
                                                                                              Tacos Baja Ensenada
                                                                                              El Parian
                                                                                              Pie N Burger
                                                                                              Phillips
                                                                                              (skip AOC if you're already doing Lucques)
                                                                                              (PLEASE avoid Doughboys at all cost)
                                                                                              Jin Patisserie
                                                                                              NBC Seafood

                                                                                              Other suggestions for your Monday night dinner:
                                                                                              Mako (always raved about on the board. similar to AOC in that you can try a lot of things. dishes come in app. size)
                                                                                              Jiraffe (their Monday night prix fix is kinda akin to Sunday night supper at Lucques. the food is great)

                                                                                              For breakfast (I'm assuming that you want to go to Doughboy's for the bakery and breakfast? Well, the ones I'm about to mention are MUCH better in quality, flavor, and cleaniness)
                                                                                              ***AMANDINE ON WILSHIRE...I think that this place is the bomb... Any seconds? thirds?
                                                                                              Jinky's (no bakery goods here though)

                                                                                              Oh and, please try a Beard Papa Cream Puff. I think they should have called them "crack puffs." They're dangerously addicting. If you don't have one in NY or Texas, then you MUST seek one out for a snack.

                                                                                              1. re: banquisha

                                                                                                went to amandine this sunday and picked up a croissant, an almond croissant (both a bit heavy) and pain au chocolat. it was good but isnt quite paris good. but perhaps thats a tall order to fill.

                                                                                                i agree with skipping a.o.c. i find it overrated and much prefer lucques. although i dont agree about skipping langers. i say share a sandwich so you dont knock yourself out and keep snacking throughout the day.

                                                                                              2. re: tupac17616

                                                                                                I don't know if you need to go to three burger places. In-N-Out is good but it's not special... most of the hullabaloo is because people are nostalgic about it after moving away, not because it's the best burger in LA (it's definitely not). Same with Tommy's.

                                                                                                If you're going to Campanile, don't bother with La Brea Bakery, you can get the bread at Campanile and the rest is better at the other places on your list. And frankly, Bouley it's not.

                                                                                                I agree with modernist -- can the high-end stuff, which there's tons of in New York, and concentrate on the low-end ghetto ethnic places. Even without getting too weird, there's wonderful stuff out there. Islamic Chinese is a great suggestion, not least because if your dad totally wigs out, he can get 'normal' Chinese food there while you chow down on the lamb and the onion bread. And he can get a grilled pork chop, rice, and vegetables at any Viet place.

                                                                                                And if you're around on a Wednesday, go to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, it's well worth the trip down the boulevard. Other good markets are the Saturday Santa Monica market (same place) and the Sunday Hollywood market... just blows the Union Square Greenmarket away.

                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                  He should go to In-N-Out and get a three by three or a four by four, it's like Everest, you have to climb it once. He should do it while on the road between the Bay Area and L.A. area, not go out of his way while in L.A. or SFO. (In-N-Out usually has impeccably clean rest rooms, a very important factor while on the road.)

                                                                                              3. in between major meals, if you are in beverly hills-a definite must for any foodie is a visit to the cheese store of beverly hills, which is one of the best cheese stores in the US.
                                                                                                http://www.cheesestorebh.com/

                                                                                                1. Years ago I read a review of Langer's pastrami, forget where, which described it as "pastrami worth taking a bullet for, alluding to Langer's location, which now, and for a long time, has had easy curb side service. Living in NYC and LA I can honestly say, I agree with that review. A destination to dine? NO. For us locals (I also live half the year in NYC) Langer's is pastrami paradise. We did a Langer's run a few weeks ago, ordered it lean (not extra lean) and hot, with loaves of corn rye, swiss, Russian dressing, cole slaw (and somebody brought potato salad from elsewhere). Also some very dill pickles. Anything else at Langers is average at best.

                                                                                                  1. Just off of hwy 1 in Pescadero is a hole in he wall called Duarte's Tavern. I never drive up/down the coast without going there (sometimes it's why I drive up/down the coast). The 2 things there that you have to get are the Dungeness Crab Melt and the Cream of Artichoke Soup. Both amazing. Here is a link:

                                                                                                    http://www.duartestavern.com/

                                                                                                    Also, I think you should go to In -n- out if you've never been there. Try the double double and if you like onions get both grilled and raw.

                                                                                                    Have a great trip!

                                                                                                    1. I've been trying to edit the post I made last week to keep the list of options up-to-date as I trim the fat, so to speak. But for the sake of convenience, and hopefully to get some more opinions, here is my list of possibilites as of today:

                                                                                                      Lucques (already have reservation for Sunday Supper)
                                                                                                      Jar (have reservation Monday, but almost definitely cancelling as the hostess said we could not order the Mozzarella Monday items from the dining room)

                                                                                                      Tacos Baja Ensenada
                                                                                                      El Parian
                                                                                                      Langer’s
                                                                                                      Philippe’s
                                                                                                      Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles
                                                                                                      In-n-Out Burger (will probably save this one for somewhere outside LA)
                                                                                                      Pie n’ Burger (more interested in the pie than the burger).

                                                                                                      Hatfield’s
                                                                                                      Grace
                                                                                                      Josie
                                                                                                      Table 8 (salt-crusted porterhouse for 2. My dad is a meat guy.)
                                                                                                      Jar (post-Silverton Mozzarella Mondays still worth it?)

                                                                                                      Spago
                                                                                                      Providence (will my dad hate this place if he doesn't like stronger flavored fish or raw fish? He loves shrimp, lobster, scallops. Hates rare tuna. Enjoys salmon and mild white fleshed fish like snapper/bass. Also, is the dessert tasting menu any good?)
                                                                                                      Sona

                                                                                                      Sweet Lady Jane
                                                                                                      Boule
                                                                                                      Jinn Patisserie
                                                                                                      La Brea
                                                                                                      Frances Bakery
                                                                                                      Bread Bar
                                                                                                      Susina Bakery
                                                                                                      EuroPane
                                                                                                      Kee Wah Chinese Bakery

                                                                                                      Fosselman’s

                                                                                                      General question: How far in advance do the top LA restaurants require one to make reservations? I find it odd that here I am less than two weeks from the trip and there are tons of options on OpenTable still. In NYC I'm used to many restaurants taking reservations up to a month or two in advance. Not that I think one city's situation is better than the other. I just want to better understand what dining in LA is like. I don't want to think of it as a bad thing or the sign of a lack of popularity that many restaurants still have availability, even for a Saturday night. Please enlighten me on this point if possible.

                                                                                                      Another question: What neighborhood or area of LA would you recommend for a "food crawl" kind of thing, where we just pop into several different places and grab something small at each?

                                                                                                      Thanks again for all the help. It is greatly appreciated.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: tupac17616

                                                                                                        A lot of the places still on your list keeps coming up on this thread:
                                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                                                                        People are flakes in this city... I often find that getting a table is pretty easy, even a week out. For example, we weren't able to get into Bin8945 last Saturday but was able to secure a RSVP for this Saturday with NO problem.
                                                                                                        There are often no-show RSVPs. I think that having a RSVP in this town is more for your peace of mind. I could be totally wrong...
                                                                                                        Food crawl in the Monterey Park area would be good. There is all kinds of stuff to be had there! The Ranch 99 market complex off of New Ave. would be PERFECT for a food crawl.

                                                                                                        1. re: tupac17616

                                                                                                          For the Hatfields/Jar/Josie type, about a week beforehand, but you may get lucky. People here will reserve three or four restaurants and show up at one, so you may even, with good timing, be able to walk in. Some places overbook (like airlines), some don't.

                                                                                                          The Langer's/Philippe's, clearly, require no reservations.

                                                                                                          For a "food crawl", I'd say absolutely Garvey near Garfield in Monterey Park for Chinese food (if it's just you, since your dad doesn't like Asian food).

                                                                                                          Skip La Brea Bakery... if you really want to taste their bread, go to any Trader Joe's, Gelsons or Whole Foods.

                                                                                                        2. If you go to Philippe's for the food, you'll be disappointed. You go for the atmosphere and the people watching.

                                                                                                          1. My first time posting so bear with me... Just needed to put in my ten cents on the bakeries. Skip Sweet Lady Jane. A pain to get to and they are sooo snotty there it would be a bad representation of LA. Food isn't worth the attitude.

                                                                                                            I'd also skip La Brea Bakery - not worth the traffic/parking hassles for a little treat/snack.

                                                                                                            I would suggest going to Santa Monica farmer's market on the weekend (can pick up great strawberries, avocados, organic produce in general) and while you are in that general area, go to Cafe Montana for breakfast - only go though if you are going to order the granola French toast with vanilla/raspberry sauce. Everything else is just normal breakfast. Then you can wander around Montana Avenue for a bit.

                                                                                                            Also, I am sure you are reluctant to go to Watergrill cause it is downtown, but it is a very nice restaurant and the desserts there are great! Not fishy fish (I'm not into fishy/fish either and I found plenty on their menu attractive).

                                                                                                            Enjoy your trip...

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: burbankfoodie

                                                                                                              Don't eat fishyfish. Period.

                                                                                                              The Watergrill is super. There is offstreet parking. Wander through the adjacent hotel-luxe.

                                                                                                              The Watergrill is a dreamy restaurant with great drinks, great food, excellent service. It is perfect for special occasions. This is a real grown-up restaurant. You'll have a barrel of fun.

                                                                                                              Anyone who is reluctant to go downtown in LA will have real fun on jury duty.

                                                                                                              1. re: theOracle

                                                                                                                Look at who they replied to -- the OP. The OP lives in San Antonio.

                                                                                                                So why, exactly, would they need to worry about jury duty?

                                                                                                                The Water Grill does have off-street parking but it fills up regularly, leaving you at the mercy of whatever parking lot you can find.

                                                                                                                Downtown isn't scary -- it's just completely unsuited for tourism unless you park outside and take the train in.

                                                                                                            2. For a food-crawl..I would want to mix "sites" for walking, so I recommend the following:

                                                                                                              Chinatown. Start at Phillipe's for that french dip (they are not very big). Go a few blocks West, then walk through Chinatown towards Sunset. There are little delis and bakeries where you can get dim sum to snack on. Walk over to Olvera Street at Sunset for good Mexican, or to Traxx for fancier food in the train station.

                                                                                                              OR

                                                                                                              Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax...I'm not sure if Dupar's has re-opened yet. The Gumbo Pot has excellent po boys (though not an Los Angeles thing), plus there are fresh donuts, ice cream, anything you could want.

                                                                                                              OR

                                                                                                              The pier in Santa Monica...Go to the King's Head for fish and chips, get a slice, etc

                                                                                                              Tables are easy to get here, because the "it" restaurant changes every five minutes and no one can keep up.

                                                                                                              At Caltech you will also be near Burger Continental.

                                                                                                              1. I'm not sure if I can post this here in the LA section, but a famous date shakes place is the candy Shoppe on Santa Claus Lane just South of Santa Barbara as you drive up the 101.

                                                                                                                1. ...oh, and Langers is in a VERY sketchy neighborhood without anything else to do nearby, unless you want to see the Art Deco buildings along Wilshire.

                                                                                                                  1. My opinion on L.A. vs. NYC dining is that the top (priciest) restaurants are the same, whether your in NYC, L.A., wherever. All will be generally excellent. Where L.A. really stands out is in ethnic and mid-tier places. And fast food. Having said that, Lucques is spectacular. I consider Lucques the best fine dining experience I've had in L.A. Patina is a close second.

                                                                                                                    It's sad that your not going to try Japanese or Korean, as L.A. is the best in the US for that.

                                                                                                                    Sweet Lady Jane's berry cake is the best cake I've ever had. Period. It's worth whatever hassle you have to go through to get it (strangely, I never seem to have a problem with service there, though I've heard stories). Their other stuff is ok, but nothing to write home about. But that berry cake is sublime.

                                                                                                                    Jin Patisserie... I thought was ok. Unique and very L.A., with interesting combinations, but seems like your paying more for the packaging. And the place itself is great, very soothing. BTW, it's asian inspired (the owner is asian), if that matters. For my money, Teuscher is the best chocolate in L.A. (but it's not actually from L.A.).

                                                                                                                    I agree on Doughboys. My sister likes it, but I don't get what the big deal is. If your looking for something like that, Urth Cafe is far better. And about as L.A. as you can get.

                                                                                                                    And forget about In/Out burger. It's very L.A., and tasty, but it's still just a fast food chain. If you want the best burger, go to Fathers Office in Santa Monica. Their burger is ridiculously good. People I know start salivating if you just mention it. Including me. Personally, I think they sprinkle it with heroin or something to make you crave it, it's so freaking good. And while your there, get the sweet potato fries. FYI, this is a gourmet burger... high quality beef, carmelized onions, bacon compote, gruyere and blue cheese, arugala. Oh and NO substitutions, they make the burger one way, and that's it.

                                                                                                                    A tasty breakfast place that you wouldn't think of is Pacific Dining Car. It's old school L.A. and a steakhouse, but their breakfast is very tasty. Otherwise, there's Jinky's, John O'Groats, or Patricks Roadhouse.