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What are your favorite, small local food chains?

I'm very fond of Carnitas Michoacan and Farmer Boy's. So far as I know they only exist in the Greater L.A. area. What are some of the other local chains that you like?

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  1. How many is a chain?

    If it's two or more, then I like Tacomiendo a ton. I go to the one on Inglewood (near Culve) and the one on Gateway (near Pico).

    I like all the tacos, prepared on fresh tortillas. Mostly I order carnitas and pollo. I sometimes order their pollo burrito and it's good, even though it falls apart and I honestly prefer refried beans in a burrito than whole pintos. My younger son lives on the chicken quesadilla and one of the smoothies (I forget which one).

    I think Bagel Factory has great bagels and great soups. I go to the one on Sepulveda, though the commissary one is on Robertson near Cadillac.

    There are probably others, too. I like some of the Campos burritos places, particularly the one at Pico and 20th where they have turkey tacos. I like Tanner's for coffee, but I only go to the one on Sepulveda near Culver.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PaulF

      campos! taquitos. chunky beef burritos with chile colorado, wet. eaten on chips. my comfort food. i spend a lot of time at zankou too, and sometimes i wake up with a craving for (blush) one of those Polish burgers at the shack, and the big mess or the chilaquiles (really more like migas) at eat well.

      1. A few mostly L.A.-limited chains off the top of my head:

        El Gallo Giro taquerias for tortas, tortillas, and killer salsa verde. El Taco Nazo for shrimp & fish tacos.

        Shin Sen Gumi's array of Japanese specialist restaurants

        Pollo a la Brasa, and to a lesser degree, El Pollo Inka's Peruvian roasted chicken

        Cho Dang's soon tofu, Soot Bull Jeep for Korean BBQ

        Phillip's BBQ and Woody's BBQ

        Phoenix Food Boutique for the Chinese desserts (the jellies and custards, not the baked desserts, which are meh)

        Skooby's for the garlic lover's dog and the fries, when the cooks pay attention. Quality's inconsistent, I find.

        Pho 79 and Mr. Baguette for Viet noodles & sandwiches, respectively.

        Little Sheep for "Mongolian" hot pot (although this is a global chain with three L.A. stores).

        Killer Shrimp for pretty decent cajun style shrimp.

        Gelato Paradiso's ice creams and the Filing Station's pies

        1. I also like Versailles. People here don't, and its inconsistent but its not too expensive and I like their lechon asado.

          1. SinBaLa for Taiwanese sausages (in Arcadia and Rowland Heights)

              1. re: yogachik

                Oh I love Poquito Mas. The carnitas burrito.... YUM!

              2. Tops Hamburgers two in Pasadena and oine in Monrovia. Though there seems to be some friction between the Pasadena sites.

                Puebla Tacos in Pasadena (3)

                Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, all over L.A.

                1 Reply
                1. re: martyR

                  Yeah, what's with the Tops thing? The ads for the one on Walnut acknowledge the existence only of the Monrovia store, not the one out on East Colorado.

                  I'll second your nomination of Roscoe's, too, with some qualifications. I'm glad they're here, especially the one just around the corner from me, but I wish I could love them more. Too much of their food seems a bit thrown together by folks who are just doing their jobs...

                2. For something completly different, as MP would say, how about South African in Van Nuys & Long Beach:


                  1. Yuchun for chik neng myun! Sorry, I have Korean cold noodles on the brain.

                    I'm also a big fan of Little Fat Sheep hot pot, especially the lamb cumin variety.

                    And, dare I say it, Pinkberry is quite good. Way better than Bigg Chill, IMO. And if you don't add fruit, it's not any more overpriced than any other ice cream/gelato shop on the west side. They really gouge you on the fruit, that's for sure.

                    1. Ameci Pizza & Pasta.
                      I like SOME of the El Taco Llama restaurants.
                      John's Philly Grille.

                        1. okay, it's cheating, but a fave of mine USETA be Uncle Darrow's, when they had a Venice Blvd. outpost. dang, I loved that little shack...(and haven't summoned the wherewithal to make it to the MdR location, me being Eagle Rock and all)

                          1. I love Stonefire grill. They have great tri-tip and garlic chicken. The pizzas are wonderful and they have some of the best salads around. The bread sticks, covered in parmesan cheese and garlic butter, are orgasmic. On top of that they are very reasonable. I know they are in Valencia, Woodland Hills and they are currently building one in Chatsworth.

                            1. I second Poquito Mas, Pinkberry and Little Sheep.

                              1. Casita's Tacos on Magnolia in Noho and on Lankershim and Cahuenga. Their burritos are hugs and damn tasty!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: pmcdonald

                                  Second on Casita Taco:
                                  1300 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood
                                  405 N Victory Blvd. Burbank, CA
                                  4615 Lankershim Blvd. Universal City(ish)

                                  1. re: Briggs

                                    Another vote for Casita Taco, although I think the one on Magnolia is better than the one on Lankershim.
                                    I also like El Taco Llama (again, the one on Magnolia) and Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles

                                2. Soccorro's has fantastic hand-made tortillas. There are 3 of them in the SFV. I go to the one on Victory just west of Van Nuys Blvd.

                                  Also - Guelaguetza is pretty tasty Oaxacan food. I've been to two different branches, both in Koreatown.

                                      1. I've only been to Sharky's Woodfire Grill (in Pasadena) once, but I liked it. I think most of their locations are in CA, with only one in Utah. Their fare is mostly organic and imo, better than oh say, Baja Fresh.

                                        For lack of a better chain that offers a similarly fun dining experience, The Melting Pot.

                                        I also like The Farm in BH and The Grove for salads, sandwiches, and those brownies.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: chica

                                          While Sharky's is still local, they are beginning to expand. I actually was going to post about this place, as I just tried their outpost in Beverly Hills, and I can say it is far and above Baja Fresh and La Salsa. For a chain "fresh" baja-style place, I'd pick it above the others in the genre, for flavor at minimum. They also have the advantage of serving a lot of organic foods among their goods.


                                        2. And once Chili My Soul expands to a location beyond Encino, that will receive my vote.

                                          1. Zankou. Tops. Porto's & Dona Rosa(now that they have a second).

                                            1. I like La Barca in Bell and surrounding area(s) for birria and other mexican dishes-albondigas, cocido, flautas. Great aguas frescas in a clean comfortable space.

                                              1. Zankou is okay but how can we forget California Chicken Cafe?! Way more sides and absolutely fantastic vegetable soup.

                                                Poquito Mas.


                                                In 'n Out.

                                                Pho 79.

                                                1. yes!!! carnitas michoacan ALL THE WAY. i basically grew up on that stuff (went to the big korean church right next to it).

                                                  - urth cafe
                                                  - wahoo's
                                                  - pinkberry
                                                  - that bakery across from din tai fung (jr bakery?)
                                                  - little sheep
                                                  - hurry curry
                                                  - curry house (i like curry, hehe)

                                                  1. Akbar Indian food (Santa Monica, Marina del rey, Pasadena). Its where local Indians go for good, inexpensive Indian food. They make a to die for Chicken Korma off the menu. Enjoy!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: parkavegirl

                                                      Of the two, I prefer All India Cafe in Pasadena (and Santa Barbara so I guess it's a chain). Everyone else must have,too,(when they were side-by-side) since Akbar moved way down the street.

                                                    2. El Pollo Inka is in the Southbay in a few places, not sure where else. But they have great Incan food, noteably the Lomo Saltado.

                                                      1. - Mandarin Deli (Chinatown, Monterey Park, Northridge)

                                                        - Spumoni (Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Agoura Hills, Valencia)

                                                        - Ramayani (Westwood, Rowland Heights)