Must Eats Before I go??
I have lived in LA for four years and tried to hit lots of great restaurants. I will be moving in about a year and want to hit the rest of the hot spots from cheap to expensive. Please help me start my list!!
Langer's for pastrami sandwich
Sushi Gen for sashimi lunch
Din Tai Fung for soup dumplings: yes, there are mixed reviews on this, but this is the only location in the entire U.S., so it is worth a try if you haven't been
Sea Harbour for dim sum lunch
Other, more general eats:
Really good Mexican restaurant
Korean restaurant (BBQ and soon tofu places)
Where will you be moving to? I recommend you get your fill of great Mexican food, because most other places don't have good Mexican at all. Whenever I go out of town, I always can't wait to eat a big fat burrito as soon as I get back to LA. I love El Compadre on Sunset and especially La Paz in El Segundo. Some people like La Parilla downtown, but I'm not personally a big fan of it. There's also Tito's Tacos, and a multitude of taco trucks - http://tacohunt.blogspot.com/
Dan Tana's - great food; fun old-school Hollywood vibe
Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel - also old Hollywood, but fancier, I had the best breakfast ever here
Roscoe's - for the ingenious combination of fried chicken and waffles! and it's very inexpensive, like $9 I think for the combo. I like the location on Pico west of La Brea best.
maybe Pink's for the experience - the hot dogs are good too, I hate that long line though
If you're moving to Chicago, then focus on getting your fill of Korean (Sa Rit Gol, Soot Bull Jeep), sushi (Sushi Zo, Sushi Sasabune, Kiriko), Indian (Woodlands, Annapurna), Mexican (Monte Alban, Tacos Baja Ensenada, Taco Nazo, La Playita), Persian (Shamshiri), Lebanese (Sunnin), dim sum (Ocean Star), dumplings (Mei Long Village, J&J, Din Tai Fung), and cheese (Beverly Hills Cheese Store).
Sljivovica is indeed great stuff (though the spelling varies wildly, especially after several shots - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slivovitz ).
But you'll be able to find it in Chicago - any Polish or Serbian or Bosnian bar will have it (or Croatian, or Bulgarian, or Czech, or ...). These places probably don't have the best Chicken Marsala in the country, but there is great Polish food in Chicago.
Eat tons of Mexican and Chinese food while you're still in LA.
Lisa, I'm from Chicago, and I also lived in LA for 3 1/2 yrs. There are places in LA that I miss (Roscoes, In N'Out, The Kitchen, etc) but no worries..chicago has a lot to offer in the food dept. there aren't TONS of korean, but great mexican, sushi, pizza (obv) indian, Ethiopian, Persian, thai, etc etc. lots to choose from. I'd say if anything, go up to San Fran and have some chinese before you go. We've got it, but that's the best.
My expensive must list: Spago, Chinoise, Saddle Peak Lodge, Valentino, Melisse, Ritz Carlton (for dinner & brunch), and grilled veggie salad/chocolate chip cookies at The Ivy.
My moderate-priced must list: Dan Tana's, Dar Maghreb, Crustacean, Il Moro, Pinot Bistro.
My cheap must list: French Dip at Philippe's, Apple Pan, Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, Zankou Chicken, a good Mexican restaurant--lot's to choose from (e.g., Sol y Luna, Border Grill, Lucy's El Adobe, El Cholo, La Serenata, Loteria, etc.)
There are Ritz Carltons everywhere, so I wouldn't necessarily say it's a place one must dine at before leaving LA. I've eaten at at least 5 different Ritz's and there aren't many differences.
The Ivy though - gotta love that huge salad. Go to the Robertson location for a weekday lunch and sit on the patio - it's so 'LA.'