LA food for weekend visit
We are coming into LA this weekend and need a few lunch spots that are only in LA type places. Price is not an issue, but we are staying near LAX in El Segundo and heading to Pasadena on Saturday. We will travel for good food experiences.
If you want a real LA experience, the best you can do near the airport is check out the Salvadoran restaurant Los Chorros at Century Blvd. and Condon in Inglewood. It's sort of a dive, but great pupusas, fried cord tamales and yuca and chicharron.
Some of LA's best BBQ can also be found not far from the airport at Phillips and Woody's in Inglewood.
What's an LA type place? What kind of food?
My idea of an LA place ranges from The Ivy (either one, they're famous) to La Cabana on Lincoln (Mexican) to Axe on Abbot Kinney (all organic). Having lunch on Sunset Plaza is always great, and feels very LA. Or lunch at The Farm on Beverly Drive feels very LA. As does lunch at Father's Office on a Saturday or Sunday, for the best burger in town.
El Segundo is about 30 minutes south of LA (Santa Monica, Venice, Brentwood) and about 45-50 minutes from West Hollywood. How far are you willing to drive?
We are willing to drive, so that is not an issue. We like all types of food and the only criteria is something that is a true LA experience. I see on the LA boards there are quite a few burger posts, so I was thinking checking out a good burger joint might be in order. Is Pink's worth the drive? It gets a lot of press.
LA is a big place and I am not sure where you're from, so you won't be able to hit all the "only in LA" places. However, if you were to drive through Venice, Culver City, and West LA, you'd hit a number of great places. In Venice, you could check out the fantastic trio of taco trucks/shack near the intersection of Rose/Lincoln. You've got La Oaxaquena taco truck for dinner on Lincoln (get the tlayuda), La Playita taco stand on Lincoln (get the ceviche), and another taco truck for lunch on Rose. Then you could drive into Santa Monica and get a chorizo/cheese taco at Tacos Por Favor. Then you could drive over to Monte Alban in West LA for first class Oaxacan food. Then you could drive down Sepulveda towards Culver City and get a great paleta at Mateo's (bring your own condensed milk if you want to dress up your paleta). Then you can drive into Culver City and stop at the cemitas truck on Venice in front of the Smart & Final. Then you could check out any number of great, fashionable places like Fraiche, Ford's Filling Station, Tender Greens, or the Surfa's Cafe where you can eat fresh food sitting outside in a pleasant setting.
Looking at that itinerary, it's a lot of Mexican food. That's fine. We've got good Mexican food here -- better than anywhere else in the country -- so take advantage of it.
In addition the the other comments, I would eat sushi; it's definitely one of LA's strongpoints.
If you don't have dinner plans Sat. night, on your way back from Pasadena you could stop for sushi at any number of places along Ventura Blvd. (in Studio City) like Tama, Asanebo and the home of the original sushi curmudgeon, Nozawa. Or cross over-the-hill and head to Sushi Zo; of course, others on this board have their favs as well and I'm sure will add on.
Yes, try burgers and mexican food while out here. Burger places I like - Apple Pan, Cassell's, Father's office, Tommy's (make sure it's a real tommy's) fatburger and in n' out. Father's Office is high end burgers. For Mexican try Tito's (americanized tacos). Most of these are fast food type places, nothing fancy smancy.
Concur w/ The Ivy for LA scene.
Babita for nice Mexican; Guelgaguetza or Tacomiendo or Tacos Por Favor for casual.
Sanam Luang or Jitlada for Thai
Musha for Japanese
Soot Bull Jeep or Sa Rit Gol for Korean BBQ
Griddle Cafe for a unique breakfast joint
Urasawa for unbelievable sushi experience
The Lobster for a sunset meal at the pier
Ethiopian at Rahel
Mashti Malone's for unique ice cream
Shamshiri for Persian
Los Balcones de Peru for peruvian
Primo's for buttermilk bars
Bin 8945 tasting menu
...to name a few ideas
The Lobster $$$ is a great place with terrific views of the Pacific. Baby Blues BBQ $ on Lincoln and Rose is a good choice too. Great Place for a drink at sunset is West in the Angelino Hotel off the 405 at Sunset. Clementine in Century City also has great comfort food and perhaps a star sighting or two. In Pasadena I highly recommend Vertical Wine Bar. Have Fun!
The best "only in LA" type experiences people can recommend are taco trucks - barbecue - and fast food hamburgers... No wonder you can't find a Michelin Star restaurant in this town...
As you said you are willing to travel beyond where you are staying...
Try the Grill In the Alley for lunch in Beverly Hills - dine next to power brokers from agents to studio heads to mega producers - only in LA will you see this (food is ok but it is about an LA experience right...? This only works on weekdays - weekends are dead there - but you might try the Ivy and if you have to ask which one -- skip it).
Eat sushi - Nozawa - Sasubune - Sushi Gen - Katsuya or a host of other equally good places depending on your time and location -- LA does few things right if not better than other cities and sushi is one of them.
Go to the Central Market downtown and eat something from Lotteria (taco, torta, etc). It's a small Mexican market worth the trip for lunch - walk around.
Go to Melrose and get in line at Pinks - its an LA hot dog institution - has national recognition from the Tonight Show and its only in LA (I don't eat at Pinks - but whenever guests come to town they ask me where it is).
Go to Campanile - take a table in the front room - look around as you eat your salad - where else can you say you ate lunch in Charlie Chaplin's original studio/offices - only in LA.
Go to the Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel - sit at a table out on the patio - enjoy the 80 degree sunshine in October... So nice - so much Hollywood history - so LA...
Saturday while heading out to Pasadena - keep going to the San Gabriel Valley (near Pasadena) and have dim sum at Elite or Harbour Seafood - while you can get dim sum elsewhere the best and most cutting edge cuisine coming out of LA at the moment is Chinese and it is coming from this area. Afterward pick up a Vietnamese iced coffee from Lee's and time permitting go get a $20 one hour Tibetan foot massage.
Where are you coming from? If you don't live near the ocean, then at least one of your restaurants should be a beach experience. Here are a few lunch suggestions:
1. Ivy At The Shore (1535 Ocean Ave.) - American comfort food done well - great bar with tropical cocktails
2. The Lobster (1602 Ocean Ave.) - located where the Santa Monica Pier begins -already mentioned by Emme and bosanova99
3. Ocean Avenue Seafood (1401 Ovean Ave.) - excellent seafood, fabulous oysters