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Chinatown / Olvera Street / Grand Central Market / Little Tokyo

From looking at the map, it looks that Chinatown, Olvera Street, Grand Central Market and Little Tokyo are within close walking distance and could be explored in a day before heading back to LAX via the Red/Blue/Green Lines.

Are there any favorites or "absolutely can't miss" for grabbing something to nosh on while wandering from one to the other?

TIA for your recs!

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  1. Chinatown and Olvera Street are quite close- in fact they overlap at a street or 2. Little Tokyo would -not- be within walking distance, it's at least a mile away. (if your in good shape and love walking, go right ahead!)

    Both areas are major tourist-traps, and good food isn't a highpoint of either. Overpriced in Olvera Street, and IMHO- not really good in both. Mind you, there -are- places to eat, like Philippe's for French Dip sandwiches that are either beloved or reviled by folks here on CH. I like them just fine, but don't eat there all that much.

    Little Tokyo has -much much much- better eats, to me. Good to great ramen abounds (if you like spicy, Orochon ramen is tops, if you love pork, Daikokuya is your place) and Japanese-American greasy spoons are plentiful. (I personally love most of them, like Suehiro, Koraku...YUM!) Sushi is decent to good, depending on what you like.

    All 3 places are quite interesting to explore- there is history in all of them. Food's only good in Little Tokyo, to me tho.

    1. I actually had some of the best guacamole I've ever had at Olvera Street. I've eaten at La Golondrina which is pretty good--I like the atmosphere. Across the way is a more laid back restaurant called El Paseo (I think)--and it was fabulous.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Emily227

        Atmosphere in Olvera Street is fantastic, I will agree. I don't eat guacamole, so I have no idea if it's good -anywhere-!!*LOL* I've eaten at La Golondrina as well- granted a good many years ago..I just wasen't overly impressed at all by the food, and the price seemed high as well. In a city like LA, getting much better, more authentic Mexican isn't hard to do, and is worth looking for. For instance, I don't think Mole is served anywhere in Olvera Street, and that's a huge thing for me. (If it is served- please let me know, and i'll be down ASAP! It's been about 5 years since i've visited Olvera Street)

        If your in Chinatown, you may want to head to Empress Pavillion. Like Philippe's it's got it's share of lovers and haters out there. I've enjoyed all my visits highly, and think the food's great. If you want to get dim sum, it's first on my list to go to. (if you do a chowhound search on it, you'll pull up numerous debates of it's "downhill decline" over the past few years.) I also personally like Hop Louie, for both it's design and food.

        1. re: Honeychan

          honeychan: What do you usually get at Hop Louie? I'm dying to find a good place in Chinatown, both for eat-in and takeout.

          I assume it's Cantonese, right?

          Thanks.

        2. While both Olvera Street and Chinatown are pretty poor places for good grub, I'll give you a rec for each place.

          Olvera Street: Cielito Lindo for the taquitos.

          Little Tokyo: Fugetsudo for mochi.

          Grand Central: Wet carne asada burrito

          Chinatown: There's nothing good to eat here. Even the rats have left.

          12 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Wow. Harsh comment about Chinatown!

            Which stall at Grand Central do you get your burrito?

            Also heard that on Olvera Street, you can get a great Mexican hot chocolate at Casa de Souza and decent churros at Mr. Churros.

            1. re: Liquid Sky

              Tacos Tumbras A Tomas.

              It's on your left hand side if you enter from the Broadway entrance, if I recall correctly.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  and their lengua taco's rock as well.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I didn't know they had wet burritos! Their Carne Asada burrito is truly delicious but its a heart attack waiting to happen. But ooh sooo good.

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  I still recommend Golden City in Chinatown since it's probably the last oldtime restaurant left. In fact, I just saw it last night in Jackie Chan's 80s movie called "Rush Hour" in several of his scenes with Chris Rock. Still draw a good crowd at lunch times. That's gotta tell you something?

                  1. re: Clinton

                    I had the worst Chinese meal of my life here. It was inedible. Squid so rubbery it just couldn't be chewed, etc. There are many better places in Chinatown. Plum Tree Inn was decent, although I think they've moved. I like CBS on Spring and Ord. I've had good meals at Empress Pavilion, although I haven't been there in a year or so. The "B" Dash bus goes from Chinatown to City Hall and it's walking distance to GCM or Little Tokyo from there.

                    1. re: Clinton

                      Golden City, or Foo Chow? Foo Chow is the one that boasts the Jackie Chan claim. I've found the food there to be pretty meh, but recommended by Mark Bittman: http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/12/03/....

                      If I had to eat a meal in Chinatown, I'd go with Sam Woo on Broadway. Not what it used to be, but not awful.

                      1. re: garvanza girl

                        It's the one that has the signs that they were in some Jackie Chan movie. I thought it was Golden City. Could be wrong... In any event, Sam Woo does have decent food. I always liked their duck noodle soup.

                        1. re: garvanza girl

                          Foo Chow was across the street from Golden City. That was the scene where Jackie did his hilarious "War" (what is it good for?) impersonation skit. Sam Woo is pretty good for roast duck as well as their won ton noodle soup. My favorite for beef stew (gnau nam) won ton noodle soup is still Golden City...and that hasn't changed since the 60s. Ever since Hong Kong Low shut down a few months ago, decent take out dim sum is hard to find in LA Chinatown. For quick and dirty, I just pick up take out at Lucky Deli on Broadway. Not the best but convenient.

                          1. re: Clinton

                            Beef stew wonton noodle soup... that sounds good! Do they add a lot of MSG though?

                            1. re: Liquid Sky

                              Most probably? Their soup stock is what gives it the flavor. Hasn't changed since I began eating there. The beef stew is made with brisket and beef tendons flavored with five star anise. Typical Hong Kong street food I was told. Great comfort dish.

                    2. The original comment has been removed
                      1. Others have said it well already - Chinatown and Olvera Street do cater towards the tourist palate. It's been ages since I've been to either, but when spent more time in the area, my favorites used to be:

                        Chinatown: Family Pastry on Spring Street for takeout dim sum. Zero atmosphere, not for clean freaks or germophobes, but you can get a giant box of dim sum for under ten bucks and feed an army!

                        Olvera Street: La Luz del Dia, for carnitas and handmade tortillas.

                        Little Tokyo: Hanaichimonme for noodles and an as-close-to-being-in-Tokyo atmosphere as you can get here. Suehiro for cheap comfort food and good people watching.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: garvanza girl

                          Hanaichimonme is good, but a different type of ramen. My DH actually hates what they make, but I like it as a change of pace from Orochon. Hanaichimonme is -fantastic- (at least they used to be) on Japanese-style of desserts, parfaits and sweet beverages. Their lemon squash is the best i've tasted, nice and really tart! I like their atmosphere, even if that indoor mall is quite abandonded.