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Vote for the best Hole-In-The-Wall (Michelin-style)

Obviously the Michelin guide has a different, more rigorous set of standards. But hole-in-the-wall restaurants are a vital part of the Los Angeles food scene, and deserve just as much recognition as their white-linen cousins. And while I'm sure we would all love to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant every time we go out, chances are we're more likely to hit up something a bit less lofty. Plus, finding these hidden gems are what Chowhound is all about. So I propose we vote for who think are best, in the style of the Michelin guide:

3 stars - Worth making your destination
2 stars - Worth a detour
1 star - Interesting, if you're already the area

Here are my votes for the, uh, Micholein Guide. Don't be afraid to let your neighborhoood bias shine since you probably know your immediate surroundings the best.

Hungry Cat

Pie N Burger
Beverly Soon Tofu
Pho 79 (San Gabriel)
Vito's Pizza

Chili My Soul
Cactus Taqueria
Pho So 1
Las Fuentes
Village Pizzeria
Father's Office

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  1. three stars--samosa house
    two stars--hungry pocket for falafal sandwiches (across the street from santa monica college)

    don't know if they are too fancy to be considered a 'hole-in-the-wall' but rahel for ethiopian food on fairfax--three stars

    6 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      I second Samosa House. That place is seriously awesome.

      1. re: Slatty

        is samosa house on washington in mar vista? is there more than one?

        1. re: dtud

          there is only one
          11510 W Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA, 90066. (310) 398-6766

          1. re: westsidegal


            Samosa House East‎
            10700 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232-3314
            (310) 559-6350‎

            1. re: vicious

              You can hardly call WRONG when she was right when she wrote that in 2007...so she was RIGHT at the time...

              1. re: vicious

                check the date of the original post.
                it was correct as of the time of posting: 12/2/2007.

      2. Three Stars
        Woodlands Pure Chatsworth
        Rahel Veggie Cuisine Little Ethiopia
        Leda's Bake Shop
        Artisan Cheese Gallery

        Two Stars
        El Katracho Van Nuys
        Alexis Greek Northridge
        Follow Your Heart Canoga Park

        One Star
        Chili My Soul
        Lucky Baldwin's
        Kyushu Ramen
        Studio Yogurt

        3 Replies
        1. re: Diana

          well, if we're including yogurt places, sno:la gets 3 stars from me.

          1. Michelin does acknowledge outstanding cheaper options in it's Bib Gourmand category. These are usually places you can have a full dinner for under (I think) $25.

            Mine would be:
            3 Stars - Guelaguetza, Musha, Orris, La Buca
            2 Stars - Beechwood, Father's Office, 3 Square, Meals By Genet, Sabor a Mexico
            1 Star - Abbot's Pizza, Sakura House, Hinano, Il Tramezzino, J&J, Shamshiri

            13 Replies
            1. re: hrhboo

              Bib Gourmand is still a place where you're expected to have a French-style three-course meal (entrée, plat, dessert), though.

              3 Stars - Santouka, Skaf's, La Huasteca, Porto's, Tony's Little Italy, Tsuruhashi, El Taco Nazo
              2 Stars - Raffi's, Shamshiri, Top Falafel (NH), Spumoni, Park's BBQ, Banh Mi Che Cali, Banh Mi Cho Cu
              Too many 1 Stars to count

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Not really. The Bib Gourmand restaurants for LA include Kiriko, Baran, Cholada, Lares, La Serenata, Hide, Monte Alban, Nyala and many others where 3-course meals are not necessarily the norm.

                1. re: hrhboo

                  I can't believe I forgot Monte Alban, Shamshiri and Guelaguetza. I'll give 'em all a star.

                  La Super Rica gets two stars from me. I don't know if I'd drive to Santa Barbara just for their calabacita, but I'd definitely swing by.

                  1. re: SauceSupreme

                    With you on La Super Rica. expensive, but i love their sunday pozole.

                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Shamshiri doesn't really strike me as a hole in the wall place though...

                  1. re: banquisha

                    It's not a hole in the wall but it's a little hidden restaurant and not exactly the height of elegance, you know?

                    1. re: banquisha

                      shamshiri is good stuff.

                      I love the beef soltani. But the best deal on the menu there is the shwarma.

                    2. re: Das Ubergeek

                      porto's? really? I disagree whole heartedly. There is nothing noteworthy about their food.

                      1. re: 1newyorkguy

                        More for me then -- their pastries, potato balls and cakes are terrific.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          I don't know of any fruit tart better than theirs.

                        2. re: 1newyorkguy

                          Wow, have you tried the pastries? The guava strudel? The meringue frosted cakes? The mango mousse?

                          1. re: NeNePie

                            And I've got to give love to their sandwiches. Their medianoche preperada is my ultimate comfort food fix.

                            1. re: NeNePie

                              I hate guava, yet somehow love their guava/cream cheese tarts. Weird.

                      2. 3 stars: Monte Alban, Mateo's Paletas, Brent's Deli, Woodlands, La Super Rica, Tacos Baja Ensenada, Sa Rit Gol, Phillippe's

                        2 stars: Mama's Hot Tamales, 3 Square, Brodard, Skaf's, Mei Long Village

                        1 star: Antica Pizzeria

                        Would taco trucks ever make the list? You'd think Michelin of all people would embrace the taco truck...

                        1. ONE STAR
                          Won Won Kitchen
                          Sin Ba La
                          Dai Ho
                          Wood Spoon
                          Seafood Village
                          Yuca's (for the burgers)
                          Golden Deli

                          TWO STARS
                          Sushi Ike
                          Luscious Dumplings
                          Chang's Garden

                          THREE STARS
                          Sea Harbour
                          Park's BBQ

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Having made numerous detours and something like three full crosstown trips to Pann's, I would give it another star at least. I do agree with your two-star choices, though Julienne qualifies IF you're in the general vicinity and IF your bank balance is healthy. Fosselman's worth a detour? Hey, that's why we patronize the Alhambra Costco!

                            As for making my own list, I just can't. Whatever place I'm eating in right now is usually my favorite...

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              "Fosselman's worth a detour? Hey, that's why we patronize the Alhambra Costco!"

                              Spoken like a true intrepid chowhound. My favorite treat? A Costco churro matched with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream from Fosselman's.

                              1. re: ipsedixit


                                ipsedixit, we do that all the time! GO to costco, pick up a churro, and then go to fosselman's

                                taro/cherry vanilla FTW

                                1. re: ns1

                                  ohhhhhh FOSSELMANS!!! :)
                                  yumyum delicious TARO :)

                          2. 3 Stars: Monte Alban, Vito's, El Taurino, Newport Seafood (Santa Ana), Langer's
                            2 Stars: Mei Long Village, Din Tai Fung, Surya, India's Grill
                            1 Stars: Tuk Tuk, Yabu (La Cienega), Versailles (La Cienega), Chabuya, Absolutely

                            Guess where I live?

                            2 Replies
                            1. THREE STARS
                              Father’s Office
                              John O’Groats
                              La Super Rica

                              TWO STARS
                              Casa Bianca
                              Chili John’s
                              Swinging Door
                              Yang Chow

                              ONE STAR
                              The Bucket
                              Fat Jack’s
                              Fred 62
                              Gumbo Pot

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: maxzook

                                I'm surprised to see Fred 62 on this otherwise stellar list. The meals I've had there over the last couple years have been pretty mediocre.

                                1. re: glutton

                                  The definition of one star is "Interesting, if you're already in the area." I live within walking distance of Fred 62 and I have breakfast there four or five times a week. I wouldn't recommend anyone drive from Tustin to go there, that's for sure.

                                  As they say, YMMV. Come to think of it, I was in the area of Encino last night and I had dinner at The Stand, which probably deserves to be on the one-star list as well.

                                  1. re: glutton

                                    Always derided Fred 62 based on lunch and dinner, recently had b-fast there and surprised that it was above decent for in the area.
                                    Agree with other post , no Chichen Itza ? 3!
                                    Also not mentioned Marouch, Carousel- 2
                                    Parus, Yuca's for the taco's -1

                                  2. re: maxzook

                                    Hey Max,

                                    what do you like at Fat Jack's? I've lived a couple blocks from there for a while now but have never been.

                                    1. re: roasted138

                                      Fat Jack's is the Official Restaurant For After You've Been Kicked Out Of Nozawa For Asking For California Roll.

                                      Triple Fat Jack with everything and steak fries. Here's a menu:


                                      Fat Jacks
                                      11402 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA

                                  3. LAWL Sauce... I'ma upend your rules a little bit, take out the budget criteria, and just make my own dang personal Michelin guide. They're ALL destination places anyway, as far as I'm concerned, depending on what I'm craving at the moment, and if there's any place I've forgotten, chalk it up to... exclusivity! Yeah, that's it!

                                    * * * Manpuku
                                    * * * Mon Land Hot Pot
                                    * * * Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori
                                    * * * Sushi Zo
                                    * * * Tama-en
                                    * * * The Boiling Crab

                                    * * Asa Ramen
                                    * * El Taurino
                                    * * Golden Deli
                                    * * Ichimi-an Honten
                                    * * Little Fat Sheep
                                    * * Mei Long Village
                                    * * Park's BBQ
                                    * * Quality Seafood
                                    * * Ruen Pair
                                    * * Santouka Ramen
                                    * * Torimatsu
                                    * * The Hungry Cat
                                    * * Yu Chun

                                    * 101 Noodle Express
                                    * Albene's
                                    * Bacon-wrapped Hot Dog Guy
                                    * Daikokuya
                                    * Dan Sung Sa
                                    * Gaja
                                    * Gardena Ramen
                                    * Gingergrass
                                    * Hakata Shin-Sen-Gumi
                                    * Han Bat
                                    * Hanaichimonme
                                    * Hoan Kiem
                                    * Honda-ya
                                    * Izakaya Kan Yuzen
                                    * Kiriko
                                    * Kokkekokko
                                    * Kyochon
                                    * Lee's Sandwiches
                                    * Orochon Ramen
                                    * Papa George's Hy-Mart Deli
                                    * Pho 79 (Alhambra)
                                    * Ramen-ya
                                    * Ryo Zan Paku
                                    * So Kong Dong
                                    * Sushi Don Sasabune
                                    * That Taco Stand at Vermont and Venice or was it Pico
                                    * Yabu
                                    * Yakitoriya

                                    oh and uh,

                                    * * * * T-------
                                    (Think the Michelin guys made it in there? "Reservation sil vous plait?" "Eh, to... eh... to... mmm... gomen...")

                                    yeah. i know. i'm super bored at work as our clients are out for the day.

                                    31 Replies
                                    1. re: rameniac

                                      I really doubt that even the Michelin guys made it to That Secret House On Pico That Shall Not Be Named.

                                      1. re: SauceSupreme


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico


                                        Teriyaki House on Pico

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Yeah that's the one. Sssh! Don't tell anyone! They can't get in anyway!

                                      2. re: rameniac

                                        Wow! Very impressive. Even in alphabetical order.

                                        1. re: rameniac

                                          Rameniac, we are both pigs I have pretty much the same list but i'll list anyway.

                                          3 Stars
                                          Seafood Village
                                          So Kong Dong
                                          Han Bat Shul-Lung Tang (hangover soup)
                                          Park's BBQ
                                          Mien Nghia
                                          Golden Deli
                                          Shin Sen Gumi - Yakitori and Ramen
                                          Sushi Zo
                                          Yuca's - burger and cochinita pibil
                                          Musha - torrance
                                          Father's Office
                                          Elite Restaurant

                                          2 Stars
                                          Viet Soy Cafe
                                          Corner Place
                                          Pho 79
                                          Noodle King
                                          Yun Gui Garden
                                          Dumpling 10053
                                          Kiriko Sushi
                                          Sushi Komasa

                                          1 Star
                                          Terried Sake House
                                          Honda Ya/Kappo Honda
                                          Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa - bun bo hue
                                          Fatburger - with EGG!
                                          Sanuki No Sato
                                          Mario's Peruvian

                                          1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                                            Okay, I've passed Mien Nghia on Garvey for YEARS and never stopped in. What's good there?

                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                              mien nghia serves chiuchow style noodles with stuff like fish balls and shredded chicken atop a half egg noodle/half pho noodle concotion. our good buddy edbm mainlines their soups like a fish guzzles water...


                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                haha thanks rameniac.

                                                das ubergeek, seriously, i've been there over 25 times. they know me by name.

                                                if you eat there, i recommend the chinatown location over rosemead/alhambra locations. try out #36 with fresh chicken (from poultry shop around the corner) and fresh fish slices on egg/rice noodles. try with their homemade saute sauce (i bought my own jar for home) and pickled green chiles. their chicken stock is quite flavorful.

                                                1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                                                  Mmmmm... you know, I always thought, "Could that be a Chaozhou place?" I will definitely make a point of stopping in when I get out that way at a time that makes sense... perhaps one day I'll deke out of work a bit early and make a C-town detour on my train ride home.

                                                  About that poultry shop... they wouldn't happen to carry roosters, would they?

                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                    Uber, i'm sure they have all walks of life in that store haha.

                                                    reply back once you try Mien Nghia. Not my favorite Chao Zhou (chiu chow) place, but definitely a solid soup. My favorite Chao Zhou place is in Santa Ana, called Trieu Chau Restaurant on Newhope/1st St.

                                                    Straying off topic, i saw your fish taco face-off topic recently. loved it. i had to do my own fish taco taste-off... with Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada, Siete Mares and Tacos Baja Ensenada in East LA. I still have one more to add to the list... El Taco Nazo. posting will be on my blog next week. cheers.

                                                    1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                                                      Trieu Chau, huh??

                                                      Hm... I *am* on my own for dinner tonight... and I live in Anaheim... and I'm home early for once... hard to decide between the "legal crack" pizza of Luigi's D'Italia or driving down to Trieu Chau... hmmmmmmm...

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        Yeah, great soup. not sure what you're into, but i always get the beef ball/fried fish cake rice noodles. seafood rice noodles is good too. i think they open from 7am - 5 pm and expect lines and random table mates at your table. they stopped opening at night b/c of gang shootings around the area.

                                                        4401 W 1st St
                                                        Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                                        1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                                                          Alas, I am reading this AFTER I went to go check it out. I went to "New Trieu Chau" instead, and it was a crime against food.

                                                          I noticed a bunch of random people standing in the shadows as I peeled out of the lot. That's not a good sign in Santa Ana.

                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                            note that edbm didn't put trieu chau oin his quasi-michelin list, despite it being his fave chiuchow place. a simple oversight? or could it be because of a traumatic experience there? dah dah daaaaahahaha...

                                              2. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                                                i keep seeing Park's BBQ. what and where is this?

                                                1. re: fatnoodles

                                                  It's the board favorite for Korean BBQ and it's located in K town.

                                                  Park's BBQ
                                                  955 S Vermont Ave
                                                  Los Angeles, CA 90006
                                                  (213) 380-1717

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    They make a marinated kalbi -- that is, rib plus a long ribbon of meat about a foot long -- that is the best friggin' piece of meat ever to be associated with the Korean people.

                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                      i must agree with Das... the belt o' beef is truly a beauty. nothing is easier than grilling a long length of beef. only 1 flip and it's ready to be devoured. Park's is also known for its solid and tasty line of ban chan... 11 i counted last time i went.

                                                      1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                                                        the spicy raw crab banchan at park's approaches divinity, as far as spicy raw crab banchans go. whatever that means.

                                                    2. re: Servorg

                                                      Das, EDBM, Rameniac,

                                                      Would Park's be your favorite Korean BBQ place of all-time? :) I've been searching...

                                                      1. re: exilekiss

                                                        i'd have to say so, at least based on my kbbq (not counting yakiniku) experiences in LA - cham sut gol, soot bul jeep, chosun galbi, shurabal, etc. i think the quality of the meat at park's is tops, and if you stick to the salted, non-marinated cuts there, you can't go wrong. some of the other places might have deeper flavor in their marinade, but for an overall kbbq experience, i'd go with park's.

                                                        however, there are a billion kbbq places in town so there might be better, but i haven't found anything else yet. ...paging meowmixx!!

                                                        1. re: rameniac

                                                          I love love love Park's bbq. Best banchan selection. Good service. Great quality meats. The rest of their menu rocks too. It is pricier than other places but it's really good stuff.

                                                          My other go-to korean bbq place recently has been Su Won Soot Bull Galbi on Vermont, between 8th and 9th (in the tiny shopping plaza with the laundromat). Meats are about $8-12 cheaper than at Park's. Not as high quality but solid stuff. Not as much banchan either but the ones they do give you are good. And the ladies who work here are REALLY nice.

                                                          1. re: MeowMixx

                                                            wow! thanks, i must try. how is it compared to Ma Dang Sae on vermont? it's our current favorite hole in the wall AYCE bbq place in k-town.

                                                            1. re: fatnoodles

                                                              I didn't care much for Ma Dang Sae the few times I've been. For AYCE joints, I'd have to go for Soot Bull Gui Rim on 6th and Manhattan (haven't been to Gui Rim 2). It gets smoky as heck inside from the charcoal but service is great and the meat is I think the best around for AYCE.

                                                        2. re: exilekiss

                                                          Favourite?? Hmmmm... well, it IS charcoal-fired (though lit by gas), but it depends on my mood. It's not "nice" enough for a nice dinner (that is reserved for Chosun Galbee in K-Town and Sagan in Buena Park); they don't have dduk, like Shik Do Rak.

                                                          That said, that "roll o' MEAT" is pretty convincing. It's definitely in my top 5.

                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                            DU you say "though lit by gas" As opposed to what, lighter fluid? What else do they use to light the charcoal at the charcoal places like Soot Bull Jeep, et al?

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              park's might have gas fires going underneath the charcoal. as opposed to, say, tama-en in the south bay, which has solid metal pots of moku tan.

                                                              1. re: rameniac

                                                                Exactly... there's gas flame continually on underneath the charcoal at Park's, where at other places they use the gas to light the charcoal and then kill the gas once the coals are lit.

                                                            2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                              Thanks Das.

                                                              Do you have a link for your "nice" K-BBQ joints? :) I tried looking here for Chosun Galbee but found nothing.

                                                                1. re: exilekiss

                                                                  Links below...

                                                                  9691 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                                                                  Sagan Korean & Japanese Restaurant
                                                                  7801 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620

                                                    3. Three Stars
                                                      Krua Thai-North Hollywood

                                                      1. D'oh! Forgot about Jitlada (three stars).

                                                        1. What? No Chichen Itza?

                                                          r gould-saltman

                                                          no avatar

                                                          1. ***: J&J (SGV), El Parian, Mario's Peruvian, Bay Cities, Sanamluang, Empress Pavillion, Phillipe
                                                            **: J&J Burger Shack, Apple Pan, Vivoli, Irv's Burgers, Father's Office
                                                            *: Twin Dragon, Vito's, Ro-Ro, El Pollo Brassa, Traktir, Marty's, Sake House, Greenblatt's, Bowery

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: VealParmGuy

                                                              I've been by Twin Dragon many times and it doesn't really seem like a hole in the wall at all.

                                                            2. Speaking of hole in the walls, I'm wondering about all the pizza, burger, Greek, etc. places on Hollywood between Vine and, oh, say La Brea. I know Skooby's, but are any of these other places decent? There's so many, and frankly, I've always assumed they were all no good. But maybe some of them are?

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: keaton

                                                                Definitely NOT Miceli's. Worst Italian food I've ever had.

                                                              2. What? No Dino's for the chicken meal?

                                                                1. how are you defining "hole-in-the-wall?"

                                                                  some of the restaurants mentioned in this thread are, to me, mid-priced.

                                                                  1. Three...
                                                                    Jitlada Thai
                                                                    Monte Alban
                                                                    Los Balcones de Peru
                                                                    Sanam Luang
                                                                    Urasawa (okay it's SOOOO not hole-in-the-wall)
                                                                    Bay Cities

                                                                    Two Stars
                                                                    Mashti Malone's
                                                                    Coupa Cafe
                                                                    Mario's Peruvian
                                                                    Chocolatt... the Belgian chocolate place on Wilshire near Bundy
                                                                    Amandine (for a croissant)

                                                                    One Star
                                                                    Elysee Bakery
                                                                    Babalu (can we say banana cream or coconut cream pie!)
                                                                    Diddy Riese
                                                                    Eat Well (addicted to the buddha bowl...)
                                                                    The Yogurt Factory
                                                                    Aunt Kizzy's
                                                                    A Cow Jumped Over the Moon
                                                                    Whole Foods Salad Bar (Santa Monica, El Segundo, Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks)
                                                                    Chili My Soul

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                                      I'm surprised to see Crumbs... I went there for the first time yesterday and was very underwhelmed. The cupcakes are enormous, big enough that even a pig like me gets a sugar high tummy ache afterwards. They should sell the small cupcakes by the piece so that you could get two or three of them. The cupcake itself wasn't bad -- the frosting was pretty good, the cake was moist and fresh, etc. The flavors seemed entirely targeted at 12 year olds who simply want a sweeter and sweeter cupcake. And I say this as someone who has an enormous sweet tooth (i.e. I'd main-line maple sugar candy if I could).

                                                                      When will this whole cupcake frenzy just die down so that the cupcake returns to its rightful manifestation -- a small, simple treat that isn't mean to be gussied up. It feels like we're putting lipstick on a pig these days.

                                                                      1. re: glutton

                                                                        i'm convinced that it's so much easier to not be let down when you taste something not knowing the source. i had an idle vanilla cupcake at a party, and really enjoyed it, so i asked the hostess from whence she purchased the yummy miniature. she said, "crumbs." and i walked away thinking "oh really... interesting." i'm certain that if i had gone to crumbs on a cupcake mission of sorts that i would not have enjoyed my cupcake and walked away with the same underwhelmed experience. would i drive there to pick up a dozen or two to bring to an affair? most likely yes, but i wouldn't tell folks where they came from...

                                                                        1. re: glutton

                                                                          Underwhelmed?!? Try over whelmed!

                                                                          I completely agree with your analysis. I too have an insatiable sweet tooth...sugar is a food group as far as I am concerned. But, I was literally overwhelmed at the cupcake large enough to be a main course! The caramel apple was screaming out at me...but the overkill of crumble on top coated in caramel and filled with apple chunks left my belly screaming.

                                                                          Too bad.

                                                                      2. Hey Folks, let's keep this board focused on where to find great chow in LA. General discussions of holes-in-the-wall and how they are defined belong on the General Topics Board. There is a recent discussion here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/450182


                                                                        1. Sauce, I don't have a list (yet) but just have to say, this thread seals the deal: I am moving to Los Angeles!

                                                                          (seriously, in addition to the business trips I now take once a month or so, I will be staying on the west side for about six weeks this spring, and plan to use this as my guide!)

                                                                          I am presuming and hoping that Cactus Taqueria is not related to the small mediocre chain in the bay area...

                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                            Welcome to LA LA Land, susancinsf! As far as I know, the Cactus Taqueria mentioned here is no relation to the Bay Area mini-chain (which is a pale shadow of what it used to be).

                                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                                              Well, welcome!

                                                                              I lived in SF and in the East Bay (which everyone knows is just Pig Latin for "beast") for a while -- well, OK, I lived there five days a week.

                                                                              You're going to have to get out of the Westside for the best of what LA has to offer, which is not the market-directed food so beloved by Bay Areans (and, before all the Angelenos jump down my throat, yes, I *know* we have it, but it's not as institutionalised in the minds of Elayans as it is in those of our brethren in Norcalistan), but rather the mind-boggling number of tiny, cheap, ethnic holes-in-the-wall we have down here... so yes, a good place to start.

                                                                              There is good food, and great food, on the Westside, but the recently-arrived can't usually afford to live on the Westside, so the truly insanely good Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, etc. is east, north or south of the 310.

                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                thanks! I totally agree that the 'holes in the wall' are one of LA's biggest food strengths. If anyone could argue, this thread settles that issue....and yes, it doesn't take much exploring to figure out that some of insanely good Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. (wow...I really can't wait, especially for those three!) is east, north or south....

                                                                                but since it appears quite likely that my first grandchild will have the privilege of being born in the 310 (my reason for the upcoming extended stay...I really was kidding about moving to LA. I think. :-)) I will start my search for great food in that area code.....though come to think of it; car rides with babies to quiet them down are a trick Grandma knows a thing or two about...

                                                                                Sigh. My parents were both Angelenos, but I never thought a child (and thus grandchild) of mine would end up as such. Oh well, the food definitely compensates.

                                                                                As long as she (yes, we know that much already) doesn't become a Dodger's fan......

                                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                  Well, congratulations!! (How is it possible that you are having your first grandchild when you're only 29 years old!!)

                                                                                  There IS perfectly good HITW food on the Westside -- I didn't mean to imply there was none. Just off the top of my head, and I haven't lived on the Westside in the better part of a decade (glerk!), there's a fantastic Oaxacan place called Monte Alban, a great Thai place in Westchester, and even an Ethiopian place, Fassica, on Washington directly across from the Sony lot (watch out for picketers). There's Santouka in the Mitsuwa food court (mmmm, shio ramen and negimeshi!!) and a couple of good pizza places sprinkled here and there, not to mention Musha in Santa Monica.

                                                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                    LOL! actually, I only LOOK 29! :-)

                                                                                    Anyway, I am looking forward to trying Monte Alban soon; it has been on my list for awhile. Right now, my favorite Westside restaurant is Sabor a Mexico: based on the guide standards above I'd give it two stars.

                                                                                    Any chance you or anyone remembers the name of the Thai place in Westchester? Thai is my daughter's favorite...

                                                                                    SIL , OTOH, has been bugging me to take him for sushi: he hasn't been able to find any he likes since they moved to LA, but they haven't been to Sushi Zo (nor have I) so that is on our list to try just as soon as daughter can also indulge...

                                                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                      The Tahi place is called Ayara Thai and frankly, I was (contrary to many opinions around here) completely underwhelmed. I posted on my experience and there was no response, so I suppose it may just be me. But I'm well aquainted with Thai food and frequent all those great Hollywood haunts; Ayara doesn't come anywhere near them. It's classic westside mundane thai, toned down for farangs. It has a sparse menu. It's a bit pricey for slightly smallish serving sizes. I really don't see any positive, say it is nicely decorated with images of changs (elephants) everywhere.

                                                                                      It is perhaps slightly superior to the couple of thai-chinese places that have littered Westchester for years, but just a tad. If you want the real stuff, you know where to head. Or perhaps visit Pam's which is somewhat better if they ever get around to serving you.

                                                                                      1. re: broncosaurus

                                                                                        I find Ayara underwhelming too. Thai Boom is not too far away and much tastier.

                                                                                        1. re: hrhboo

                                                                                          Thanks for the replies. Ok, I have heard of Ayara, I think of it as the place near LAX, (seems like it usually gets recommended in threads on where to eat near the airport) and either it or Thai Boom will probably be on the itinerary for my work trip the end of this month: have a meeting during the day, but want to visit with daughter before catching the last SF flight out....

                                                                                          Will definitely report back if I make it to either one.

                                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                            Let me quite clear, though -- it's tasty but it's not at the level of Thai Nakorn, or any of the Hollywood Thai Town or NoHo Thai Gulch places. That said, it was only a few months ago that I was in the place your kids will be in, and the first Chow trip we made was to Rowland Heights, about as far from us as Thai Town is from the Westside... it did not end well... Ubergeeklette made it halfway through the meal.

                                                                                            I still think Ayara's one of the better ones on the Westside.

                                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                              How does it compare to Tuk Tuk Thai, which is in the Pico/Robertson area?

                                                                                                1. re: glutton

                                                                                                  I live near Ayara and work near Tuk Tuk. I like Ayara a lot -- the quality of the produce is high, and the cooks will spice things up for a farang like me. I like the chili-encrusted fish (not called that btw) at Tuk Tuk and the rice is good, but I don't like Tuk Tuk as well as Ayara. However, both places will continue to get my cash because of proximity. (I think Ayara was as good as or better than some of the "non-chowish" thai food I just had this month in Bangkok.)

                                                                                                  1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                                                                                                    I stopped back into Ayara the other day because I needed dinner at four pm before heading out of LAX (love that it is open all afternoon, and that parking is so easy and free: that and the fast service are big bonuses when one is heading to the airport)...the larb I had was good, ginger tofu was only ok, but after I ordered the staff sat down to staff meal, which included some type of roast chicken and about four other dishes, all of which looked wonderful! I found myself wishing I had walked in about 15 minutes later, in which case I probably would have just said, "I'll have what you're having!".

                                                                                            2. re: hrhboo

                                                                                              the noodle dishes at ayara are superior to those at thai boom
                                                                                              the prik king and the prik pao and the salads at thai boom are much better than those at ayara.

                                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                westside gal: I have had a chance to eat at both Thai Boom and Ayara the past few weeks, and agree with your assessment: I'd stick to noodle dishes at Ayara, would rather eat at Jitlada than either, but not on a weeknight after sitting in traffic for an hour or more....both are good options on the west side, and Ayara definitely is one the better restaurants I've found within a few blocks of LAX.

                                                                                                Thai Boom is a bit cheaper, but parking is a bit easier at Ayara, (Thai Boom has a small lot that fills up; Ayara has easy street parking and a big parking lot nearby....though the area was closed off for a few days after that explosion nearby, all now appears to be back to more or less normal) and you can get Chang beer at Ayara (no beer or wine at Thai Boom). Service is fine at Ayara but better than fine (friendly, accomodating) at Thai Boom.

                                                                                                Thai Boom
                                                                                                10863 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                                                                                                Ayara Thai Cuisine
                                                                                                6245 W 87th St, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                                                                2. I am not sure of the stars but:
                                                                                  -Tokyo 7-11; Nijiya for bento boxes, Big Tomy's (Sawtelle/Pico); Indian Sweets & Spices, Terried Sake House; Spoons (Gardena)

                                                                                  1. Three Stars:
                                                                                    Bin8945 www.bin8945.com
                                                                                    Jinpachi: Santa Monica just west of LaCienaga
                                                                                    Hide Sushi

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: parantoux

                                                                                      Bin 8945 is a hole in the wall? I mean, its small, but so is Urasawa ...

                                                                                      1. re: maxzook

                                                                                        I believe that they meant Bin 8945 is a hole in the wallet

                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                          Well, if THAT'S the list you want, I got a few ideas!!!

                                                                                    2. I know I'm forgetting plenty of places but here's a few...

                                                                                      Three Stars
                                                                                      SoKongDong (Soontofu)
                                                                                      Brent's Deli (not exactly a hole-in-the-wall, but far from central L.A.)
                                                                                      Swan Thai

                                                                                      Two Stars
                                                                                      Vito's Pizza
                                                                                      Pazzo Gelato
                                                                                      Soot Bull Jeep
                                                                                      Krua Thai
                                                                                      Koshiji (yakitori-ya in Little Tokyo)
                                                                                      Artisan Cheese Gallery (duck confit sandwich!)
                                                                                      Dr. Hogly Woggly's (I know people are divided, but I'm a defender of the brisket)
                                                                                      Kansas City BBQ on Lankershim
                                                                                      NBC Seafood
                                                                                      Soccoro's (Van Nuys) - good handmade tortillas

                                                                                      One Star
                                                                                      Pitfire Pizza Co. (cheap alternative to overhyped Mozza)
                                                                                      Sa Rit Gol
                                                                                      Al Gelato
                                                                                      Sabor a Mexico
                                                                                      Terried Sake House
                                                                                      Apple Pan
                                                                                      Sam Woo (Van Nuys)

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: alexfood

                                                                                        I agree with you on the brisket at Hoggly Woggly's. Get the brisket with beans and mac salad...and NOTHING ELSE. You'll be glad you did.

                                                                                      2. Three Stars:
                                                                                        ***Yai Thai
                                                                                        ***Corner Place

                                                                                        Two Star:
                                                                                        **Damon & Pythias (Westwood)

                                                                                        One Star:
                                                                                        *Tacos Por Favor
                                                                                        *Three Flames Mongolian BBQ
                                                                                        *Lamonica's Pizza

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: tatertots

                                                                                          I gotta tell you how much I love when I see a list like this and I realize I've only heard of two places on it.

                                                                                          Corner Place Restaurant
                                                                                          2819 James M Wood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                                                                          Kobawoo Restaurant
                                                                                          698 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                                                                                          Three Flames Mongolian Bar-B-Q
                                                                                          5608 W Manchester Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                                                                          11555 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                                                          Tacos Por Favor
                                                                                          1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

                                                                                          4560 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

                                                                                          Yai Thai Food
                                                                                          1627 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                                                                          Blue Bird
                                                                                          233 S La Fayette Park PL, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                          Isshin Restaurant
                                                                                          10861 Lindbrook Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                                                                          Damon & Pythias Food-The Gods
                                                                                          1061 Broxton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                                                                          Lamonica's New York Pizza
                                                                                          1066 Gayley Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                                                                          1. re: maxzook

                                                                                            I think you may have the wrong Bluebird. From previous posts, I'm pretty sure Tater is referring to the Bluebird in Culver City.

                                                                                            Bluebird Cafe
                                                                                            8572 National Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                                                                                        2. A vastly incomplete list for me, sans stars, has to include:

                                                                                          Phoenix Inn Chinatown for porridge
                                                                                          Texi's (Vermont loc) for pupusas
                                                                                          Matador taco truck at Fountain & Western
                                                                                          Attari for asht & tongue sandwich
                                                                                          Mario's Italian Deli in G-dale (RIP Bebe Jesus Salami)
                                                                                          Elvira's in Eagle Rock
                                                                                          Taylor's Prime Steak (on payday)
                                                                                          El Huarache
                                                                                          Super Tortas (Alvarado location)
                                                                                          Korean Rice cake dessert thingies trailer at California Market on Western(1$! each)
                                                                                          Monte Cristo at The Bounty
                                                                                          TITO'S TACOS!!
                                                                                          Wandering Tamale Guy outside of Shortstop in Echo Park around 1:30 AM
                                                                                          Chung King on San Gabriel
                                                                                          Tarzana Chevron Breakfast Taco Bar on Ventura Blvd.

                                                                                          last but definitely not least, The Talpa on Pico w of Barrington, where apparently my mom went into labor with me - opinions differ (manteca) but obviously a weird emotional pull.

                                                                                          1. Given that I've dropped over $100 for two at the Hungry Cat, I'm pretty sure that It can't be considered a "hole-in-the-wall." It's also got a zinc bar, serves caviar, and is located on the corner of Sunset and Vine. I'm pretty sure that these are all grounds for not qualifying for this list.

                                                                                            1. 3 stars: Cafe Verona, Marouch
                                                                                              2 stars: Los Balcones, Mama's Hot Tamales

                                                                                              1. Pot and Pan Thai on SM and 24th in SM is a great hole in the wall -- but never busy -- terrific Thai.

                                                                                                1. Great fun to re-read a great thread. Here's a few more.

                                                                                                  La Buca

                                                                                                  Maria’s Seafood (Grand Central Market)

                                                                                                  Ma Dong Gook Su
                                                                                                  Lu Din Gee

                                                                                                  1. I just had to bump up this thread, because is has been a bit of a bible for me during my recent sojurn in LA...

                                                                                                    well, actually, it is mostly an excuse to announce that World's Greatest Grandchild (see my post above) finally arrived, healthy and happpy, and everyone is doing well. Since her arrival Monday I haven't had time for restaurants; my time has been taken up doing Grandma things like cooking tasty meals for sleep deprived new parents and holding Grandchild so they can sleep now and then...

                                                                                                    But I am happy to say that I've tried a few of the spots that seem to get mentioned in a few replies, including Jitlada, Babita and Musha...great meals at all three, but despite my love for all things Mexican and tremendous respect for the what the chef is doing at Babita, Musha was my favorite, and one of my favorite dining experiences of the year (yes, I know, only March, but I have a feeling this one will hold up). The rice cracker with mushroom dish was beyond description and one of my 'wow' tastes this year...but then, I dined there the first night after Grandchild showed up (but before she left the hospital), so I have to go back SOON to make sure it wasn't just my elated mood that made the food taste so good..... :-) I am curious about one thing: someone specifically mentions the branch of Musha in Torrance: is there a difference between the two (I ate at Musha Santa Monica)/

                                                                                                    Anyway, thanks so much to the LA hounds for ideas for good food and good memories. Have to head back home again tomorrow but I will be back soon, very soon, and looking forward to trying more on these lists...

                                                                                                    1823 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                                                                    424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                        Congrats Susan!! :D So glad the little one made it safe and sound and you are being fed well! :) The Musha in Torrance is bigger and has more dishes. It's def. worth the trip if you liked the Musha in SM! :)


                                                                                                        1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                          Thanks Dommy! Once I make it through the list of dishes in SM, I will have to head over to Torrance and check it out!

                                                                                                        2. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                          " As long as she (yes, we know that much already) doesn't become a Dodger's fan...... "

                                                                                                          ** you can only wish ** GO BLUE

                                                                                                          And congratulations

                                                                                                        3. When GF announced hunger in an unknown part of the valley I bolted into the nearest interesting looking place. Shamshiri Restaurant (19249 ROSCOE BLVD) stuck out from the context of the Mexican places that surrounded it. The menu made no reference to the Westwood Shamshiri Grill.
                                                                                                          Not quite a hole-in-the-wall, just a simple mini-mall storefront, yet the quality, tasty food spoke volumes while the environment was relatively quiet.
                                                                                                          More downscale, yet compares favorably to the Javan, Darya, Shamshiri westside Persian that I am familiar with. The Koobideh and Barg were juicy, flavorful, and tender. The friendly regulars seated next to us suggested Flame in Westwood as being a step up and meat oriented. I hope to find out soon.

                                                                                                          1. Stuff in West LA

                                                                                                            Three stars:
                                                                                                            Thai Taste on Venice for their red curry and crab fried rice
                                                                                                            Baja Buds for their Nachos and cheap beer on tap and pickled carrots
                                                                                                            Tacomiendo on Pico and Gateway for their Plato de Tacos and Chilequiles
                                                                                                            Mitsuwa on Venice and Centinela for their awesome asianness
                                                                                                            Tofu-ya on Sawtelle for the waitresses who come over and crack a raw egg in your boiling soup (now thats service), and for their plentiful side dishes
                                                                                                            GR/EATS for their eclectic menu choices, and all around good tasting food
                                                                                                            Anna's on Pico near the Westside Pavillion has really good specials on I think Monday through Thursday which include a glass of wine wiith your meal, and ice cream and coffee after:)
                                                                                                            Cecil's on Pico and Bundy? for awesome all natural ribs!

                                                                                                            Two Stars:

                                                                                                            India Sweets and Spices on Venice near Motor: You get a lot for your money and they have interesting items in their store
                                                                                                            Toi: Kind of hole in the wallish. fun to go to in LA after hours the food is pretty good too.
                                                                                                            Habayit: I've been going there since I was very young. They have good pickled beats. They used to have a good red sauce but I think they don't have it anymore:(

                                                                                                            One star:

                                                                                                            Fassica on Washington and Motor? Definitely a hole in the wall. it is the only Ethiopian place in culver city, so if you are there, and feel like Ethiopian food, you best hit up that place.

                                                                                                            Hmmm .....

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: bogdevotchka

                                                                                                              Seeing as how your praised Mr. Cecil's on Pico between Centinela and Bundy have you tried Baby Blues on Lincoln for BBQ? The Chow Link below includes a link to their web site:


                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                Thanks for the heads up, Cecil's was the first time I've ever had ribs. They were tasty and organic :P

                                                                                                              2. re: bogdevotchka

                                                                                                                india sweets and spices on venice in culver city is awful. canned and boring ingredients, dirty surroundings, and rude workers.

                                                                                                              3. Skaf's for baba ghanoush
                                                                                                                Monte Alban for queso fundido and a tlayuda
                                                                                                                Tacos Baja Ensenada for a fish taco

                                                                                                                Monte Alban
                                                                                                                11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                Tacos Baja Ensenada
                                                                                                                385 W Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640

                                                                                                                1. ***
                                                                                                                  -Langers Deli
                                                                                                                  -Raffis Place
                                                                                                                  -Starry Kitchen (NoHo)
                                                                                                                  - Vin Loi Tofu

                                                                                                                  -Las Fuentes
                                                                                                                  -Border Grill Truck (I think thats it)

                                                                                                                  -Froggys Topanga
                                                                                                                  -Zankou Chicken
                                                                                                                  -Follow Your Heart
                                                                                                                  -Dr Hogly Wogglies
                                                                                                                  -Daglas Drive In

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: P3R3

                                                                                                                    Starry Kitchen closed in NoHo last November :( but reopened downtown in February :) ...

                                                                                                                    350 S Grand Ave
                                                                                                                    Los Angeles, CA 90071
                                                                                                                    (213) 617-3474

                                                                                                                    1. re: maxzook

                                                                                                                      Yea I refering to the old place, that was a destination. New place is good but not inside someones apartment anymore :)

                                                                                                                  2. Wow, this is fantastic stuff. Is somebody going to obsessively tally the results and let us know the winners?

                                                                                                                    1. as of this moment in time,
                                                                                                                      mariscos chente in lennox when sergio is behind the stove.