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Can't Miss LA-Area Restaurants?

Hi everyone, I'll be visiting the LA Area in January and would love to visit some great places. I know that Los Angeles is huge and it's impossible to go to everywhere, but I asked this question on the NYC board and I got some fabulous suggestions. So any quintessential LA places you can think of, that are unusual and don't really exist many other places would be great. Looking for mostly inexpensive options. We'll be all over, so suggestions for the city itself, Santa Monica, Malibu, etc are welcome.

Thanks!

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  1. Phillipe's in china town(Alameda & Ord), The Pantry downtown (9th & Figueroa), the Reel Inn Malibu, Carney's (Sunset Strip), Pink's (Melrose & La Brea) Musso Frank in Hollywood, Miceli's in Hollywood. Except for the Reel Inn these are all old Los Angeles places that have been around a long time Phillipe's (1908) Musso Frank (1919), etc..
    some people like them some people don't, I've lived in LA my whole life and I like pretty much all of them. The food at some of them everyone might not like but walking into Musso Frank is like walking into the 20's (Musso is kind of pricey) they make good drinks though. Even El Coyote people say how they hate the food (not great mexican food) but it's cheap and the "scratch margaritas" are good. There are a few other places I could recommend but they're kind of off the beatin path and would be difficult to visit.

    7 Replies
    1. re: wyatt3290

      I'd have to say waiting in a nearly hour-long line for a mediocre chili dog at Pink's and getting "Mexican" food that tastes like it was made from those Lawry's seasoning packets to be washed down with cheap margaritas whipped up with bottom shelf tequila and sweet & sour at El Coyote rank as Must Miss Dining, not Can't Miss.

      1. re: wyatt3290

        I'd recommend Malibu Seafood over Reel Inn. The fish is much fresher at MS. At Phillipe's be sure to order the lamb with swiss and double dipped.

        Other inexpensive recs in Santa Monica:
        Musha
        Tacos Por Favor (chorizo and cheese tacos)
        Bay Cities (Godmother sandwich)

        1. re: wyatt3290

          Just bear in mind that the above places are all about the ambience and not about the food.

          I mean, why not just recommend Clifton's Cafeteria?

          1. re: mlgb

            Carney's and Pink's are redundant - and Skooby's is better - and El Cholo has similar atmosphere to El Coyote but trumps on both food and margaritas. But the atmosphere thing really is good for visitors. And, as one who works in a heavily touristed area, I'd rather see a visitor's heading to Roscoe's or Zankou or (ugh) Gladstone's than CPK or Wahoo's anyday.

            1. re: Woolsey

              I'd rather send them for Korean, Japanese, San Gabriel Valley Chinese, Artesia South Indian, Thai, and GOOD Mexican.

              Check out servorg's post below.

              1. re: mlgb

                Those places are an endless discussion, of course - and none of them anywhere near Santa Monica or Malibu. But I don't agree with what seems to be your complete dismissal of ambience over food; I'm not sure I'd want to spend my vacation eating the best food every meal if it means sacrificing atmosphere and a little local notoriety at every single meal.

                1. re: Woolsey

                  I'm not completely dismissing ambience. Just indicating that if the OP wanted good or even edible food, they weren't going to find it in the original list.

        2. Unique L.A. specialties include the French dip sandwich at Philippe the Original at the edge of Chinatown, the giant Manuel's Special burrito at El Tepeyac in Boyle Heights, and, of course, the Double Double burger at the In-N-Out chain.

          L.A. arguably has the best Mexican, Thai, and Japanese food in the country. This is also a great place to get Ethiopian food, as well as to try Chinese dim sum. And, of course, one should get visit a restaurant that has an element of California cuisine, which emphasizes seasonality and fresh, local ingredients. Of course, which one of those restaurants leads to a lot of discussion.

          1. Here is a thread that has some good suggestions to mull over. Some I agree with and some I don't (but that will be the situation with any place suggested by posters here -- to say that we are an opinionated bunch is a gross understatement). LA has great examples of Korean food, Chinese food, Mexican and other regional Central American food here in abundance. Good luck.

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427652

            1. When in LA definitely try anything Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Filipino, Guatemalan, Peruvian, Middle Eastern, Indian, cuisines as these are the most prominent and best represented foods you can find anywhere int he country. For best Chinese in the country, head to the San Gabriel Valley(also for Japanese, filipino, middle eastern), For Mexican almost anywhere but you can find authentic at almost any stop on the westside or upscale mexican in the SGV/SFV. For Japanese, korean, guatemalan, middle eastern, indian head to the westside.
              For more upscale restaurants head to Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, other westside locations that recently received the most michelin ratings, Pasadena, etc.

              also in Pasadena see these
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/469267
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/469267

              1. how about Langers?

                and i second Malibu Seafood!! great little spot.