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Can't Miss LA-Area Restaurants?

laney619 Dec 16, 2007 01:58 PM

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.


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  1. wyatt3290 RE: laney619 Dec 16, 2007 05:43 PM

    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
      Woolsey RE: wyatt3290 Dec 16, 2007 10:00 PM

      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
        whatsfordinner RE: wyatt3290 Dec 17, 2007 07:12 AM

        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:
        Tacos Por Favor (chorizo and cheese tacos)
        Bay Cities (Godmother sandwich)

        1. re: wyatt3290
          mlgb RE: wyatt3290 Dec 17, 2007 07:31 AM

          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
            Woolsey RE: mlgb Dec 17, 2007 07:37 AM

            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
              mlgb RE: Woolsey Dec 17, 2007 10:02 AM

              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
                Woolsey RE: mlgb Dec 17, 2007 11:10 AM

                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
                  mlgb RE: Woolsey Dec 17, 2007 12:25 PM

                  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. Woolsey RE: laney619 Dec 16, 2007 10:18 PM

          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. Servorg RE: laney619 Dec 17, 2007 03:44 AM

            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.


            1. b
              b0ardkn0t RE: laney619 Dec 17, 2007 01:02 PM

              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

              1. s
                so_hungry RE: laney619 Dec 17, 2007 07:17 PM

                how about Langers?

                and i second Malibu Seafood!! great little spot.

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