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Jan 12, 2008 09:28 AM

Best ethnic food in LA?

Hi in connection with another post about Korean food and middle eastern food, what are your recommendations for the best ethnic food experiences in LA, including other areas such as Long Beach, etc?

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  1. Thai in Thai Town. Try Jitlada with its Southern Thai menu.
    Persian around Westwood. Try Shamshiri Grill--superb for the price.

    1 Reply
    1. re: aventinus

      I agree with the Sherazad's recommendation. It is one of the best Persian food you can find.
      If you want Korean, the best Korean restaurant is Nam Dae Moon in korea town that is 24 hours. It is authentic and some of the dishes are better than what you will find in Korea. This is on 6th and Alexandria in K-town next to the 7eleven.

    2. Good grief, that's like asking someone to pick which of the senses he likes best.

      There's Koreatown; Thai Town and Thai Gulch; Little Tokyo; East LA; Glendale's Armenian community; San Pedro's dwindling Italian area; Little Saigon in Westminster and Garden Grove; the Cambodian area of Long Beach; the Caribbean area of Inglewood; Little Ethiopia on Fairfax; the Salvadorean restaurants in the northeast San Fernando Valley; Mexican absolutely all over everywhere; Peruvian food in Van Nuys and its environs... I mean, come on. LA is all about great, cheap ethnic food, the way SF is all about farm-to-table Cal cuisine.

      If I absolutely had to pick, it would be having Chinese food -- and especially dim sum -- in the San Gabriel Valley.

      1. Don't forget that in addition to Little Tokyo, there's a large concentration of Japanese both in Sawtelle and in Torrance and Gardena.

        While Glendale has the largest concentration, Hollywood has its share of Armenian as well.

        Vietnamese are in large concentrations in Garden Grove and Westminster as well as SGV and Van Nuys and Reseda.

        The Filipino population seems to be huddled around places like Eagle Rock and Cerritos. Speaking of Cerritos, that's where you'll find a large Indian population.

        There's a large amount of Salvadorean places around Melrose Hill just west of Downtown.

        China and Mexico are large enough and deep enough culturally where you really have to divide them up into Cantonese, Sichuan, Chiu Chow, etc as well as Oaxacan, DF, Yucatecan, etc.

        Asking which is the best ethnic food is like picking which supermodel is the hottest. They're all supermodels; it comes down to personal preference.

        12 Replies
        1. re: SauceSupreme

          I apologize for the vagueness of my question. Thanks for the suggestions despite the lack of information on my part.

          we will be staying in the long beach area but are willing to drive around for a good meal. We dont intend to have any japanese this time around and we are looking for more ethnic food experiences that we cannot get here. we are definitely going for korean. Unfortunately, I dont have enough of a grasp to identify chiu chow, oaxacan (jesus that was hard to spell) from other chinese/mexican styles of food. as i dont have that much experience to distinguish its really hard to express what i am looking for. basically, i want to experience new food that tastes fantastic.

          i would like to have some middle eastern food like persian, moroccan, and i've never had armenian food. i would also like an ethiopian recommendation as my father really enjoyed this type of eating when i took him to an ethiopian place in phoenix.

          since your region has such a diverse ethnic population, i would like to try to have really memorable meals that are food driven, not ambience driven. just so you know, we are also trying Pink's hotdogs. Oooh, I know i'm digressing but the bay area has such a lack of NY style pizza, any luck in your area?


          1. re: gtrine

            My recommendations:

            Meals by Genet
            1053 S. Fairfax Ave.
            Los Angeles, CA 90019

            NY Pizza:
            Lamonica's NY Pizza - I like it more than Vito's
            1066 Gayley Ave.
            Los Angeles, CA 90024


            Vito's - almost as good as Lamonica's
            846 N. La Cienega Bl.
            Los Angeles, CA

            Shaherzad - try their (free) bread, which is served hot from their oven. Also try the soltani, estamboli polo, ghaimeh bademjan, ghormeh sabzi. Of course, get their rosewater ice cream (bastani) or faloudeh for dessert
            1422 Westwood Bl.
            Los Angeles, CA 90024

            By the way, "food driven" certain does NOT describe Pink's hot dogs - it's hype (fun hype, but hype), IMHO

            Enjoy SoCal!

            1. re: gtrine

              If your staying in Long Beach, its a no-brainer to go to the Cambodian part of town and check out those restaurants. Long Beach is the largest Cambodian community in the world outside of Pnom Penh. In any case, you won't have that opportunity anywhere else in the country. Try around the intersection of 7th and Anaheim.

              Also, go down to Westminster in Orange County, which is not that far away, to sample Vietnamese food.

              One really interesting cultural phenomenon is the insurgence of Cajun-Vietnamese seafood joints. In addition to Westminster, the Gulf Coast of the Us was a prime location for Vietnamese immigrants after the war, and many of the people who settled in the coastal regions of Texas and Louisiana went into business as fishermen. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, people who had their businesses destroyed came - logically - to another strong Vietnamese community, and brought with them a tradition of seafood joints that had been filtered through the culture of Vietnamese fishermen. There are several Cajun-Vietnamese restaurants in Westminster worth visiting both because the food is great and because it's just a really cool thing! The Boiling Crab is one that I've been too.

              Persian food is worth exploring, but I think you need to go to LA for that. Check out Westwood as a neighborhood.

              Close enough to Long Beach is Artesia, which is Little India. Worth checking out - search in Chowhounds for best places.

              Also in Long Beach is a great Mexican restaurant that takes it a little beyond the combo plat - Enriques. Its on PCH at Loynes.

              Good Luck and good lunch!!!

              1. re: gtrine

                Posting again - just to supplement my earlier response with suggestions for Long Beach and nearby areas -

                If you want Chinese food, do some searching on Chowhounds for the best places to go,which will probably be in the San Gabriel Valley.

                Ethiopian - check out Fairfax in LA. Persian, check out Westwood in LA.

                A fantastic place that is sort of pan-Middle Eastern but really Armenian is Alcatraz in the San Fernando Valley. For Oaxacan, there are good place near downtown LA, but also great places in West LA, like Juquila, Guelaguetza, and Monte Alban. So if you decide to explore Westwood for Persian, you can also check out the Oaxacan offerings on the same trip.

                But, as I said earlier, Long Beach has its own riches, and you would do well to explore them.

                1. re: gsw

                  Thank you thank you thank you to all the posts. I am printing this today. I will report back on our experiences. Thank you!

                  Re:PInks Really? That's too bad! We are only in town for 5 days so I dont want to waste any time.

                  1. re: gsw

                    I think perhaps you mean Alcazar in Encino -- unless there's actually an Alcatraz, in which case uff da.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Whoops, youre right, what a silly mistake!

                  2. re: gtrine

                    Here we go, bearing in mind that I live in Anaheim so that's where this is centered:

                    For Chiu Chow you are really going to have to go to the San Gabriel Valley which, though absolutely worth it, is quite a drive up the 710 from Long Beach. If you do go, though, Seafood Village is well worth the trip, especially if you go to Phoenix Food Boutique for their sublime melon shaved ice afterward. There's Chiu Chow food in San Francisco, though, and good at that, so maybe not the thing you're looking for. (SF, though, with all its ticky-tacky touristy Chinatown that I secretly love, does not come close to the San Gabriel Valley in terms of tasty Chinese chow density.)

                    Closer Korean than K-town is to be found in Buena Park (off the 91 or the 5 on Beach) and in Garden Grove (off the 22, on Garden Grove Blvd. between the Magnolia and Brookhurst exits). The food is just as good, but it's not quite the immersive experience that Koreatown is. It's also a lot easier to park in Orange County than in K-town.

                    Oaxacan food is actually one of the few ethnic things (Japanese and Persian are the others) that the Westside does well. Monte Alban is probably your best bet, or Guelaguetza. I'm not a huge fan of Juquila.

                    One thing I guarantee you the Bay Area does NOT do well is the fish taco -- and it's cheap, it's easy, it's utterly fantastic. Go to Tacos Baja Ensenada in East LA, or to one of the El Taco Nazo or SeƱor Baja outposts. If you're just here touring (and don't have meetings or whatnot) during the day, I'd say to go to Tacos Baja Ensenada, because then you can wander around the shopping on Whittier Boulevard after lunch. If you go to El Taco Nazo, by the way, the shrimp tacos are the stars. Another possibility (especially if you want to shock the living daylights out of your co-travellers) would be La Serenata de Garibaldi in Boyle Heights. Go to the original -- the one on First Street -- and watch your travelling companions' faces grow long with horror as they see the neighbourhood -- and then go into this welcoming hacienda and have absolutely perfect Mexican fish and seafood. If they have fish with huitlacoche, get it -- it's sublime. Or go to La Huasteca or Babita for their "alta cocina" -- especially the chiles en nogada.

                    Anaheim has a "Little Gaza" centered on Ball Road and Brookhurst Street. It's a lot closer to Long Beach than Glendale is. While it's a bit short on Armenian food (for which you will need to go to Glendale or Hollywood), Sarkis Pastry is an Armenian bakery in Anaheim which alone is worth the gas money.

                    If you're not up to fighting your way through LA traffic (and trust me, getting to Fairfax from the southern suburbs is a trip), you can get your Ethiopian fix in Anaheim at Tana, on La Palma near the Buena Park Mall, or (if it's still open) Merhaba, on Ball Road and Dale Avenue.

                    While San Jose has lots of Viet food, there's just no comparison at all to Little Saigon. Pho, banh mi, mi, hu tieu, bo bay mon (7 courses of beef), bun cha, com tam, banh cuon, you name it, it's EVERYWHERE in Westminster and Garden Grove. The hardest part is picking a place to eat. You could have lobster house-style at Newport Seafood on 1st and Newhope in Santa Ana... YUM.

                    And oh God -- why waste a trip on Pink's? Go get your Pink's fix if you absolutely must but eat lightly and then go have Ethiopian on Fairfax or Korean in Koreatown afterwards... ugh. Or go to Pink's and then swing over to La Cienega for your NY pizza fix at Vito's.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      If you want to try fish tacos, no need to go to East LA. Hole Mole in Long Beach is just fine. Three locations in Long Beach.


                      There are three pretty good middle Eastern restaurants in Belmont Shore, Open Sesame, Sunnin, and Magic Lamp.

                      See the other link I posted for more ideas.

                      Hole Mole
                      5109 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90804

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        You mentioned in a post that fresh/frozen rabbit can be found in Little Gaza markets in Anaheim area? I live in Brookhurst area - do you remember names of markets where you have seen rabbit? I'd do my own searching but am disabled so getting around is difficult. Appreciate your help, thanks

                        1. re: RavensDanc

                          I'm sorry -- I don't remember the name of the place. It was on Brookhurst though, and I think it was south of Ball Road on the west side of the street. It was a long time ago.

                          A little Googling comes up with Al-Tayebat Market. You might call ahead. There is also a halal meat market in the same plaza as Com Tam Thuan Kieu, on Brookhurst and 13th in Westminster, called Al-Madinah, and another called Asian Grocery & Halal Market a bit further north, in the two-story plaza that has the cha lua place.

                      2. re: gtrine

                        The Bay Area has better NY style pizza than LA. Your best bets for NY pizza here are Joe's, Mulberry St and Vito's (I guess).

                    2. Even though the OP is over a year-and-a-half old, this is still the best guide to ethnic food in LA you will ever find:


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: maxzook

                        Thanks. That's an insanely long list!!!!

                        1. re: gtrine

                          Well, you better get started eating now! (wink) :)

                          1. re: droyal

                            hahaha I know. It's the best part of the trip!

                      2. There is also a running thread on ethnic food around Long Beach