New Yorker spending a week in LA-needs help
- AndyK Jul 12, 2001 03:16 PM
I have a week in LA and would love to sample good cheap food in LA- no fancy restaurants. So what are the best Mexican places, burger joints, dim-sum restaurants, etc? Any and all suggestions are appreciated.
Empress Pavillion downtown is the best dim sum I've ever had. Mexico City in Hollywood has really interesting "updated" Mexican food that I love, but the LA Classic is El Cholo for green corn tamales.
Monterey Park is a huge neighborhood dominated by Oriental restaurants of all kinds. Go there for dim sum or noodles or anything Chinese, Japanese or Korean. I used to frequent the strip of Atlantic Avenue off of I-10. There's Ocean Star, which is a huge place with great dim sum, and next to it is another fine dim sum place whose name I forget (Harbor something?). There is also a superb noodle and dumpling restaurant in a little shopping center on Atlantic just south of I-10. It's in back of a big Oriental grocery store and next to a car wash.
Burgers: Cassell's (6th St), Tommy's (only the original on Beverly)
Mexican: A sampling stroll thru Grand Central Mkt (downtown) or El Mercado (1st St in ELA). If you really need a seat & utensils, any of the Guelaguetzals.
Korean: Kang Nam (Olympic nr Crenshaw)
Q: Lighthouse (Western nr Venice), Woody's (Slauson)
Chicken: Pollo a la Brasas (Western/8th)
Gyros: Papa Cristo's (Pico/Normandie)
Thai: Chao Krug (Fairfax nr Beverly)
Chinese: See below*
*For adventure, drive to the intersection of Garvey & Atlantic or of Valley & Del Mar & eat at, say, the 12th restaurant you see after driving in any direction. One nite, Grubsan & I didn't want to wait for a table at NBC Seafood on Atlantic (also a great dim sum place), so ventured across the parking lot for dinner at a place with some neo-Chinese name like Stan or Leo's Bar-B-Q. Turned out to be a Korean-style, all-you-can-eat, shabu-shabu-like buffet thing. Strange & wonderful animal & vegetable parts heaped on plates from "buffet" then self-cooked on a brazier with a water moat into which stuff is dropped until edible. An amazing experience, particularly for the dollar-three-ninety-five it cost. Other such San Gabriel Valley adventures lurk around every corner, up every stair, and nestled in every strip mall.
I've been to tons of Monterey Park/Alhambra restaurants and I'll still say that Empress Pavillion downtown is the best dim sum.
I haven't been back to LA in a few years and can't say whether it's changed or not, but I still dream of Tio's Tacos on Sepulveda Blvd. north of the airport I think at the intersection of Culver.
It's a unique LA institution: a place where you stand on line (as we New Yorkers say) outside to order and eat outdoors next to their parking lot or, in inclement weather, at limited seating indoors. From the fastfood ambience and the unsophisticated-looking clientelle, you might be be turned off. But the burritos are to die for and there is nothing like them here in New York: a huge portion of a rich beef stew wrapped in a thick tortilla (wheat or corn I can't remember which). Most people also order their nachos and their frijoles.
If you're renting a car at LAX. head north on Sepulveda and stop there first.
re: George Feldan
Perhaps we can start a thread about places with unexplainable cachet. Tito's would prob head the Grubman's list. Homogenized, mediocre Mex-Amer food -- yes, even the burritos -- that you stand in line to get at. I don't get it. 2d nominee -- Krispy Kreme donuts. Even when they're piping hot (that 1st bite is comforting), they're still basically deep-fried confectioner's sugar. Other nominees?
Serious. Have a double double with grilled onions or a four by four animal style. Still the best hamburger in America, Zagat gives it a 22. They're all over Southern California. The french fries are sliced in house and dried in a T towel. Shakes use real ice cream and milk. There's nothing else on the menu-that's it. The same as when they opened in '48. Tommy's is OK (basically a hamburger with chili on top) but pales next to In 'n Out.
For Thai try Tommy Tang's near West Melrose or Chandara. Killer Shrimp is worth a look as is Baja Fresh for burritos. Mostly, though, just go back to In 'n Out. You will dream about this place when you are back in New York!
for the poor New Yorker who wanders into In-N-Out and asks for a four-by-four: please understand that it's FOUR MEAT PATTYS AND FOUR SLICES OF CHEESE!!!
holy crap, i'm a burger fiend, and i've never had the cajones to order one of those! my hat's off to you, wwthrills...
Go for a French dip sandwich. At Philippe's (sp) near Union Station, the mustard is great. Be sure to ask for it double-dipped (I do, I like it moist). YOu have a choice of beef, lamb, pork or turkeyI think. Beef is classic. Cole's near the bus station is smaller, but the bar set in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is lifted from this place. Good sandwich.
Langer's for a pastrami sandwich (just that, nothing else on the menu is great) that can give anything in New York competition (Stage, Carnegie, either Katz's or ratner's the one that isn't dairy) - near Macarthur Park.
Try the Bar-b-q at Philips in Leimert Park near the corner of Crenshaw and Leimert Park. Best I've had (Flint's in Oakland, veryclose).
In San Pedro, there's a breakfast/lunch place that is cheap and fun, I think it's Canetti's seafood. Haven't been there in a while though.