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Oct 30, 2001 06:33 PM

NYC chow'er visits LA

  • j

i'm a NYC poster who will be in LA on business for 10 days starting sunday. that leaves lots of time to eat, but where ?

looking for recomendations.

travel = under 35 by car (the only way in LA) from century city.
amb & hood = some spots can be grimy, but some nice (for the co-workers, not me.)
food = only the best examples please
price = doesn't matter either way - high/low

looking these catagories: korean, mexican (tacos and/or platos), soul food (fried chicken and/or ribs), seasonal creative, thai, special chefs, and any other obscure recomendations.

any information (postbacks, links to articles, emails [jonathan gold & michelle fuchs are you out there], tips) would be greatly appreciated.

i usually tour direct here in the big apple, but need guidence to do the same for my work folks in LA.

thanks a ton in advance

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  1. I'm going to assume you mean 35 minutes in fair-to-middling traffic, so you have given a VERY VERY wide area culinarily speaking. We have West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Fairfax district, Santa Monica, West LA, South Central, Koreatown, part of the Valley... I mean, it's a WIDE area.

    So, here we go:

    Platos: El Cholo. People swear by the one downtown but the one on 11th St. and Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica is a nicer 'hood and the food is the same. Their El Cholo margaritas are made with Cuervo 1800 but you can call whatever you want (Hornitos, Sauza, &c.) and are only $6.50. You'll miss green corn tamales (May-October) but they have such great food.

    Thai: If you have people who aren't familiar with Thai, Thai Beer on Bundy Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd. in West LA is a good intro to gringo Thai. If you're into the more Thai experience, go to Samanluang in Thai Town on Hollywood Blvd. There are a number of threads that have info on Samanluang.

    Ribs: There is a place on Pico Blvd. just east of Centinela Ave. in West LA in a building that looks like a chili bowl. I forget the name but it's good food.

    The quintessential LA tourist soul food experience (i.e., locals do it once) has a bit of a line, but it's such an odd combo that you have to try it. Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles (one's on Hollywood Blvd., another is (I think) on Normandie in South Central) is a weird flavour combo that works.

    Tacos: Tito's Tacos on Washington Pl. and Sepulveda Blvd. in Culver City. Right next to Johnnie's Pastrami and Lucy's, so you have your assortment of oh-so-healthy specialities.

    Very LA: Mélisse on 12th St. just south of Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, Michael's on 3rd St. just north of Wilshire Blvd. and the Promenade, JiRaffe at 5th St. and Santa Monica Blvd. Very Californian chefs without the prices someone like Puck or Splichal can command. Röckenwagner on Main St. & Ashland Ave. in Santa Monica is pricier but is very good.

    Very LA Weird: Inn of the Seventh Ray on Old Topanga Canyon Rd. just north of Topanga Canyon Rd. in the tiny artsy fartsy hamlet of Topanga. To get there is a bit of a drive, but shouldn't exceed 35 minutes unless there's bad traffic.* The ambiance and decor are INCREDIBLE and the food is pretty decent if weird (the menu is listed in order of esoteric vibration, with vegan first and red meat last). Definitely worth a visit.

    * Directions: Take SM, Olympic or Pico Blvd. west and make a left on Overland Ave. Get on the 10 westbound and continue through the tunnel onto PCH (the 1). Make a right on CA-27 (Topanga Canyon Rd.) which is a curvy twisty hilly road. About 7 miles up you'll coming into town. When you see the post office, make a soft left onto Old Topanga Canyon Blvd. and the first right into Inn of the Seventh Ray.


    6 Replies
    1. re: Dave L
      More of Everything

      Another place that will fit two of your qualifications is Palms Thai in Hollywood (thai food/weird). There are lots of threads on this place re: the good food and the Elvis impersonator.

      1. re: Dave L

        As a native So. Cal. resident currently living in New York, I need to warn you that the French/French influenced chow in LA is a step below the New York scene. Places like Melissa and JiRaffe are good but nothing exraordinary. I would hate to call them quintessential LA. Spago and Chinois also serve very good food, but they're more renowned for being a Puck establishment than anything else. Having said that, I think Spago Beverly Hills has more of a LA feel (in terms of both food and decor) than JiRaffe. As for Rockenwagner, I wouldn't recommend that place to anyone. The infamous crab souffle was overly salty and quite dissapointing.

        For pure food, stick to the ethnic foods. They may not be as nicely decorated, but it's hard to find an equal in NYC. And to satisfy those pesky co-workers of yours, I'd suggest Spago, Chinois, Lawry's, and maybe even Patina. Again, these recommendations would more satisfy the "LA feel" requirement than the best food in LA requirement. Joes has declined since its humbler days. And do check out the Quintessential LA thread.

        I've never been to R-23, but that might be a place that can satisfy both your food and decor requirement.

        And finally, if money is no object, give Ginza a shot. It's LA's response to Alain Ducasse.

        1. re: Porthos
          michael (mea culpa)

          The Ginza reference is Ginza Sushi-Ko, 218 N. Rodeo Drive (yeah, that Rodeo), BH, 310/247-8939. Call now, bring money.

          1. re: Porthos
            PRSMDave (Dave L)

            I hesitate to call JiRaffe French-influenced... it's very Californian to me. Melisse is a bit French influenced but again it seems more Californian than French.

            Also, as someone who lived in France, I can tell you that New York's take on French food isn't really very French at all. It's modeled on a few belle-cuisine placed like Bocuse and Troisgros et al., but French cuisine is as varied as American - viz. Normandy vs. Provence, Alsace vs. Bourgogne

            If you want a FRENCH experience, go to France. Go to some little town and eat at the bistrot there. New York and LA French are just variations on what people perceive as French food, and they both have their own positives and negatives.

            I'm sorry you had a bad experience at Röckenwagner... I went for the white asparagus feast and was totally happy with my food and service. Granted it was a couple of years ago, but YMMV (your meal may vary).

            1. re: PRSMDave (Dave L)

              Rockenwagner is not a good place to suggest. The food is not very good unless Hans is in the kitchen,,,which is never. The asparagus are good but where is the challenge there? Mine were even a bit tough. I bought some at the Farmer's Market and cooked them in a bit of broth, a splash of olive oil and they were better. Hans has been trying to get the spark back every way possible when all he needs to do is remember that he is a talented chef. Create a new exciting menu and get back in the kitchen. He once was the most creative chef on the Westside. Before he went Hollywood.

          2. re: Dave L

            The rib place on Pico Blvd. just east of Centinela Ave. in West LA in a building that looks like a chili bowl is Mr. Cecil's.

          3. For fried chicken there's Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch in Marina Del Rey. And Pann's a great googie coffee shop near LAX. (Perhaps when they rebuild New York, they can put in some googie architecture. It would certainly be an improvement to the buildings that are still standing there). Both these places leave the skin on the chicken (unlike Sylvia's. What's the deal with that?) and both make excellent macaroni and cheese. Enjoy.

            1. For a GREAT ol' timey steak and potatoes place, try Taylor's on 8th street near Western Ave. (In Koreatown.) Not too expensive, in fact; one of the best things on the menu is the cheapest---the London Broil-----decent wines by the glass, great martinis, etc. Plus old style freaky ambiance! Don't miss it! Have a great trip!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Plushy

                What an entertaining thread.
                "...old style freaky ambiance!"

              2. There are some excellent threads already here. Check out (with start dates)
                1. The Cheapo Challenge - 10/23/01
                and Cheapo Eats- Santa Monica, starting 10/24/01
                2. Quintessential LA - 7/12/01
                3 Visiting LA, where to eat 9/10/01
                4. New Yorker spending week in la also 7/12/01
                Those are ok for a start. Also, check out westside discussions which are all pretty close to Century City.

                1. I have two suggestions for you. One is upscale and is a 5 minute drive from where you are staying in Century City. La Cachette at 10506 Little Santa Monica Blvd. in Century City. Phone: 310-470-4992. Classic French in a beautiful room, (see if you can get seated in the fireplace room).

                  The Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel located at 9641 Sunset Blvd. Phone: 310-276-2251. The pink lady looks absoutely fabulous after her remake. The hotel and grounds are worth seeing, even if you don't eat there. If you want a wonderful breakfast go downstairs and eat at the counter in the Fountain Coffee Shop. They kept the original jungle motif wallpaper and you might just end up sitting next to someone you have seen on TV or in the movies.

                  I put in a link that gives a bit of background about the connection of the hotel to the hollywood stars and movies it has hosted. At the bottom of that link is a link to the hotels own web site. The hotel is about 10 minutes from where you are staying. If you like "kitch with style" you'll love the BHH.

                  Have a wonderful visit. One warning, Woody Allen would have to edit the remark about LA's contribution to culture being able to "turn right on a red light." Lot's of signs going up that say, "no right on red", so keep an eye out when ignoring them. Also the LAPD and Beverly Hill PD give jaywalking tickets out like candy on Halloween.