I'm not sure why people are so high on Musha. It's a decent izakaya, but NYC has some fabulous izakayas, so I wouldn't go to any lengths for that. But if you're looking for Japanese comfort foods, I'd recommend checking out the Gardena/Torrance area rather than Sawtelle (although that's probably more proximate for you).
If you've been to the Redhook ballfields, you've probably had your pupusas, but there are a bunch of places in LA if you feel like it.
Regional Mexican is a good choice. Go for one of the Oaxacan places mentioned, or check out the Yucatecan places, like the one in the Mercado La Paloma. Fish tacos are also a no-brainer. Try a place like El Parian for carne asada or even La Parrilla. Can't find that stuff in NYC. Or anyplace that does carnitas well. I haven't found good carnitas in NYC in 15 years of searching.
Go to Dino's for the chicken plate.
Go for Thai food at places like Thai Nakorn, Jitlada, Sapp, Sanamluang (is Renu Nakorn open?). I'll even suggest going to Palm Thai to see the Thai Elvis, plus order the wild boar curry, which is still one of my favorite Thai dishes in LA.
I would also suggest Persian and Armenian food, which is lacking in NYC. Plenty of Persian places along Westwood Blvd. I always seem to go to Shamshiri, though there's plenty of debate which Westwood Persian serves better food. Get some Persian ice cream as well. Mashti Malone's is the most well-known place, but there's a market with an ice cream counter on Westwood Blvd too. Good Armenian places are around Hollywood and Glendale. I still like the chicken tarna at Zankou with the garlic sauce. One of my nostalgia foods. Check out Sahags Basturma for something different.
I like JetJeet's suggestions for donuts. LA is the donut capital. I'll add Bob's in the Farmer's Market for a good apple fritter. I usually don't leave LA without getting a peanut butter banana donut at Stans either. The fast food suggestions are also solid.
If you're wanting a quick healthy bargain lunch on the westside, I tend to like places like Rose Cafe (mentioned somewhere in this thread) or a place like Tender Greens in Culver City. I really feel like I'm NOT in NYC when I eat at places like these.
If you have the time, I'd also recommend going to Little Saigon in OC. You'll have trouble eating Vietnamese in NYC after that.
For something kind of kitchy in Burbank, maybe try Chili John's. Not the greatest, but it's something you won't find in NYC either.
what about pupusas? i'm not too sure how the central american scene is in bklyn these days, but they are SO GOOD!! i'm thinking beverly would be a good place since there's a bunch there, although i haven't tried any yet...and forget fro-yo, just go to scoops in silverlake for gelato heaven!!
re: steve h.
i've eaten at lupa, babbo, casa mono many, many times. nancy's place is pure california and a pleasure to dine at. she and i were passing notes back and forth when she first opened. she knows her stuff and tunes her tastebuds every year in italy. osteria mozza is not a lupa clone.
SM is pretty boring except for Josie and Michael's. I tend toward Venice - Hal's has a great atmosphere and food, and Joe's, as mentioned before. Abbott Kinney is a agreat little street to walk, though it's getting trendier and more upscale these days. Also try Culver City - Fraiche is excellent (I just saw that Frank Bruni in the NYT has it on his Top 10 list of new restaurants in the country) but you must reserve. Everybody has their personal fave for Mexican -- I love El Cholo on Western because it's an institution and the food is always good. There is one in SM but it's newer and the vibe is just not the same. And Dave's in Malibu is a must since you have a car. You don't get the full LA experience unless you go to Malibu! You might see dolphins or whales :)
if you decide to hit abbott kinney, "axe" is another good option.
other ideas in venice for a real SoCal experience - rose cafe or figtree cafe, both on the venice boardwalk.
there's also back on the beach in SM for breakfast or lunch. not the best food in town, but you can get a table literally on the sand.
and as bicoastalfoodie said, don't miss malibu. take a drive up the coast and hit one of the places along PCH. the views alone are worth it. skip nobu, of course. no view there, and you can get the same food at home.
If I were visiting LA for the first time, I would want to go to places where there is a bit of a scene so you can get a feel for Angelenos. My suggestions:
- Chaya Venice: happy hour. Used to be a good deal (haven't been in a while), but you'll see lots of pretty people mixed with the afterwork crowd.
- Duke's in Malibu: great view of the Pacific Ocean from the beach bar, you can say you sipped a mai tai and watched the sunset.
- Father's Office: great burgers and beer, then you can walk on down Montana Ave, which is a very typical west side scene.
- Katana Restaurant: be prepared to drop some money, but the Sunset people watching is prime here. They have very good Japanese grilled apps and OK sushi. Then you can walk over to the Comedy Store for a laugh.
- Cobras and Matador off Vermont: when you've had enough of the west side, check out how eastsiders roll. This is a lively wine and tapas place. Then walk over to Vermont Ave, which is the heart of Los Feliz - have a drink at Vermont Restaurant or The Dresden: this place was made famous from Swingers (the movie).
- Korean BBQ: many of the recs here are good, just pick one.
For typical LA that you can't get in Brooklyn or NY - I echo the suggestion for Monte Alban or any of the other Oaxacan places onthe West Side. Also, travel to Gloria's in Culver City for Salvadoran food.
For typical LA locally in Santa Monica - Tomy's burger, Lincoln and Pico in Santa Monica. Drive further down Lincoln towards Venice, and stop at La Playita mariscos taco stand. Go to Tacos Por Favor on Olympic at 14th.
Do try to go to Father's Office on Montana for the burger - but search this board for reviews so you know the seating etiquette and how to order the burger - or what NOT to do!
Go for drinks at the Huntley Hotel's top floor bar - it's pricey, but the view is to die for! drinks and nibbles won't break the bank.
if you have an expense account, try to go to Giorgio Baldi on West Channel, for good Italian food and a chance to see some celebs.
Or drive up PCH to Topanga/Malibu for a meal on the beach at the Gladstones, The Charthouse, Moonshadows or Dukes - for food, probably Moonshadows is best followed by Charthouse, then by Dukes, and with Gladstones at the bottom - but with a beach-front table, who really cares about the food?
I haven't been, but I hear the dining room at the Casa Del Mar hotel is good, too - also beachfront.
food at casa del mar is overrated & overpriced. go next door to shutters on the beach. unfortunately their fine dining restaurant, one pico, is closed for renovations until mid-march. but they have a terrific casual beachfront spot called "coast" - get a table on the patio for brunch.
I take your post as a request for recommendations for quintessential Los Angeles foods. A short list may include donuts, burgers, chili dogs, tacos and pizza. To leave L.A. without eating foods from each of these basic L.A. food groups is to leave L.A. without ever having arrived.
Peacock Donuts (IMO the best donut stand in L.A. Try the plain cake or any cake donuts, French Crullers, the cinnamon swirl and cinnamon twist, and the buttermilk bars)
34 E. Durate Rd. (1 block East of Santa Anita Ave. & plenty of parking in the rear)
Arcadia, CA 91006
Dad's Donuts & Dogs (Cake donuts, French Crullers, and the buttermilk bars)
2501 W Victory Blvd Ste E
Burbank, CA 91505View Map
Primo's Westdale Doughnuts (Very good Glazed donut and Buttermilk Bar)
2918 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Westwood Village, California
10948 Weyburn Avenue
Burgers and Dogs
In-n-Out Burger, (Try a “Double Double” )
T K Burger (A great burger and really great buns too. Across from the Huntington Beach Pier. This is a truly must do burger meal at Da Beach)
110 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, California 92648
Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
Apple Pan (Cheese Burgers w/ Tillamook Cheddar & Banana Cream Pie, only 20 counter seats)
10801 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064-2105
Cross Street: Westwood Boulevard
Tops (Try the Kobe Bistro burger with a small deep fried zucchini)
3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
Carneys. (For the best Hot dogs, The best chili dog)
8351 Sunset Blvd.
Fish, Shrimp and Asada Tacos
Tacos la Bufadora (I think the shrimp tacos are the best in L.A.)
10990 Lower Azusa Rd (Just West of Santa Anita.)
El Monte, CA 91731
Tacos Baja Ensenada (Maybe the fish tacos here are the best in L.A.)
5385 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles (This area is known as “East LA”)
El Parian Restaurant (Very good Asada tacos)
1528 W. Pico Blvd.
Petrillo's Pizza Restaurant and take-out (IMO, the best in L.A. High quality cheese, Pepperoni and sausage on a very good pizza crust. The negative here is they give you too much. Therefore, you could ask them to be easy on the cheese, Pepperoni and sausage. Also, you must request a “thin crust and pie cut”)
833 E Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Vito’s Pizza (Very good Thin crust pis & Slices)
846 N. La Cienega Blvd. (Near Melrose)
Los Angeles, CA
primo's does have great buttermilk donuts. for glazed old fashioneds and apple fritters, hit up k's donut emporium in sherman oaks.
please please please don't bother with pizza here... you have that covered at home.
agree w/ others re mexican, esp monte alban, tacos por favor, guelaguetza or babita (if you really want to drive).
thai at jitlada or sanam luang
ethiopian on fairfax
a quintessential ocean view could be dinner or drinks at the lobster
if it's sunny, picnic it on the beach w/ bay cities deli
I think they should go to Vito's or Joe's, you know, because I don't think there's been enough discussion lately. Things have been eerily quiet on the NY pizza front.
Beyond that, I say Musha and Father's Office are definite must-stop places.
If you've got time, Joe's in Venice Beach is a great representation of California Cuisine.
I also think you should try Pinkberry so that you're ready for the coming invasion.
My son has lived many years in Brooklyn, everything there seems pricier for what you get. Group dinner parties at home seem more popular for the 20s 30s sets (I guess we did the same thing though) because going out in large groups can be so expensive! So enjoy! Skip the obvious stuff where NYC excels like pizza and deli foods, and go for the stuff we're adept at, Asian, Mexican, etc.
That's a tough question to answer! Any particular cuisine? Price range? I was just in NY (Manhattan) this past week. Here are a two things here in LA that I prefer over NY - sushi and Korean BBQ. You are welcome to try them out and see if you agree.
Sushi Sushi (326 1/2 Beverly Dr, BH 90212)
There are many great sushi places in LA but this is my favorite. This is a go to place for Japanese business men. It's traditional Japanese fare and the sushi is melt-in-your-mouth fresh.
Soot Bull Jeep (3136 W 8th St, LA 90005)
Confirmed by me and my NY-Korean foodie friend, LA has better Korean BBQ. This is the "closest" to Santa Monica located in Koreatown near Downtown. The meat is tender, has an extra sweet, savory depth I haven't had anywhere else. Bring your dirtiest clothes, you will smell like BBQ for the rest of the night.
Other suggestions if you're not into sushi or Korean BBQ:
- Table 8
- Polo Lounge (celebrity hotspot)
Michelin Starred (some, not all):
If you want NY celebrity in LA
- Osteria Mozza
- Pinks Hot Dog (a must when you're in LA)
- Father's Office (best gastropub burger I've had)
- Langer's (LA's best pastrami sandwich shop, but Katz's may be better)
I've only been here for a few years, and the ones listed are a few that have stood out to me. Thankfully there are many great restaurants to explore in this fine city. Hope this helps!!
Ok. So you won't need pizza (but, if you did, we now have a branch of Joe's that just happens to be in Santa Monica). You also don't need Italian or French. Probably our best offerings would be California cuisine (duh!), Chinese, Sushi, and, of course, Mexican.
For starters, you might enjoy going for the oyster and wine happy hour at Ocean Avenue Seafood in S.M. I can't recommend staying for an actual meal, but the happy hour is a very good deal.
For not necessarily authentic Mexican, but nonetheless beautifully executed stuff, go to the Border Grill, also in S.M. For slightly more authentic Americanized Mexican fare, go to The Talpa.
For high end California cuisine that was among the first to define it, you have Michael's, which also happens to be in S.M. For more moderately priced fare in this vein, try Joe's in Venice, which is also nearby.
For sushi, the selection is endless and frequently debated around here. My favorite for lunch is the great value found at Echigo. It happens to be close to S.M. so if you're in the hood at the right time it's a no brainer. As for other sushi options just surf the posting here, depending on what part of town you need to be in for the meal.
For Chinese, you must drive. But it's worth it. There are a million posts here about the great places in the San Gabriel Valley, including a post just a small scroll down from yours about finding great dim sum.