Visiting from NYC
Hi All - My boyfriend and I will be in LA for four nights in April (West Hollywood hotel). I've never been to LA before so other than some internet research, I'm clueless. What are some "can't miss" dining recommendations? We love food and are extremely into dining here in NYC. We're in our late 20s and don't mind spending a lot for a worthy meal, but we also love to mix it up with notable casual spots and ethnic holes in the wall - and since this is LA, maybe even an "US Weekly" type spot! We eat all kinds of food so don't worry about cuisine restrictions.
Thanks very much!
The Ivy comes to mind as the "US Weekly" spot.
I don't get over the the Westside very often, but I do enjoy a trip to Sawtelle Blvd. in Santa Monica every now and again. Within a few blocks are an array of Japanese and Japanese-influenced places. These are just a few: Orris (eclectic small plates), Asahi Ramen, a fantastic Korean place I forget the name of (has the word "tofu" in it), Sawtelle Kitchen, and many others. Plus, there are some fun shops (like Giant Robot) and bakeries and things.
For higher-end I would rule out Osteria Mozza because you have Babbo in NYC. Instead you might try Providence, Grace, or Josie. Providence is my personal favorite.
Finally, you should have Mexican food.
Also great for the celeb/ L.A. thing could be Il Sole on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood or Giorgio Baldi on West Channel in Santa Monica (drinks first at Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel which is a great, L.A. Bar Scene.) Sushi is amazing here in L.A. Omakase style at Sushi Zo ( about 20 minutes from West Hollywood) or Wa Sushi right in West Hollywood. You could also go to Koi or Matsuhisa on La Cienega. Casual fun for lunch could be Urth Cafe on Melrose. I also really like the food at Chaya Brasserie on Alden, just off Robertson. It is Asian/french/california fusion and delicious and that kind of food is not as typical in New York as it is in L.A. For higher end I prefer Grace and Table 8 to Providence.
I just came back from a visit with my sister who lives in Brooklyn (Clinton Hill) and have a pretty strong opinion on dining in NY vs. LA, and I think your dining habits in NYC will greatly dictate what sort of places you'll find appealing here.
If you are the type of person that journeys out to Bed Stuy to eat fantastic Somalian food, Los Angeles is a treasure trove of outrageously delicious, cheap and authentic ethnic foods from all over Asia... particularly Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and all manner of regional Chinese cooking. These places are full of locals, low on style (not a red paper lantern in sight) but serve up dumplings, for example, the likes of which you've never had (that is, unless you've been to China... or Queens!)
If you are the type like my sister (which is to say 20-30 something artistic yuppie type) you frequent places like Sushi D, which was high on style and price but way low on authenticity and quality. I ate my way through beautifully presented but overly mayonnaisey rice balls with hardly any fish, and when I did taste the scrap of fish that they had tucked away, all the fish tasted the same. Contrast this with Sushi Gen's $16 sashimi lunch special (in Little Tokyo, downtown LA) which gets you an extremely generous platter of very good quality sashimi (particularly for the price-- enough for 2 to share), several small salads and miso soup.
There are others who can direct you to the "Us Weekly" type places. But if you really do care about food, and you're really into checking out authentic holes in the wall where you may be the only one there not speaking the native language, check out some of my top ethnic favorites all over the LA basin. (You must be prepared to drive).
This list is by NO MEANS exhaustive!
Specialty dishes in each place:
Woodlands: in "Little India" - south indian veggie buffet, super delicious dosas & the like. Soot Bull Jeep - bulgogi! Din Tai Fung - Taiwanese take on Shanghai xiao long bao "soup dumplings". Sanam Luang - Pad see ew. Banh Mi Che Cali - in "Little Saigon" vietnamese sandwich, bbq beef or pork, on fresh baked baguette-- 3 for $4 Beverly Soon Tofu-- tofu soup and bbq.... get the bbq squid which is massive and delicious, and the egg is raw... don't try to peel it like a hard boiled egg. Mei Long Village - PORK PUMP! Luscious dumplings.... DUMPLINGS (best in LA) and beef noodle soup. Philippe's in Chinatown for a big dose of "Old LA" and the lamb french dip sandwich... don't forget the massive delicious and inexpensive pie (lemon meringue and banana/coconut cream are my faves) and coffee for 9 cents :)
Din Tai Fung Restaurant
1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
Sanam Luang Cafe
5170 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Soot Bull Jeep
3136 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005
704 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant
2717 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Mei Long Village
301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Woodlands Indian Cuisine
11833 Artesia Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701
Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery - duplicate
15551 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA
For truly extraordinary culinary experience, may I suggest:
1. Providence--do the chef's tasting menu and reserve the Chef Table
2. Urasawa--most fantastic sushi and Japanese delicacies
Both $$$$ but worthwhile.
Staying in WeHo right now. A few other thoughts: breakfast at Jinky's on Sunset at Alta Loma is easy and great. Oysters and lobster roll at Hungry Cat on Vine north of Sunset was great the other night, and we met new friends over stone crab claws for life. Make sure to head to the Getty in Malibu, and make a reservation at the finer dining restaurant - you'll look smart when others are told there's a 45 minute wait. And the Getty experience isn't bad either. Have fun.