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Feb 29, 2008 06:05 AM

Canadian going to LA: need suggestions

Going to LA in a few months. Don't know where to eat.

A little background:
-Mexican food in Canada is pretty much crap, so could use a fix
-Preference for casual places. Nothing chi chi.
-Forget which food network show it was, could have been RR's tasty travels (shame on me), but there was one mexican restaurant I saw that specialized in grilled fish...

Also, not that this is a travel site, but which area of LA should I be staying in for convenient access to good food/activities?

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  1. Well, if you want the fish AND the Mexican, go to the Boyle Heights location of La Serenata de Garibaldi. It's in, hm, a "transitional" neighbourhood, but it's safe, and the atmosphere in the restaurant is great. The fish is excellent and the sauces (try the huitlacoche sauce if they have it) are wonderful. The only thing is that they don't have a hard-liquor license so it's wine margaritas only which are not very tasty.

    The Westside branches (Santa Monica and West LA) are not as good and don't have the ambiance.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      La Serenata is good.

      Grilled fish Mexican style? I have heard that there are many seaside stalls in San Pedro harbor - I have never been myself, but all my Indian friends who have rave about them. Simply grilled fish with just a few condiments.

      If you are looking for additional Mexican places - not sure if they have grilled fish - then here are 3 that get good vibes on chowhound:

      BABITA, 1823 S. SAN GABRIEL BLVD., SAN GABRIEL; (626) 288-7265.
      J. Gold’s review - gueritos rellenos; mixote; chiles en nogada; seared fish with huitlacoche vinaigrette, shrimp Topolobampo, pumpkin flavored powerfully with fresh epazote, a delicious pickled salad with cotija cheese, and a classic version of beef barbacoa, roasted beef cheeks, dripping with a tart tomatillo-laced gravy.

      LA CABANITA, 3447 N. VERDUGO ROAD, GLENDALE 818-957-2711

      LOTTERIA IN FARMER’S MARKET (323) 930-2211
      Tacos and moles

      1. re: suvro

        Definitely recommend Babita. The food is on the sophisticated end of L.A.'s Mexican restaurants, but not "chi chi." It's in an obscure building in an otherwise Asian neighborhood. Give yourself lots of time for dinner at Babita, because it's notorious for the kitchen to take a long time to get dishes out.

        If you're willing to go to the neighborhood where Babita is located, you should also consider the dense concentration of regional Chinese specialties in the San Gabriel Valley. I know that Toronto's got plenty of good Chinese, but I doubt you'll find the depth and breadth of specialists that we have in this part of L.A.

    2. Above suggestions are fantastic. Have to also say that Baja Fresh is pretty great. A fast but fresh food chain that does burritos, tacos, the usual fair with a well-stocked salsa bar. I am a BIG fan of their grilled fish tacos ad burritos (be sure to ask for grilled if that's the direction you want otherwise you might get fried fish which is fine to, but I personally like the grilled much more).

      Here's a great taco blog from a taco-obsessed individual who has basically explored every inch of Los Angeles and reviews all the little hole-in-the-wall taco places:

      2 Replies
      1. re: bite bite

        These sound very promising. Thanks for the feedback. It'll be bittersweet when I have one of those tacos and think that Toronto is sorely lacking.

        What about non-mexican?

        1. re: grandgourmand

          Are you looking for food from different countries -- in which case, Korean is very well represented here. Here's a thread on the topic:

          There's also a lot of excellent Chinese especially in the San Gabriel Valley. Triumphal Palace is spectacular. There's also nice DimSum downtown -- I'm a fan of Ocean Seafood for that but am not an aficionado.

          Mishima on 3rd just East of La Cienaga (West Hollywood area) has good udon noodles and Japanese munchies

          Some tasty lowish-key American/Euro fare --

          SWINGERS -- on Beverly Blvd is a good dinerish joint w/lots for breakfast as well. Punk waitresses in short plaid skirts.

          VILLAGE IDIOT -- on Melrose has great pub food and good beer

          HUNGRY CAT -- Hollwood and Vine area -- very popular with a lot of people on this board -- I'm on the fence -- but eat there a decent amount and have had some good dishes. Lots of fresh seafood and a decent scene

          CAMPANILE (La Brea and 6th ish) -- is a bit fancier, Northern Italianish -- but on Thursday they have grilled cheese night which is pretty damn good

          The Rose -- Venice BeachSanta Monica area has lots of salady stuff and a good classic brunch. Close to the beach.

          The Farmers Market (on 3rd and Fairfax -- right next to The Grove mall) -- has tonnes of little stalls with all sorts of cuisines represented:
          * Lotteria for Mexican as mentioned above.
          * Monsieur Marcel quite nice French restaurant. Most apseration to fanciness of all the farmers market places -- but still very low key
          * Banana Leaf -- a nice little Singaporian stall.
          * Pampas -- a fabulous Brazilian Grill
          * Moishe's -- great falafels
          etc, ect, etc

          If you search around on these boards you can find a bunch more places to try. By in large LA tends to be a pretty casual place so you won't find a lot of eateries that you have to dress up for...

      2. When I go to a far away land, I try to see, do, experience, and of course eat well (but not $$ silly/foolishly) what I can't do back home. I did a brief search on a restaurant web site that had both Tornoto & L.A. and in it's data base found these differences:

        # in L.A. . / . # in Toronto . / . Cuisine Type
        197 - vs. - 20 . of . Cajun, Creole, Southern, Soul
        13 - vs. - 0 . of . Hawaian
        1 ? - vs. 0 . of . Burmese

        Harold & Bell's - Cajun/Creole - Best in L.A. (but not in the best area of town).
        2920 W. Jefferson Blvd., (323) 735-3376

        Even though Toronto has the following - I am guessing it doesn't favorably compare, ?:

        Hawaian - Roy's (Downtown) - It's a chain, closest to you is Chicago, Philly, NYC.

        Blog - Review:

        Golden Triangle - Burmese - Whitter - Click on the slide show link at bottom:

        Mexican - Go with "Das Ubergeek's" suggestion and/or Babita.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JBC

          Thanks all...these are great suggestions.

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