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NE hound on a mad dash through L.A. needs help

Hello Fellow Hounds in L.A.,
I'm going to L.A. the week after Easter Sunday, and I really need some advice. I'm looking for
"roadfood" or "dives, drive-ins, and diners" kinds of places on any route between LAX -->
Fullerton --> Irvine --> Pasadena --> LAX. Alas, I don't have time for a fancy meal or off-the-beaten-path restaurant. I just like to eat things I can't get in New England/NY. I've
been to L.A. perhaps 7-8 times and was married there (to a local gal). My favs so far, to
give you an idea: In&Out burger, El Pollo Loco, and Marie Callendar's strawberry pie (the best
pie I've ever had). This time, my only must-try is Jay Bee's BBQ. You get the idea that I don't
really know L.A.! Anyone willing to share your culinary wisdom? Thank you.

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  1. On the way from LAX to Fullerton, stop in Norwalk and go to El Taco Nazo for the very best fish and shrimp tacos in LA.

    El Taconazo
    11833 Alondra Blvd, Norwalk, CA 90650

    1. In Alhambra, just a few miles south of Pasadena is Shakas, Great Hawaiian Teriyaki and bacon fried rice. In Eagle Rock right next to Pasadena you have Oinkster for a great pastrami sandwich, also in Eagle Rock is Julio's the Bucket for a really good burger, new owners and the are doing the Julio tradition proud!

      2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

      The Bucket
      4541 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

      101 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

      1. In Pasadena, one of the classic diners is Pie & Burger.

        Pie 'n Burger
        913 E California Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106

        1. If you head up to the 210 after Irvine, you can check-out the Donut Man in Glendora for strawberry donuts (many threads on this topic - one of the more recent has a photo of the luscious thing) and crullers.

          1. Thank you all for your terrific suggestions! I can't wait to get to L.A...not just for the weather! If you ever plan to drop by New England, drop me a line!

            1 Reply
            1. re: NYA Joe

              Another place that would fill your bill, (and your stomach) and is on the way from LAX to Fullerton if you are taking the 405 is Gaffey Street Diner in San Pedro. It's been featured on Food TV's Road Food or Diner's, Drive-Inn's and Dive's (cant recall which one). Especially wonderful for breakfast with their fresh house made biscuits and white gravey. It comes with sausage on the biscuits buried under an avalanche of gravy and 2 eggs.

              You can see their menu here: http://losangeles.menupages.com/resta...

            2. In east Pas, you'd be a fool to not go to Tops and get their Kobe burger (even more of a fool to eschew it to go to that dump Pie'n'Burger). LA is a a burger city with lots of phenomenal options from high end (Father's Office, Lucky Devils, etc...) to low end (In-N-Out, Tommy's) and I've tried them all. Of all of them I keep finding myself wishing I didn't live 45 minutes from Tops, but it still doesn't stop me from making the drive out when I need a fix. It's a burger as good as any you'll find, and it's an awesome value (under $6.50). Not to mention one small order of their chili-cheese fries is enough to make a family of three die happy of heart attacks.

              Seriously, if you give it a try and don't like it, send me an e-mail. I'll send you a pic of me eating my own shoe with ketchup.

              3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
              Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
              (626) 449-4412

              1. Close to LAX, I would rec Pann's for a diner type place and good food - Guy would like it.

                If you want soul food near the airport, try Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch.

                Depending which way you cross from Pas to LAX, you could stop for a good taco or burrito or Mexican at a roadfood locale.

                What other foods do you feel you *can't* get in NE?

                4 Replies
                1. re: Emme

                  I had the waffle and fried chicken wings at Pann's last Sunday morning, and second the recommendation. You get your choice of four wings or six. I made the mistake of ordering six: it almost did me in, but those are very good wings...

                  Service at Pann's was very good from the host and from my server; I overheard another service continously and annoyingly try to oversell the tables assigned to her (her voice carried). Seemed very out of place with the overall ambiance, but I could mostly ignore it.

                  Chicken and waffles (and many, many other choices too) in a diner that really is from the fifties and has managed to retain that decor and look without looking really tired, with a diverse clientele, some dressed in their Sunday church best, some in shorts and t's, and pretty much anything in between, and at least twenty Harleys parked in front when I got there. A very 'only in LA' sort of feel, you gotta love it (at least I did)...

                  Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                  6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                  1. re: Emme

                    Hello Emme, thank you for suggesting Pann's and Aunt Kizzy's. If you know of any specific taco or burrito taqueria, I'd appreciate it.

                    I'm interested in anything that's different, in a good way. I know L.A. will have superior Mexican, Korean, and anything with fresh veggies or fruit (I love Souplantation - nothing like it in NE; and my friends know a box of Bluejay mandarin oranges from L.A. is my idea of friendship!). But I'm just as sure that L.A. has put its own flair into burgers (Hound "rogermexico" has stoked my fire about the Kobe burger!), pizza, hot dogs, BBQ, desserts, etc. For example, I would have gone to L.A. for Pink Berry, if they hadn't opened up in NY. So, I'm easy to please. I've been going through the chain restaurants up to now, but with the help of the Hounds, I know I can graduate to local eateries and one-of-a-kind dishes. Thanks for asking!

                    1. re: NYA Joe

                      There's a few places in West LA I'd recommend, but don't know your route. There's Tacomiendo, Tacos Por Favor, Monte Alban and Gilbert's El Indio- all good.

                      1. re: Emme

                        Emme, thank you...I didn't specify route because it depends on the recommendations I get from this board! 8b

                        Thank you very much for those names!

                  2. I agree wit some of da above and wanna say some mo.

                    First -I owe Boston Hounds. Here is my post under my old Chowhound handle. We will be returning to Boston in June and much looking forward to doing it all over again.

                    Now for the stuff that you will not find Back East

                    Try This form LAX --> Fullerton -->

                    Pann's (Fried Chicken Dinner)
                    6710 La Tijera Blvd
                    Los Angeles, CA 90045

                    El Parian Restaurant (Great Asada Tacos but forget about the chips and salsa)
                    1528 W. Pico Blvd.
                    Los Angeles
                    (213) 386-7361
                    Just West of the Harbor Fry. (From the street hey LOOK as if they are closed but open the door).

                    Tacos Baja Ensenada (Shrimp Tacos)
                    5385 Whittier Blvd
                    Los Angeles, CA 90022
                    (323) 887-1980

                    Fullerton --> Irvine -->

                    Curry House (Curry chicken, Curry Hamburger Steak, Shrimp or Pasta)
                    14407 Culver Drive
                    Irvine, CA 92604

                    Irvine --> Pasadena ->

                    El Jacal (True Mexico style Asada Tacos – Fresh made corn tortilla w/ just asada & ripe avocado, great chips and salsa)
                    13414 Ramona Blvd
                    Baldwin Park, CA 91706-3902
                    (626) 813-4419
                    Open 7 days, 8am to 9pm.
                    Several blocks East of the 605

                    The Original Tops (The Kobe Bistro Burger at The Original Tops (Probably L.A.’s best burger)-- ½ lb. American Kobe Beef Burger cooked as you order it, Smoked Mozzarella Cheese, Caramelized onions, Tomato and special Greens, Herb Mayonnaise all on a Ciabatta roll. Also, The Asada Tostada salad is outstanding)
                    3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
                    Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
                    (626) 449-4412

                    Pasadena --> LAX.

                    My Taco (Potato Tacos and Asada Sopes)
                    6300 York Blvd Ste 4
                    Los Angeles, CA, 90042
                    (323) 256-2698

                    Shakas (Bacon Fried Rice and Real Shave Ice)
                    101 W. Main St. #C (Enter from First Street behind Starbucks Coffee)
                    Alhambra, CA
                    (626) 293-5520

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: JeetJet

                      Wow, JeetJet, thank you very much! I'm drooling already...can't wait to get on that plane Monday morning!

                      1. re: NYA Joe

                        I just went to The Original Tops this morning and had that Kobe Bistro Burger again but this time I aksed them to add a fried egg on top. It just seem like the right thing to do since it was 8:00 am and it was for breakfast. Every time I have that burger it seems bigger than I remember it form the last time. There are so many flavors going on that I must admit that I did not notice the egg other than seeing it -- it was there.

                        Also, I eat at El Jacal about once a week. I mostly go at breakfast but when I go for lunch I have one asada taco and one shrimp taco. They offer maybe 6 different types of shrimp The only item I do not like there is the shrimp cocktail but every other sauce is perfect, special and all are made fresh.

                        You might also consider a salad. IMO, the best Chinese Chicken Salad in L.A. (certainly something you will not find back east) is at California Chicken Cafe.I ask for extra almonds but request no pasta and no wontons. The dressing is outstanding as is the salad and fresh cooked chicken. Even without the pasta and wontons this is a very large meal and very filling.

                        California Chicken Cafe
                        2005 Westwood Boulevard
                        (between Olympic and Santa Monica)
                        Los Angeles, CA 90025
                        Telephone: (310) 446-1933
                        For other locations & menu go to...

                        1. re: JeetJet

                          Thanks for the Chinese Chicken Salad recommendation...that is exactly the sort of thing I want to try. The only edible version I can get in Boston is at the Cheesecake Factory. But I remember the one I had 12 years ago at Souplantation and it was pretty good at half the price, along with the rest of the salad buffet. I am hoping the one at Calif. Chicken Cafe is even better...

                      2. re: JeetJet

                        For a very L.A. treat, if you're going to York in Highland Park, keep going west to Avenues 54 and 53 and order some tacos from either the La Estella or Pinque taco trucks.

                        1. re: hpcat

                          Real L.A. tacos...from a truck? I'm drooling. Oh man...let me look at the map...

                          1. re: hpcat

                            Wow, I've been on google for a while...I cannot find any address that matches the description above: York, Highland Park, Avenue 54, 53, La Estella or Pinque.

                            1. re: NYA Joe

                              Highland Park is part of the City of Los Angeles (the same way you might talk about Murray Hill, but it's still part of New York). Hpcat is talking about the corner of York Blvd. and Avenues 54 and 53.


                              Taco trucks typically don't have anything on the Web. You might check the Great Taco Hunt blog for details.

                          2. re: JeetJet

                            Good suggestions above. One more thought. If the route from Pasadena to LAX takes the 210 to the 134 to the 405, consider a stop at El Taco Llama in North Hollywood. It is located just a bit north of the 134 on Magnolia (take the Cahuenga exit and turn right on Magnolia). It is a stand outside a car wash, and is not open at night. If that one is not open, there is another El Taco Llama at Sherman Way near Lankersheim or, if it night, go to Tacos La Fonda, a taco truck, that parks at the car wash on Vanowen and Vineland.

                            Don't overlook Los Angeles Thai food. Again, if your trip takes you along the 101, take a detour to Sherman Way between Fulton and the 170. (The 134 runs directly into the 170, so it is a quick 5 minutes to the Coldwater exit.) There are a bunch of excellent Thai restaurants there. My personal favorite is Krua Thai, but there are a lot of posts about the different North Hollywood Thai restaurants.

                            1. re: Jwsel

                              Oh man...I love Thai food. And thanks for the Mexican recommendations...a taco stand outside a car wash is exactly what I want to try. I wouldn't have the guts to try any random one. But a Hound-recommended one is a must-try.

                              OK, time to make a map of all the places and see how many I can actually hit, lacking the powers of Superman nor riding Santa's sleigh.

                              1. re: NYA Joe

                                I don't know anything about the Highland Park trucks that hpcat pointed out, but Tacos La Fonda is an incredibly good taco truck. It usually parks at the car wash around dusk (Jwsel, maybe you have exact times?).

                                Those Thai restaurants on Sherman Way -- wow. There's Krua Thai, Swan Thai, Sunshine Thai, Bua Siam, Sanamluang, Khun Dang, Sri Siam... some have $2.50 menus written in Thai, but none of them are at all "fancy". Try the pad thai Krua Thai (NOT the "regular" pad thai) and the som tum with blue crab at Krua Thai. I believe each is $7.

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  Thank you very much for the clarification. I made up a map of all the places listed in this topic...and I'm sad to say that many of them are bunched up so I'll have to pick from one or two among the clumps. I'll try to report about my experience afterwards, for those interested.

                                  1. re: NYA Joe

                                    The very best Thai food in Southern California, and probably in the top 5 of Thai food on the continent, is just off a possible route for your LAX-Fullerton drive.

                                    Thai Nakorn is at the corner of Beach Blvd. and Chapman Ave. in Stanton (behind a drive-through Starbucks). From the 91 get off at Beach Boulevard, head south, turn right at Chapman Avenue, and right into the first driveway.

                                    Order absolutely anything off the "house specials" list on the left side of the first page of the menu. Nothing's expensive -- I think the most expensive thing on the menu might be $13 -- but it's absolutely unbelievably good Thai food, and it scratches my itch when I can't get to Lotus of Siam in Vegas.