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Help with Jewish/Kosher food in Southern California (Los Angeles)

t
thelpv Mar 20, 2008 01:17 PM

I have a nephew whose 11 and of mixed background. His father was of German/Jewish decent but hasnt been in the picture since he was 4. Recently, he's really been trying to identify with his Jewish roots and has spent extensive time with his father's sister and his family tree; but anyway, he's also been really wanting to eat some real Jewish cuisine - and here's where we're stuck. My family, including myself are pretty damn ignorant when it comes to Jewish food, so this is where I ask for help.

I live in North OC and he lives in the Riverside area, but we're more than willing to drive anywhere within the Southern California area to get some real good Jewish eats.

I know there are many delis in West LA and I would love some recs on those, but also looking for kosher markets and sit-down restaurants. I would also like some tips on German places as well.

Any tips? Recs? Comments?

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  1. g
    gsw Mar 20, 2008 01:42 PM

    What do you mean by Jewish? Do you mean deli? Kosher? Israeli?

    1 Reply
    1. re: gsw
      t
      thelpv Mar 20, 2008 01:53 PM

      i apologize for the generalization, didnt mean to offend anyone if i did..
      Like I said, I'd love some recs on some good deli's, but also some good kosher restaurants as well.

    2. y
      yogachik Mar 20, 2008 01:51 PM

      I don't understand the term jewish food. There are delis like Nate n Als - is that what you mean? Really, it could mean anything from Russian to Hungarian to German to Polish to Mediterranean food, depending on the family.

      1. t
        thelpv Mar 20, 2008 01:57 PM

        i apologize for the generalization, I just re-looked at my post and realized I posted it too hastily without really delving deep into what I really wanted. I just didnt mean to offend anyone if i did..
        Like I said, I'd love some recs on some good deli's, but also some good kosher restaurants as well. If you know of some good Jewish/German food, I'd love to hear it.

        1. j
          jlq3d3 Mar 20, 2008 01:59 PM

          Brent's in the valley gets good reviews for Jewish deli food. For kosher deli food, Pico Kosher Deli in west LA is pretty good.

          1. i
            ITurnedOutTV Mar 20, 2008 02:11 PM

            You could take him to the Fairfax district (but not on a Saturday) and walk up and down Fairfax between Melrose and Beverly. There are several Jewish bakeries and markets, along with Canter's Deli. You'll also be surrounded a lot of Orthodox Jews (and others) going about their day in the area.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ITurnedOutTV
              s
              silverlakebodhisattva Mar 20, 2008 02:22 PM

              I'm gathering that nephew isn't actually "keeping kosher", a set of dietary laws that, when observed strictly make restaurant-hunting a bit more challenging. (I've got an associate who does keep strict kosher; my struggles to find a place downtown to have biz lunch with her is amply posted about hereabouts...)

              If not, then Langer's, by McArthur Park, is a "kosher-style deli" (but is clearly not kosher; they'll give you cheese on your burger, IIRC) with what is regarded by many as the best pastrami on the West Coast. Even Canter's isn't really kosher; they're open 24/7, but along with Art's in the valley, they may be as close to the "East-coast kosher deli experience, but with better weather" as you're going to find.

              Nephew should check out the Fairfax and Pico-Robertson restaurant rows. For maximum culture shock, ideally he should have lunch in a deli or Middle-Eastern place, and then go to the south end of Fairfax and have Ethiopian (which I'm also guessing he doesn't see much in Riverside) for dinner

            2. foodseeker Mar 20, 2008 02:28 PM

              Since Passover is right around the corner - what you might want to do is pick up some type of seder dinner from a place that does take out for passover (Clementines in West LA comes to mind, but I know there are other places), and just have the food at home. Or, you can find a place that actually does passover seders. I'm sure there are some in LA, although I don't know which specific restaurants. Passover seders would have more authentic food than deli-type food if you're looking to give your nephew a real experience. Just an idea.

              3 Replies
              1. re: foodseeker
                t
                thelpv Mar 20, 2008 02:58 PM

                thanks so much for your suggestions! Just talked to my sister and told her about this post and she told me he's actually going to a seder next month and that's another reason he's looking more and more into Jewish cuisine and culture. I'll be sure to mention this idea (finding a place that does a passover seder) to his mom and him so maybe we can all check it out together.

                Thanks again!

                1. re: thelpv
                  Servorg Mar 20, 2008 07:33 PM

                  Another choice in the West LA area, (just outside the Santa Monica border) is Habayit. It's Israeli food and it's kosher.

                  Habayit
                  11921 W Pico Blvd (between Granville & Westgate Ave)
                  Los Angeles 90064
                  310-479-5444

                  1. re: thelpv
                    s
                    silverlakebodhisattva Mar 21, 2008 09:54 AM

                    This is getting sort of off-topic, but not completely: a good way for the Neph to get more deeply in touch with his roots is to get invited to a Seder that someone's doing at their home. Lots of folks will probably be glad to help him, and extend hospitality to him, if he and you ask around, and will encourage him in finding as much about this as he wants; since this is one of the "big three" Jewish observances, and the one in which food plays the largest role. He will find, if he looks around in So Cal, folks doing Seders in all forms, and persuasions, from extremely long ultra-Orthodox ones (where you eat, and you pray, and you drink a glass of wine, and you eat, and you pray, and you drink a glass of wine, etc. for four or five hours, and where the Hagadah says everyone is to drink a glass of wine, they mean a GLASS, not a sip. though they'll let an 11 year old get by with grape juice.) to hippie/New-Age-y ones (there's still a "Santa Cruz Hagadah"" out there) to a handful of folks doing (the first Seder I went to in So Cal ) completely secular cultural events; I went to an essentially Marxist Seder in 1977 or so, in which God wasn't mentioned at all, and the bondage of the Jews in Egypt was discussed entirely in terms of the struggle for the liberation of the working class. No, I'm NOT makin' it up. . .

                2. ElsieDee Mar 20, 2008 04:18 PM

                  Hi - you might want to try posting this request to the Kosher board here on CH, too (http://www.chowhound.com/boards/28 ) - they might be able to point you and your nephew to some other ideas.

                  1. westsidegal Mar 20, 2008 06:53 PM

                    for yemeni/middle eastern jewish cuisine, go to:
                    Magic Carpet
                    8566 W Pico Blvd
                    Los Angeles, CA 90035-2410
                    Phone: (310) 652-8507

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: westsidegal
                      Robert Lauriston Mar 21, 2008 10:21 AM

                      They're closing, Sunday's their last day.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        t
                        thelpv Mar 21, 2008 12:54 PM

                        ive heard of this place on other boards. their closing this sunday, March 23rd? better get there before then.

                        1. re: thelpv
                          Robert Lauriston Mar 22, 2008 09:23 AM

                          That's what the server told us, tomorrow will be their last day.

                    2. r
                      rachaeln Mar 20, 2008 07:17 PM

                      Pat's on Pico is pretty much the best regarded Kosher restaurant in town, but, they serve Italian food...if what you're thinking of is more traditional Ashkenazi foods, (which would be things like cholent, kreplach, sweet and sour tongue and brisket) then you should just check out a kosher style deli like Nate n' Als or Canters as others suggested...those are foods most kosher observant people don't go out to eat...

                      PAT'S http://www.greatrestaurantsmag.com/KO...

                      1. p
                        poggibonzzi Mar 20, 2008 08:06 PM

                        When I'm hankering for Jewish food, I head for Nate and Al's. I've found it's food more to my liking than Jerry's, Canter's, Junior's or Roll N Rye. There is Milky Way which I have never tried; it's owned by Steven Spielberg's mom and frequented by rabbis.

                        1. g
                          gsw Mar 20, 2008 09:00 PM

                          FYI - if you want to help your nephew get in touch with his Jewish heritage, you might want to take him to the Skirball Cultural Center. Here's a link:

                          http://www.skirball.org/

                          You can go to the galleries, see exhibits, and attend programs.

                          They also have a restaurant at the Center, Zeidler's Cafe, which has had good reviews.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: gsw
                            t
                            thelpv Mar 21, 2008 12:52 PM

                            wow, thanks for the awesome rec! I've always seen the sign for this place off the 405 and never consciously thought of going there. Will definetely check out, thanks!

                          2. s
                            samse Mar 20, 2008 09:06 PM

                            I have had very little exposure to Jewish food, but a friend recommended I try Brents in the SFV, Northridge I think, whenever I'm down in the LA area. I've also heard from many others that Cantors is not what it once was.

                            1. Das Ubergeek Mar 21, 2008 10:35 AM

                              OK, so here's the thing.

                              There's "Jewish" food by which most people mean Eastern-European Ashkenazic food, whether it's kosher or not. Things like matzoh ball soup and cutlets and chopped liver and gefilte fish and that sort of thing. You can get that at any number of delis (Nate and Al's, Katella Deli, Langer's, Brent's, Billy's), but it is NOT KOSHER.

                              Kosher has nothing to do with a particular kind of food, meaning that you can have kosher Chinese, kosher Lebanese, kosher Ethiopian, kosher Italian, whatever. Kosher means in accordance with the Jewish dietary laws, and they are so complex that I am not even going to get into them, except to mention the three biggies:

                              1. No mixing meat and dairy. Fish is not considered meat, and eggs are not considered dairy.
                              2. No "forbidden" food -- no pork, no shellfish, no abnormal things like crickets and whatnot
                              3. Food preparation has to be supervised by a person trained in the ways of kashrut ("kosherness"). For packaged food in a market, the factories are inspected, and for cooked food in a restauraunt, a Jewish person has to at least light the flame that cooks the food.

                              So. If your nephew wants actually KOSHER food, there are three areas in Los Angeles with large concentrations of orthodox Jews: Pico/Robertson, Fairfax/3rd, and Valley Village.

                              In Valley Village I recommend a place called Cafe Eilat, just west of Whitsett on Burbank Blvd. They have very good shakshuka, wonderful salads and good sandwiches and baked goods. It is a "dairy" restaurant, meaning there is no meat (again, fish doesn't count as meat for kashrut).

                              Burbank and Whitsett also has a lot of kosher bakeries and markets. Glatt Mart is the one I used to go to, which is on Burbank and Fulton, across from Valley College.

                              There is exactly one kosher restaurant in Orange County and it is a deli down in Laguna Hills.

                              1. weinstein5 Mar 22, 2008 09:45 AM

                                A fun spot as well and to let him try a true kosher hotdog - Jeff's Gourmet Kosher Sausage - it is fun and excellent

                                -----
                                Jeff's Gourmet Kosher Sausage
                                8930 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

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