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LA Newbie - What/where is a MUST eat?

Hi all,

I'm a Brooklyn boy who will be in LA for thursday-sun. I've never been to LA before, and I'm having trouble finding recommendations for those foodie "must-try" spots. Sure, a guidebook can send me to the fanciest and most well-established places, but in my experiences those places are usually not worth the money, or have declined since they were picked up by the guidebooks, and are now packed with tourists.

I'm interested in a few meals - breakfast, lunch, dinner, maybe just a stop on the road - but I want to know what's out there. I've heard so much about the variety of food available in LA, but I don't know where to begin. I've got a car and a small budget, so short trips are possible, and five star restaurants are possible. I'm always interested in a burger, mexican, or japanese food, but really anything you think is worth trying, I'm ready to give it a shot.

So, if you had a friend coming to LA for a weekend, and they had never been there before - where would you take them?

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  1. Langer's deli, if for no other reason than a true Katz v Langer's comparison.

    1. Jitlada for Thai - possibly the best That you will ever eat outside of Thailand (and it would be good in Thailand, too.) Order off the Southern Thai menu. It's in Hollywood at Sunset and Harvard, a few blocks east of Western.

      A good taqueria or taco truck or cart. My favorite taqueria is either La Taquiza at Figureroa and 33rd, near USC; or the North Broadway branch of Carnitas Michoacan. (North of Chinatown.) My favorite cart is out at night on Cesar Chavez Blvd. the south side of the street, just a few blocks west of Gage - southwest corner of Hicks and Cesar Chavez. It is the finest al pastor I've had outside of Mexico.

      For what you New Yorkers call soup dumplings and we refer to as Xiao Long Bao Or XLB for short, my favorites are at J&J Shanghai, 301 W. Valley Blvd. in San Gabriel. Totally kick the butt of the places I've been taken to in NY. I like the rest of the food there as well.

      If you're going to be out in the San Gabriel Valley, Babita, on San Gabriel Blvd. just a bit north of the 10 fwy, is a truly superb gourmet Mexican restaurant.

      Also in the San Gabriel Valley are a number of choices for dim sum. My favorite for cart service is 888 Seafood on Valley Blvd. in Rosemead. For ordering off the menu I'm partial to Elite on South Atlantic Blvd. in Monterey Park.

      I'm also very fond of Chichen Itza - a Yucatecan restaurant - on 6th near Macarthur Park.

      My own favorite five star meal in L.A. is at Providence, on Melrose east of Highland - fantastic, creative, seafood-oriented cooking. I wouldn't bother with the Mozzas - Pizzeria or Osteria - or any other Italian for that matter, you can do better in the NY area. I'm also very fond of the Saddle Peak Lodge, up off of Malibu Canyon or some such. Great food and an excellent atmosphere. If you want a fancy, expensive, hotel brunch - the Bel Air Hotel is awfully nice.

      There is fantastic sushi to be had in any number of places. Someone will probably mention Urusawa, but I think it's overpriced - and is not demonstrably any better than Masa in New York. Do a search on this board for sushi and you'll come up with a lot of places.

      Likewise there are a lot of fantastic Japanese noodle places, most of them in Gardena and thereabouts - do a search on here for ramen or some such and you'll have plenty of choices.

      There's good burgers all over town. A lot of people swear by the ones at Father's Office - in Santa Monica or the new branch in Culver City. I like the ones at Gary Bric's Ramp on Hollywood Way at the 5 freeway overpass in Burbank. A lot of people swear by In 'n Out Burgers - which is a mostly local chain - but I think it is only good in the context of a fast food chain, it is not a great burger, not all that better than you can get at, say, Carl's Jr. or somewhere like that. (Although far superior to McDonald's, Burger King, Jack in the Box and chains of that ilk.) And the fries there are terrible.

      That's my two-and-a-half-cents. Happy hunting.

      3 Replies
      1. re: estone888

        thanks for the excellent reply! Seems we've got our work cut out for us!

        1. re: spiffae

          Definitely Father's Office for a great burger, but get there early, order at the bar and don't ask for ketchup!

        2. re: estone888

          I second Jitlada. It's not for everybody--the Southern Thai menu is super-adventurous and probably unsuitable for newbies to SE Asian food. But it's consistently the most exciting food I eat around here (so long as you order off the Southern Thai menu--other stuff is good if not ordinary). I second the general recommendation of Chinese in the SGV. I would also add Indian in Artesai (try, e.g., Udupi Palace and Tirupathi Bhimas).

          So I'm not saying Asian food is superior to Western food by any means (I probably prefer Western dining overall), but the fact is you can get good or better Western food throughout the United States. I have yet to find a Western place in LA that I would consider remarkable by national standards. And LA, a little more than most locales, is about "the scene."

          In general, it's a safe bet to go through Jonathan Gold's recs.

        3. B/C you have never been to LA before, I recommend The Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset right by the Keyclub & the Roxy, a stone's throw from the Whiskey A Go-Go for dinner and the entertainment factor (check out their website). The Rainbow is "world-famous" and many Rockers have frequented the Bow and still do. The food is actually good and the people watching is spectacular. The bartenders do not know what a count is, so be weary - the drinks are strong! Prepare yourself for a late night when you find yourself in the upstairs bar area! Now, my fellow Chowhounders are probably screaming NO NO NO or laughing their Arses off, but that's my two cents. New York has GREAT foodie spots, but they don't have the Rainbow with our sparkle sidewalk (can anyone say flashbacks after a few long islands?).

          1 Reply
          1. re: BasilKitty

            NO NO NO

            The Strip has a very narrow appeal. If your Time Machine breaks down in front of the Rainbow Room you could probably find some spare parts in that place.

          2. Where will you be? You can have (almost) anything (almost) anywhere.

            2 Replies
            1. re: cls

              We'll be at the Standard - downtown.

              1. re: spiffae

                Izayoi for Izakaya (2nd and Central)
                Sushi Gen for Sushi (2nd and Alameda)
                Water Grill sit at the bar and enjoy the raw bar, ask for Steve (Grand and 4th.)
                Edison on Thursday for 35 cent martinis. (could tell you where but have to...)
                The Standard rooftop.
                There's a little diner (Pete's I think) up main past Chinatown across from the new park.
                Philippe's French Dip
                Hop Louie in Chinatown for drinks.
                Mike's Hockeyburger on Soto and Washington
                Dirty dogs at the little stand at 2nd and Beaudry late night on weekends
                Shibucho on Beverly before Virgil for great omakase sushi and very expensive red wine.
                Daikokuya on 1st and San Pedro for ramen.
                Let me know if you want more...

            2. spiffae,

              I would start by perusing this list from Jonathan Gold -- LA's own Pulitzer Prize winning food critic. It's not necessary the "best" 99 restaurants, but only the "essential" ones ... whatever that may mean.

              Once you've looked over the list, come back and feel free to ask more follow up questions. It's easier to ask when there is some point of reference in mind, and it's definitely easier to answer when the questions are more specific, and not so open-ended.


              Hope you enjoy your stay.

              1. There are lots of NYers who visit LA for the first time and post similar threads:


                I've found that the way to start, especially with a budget constraint, is to start hitting up specific ethnic neighborhoods.

                The Jonathan Gold recommendation is a superb one. The man won a Pulitzer Prize for food writing, and for good reason.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Diana

                  Not to go off on a tangent here, but the "accuracy of his reviews?" He's a food critic...

                  Anyway, my must-try spots are:
                  Langer's Deli
                  any decent taco truck
                  Golden Deli
                  Father's Office
                  Din Tai Fung

                  and if the budget allows: Urasawa

                  Some people might nitpick at a few of those, but it's mostly because they're popular. Can you find better ramen than at Daikokuya? Better vietnamese than at Golden Deli? Better XLB than at Din Tai Fung? Maybe. But there's a reason these places are always packed and it's not because everyone there thinks the food is overrated.

                2. Lunch: Mama's Tamales at MacArthur Park (you can even take the subway). Lunch or dinner: Marouch at Edgemont & Santa Monica.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: katydid13

                    No! Mama's has been terrible for at least three years. The overpriced tamales are subpar to La Indiana. I know - I live in the neighborhood and have steadily witnessed the decline from across the park. Don't waste your time. Chichen Itza and Langer's are the only decent food in MacArthur Park.

                  2. Lots of good advice here!
                    I highly second Providence. If you can, you might want to try LA institution Spago. But Providence is my fave, too!

                    For breakfast, you could try someplace like John O' Groats on Pico, or the Griddle on 3rd-both are well known for pancakes

                    I reccomend a trip to a few spots in the San Fernando Valley.

                    Boneyard Bistro is high end BBQ, which also ahs a nice Bistro menu and one of the cities best beer selectrions. I like it because I find Aaron nicer and more acessable than Sang Yoon (Aaron is actually THERE, and he lets you use ketchup if you have the urge.) he also knows more about his beer, in my opinion. The Brisket and ribs are great, buirgers are good, I love asking for a burrito made with just the amazing beans and the burrito fixins. His hummus is interstingly good. Monday nights, he has Fried chicken many hounds love, and Sunday he does a great brunch. An adde plus is that for Boneyard, there's no line, the DO take reservations! What an amazing policy! No standing in a long line, no ordering only at the bar, and no fighting for the next open table! All that, and Ketchup! What a concept!

                    Aroma bakery Cafe on Ventura is great for any meal. It is a typical Israeli cafe-not any themey stuff, more europena. HUGE servings of great food, amazing pasteries. No alchohol or red meat or pork, though. Great apps, salads, sandwiches and more.

                    The other Aroma, on Tujunga in Studio City, is also well, liked, as is it's close neighbor, Caoti Cafe (pronounced Coyote) founded by a lovely man (RIP) who actually invented the California Pizza. yes, HE inspired Puck and the "California Pizza Kitchen".

                    Leda's Bake shop on Ventura in Sherman Oaks, open Friday and Saturday for walk ins, is my favorite stop for big and mini cupcakes, cookies, scones, brownies and more. I can't help it, I gotta munch on all the samples I can when there. Ledette is usually there, and always so nice!

                    The Artisan Cheese Gallery is a great cheese store. Amazing! They also make fabulous salads, sandwiches and cheese/meat platters. They can serve you ther or pack a picnic Get the Duck Confit sandwich-yum!

                    Gorikee is a small bistro in a huge strip mall. Hidden in the corner, it serves some darn amazing food, and great garlic dishes. At lunch, the wimpy burger is a star.

                    Woodland's Pure Indian food in Chatsworth is sooo goooood. Go for dosas, go for buffets, go and stuff yourself with amazing food!

                    Daichan is "Japanese Soul Food". a huge menu on the wall of a tiny place of amazing cooked and raw dishes, noodles and more. Plus, the walls of kitch alone are worth the visit. BYOB, no alcohol served.

                    Nearby Asanebo is some of the best traditional Sushi in LA. Worth a visit. Go early, bring a wad of cash, and have the time of your life.

                    El Katracho is a hole in the wall honduran palce on Burbank blvd in Van Nuys. Amazing food. Huge bowls of conch or blue crab soup. baleadas, plantains, beans, honduran tortillas, amazing fried chicken, mango margaritas and more. You can order a bucket of cheap mexican beer and eat your fill. Breakfast, lunch and dinner-closed Tuesdays.

                    Menchie's on Laurel Canyon in North Hollywood is great fat free frozen yogurt. The twist? you serve yourself. You can taste all of the offered flavors (which change regularly), serve yourself one or a combo of many, put on whatever toppings you want, weigh, pay, and go! Pretty affordable!

                    Il Tiramisu is my favorite SFV Italian. High class, amazing servings, but more affordable than the high end experience would have you think.

                    Joe Peeps is famous for jam packed pizza. Not ritzy at all. Better bring cash! one pizza is over 1000 a slice! EEK! Good tasting. But for better, most hounds would have you go to Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock (not the SFV)

                    I woudl give you a place on Thai Gulch (around North Holywood) but I can't eat Thai due to fear of nut contamination, so someone else'll have to do that.

                    Skaf's grill has amazing middle eastern food, as does Al Cazar, Carousel and Carnival.

                    Porto's Bakery in Glendale and Burbank is well loved for pasteries and potato balls! Go and get you some.

                    Vinh Loi Veggie tofu in Reseda does amazing things with tofu. I mean AMAZING! You won't miss the meat.

                    Back "over the Hill in LA", I would send you to the Sunday Santa Monica Farmer's Market, the ORiginal Farmers Market on Fairfax and THird, Rahel Veggie Ethiopian on Fairfax, Scoops ice cream, 3 Square Bakery, Surfas Restaurant Supply, Fugetsudo Mochi in Little tokyo, Phillipe's in Chinatown, Angeli Caffe in West Hollywood, oki dog, Lucky Devil's in Hollywood, Quality Seafood in Redondo Beach, Naja's Place in Redondo Beach.


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Diana

                      A visit to Los Angeles just wouldn't be complete without stopping at one of the Benito's Taco stands scattered here and there. Their "famous" "rolled tacos" (really, taquitos) are something other than else. What, exactly, I'm not sure.

                      All seriousness aside, you've got a zillion great choices right there downtown (The Standard is a great place to stay, IMHO). I'd try the Redwood Bar and Grill if you're in the mood for a "burgandy booth"-type place:


                      Edited to add: Does anyone know if the waitress with the earrings still works there? Classic LA character (as was the bartender, "Don" I think)! I actually look forward to jury duty for 2 reasons: The Redwood, and bacon-wrapped street-vendor hot dogs (with jalapenos).

                      Have a whiskey sour for me, and please enjoy all the particular pleasures Los Angeles has to offer -- I adore this funky old town.


                        1. re: kermalou

                          Yep. On Sunset (near Fairfax) next to the Rite Aid.

                      1. Hey, Howyadoin? As you already know the City has “almost” everything there is to eat -- 24/7. But, ah, L.A. has several things you can't find even in the City and once you hav'em you won’t soon forget it. Nuff said!

                        Tommy’s Original. (But only for a Breakfast sandwich, Sausage, Chili, egg, cheese, onions, pickles, tomato & mayo and request it all inside a large English Muffin).

                        Taco Baja Ensenada (shrimp tacos)

                        California Chicken Café (Chinese Chicken Salad – say no pasta but add extra almonds)


                        Hav'a good time and say "Hi" to the boys back home for me.

                        20 Replies
                        1. re: JeetJet

                          I'm sorry to disagree... I would *never* send a visitor to Cal Chix Cafe as a *must eat*. It's fine for quick and decent salads and chicken fare, but would never be a destination place, for me at least...

                          1. re: Emme

                            While I would absolutely agree that CCC is not a must eat or a destination place, you might be surprised at how many of my visitors want to go back there. "That salad place" is apparently a stand-out by comparison when visiting from the land of Applebee's, Olive Garden and McWhatever. I don't think someone visiting for 4 days would be well-advised to seek it out though.

                            1. re: ahuacatl

                              especially a foodie from NEw York!

                              1. re: Diana

                                Wot? Wad-I-say, wot? Emme and Diana, Dah boat a yews are wrong! You gotts ta hav’a a sense of yuma to read some of the recs this boy is get’n here. He is from Downtown and like I said, he only needs to cross the hawbuh to have almost anything 24/7 in NYC. Look at this list he is get’n, “Phillippe's Deli?, Langer's Deli? Oh, like he really needs a deli rec. Porto's Bakery? As if the City has no Cubin places. Lucky Devil's & Father's Office for wot? 15 to 20 fricken bucks for a burger?, Mozza$$$$$????? Giv me a break! Oh, that Oki Dog rec. He don’t need NO slices OR Hawt dawgs. I am from Brooklyn, I also know what we got in L.A. and I stand by my recs above as something not to be found in the City (dats say’n sum’um) and once enjoyed will never be forgot! The only change I make is for a ½ lb. American Kobe beef burger grilled to your order, Smoked Mozzarella Cheese, Caramelized onions, Tomato and excellent Field Greens, and Herb Mayo on a Ciabatta roll, for only $6.45,.go to Tops. Oh, you might be able to pay 3, 4 ,5 or 10 X more at these other joints but you can do that in NYC.This burger, even at double this price, cannot be beat anyplace.
                                Original Tops (Kobe cheese burger, deep fried zucchini, pastrami, asada or chicken totasda)
                                3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
                                Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
                                (626) 449-4412

                                1. re: JeetJet

                                  there is nothing in NEw York like Oki dog, trust me.

                                  Nora Ephron loves Langer's pastrami so much better than her local NY spots (including Katz) she wrote an article in the New Yorker magazine about it, calling it the best pastrami in the US.

                                  Phillipe's isn't a deli. It's home to the original French Dip, and an LA institution.

                                  A burger at Lucky Devil's or Father's Office is a unique experince (as are the other things offered at both places)

                                  The food at California Chicken Cafe and Tommy's just doesn't shine enough to be worth sending a visitor to.

                                  I'd rather send a burger seeker from out of town to the places above, or, for less $$$, to Indulge cafe, IN N Out (not as good as they used to be) the Counter, Billy's Grill, Pie N Burger or something.

                                  For unique chicken, go to Zankou! Heck, even a Gelson's raost chiken beats California Chicken cafe!

                                  Tops, I dunno, it's now a chain, isn't it? But I have heard the burgers there can be yummy!

                                  1. re: Diana

                                    To tell a boy from Brooklyn to have a L.A. pizza, hot dog or pastrami is like telling an island boy, "Oh, you must try L.A.s shave ice," or a southern boy to "go to the Boneyard Bistro." Whether L.A. can do it close to being right is not the point. The focus of my reply is to have something not found in the City (CCC Chinese Chicken Salad -- its the dressing and those fresh greens, and Tommy's Breakfast sandwich --its the totality of it all and such a low price). Every time I eat those items I know they will go nation-wide before any other place in L.A. It has to do with flavor, quality, freshness, presentation, and a large amount of food at a low price. The Orginal Tops has one location only. The two other places are operated by close family but not the same. Zankou does not cook chicken, they burn birds. The older In N Out two-lane drive-thrus still serve hot burgers (the newer single lane serve cold food). Albertson's has a great rosemary chicken if you like chickens like Gelson's but I mention CCC for that Chinese Chicken Salad which nobody else has!. When I think of L.A. delis I first think of philippe because ther have one of the longest deli counters in town. Diana, I know you lke good food, so Try Tops Kobe bistro burger and compare. It is worth the drive but since the price of gas is so crazy these days, and you are out in the Valley, take several other Hounds with you just to get more bang for the buck. Several people can share a small deep fried zucchini. For four people get a large and indulge even more. The four of you will have a great Kobe burger and more deep fried zucchini than you need for the same price it would cost one of you to eat at Father's Office and you will all be happy. If you like your meat red then let the cook know -- up front.

                                    Original Tops (Kobe cheese burger, deep fried zucchini, pastrami, asada or chicken totasda)
                                    3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
                                    Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
                                    (626) 449-4412

                                    Philippes, The Original (Hot sandwiches and Deli items with a old NYC ambiance -- get in one of the many lines, order and wait, take your food and hunt for a table)

                                    1. re: JeetJet

                                      I'm a southern Girl, and I LOVE Boneyard Bistro.

                                      AS mentioned here before, cali dogs and pizzas are different from NY ones. It's a whole different experience. If the OP wanted NY pizza, I'd say forget it-but a cali pizza, or an Oki Dog is something that should be experienced.

                                      Still, with such a short amount of time, I would aim the OP to Dim sum, great south of the border food.

                                      But I doubt I'd ever choose Tops over Boneyard, as a chowish place when I want to sit down to that first burger in a looooooonnnngggg time. But I have heard good things about Tops.

                                      but I could be wrong. Boneyard gives me the choice of fabulous beer with my Burger, as would FO or Lucky D's

                                2. re: Diana

                                  exactly, were he from muscateen iowa or some other small town somewhere, this might be a novel locale, but build-yourself-a-salad places are a dime a dozen in nyc.

                                  1. re: Emme

                                    What is the big problem? Maybe I should have just rambled out a dozen names of places with no specific menu items that should be ordered, like most of these recs, and that would be done. I mention maybe the best salad in L.A., even for double the price point, and I get so much crap for it (i.e., "build-yourself-a-salad places"). No, I am talking about a specific salad. Also, they make the salad -- not you!

                                    Now, places like all those delis mentioned, crazy priced burger places, boneyard or Moza are a dime a dozen in NYC. Oh yeah, five small plates of spagetes for $70 (The "tasting menu," Was it good for you too, yeah?). Wall st. has a crazy burger price, wot? $134, so fogetaboutit. Big city prices might impress a guy from Jerkwater, USA, but come-on. When I think of the big help Chowhounds have been to me when I travel to other citys I recall the small places and specific unforgetable meals that were listed in replys to my questions. This burger, breakfast sandwich, salad, and shrimp taco I mentioned are very worthy because they will stay on the mind of a chowhound and probably result in a return visit.

                                    The long list of names of places found in this thread are useless without a specific item to order unless the aim of listing is to impress someone with "Look at how many places I have been to." BTW, when in Boston get the 1/2 pound dog, with everytthing on it, from Boston Speeds. Even if you are from NYC, LA, Chicago, you get one because you deserve to finally have a dog done right. Same is true with the specific items in my rec! Nuff Said!

                                    1. re: JeetJet

                                      Sorry, the places you first recommended do not best show LA's best Chowish finery. They are just too run of the mill. You can find that food all over the US. I believe salad is all over New York, as well.

                                      Have you BEEN to Boneyard? There is nothng like it int NY, I'll wager. Mozza has good food, but I gotta agree on the prices, and Batali's places in NY are very similar but for one thing-Nancy Silverton is NOT in NY!

                                      We are not talking about impressing with prices, a NY Hound pays more than we do here, I'll wager.

                                      We're talking about giving the OP the best Chowish fare LA has to offer, ASIDE from price. THe OP did, however say "Five star restaurants are possible", so a few LA fabulous places are of course, proffered.

                                      As for specific foods, well, those have been mentioned, but some places have more than one good dish. The OP did not ask for "iconic LA dishes".

                                      I never recommend a single dish for every place I mention-most Hounds prefer to explore.

                                      We list a lot of places not to show off, but because LA has so many options!

                                      This is a board where we all discuss places to go and food to eat. Why send a visitor to a bland chain? Why not give him or her options options options to explore o the board and more?

                                      As said, well known "I'm from NY" icon Nora Ephron, who loves NY and highlights its bounty in her films, declared Langer's pastrami the BEST in the US! Have you had it? Go try it ! And o, it isn't expensive.

                                      Still, I agree in sending a New Yorker to a uniquely LA kind of place, somethig hard to find in NY. Seriously, though, now that CPK is national, do you think the Chicken Cafe, which has VERY similar types of flavors, will really show off our town a it's chowish best? Or topps (Don't they have Kobe Burgers in New York, by the way?)

                                      Anyhow, a better Chinese Chicken salad can be had at Stanley's on Ventura.

                                      1. re: Diana

                                        <<Anyhow, a better Chinese Chicken salad can be had at Stanley's on Ventura>>

                                        ... or at Feast from the East.

                                        1. re: Emme

                                          I was JUST going to post that. But it's the only thing worth eating there and you really have to get it to go or you'll lose your appetite.

                            2. re: JeetJet

                              Oooh, I don't think Tommy's of the California Chicken cafe would be worthy of a visit.

                              1. re: JeetJet

                                CCC may or may not be a destination for the OP, but I do know quite a few folks who were very surprised at how good this Chinese Chicken Salad was upon first trying it and now consider it to be part of their regular lunch rotation. I grew up on the stuff in various incarnations so while I wasn't blown away by it, I was somewhat surprised as well that it wasn't just filling space on the menu - it's worth ordering...

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  Anyone know how it compares to Feast from the East's version? That is one of our standard go to's when it comes to CCS, (along with their sesame chicken wings and drumettes).

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    I love the Spring Rolls at Feast from the East. Get a dozen and eat a few hot and later they are just as good cold. As for the CCS, I liked the FFE wonton noodles on top better than the fried pita at CCC. However, the dressing and the greens at CCC are much better IMO. I might add that CCC has grown to, what?, more than a handfull of locations (7?) in the past few years and FFE still has a single finger. The two lines, Walk-in and call-in orders, are always long at lunch time at CCC. Hey, try the fruit salad as well.


                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      I've never eaten at FFE, but if their wings are coated with the standard sesame batter that I'm familiar with, then they're two different animals - or two entirely different versions of the same animal?

                                      The wings at Pann's are typically on the very large side. They're battered, and deep-fried like any other good fried chicken, but are always moist and flavorful. I don't think any particular ingredient in the batter will sing to you other than the fact that the seasoning in the batter is slightly salty with a hint of sweetness and a subtle accent of spices. The batter is sturdy and crispy, and the chicken itself is just plain good.

                                      Sesame battered chicken wings were a revelation to me as a kid when my visiting uncle from the Islands fried up a huge batch. Of course, the first thing one smells and tastes is the sesame oil and seeds, as well as garlic and a much more pronounce sweetness. Unlike a traditional fried chicken part where I think most prefer some crispiness and sturdiness to the batter, my experience has always been that the batter that coats chicken parts is on the softer side, varying from slightly mushy to just short of crispy, on the moist side. I've personally never seen sesame chicken wings as huge as Pann's but in this case, I don't think size really matters.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        Don't get me wrong. We go to Pann's on average once a week and I get the fried chicken dinner and my wife gets the wings and waffle combo. The sesame mini wings and drumette's at Feast are just a completely different animal than what Pann's provides. Both good.


                                        1. re: Emme

                                          FFE wings much better than Pann's? Again, two totally different dishes from the same animal. You're saying the Hawaiianized Chinese wings can be equally judged against a classic (probably Southern) American fried wing? Okay, I guess if one feels that maguro poki is much better than maguro tataki that's a personal choice, but it's pretty hard to compare the two objectively...

                                  2. Only one mention for Babita?

                                    I think that's a must try. As much for the uniqueness of the business as for the goodness of the food.

                                    A bit out of the way, but you will not regret your time there.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: socal

                                      Agreed. If you have the time, and want refined mexican, Babita is the way to go.

                                      1. re: anothernotch

                                        Or La Casita Mexicana, which is Babita for half the cost. Fantastic food.


                                        1. re: Woolsey

                                          La Casita comes nowhere to matching Babita. La Casita is fine in its own right but to compare it to Babita would be unfair to both restaurants.

                                          1. re: Woolsey

                                            Hey Woolsey,
                                            I have had authentic Mexican at Taqueria LA Cabana ($1 tacos of all kinds), good Mexican and bad Mexican at other places. I have never been to Babita and therefore have no idea what “refined Mexican” is. I was curious but now you mention La Casita Mexicana and say it is Babita for half the cost. I clicked on your link and must say the picture of that stuffed jalapeno on the Casita page makes my tongue fantasize and I will give this a try. What else should I order? About Babita, I wonder how much a “refined Mexican” meal would set me back? Is Babita Spanish for Moza? IOW, expect to pay more – just because…

                                            Taqueria LA Cabana (authentic Mexican style tacos, pollo, al pastor, Lengua for $1, shrimp or sesos (brain) for $1.50)
                                            3402 Cogswell Rd
                                            El Monte, CA 91732
                                            (626) 448-9310

                                            Babita (“refined Mexican” food)
                                            1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
                                            San Gabriel, CA 91776
                                            (626) 288-7265

                                            1. re: JeetJet

                                              I agree that Babita should be on the list. And while I haven't yet made it to La Casita, JeetJet: I think you are making a serious culinary error if you assume that 'refined' Mexican means more expensive tacos just because. My guess (in fact it is more than a guess, it is almost a certainty) from your post is that you have never tasted the type of food that Babita offers, and you owe it to yourself to try it before you think of it as food that you pay more for just because. As for how much it will set you back, I'd say it is solidly in the mid-range for Los Angeles restaurants in general: IIRC entrees were in the mid-twenties (and this is only from memory: they don't have a website that I can find, but perhaps others can chime in here). So, a three course meal might set you back $40 or so (?) not including tax, tip, wine or beer (actually, the limited wine list was the only disappointment to me at Babita: the food deserves some thought in terms of wine matchings)...and you will want to order at least three courses. My soup and dessert were both highlights.

                                              Babita is chef owned and run, by a chef who truly cares about the provenance y of the food he serves...

                                              atmosphere is casual but pretty (white tableclothes, dark wood furniture) and decidedly not chic. It is quite small, and I wouldn't go without a reservation on a weekend (possibly not even during the week). But you should go. The food is every bit as authentic as any taqueria anywhere, but this isn't just fancy tacos.

                                              A search on the board will reveal a number of Babita discussions.

                                              1823 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                ABSOLUTELY!!! I am more of a Taco Truck y Taqueria kind of a guy but La Casita, La Huasteca and Babita Mexicusine are different from each other and all very good! JeetJet, ya gots ta try em, all of em at least once. These places don't serve $1 Tacos for $6. They serve more complex dishes that take training and culinary skill to prepare. Sometimes they are complex preparations with refined sauces. The three places mentioned are the best of this area. To find better in California ya gots ta head to Watsonville where there is better and bigger for less dinero but Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo belongs on another board:


                                              2. re: JeetJet

                                                Jeet -- I, too, am much more of a HITW type guy. I hate eating at fancy linen-napkin Indian restaurants and knowing I'm paying four times as much as I would for the same food at the sterile, stark atmosphere of India Sweets & Spices.

                                                But Babita really is different. It's not tacos and burritos. It's what you might call "alta cocina" Mexican food -- not the border stuff that's everywhere. They have smoked fish sopes; they have beef cheeks simmered in salsa; they have unbelievably good fish with huitlacoche; they have deeeeelicious quail in rose sauce in the fall.

                                                You'll spend $30 a head outside of alcohol but it's so, so worth it.

                                        2. Since you're in LA so few days, and staying downtown, don't bother going out to the valley. But definitely check out San Gabriel Valley for chinese, there are great recommendations, above. Sticking to downtown (especially the taco trucks) and Hollywood will keep you very busy, indeed. Just follow the Jonathan Gold recommendations.

                                          Also check out Mozza, in Hollywood, for the Hollywood experience that happens to have good (great) food.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: yogachik

                                            Hey! Don't pooh pooh the Valley. Some of the best eatieries in LA are here! If someone visits LA and doesn't hit the Valley, they're missing out an a good part of the town, chow wise.

                                          2. Since you are coming from NY go somewhere that you don't have there. We have great mex,ican food here. You are downtown, I would go to El Tepyac on Evergreen and Ceasar Chavez for any meal. Love their machaca, it is a true L.A. experience., it is on everyones list. I love Phillipe's another institution. Try La Casita Mexicana, they are cooking at the James Beard awards this weekend. Try Thai, I like Soot Bull jeep for the food and the experience, come out smelling like charcoal, but good food at reasonable prices. Someone mention the Griddle in West Hollywood that is good for breakfast, but be warned lots of food noisy and crowded.

                                            1. Since you are staying downtown, have a car, and want a taste of L.A. on a budget, these are the places I'd send you to:

                                              Carnitas Michaocan -- My favorite burrito stand in town. Good carne asada, but even better al pastor sliced from a rotisserie spit. The crazy best salsa roja I've ever had. Very casual -- order at one window, pickup at another, and there is covered patio seating. Just go north on Broadway through Chinatown, and a mile or so later it will be on the N/W corner of Broadway at 19th with parking in the back.

                                              Langer's Deli -- Many claim that it is the best pastrami on rye in the country. Not a huge sandwich, so don't expect a monster, but the pastrami is succulent (I order mine untrimmed) and the twice-baked rye is perfect. A few miles west of downtown next to MacArthur Park on the S/E corner of 7th and Alvarado. Limited hours (lunch only) and it may be closed on Saturdays or Sundays, so check. Their validated parking lot is one block east and across the street, and they are also accessible with a Red Line subway stop right across the street.

                                              Phillippe's -- I have my complaints about the place, with its ever-shrinking sandwiches and ever-rising prices, and most meats now presliced and portioned. But I'll admit it is an L.A. institution, and can be fun to navigate the lines and then eat at the communal tables. Do not get the roast beef dip -- the meat is too dry -- but do try either the lamb or pork dips. Many people love the hot mustard. Supplement with a bowl of chili or stew, and a lemonade or two. I think it is overpriced (I like the East Side Deli on the other side of Chinatown for much bigger sandwiches) but compared to NYC prices you'll think it is a bargain. On the east side of Chinatown on Alameda across from Union Station, with parking lots behind and across the street. Also easily reached by the DASH vans.

                                              Senor Fish -- Fish tacos. I like the fried shrimp or even better the fried scallop tacos. On the east side of Little Tokyo. I think its about at 2nd and Alameda, or close.

                                              Nick's -- For breakfast. Much better food than the Pantry, and much cheaper than your hotel. Order something with ham -- that's what they are known for. To the northeast of Chinatown on North Spring. Lots of cops eat here.

                                              Palm Thai -- For latenight entertainment, cheap beer, and good food. The home of the unique and famous Thai Elvis. On Hollywood Blvd. in Thai Town, west of downtown. Not far from Jitlada, and the area is also just a few blocks north of Koreatown.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: nosh

                                                Langer's is open Saturdays but not Sunday's.

                                              2. Hello Spiffae, I'd have to say you must try Crustaceans. Mmm it is sooo good and really nice inside. It's a bit pricey though, you may want to save this one for a special occasion. About 41.50 for a full crab and garlic noodles to die for. Almost every time I go I see a famous person. You'll enjoy esp if you like seafood.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: chef2chef

                                                  I would rather swallow hot coals while suffering from a sore throat than eat a Crustacean.

                                                  1. re: chef2chef

                                                    If I want good seafood with a premium price, I'd rather go to Providence and get good food.

                                                    I've enver seen a famous person there, and I'm glad

                                                  2. Lots of really good recommendations. I'll add a few of mine to the pot:

                                                    Definitely do dim sum. Apparently L.A. is king of the hill in America for that right now; I checked the San Francisco board for a recent trip, and all those folks were telling Angelenos our dim sum was better. Saturday or Sunday morning, a trip to Monterey Park to one of the big dim sum palaces like Ocean Star, Empress Harbor, or NBC is fun. However, as you're in Downtown, you can take the subway to Chinatown's Empress Pavilion. There's nothing to do in the San Gabriel Valley, and you are here to do other things besides eat, I assume, so you may want to choose the more convenient option. Most people here pillory Empress Pavilion - I'm sure I'll be clubbed for even suggesting it - and it's not quite on the same par as the SGV establishments, but I've had many good meals there.


                                                    If you can get into Pizzeria Mozza, even waiting a half-hour or so Friday afternoon, do so. Yes, yes, New York pizza is the best in the history of all space and time, etc., etc. And yes, New York has more Mario Batali restaurants that you can shake a stick at. But this pizza is a homegrown creation by Nancy Silverton, and its crust is really unique. It's pretty fantastic, I think. The Osteria is too much of a pain in the butt for a short trip, though the bars have first-come-first-served seating. Reservations are still ridiculous hard to come by this far out.


                                                    Korean barbecue is a lot of fun and one of the things L.A. does exceptionally well. Everyone has his or her own favorite place, whether it be the charcoal grills and gruff waitress and the dive-like Soot Bull Jeep or the slick, modern style Chosun Galbee. Me, I like to split the difference between the two of those and go to Park's BBQ, which has a nice modern interior and charcoal grills. With such a huge Korean population out here, Korean food is serious stuff.


                                                    My parents will visit me, and leave finding new food things they love about L.A. Hopefully you will, too. The things my parents crave about L.A. when they leave:

                                                    - macarons from Paulette
                                                    - Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n' Waffles
                                                    - dim sum
                                                    - Langer's pastrami
                                                    - Korean barbecue
                                                    - Peet's and Intelligentsia coffee

                                                    11 Replies
                                                    1. re: Woolsey

                                                      As a Valley dweller my ownselves, I've gotta ask why anyone is recommending anything in this part o'town as "quintessential-must-eat-while-in-LA".

                                                      Sure there are some good eatz around but nothing that can't be found in abundance in NYC. Personally, I have to agree with Woolsey about Roscoe's. While I'm not one of their fans (I mean, c'mon. It's CHICKEN and it's WAFFLES. What the big whoop?) it's very popular and something to tell your peeps about.

                                                      I'd also recommend Yuca's in Los Feliz. Small, inexpensive, memorable. Finally, I think one of the popularized-in-Hollywood-wood-burning-oven pizzas would be something different. Anything from Pizzeria Mozza to Caiotti's.

                                                      Please don't get me wrong, there are MANY places where I enjoy dining in LA and the Valley but if you're looking for something NOT available in NYC, we don't have that much to brag about. I'm just sayin'.

                                                      Let the rebukes begin. . .

                                                      1. re: Steve2 in LA

                                                        Yep, Chicken and Waffles are not quintessential L.A. but actually came for Harlem, NY. The reason Roscoe’s is popular and gets away with crazy prices is because of the impact of the Quentin Tarantino movie, “Jackie Brown.” From the script, “Me and you go to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles on me. Think about it now. That ‘Scoe’s Special, smothered in gravy and onions. Side of red beans and rice, some greens. Thats some good eatin.”

                                                        For much better fried chicken, good waffles and a much better place to eat in a Googie ambiance, I would go to Pann’s. This place is much like the Hawthorne Grill in the Movie Pulp Fiction and is owned by the same family. Actually, I have been stuck on ordering the full fried chicken dinner at Pann’s because it is so perfect. Now this dinner and the Classic Los Angeles space-age Googie ambiance would be something to brag to the Boys back home about.


                                                        1. re: JeetJet

                                                          Jeet, you're on a roll... I'm a huge fan of mid-century architecture, and very few examples of Googie are left, Pann's being one of the remaining and working gems pretty much in its original state. I agree this place is worth a stop because as you mentioned, the food is great too. We usually ask out-of-town guests if they're interested in visiting this type of place. Depending on their age or where they're from, they often aren't familiar with it. Upon pulling up to Pann's, they gaze in amazement that so much effort went into creating such a setting to facilitate a seemingly humble coffee shop. I explain to them that this now-iconic landmark represents an era where the world of design experienced a sea change. I'm not sure if it reflected a change in the mindset of many Americans, or caused it, but those were exciting times for many.

                                                          We find that getting the platter of a dozen wings along with our meals is the best way to avoid conflict. I've made the mistake of ordering four wings for myself and ending up with none due to the slight-of-hand of others at the counter or table. Six? I'll be lucky to get two. A dozen assures me that I'll get at least the four that I wanted in the first place, and maybe even a couple to bring home.

                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                            The loss of Googie design is a loss of American history. The News Café in El Monte was a smaller version of it than Pann’s with a very good menu and one of the best country style breakfast skillets you can get. Just like Pann’s, when you entered you first noticed that long counter with those seats that are designed to make it appear as if the seated occupant is defying gravity. The place was the same as Pann’s and packed everyday at lunch and all day on weekends. Then, over the last year, the current owners decided to destroy it all so a modern style sushi bar could be added (oh, like the SGV needs more of that). They told me most of the original menu would be continued as well. Well, I liked that breakfast, and a roast beef sandwich on grilled sourdough with cheddar that they have, but I refuse to return because of the desecration. My stomach turns, my blood pressure rises and I get angry every time I get near the place. Also, I just cannot imagine the sight and smell of cold raw fish when I eat my hot roast beef.

                                                            "very few examples of Googie are left" Yeah, but for the time being we have Pann's and Dodger Staduim, which might be the largest example of the Googie style -- like a space port. But the war on the middle class will take Dodger Staduim someday soon. Just like Jacob's in Cleveland, and that new Yankee “corporate center” ballpark being built in NY (not to mention Staples Center), Dodger Staduim will go because it offers to many seats to pesky ball fans. Well, when the new Dodger staduim is built I hope they come up with a better version of the Dodger Dog.The only reason I am able to stomach even a grilled Dodger Dog is because of the Googie ambiance.

                                                            News Café (No sense of taste)
                                                            11357 Valley Blvd (1 block from 10 fry at Peck Rd.)
                                                            El Monte, CA 91731
                                                            (626) 443-2603

                                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                                              I hardly ever go to Roscoe's. I'm over that. But, for some reason, everyone who visits me from out of town loves the place. They beg me to take them. I've even been asked about it when I go visit other cities. Like it or not, Chowhounds, it is legendary and loved. I didn't write, "Go to Roscoe's." I wrote that it's one of the things my parents, my most frequent out-of-town visitors, love in L.A.

                                                              And the popularity for a lot of middle America is not from "Jackie Brown." That's where the hipsters got it. No, middle America - like my parents - got wise to Roscoe's through a profile on Food Network many Rachael Ray-free years ago.

                                                              On their last visit, I actually refused to take them. I didn't hear the end of it...

                                                              1. re: Woolsey

                                                                I remember eating Chicken and waffles once or twice as a kid in the south, over 25 years ago in Marietta-Atlanta. HAd Mr's Butterworth's on em. IS it really from Harlem? I was told it was a southern thing.

                                                                Now my reality has shattered!

                                                                1. re: Diana

                                                                  I wouldn't be surprised if it is. I'm from Texas, my mother's from Louisiana, and her mother's from Mississippi. None of us have ever seen chicken served with waffles until we got to Roscoe's.

                                                                  Southerners prefer biscuits or rolls with fried chicken.

                                                                  1. re: Woolsey

                                                                    Truly. Biscuits with everything, really.

                                                                    Me, I'm not sure if it fits my birthplace of Atlanta, but I like biscuits best with loads of fresh butter and honey. or gobs of good gravy.

                                                                    I have English Heritage, but have yet to try them topped with baked beans, or spaghetti.

                                                                    Speaking of biscuits, to our OP, the best ones I've found so far have been at John O' Groats. But I hear there are good ones at Gaffey St, and Honey's Kettle Kitchen.

                                                                  2. re: Diana

                                                                    I was only agreeing with Steve that Chicken and waffles is not a quintessential L.A dish and added what I got from a show on either foodtv or the Travel Channel. The episode mentioned that the restaurant debut of Chicken and waffles served on the same plate was in the 1930’s at the Wells Super Club in Harlem. That is repeated in the link below which also dates cook book history further back. The brief article mentions Thomas Jefferson having brought the first waffle iron to the USA from Paris. I know that his cook, a slave from Monticello named James Hemmings, was trained in Paris and later became the chef at Monticello, VA. I also know that Jefferson like fried chicken. I wonder if…? Anyway, it is history that waffles became popular among African Americans in the South who take credit for combining them with fried chicken. The Northern migration of African Americans resulted in the history of the foods being served together at Wells and the current popularity of the dish within the City.

                                                                    This is really making me hungry for some soul food. I do like the fried chicken wings at Pann’s most but having two of Roscoe’s waffles smothered in butter and that special syrup they have (which could be described as sinful if such true love were not a part of the act) is a coupling of love and lust. I can see a trip to Roscoe’s for two waffles before the day is over. “Thats some good eatin.”

                                                                    Chicken, waffles: love match

                                                                    Roscoe’s House of Chicken and waffles

                                                            2. re: Steve2 in LA

                                                              You need to get out in the Valley more! Go to el Katracho-because Jeet Jeet demands I now tell everyone what they have to order, I reccomend the Conch soup. The blue crab is also very good, as is the fried chicken. Also the baleadas.

                                                              oop, I mentioned more than one dish! Oh No!!

                                                              OK, Go to El Katracho at about 7;00 PM. Order a Baleada plate app, the conch soup, and a mango margarita. Pay with small bills. Sit at the table right in front of the TV. Be sure to hold your spoon in your right hand only!


                                                              No, really go to El Katracho-it's amazing, and you'll be happily satisfied for under $30 for two!

                                                          2. Try King Taco. Solid Mexican food without having to hunt down the spectacular niche Mexican taco trucks in town.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: mrshankly

                                                              This has nothing to do with "what can you eat in the Valley that you can't find in (insert name of any American metropolis here)?", but, I must say, my girlfriend -- bless her little kitten heart! -- recently turned me on to Mom's BBQ (Van Owen and Hazeltine, Van Nuys).

                                                              I've now officially tried basically everything on their menu; whilst some items are hit and miss (the potato salad, macaroni salad, collard greens (too stemmy)), I have found their fried (NOT BBQ!) chicken to be the best I've ever placed in my warm, willing mouth. TO. DIE. FOR.

                                                              The other "can't miss" items are the green beans (don't laugh, they are freaking amazingly delish!) and the red beans and rice (lovely, absolutely lovely).

                                                              So, New York Visitor, come to Van Nuys (the most beautiful city in the world) if you're looking for some amazing fried chicken.

                                                              As for Mexican -- the best cuisine of all, frankly -- I would highly suggest Don Antonio's on Pico near Barrington in West LA. Classic "Mex-American" fare...you know, the cheese enchiladas drowning in a pool of rust-colored grease, the "mystery dab" of whatever the heck that stuff is on the rice, the deep-fried taco overloaded with cheese....and of course a blended marguerita.

                                                              Salted, please.

                                                              1. re: CucumberBoy

                                                                CucumberBoy, your post has me salivating now!!:) Must-go-eat-now!!!!

                                                            2. You seemed to have raised some controversy with your question. As a NYer who visits LA a lot (I'm from there and all my family is there), I tend to go for things that I can't get in NY. Some have already made good suggestions.
                                                              Close to downtown, try some regional Mexican or the taquerias around there, like Carnitas Michoacan, or El Parian, or Chicen Itza, or Guelaguetza. To consolidate your time, maybe you should visit either Grand Central Market for an exciting array of eateries and a taste of old LA, or Mercado Paloma for a more laid-back lunch with some good regional Mexican. A visit to Olvera street might be interesting for an LA newbie as it is the epicenter of the origin of LA, and some decent Mexican eats, though fairly touristy. Taquitos from Cielito Lindo are pure LA to me, and a filled churro from Mr Churros is one of my favorite fried snacks in LA. Perhaps not the best you can get, but still a reliable source of good food nearby and unavailable in NYC would be Señor Fish for fish tacos in Little Tokyo. If you decide to drive to East LA, there are plenty more choice of Mexican cuisine.

                                                              In the downtown vicinity, I think Philippe's is worth a visit, as it is an LA institution. Lamb or pork double dipped, with a pickled egg and a slice of pie for dessert is a great combination. The pies there might be the most underrated items on the menu.

                                                              Check out Little Tokyo and maybe have your final nijikai (or nightcap) at one of the izakayas before heading back to the hotel. I noticed that you are an ex-JET from your profile so it might be fun to see and experience part of LA's Japanese culture. At least get an imagawayaki from Mitsuru cafe and you'll be partially transported to Japan. However, for the real Japanese action, you should go down to the South Bay, where the largest Japanese community lives in LA. There have been plenty of posts about Japanese food in that area, so do some clicking around to find that info.

                                                              If you have a chance, check out Little Saigon in Orange County for Vietnamese food. I always have to stop at Brodards for the nem muong rolls (or at least one of my cousins who married a Vietnamese woman from the area gets them for us when we come by). This area is, to me, one of the most exciting food destinations in LA as it is a thriving ethnic niche with many eateries specializing in one thing or another. Luckily I have a native to lean on for advice. A good itinerary would be to check out Little Saigon one afternoon, and check out the South bay for Japanese on the way back to downtown. I'll also put a little plug in for Tony's Little Italy in Placentia for Chicago style pizza, which is nonexistent in NYC (if you're in the OC). I love good NY pizza, but I do enjoy Chicago pizza as well.

                                                              Some other cuisines to consider are Persian and Armenian. NY lacks these cuisines, while LA has a multitude of places to find good versions. For Persian, Westwood has probably the largest concentration, but there are many good places scattered around LA/OC. If anything, get Persian ice cream at Mashti Malone's in Hollywood. Little Armenia and Thai town are really the same place, so if you're looking for an interesting combination of ethnic foods, this might be it. Zankou chicken is well-known, but don't get the chicken. Get the shawarmas or the soujuk sausage and ask for the garlic sauce (which I think only comes with the chicken or chicken shawarma). For something more unique, check out Sahag's Basturma for their signature basturma, which is a cured beef (like its etymological brethren pastrami).

                                                              I could go on about Koreatown, and I'll just point out a couple places. The two things I find lacking in NYC is a good soondobu place, and there are two notable ones in LA: Beverly and Sokongdong, and they're right across the street from one another at Vermont/Olympic (or was is Pico?). I also enjoy going to Yongsusan for their refined multicourse menus. This kind of Korean just doesn't exist in NYC. For something a little more interesting, check out the Prince, which is an old LA continental restaurant turned into a Korean place. You can try the live octopus there if you dare.

                                                              Go to Dino's burger (on Pico just west of Vermont) for the chicken plate. It's one of the best cheap meals you'll have in LA. And it's one of the pure LA tastes to me. Oki Dog falls into a similar category to me. Something to be experienced at least once. I actually had a conversation with Tony Bourdain about it, and had to correct him on the origins of it. He seemed to think it was some Mexican-Jewish hybrid, when it's really something developed by an Okinawan-Hawaiian-Angeleno.

                                                              I could go on, but I'll stop there.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: E Eto

                                                                E-san, great recs... keep digging up more on Little Saigon. Our Vietnamese friend moved to Florida - the muggy climate was much more to her liking - she and her family were our connection and translator to this vibrant community. I think between you and Das Ubergeek, the Westminster Chamber of Commerce will be very appreciative...

                                                              2. spiffae

                                                                Golden Deli
                                                                Yes on the Taco truck but no specific recommendations
                                                                Netune's Net inexpensive good seafood on PHC with a nice view of the ocean
                                                                (that's from a person who dosn't like seafood!)
                                                                Practically any place in Little India (Artesia)
                                                                Pink's (just because)
                                                                Lilli's Cuban Buffett in Pasadena

                                                                Please let us know what restaurants you tried and what you thought of them.


                                                                11 Replies
                                                                1. re: SeaCook

                                                                  Please for the love of god do not go to Pink's.

                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                    And sub Malibu Seafood (best Fish & Chips plus BYOB w/no corkage) for Neptune's Net (lousy fried items)! Also Little India has great food but it's not ALL great!

                                                                    1. re: sel

                                                                      I said "practically any place in Little India" Askosha is my favorite. I'm sorry but I like Neptuine's Net. To me it's classic Southern California and though I haven't been there in a couple of years a remember remarkable fresh sea food, which is why I liked it. They pulled it out right there from tanks. Also I prefer the steamed seafood ( love the crab) so maybe to the fried. Add to that the view, It's something you wouldn't find in Brooklyn. Oh spiffae if you do go watch out for the sea gulls they are audacious!

                                                                      As to Pink's it too is classic LA/SoCal. If spiffae wants a real LA experiance Pink's is it.

                                                                      sel are you familiar with Spurzzo's on PCH?

                                                                    2. re: ns1

                                                                      I second the whole avoiding Pinks thing. The "experience boils down to wating in a long line for a mediocre or worse dog.

                                                                      Also, rather than Malibu Seafood or Neptune's net, head down to the Redondo Pier to Quality Seafood and then hit Naja's place nearby for an amazing beer selection!

                                                                      1. re: Diana

                                                                        OK Redondo Peir wonderful and very SoCal. I haven't been there in a few years but a friend goes there regularly and eats at Quality Seafood and says it's good.

                                                                        1. re: Diana

                                                                          Nice post up above. That mango margarita sounds good. Had you not mentioned it and gave it a thumbs up I likely would have been passed by. on the menu. Now you have me wanting a mango margarita and wondering whether it has small cold cubes of mango floating around the glass?

                                                                          I second going to Pimks (not avoiding) but only for the burrito dogs. The "Three Dog Night" is as quintessential L.A as that Tommy's Breakfast sandwich. This burrito has 3 dogs, 3 cheese, 3 bacon slices, chili and onions. They will add jalapenos if you ask. Now that is LA bliss. Most people eat it with two hands. Some use a fork and knife. If using a fork, never hold the fork upside down with the wrong hand. That is just for foodtv and those who have a need to "Beeeee Sonmebody." ;)

                                                                          1. re: JeetJet

                                                                            nope, its all blended. Good flavor, but WISH they left a few chunks in it! That's a great idea! El Katracho also has several bottles of not special but very refreshing Mexican beer chilled in a bucket for a dang good price. They go well with a bunch of friends and some good Honduran food.

                                                                            (pssst, try it for breakfast, too! The restaurant, not the beer)

                                                                            1. re: JeetJet

                                                                              I gotta say, if you're going for a 3 dog night why don't you go for an Oki dog instead (pico location)?

                                                                              2 dogs, pastrami and chili, served by japanese guys in the 'hood lol

                                                                              Anyway, I find Pink's to be a tourist trap and not worth the wait. I wonder if NY'ers think the same about THEIR hot dog locales that are constantly profiled on food network (NY'ers chime in?)

                                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                                No, Nathan's really is that good.

                                                                                1. re: ns1

                                                                                  I know people like Oki Dog but I really lke the combined / totallity of Pink's Three Dog Night. Somehow the bacon, dog, cheese and chili all become one flavor / texture and my first bite somehow turns into one really long bite until it is gone. But that is all I go to Pink's for and, I agree, the line can be nuts. I would only go to Pink's early before the lunch rush.

                                                                                  For a straight chili dog I go to Carney's on Sunset for the best dog, bun, and chili in LA. IMO, if a guy from Brooklyn really wanted to compare LA dogs to Nathan's they should go to Carney's. After Carney's, California Chicken Cafe or Pink's I go to Milk (maybe 5 min. drive from each) for cookies and a milkshake, or, if they have it, a quart of that perfect Broguiere's chocolate milk in a glass bottle. I have several of the Broguiere's glass milk bottles with the "MILK" logo on them -- cool souvenir for the $1 deposit.


                                                                                  Milk (Chocolate Cookies, milkshakes, Broguiere's chocolate milk, Blue velvet cake and more
                                                                                  )7290 Beverly Boulevard (at Poinsettia)
                                                                                  Los Angeles 90036
                                                                                  (323) 939-6455

                                                                          2. re: SeaCook

                                                                            Your rec for Neptune's Net is really a good one. Part of going there is the drive north along the beaches that have been in so many movies. The beach and that surf shack ambiance of the place really add to wanting some good fried seafood. From the front there is more than a nice view of the ocean, there is a nice view of (um, i gotta be politically correct here) the -- persons, yeah, thats it, the persons having fun on the beach in their beach colthes.

                                                                            Neptune's Net Seafood
                                                                            42505 PCH in Malibu, CA 310-457-3095

                                                                            A drive along the southern beaches would also be good and stop for a burger at TK. This is another surf shack but located in an area with lots of surf shops and places to see. The burgers at TK are very good but what I like about TK most is that this burger is a great example of a burger being a sandwich. By that I mean that a sandwich is always only as good as the bread, bun, or roll it is served on. TK has maybe the best buns around. The view of the beach along that section of PCH is outstanding because no buildings are on the side of the water. Thus sitting on the front patio of TK, eating a burger, is about as colse to being a perfect California experiance as there is.

                                                                            T K Burger (A great burger and really great buns too)
                                                                            110 Pacific Coast Highway
                                                                            Huntington Beach, California 92648
                                                                            (714) 960-3238

                                                                          3. Boy, you are generating a lot of replies here. I love burgers too so you could try Lucky Devils, but whatever their charms may hold, burgers are, in the final analysis, burgers. You can get their equal or better in NY. In n Out would not be a waste of time if you are in the mood for a burger. Get the Double Double and a choclate shake.

                                                                            You want Mexican? Taco Trucks abound and I'm sure you'll sample one if you run across it; but if you want great Mexican sit-down food, try out Manny's El Tepayac (already mentioned above) on Evergreen or if there's too much of a wait, Ciro's across the street is, in my opinion, even better. Run by two affable grandmas, their avocado salsa is to die for. And the rest of their menu is great too. Teresita's has been around for 15 years (you may still be able to score one of their tshirts commemorating their longevity) and is a Stammtisch (standing table) for the Latino political elite of LA as well as half the city's police department. Nevertheless, the food is excellent. Liliana's tamales serves a great hangover breakfast and awesome tamales.

                                                                            Dim Sum? Go to Elite Seafood in Monterey Park; you will not be sorry. Or if that is too crowded or doesnt appeal for some reason, hit NBC Seafood down the street. I used to be an Empress Pavilion fan, but the food and everything there has gotten embarrassingly bad of late. AVOID. Want to try Chinese Noodle Soup? I recommend Mandarin Noodle House or Lee Kam Kee in Monterey Park -- both are good examples of their respective genres. Mandarin Noodle House is more of a hole in the wall; Lee Kam Kee has a much more extensive menu (chinese, vietnamese, french) and is a nicer place.

                                                                            China Islamic for amazing whole crab in scallion sauce.

                                                                            Langer's is, as they say in the wine biz, a must purchase.

                                                                            Quintessential LA vibe and food? Wilshire on Wilshire and 25th or Joe's on Abbot Kinney or Fraiche in Culver City. Or Typhoon (eclectic Asian fusion in LA; good but not the best in the city) which is smack dab in the middle of the Santa Monica airport.

                                                                            Did you say you were downtown? The cutest lawyers in our office head out to Nick n Stef's for happy hour on Friday's. Go get lucky. I agree with the Daikoykuya recommendation -- it's great.

                                                                            BREAKFAST -- my favorite meal. Go a bit west on Pico and hit Bloom Cafe. Trendy, good food, great people watching. The Waffle has been pilloried on this board but I'm intrigued (though haven't tried). If you don't want to risk it, try Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, or as several have suggested, Pann's for Waffles and Chicken Wings. I think Pann's was the setting for the seminal "ice cream is for fat people, Olive" scene in LIttle Miss Sunshine.

                                                                            Japanese -- go to Sushi Zo if you want a fairly straighforward omakase (sashimi and or nigiri only) experience -- but make no mistake, the fish is sublime; Kiriko on sawtelle if you desire a more eclectic mix of hot and cold dish omakase; and Hide if you want relatively cheap and edible sushi.

                                                                            If my foodie friend was coming to LA for 6 meals we would go to:

                                                                            Bloom for breakfast

                                                                            Sushi Zo for lunch

                                                                            Guelaguetza for dinner

                                                                            Liliana's Tamales in East LA for breakfast

                                                                            Daikokuya for lunch

                                                                            Fraiche for dinner

                                                                            Langeer's for the plane ride home to drive everyone else INSANE.

                                                                            You would be very full.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: NAspy

                                                                              I have been trying to dissuade my mom from going to Hide for years - I've always scratched my noggin wondering what anyone sees in this place. Well, she finally admitted today that Hide sucks. Okay, so she's nearly 80, so she didn't say it sucked, but she ranted how terrible the food was, how the prices have gone up (who hasn't effectively raised their prices?), how the service was horrible, etc. If she says it was horrible - her tastes in Japanese can be quite low-brow - then I'd say stay away from there until you hear the coast is clear...

                                                                              1. re: NAspy

                                                                                You, like others above, mention El Tepeyac. I crave the food from that place and therefore return again and again. I ate there twice this week. I went for breakfast at 9:00 am and had the T-bone from the dinner section of the menu. I added two eggs on top of the steak and everybody who walked past my counter seat could not take their eyes off my plate. It was falvorful especially with that green salsa on the counter. Today I had lunch there and for the first time I tried the hard shell tacos ($3.50 each) and after eating two I was as overstuffed as the tacos were. Soooo much roast beef and cheese. Usually I get the Hollenbeck burrito, which is twice as big as most large burritos but only half the size of the Manuel’s Special burrito (What, maybe 10 pounds?). Sometimes I like to get the Manuel’s Special and take it home just before lunch time. I eat as much as I can and then take a break. When I get hungry I eat some more of it, and on-and-on until it is bed time = good Saturday.

                                                                                I wanted to add something about the line out front. When the line for a table is long just look inside to see if a seat at the counter is open. That is what I did today and got lucky. By the time I left I was the only person atr the counter and there was still a line outside. Sometimes I just give up on eating inside and order from the walk-up window outside located on the south side of the building. They also have outside tables on the sideyard area.

                                                                                El Tepeyac
                                                                                812 N Evergreen Ave
                                                                                Los Angeles, CA 90033
                                                                                Phone: (323) 267-8668

                                                                                1. re: NAspy

                                                                                  Lucky Devil's has taken a bit of a slide. Prices have gone up; portions and quality have gone done. It's just not quite as good as it was. Service is a bit more distracted, too, and they're trying out new recipes that don't work. On my last visit, my friends ordered the macaroni and cheese that looked really bizarre, like some sort of strange elbow macaroni in alfredo sauce. They maybe finished a third of it.

                                                                                  I think they've had some management changes, are feeling the crunch of food prices and such, but nonetheless, it's not as good as it was a year ago. In the nearby vicinity, I would recommend the excellent burger (and little else) at Bowery or the super-duper PUG burger at The Hungry Cat for a burger fix instead.

                                                                                2. Reading over all the responses of this thread reminds me of something I've said before and will say again:

                                                                                  If you can't find something good to eat in LA, you're not looking very hard.

                                                                                  My only fear is that the large number of enthusiastic responses will only lead people to be a) intimidated by the size and scope or b) confused by the myriad choices or c) convinced that the responders are simply rattling off a bunch of names.

                                                                                  The sad part is that it's possible to react in all three ways, and understandably so.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                    You need to come back down to LA stat and help us sort out this mess... :)

                                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                      I've got reservations for Crab Fest at The Hungry Cat :D Two weeks to go!

                                                                                      1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                        I've said it before - I envy you SINKs!