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Visiting LA (Follow-up)

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I'm visiting from Toronto next week. I posted back in February looking for suggestions (was excited). Time has passed and I've done a bit more research. I have flagged the following places as ones I'd like to attack:
Musha
Farmer's Market (food stalls)
Antequera de Oaxaca (oaxacan food, obviously)
Langers (pastrami)
Tacos Baja Ensenada (fish tacos)
Roy's (we don't have hawaiian food)

I know LA is pretty sprawled out...I can look on google maps for these places and see how far they are from each other, but would rather get the local's perspective. I'm there for 3 days, have a car, staying downtown. Would hitting these places mean excessive driving?

Also, if you have a suggestion for a Korean place, that would be appreciated or any altrenative suggestions to the one's I've listed. My wife is pregnant, so we're not looking for sushi.

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  1. Good choices, and they are all easily accessible from dotnwon LA with a car via 10-15 minute drive. The exception being Musha, which will take you closer to 30 minutes with traffic.

    For Korean BBQ, my favorite spots are Park's BBQ and Soot Bull Jeep -- the latter is a must if you insist on charcoal grilling at its most primeval.

    Also, since your downtown, if you want another option for Mexican, try Chichen Izta.

    I would skip the food stalls at the Farmer's Market. It's a nice scene, but the food is mostly unremarkable.

    Enjoy your stay.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks for the tip on Farmer's Market. I was hoping to hit a farmer's market in any case, given the bounty of produce you guys have in California. Is there another one you could suggest?

      1. re: grandgourmand

        Farmer's Market @The Grove is easily the best. Definitely a stop you should check out.

        Park's bbq as noted below is great for kbbq. Bruddah's is great but is a freakin DIVE. Roy's is probably a better bet for you...unless you want that true hole in the wall hound experience ;)

        1. re: ns1

          THe FM at the Grove is really not a Farmer's maket anymore. The one on Arizona in SM on Saturdays and Wednesdays is proabably a better one.

          But the Original Farmer's makret is a good foodie place with all the different resttaurant booths. Just not good for fresh and amazing produce to buy and cook with yourself.

        2. re: grandgourmand

          The Farmers Market with the food stalls is not really a true Farmers Market, more a collection of food stands... I agree with Ipse that while it has some good stuff (and I've tried them all), it's not something I would bring a food tourist to who had limited time.

          If you want to experience a real LA farmers market in the traditional sense, the best two are the Santa Monica market on Wednesdays and the Hollywood market on Sundays. Loads of great fruit and veg and this is a great time to go for cherries, stone fruit, strawberries and the like.

          I think you've got a pretty good list and it's all pretty centrally located in the downtown/mid-city area except for Musha.

          I second Ipsedixit's Korean recommendations though I prefer Park's to Soot bull Jeep for BBQ. For bi bim bop dol sot, Jeon Ju is a great little place to go.

          I haven't been to Musha, so can't comment on it, but the only place I'd take exception to is Roy's. If you like seafood, you'd be better off at Water Grill or Providence, though both are more expensive.

          Have fun and please report back.

          1. re: sku

            sku,

            I agree with you that Roy's isn't the best place for seafood in LA (or even in downtown for that matter).

            But for someone coming from Toronto, like the OP, I think going to Roy's would be a good choice. Hard to find Hawaiian fusion cuisine up in Toronto, whereas great seafood joints are probably more plentiful up there than in SoCal.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Third on the Park's BBQ rec. I don't know if this is a concern for you and your wife, but I think the air circulation/exhaust is better here than at other Korean BBQ places.

              Like sku, I would not recommend Roy's to visitors. Although the type of cuisine might not be available to you, I've been consistently underwhelmed by the place. I'd take Roy's and the farmers market @ the Grove off the list and replace them with Father's Office and the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

              (Having a pregnant wife with you might get you a seat faster at Father's Office)

          2. re: grandgourmand

            "The" Farmers' Market and "a" farmers' market are two different things. The Farmers' Market is an old-school open air market near the mall at the Grove at Fairfax and 3rd Street, which is now mostly inhabited by restaurants, rather than true "farmers'" bounty and produce (there are some produce stands, a fish monger and a butcher, but most stalls are prepared food). It's a fun place to visit if you want to grab a bite to eat and a beer/glass of wine and do some people watching, but you won't get the true farmers' market feel unless you hit an actual farmers' market, of which there are many around town.

            Here's a link to The Farmers' Market at the Grove:

            http://www.farmersmarketla.com/

            As for actual farmers' markets, I'm not sure what days of the week you will be here, but I'd suggest you visit either the Wednesday farmers' market in Santa Monica, or the Sunday farmers' market in Hollywood. Both are great this time of year. If neither of those days work for your schedule, a full list of farmers' markets around town can be found here:

            http://www.farmernet.com/events/cfms

          3. re: ipsedixit

            any Koreatown recs you get would be great, it's very nearby for you.

          4. if you want good and extremely authentic hawaiian, skip roy's and go to bruddah's in gardena.

            park's bbq offers high quality meat if you wan korean bbq.

            -----
            Park's BBQ
            955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006

            Bruddah's
            1033 W Gardena Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247

            8 Replies
            1. re: wilafur

              Note that Gardena is about 20 miles/45 minute drive from downtown, while there is a Roy's location right in downtown. And personally, I like Roy's. I haven't been to Bruddah's yet but I get the impression it may have more casual fast-foodish Hawaiian while Roy's is higher end. I love both kinds of Hawaiian food, but they can be quite different (e.g., kahlua pig and macaroni salad vs. macademia nut crusted fish). But again, I've never been to Bruddah's so wilafur or others can correct me if I am wrong.

              1. re: Nicole

                It's not fast foodish as the service is pretty bad. It's hole-in-the-wall great cheap food dining. I like their grilled butterfish ALOT better than Roy's!

                But Roy's has a place too - and if there are no HI places in Canada, it makes for a decent stop.

                1. re: ns1

                  Thanks for the feedback so far. Very helpful.

                  Yeah, my priority is for stuff we don't have or don't to well in Toronto. Mexican is high on my list (fish tacos esp.) and the Hawaiian was a suggestion on my post back in February as a type of food we definitely don't have. And I checked Park's. Holy cow. Literally. The beef just looks amazing. We've got Korean BBQ in Toronto, but nothing of that scale. And we'll be in town for the Wednesday farmer's market in Santa Monica. Our own markets are just starting to put out spring vegetables, no fruit yet. So I'm looking forward to what's good under the CA sun. Definitely looking forward to the trip overall.

                  And to ipsedixit, I'm not sure if we have plentiful great seafood joints up here. Definitely some good ones, but not exactly a seafood capital.

                  I just noticed that my pics aren't including a "classic american" place...so that Father's Office would be a good addition, I think.

                  1. re: grandgourmand

                    Definitely go to Park's. Cheap it's not -- so don't freak out -- but for a Torontonian it won't be too sticker-shocky. The beef is insanely delicious.

                    The Sunday Hollywood Market is also a good stop if you like. The produce is... amazing.

                    You might want to check out La Serenata de Garibaldi, which is a Mexican seafood place in Boyle Heights. (There are Westside branches, two of them, both inferior to the mothership.) The neighbourhood looks unbelievably grotty but is safe enough to park on the street, and the restaurant has fantastic food, including things like huachinango con huitlacoche, which if you can pronounce it (wah-chee-NAN-goh kon weet-lah-KOH-chay), is Pacific red snapper with corn fungus sauce. (Please don't freak out. Yes, it sounds awful. It's black. But it's so delicious.)

                    If you want Hawaiian food, use some of your Roy's money for gas and head to Shakas in Monterey Park, just 10 minutes from downtown, and get a plate lunch... and then get a shave ice with li hing mui ("pucker powder") -- deeeeeeeeeeeelicious, and CHEAP.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      I second La Serenata de Garibaldi in Boyle Heights. It's a quick jaunt from Downtown, and it's really good. The big fisherman's cocktail is great, and mariachis roam the restaurant some nights. And if one is looking for seafood, La Serenata is a great place to go.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Gotta disagree with you here. Shakas is one step above the HI McD (L&L)

                        Cheap shaved ice and decent spam musubi but that's about it...

                        Park's isn't THAT bad, probably 80-100 for 2 people and that's gorging yourself.

                  2. re: Nicole

                    I've driven out to Gardena for Bruddah's but I wouldn't recommend it for a tourist staying downtown. No need to drive out there for this 3-day trip, Roy's would be just fine.

                    As a side note, Grand Central Market might be a great visit for you. I doubt you'd have anything like it in Toronto. It's like the LA Farmers Market you mentioned in that it's a bunch of food stalls, but definitely more unique and filled with Mexican eats. You might want to do a board search to see what's recommended, I haven't been there in ages. But it's a unique cultural experience and even better, right in Downtown.

                    1. re: CookieEater

                      [slaps forehead]

                      Why yes, of course ... Grand Central Market would be quite an experience. Good rec.

                2. Agreed with what others have said about the Farmers Market - it's essentially the food court for The Grove now. It used to be a charming throwback, an oasis of tranquility in the busy city, but the laid-back quality it used to have is largely gone, and the crowds on busy weekends and summer days can make it a maddening experience. Go on a weekday, and, speaking as one with a big Louisiana family, avoid The Gumbo Pot at all costs.

                  The Santa Monica Farmers Market is the one with the best produce, but the Hollywood Farmers Market is easily accessible from the Red Line. Its easily bundled with a trip to Amoeba Records, and the Hungry Cat is around the corner for brunch.

                  As for Roy's, it's not really authentic Hawaiian. Going to Roy's for an authentic taste of Hawaii is like going to Benihana for real Japanese food. I agree with other posters that it's not what should be high on a visitor's list of restaurants to try. It's big with the expense account crowd in Downtown - lots of lawyers and accounts.

                  And yes, Park's BBQ is an excellent recommendation for Korean barbecue. Follow it up with some crazy karaoke at Brass Monkey if it's a weekend or maybe some laid-back cocktails at Taylor's.

                  And if you do get homesick, we have a Terroni, the only one outside of Toronto. (It's right by the Farmer's Market...)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Woolsey

                    i doubt I'll get homesick in three days, but thanks. and i'm impressed with the Toronto reference.

                  2. If you do go to Roy's, be sure to get their chocolate souffle (molten lava cake) which is really good. I like Roy's for their Hawaiin fusion. I once had their poke style terrine of kampachi, ahi & salmon (which was sooo good it made my toes curl) and wagyu otoro beef "steak & egg" which was served with a raw quail egg on top. Utterly delicious; the steak was melt-in-your-mouth good.

                    ALthough it appears that most would have you try something else while you're out here (and yes, we do ethnic very well), but if you have your heart set on trying Roy's, I think you should go for it! =)

                    -----
                    Roy's Restaurant
                    800 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

                    1. I think the Farmer's Market (@ 3d & Fairfax) is indeed worth it especially since you are looking for mexican food - I really enjoy the Loteria stand in there for their tasty soft tacos (chicken en mole and chicken en pipian rojo are my favorites). I also enjoy Mssr. Marcel there for a glass of wine.

                      I think Roy's is well prepared seafood - some with hawaiian flavors. Have been there for business dinners and never disappointed.

                      And while I agree with ipsedixit on Soot Bull Jeep, considering that your wife is pregnant, the smoke might get a little overwhelming for her. Instead I'd suggest Cho Sun Galbi on Olympic, between downtown and the Farmers Market. Then when you return another time, suffer the smoke and love the Soot Bull Jeep!

                      As for farmer's markets, I'm a devotee of the Sunday morning (8-1) one in Hollywood. It's on Ivar between Sunset and Hollywood Blvds. Ivar is one block West of Vine. But Santa Monica is wonderful as well - I just happen to live closer to H'wood. It just depends upon what day of the week you are going and how much you want to drive, etc.

                      Safe and wonderous travels to you!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: cinzia

                        I like both markets. The Santa Monica market is awesome. Many of our top chefs do their shopping there. It is HUGE. But...if you are trying to get there from another part of town on a Wednesday morning, it is the pits! I have given up taking the 10 West from Pasadena as it could take an hour. If however you are making a day of it and are doing other things in the area, it's worth it. You are a block away from the beach and fun window shopping at the very least. The Sunday Hollywood market is a trip though and if you go early in the morning, it is easy to get there. Also, it is a great place to people watch but be careful about drinking too many liquids as your bathroom options are slim and not in the greatest neighborhood. Both markets have great food stalls too.

                        1. re: Fru

                          true on the h'wood farmers bathroom options - though they could always sneak into Hungry Cat for something and use the facilities!

                        2. re: cinzia

                          Park's BBQ is sleek and modern inside and has excellent ventillation like Chosun Galbee, but Park's uses charcoal unlike the gas grills at Chosun. One will not come out smelling like smoke or even smell it while at the spacious tables at Park's, so smoke isn't an issue there as it is at Soot Bull Jeep.

                        3. Why not head out about 10-15 minutes east on the 10 freeway and hit Babita Restaurant?

                          It's a really unique experience and I can't imagine you would be disappointed.

                          1823 S San Gabriel Blvd
                          San Gabriel, CA 91776

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: socal

                            Hey Socal -
                            Would you tell me about Babita? I've never heard of it. Thanks!

                            1. re: cinzia

                              I love Babita. It's a fairly "alta cocina" Mexican place -- combo glop plates need not apply -- and maybe the most upscale "real" Mexican place in LA. The beef cheeks are fantastic, and I love their panuchos. The fish is excellent, and the service kind and friendly -- this is like eating in someone's living room at a party.

                              Prices, surprisingly, are not high. The entrees don't really rise above the $20 mark; most of the appetisers are $8-$12 and are fairly large (for appetisers). Beer and wine only -- no hard liquor.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                thank you so much - I'll add it to the list!

                              2. re: cinzia

                                Looks like Babita was pretty well covered, but I would possibly put it on a "must eat" list for LA.

                                I don't think you need to worry about overdoing Mexican by going to Babita. It doesn't really even feel like Mexican the way people think.

                                The food is fantastic, as was noted (you MUST order the soup, whatever it is...) but really, it's just the experience that puts it over the top. It's in a nondescript, not exactly pretty section of San Gabriel just off the freeway. You might miss it your first drive by and when you realize where it is, you will think that there must be some kind of mistake.

                                But that all pleasantly fades away when you walk in and are greeted by the owner/chef or the hostess (his wife?) into a small room with 10 white tablecloth tables decorated tastefully with tequila bottles.

                                The chef will probably tell you about the specials personally and recommend some wine that he will personally pour for you.

                                If you had to choose between Garibaldi and Babita, I would say hands down do Babita, although I enjoyed Garibaldi also.

                                Anyway, good luck and let us know how it went.

                            2. Ok, I must thank you all for the wonderful feedback. It's very helpful. So here's my revised list:
                              Santa Monica Farmers Market (we're there on a Wednesday)
                              Park's (zombie-like walking towards that beef)
                              Tacos Baja Ensenada (fish tacos)
                              La Serenata de Garibaldi (forgot about it from my old post)
                              Bruddah's or Shakas (might boil down to convenience)
                              Father's Office

                              I've removed Roys, for now. Langers (I've had some of the best deli the world has to offer already), Farmer's Market and Musha (read about it and not sure if it's worth the drive).

                              Here's a question, Babita or Antequera de Oaxaca? Different, I imagine, but I don't know if my wife likes Mexican food as much as I do, so between those two, fish tacos and Sereneta, might be pushing my luck. I've heard Oaxacan food is among the best. And then this Babita sounds a like it might be very different from what I've experienced.

                              Needless to say, I'm very excited. Definitely will post upon my return.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: grandgourmand

                                Be creful about removing Langer's Nora Ephron, New York native and New York Loyalist, called Langer's (in a New Yorker article) the best pastrami in the country.

                                That says something.

                                1. re: Diana

                                  Yes, put Langer's back on that list.

                                  1. re: sku

                                    Fine. I will put Langers back on. I've been to Katz's (sp?). It was good, but not the best. The best is in Montreal, Schwartz's. Maybe it's patriotism on my part, but if any of you have the chance to go, go to Schwartz's.

                                    1. re: grandgourmand

                                      Langer's will not taste much like what you have had at Schwartz's (which is a whole other animal, in a manner of speaking); rather, closer to, but better than, Katz's. Having tried all three, I prefer Langer's. Here is a link to an earlier ChowHound post debating the difference between NY deli pastrami and Montreal smoked beef: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/321080

                                      1. re: New Trial

                                        Very well. I will go to Langers. that link to the smoked meat vs. pastrami opened a pandora's box.

                                  2. re: Diana

                                    OK. I feel like I can settle this now. I have eaten at Langer's (it's right off the subway, after all) and now I have eaten at Katz's.

                                    The results are... inconclusive. More testing on both parts is absolutely vital. The results will continue to be inconclusive until I keel over from pastrami-induced myocardial infarction.

                                    They're both excellent. If you're from New York, I don't know that I'd steer you to Langer's (it'd be a bit like telling me, an OC denizen, that I had to go to some good Viet place in Manhattan Chinatown -- possibly excellent, but not what I'm there for), but if you're a New Yorker hungry for a taste of Houston Street, I'd totally steer you to Langer's -- except they close at like 4 PM.

                                  3. re: grandgourmand

                                    Re Babita v. AdO.

                                    I would do Babita if you had to choose only one. But if you want a bit of unsolicited advice, I would drop La Serenata, and instead do BOTH Babita and AdO.

                                    I've always found La Serenata to be way overrated -- sort of reminds me of an Alcapulco's with more seafood dishes and homemade chips. It's fine for what it is, but not a destination place if you are visiting LA.

                                    Anyhow, that's my 0.02.

                                    Enjoy wherever you end up.

                                  4. langers is a great place. it is proably the best pastrami you can get in los angeles. i've noticed the earlier you go, the better the rye - more fresh obviously. the cruchy outter crust with the soft rye center and the saltiness of the pastrami is a perfect balance.

                                    as for the farmers market at the grove, well it's just a shopping mall - if you really want to see the fresh california produce, i would hit one of the farmers markets in town. always at least one a week. the best one is the wed. market in santa monica, it's the largest in california, and rivels some of the best markets in paris. the 2nd best is think is the one at hollywood & ivar on sunday.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: foodmor

                                      I was just in LA a few weeks ago and loved the SM Farmer's Market. The produce is fantastic and they have a great bakery stand (OP - get the twist with cheddar and bacon for a fun snack).

                                      We also went to Park's BBQ and loved it. The meat quality is awesome. You'll have a good time there.

                                    2. Hawaiian Food??? It's really all about fusion from Asian foods/....... Take a look at their website. It's very expensive there. Maybe you can find other options. Go into Chinatown (downtown), Thai Town (Hollywood Blvd.) Sanamluang Cafe-good, cheap and very Thai, Guelaguetza, also good cheap and Oaxacan [Koreatown area]
                                      3337 1/2 W. 8th St., 213-427-0601 Then there's SOOT BULL JEEP 3136 W 8th St and Choshun Galbi 3330 W Olympic (323) 734-3330 - both Korean BBQ

                                      Maybe not "fancy fusion" but, better than average yummy places that are authentic and reflective of the melting pot that is SoCal.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                        Sanamluang is nice and cheap for locals and late-night club-goers and whatnot, but I would never recommend it as a place for an out-of-towner to go.

                                        I think Jitlada is the place CHers say to go for Thai these days.