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Aug 5, 2008 11:41 AM

Need recs for LA Convention Center area


I'll be attending a conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center most of next week and would love some recommendations for places to eat within a walk or quick cab.

Looking for quick but good breakfast and lunch places as well as some mid-to-upscale dinner options, preferably open late.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Where are you staying? Assuming you won't have a car.

    First, go to the Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation (LADOT) website. You are interested in the subway system (red line) and especially the DASH vans, which run about a half-dozen routes all over downtown into Chinatown and only cost a quarter each way.

    The subway can take you north to the civic center and then west to Alvarado and 7th on the edge of McArthur Park, where there is the amazing Langer's Deli. Home of perhaps the best pastrami on rye in the country. A sandwich is north of $10, and isn't one of those gargantuan piled high versions, but it is truly excellent.

    The DASH vans can take you into Chinatown (I like Yang Chow if I have a group) or into Little Tokyo. They also can get you to the historic Phillipe's across from Union Station for french dips (the pork or lamb are far superior to the dry, premeasured roast beef) or to the other side of Chinatown for the Eastside Deli (great, drippy, overstuffed sandwiches of roast beef, sausages, etc.).

    Another option is to find someone with a car or take a bus west on Pico. (The convention center is on Pico just east of the 110 Harbor Freeway.) If you take Pico a couple of miles west on Pico, you hit Dino's, a stand that serves an amazing "crazy chicken" special of a half marinated bird in a vinegary, garlicky sauce chargrilled served with fries and slaw and tortillas for about $5. Also huge pastrami sandwiches, carne asada plates, and burgers. You will also pass a branch of King Taco for great inexpensive tacos and excellent salsas, as well as El Taurino (at Hoover) another great taco option. Finally, the Dash can take you to the Grand Central Market off Broadway between 3rd and 4th which has a number of good stalls, including some decent seafood and some amazingly huge and succulent carnitas tacos for about $2 each. Enjoy and report back.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      These are all great suggestions since, sadly, there's not much within a short walk of the Convention Center and the food inside is pretty awful.

      1. re: nosh

        Bella Cuccina (in the building attached to the carwash at Olympic and Figueroa) has somewhat reasonably priced lunch salad and pastas, and really good pizza-dough bread.

        The DASH into J-Town, particularly if you can get to lunch early for the sashimi special at Gen.

        Either location of Chichen Itza (I believe there's a DASH bus that runs south to the Mercado "stand" location, and the Red Line to McArthur Park, or a short taxi, gets you to the 6th St "fine dining" location).

        If you're going into Chinatown, I'd say Empress for dim sum in the AM, or Full House (up at the top of HIll St) or Chinese Friends (old school Hunan) in the PM for dinner.

      2. The Wood Spoon on 9th Street is quick cab ride away.
        Gotta try the Pork Burger for lunch.
        Hobson's Choice recently posted a review with pics

        1. More on the upscale side for lunch or dinner, here are some good, walkable options:

          Arnie Morton's
          The Palm
          Zucca (Italian)

          Arnie Morton's the Steakhouse
          735 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017

          Zucca Ristorante [CLOSED]
          801 South Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90017

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

          Palm Restaurant
          1100 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015

          1. Going to SIGGRAPH, eh? Me, too. I haven't been able to find much chow near Staples, but here are a few possibilities: El Parian for Mexican, apparently has some fine carne asada; Pantry Cafe for breakfast (which I can personally attest to from the last time I attended a few years ago); and Fernando's Taco Inn, which apparently has some good breakfast burritos.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Kip McSkipster

              I second having lunch at El Parian for the carne asada. It is just a few blocks east on Pico and is some of the best in town. The restaurant looks a little run down from the street side, but it is cheap and delicious. The New York Times even wrote it up a few weeks ago.

              El Parian also has a pretty good version of birria (goat) if you are up for it. Mr rec, for beginners, is to try it in a taco. It tastes like braised lamb shoulder.

              If you have never been, Langer's is also a must hit for excellent pastrami. Ask for it hand cut.

              1. re: Kip McSkipster

                if you get an egg dish at The Pantry, ask for the house salsa, it is nice.

                1. re: Kip McSkipster

                  Very good recds -- all!

                  The asada tacos at El Parian are maybe the best in LA, therefore the USA.
                  El Parian 1528 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 386-7361

                  The toast at the Pantry Cafe is hand cut and the pancakes are good also (24 hrs a day -- every day.

                  1. re: Kip McSkipster

                    Okay, had to follow up on my post. I tried both Fernando's and El Parian while I was near the convention center this past week. Had the breakfast burrito at Fernando's which was fine - a quick and easy breakfast (they open at 8), a nice sized tortilla filled with egg, sausage, and I think cheese, about 4 bucks with a coffee.

                    El Parian was incredible. Went there for lunch one day and ordered the carne asada (plate, not tacos). A big slab of perfectly cooked and seasoned meat, thin, juicy, super flavorful. I sliced it up and loaded it into their fresh tortillas with tomato, lettuce, onion, and their tasty salsas. I can only dream of having a place like El Parian in the Boston area. Next time I'm back in LA I'll have to try their birria.

                  2. I know I'll get blasted for this, but the Pantry on Figueroa and 9th serves some of the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had on Wednesdays and Firdays. Also, as mentioned earlier, the breakfasts are pretty good as well with some tasty, old-school buckwheat pancakes. The Pantry isn't on top of everyone's list but it's worth a try if you're in the area.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mrshankly

                      is it old school mac & cheese or is it a 17 cheese with organic ham and white truffles from a special tree that are only harvested every 100 years?

                      1. re: Burger Boy

                        LOL... no, it's definitely old school:) Large elbow macaroni with creamy cheese. Very buttery with an old school, hearty, creamy texture. It won me over the first time I tried it and it hasn't disappointed me thus far on each return to have it. If you're a mac-n-cheese fan, it's definitely worth trying to see if it makes your list. Definitely a comfort food style of mac-n-cheese. Just a warning that they do sell out early during dinner so a lunch trip or early dinner is best to go to get it.