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Visiting LA for the first time - Recommendations?

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Hi everyone,
I'm from Philly and I'll be visiting LA technically for the second time in my life but the first time was in high school when I knew nothing about food. Now I'm pretty obsessed about trying what LA has to offer. I'm staying for 5 days so I'm pretty much down to try anything really. I really want to try food and places that LA is really known for (I'm sure the different latino cuisines will come into play here) including desserts and snacks. But here are some restrictions

#1) My friends are all korean so they will definitely take to KTown so that is taken care of

#2) I'm willing to go a high end restaurant for two or three of the nights I'm there. Something reasonable (tasting menu is in low 100's). I am considering to go one night to Urasawa but thats only if I'm feeling ridiculous.

#3) I'll be staying in studio city/north hollywood and here's the big catch: I'll be getting around with pubic transportation. Yes I do know how ridiculous that sounds but most of my friends will be working during the day and I'm not planning on renting a car (don't ask). For some days, my friends will be free so I'm not completely restricted but I am willing to travel by myself as long as it's worth it and it's somewhat close to public transpo

#4) Please don't be shy to recommend bakeries, dessert joints, etc. I absolutely LOVE desserts

Thanks ahead for any recommendations, this will be really helpful. Please feel free to gush about the places you recommend, haha.

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  1. You're not entirely out of luck for public transportation, since you'll be not too far from the Red Line subway. Stations in North Hollywood and Universal City. Exit Hollywood and Vine for Thai Town, stay on until 1st and Hill for a bit of a walk to Little Tokyo, or stay on until the end of the line at Union Station, cross Alameda to Olvera Street for so-so Mexican. Philippe's is also nearby, a LA intitution. Chinatown is close, too. Walk or take the Gold Line to get there. Other Hounds may have have specific suggestions in the areas I mentioned.

    Suggest you get a Day Pass for unlimited rides on the MTA. Our light-rail system here is pretty good, if limited, but the bus system is grim.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Akitist

      And don't forget about the Westlake/Macarthur Park Red Line station for the best pastrami and the best rye bread in the USA at Langer's Deli. Only breakfast and lunch (they close at 4 PM and are open Monday through Saturday)

      1. re: Akitist

        for very innovative and delicious mexican inspired but nonetheless basically california food for breakfast or lunch (they close at 3) go to HOMEGIRL CAFE which is at the corner of alameda street and bruno (sort of on the back end of chinatown). you can see the metro stop from the window of the restaurant.

        be aware that this operation is run by an organization that is using this restaurant to train former gang-girls how to be employable, so you may need to 'help' them a little if they lose focus.

        be sure to order sara's drink (mango and raspberry)
        all of their food is extremely good.

      2. Public transportation in LA is put down by people who don't use public transportation in LA.

        I've lived in LA for almost thirty years and haven't owned a car in almost half that time, and I get along on buses and the Red Line just fine. And I work in North Hollywood, right near where you're staying, and used to live in the area as well.

        Akitist gave you some great tips upthread. Here is the MTA trip planner:

        http://socaltransport.org/tm_pub_star...

        There have been a lot of threads in the past year about good eats within walking distance of Red Line stations -- the first listed is broken down by station:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/436632
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/475759
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/498649
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/422497
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/523605

        In Studio City, Ventura Boulevard between Vineland and Laurel Canyon is "Sushi Alley", home of some of the best to be had in LA and accessible from the 150 and 240 buses. Here's a blog post, less than 24 hours old and I pretty much agree with his recs although I think he overrates Teru Sushi and I would have included Katsu-Ya:

        http://gridskipper.com/63004/the-best...

        Two weeks ago I checked out Boneyard Bistro for the first time, great upscale BBQ and my current fvorite burger in L.A. Take the 150 or 240 locals to Ventura and Sunnyslope and you're there, or the 750 Rapid bus to Ventura & Woodman and you're two blocks away:

        http://www.boneyardbistro.com/

        I'm drawing a blank on fancy bakeries / desserts accessible by bus in the immediate area ... DuPar's at Laurel Canyon & Ventura has good pies although I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

        Trust me, the buses are a fine way to see LA from the ground up. Have fun!

        -----
        Asanebo
        11941 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

        Sushi Nozawa
        11288 Ventura Blvd Ste C, Studio City, CA 91604

        Tama Sushi
        11920 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91604

        Boneyard Bistro
        13539 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

        Iroha Sushi of Tokyo
        12953 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

        Katsu-Ya
        11680 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

        Kazu Sushi
        11440 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

        3 Replies
        1. re: maxzook

          The 96 bus will take you from Universal City past Tujunga Village (Tujunga Ave. south of Moorpark), where you will find:

          * Caioti Pizza Cafe, imho the best pizza north of Mozza;
          * the divine Gelato Bar;
          * Aroma Coffee & Tea Co, home to wonderful pastries and pretty good sanwiches & salads, maybe a little overpriced and often crowded but with a very pleasant outdoor patio.

          In the same block there's a nice little panini stand across from Aroma and also Vitello's, not-so-bad tradition red-sauce-Italian but now famous as the place Robert Blake dined with his wife. Neither is worth going out of your way, but Caioti and the Gelato Bar, absolutely.

          -----
          Caioti Pizza Cafe
          4346 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

          Gelato Bar Wholesale & Retail
          4342 1/2 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

          Aroma Coffee and Tea
          4360 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

          1. re: maxzook

            Bobby Blake put the di in dined.

            1. re: maxzook

              Bah dum bump.....

              Back to the topic. Be sure to seek out Armenian food, especially pastries which IMO are the best in the world! Glendale and east Hollywood are the most Armenian centric, but the former isn't near any rail lines and I'm not familiar with the buses in that area.

              Panos Pastry, Nairi and Caroussel are a few blocks from the Hollywood/Western (Red) station.
              Armenian Palace and Lousin's are near the Allen Ave (Gold) station.
              Marouch is west of the Vermont/Santa Monica (Red) station.

          2. For dinner, I assume your friends will drive, I highly recommend Providence. They have a great tasting menu. Also, A.O.C., Vertical Wine Bar & Bistro in Pasadena and Luques.

            Great posts from everyone on how to take Public Transportation around town! I've learned something too!

            1. To recommend some desserty places near where you're staying....
              Nata's in Sherman Oaks for great natas and other pastries
              Leda's for cupcakes primarily and other desserts

              Getting into Hollywood shouldn't be all that difficult - you could take an adventurous ride over to Jitlada thai, although there's a couple of good thai places in NoHo itself. Getting over to Hungry Cat or Mozza for lunches wouldn't be too terrible either.

              Second the suggestions for Studio City sushi joints, if not Urasawa. I'm a big Tama fan.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Emme

                I also suggest Boneyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks. It is one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. They also have great a great beer list if you are into that. If you are looking for less expensive sushi in Studio City (not cheap but not too expensive), I suggest Yen sushi on Coldwater and Ventura or Iroha, also on Coldwater and Ventura. Both are very good.

              2. I agree, Boneyard Bistro has great fried mac n' cheese and Beer selection. Iwata for sushi is a favorite too near Ventura and Van Nuys.