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Aug 23, 2008 08:33 AM

Lunch spots near Staples Center

I am attending a convention at the Staples Center in October. I have all my dinner spots picked out (Patina, Providence, Sona, Melisse) but looking for some good spots for lunch. Doesn't have to be fancy - gourmet delis, ethnic spots etc are fine - as long as they food and atmosphere is really nice and I can get in and out in 90 minutes. Any suggestions?

Also, where's a good spot within walking distance of the Milenium Biltmore for bagels?

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  1. The place you absolutely don't want to miss is the historic Langer's Deli, home of perhaps the best pastrami on rye on the planet. Not a monster sandwich, but amazing succulent tender thick-sliced pastrami on perfect double-baked crispy crust soft in the middle rye. Located not too far away N/W of Staples and the convention center on the S/E corner of Alvarado and Seventh, across from McArthur Park. About ten minutes away by car (with a free validated lot one block east and across 7th on the north) and also right at a Metro redline subway stop. Please do yourself a favor and search for Langer's on this board and you will be craving their pastrami, perhaps with a side of welldone crinkle fries to share or a cup of matzoh ball soup.

    There are several notable, inexpensive, fun and tasty places due west of Staples and the convention center along Pico -- too far to walk but easily drivable or easily reached via buses which travel frequently along Pico. My favorite is a burger stand, Dino's, which is on the N/W corner of Pico and Berendo, a block or two west of Vermont. The thing to get there is the "crazy" chicken special -- a small half-bird, marinated and char grilled, served over a mound of fries with cole slaw and tortillas. The chicken is orange-yellow, with a turmeric-garlic-vinegar spice that is fantastic, and it costs all of $5. Dino's also does a good carne asada plate, burgers, and sandwiches. Just a bit further west at Normandie and on the same north side of the street is Papa Cristo's C & K -- a wonderful greek shop and cafe. Lamb, kabobs, other grilled meats, greek pastries like spanikopita -- order at a counter and places to sit inside. Closer in is El Parian, which some think serves the best carne asada in L.A. The place always looks closed and almost abandoned, but do try the doors -- they are open, good, inexpensive, and serve massive portions. I think there is a branch of our best inexpensive taqueria chain in that area or nearby, King Taco. Good asada, better al pastor, good salsas -- look them up if interested and intimidated by El Parian.

    Three other suggestions: The Grand Central Market is right downtown on Broadway between 4th and 3rd -- fun, lots of stalls, and a couple of stands that serve huge, juicy, drippy carnitas tacos at about $2 -- many like Ana Maria's, I like Roast2Go, and I think there is one more. Second, check out the DASH system, which uses smallish bus/vans to circle about five routes all around downtown for 25-cents per ride and can get you into Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and other places you might enjoy. One being Senor Fish, for fried fish tacos and even better crispy shrimp or fried scallop tacos. Third, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the branch of Carnitas Michaocan on North Broadway at 19th above Chinatown. It won Bandini's ("The Great Taco Hunt") last rating as the best taqueria in SoCal, has good asada, fantastic al pastor cut from a rotisserie spit, and the best salsa roja I've ever tasted -- dark, thin, smoky, complex, spicy, hot and absolutely addictive.

    Enjoy your visit and be sure to report back.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      Langer's is a must! The hand-cut meat is pretty amazing.

      1. re: TroyV

        If you have a car - all are great ideas. Without one, I'm not sure how viable given your 90 minute limit. So forget Carnitas Michaocan, Dino's (I thought they were just a little east of Papa Christo's). Even with Langer's and the MTA trains it might be a push with all the train switching (at least two, I believe).

        Although others here might disagree (make that will disagree) The Pantry a couple of blocks north on Figueroa, is in walking distance, and it's been a downtown fixture for over 70(?) years. It's got its fans (and detractors), but it's fun in an old-style kind of way.If you do have a car, you can also try Weenez for east coast style grilled hot dogs (on Spring & 4th, I believe), or Anqelique's, a French style bistro (840 S Spring St) at 9th Street.

        Good luck.

      2. re: nosh

        Langers should be no problem in 90 minutes. You can walk about 3 blocks north to the Red Line subway station at 7th and Figueroa or a couple of blocks south east and get the Blue line and take that to the 7th street red Line Station and take it to the Alvarado station.If you go a couple more stops to Vermont you can go to Cassel's for hamburgers. You can also take the Red Line north to Union station and walk a couple blocks and go to Philippe's for a French duip sandwich.

      3. Colori Kitchen is a great lunch spot, quality homestyle Italian made by its chef-owner, and it's one of the better deals downtown in terms of price. It's probably a 20-minute walk from Staples, but if that's a bit much the DASH buses downtown cost a quarter and run every few minutes so that's an option. Very popular with the office crowd and you can have a nice meal and get out in 45 mins (though they don't rush those looking for a longer lunch).

        If you disregard all semblance of health, some of the best fried/broasted chicken in L.A. is a stone's throw from the convention center across the 110. It's called Mr. Sippee and is located in a gas station. But seriously, it's amazing if you don't mind the resulting heart attack.

        1. great dinner selections !!

          do you have a car ? if not, that's a tough one - are you willing to take a bus ? if so, just on figueroa ( all within approx. 2 miles ) - the pantry , roy's , engine 28, ciudad, morton's.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kjs

            i do have a car. Thank you for all the awesome suggestions!