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Leaving L.A.-my last meals

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We're finally leaving L.A. for good, after close to 20 years of living all over the city. The thing that I will miss the most, beyond all the close friends I've made here, is the amazing variety of ethnic food, especially the mom & pop type restaurants that I tend to favor.

This is my homage to restaurants I've loved; my last meals in L.A. will be:

*Soot Bull Jeep in Koreatown on 8th St. and Catalina -- the spicy bean curd will always have a place in my palate. I will dream about the taste of the marinated beef spencer for the rest of my life. Weep.

* Pho So 1 in Van Nuys at Victory and Sepulveda (the pho, the beef on the griddle (Bo Nuong Vi), the chao gio, the absolutely fresh vegetables, the fresh "exotic" fruit shakes... I'm sobbing.

* Puro Sabor Peruvian in Van Nuys -- my new favorite. I found it at the end. Mourn...

* Juanita's Mexican in Claremont on Indian Hill Blvd. just south of I-10, and the one in Ontario, which I actually like better.

Shredded beef tacos to die for, huge, chunky bean, burritos, and one of the two best hot sauces (not salsa, just pure hot sauce) I've ever had. Juanita's, I've loved you since I was an undergraduate all those decades ago, and I will love you to the end. You will always be my favorite Mexican taco hut/ restaurant ever, except for Carolina's in Phoenix.

* Tommy's. I know that some might consider Tommy's "junk food" -- oh heck -- everyone considers Tommy's junk food. But my love for their chili cheeseburgers knows no bounds. And their chilitos -- I have never been able to find chilitos like that, even though I know that they probably come from an industrial size can. And it does depend on which Tommy's because some suck.

Honorable mention goes to Monte Alban Oaxacan, on the corner of Brockton and Santa Monica (between Barrington and Bundy) in West L.A. -- wonderful, fresh, utterly delicious food, lovely people, warm atmosphere. Their salsa verde, just mmmmmmm....

Monte Alban's tortilla and chicken soups warmed my soul so many times.

The only reason I didn't put Monte Alban in "last meals" is that we won't have time to go down there. Sigh.

I will so miss the wonderful food here in L.A., so all you chowhounds are just going to have to eat for me! Promise?

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  1. Congratulations on your Escape from LA!...i lived there for a preposterously long time but managed to get out too...but i do miss certain foods dearly and go eat them every time i'm back in town...the two specific places i miss most are:

    -- Dan Tana's...caesar salad followed by the lobster fra diavolo...pretty much my favorite meal in the world...

    -- Zankou's Chicken...(more the combo of their chicken w/ their hummos than for the garlic spread a lot of people love)...

    And, except for when i'm in Thailand, i miss the easy availabilty of decent-to-good Thai food...and Mexican seafood and carne asada...and the easy charm of an afternoon feast at the Reel Inn...and Sushi Ike...and the easy availablity of good turkey burgers, omelettes, etc garnished liberally w/ avocado...

    Hope your new city has culinary charms of it's own...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Simon

      I will miss the Thai food too -- I honestly never knew that the SF Valley had such a great selection of Thai restaurants.

      I have to put in a shout-out to Tangy Thai on Sherman Way, just east of the Van Nuys Airport. Really nice people, and great food at about $8.00 for the dinner special. If you go in there physically check-out the dumpling menu.

      I had a chili fish at Tangy Thai once from their lunch special menu that was exquisite, but I was never able to figure out exactly what I'd ordered again.

      I'm probably one of the only people in L.A. who doesn't like Zankou Chicken. I HATE their garlic spread, and I love garlic.

      My new city has nowhere near the diversity of L.A. in terms of food. I think that very few cities in the U.S., or even the world, do. Oh well, at least no more worrying about The Big One.

    2. I love Soot Bull Jeep, used to live just a couple blocks away and go fairly often., but only in the winter. I promise to eat a Tommy's in homage to your exodus 1x a year.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lotta_cox

        Is the Tommy's downtown still the best? If so, I request that you eat there for me ;-)

        I remember taking a newly arrived British friend there about 17 years ago, after a night of bar-hopping. All he kept saying - -while surveying the truly diverse crowd -- the limos and the low-riders, and shoving his mouth full of the first chili cheese burger he'd ever eaten-- was, "This is BLOODY AMAZING."

        Good foodie times, I'll miss them.

        1. re: ValleyGal

          i like the one with the outdoor counter, near rampart and santa monica, IIRC. It is close to my house in Echo Park, so I deem it to be that I will eat there in your honor once annually.

      2. Hey ValleyGal,

        You are where I was a month ago--I also left SoCal (and am now in Gainesville, Florida, not exactly a culinary hotspot).

        What I ate before I left, and still miss now:

        --Monte Alban--LOVE that place--I used to go to Oaxaca frequently for work; one of my Oaxacan pals (who's a seasoned professional cook) considers it the best Oaxacan in LA. Great tlayudas and moles; the molote (a crispy little football of fried masa filled with potatoes and chorizo) is both cute and delicious.

        --Jitlada--Friendly service and tasty, original Thai--my family and I got the catfish salad and several other dishes off their Thai-only special menu on the back--terrific stuff.

        --In-n-Out--Nothing about the ingredients or presentation that I can't reproduce myself at home, but that's not the point--it's a fast-food burger like Mom would make.

        --Banh Mi Che Cali--I've spent many hours of my recent life standing in the so-called line waiting for some marginally bilingual Vietnamese woman to glare at me and take my order. And never regretted it. Their baguettes alone are worth it--much cheaper, and much more like the ones I used to get when I lived in France, than those at any high-end bakery in OC. (Whenever I went there for sandwiches for lunch, I'd also get a baguette and plan my dinner menu around it.)

        Any decent dim sum place. I can't find dim sum in Gainesville! NOT good for a homesick ABC. So you all have to go to Elite for me and pig out.

        Safe travels, and hopefully, you'll get back to LA for a culinary visit.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Piglet

          I get a chance to talk to people all over the world through my job. When they ask me what L.A. is like I tell them it's worth a trip just for the food.

          If I ever come back it would be to do an eating tour of L.A., but I wouldn't do the chi-chi places, I'd go to the places I've listed -- mom & pop ethnic food is the REAL L.A. cuisine IMO.

          i've been to some of the fanciest restaurants in the world, again through work, but I'd trade any of them for a Puro Sabor or a Soot Bull Jeep or a Juanita's or a Monte Alban.

          Food doesn't have to cost a lot to taste good, and again IMO in L.A. some of the very best food is the relatively cheapest.

          I'm getting nostalgic for L.A. restaurants and i haven't even left yet ;-) Oh well, my waistline will thank me for the move out of here...

        2. I wish I could tell you that you'll get over it.
          I'm a Valley Girl living in Chicago for last 13 months.
          Still missing Tommy's frequently.
          Beg visitors from home to bring you goodies. It helps take the edge off.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kiwi

            I don't think the ceviche from Puro Sabor could last for even a short plane ride, but one can dream...

          2. I totally get the love for L.A. I hate the smog and the traffic, but the weird people and the diverse food options keep me here. Here's a short list of what I would go to for my last (week of) meals:

            Urasawa (damned if you can get a restaurant like this anywhere else in the country.)

            Scoops: absolutely the best gelato place, partly for its fun and innovative flavors, partly for the taste and texture, partly because I love the owner.

            I have to say to M Cafe de Chaya haters...well I just love the celeb gawking while I eat my TLT. Haha.

            Chilbomyunok: still better bibim naengmyun than I'm getting in Seoul right now. Also the mul naengmyun is good too.

            I would grab a donut from the Farmer's Market donut place.

            I would miss Kiki's bakery in Alhambra, for their ultra fluffy buns. I would get up early and grab Kiki's buns...

            Across the street from Kikis, I would go to Banh Mi Che Cali for their cheap, yet great che and banh mis. I do like to stuff the banh mis more though when I get home. I like more pickled carrots than most people do I guess.

            I would get dim sum at Elite Restaurant (unless I moved to Hong Kong)

            I would go to Radjhani's in Artesia for the (Gujarati) buffet lunch, which changes subtly every day. I would go across the street to Surati Farsan Mart (also Gujarati) and gets some sev puris to go. And a dosa to eat there.

            I would get a hot dog on a stick with a lemonade for old times sake. At 3rd street promenade where they have veggie dogs.

            I would go to Susina Bakery for their cookies and some tea.

            That's it for now.

            1. I made the pilgrimage back to Juanita's (Pomona) from Downtown LA last week and it was not good. What a major disappointment as this was my very 1st experience with Mexican food way back when. The pork was tough and the green chili was flavorless. Oh well, there's always memories.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JAB

                In my opinion, the Juanita's in Ontario, near the airport, is much better:

                Juanita's III
                1209 E. 4th St.
                Ontario, CA 91764

                We're going to be moving dogs and CATs (very difficult, to say the least ;-) and plants, but still I'm planning our exodus around Juanita's hours. I just have to taste it one more time.

                I do just stick to to the shredded beef tacos and bean & cheese burriotos, and then I bury it all underneath a lava flow of hot sauce.
                (909 )986-0991

                1. re: ValleyGal

                  Sorry for all the typos - just getting used to my new glasses.