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First west coast trip

Hello. I live in the UK and have planned a visit to the west coast with the better half next month. 2 days in Vancouver, 3 days in Vegas and 4 days in LA. It's my first time in Van and LA but not Vegas. I have been trawling through endless chow/citysearch pages to plan our eating itinerary. I compiled a big list for LA simply because of the variety and choice available. I am particularly after things I can't get here in the UK.

I have tried to narrow down the list based on location (we're staying around West Hollywood) and budget (no Urasawa!) but it's still pretty long and we don't have enough time/physical appetite and budget to try everything. So basically I wanted to get some of your thoughts/opinions/tips on my list - places you would focus on/skip/go for lunch/go for dinner/be redundant etc. We're not huge eaters and don't mind spending on quality food but at the same time I don't want to have to eat bread and milk for the next 3 months so we're happy to do cheap and cheerful places as well as the more expensive. We'll be driving so distance is not a big problem but would prefer not to travel huge distances/get stuck in jams too much.

I have planned 1 omakase dinner and 1 izakaya dinner in Vancouver already since it's apparently a sushi town.

So onto the list: (I also have some specific questions at the end)

Breakfast:
Griddle Cafe
Jinky's
Du-Par's
IHOP

Burgers&Dogs:
Father's Office
Pinks
Carney's
Comme Ca

Deli's:
Philippe
Langer's

Steak:
Mastro's

BBQ:
Big Mista's
Zeke's
Baby Blues
JR's

Mexican:
La Casita
Tere's Mexican Grill
Chichen Itza
Tacomiendo
Tacos Por Favor

Sushi:
Zo
Mori

Trendy joints:
Bazaar
Hungry Cat
AOC

Questions:
1) Having read exilekiss's excellent comparison between Zo and Mori, I really want to try Mori but his bill was quite off-putting. Is it possible to have omakase at Mori and pay $80-120 per person inclusive? We'll probably just have a little house sake and not ask for repeats (being small eaters). I'm after more a traditional style meal with great quality fish (a few staples + exotics) without overly saucing/fancifying it. Or do you think it's better to go to Zo for that price range? Incidentally I ruled out Sasabune because I wanted the whole "itamae" experience.

2) We have limited time in LA and I've focused my research there but are there somethings that I can get in Vegas that are equally good so that I can free up some slots for more eating in LA?!

3) We wanted 1 of the nights to be more of a hip night out in LA (hence the Trendy Joints) somewhere where we can experience the LA vibe/scene (whatever that may be) and not necessarily have amazing food. I read many good things/recs about Bazaar but am worried that it will be similar to the excellent spanish that we get here/I've had in Spain. Do you think that is the case and if so what other places would you suggest.

That's it. Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for all/any thoughts.

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  1. Hi Boshek
    1. For breakfast, I would cross IHOP off your list. I don't think it adds anything, and if you want a diner-type/pancake experience, Dupars is much better.
    Are you particularly pancake fans?
    2. About Bazaar, I should preface to say that I haven't eaten there, but from what I've heard, I think the food has its own modern unique take. I have, however, been in the space and it's certainly an interesting scene that could be a draw on its own. If you're specifically looking for a trendy night out, I think it's the best on your list. I suggest you make reservations now though, as they're still not very easy to get.

    On your list, I would say that Father's Office is certainly worth trying, however, if you're looking for a good burger, it may be more geographically convenient from WeHo for you to try LA's newer spot: Umami Burger.
    I have no doubt others will give you more comprehensive suggestions.
    Have a great trip!

    1 Reply
    1. re: hyacinthgirl

      Agreed about IHOP. Whoever controls that franchise's menu has eliminated any sense that they used to serve actual food. F*cking butterscotch, whipped cream, cotton candy surprise pancakes with fudge chunks and sprinkles...please. They have the United States by their sugar-addicted balls and are not letting go. Shameful.

    2. That's quite a well-researched list!! I would recommend the Counter over Carney's unless you want to experience the novelty of Carney's... otherwise, it's worth passing on. Also along the lines of novelty is Pink's which I would replace with Fab's Hot Dogs (try the ripper there). In any case, you may just want to add the two places to your list and squeeze out two more meals while you're visiting:)

      Have a great trip and enjoy the city!!

      1. For your burgers section, I'd toss 25 Degrees into the mix as an option seeing as how you're in the West Hollywood area. They've got a great range of customizable burgers and IMO beats out Father's Office in terms of pure burger enjoyment. I still would recommend FO though, simply for their fantastic selection of beers as well as their other appetizers and entrees.

        For the delis, Langer's is a great choice although I disagree with the whole #19 love. The coleslaw and cheese I feel simply distract one from enjoying the unctuous pastrami and the perfectly toasted rye bread. I prefer it neat with just a healthy slathering of the mustard and if you must have coleslaw, you can always order it on the side. I'd also suggest either Bay Cities or Eastside Market and Deli if you want exposure to an Italian style deli.

        I also see that you don't seem to have many ethnic choices which I believe is what makes LA such a great place to eat. There's everything from Ethiopian to Korea and everything in between. Is there a particular reason for that? Is it because you don't like those types of food or are they foods you can enjoy in the UK? If the latter reason, I'd still say to try them in Los Angeles because I think the experience would be loads better here. For example, dim sum in the San Gabriel valley or korean bbq and soontofu in Koreatown.

        1 Reply
        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

          Yes, we have such great ethnic food in LA! I highly recommend checking out Koreatown. I can't speak to where, you'll find that in other responses, but you would be missing out of the true local experience if you don't check out some ethnic grub while you're here.

          Edit: I just read your post down below so I understand if you don't hit up some Asian ethnic places.

        2. Good list, I have to chime in and agree about the proposed eliminations of IHOP and Pink's.

          I highly recommend an evening trip to Koreatown. How about Park, or Chosun Galbi?

          A word of warning, the San Gabriel Valley has fantastic food, but it's really not the biggest tourism destination.

          Also, regarding Langer's I recommend one person ordering a plain pastrami, one person ordering #19, and splitting both. Heck! Get a bowl of their chicken matzah soup, too!

          1 Reply
          1. re: cjla

            For the San Gabriel Valley somewhat true, although there is the LA County Arboretum in Arcadia, The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena and The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens(extensive) in San Marino, Descanso Gardens(also extensive) in La CaƱada-Flintridge, and the largest Buddhist monastery in the Western Hemisphere (Hacienda Heights). Still in general if the OP is going to be in West Hollywood, the SGV is somewhat far away (though you can find food not easily found in Vegas), and most likely you can find Hong Kong type cooking in London (though not sure on Taiwanese and in general other Chinese regional cuisines, though you can find similar fare in Vancouver). For the most part the original list was good especially considering if you want to remain local to where you're staying.

          2. I think Mastro's is a great steakhouse, but you can also get a great steak meal in Vegas. I know Carne y Vino, Mario Batali' s new steak house, has gotten great reviews. You've done a lot of research. I hope you enjoy your stay in the city of angels.

            2 Replies
            1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

              When in Vegas, my preferred steakhouse is SW at the Wynn. It kicks ass on every other steak house I have ever had the pleasure of eating in. Amazing food, ambience and service.

              1. re: lotta_cox

                Folks, please hold off on the Vegas recommendations. Vegas is covered on the Southwest board, and we ask boshek to start another thread over there for Vegas tips.