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Must-eats in LA - visiting from NY

What are the must-eats in LA for non-first time visitors from NY? Something preferably not more than $15-20 per person (just food, no drinks). Something unique/quintessential LA, a local favorite, or institution. So far, my list is as follows:

-Apple Pan (for burgers)
-Grand Central Market (for tacos)
-Philippe's (for sandwiches)
-Roscoe's (for chicken and waffles)

For your reference, I've eaten and enjoyed the following in past visits:

-In n Out
-Sam Woo
-Sa Nam Luang


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  1. Mariscos Chente (best Mex seafood in LA)
    Park's BBQ (Korean, but may bust the budget)
    Sokongdong or Beverly Tofu House (Korean -- noplace in NY holds a candle)
    Jitlada (Thai, blows Sanamluang away and Sripraphai in NY too)
    Elite for dim sum
    Torihei, Izakaya Bincho, Shinsengumi or Musha for izakaya

    Skip Apple Pan and go to Father's Office or The Counter.
    Consider hitting Breed St. for taco trucks or go to Tacos Baja Ensenada for fish or shrimp tacos and seafood cocktails.
    Skip Pink's and try Carneys instead.

    Don't go for Italian, Szechwan, deli or Eastern European -- you do it better. Say if you need more, though, and give guidance.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      "Don't go for . . . deli . . ."

      As a one-time New Yorker, I would have been very happy to be introduced to Langers. Total revelation. I don't think many New Yorkers even realize that delis exist in LA, let alone that there are some truly great ones. I certainly didn't.

      I second everything else, though I haven't been to Mariscos Chente or Shinsengumi or Breed Street yet. Also, I'd suggest going to Father's Office 2 rather than the original.

      I'll also echo recommendations below for Pann's (stick with the Southern specialties, like CFS, fried chicken, and biscuits). Much better than Roscoe's, with quintessential LA atmosphere.

      People will warn you off pizza in LA, but I think Mozza is an exception. It's a very LA take on the genre that I wouldn't miss.

      Finally, don't miss a visit to either Casa de Moles "La Tia" or Casita Mexicana for outstanding Mexican food. If you can't get that far east or south, Monte Alban is very good, too.

      1. re: Peripatetic


        Pizzeria Mozza
        6602 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

        Langer's Delicatessen
        704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

        La Casita Mexicana
        4030 Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201

        Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
        6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

        Father's Office
        3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034

        Moles La Tia
        4619 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90022

        1. re: Peripatetic

          I agree, Peripatetic, we do have Langer's (and Brent's), but I would recommend those to a homesick New Yorker, not a short-term visitor. If you're only here for a few days it's probably better to just go with what LA does really well that you can't get in NY.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            Normally I agree with this line of reasoning, but Langer's is a unique experience even for New Yorkers, so it could go either way.

            1. re: Peripatetic

              agree - i from nyc and Langers is better than delis there

              1. re: radman123

                The point is not whether it's better than delis in New York, the point is that New York has tons of really great deli (whether you think Katz's > Langers or the other way round), but New York does NOT have tons of really awesome Mexican seafood... or really awesome Vietnamese... or really awesome Korean... or really awesome Thai.

                Let me give you an "other-way" example. Sripraphai is the best Thai restaurant in New York. People argue about whether it's better than Renu Nakorn or Thai Nakorn or Jitlada. But if I'm going to New York for a visit I'm not going out of my way to go to Sripraphai, because while it is excellent Thai food, I can get excellent Thai food at home, but I can't get really amazing coal-oven pizza, or amazing high-end food like Eleven Madison Park, etc., or amazing regional Italian here at home.

                If the OP likes deli and wants to compare, absolutely, go to Langers... but I wouldn't personally spend a meal in my short trip on it.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  If it were only about the food then I'd agree 100%. But there's more to it than that. Langer's is a major LA institution, in a colorful area, and has an atmosphere and charm of its own. I think a New Yorker would learn more about LA in a visit to Langer's than many of the other places even I recommended. As "other-way" _counterexample_, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Papaya King to an LA visitor even though we have Carney's and Fab Hot Dogs here.

                  I'm sorry if my post provoked any acrimony . . . this certainly this wasn't my intention. I'm a huge fan of the UG -- he's a genuine CH hero. I can't think of any other time I've disagreed with him about anything.

                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    Hey, to each his own -- and if the OP does go to Langer's she will get a fantastic sandwich.

                    To the OP -- bear in mind that Langer's closes early (4 PM? 5 PM?) and the neighbourhood is a little unsavoury at night. It is, however, directly adjacent to the Westlake/Macarthur Park Red Line station.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      "bear in mind that Langer's closes early"

                      Good point. Their hours are: Monday - Saturday 8AM - 4PM (closed Sunday)

                      If you drive, there is validated parking at the lot one block away (NE corner of W 7th Street and Westlake Ave). It's free for stays of one hour or less.

      2. I love both Philippe's and In-n-Out. Mi Ranchito in Mar Vista is really authentic ~ try the machaca, but not the margaritas. Hole in the Wall, just off Santa Monica & Sepulveda, has awesome burgers. Hide in Little Asia used to have terrifically cheap sushi, but it's cash only, so I don't go anymore. Favorite Chinese is Ocean Seafood in Chinatown (about 2 blocks away from Philippe's) ~ the string beans are out of this world.

        Sorry, Ubergeek, but I hate The Counter ~ gave it two tries, & gave up :-(

        3 Replies
        1. re: FeeVert

          hide is on my regular rotation and it ALWAYS costs me more than $20/pp for food

          1. re: FeeVert

            Skip Apple Pan, Father's Office & The COunter and go straight to 26 Beach for saome amazing burgers. They been doing it for 26 years and they make their own buns, plus they will let you change your burger and you can have catsup. www.26beach.com They also do some of the best french toasts in the city. You need to go to Bill's for the unique/quintessential fusion taco http://www.calendarlive.com/dining/10... The Pantry for a ham & cheese omelette with toasted sourdough bread and salsa. Pink's for a 12" jalapeno dog, I get it with mustard and onions only. Oki dog burrito loaded with everything, nothing like it in NY. Try the Machaca plate at El Tepeyac in Boyle Heights, I do not remeber well the machaca at Mi Ranchita, i remeber it was good, I guess I need to revisit.

            1. Monte Alban for Oaxacan

              Farmers' Market at Fairfax/3rd for lots of samplings

              I'd probably want a beachy experience -- drinks/appetizers at the Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel; or lunch at On the Waterfront; of if you wanted to cough up the dough the Lobster which is on the Santa Monica Pier

              Maybe Ethiopian on Fairfax - Rahel is my preferred but there are others if vegan turns you off

              The places I want to rec as quintessential LA aren't within your budget, but for a good decadent LA breakfast, there's Griddle Cafe or Square One Dining.

              1. Some wonderful suggestions from the others but you might also consider adding Chichen Itza (Yucatan), Meals By Genet (Ethiopian), Pann's (a Googie-style coffee shop). And, if you are up for the West Coast Challenge, compare the pastrami at Langer's to your favorite from NY.

                Langer's Delicatessen
                704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                Meals By Genet
                1053 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                Chichen Itza
                2501 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                1. Skip Apple Pan and go to Pie 'n Burger in Pasadena for fine, old-fashioned, non-"gourmet" burgers, exceptionally good old-LA-style hashbrowns, and a large assortment of very nice pies. Much of the seating is at a long, low counter, so, if you're sociable, you can have interesting conversations with old ladies from Pasadena and kids from nearby Cal Tech, for example.

                  Pann's for real biscuits, so rare in Los Angeles, and outstanding fried chicken (I assume you're from the southern part of NYC ;-), but with a Fifties style (great youngish waitresses), architecture, and location that makes it supremely LA, at least to those of us who first lived here a long time ago.

                  Yuca's, a lovely shack w/walk-up window in a parking lot next to a liquor store, for a deliciously juicy, delicately folded cochinita pibil burrito.

                  Finally, I hope you get a chance to try the wood-fired thin-crust pizza at Bollini's in a safe but exceedingly non-trendy location in Monterey Park and give your opinion as a New Yorker. The chef-owner is from Monterey Park and cooked and apprenticed at various places in Los Angeles and Italy.

                  All should be well within your budget.

                  2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                  Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                  6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                  Pie 'n Burger
                  913 E California Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106

                  Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana
                  2315 S Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Mel Gee

                    fwiw, as an ex-new yorker, i would skip all pizza and italien food in LA.
                    in your price range, there are millions of better offerings in new york. . .

                    as a general rule, i'd stick to the ethnic joints in LA.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      While it may be true that "there are millions of better offerings in new york" than, say, Petrillo's, a Board favorite, I contest that statement about Bollini's, which is very good even compared to the East Coast (although not yet at the level of New Haven's great white-clam pizzas, for example). Given the location, the clientele, and the chef's background, it's also very "local." My hidden agenda was to get the OP to leave town saying, "Maybe LA pizza isn't as bad as they say" which, strictly speaking, isn't true. ;-) The broader point is to get more people out here interested in Bollini's. Have you been? What do you think of the place compared to others in Los Angeles?

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        bollini is not close to brooklyn pizza...mozza is much better than bollini but still not as good...skip pizza in LA for sho

                        1. re: peppermonkey

                          peppermonkey, I don't know if by "brooklyn pizza" you mean "Brooklyn pizza" or "Brooklyn Pizza" (on Pico). If the latter, I've haven't been there yet -- what do you find better than at Bollini's? I'm willing to spend time and money if I know why. (I went to Brownstone's in Eagle Rock after seeing an unspecific favorable review and thought it was worse than Petrillo's!)

                          Getting back to this thread, the OP is looking for "local" places, not imitations of her home territory. And, again, I state "my hidden agenda," which was to get her to leave town thinking, "Maybe *LA* pizza isn't as bad as they say." It's probably a futile exercise. But I recommend Bollini's, where I've gone a dozen or so times in the last year, for:

                          the wood-fired thin (but tender -- not cracker-like) crust

                          the many sauces -- tomato (not my favorite tomato sauce), basil pesto (excellent -- it tops the free pizza they hand out while you're waiting), olive pesto, parmesan (sauce), garlic herb oil, and even something called horseradish sauce

                          the variety of good toppings, and

                          the several choices of cheese -- mozzarella, fontina, goat, parmesan, ricotta, gorgonzola, and pecorino.

                          1. re: Mel Gee

                            Hi Mel Gee,

                            Thanks for the warning on Brownstone's. I was thinking about trying this place; good to know.

                            1. re: exilekiss

                              You're welcome, exilekiss. They've recently opened a second location, so Brownstone's must appeal to some people, but I thought the sausage slices were disgusting, and the cheese and sauce weren't far behind. I had to stop at a nearby taco place afterward to change the suicidal mood of my taste buds!

                            2. re: Mel Gee

                              While all that sounds good. I'm a simple carnivore pizza lover. Give me meat and a lot of cheese with just enough greasiness and I am happy. My favorite place is Uncle Red's in Downey. The place is run by guy's with tattoo's that look as if they would be more comfortable hanging out at a table with a pitcher of beer then behind the counter. They are the nicest bunch you would ever want to meet. The pizza's are hand made not cranked out like pizza hut or something. The big oven is right there in front so you can see your pizza every time the open to check it.

                              Make sure to try their cinnamon sticks. They come fresh out of the oven with icing on the side. They are lip smackin' good.

                              Uncle Reds Pizzeria
                              13762 Clark Ave, Bellflower, CA 90706

                              1. re: Mel Gee

                                i meant in Brookyln, NY like grimaldi's or di fara's. that's why i said to skip pizza here.

                          2. re: Mel Gee

                            Definitely, Pie n Burger beats Apple Pan. I had back to back comparison, and no contest. And Pann's biscuits and gravy are the best. Ask for the gravy on the side for best biscuit experience.

                          3. unless you dont like pastrami/corned beef you should try langer's to compare over katz/carnegie/arties.......also good mexican or vietnamese cuisine here is hard/impossible to find in new york/suburbs....i have my favorites (south bay) but i dont know where you will be staying......japanese overall will be better/cheaper here....

                            1. I say Fish Tacos:

                              Senor Fish
                              422 E 1st St.
                              Los Angeles, Ca 90012

                              or any Wahoos location. (Senor Fish is better)

                              I second Roscoes. Try the fried chicken omelette with a waffle. It makes me weep with joy.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jeffandnat

                                I believe that would be the Jenny Jones, my favorite, just hit it hard with some Red Rooster and all is well!

                              2. I think Philippe's is overrated. If Santa Monica and Northridge aren't too far out of your way, I recommend.

                                Bay Cities Italian Deli - Godmother spicy with the works is amazing. Santa Monica

                                Brent's Deli - Black Pastrami Reuben . Northridge

                                1. i would skip your places and go with DU's places...and if you're willing to drive to OC, hit up little saigon for Vietnamese

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: peppermonkey

                                    Hot new restauarnt, that has everybody talking, you must try
                                    Kogi BBQ korean Taco truck or try them at the The Alibi.
                                    You won't be disapointed.

                                    1. re: magic man

                                      Just be prepared for a two-hour line.

                                  2. Hi Krystle,

                                    In-n-Out is a must anytime you visit Los Angeles!

                                    As far as some good mexican food goes...I would suggest El Cholo. I try something different every time and I'm never disappointed.

                                    El Cholo
                                    1121 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: ritacakes

                                      I hate to be a dissenter, but I wouldn't bother with either.

                                      El Cholo is the Mama Leone's or Carmine's of Mexican food: it has history and atmosphere (the K-Town one, at least), but forgettable food.

                                      In-n-Out -- well, it's an LA institution, and *much* better than any McDonalds. But I would recommend Pie 'n' Burger, Apple Pan or even Astro Burger before I recommended In-n-Out. None of these places are spectacular, though Pie 'n' Burger can get close if the older gentleman is at the grill. (Does anyone know his name?) I recommend Father's Office 2 for a truly great burger. I haven't been to 26 Beach, Hole In the Wall, or Umami yet, but these places have a strong following on this board.

                                      1. re: Peripatetic

                                        26 Beach por VIda! Best Burgers in LA by far and they make their own buns! El CHolo, NO, go to Babita for something you will not get in NY or go to El Tepeyac for good good Mexican American food. Go to Moles La Tia for something you will NEVER see in NY, NEVER!

                                        1. re: Burger Boy

                                          I would like to add The Gardens of Taxco. The atmosphere can be romantic or fun depending on who you take. There are no menus. The waiter tells you everything. They serve a five course meal that begins with an individual mini appetizer and finishes with a sherry and sherbert. It's not pricy and if you get added to their mailing list you get coupons for a free meal. Check out the site.


                                          Gardens of Taxco
                                          1113 N. Harper Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                                      1. i've lived in both cities...when i go back to LA, my must-visits are:

                                        -- Zankou Chicken (which you already know)

                                        -- Dan Tana's...this one is way over your suggested budget, but *is* doable on a budget provided you order carefully...go to the bar, early (otherwise you won't get a seat -- so go right at 5pm) and order exactly this: a Caesar salad (big enough to share), followed by (if you are sticking to your budget) some fried calamari (merely ok) or if you want to splurge a bit, a shrimp fra diavolo...share the Caesar and the shrimp diavolo at the bar, and drink martinis...this will make for a great night...also rec'd is the cappuccino ice cream...sharing the Caesar and the shrimp diavolo, you'll spend 50 bucks or so pre-tip/tax food cost for two, but i doubt you'll be hungry, eso w/ the bread, drinks, and icecream...

                                        -- The Reel Inn...fun semi-outdoor seafood place on PCH near Topanga

                                        -- Thai food in Thai Town...my new fav is Hollywood Thai, but a search here will yield many options...

                                        -- sometimes Sushi Ike, on H-wood/Gower...

                                        1. I wouldn't bother with Roscoe's. I like it just fine, but Sylvia's in Harlem in NY is much better and has a better atmosphere.

                                          1. I just remembered - something I definitely must try. Kogi tacos! I read about it in the Times a few months ago and it seems like a must-try LA institution.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: krystle920

                                              Bear in mind that they have infamous lines... 2 hours is not unheard of.

                                              1. re: krystle920

                                                Kogi more like a fad--hardly an institution. Just ok tacos powered by Twitter hype machine. Definitely better food options already mentioned above. Besides NYC has it's own Korean Tacos


                                                1. re: krystle920

                                                  Its not a fad, not an institution, somewhere in between. You should try it, go to the Alibi Room location in Culver City - they serve it out of a bar M-S 6pm-midnight. There's only a couple of stops where the line isnt crazy long.
                                                  I agree with Uber's list and would still keep Roscoes from your list. I would do Philippes for a quick bite if you are in that area of downtown - get the lamb.

                                                2. Apple Pan is worth the stop - especially if you are in the area... Pie-N-Burger is not near where most people spend there time when they come to LA.... as for the difference in the food - you will have personal opinions as to which is better - but no hands down winner. But if you go... Hickory Burger and fries (well done) and get the Pecan Pie (which is the best pecan pie I have ever had) and the place has a good feel. If I bring an out-of-towner, they always love it - and if someone does not eat burgers or meat, the egg sandwich gets raves, but have never had it.
                                                  Grand Central? Not worth it... Loteria in the Farmer's Market has better tacos and a more authentic DF (Mexico City) style - Grand Central is ok only if it is convenient (but the Bradbury buidling across the street is interesting to visit from an architectural view)
                                                  Philippes - good, but not amazing. They recently re-opened Cole's - the rival to Phlippe's and added a vintage bar in the back - french dip is as equal to Phlippe's (although chocolate cream pie at Philippe's is pretty tasty)
                                                  Roscoe's - more of an interesting late night spot if you go to the one on Pico/La Brea - it is satisfying, but not a culinary must.
                                                  Natraliart - execellent Jamaican on Washington, east of Crenshaw - go during the day as it is closed for dinner. Try one of the juices and jerk chicken - the place is unique because it will be most often occupied only by Jamaican's and you feel as if you stumbled on a hidden spot as it is pretty much a non-descript building with a little market attached