Montreal chowhounder needing L.A advice.
Heading to L.A and San Francisco on the 18th. We are staying 4 days in L.A (West Hollywood near CBS) then flying to San Fran. Here are a few places I have on my mind:
-Mozza (for Lunch since I know dinner reservations are hard to come by)
-Baby Blues BBQ
-In n out burger
-Farmer's Market Fairfax
Which one of these is worth it?
I also need help finding:
-a Steakhosue (is Taylor's or PAcific dining car any good)
-Chinese (Mayflower? dunno...)
-Dim Sum (888 Seafood? suggestions plz)
-Tacos(Los Tacos, Tacos Bajas, el Chato? are these any good?)
-Seafood?(Should I just pass if I'm heading to San Francisco?)
We're also heading to little Saigon for half a day can you guys recommend some good Vietnamese?
Sorry for the long post.
Thanks in advance for your help.
I like your ideas for Mozza, Loteria, Luques and Griddle Cafe, all of which provide rather unique-to-LA experiences. Be ready to wait for Griddle but the LA hipster breakfast scene and the food are worth it, IMHO.
Pink's sucks...sorry...just drive or walk by and see the crowd, that's all you need.
I think in-n-out, Baby Blues, and Vito's (which I love, btw) are a waste of your LA time. While all are good-for-LA, they are basically just decent-but-not-Earth-shattering versions of common food that is done (much) better elsewhere.
I would also consider animal, Mastro's (for steak tho' Taylor's and PDC are OK, it is better...way better), many other Chinese ideas that ARE NOT Mayflower -- search San Gabriel Valley on this board, Dim Sum - Elite is my favorite now, Seafood - Mariscos Chente or Providence, Taco's - what kind?
Having grown up in NY I can relate.
Fish - Taco Baja Ensenada. At Mariscos Chente, if you get the Pescado Zarandeado (and you MUST), you will also be making some of LA 'sbest fish tacos YOURSELF. Eduardo's has yummy shrimp taco's.
Carne - Tacomiendo is one thought but there are so many. Goat Taco's seem to be all the rage lately: La Barca's are amazing.
I look forward to seeing what others here at ch-LA suggest.
In Little Saigon:
Xanh Bistro -- The most expensive restaurant in Little Saigon, you will feast on such delicacies as pan-seared orange roughy with green mango salad and sweet potato strings; filet mignon in a slightly sweet soy-based sauce; catfish simmered in a pepper and caramel sauce (this is better than it sounds). Expect to pay $15-$20 per person.
Com Tam Tran Quy Cap -- This place serves one thing: "broken" rice plates, with various toppings. All plates come with a bowl of soup and cut up vegetables (pickled and un-pickled). Toppings are varied -- grilled pork or beef, Chinese sausage ("lap xuong"), tofu skin stuffed with shrimp paste ("dau hu ky"), egg-and-pork quiche ("cha"). Expect to pay $8 or so per person.
Vien Dong -- my favourite all-around restaurant in Little Saigon. Get the egg rolls (called "nem ran" or "cha gio" on the menu), they're the best in Little Saigon. They specialise in do-it-yourself noodle bowls ("bun cha Hanoi") where you get noodles, herbs, chilies, seasonings, and a bowl of grilled pork and pork meatball in a thin papaya-based sauce. You build a bowl to your liking (add lots of herbs!) and eat it. They also specialise in "cha ca Thanh Long", which is fish fillet marinated in turmeric and grilled with onions and dill. Absolutely delicious. The iced coffee ("ca phe sua da") is excellent here. Expect to pay $8-$12 per person here.
Pagolac -- specialises in "bo bay mon", or seven courses of beef, which is (as you might expect) seven courses of various beef dishes. Delicious. Expect to pay $15 or so per person (exclusive of drinks).
Pho Thanh Lich -- my favourite pho place, they specialise in pho tai, or rare-beef pho, and they make it with filet mignon. Ask for the beef on the side (so you can cook it rare in the boiling hot soup) for an extra $0.75 or so, you get a little extra too if you do it that way. Special pho tai is $6.50.
Banh Mi Che Cali -- While this isn't my absolute current favourite sandwich shop in Little Saigon, it is the most archetypal and also one of the cheapest ones that's also reliably good. If you've never had a Viet sandwich, it's meat of your choice, plus a spread made of garlic mayonnaise and often a soy-based sauce, pickled vegetables, hot chilies and cilantro on a crusty French roll or baguette (you can get either kind of bread). Roast pork is excellent ("thit nuong"), as is grilled beef ("bo nuong"), but honestly the best one to get is the daily special ("dac biet"). Sandwiches are $2.25-$2.75 each, but if you buy two of the French roll kind you get the third free (and nobody orders fewer than 3). The same deal ("mua 2 tang 1") applies to the coconut-based desserts called "che" they sell. Just point at whichever ones look interesting, they're $1.50 per container, buy 2 get 1 free.
I'd shoot for Pizzaria Mozza, Lucques' new plce - Tavern in Brentwood, CUT for steak, and pass on Seafood.
Only half a day for little Saigon! One tear just ran down my cheek for you. This is how I'd schedule a half-day Little Saigon excursion-
Pick one or 2 of these for ROUND ONE!
Brodard -- for nem nuong
Banh Cuon Tay Ho -- for an order of banh cuon - it's not too filling and an order can be easily shared amongst a large party - ALSO - there is a Vietnamese dessert place that is PACKED that is right next to here that is fantastic - but I can't recall for the life of me the name.
Quan Hy - you can order the small, imperial style dishes for light eating during the day - my favorite is the banh beo.
Banh Mi - ditto Das U's rec for Banh mi Che Cali
walk it of... Then for ROUND TWO!
Ditto Das U's rec on Pagolac for 7 courses of beef - another place I like for that is Anh Hong Restaurant.
Royal Seafood Restaurant - my favorite place to get a HUGE roasted catfish (ca nuong). All the other dishes here are fantastic too. You just need to come prepared to listen to loud karaoke. If that doesn't fade you, this place is golden!
Pho Dakao - not a fancy place by any means, but this place makes some BOMB chicken pho.
As for the other things you need - my favorite Dim Sum is Sea Harbour in San Gabriel Valley. And if you're going out to SGV you might as well stay there a while and try Pho Minh, IMO the best Pho in this area!
Quan Hy Restaurant
9727 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683
san gabriel,ca, san gabriel, ca
san gabriel, ca, san gabriel, ca
Royal Seafood Restaurant
12342 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92840
Almost impossible to say. I live in West Hollywood and go to SGV to eat a lot. I do avoid weekday dinners though.
Most other times, especially lunch or weekends I can make it in 35-45 minutes.
A weekday dinner at 7:30 PM can take 60 mins or more (unless its a Monday, a day with much less traffic).
Steakhouse - Cut or Mastros.
Spago is still a must try - it is still one of the best restaurants in the country and is a quintessential California experience. Even if you go for lunch it's well worth it (you can only get the pizzas at lunch I believe)
Dim sum - Ocean Seafood downtown LA / Chinatown
If you can get into Pizzeria Mozza (good luck), it's spectacular
Personally, I think In-n-Out burgers taste like dog food and their fries are limper than 3 week old lettuce. You couldn't make me eat another with a gun held to my head.
Pinks you can also live without - try a Tommy's chili-cheeseburger with chili cheese fries instead.
Also, Pinkberry IMO started the despicable scourge of tart yogurt. I literally can't stand tart yogurt and wish it would go away from this earth. It's inedible. Penguins yogurt - cookies and cream flavor is terrific.
Good to know someone else has functional taste buds! I know it's considered blasphemy to do anything other than heap completely un-warranted praise upon In-n-Out "Burger" in California, but I'm seriously befuddled, it's not just that it's not good, or even mediocre, it's awful - chewy overscorched "meat", "fries" that are more like potatoes blanched in oil because they have never heard of the concept of "crisp" and also the final indignity of being forced to wait in long lines for this dreck. The Emperor really does have no clothes.
For tacos, my favorites are: El Chato, Chema's and Taco Zone. You might also be interested in going to Breed St & Cesar Chavez on a weekend night; they have a bunch of street vendors serving up delicious Mexican street food. I highly recommend Nina's.
Skip In n' Out (its good for fast food, but still) and go to Umami Burger and Father's Office. Those are two of the best burgers I've ever had.
Pizza, I'd wait til SF. And I'd skip Baby Blues. It has it's fans here, but I think mostly due to lack of other options in the area, and it's expensive to boot. Go to BigMista BBQ if you want Q.
for less-than-fancy, but still very good, my go-to sushi place is k-zo in culver city.
for budget sushi (cash only) i go to hide on sawtelle. although the quality and quantity of the fish is good here, everything else is bare bones (i.e. no hostess--when you walk in you write your name on a whiteboard that they have mounted on the wall, very crowded tables, etc). still, imho, it's the best sushi buy for the money.
another, more fun thing to try is japanese izakaya (small plates). i believe most of the folks on this board would concur with me that it's worth a drive to santa monica to go to MUSHA. they take reservations. if i were you, i would try to get reservations at the bar instead of at a table so that you can better survey the scene (this is not an alcohol bar, more like a sushi bar) they open at 6pm. extremely reasonable prices, terrific food, something not available everywhere you go..
For an izakaya experience with a minimum amount of westsiders and a maximum amount of Japanese people (I know, I know, they're not mutually exclusive!) head thee down to the massive Japanese enclave of Gardena and the wonders of Shinsengumi yakitori. There are several of them, and each one serves a different style of Japanese food, so be sure to go to this one:
Shin-Sen-Gumi Gardena Yakitori Original
18517 S. Western Avenue
Gardena, CA 90248
From the first "irasshaimase!!" to the last drop of sake, this place tastes, smells and just feels like Japan.
If you get there before they open for dinner, you can check out the massive Marukai market-- a kind of Japanese Costco with the lower level full of Japanese foods and the top level full of Japanese furnishings and imports. Khakifuton? Tatami? We got it. It's just like... It's just like... a mini... MALL. Oh yeah!
westsidegal has a good suggestion with izakaya. I found decent Chinese and Vietnamese in Montreal, but LA has lots of interesting Japanese I didn't find there. In addition to Musha, Nanbankan is a terrific izakaya place, and it's a little closer to West Hollywood than Musha. But you're right that Santa Monica is a nice place to visit.
For a real LA experience, if you're here over the weekend, especially if it's warm, go to the Venice Beach boardwalk and walk north from roughly Washington Blvd. See Muscle Beach; and check out all the other people and performers. And then, for another LA scene, go to Big Dean's at the foot of the Santa Monica Pier for a burger, fries and a beer. More interesting people watching.
LA also has other good ethnic food you won't find in Montreal such as Ethiopian (Messob is a good one); Peruvian (search "Los Angeles Times Peruvian Restaurants" They did a great story a few weeks ago written by a Hound), I like Puro Sabor best; and, as you mentioned, Mexican. Almost all the Mexican places are better than Montreal, but there are so many types that you kind of get lost. Ciao Bob's suggestions are good, as are his others regarding Mozza, etc.
I don't know why someone suggested waiting for seafood until you get to SF. Providence got 2 Michelin stars. This is an outstanding (but expensive) seafood restaurant with a celebrity chef. There's excellent seafood in Montreal (Le Club Chasse et Pesche, Ferreira, Toque), but the quality, creativity and presentation is supurb at Providence.
You can find outstanding dim sum in SF. Yank Sing in SF has delicious soup dumplings (the soup's in the dumpling). I think they're better than the ones here at Din Tai Fung, a favorite in Arcadia.
Re LIttle Saigon: I've never been disappointed with Das Ubergeek's suggestions, and like him, I ate VERY well in Montreal thanks to Chowhounds there. I hope you have a nice time here, and that all your meals are delicious and memorable.
In N Out Burger is never a waste of time. Especially, for someone who's looking for a real LA experience. It's the best fast food burger in LA, hands down. Pink's is also a great hot dog. Nice snap and flavor, and also a huge part of LA culture. Those lines are really long for a good reason. Get a Cole Slaw Dog and a cream soda. Also the onion rings at Pink's are the best in LA in my opinion, as fast food places go.
Take the thumbs down comments with a grain of salt (and maybe some pepper) and go to In N Out for a double double animal style, fries (order well done if you want them crispy) and a coke. You'll be happy and well fed for about $6.
For a fast food place ..I think In n Out is great, especially on a road trip..everyone has different tastes (thats why Del Taco is still around). Pinks is not worth the wait..I can not the see the attraction of Pinkberrys but there are tons of real good self service yogurt shops around town.
For seafood try Neptunes Net on PCH right at the county border. Nice ride up the coast. Fresh shrimp,crab,fish & chips,beer ,picnic tables on PCH looking at the ocean, need I say more. Near by Zuma Beach is great beach to hang out for the day.
As mentioned in a previous post..in West LA ..Sawtelle & Olympic area has some strip malls with great sushi and Japanese curry places..Hurrry Curry is great..the crepes place is a trip..beard papa has great cream puffs. Also the Giant Robot store has some cool stuff.
While on the lovely westside. try.the Apple Pan on Pico they have great burgers,fries,tuna sand..,pies .cash only and counter only. Roscoes Chicken n Waffles is always a fan fave. Rae's on Pico in Santa Monica is the great breakfast dive...tacos are everywhere and has there favorites..Titos Tacos in Culver City near.Sony Studios has great gringo leaning tasty mexican food ,best salsa and lines always. cash only.
A tip.. in LA county the dept. of health rate all places serving any kind of food. An "A" being the highest and the rating are based on several things such as being clean etc.. The signs are posted on the front of restaurant. Personally I tend to avoid places rated "B" and never at a "C".
Plum Tree in Chinatown always works for me for Chinese.
Also in the fast food chain dept. Rubios & Wahoos have good fish tacos and such. You should try to catch one of the local farmer markets that are held daily around town. The one on Weds. in Santa Monica is one of the biggest. Times and places can be easily googled.
Keep our merchants busy.
re: OC Mutt
Uh... you can get a B for a few minor offenses like storing wrapped paper cups too close to the floor. If you want to know why your restaurant got the grade it did (which is a bit like wanting to know how sausage gets made), go to lapublichealth.org/rating
Then again, the more squeamish people are, the less I have to wait for tables...
We'll be be arriving this Thursday and checking in at the Sofitel at 3pm. I'm thinking, some light site seeing, early dinner (around 6-7pm) and maybe a late night snack (taco stand maybe hehe).
Don't want to be driving too far since we'll be somewhat tired, so we're looking for something close not too formal and with no reservations needed. I'm thinking Comme Ca or Loteria Grill?
You absolutely need reservations at Comme Ca, though as of right now OpenTable still shows tables available most of the evening. Loteria is a better bet for reservationless dining. Or maybe just graze on some small plates and a glass or three of wine at AOC? (I know it's considered "passe" here but I really like it and it's maybe six blocks from the Sofitel.
Also, bear in mind that LA is not a late-dining city. Most dinners out are at 7 (occasionally 8). If, like most Montréalais I've met, you're a late diner, you should have no problem getting a reservation at 9 or 9:30, but many restaurants (informal ones especially) stop serving at 10.
Comme Ca is really mediocre (should be called comme ci comme ca, IMHO)for everything but a pretty crowd, decor and cocktails.
If you are wise, after sight-seeing, you will be sitting at the bar at Luques, right across the street from Comme Ca, or at AOC, as Das Ubergeek suggests.
What about Luques? You can walk to Luques from the Sofitel, and its downhill on the way back. Then, if you really must do the LA yogurt scene, go to yogurtland on la Brea at 3rd. More choices, more value--and the lines are so long (but fast moving) that your lil' sis will be satisfied that she's found an insider place.
Santa Monica Seafood is pretty nice. Also in Santa Monica The Lobster, right by the pier is kinda a tourist trap, but you can't beat the food and the views.
You should also try to hit The Oinkster in Eagle Rock. It's in the northeast part of L.A. The condiments are made by hand and they have awesome beers.
First of all, what's your budget?
I'd say SKIP Pink's, Vito's, & Pinkberry.
I agree with Lucques, Farmer's Market, Mozza (skip the secondis, load up on their pastas)
In-N-Out is a "maybe" - if you are a burger fan. If that's the case, compare & contrast In-N-Out with Father's Office (go to the FO Helms location, not FO Santa Monica) and Umami
Steakhouse: Mastro's - get the bone-in filet or bone-in ribeye. OR Jar (close to WeHo on Beverly Bl.)
Chinese: How "authentic" do you wanna get? If you say "food from the old country", then you gotta head over to San Gabriel Valley (a 30-40 min. drive without traffic from WeHo). If you like NY-style Chinese, then Yang Chow (in Chinatown, which is kind of cool to stroll around in afterwards)
Dim sum: Elite (Monterey Park) - though I gotta agree that SF has some pretty kickbutt dim sum (Yank Sing).
Seafood: Providence (Close to WeHo on Melrose).
High-end Sushi - Mori Sushi ($$$$), The Hump ($$$ to $$$$$), or Urasawa ($$$$$$+)
Nobu offers more fusion sushi, not really purist. I'd skip Nobu LA, BUT Matsuhisa can be great.