Alabama Hound Needs Help With Map
Hi, I'm coming to visit you guys from the 26th of June to the 7th of July. I've never been to the area before. I'll be staying in Venice and then going to a wedding in the westlake/malibu area. My price range is cheap and I will not have access to a vehicle for most of the time. I don't know what buses are near there but am willing to take one to get to something worth it. I decided to map out most of the relevant suggestions on the board to see what great things would be near to me while I am there- it looks like not much. If you would please look over my map and see if you notice anything that is really bad that I might have made a mistake in adding- or if there is something I should add, or if there are any places that have closed. I am aware that there are duplicates and that there are things that are out of my price range already listed- I am in the process of cleaning that up. Thanks in advance for your help overall, but especially on suggestions for the previously mentioned areas- if there's anything fun going on such as street fairs or food related public events during that time please let me know. There are two pages of listings so you have to hop around between the pages to get the full spectrum of what is in the area, as the list is alphabetized. I wish google didn't limit the amount of items you can put on one map without paginating it, but that's for another discussion. Please feel free to link to this map as I will continue to update it, and take a look at the other cities I've mapped out in my profile if you plan on heading out of town.
Out of the overly ambitious original list, I ended up revising it to the 'resto actual' list found at the original link. Out of those listed, I was only able to try a few. The overall culinary experience was excellent and a great success considering I was there for reasons other than strictly to go on a food sabbatical. I'll be back.
In Los Angeles we tried out the Hare Krishna Temple. It was pretty good, and I enjoyed the atmosphere. The food reminded me of a home-made meal I was served by my indian friends here in the south, where they don't have access to specialty ingredients and are instead forced to improvise with ingredients found at the conventional super market.
Messob was closed so we opted for Merkato. The service reminded me of every ethiopian restaurant I was ever in when living in New York. You are there for an hour before you get asked for drinks. You are made to feel like an ass for flagging down the waitress. Your wine comes out with your meal instead of while you wait. The food was better and portions more substantial than what the restaurants in new york currently serve. We ordered doro wat, kitfo, and a veggie sampler. We would have had to order double everything in nyc to get the amount we ordered. Nothing was especially spicy, but I forgot to ask for it hot so my bad there. There was spice on the table, but it's different than being cooked in. I was able to score some berbere in the market to take home, which is great.
Musha- one of the highlights. The food reminded me of takahachi's special list on avenue A in nyc, with the atmosphere of yakitori taisho. All of the food was fast and delicious. We were only able to afford one glass of
shochu- and got the oshinko, and some of the specials not listed on the menupages menu- am having trouble remembering- we stayed away from the sashimi/sushi although were super tempted. Definitely worth the bus ride from venice beach.
Mei Long Village- I hadn't had shanghainese since I left new york and this was my one chance to go on a trek and get it. It was so worth the ride. The atmosphere of the restaurant was crazy. We were the only ones in the restaurant except for the wait staff which had improvised beds out of lining up chairs and were all asleep. None the less, we had a great meal. Pork pump, xlb, and preserved vegetable with bean curd skin and cantor bean- one of my favorite meals on the trip. I've had pork pump at a few other places- only in new york, and can say that it was comparable to the one that Moon House used to serve, but was a little more oily. The XLB were grand, and the vegetable was excellent as well. As I said, I have little to compare it to in the los angeles area- but to me it was amazing. Had a beard papa cream puff on the way out as the missus had never had one before- she inhaled the powdered sugar and choked, and then bit into it and got a lap full. That sounds like my first time trying one! We were offered a free jasmine tea there and got it without sugar.. got to recommend that if you get the chance to try one.
Things I really wanted to try but missed were the bahn mi with egg, southern thai from the translated menu at jitlada(sripraphai was one of my favorite places in nyc), and of course persian. I also would have loved to have some Sichuan and Dim Sum, and I miss southern indian food- CHAAT- but hey- all the more reason to come back for a visit, right?
In San Diego I hung out on india street. I wouldn't recommend Saffron, although I can see if you were in the neighborhood and wanted a salad roll, that would be the place. The portions of the main dishes were small, and had apparently really changed since the last time my host was there. I didn't try the chicken though, which seems to be the mainstay- just wasn't in the mood.
Shakespeare pub had great bar food. Tried the banger roll, scotch egg, and fish and chips. I can compare the fish and chips to the one I had from the chip shop in brooklyn. The ones in brooklyn I had were wrapped in news paper, and had a crispier batter- I noticed that it was packed though and in the kitchen they had the filets partially fried hanging out above the fryer- maybe at a less-busy time they'd make them to order- dunno. I can't say how they did it at chip shop, as I never saw the kitchen- but the end product was definitely crispier. Hell it's all good with a double lagavulin.
Gelato was good for coffee and I liked their selection. Aero had a nice atmosphere and beer selection.
Outside of india street, Curry House- Pretty good for fast food. I didn't get to try their curry pan but would probably go back for that if I was in the area.
Split a california style burrito from freds in old town, which was good. I can say I never had real carne asada until then. I was dissapointed when they told me they had sold fred, the parrot and namesake.
Had irish from the field, which was killer. Got the Boxty Sampler and the Irish Sampler and split it 3 ways with just the right amount of guiness. I'd never had it poured correctly.
Tea from Krakatoa was good- and it looked like their menu/coffee was worth a re-visit. Panchita's Bakery had great telera rolls, which we ate at one of our BBQs at home. Got to try some oaxacan tamales from a cart down the street from where we stayed- can't find the exact address. Cheese and green chile, and bbq mole- so good. My host ended up chopping up the leftovers with some fried eggs one morning for breakfast which was stellar. All-in-all a great trip, and I will definately return. Thanks again to all of you for your great help and suggestions. Once again, chowhound makes our trip amazing. So to fellow new yorkers- from my limited experience- yes, these destinations are more spread out than nyc, but everything you want in the buroughs culinarily can be found here, and it might be better quality. The temperature was about 70 degrees during the day, and at night you have to wear a sweater. The ocean is very accessible and nicer than any beach at fire island, that's for sure. Plus many other nature perks that you don't get in the city that I won't discuss here. So yeah, I'm sold.
if you get a chance you should check out the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Weds. good stuff..also July 2nd starts the Summer Thursdays Twlight Dance Series on the Santa Monica Pier. FREE..the concert is with Playing For Change..check out their website. very fun time..right on the water at sunset..good music..the pier food is high and not that good..there a Bubba Gumps..best to get a sandwich from Bay Cities Deli on Lincoln near by. If you want a beer around there go to Big Deans on the boardwalk for a cool one...have fun in LA
Santa Monica Farmers' Market (Arizona and 2nd)
Arizona Ave Santa Monica CA, Arizona Ave Santa Monica, CA
First of all, bigbluebus.com is where you go for Santa Monica/Venice public transit. It's much more efficient (where it runs) than Metro buses. The Tide Ride will take you from Venice up into the Promenade area of Santa Monica for 50 cents each way, but bear in mind limited hours.
Second, if the wedding is at Calamigos Ranch (that's all I can think of in the area described as "Malibu/Westlake") you need to know that there are no buses of any kind that go to it. Not any at all. Zip. You'll need to take a taxi if you can't hitch with another driver.
Look into Metro Rapid service (same fare, but limited stops and much more frequent) on metro.net.
If you are near Lincoln Blvd in Venice, there is a special #3 Blue Bus that takes you to the El Segundo Green Line. From the El Segundo station you can take the Metro Train Green Line to the Blue Line to Downtown LA, then the Red Line to Langers, Korea Town, Thai Town and all points Hollywood, or the Gold Line to Pasadena. It's convoluted, but that's LA, and since you will not have a car, this is probably the next best thing for having access to the better eating places in LA.
Also at Rose and Main in Venice/Santa Monica, you can pick up the Tide Shuttle which will take you though Main St. Santa Monica to the Third Street Promenade to the Pier and back for 50 cent a ride.
Not to nitpick, but just to make sure our out-of-town visitor doesn't miss the bus:
The Tide bus doesn't go quite as far south as Rose. There is a stop at Marine, just before Main; and then around the corner and a block north on Main at Ashland.
Tide Info here:
I love googlemaps! One of my favorite izakaya places in WLA is Nanbankan. You can get outta there for about 25-30 for food only depending on your appetite and you can easily control the cost by ordering cheaper items.
I see that you have La Isla Bonita on your map. I used to work across the street from it and that's the one thing I miss the most. I ate at most cheapish places around 4th & Rose and that truck was my favorite.
The California Market with the ho dduk truck is at Western & 5th. The California Market you have the pointer on is a hispanic market.
Here's my own map if you want to check it out. Since there are so many eateries in LA, I limited my map to places I've been to and would go back to, not any old place. I'm not saying I love them all but sometimes you just gotta eat... I'm an eastsider so not too many westside places. http://tinyurl.com/nd824o
11330 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Thanks so much for mentioning Nanban-kan. I tried it the other night, solo, and they could not possibly have been more gracious about seating and service. Really convivial atmosphere, tasty and well-priced items. I will very definitely be back. I'm happy to know about this place and could see becoming a regular.
I had chicken wings, shiso-wrapped pork and burdock/carrot salad, all were nice. What do you like there? This is the most recent thread I found mentioning it. There are more linked from that Chow-place link you posted above, but in prior years.
I should mention that this place is a little hard to find - there is construction going on so they are by scaffolding on a corner with a sign saying open during construction.
I'm so glad you liked it. It's definitely hidden (and that construction's been going on for YEARS) which is part of the fun. I've been there solo at least twice and they are always nice. The salt & pepper haired Japanese waiter has been there forever and is so kind. I think I have a slight crush on him. : )
So the food: a *must* order for me every time I go is the gobo (burdock root) wrapped in bacon. They also have asparagus wrapped in bacon which I also like but I prefer the slightly fibrous texture and the earthy flavor of the gobo root. It actually stands up to the bacon. The gobo has a the slight sweetness and a briny character that play off the salty bacon very nicely.
I also like the steak (I think it's filet mignon) skewers which come with a light soy-based sauce, a bit reminiscent of teriyaki but not that sweet.
The lamb lollypops are very popular and I like them too but they've been inconsistent and sometimes quite small.
The scallop is really good too but expensive (around $8 i think) - and it is seriously 1 scallop, cut into slices and skewered.
Their mushroom medley is also nice - 3-4 kinds of mushrooms in a small skillet with butter.
I've also enjoyed the squid (small, served whole body sliced into rings and the little tentacles (the best part!)
I'm not an organ meat person but they have a variety of them and I actually tried the chicken kidneys once and they weren't bad.
Oh, almost forgot, definitely get the grilled rice balls (onirigi?). The special (I think) comes with bonito flakes and some kind of smoked fish.
Can you tell I love this place?!
Nanbankan is on my regular rotation. I think it's a real gem. Takashi (sp?), the manager/host, is lovely and gracious. I adore the chicken wings, halibut with ponzu sauce, chicken livers, lamb chop, rice cake. I always order the asparagus wrapped in bacon, but now I'm thinking I have to try the burdock root.
Number 1 Big Blue (Santa Monica Bus) from Venice Beach East to Bundy (which becomes Centinela after you cross into LA from Santa Monica as you head south) on to the Number 14 Big Blue South to Culver Blvd. and walk two short blocks back north to Mariscos Chente (right on the southeast corner of Gilmore & Centinela) for the most delicious and unique Sinaloan and Nayarit Mexican seafood brought up from Mexico. Read through the reviews on the place link to get an idea of what is in store for you. Cheap for what it is ($11 for a shrimp dish that will rock your world).
Add: I'm partial to the Camarones Pimiento or the Camarones a la Diabla, but you will have a lot of other great choices (and if you get a couple of friends to go with you then a pescado zaranadeado would be a great idea.
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Good rec, SO.
I would go out of my way to get to Jitlada, then you can always do the touristy thing around Hollywood.
I don't think I'd go out of my way to the San Gabriel Valley, on public transportation. I would save my bus fare and hunt out places on the westside. Tho you need to go inland a little for cheaper eats.
Tacos Por Favor on Olympic has excellent tacos and standard mexican fare.
if you need a couple of reasonably-priced places that are in or are close to venice:
1) for chinese-inspired california food (i.e. not authentic chinese, but tasty food nonetheless) in venice: MAO'S KITCHEN. no reservations and FREE corkage (i.e. you can bring your own booze in there and they'll give you a glass). they are open for both lunch and dinner.
2) for japanese small plates (izakaya), go to MUSHA in santa monica on wilshire near 4th. they open at 6 for dinner and they do take reservations.
another couple of options for relatively low-cost food that involves a little more travel :
3) persian food in westwood--my favorite is shamshiri grill. they offer great lunch specials; their dinner prices are good AND include side dishes and rice and their dinner portions are HUGE.
4) oaxacan mexican food in west LA; Monte Alban on santa monica blvd.
Wow...I estimate you've got around 280 restaurants listed there? That's over 20 restaurants per day...you're going to be very fat by the time you leave. ;)
Unfortunately you're not going to find much that's cheap and exciting in Venice. Is there any chance you could borrow a bicycle while you're here? The 720 bus runs along Wilshire until midnight-ish, and there's plenty of chow within biking distance of Wilshire.
Places that I would make sure to skip include:
Anna's (don't they have mediocre Italian in Alabama?)
Apple Pan (It's just a burger. Not that exciting unless you grew up eating them.)
Baja Bud's (you have GOT to be kidding)
Dinah's (They have Shoney's in Alabama)
Golden City (there's MUCH better Chinese around)
Poom Thai is worth it only if you're stuck in Santa Monica
There's a lot more on there that's okay, but not fantastic.
Here's where you should be sure not to miss:
* One or two other regional or specialty or authentic Thai places. Northern/Issan (Bahn Thung or Spicy BBQ or Sri Siam (for the khao soi)), or Sapp for boat noodles or Ruen Pair for Thai-Chinese or even just go up to Thai Gulch on Sherman Way between Woodman and the 170.
* Some sort of regional Mexican. You could even hit the Oaxacan taco truck on Lincoln and...Rose, I think? in the evening for a clayuda. Or spend some time on York in Highland Park (El Pique, El Huarache Azteca, My Taco for potato tacos) though that's harder to get to on the bus. In a pinch, hit Monte Alban (it's close).
* Chinese. Find some recommendations for places in the San Gabriel Valley, take the bus over there, and just spend an entire day eating. Or two entire days.
* Koreatown. It's easy to get to on the 720.
There's plenty of other good chow out there, but the above are what LA does really, really well. And you can do all of the above on the cheap, or at least on the not-too-expensive.
Wow. So you have some not-cheap spots on there but I presume you have kind of looked into costs and have some handle on what's what with that.
I think Ayara Thai would be out of your way, so would skip that if already planning to go to Jitlada.
From Venice, if you go north to Main St. in Santa Monica, that's a long and largely walkable street, from about where Chaya Venice is up to and a bit beyond where Chinois on Main is. Chaya's pretty good, not a must-visit. I think I'd pick it over Chinois. Between the two there's also a nice little spot called Library Ale House that is great for lunch on the garden patio - I've had really good food there. Almost across the street and slightly off main is Enterprise Fish Co. I wouldn't make a special trip to go there but if you need another pretty garden patio to hang out at with a drink, or for appetizers (mussels in white wine and cream!), that's good. (I think their dinners are fine but nothing special. Appetizers like the mussels and also the popcorn shrimp I really like.
Now, if you keep going north of Main St. - and if you're REALLY a walker you could walk this.. you can get to "Third Street Promenade" in Santa Monica. That is three or four blocks long on the nondriveable Third St. of shops and eateries and street performers, and also is a short distance from Santa Monica Pier and beach. It's where Anisette is.
Anisette is good, is not cheap, but I'd go there for breakfast or something. I also think Monsoon, at the far end of this walkable area, is worth stopping in for a drink and early dinner - it's a big, beautiful-inside Indonesian sort of decor, nice lounge at night, fusiony Asian food (pretty good, not must-go) and really good boat drinks and vodka infusions.
A few blocks off this promenade is a place that I would make a special visit to for a dinner out with someone - Jiraffe. Lamb and seafood stew are particularly good.
I don't know the routes but there should be a bus going from some main area of Venice up Main and near Third, or at least close. Probably some sort of special or express bus.
Unless you're an absolute kitchen nut, Surfas would also be out of the way and is basically just a store of interesting ingredients and pro cookware. A Mitsuwa would be interesting to go to if you haven't been to a huge Asian supermarket before, but if you're not cooking, it's just sightseeing and gazing at the different food and picking up snacks to go and lunch at the food court, which is not spectacular food but is OK.
If you're going to be in Malibu any length of time, Taverna Tony is a Greek spot up there that's really good to go to dinner at with some people. But Malibu is out of the way unless you were planning to be there anyhow.
If you end up taking a bus to the L.A. Metro "subway system" a couple things to keep in mind:
The interface at the Website to navigate is pretty wonky. Look at the actual map and figure out what stops you want.
It can be a really great way to get around to Chinatown and Thai Town and downtown. (Not sure - Koreatown too?)
OK, so I mainly addressed Santa Monica, and others can comment on Venice - Hal's on Abbot Kinney is supposed to be tasty. But again, some of these are 'if you're there, that's fine' rather than 'if you go to L.A. you MUST go here.'
you should know, about the dinner prices at some of the restaurants mentioned:
Chinois--NOT cheap--appetizers mid teens to mid twenties, entrees high $20's to $40's AND side dishes are extra $10's (i.e. their mushrooms are ~$15 in addition to the app and entree)
Jiraffe--Really NOT cheap (appetizers in the teens most entrees in the $30's
Chaya Venice--NOT cheap (appetiizers over $10, entrees $20 to $30's)
Jitlada is sort of a wild card--some of their dishes are cheap, but if you start ordering whole fish, you can find yourself with a surprisingly high tab. if your budget is hard, stay aware of the prices of the items you order.
Anisette=--appetizers in the teens entrees in the twenties.
be aware that the sales tax will add 9.25% to your tab.