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3 days in LA - can anyone suggest a Chowhound Tour?

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hungrymanUWS Jul 18, 2009 03:38 PM

I always hear such great things about the food in Los Angeles. I will be in town for 3 days in October. Can anyone suggest some can't miss local fare? I'm from New York City, so I know it's easy to eat at the wrong places in big cities. I like everything, from $3 bowls of ramen to $100 steaks, it just has to be good. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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  1. westsidegal RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 18, 2009 03:44 PM

    in what part of town will you be staying?
    will you have a car at your disposal?

    1. Servorg RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 18, 2009 03:44 PM

      Day one: cover these - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/540566

      After you're finished check back and someone will have day two suggestions ready to go.

      Seriously. Will you have a car? Do you want one (or more) high end meal or only realtively inexpensive places? Where are you going to be staying? LA is a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig place.

      Another post which gives you some idea of what an open ended and impossible question this is without further specifics from you which narrows your highest priorities: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/637266

      1. monku RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 18, 2009 03:57 PM

        You might want to check out Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles and stop at Ana Maria's stand for some great carnitas. Lot's of other neat stuff to sample and look at.
        http://www.grandcentralsquare.com/vendors.asp

        No $3 ramen around that I can think of, but Little Tokyo is a few blocks from Grand Central Central Market and maybe the best Tonkatsu ramen is probably at Daikokuya. Order it "kotteri style" with the extra rich broth. Don't forget a side order of gyoza.
        http://www.daikoku-ten.com/

        15 minute drive east to the San Gabriel Valley and Valley Boulevard to the Asia of the West for a huge variety of Asian food.

        21 Replies
        1. re: monku
          h
          hungrymanUWS RE: monku Jul 18, 2009 04:35 PM

          Original Poster here - We will be staying in Santa Monica or Malibu, and we plan on renting a car. I assume we can park it almost anywhere in LA, right? Thanks for the quick replies! All suggests are greatly appreciated! We're probably looking for one or two high end dinners, but for the rest we're looking for divey to casual fare.

          1. re: hungrymanUWS
            Servorg RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 18, 2009 05:27 PM

            You can park anywhere, but you may end up with a parking ticket if you aren't good at breaking complex cyphers (i.e., parking signs with apparent contradictory, overlapping and enigmatic "guidance" about what constitutes legal parking at that spot at that time of the day - and be especially vigilant of the major streets like Wilshire Blvd. where they will ticket and then tow your car if you are parked before 9 AM or after 4 PM on a weekday as that's when they open up the curb lane for rush hour traffic).

            All that said you will need to get to Mariscos Chente (about 15 minutes SE of Santa Monica) in a little suburb of Los Angeles called Mar Vista. This is authentic, delicious and addictive Sinaolan and Nayarit (two States in Mexico along the Sea of Cortez and/or the Pacific Ocean on the mainland side) seafood. See the place link below. Click on it and then scroll down to read some of the reviews about what they offer and what to get. Lunch or Dinner.

            -----
            Mariscos Chente
            4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

            1. re: Servorg
              Servorg RE: Servorg Jul 18, 2009 06:03 PM

              In the heart of Santa Monica is a rather well regarded Jamaican food restaurant called Port Royal Cafe. You can look at their menu here: http://www.usmenuguide.com/portroyalc... and it certainly is on the less expensive/dive end of the spectrum.

              -----
              Port Royal Cafe
              1412 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404

              1. re: Servorg
                a_and_w RE: Servorg Jul 19, 2009 11:22 AM

                I'm still curious to try Port Royal, but generally speaking, there's better Jamaican/Caribbean food in NYC.

                1. re: a_and_w
                  Servorg RE: a_and_w Jul 19, 2009 11:34 AM

                  I wasn't thinking about the NY vs LA aspect when making my recommendations. I was simply taking Hungryman at his word when he wrote "I like everything, from $3 bowls of ramen to $100 steaks, it just has to be good."

                  That said a few "high end" recommendations are still owed Hungryman. I still love the tasting menu at Spago in Beverly Hiills. I would also say that my meals at Animal have been such top notch hits that it would also be high on my list.

                  1. re: Servorg
                    Servorg RE: Servorg Jul 19, 2009 11:37 AM

                    LInks:

                    -----
                    Spago
                    176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                    Animal
                    435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                    1. re: Servorg
                      a_and_w RE: Servorg Jul 19, 2009 12:02 PM

                      Spago and Animal are great choices. I still haven't been to the latter, but my friends from NYC love it.

                2. re: Servorg
                  mollyomormon RE: Servorg Aug 25, 2009 11:08 AM

                  I finally tried Port Royal a couple of months ago after wondering about it for years. The service was incredibly sweet and...um...Jamaican, right down to the servers enjoying a joint right out front of the restaurant while we were eating on the patio. The goat was one of the better versions I've had around town, although there was a good amount of gristle. While it's not exactly cheap (I think it was about $20pp for lunch), I'm happy to have finally checked it out.

                  Another great place to check out in Santa Monica is Chez Jay. I went a couple of weeks ago and they're in the midst of celebrating their 50th anniversary. The food is a total throwback and while not exactly amazing, I would happily eat another dish of shrimp scampi and a house salad with their green goddess dressing. Even better, though, is that the drinks are cheap for that area of town, it's super lowkey and they still have one of the few old school jukeboxes that hasn't been replaced with one of the characterless computerized ones.

                  1. re: mollyomormon
                    Servorg RE: mollyomormon Aug 25, 2009 11:33 AM

                    Thanks for the update molly'o. Sharing a spliff on break. Now that's true "Jamaican" style ambiance. ;-D>

                    Chez Jay's food is solid. Just got jolted by a few too many bananas in the Potatoes Au Gratin dish once. Great place to drink though (for the more "serious" social drinkers).

                    1. re: Servorg
                      mollyomormon RE: Servorg Aug 25, 2009 12:04 PM

                      The bananas in the potatoes are such a bizarre addition, although I think probably widely unpredictable in how perceptible the flavor of banana is depending on the batch. It's just such a great slice of old Santa Monica. Because RAND is the landlord of the building, people who work there have been coming there for years, including Alan Shepard who, as the story goes agreed to take one of the Chez Jay peanuts to the moon:
                      http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117...

                      hahaha! "'serious" social drinkers!" That's definitely a diplomatic way of describing the clientele at Chez Jay!

                    2. re: mollyomormon
                      a_and_w RE: mollyomormon Aug 25, 2009 12:09 PM

                      Port Royal sounds like my kind of place LOL! I like the vibe at Chez Jay, but had an odd experience with the service there last visit, though the specifics currently escape me.

                  2. re: Servorg
                    b
                    bulavinaka RE: Servorg Jul 18, 2009 06:22 PM

                    And if the OP continues down 14th street to Olympic, Tacos Por Favor is a must-stop for their chorizo and cheese tacos - BYO defibrillator. :)

                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      b
                      bulavinaka RE: bulavinaka Jul 18, 2009 06:31 PM

                      Sorry - forgot the link:

                      -----
                      Tacos Por Favor
                      1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

                      1. re: bulavinaka
                        a_and_w RE: bulavinaka Jul 19, 2009 11:24 AM

                        My new favorite thing at TPF is the chile relleno burrito. I like it even more than the chorizo.

                        1. re: a_and_w
                          r
                          renata47 RE: a_and_w Aug 23, 2009 04:48 PM

                          Just tried chile relleno burrito at Tacos Por Favor, but was, unfortunately, disappointed. They used an odd flavored salsa in it that overwhelmed the other tastes and the tortilla was dry and somewhat charred from grilling.

                          1. re: renata47
                            a_and_w RE: renata47 Aug 24, 2009 09:24 AM

                            Bummer! I'm addicted to them and haven't noticed the problems you describe. Was the salsa different from what usually comes on their burritos?

                    2. re: Servorg
                      Das Ubergeek RE: Servorg Jul 18, 2009 08:16 PM

                      Our confusing parking signs are nothing compared to the hieroglyphics in New York. It's not too bad, just make sure you pay where you have to pay and don't go overtime because they mark the tires.

                      Concur on Mariscos Chente. Also in Santa Monica don't miss Musha, which is a cute (but small and stuffy) izakaya on Wilshire near 5th St. Father's Office on Montana and 10th (great burgers, great beer list, not customisable). Nearby in West LA is Monte Alban for very good Oaxacan (southern Mexican) food, and perhaps you'd like Javan for Persian food. M Cafe de Chaya in Culver City for your obligatory LA-weird-diet food (macrobiotic, but damn tasty macrobiotic).

                      Save one day for the San Gabriel Valley. Lather up the sunscreen and stock up the bottled water for your trip to the hot, dry interior, along the 10 freeway. Get dim sum at Elite -- dim sum in LA is, honestly, better than dim sum in New York, even 7 train dim sum -- wander the area, have a foot reflexology session (an hour for $20), sample teas, look at knickknacks, and have a Chinese dinner at Giang Nan (Jiangsu -- eastern -- cuisine), or maybe China Islamic (get sesame bread, get lamb anything). Skip any Sichuan food, because you do it better than we do. Or change continents completely and have fish and shrimp tacos at El Taco Nazo, or Tacos Baja Ensenada.

                      If you like Korean food, LA has an absolutely enormous Koreatown. Barbecue at Park's BBQ (get the special kalbi which comes in huge rolls, and if it's hot out get a bowl -- a huge bowl -- of naengmyon so cold there's ice floating in it), or maybe you'd like soon tofu at Sokongdong or Beverly Tofu House. Or pork neck soup at Ham Ji Park, or delicious noodles at Corner Place (but you can't remove the noodles from the premises). I mean, the list truly goes on and on and on and on.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                        a_and_w RE: Das Ubergeek Jul 19, 2009 11:23 AM

                        This is great advice -- well said!

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek
                          Peripatetic RE: Das Ubergeek Jul 19, 2009 02:37 PM

                          Strong second for Elite, better than 20 Mott (RIP), Golden Unicorn, 888 Palace (RIP), and Jade. I've only been to one place in the US I liked better -- Crystal Garden in Flushing -- but they closed nearly 20 years ago now.

                          Also, it's been a while since I lived in NYC, but I don't remember anywhere like Luscious Dumplings there: a minimal place with a short, focused menu (dumplings, noodles) that they execute really well. The only caveats are that their hours are short (Tue-Sat 11am-2pm, 5pm-8pm; Sun 11am-2pm), and they are often out of many of the choices well before closing. But, to me, they are one of the quintessential SGV (San Gabriel Valley) culinary experiences.

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
                            Peripatetic RE: Das Ubergeek Jul 19, 2009 02:40 PM

                            Links:

                            -----
                            Elite Restaurant
                            700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                            Luscious Dumplings
                            704 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                      2. re: monku
                        A5 KOBE RE: monku Jul 19, 2009 09:50 PM

                        Can't go wrong with Daikokuya~~~except

                        Kotteri broth w/ extra chashu for me.

                        Then after get a donut an-pan at Japanese Village. haha

                      3. Peripatetic RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 18, 2009 08:10 PM

                        Here's a similar thread (NYers visiting LA, low-end recommendations sought) from a few months ago that may help: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/615787

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: Peripatetic
                          h
                          hungrymanUWS RE: Peripatetic Jul 19, 2009 03:32 PM

                          Thanks for all the suggestions. I think one afternoon will be ear-marked for San Gabriel Valley. As someone of Chinese descent, I have to see what this area offers. I also plan on trying the Mexican fare while in LA, since there is very little authentic Mexican in NYC. Any other high end recs? What about sushi/Japanese?

                          1. re: hungrymanUWS
                            Das Ubergeek RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 19, 2009 09:21 PM

                            I'm not sure whether you'll find sushi better here. It's certainly wider-spread. If you REALLY want the high-end, of course, go to Urasawa and prepare to drop $500 a head after you drink. Otherwise, Zo is the usual high-end sushi rec.

                            As for Mexican, one of the best Mexican places in LA is in the San Gabriel Valley -- Babita Mexicuisine. Like eating in Grandma's living room, if Grandma could serve you veal cheek with consome, or a chile en nogada (not always available, depends when you're coming -- requires pomegranates), or just their plain chile relleno (stuffed with a crab stew).

                            Further south, near-ish LAX, is La Huasteca (near where the 105 and 710 freeways intersect in Lynwood), where you can feast on meats with pipian (pre-Columbian pumpkinseed sauce), many kinds of mole, including white almond mole and occasionally manchamanteles (made with fruit), and a massive collection of tequilas. After you're done, wander around the plaza and forget you're not in Mexico.

                            As for the SGV, we are talking about an area that is physically the size of New York City, so it tends to be quite spread out. The two real loci are the Alhambra-Monterey Park-Rosemead-San Gabriel area (from Atlantic to Rosemead on the 10) and the Hacienda Heights-Walnut-Rowland Heights area (from Hacienda to Brea Canyon on the 60). Of the two I'd pick Alhambra et al., because it's much closer to LA and is bigger. Look for recommendations like Seafood Village, Elite, Sea Harbour, Luscious Dumplings, Dumpling 10053, Phoenix Food Boutique, Kang Kang Food Court, China Islamic, Giang Nan, NBC, Yun Gui Garden, Hong Yei, Kingburg Kitchen, Dan Dan Guilin Rice Noodle, Mei Long Village, Pa Pa Walk, Yunnan Garden, Newport Seafood, Lu Din Gee.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                              Peripatetic RE: Das Ubergeek Jul 19, 2009 10:46 PM

                              As usual I agree with Das Ubergeek. One thing, though: I think Dumpling 10053 may warrant a downhill alert. When we visited in April they seemed to be on autopilot, and I think I subsequently read that there had been a relatively recent change of ownership or management.

                              Also, Babita's food is spectacular, and I love the unexpected crack-house chic (exterior, at least) of the location, but when we visited we were put off by the ersatz Michelin-one-star experience of the place: the very attentive staff and chef were a little condescending, repeatedly "reminding" us what a wonderful meal we were having (which, foodwise, it was!) and how lucky we were to be there. It became a little grating. We were one of only two tables at that time that evening, so maybe that was a factor, and I think they were also a little disappointed we didn't order more than we did (we still managed $30 pp). Overall I prefer Moles La Tia and Casita Mexicana. That said, you would be hard-pressed to be disappointed by Babita.

                              However, I totally endorse Elite, Sea Harbour, and Luscious Dumplings. The other places UG mentions are on my to-try list, but I'd be surprised if they weren't stellar -- UG is one of the LA board's star contributors.

                              -----
                              Babita
                              1823 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                              Elite Restaurant
                              700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                              La Casita Mexicana
                              4030 Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201

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

                              Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                              3939 Rosemead Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

                            2. re: hungrymanUWS
                              o
                              ozhead RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 20, 2009 11:04 AM

                              For Mexican -- specifically Oaxacan, which may not be readily available in NYC -- try Monte Alban, on Santa Monica Blvd. between Barrington and Bundy (not quite in Santa Monica, but almost -- just a little bit east of the SM - West LA border). The moles are terrific, and I always recommend the barbacoa de chiva, a chuck of tender, delicious braised kid served in a dense, red, spicy but not hot broth with a plate of stuff (herbs, onions) to mix in and flour tortillas. Not a fancy restaurant, but very pleasant and quite inexpensive. The food is great, and parking (either in their lot -- it's in a small strip mall) or on the side street nearby is relatively easy.

                              1. re: ozhead
                                o
                                ozhead RE: ozhead Aug 24, 2009 09:10 AM

                                Unfortunately (VERY unfortunately), Monte Alban is closed because of a recent fire. Nobody seems to know when, if at all, it will re-open.

                                1. re: ozhead
                                  a
                                  a213b RE: ozhead Aug 24, 2009 12:29 PM

                                  Just FYI, when I drove by today on my way to work they had a huge banner up that said they would be re-opening soon. No specific date was given (unless on a flyer on the door, which I obviously couldn't see while driving).

                                  1. re: a213b
                                    o
                                    ozhead RE: a213b Aug 24, 2009 04:17 PM

                                    Good news! Thanks for passing it along.

                              2. re: hungrymanUWS
                                a
                                anothernotch RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 20, 2009 02:57 PM

                                Many strong suggestions already on this chat. I would just like to stress that if you are looking for Mexican and plan to spend an afternoon in the SGV, Babita is a must.

                                1. re: hungrymanUWS
                                  westsidegal RE: hungrymanUWS Aug 23, 2009 09:43 PM

                                  in santa monica, very reasonably priced AND they take reservations, open for dinner only, japanese izakaya (small plates),
                                  MUSHA
                                  424 Wilshire Blvd
                                  Santa Monica, CA 90401-1410
                                  (310) 576-6330

                                  1. re: hungrymanUWS
                                    l
                                    Lynndsey Rigberg RE: hungrymanUWS Aug 24, 2009 04:43 PM

                                    Hungryman, I think LA really does offer the most diverse Mexican, Korean and Asian/Chinese food anywhere. And If you are of Chinese descent, you will find alot of exciting eats in SGV. Having lived in NYC for a number of years (and also being Asian), I think SGV comes closest in representing the multi-culinary disciplines. I came from SF originally, and its mostly cantonese cooking there. But in SGV, there's a lot more nuance.....from classic "xiao tsi" or midnight eats of porridge and tiny tapas stayle dishes to all kinds of dumplings and XLB (xiao long bao) to very northern style chinese to Islamic Chinese - alot to digest! You're getting some great recommends here, so I won't be redundant, but I always heard that NYC has such great dim sum, but in the 3 years I lived there, I tried every place and was never impressed nor did I find Chinese food eats to be that interesting. I'm quite excited to hear your review about where you ate while here....let us know! Look forward to your future post - happy eating in LA!

                                    1. re: hungrymanUWS
                                      p
                                      Penne4YourThoughts RE: hungrymanUWS Mar 2, 2010 03:02 AM

                                      We are from back East and have yet to find a really good Chinese place that can compete, it's just NOT the same taste. Personally, I would try Sushi for sure!!! LA beats NY hands down for Sushi!! Also do try Thai, again it is an experience here. Malibu has a great little Thai place with a nice outdoor patio. It's on PCH right next door to Johnnie's Pizza. There is also a Chinese restaurant a few doors down that has the nicest family that owns it. Nobu in the Country Mart. In Santa Monica there is a great Cuban place called Cha Cha Chicken. It is nothing like we have home. And you must try In & Out Burger!!! It's just an LA classic fast food burger, but must be tried. Whenever we were back East we craved it, and the minute we arrived in LA we would head straight to In & Out from the Airport. You can order with or w/out bun, and Animal Fries served with chili and cheese. I just go basic, but it is my favorite fast food burger. Abbott Kinney in Venice has many good place's too, we enjoy Hal's and becoming a fast favorite is Wabi-Sabi Sushi. We order a lot of different dishes and share. A few favs... yellowtail, miso soup, tempura anything, Ahi Tuna Tartare is outstanding, and the crunchy shrimp roll.

                                      Checkout Gladstones which is very casual on the beach or for more of a dining experience Geoffrey's in Malibu (both have gorgeous sunsets).

                                      Taverna Tony's in Malibu is a fun Greek restaurant that has belly dancers and live music. Food is wonderful and the octopus is to die! The roasted Red Pepper Hummus is so good I can jump in the bowl.

                                      Animal is also a great spot.

                                      Have fun!

                                      1. re: Penne4YourThoughts
                                        mollyomormon RE: Penne4YourThoughts Mar 2, 2010 12:35 PM

                                        I agree that it would be strange to send the OP for NY-style Chinese food (which seems to be what you're talking about) while in LA because, while I'm no expert, that seems to be something we're missing in LA. If OP wants to experience authentic Chinese food, then LA is excellent for that.

                                        1. re: Penne4YourThoughts
                                          wienermobile RE: Penne4YourThoughts Mar 2, 2010 05:34 PM

                                          Gladstones has a beautiful view and terrible food.

                                          1. re: wienermobile
                                            p
                                            Penne4YourThoughts RE: wienermobile Mar 2, 2010 05:55 PM

                                            true! but it is a fun spot for out of towners.

                                            1. re: Penne4YourThoughts
                                              Das Ubergeek RE: Penne4YourThoughts Mar 2, 2010 08:39 PM

                                              So have a drink there and gaze out at the limpid surface of the mighty Pacific, etc. Don't eat there. It's revolting.

                                    2. b
                                      bu dat RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 19, 2009 07:55 PM

                                      the spago tasting menu! it's really outstanding. i was recently at bazaar at the SLS. this restaurant has been getting a lot of press and it was a gorgeous space. . . but for the money, it has nothing on spago taste/quality wise. good meal, but for $150/pp -- i'm looking for more than good.

                                      animal or jar are mid priced places that are very good and in nice areas of town where you can walk around. the food at both places is excellent.

                                      i would say pizzeria mozza is an absolute can't miss. it's so great. i know there's a lot of good pizza in ny - but this place is not ny, and yummy!

                                      for sushi - i would suggest going to little tokyo east or little tokyo west (just b/c it's fun to walk around both of these neighborhoods in addition to eating). little tokyo east is around 2nd/los angeles in downtown los angeles. there is a great sushi bar called hama sushi on 2nd b/w los angeles and central. little tokyo west is in west los angeles about 5 miles from santa monica and runs from olympic/sawtelle to santa monica blvd./sawtelle. it is a great stroll. i really like every place on this street. my new favorite is bar hayama b/c i like the atmosphere. there is better sushi -- but it's a nice space.

                                      for mexican, moles la tia and chichen itza get a lot of raves on the board. chichen itza could be fun b/c it's near macarthur park which is an experience. i really love king taco which is a fast food chain local to la. it is really really good. their salsas - red (scorching) and green (sweet/savory) are really to die for.
                                      http://www.chichenitzarestaurant.com/
                                      http://www.moleslatia.com/

                                      oh - and in & out. yum.

                                      fyi - malibu is a foodie wasteland. seriously. santa monica has been making strides recently. riva is pretty good. musha is japanese and quite good. both are on wilshire. a fun bar with decent bar food is king's head on santa monica/second.

                                      have fun.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: bu dat
                                        Peripatetic RE: bu dat Jul 19, 2009 11:01 PM

                                        Agree with bu dat about Mozza. Californian-style pizza is as different from NY-style pizza as Neapolitan pizza is, and Mozza is perhaps now the definitive interpretation. For more about Californian-style pizza, I suggest reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California-style_pizza and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_LaDou

                                        1. re: bu dat
                                          p
                                          Penne4YourThoughts RE: bu dat Mar 2, 2010 09:18 PM

                                          bu dat....is Riva still there? I thought they went out of business? It was pretty good.

                                        2. c
                                          cjla RE: hungrymanUWS Jul 20, 2009 10:55 AM

                                          I don't know if your travels will take you into traditonal touristy areas. If you do find yourself around the Hollywood and Highland complex, I suggest walking down the street to Loteria. They have a great bar, and I consider it an oasis, in an area filled with crappy, crappy food.

                                          -----
                                          Loteria Grill Hollywood
                                          6627 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: cjla
                                            johnnyshungry RE: cjla Jul 20, 2009 03:56 PM

                                            These first 3 are Hollywood area you can make day of it tourist style.
                                            Yamishiro a GREAT View but only for drink and appetizer food in the bar window seat .
                                            I take everyone here who visits time it for sunset you get the grasp of how large
                                            Los Angeles is and watch city lights come up, you can do dinner but not stellar japanese.
                                            it's OK your paying for the view and surroundings it is unique but I would zip down to many other finer japanese or move on down the street to Providence.
                                            www.yamashirorestaurant.com
                                            www.providencela.com

                                            Breakfast or just martini on the same side of the stree as Loteria is Muss & Franks for a classic martini in historical setting you never know who sat where you are sitting clark gable , charlie chaplin, etc... always runs in my head head as I sip afternoon away the walk to Loteria.
                                            Bonus you can valet at Musso for the same price of street parking but validate.

                                            I had a nice dinner @ SAAMs @ the Bazaar prix fix tasting only go early have a drink in bar centro then dinner at 8. the bar becomes a trendy hotspot at night while tucked away in the Saams private room. The Bazaar and Saams are in the same space different restaurant.
                                            www.thebazaar.com

                                            In n out burger is a drive thru cheap good burgers cultish following, I like them.
                                            chain not hard to find one.

                                            IN the mountains above Malibu Saddle Peak Lodge would be a must for game after a day at the beach or brunch.
                                            www.saddlepeaklodge.com

                                            Little tokyo I like Izayoi and Sushi Gen

                                            Being in Malibu, Santa Monica is quite a challenge to head east time your travel against traffic.
                                            Happy travels.

                                            1. re: johnnyshungry
                                              o
                                              ozhead RE: johnnyshungry Jul 20, 2009 04:40 PM

                                              Second Saddle Peak Lodge, particularly if you are looking for a non-NYC kind of experience. I don't think it's specifically a Los Angeles (or California) kind of experience -- more like "excellent lodge in some mountains somewhere" kind of place. But the food and service are really, really good, and the decor, particularly in the main room downstairs, is pretty amazing. If the OP is in town over a weekend, they do a terrific brunch; celebrity spotting at brunch is a distinct possibility, if that is a factor. Sit outside if it is not too hot.

                                          2. d
                                            djmedi4 RE: hungrymanUWS Aug 24, 2009 09:49 AM

                                            If nobody's given you the LA Mag "Cheap Eats" Map, try this.

                                            http://tinyurl.com/pmkocd

                                            So much wonderful food, spread out over so much area can be
                                            intimidating. Don't let it overwhelm you.

                                            Enjoy our city - if you're here on the right day, you'll see why so many East Coasters move here;)...

                                            1. wienermobile RE: hungrymanUWS Aug 24, 2009 09:52 AM

                                              Langer's, the best pastrami in the world.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: wienermobile
                                                Das Ubergeek RE: wienermobile Aug 24, 2009 10:01 AM

                                                No offense, but if I were here from New York I'd want to concentrate on things that are primarily LA. While I do love Langer's pastrami and would put it in the same rank as Katz's, it'd be coals to Newcastle -- a bit like going to New York and being told to try a fish taco.

                                                Also, while I absolutely love Mariscos Chente, it's a hard place to eat at by yourself, because the dishes are very large and meant to be shared. You could eat your way through, say, a kilo of pescado zarandeado but you wouldn't want to eat anything else (including the chips). The same for, say, camarones borrachos. Fifteen jumbo prawns is a lot of food for one person.

                                                I like the Cheap Eats map... useful.

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                  Servorg RE: Das Ubergeek Aug 24, 2009 10:13 AM

                                                  "Fifteen jumbo prawns is a lot of food for one person."

                                                  That's why you have to get a nice seafood cocktail to start. It stretches your stomach to make room for the camarones to follow. ;-D>

                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                    E Eto RE: Das Ubergeek Aug 24, 2009 11:46 PM

                                                    "While I do love Langer's pastrami and would put it in the same rank as Katz's, it'd be coals to Newcastle -- a bit like going to New York and being told to try a fish taco."

                                                    Not sure if that's an apt comparison. It would be more like going to NY and being told to get a superior version of a cemita poblana than you'll find in LA. Maybe a Los Angeleno should give it a whirl just to dispel the myth of the lack of Mexican food in NYC. But to get to the real matter, I wouldn't discourage going to Langer's at all. Both Katz's and Langer's have their partisans and claim to be the best, so it could be worth the visit, if they have a stake in this oft-heated debate.

                                                    1. re: E Eto
                                                      a_and_w RE: E Eto Aug 25, 2009 08:48 AM

                                                      I volunteer for the cemita test next time I'm in NYC LOL!

                                                2. c
                                                  crash31 RE: hungrymanUWS Aug 24, 2009 10:02 AM

                                                  I cant believe no one has suggested some of the awesome LA burgers out here. My personal two favorites: 1) The Counter in Santa Monica where you create your own awesomeness (you must get it with their amazing sweet potato fries and if your anything like me, a Peanut Butter and Banana shake....yummm) and 2)The Office Burger at Father's Office...nuff said (also get the sweet potato fries). Man ever since I moved out here from the East Coast I have become addicted to sweet potato fries and gourmet burgers...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: crash31
                                                    p
                                                    Penne4YourThoughts RE: crash31 Mar 2, 2010 03:13 AM

                                                    AGREE! The burgers at the at Father's Office are amazing!

                                                  2. t
                                                    travelingmansoul RE: hungrymanUWS Aug 24, 2009 01:49 PM

                                                    for high end:
                                                    Providence
                                                    Valentino
                                                    if you really got bucks, Urusawa
                                                    bazaar

                                                    all driving distance from Santa Monica. Also, like jiraffe and joe's (in venice)

                                                    blair's in silverlake is usually always good

                                                    asenebo in studio city - awesome sushi...i'd add sushi zo too on westside to avoid drive

                                                    for casual:
                                                    mariscos chente
                                                    nanbankan (WLA)
                                                    orris - japanese/french/cal fusion

                                                    for ethnic: i'd take advice of chowhounders for SGV - still need to make a trip out there but it's a long, long drive from westside

                                                    in LA, mexican and thai is an experience - oaxacan - chitzen itza near DT or monte alban in WLA....I'm no expert in thai food so take advice from site. i go to casual places but nothing transcendal for thai

                                                    i've always been partial to lebanese and enjoy carousel in hollywood...you'll be stuffed but great food

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: travelingmansoul
                                                      m
                                                      mdpilam RE: travelingmansoul Aug 24, 2009 11:53 PM

                                                      FYI, Chichen Itza is Yucatecan. And Monte Alban is currently closed due to fire, but a sign says: "Re-opening soon". Both great, however.

                                                    2. g
                                                      glutton RE: hungrymanUWS Aug 24, 2009 02:17 PM

                                                      In July, I returned to LA for a few days (we sadly moved to New Jersey a year ago). My eating tour consisted of the following:

                                                      1. Tacos Baja Ensenada in East LA for fish tacos
                                                      2. Mateo's in Culver City for a rice milk paleta and a scoop of leche quemada ice cream
                                                      3. Taron Bakery in Glendale for Armenian lahmajune and borek.
                                                      4. Santa Monica (Wednesday) farmers market for produce
                                                      5. BreadBar for, well, bread and breakfast
                                                      6. Intelligentsia in Venice for coffee
                                                      7. Sushi Sasabune for Friday night omakase dinner
                                                      8. Hide Sushi for dinner (that's because we're friends with one of the chefs)
                                                      9. Beverly Hills Cheese Store for cheese, prosciutto, etc.
                                                      10. Monte Alban for Oaxacan dinner (taco de barbacoa, queso fundido, clayuda)
                                                      11. Phillippes for twice-dipped french dip (beef, blue cheese, spicy mustard)
                                                      12. Taco truck on corner of Rose/Lincoln (La Oaxaquena)
                                                      13. Kogi Truck (it was on Abbot Kinney that night)

                                                      I feel like I might be forgetting something, but suffice to say that we ate quite well and covered a good chunk of the city. We did not dip into the San Gabriel Valley or Westwood Blvd, which were probably my biggest regrets.

                                                      1. f
                                                        fizzy RE: hungrymanUWS Aug 25, 2009 01:03 AM

                                                        lol, do you have any room for dessert? these are some dessert experiences that might be fun to try while you're here....

                                                        gelato + ice cream:
                                                        * the persian ice cream parlour on westwood blvd. (between wilshire blvd. + santa monica blvd, i think the cross street might be wilkins ave but i'm not sure)
                                                        * scoops --> experiments with some very unique flavors
                                                        * pazzo gelato --> has some interesting flavors + across from intelligentsia coffee
                                                        * milk --> awesome ice cream sandwich desserts

                                                        other:
                                                        * Providence offers some great multi-course dessert tasting menus
                                                        * samosa house --> has some good indian desserts
                                                        * huckleberry --> delicious bakery/cafe in santa monica (maple bacon biscuits!)
                                                        * LA Mill Coffee Boutique --> some amazing coffee + desserts
                                                        * Sushi Zo finishes with a really good yuzu drink at the end

                                                        1. s
                                                          sshumaker RE: hungrymanUWS Aug 25, 2009 01:57 AM

                                                          High-end:
                                                          The Bazaar at the SLS - the food and atmosphere are pretty spectacular. I suppose WD-50 in NYC is the closest thing to it. The tasting menu was great - I'd toss in a couple of extras, like the lamb (wow), olives old and new style, the caprese salad (with spherificated mozarella) - and one of the liquid nitrogen frozen drinks.

                                                          Providence or Spago - You can't go wrong with either one. I like Providence more, and I think it's silly not to take advantage of the amazing fish options in LA. If you do Spago, definitely do the tasting menu.

                                                          Some hole-in-the-walls:

                                                          Sunnin. It's in westwood - has some of the best Lebanese food in the city, and you can see Mama cooking in the kitchen. At one point, I think they had the highest gap between Food and Decor in the zagat guide - you'll eat amazing food off of styrofoam plates.

                                                          Echigo - Strip-mall sushi in Santa Monica - Get the omakase, and be shocked at how different 10 pieces of fish can be made to taste. The warm vinegared rice is wonderful - and it means you'll need to eat each piece within a minute of the chef's preparation. Some people prefer Sasabune, but I prefer the intimacy at Echigo.

                                                          La Serenata Da Garibaldi - The one in Santa Monica is good (although I like the original Boyle Heights location even better). Basically, excellent high-end Mexico City cuisine. I like getting the Fish Enchiladas Rancheras, but it's hard to go wrong with anything here. There are more hardcore great Mexican places (Babitas, etc) - but they tend to be really off the beaten path.

                                                          Late-night:
                                                          25 degrees at the Roosevelt - Some of the best burgers in the city at an oasis of cool in the middle of Hollywood. Open 24 hours - great for taking care of that hangover. I love their onion rings too - with the chipotle dipping sauce.

                                                          Brunch:
                                                          Joe's (Abbot Kinney / Venice) - a high-end restaurant that does a surprisingly affordable brunch. Last time I was there it was a 15$ brunch tasting menu - and everything was amazing.

                                                          Coffee:
                                                          Intelligentsia is good, but Cafe Luxxe is better (and it's in Santa Monica, on Montana). Plus, they carry Amadei Chuao chocolate, which is the best in the world.

                                                          Tea / Desserts / Afternoon snack:
                                                          Jin Patisserie in Venice is worth a stop - it's a little secluded garden setting, with a huge tea selection and wonderful Parisian-style chocolates and desserts. Just show up earlier in the day, or they won't have many dessert items left. I still miss Boule (which closed last year), but Jin is great for an afternoon snack or high tea. Lamill (in Silverlake) is also great, with a great selection of small lunch plates, coffees, and desserts.

                                                          -----
                                                          25 Degrees Restaurant
                                                          7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                                          Providence
                                                          5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                                                          Spago
                                                          176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                                          La Serenata
                                                          1416 4th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                                          Echigo
                                                          12217 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 201, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                                                          Sunnin Lebanese Cafe
                                                          1779 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                                          The Bazaar by José Andrés
                                                          465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: sshumaker
                                                            s
                                                            sshumaker RE: sshumaker Aug 25, 2009 02:04 AM

                                                            I almost forgot - even though you are coming in from NYC - Also in Santa Monica:

                                                            Bay Cities Deli (which is an italian style deli) - has some amazing sandwiches and great foodie things for sale, although the rudeness of the employees may remind you of home. I prefer the Caprese Sandwich sans onions - and don't forget to pick up some of the amazing Alfajores (peruvian cookies) they sell. My fiance and I often grab some sandwiches and some drinks, pack a picnic, and head out to the beach somewhere.

                                                            1. re: sshumaker
                                                              westsidegal RE: sshumaker Mar 2, 2010 05:25 PM

                                                              i completely concur with penne4yourthoughts regarding bay cities:
                                                              completely skip bay cities, it doesn't even come close to new york italien.

                                                          2. s
                                                            sillygoosedown RE: hungrymanUWS Mar 2, 2010 07:39 PM

                                                            Day 1:
                                                            Breakfast at Urth Caffe in Santa Monica (get there early if you like to sit!!)
                                                            Lunch/snack at Diddy Riese in Weswood
                                                            Dinner at Urasawa in Beverly Hills

                                                            Day 2:
                                                            Breakfast at Doughboys
                                                            [self-induced vomit]
                                                            Lunch at Mariscos Chente
                                                            Dinner at Jitlada

                                                            Day 3:
                                                            [You wake up in pain from Jitlada]
                                                            Breakfast at Nate and Als
                                                            Lunch/snack at Diddy Riese
                                                            Dinner at Spago

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