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Jul 23, 2009 10:36 AM

LA suggestions for New Yorkers?

My fellow New Yorker friends and I are going to spend three days in LA this September and I'm looking for suggestions on terrific LA eats that have no comparison in New York. We're open to all kinds of cuisine, but nothing too expensive or high-end. Some of the places we're considering are:

-Apple Pan, for the burgers (we've had In 'n Out and really like their burgers. Are Apple Pan's better?)
-Stan's Donuts (what's the most popular flavor?)
-Kogi taco trucks
-Philippe's, for the French Dip
-Grand Central Market
-Fugetsu-Do Confectionaries (I love mochi and read they have a good selection)
-Bulgarini (is this the best gelato?)
-Langer's Deli (is the pastrami better than Katz's in NYC?)

Any insights and recommendations are appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. Where will you be staying? You obviously have a car to get around (based on looking over the places you're considering) so that will simplify things. Here is a thread you should take a look at for ideas:

    Hamburgers are a huge topic of conversation here (as you can see from just one of the numerous threads - this one stretches from 2006 up to the present). The Apple Pan causes more wars on this board than just about any other place (outside of Tito's Tacos) that you could name. It's a unique place for sure.

    23 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Here are some recent threads on recommendations for visiting New Yorkers:

      Of the places you mention:

      - Apple Pan: worth it, but not the best burger around. It's a great LA institution though.

      - Stan's Donuts: good, but not worth a detour; I think Randy's is more detour-worthy. If you're around the Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax, Bob's is very good, too. For the ultimate doughnut experience, there's the Donut Man in Glendora, but that's a good 45 minutes without traffic from central LA.

      - Kogi taco trucks: more of a ``happening'' than a culinary highpoint. It's fun, if a little six-months-ago. If you want an authentic LA experience you might try one of the taco trucks; the "Taco Zone" truck in Echo Park is a perennial favorite.

      - Bulgarini - really, really good but pretty far out of the way, unless you happen to be in Pasadena. Overall I prefer Scoops.

      - Langer's Deli - outstanding, and in my opinion the equal to Katz. Unfortunately they have much more limited hours (closed Sunday, close at 7pm). In one of the threads above there's a discussion about how interesting Langer's is for visiting New Yorkers.

      - Geoff (who lived in NYC for 10 years)

      1. re: Peripatetic

        I totally disagree about Stan's, the best doughnuts in LA and worth a special trip for any doughnut-nut. Get the regular raised, glazed and one of the several chocolate peanut butter varieties. Randy's and Bob's are both good but don't compare to Stan's.

        I'd skip Apple Pan as pretty unremarkable.

        If you want gelato, hit Scoops in East Hollywood.

        And yes, Langer's is better than Katz', in my humble opinion anyway.

        1. re: sku

          I will have to give Stan's another try. I visited several times when I first moved here two years ago and thought it was good, but not worth the automotive gymnastics required to find parking in Westwood Village, especially as there's not a whole lot else that's destination-worthy in WV.

          1. re: Peripatetic

            Stan's is right next to 2 hrs free parking structure. No validation required.

          2. re: sku

            Stan's doughnuts are good but New York has the Doughnut Plant.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              That's a lot like saying Langer's is good, but NY has Katz's. The answer is "so what." If you read the NY boards, you'll find that Doughnut Plant has its place like the Apple Pan has on the LA boards. It's a very divisive topic. I never fail to get doughnuts when I'm in LA because you just can't get it like those in NYC. For the OP, yes, absolutely, get doughnuts in LA. Stans, Primo's Bob's, Randy's, etc., and savor them. Get apple fritters, old fashioned donuts, and maple bars, since these don't exist in NY. I've been pondering this donut black hole on these boards for about a decade.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                LA is more of a dougnut town than NYC, imo. Also, Doughnut Plant is more of an artisan doughnut, like Doughnut Man in Glendora, rather than Stan's. Personally, I'd go to Primo's on Sawtelle.

                1. re: a_and_w

                  Speaking of Primo's... I'd been a pretty good boy for a couple or few months, meaning I've hardly even looked at a donut for that long. I decided to break that donut fast and headed to Primo's this AM. As a rule, I get a dozen, with at least six of the 12 being buttermilk bars. I'm so used to seeing just the glazed in their case, but they actually had four kinds this morning. Besides glazed, there was the much-vaunted chocolate-iced (thanks Servorg!), a plain, as well as a cinnamon-sugar version. I'm glad to say that all were worthy of having a place in Primo's case. In particular, that cinnamon-sugar was really good. I think they let the bar cook a little longer giving it a slightly crisper outside, and then rolled it around in that cinnamon-sugar like a lottery winner rolling around in a bed of c-notes. It was superb.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    I just saw the cinnamon-sugar variety for the first time yesterday morning on my weekly pilgrimage but didn't try them. Thanks for "taking one" for the board (it's a dirty job but someone....). ;-D>

                    1. re: Servorg

                      I'd be more than glad to take this one for the board again and again... :)

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        How do Primo's stack up against Bob's Doughnuts at Farmers Market?

                        1. re: coffeebrownies

                          I just had a Primo's Buttermilk Bar this weekend, still warm, and it was heavenly. Haven't tried the same at Bob's so I couldn't compare, but Primo's is DEFINITELY worth hitting ... their other doughnuts looked amazing as well, but I did not want to start off my day stuffed to the gills with fried dough.

              2. re: sku

                You are crazy, nothing compares to Katz : P

                Also nobody has said Chinese? Sea Harbour? Definitely worth it for dim sum.

                1. re: A5 KOBE

                  There were some recommendations for Chinese in one of the threads I mentioned above, notably from UG. I added this recommendation for Luscious Dumplings:

                  "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: Peripatetic

                    Link. You also won't go wrong with either Elite or Sea Harbour for dim sum.

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

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

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

                    1. re: Peripatetic

                      I would get to both Sea Harbour or Elite early, the lines are crazy as well.

                      Especially if you have to wait in this blazing heat we have been getting.

                    2. re: Peripatetic

                      Customers are literally lining up outside of Luscious Dumplings waiting for the door to open for dinner. The pan-fried dumplings go quick - they only make so many for each meal service, so if you go, go early, and order two orders of those...

                  2. re: sku

                    i concur with sku about apple pan

                  3. re: Peripatetic

                    I like Randy's only first thing in the morning, like a Dunkin Donut! Also loved Fritelli's in Beverly Hills who made the best peanut butter and jelly donuts (so good!) but I think they are no longer in business. Haven't tried the others mentioned.

                    Apple Pan is an institution! Father's Office is a good choice too for a burger!

                    Try Korean and Thai here, both are really worth trying in LA.

                    Sushi in LA is hands down so much better than NY!

                    1. re: Penne4YourThoughts

                      "Sushi in LA is hands down so much better than NY!"

                      Maybe on the low/medium end in terms of variety. But in terms of high end sushi, the best of NYC beats the best of LA in terms of quality, variety, skill of itame, and sushi rice.

                      Otherwise, the Korean and Thai recommndations are spot on.

                  4. re: Servorg

                    We're staying at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on the Avenue Of The Stars, and yes, we will have a car.

                    1. re: KiwiGirl625

                      For Kogi tacos, go to the Alibi in Culver City - this is where to get the original Kogi tacos, but not have to stand in the street, in line.

                      Also be sure to visit Monte Alban and Musha.

                      Alibi Room
                      12236 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                      1. re: KiwiGirl625

                        Father's Office in Culver City.

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

                    2. Is Oaxacan food readily available in NYC? If not, definitely give it a shot while in L.A. My suggestion is Monte Alban, on Santa Monica Blvd. between Bundy and Barrington. You would take Ave. of the Stars north to SM Blvd., turn left (west), and drive maybe 10 minutes -- the restaurant will be on the right (north) side of the street, in a strip mall. You can park in their little lot, or on SM Blvd. (metered), or on the side street. It is homey and inexpensive, with good service.

                      My favorite dish there is the barbacoa de chiva -- a chunk of braised kid, tender and not in the least gamy, served in a dense, red, spicy but not hot broth, with a plate of stuff to mix in (onions, herbs) and tortillas. A great dish, among a menu of great dishes. Their moles (red, black, red, green) are excellent.

                      After your visit, please report on where you went and how you liked it.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: ozhead

                        I heartily agree with this post. Monte Alban is an LA treasure. I went there recently, had their barbacoa (goat) taco, nopalito salad, molotes and flan. It was all great, and the meal was cheap for what we had.

                        1. re: Ogawak

                          Totally agree -- if I were staying in Century City, there's no way I would miss Monte Alban. It's as good as Mexican gets on the Westside, with the possible exception of Mariscos Chente, which I've not tried yet.

                          Also, if you're looking for a good place for breakfast within walking distance of the Hyatt, I highly recommend Clementine.

                          Also of interest to the East Coast visitor: there's a branch of See's Candies in the Westfield Century City Mall (near the Hyatt). See's has something of a cult status, similar to In-N-Out. Their chocolates are not in the same league as, say, Leonidas or Maison du Chocolate or Manon, but they have their own distinctive charm. Suggest ordering a-la-carte from their paper menu flyer.

                          1. re: Ogawak


                            Monte Alban
                            11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                            1751 Ensley Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024

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

                            See's Candies
                            10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                            1. re: Ogawak

                              This may be blasphemy but I'm going to recommend Pili's Taco across the street from Monte Alban for barbacoa de chiva. I haven't had the Monte Alban version to compare BUT the Pili version had 3 pieces of goat--rib, shank, and neck. The difference in texture and fat content between these 3 pieces is impressive in the stunningly fragrant and flavorful broth. I'm wondering if Monte Alban takes the same care as Pili does in providing 3 separate cuts of meat in each bowl.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                I gotta disagree, Porthos. I find both Monte Alban and El Super Taco are generally superior to Pili''s, though I admit I haven't tried the goat at Pili's.

                                Besides Monte Alban, I'd recommend Tacomiendo on Gateway at Pico for some ridiculously tasty taqueria food. I love their tacos, which come on tortillas made freshly in house. The pickled onions in the salsa bar are the perfect accompaniement for the seared meat.

                                1. re: a_and_w

                                  Try the cabeza (meat around the face) and lengua meat fillings for the soft tacos. Phenomenal.

                                  The barbacoa de chivo at Pili's is also spectacular.

                                  Not sure if you can compare the 3 directly because each have different strengths.

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    Thanks for the tip. Have you tried the lengua and cabeza at Tacomiendo? I really think it's the best taqueria on the West Side.

                                  2. re: a_and_w

                                    The OP will probably want to know that the building Monte Alban is in suffered a fire last week. It's unclear whether Monte Alban will open again by the end of September.


                              2. re: ozhead

                                Oaxacan is pretty much non-existent in NYC (well... there is a yuppie-fied place in Brooklyn, but I'm not counting that), so that's a great suggestion. Further, any regional Mexican besides Poblano food would be great for the OP to try. Places like Mariscos Chente or other SInaloan/Nayarit seafood might be even better. Or Tacos Baja Ensanada or Taco Nazo or other Baja style places for fish tacos, since NY is weak on that front. Chichen Itza or other Yucatecan would be another style of Mexican that one doesn't find in NYC. Or perhaps finding a local birrieria or carne asada like at El Parian, or even LA style burritos with some stewy chile verde or machaca, or getting some taquitos at Cielito Lindo on Olvera St, or a visit to El Tepeyac might give a NYer some insight on some typical LA Mexican food. I wouldn't even try to talk the OP from trying Tito's Tacos if they were so inclined (cuz that's as Mexican-American as it gets).

                                However, you can find barbacoa de chivo at literally hundreds of Mexican joints around the city, so I wouldn't send the OP somewhere to get that one dish. Nor would I send a NYer to get a cemita poblana, since we've got all kinds of that in NYC.

                                1. re: E Eto

                                  "However, you can find barbacoa de chivo at literally hundreds of Mexican joints around the city, so I wouldn't send the OP somewhere to get that one dish. Nor would I send a NYer to get a cemita poblana, since we've got all kinds of that in NYC."

                                  When I wrote "the city", I meant NYC. In short, I wouldn't send a NYer to get Pueblan food in LA.

                                2. re: ozhead

                                  monte alban has had a fire.
                                  will not likely be up and running again for quite some time.

                                3. I would not say apple Pan burgers are "better" than In & Out. They are mainly a nostalgic diner, the burgers are okay.

                                  If you want to try Kogi tacos, you can get them at the Alibi room in Venice. Otherwise you will have to chase the truck all around the city, then wait in line at least an hour. Some report it's not worth it.

                                  I wouldn't think Langer's is better than any place in NYC. If you want to go to an old style Hollywood place, stick to Musso & Frank's.

                                  And definitely check out the Mexican food. Here's where we shine. There are so many types to choose from, and more knowledgeable CHers here who can give you specific recs.

                                  And try the Thai food, too. Jitlada is the best, IMHO.

                                  5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                  Musso & Frank Grill
                                  6667 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Phurstluv

                                    IMHO Langer's is better than anywhere I've ever had pastrami in NYC except Katz and, maybe, the old Pastrami King in Kew Gardens.

                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                      Ok, a little surprised tho. From what I read, it's different, not better. But, to each his own.

                                  2. Bulgarini's gelato is very good, but I don't find it worth a special trip to Altadena. It's also hella expensive.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: gnarlex

                                      Maybe Al Gelato in Beverly Hills since the OP is staying in CC?

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Again I forgot the link (the missing link!):

                                        Al Gelato Continental Desserts
                                        806 S Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

                                    2. -Try Umami Burger or The Counter instead of Apple Pan. You'll be more satisfied.
                                      -Avoid Pink's
                                      -Have a solid plan B for Kogi as they usually run out of food or just move without notice depending on where they get more business.
                                      -LA is known for some of the best Mexican food around so give Carnitas Michoacan, El Parian, or King Taco a try... or the taco trucks mentioned in an earlier post.
                                      -Bulgarini is indeed some of the best gelato around. While you're in the area (just a block down on Lake Ave), check out CJ's Wing Cafe where they serve hot wings in Boss sauce... very tasty with a BBQ twist on hot wings.
                                      -Pizza... well, I'm not even gonna start this discussion up again. Vito's seems to be the place.
                                      -Stan's Donuts... peanut butter donut. 'Nuff said.
                                      -The Griddle... get their eggs benedict served over crsiped potato skins... mmmmm.

                                      Have a great trip and enjpy the city!!!!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: mrshankly

                                        The Counter is excellent, and I suspect they'll be appearing in NYC soon. (They're already in Connecticut).

                                        Umami Burger is controversial, but mostly because of their really amateurish service. I think the burger is outstanding, though their sides are hit-and-miss. But I recommend it for a up-to-the-minute, quintessentially LA experience, more so than Apple Pan.

                                        I agree with the recommendation to avoid Pink's. You'll stand in line for 45 minutes with mostly other tourists for hot dogs that Papaya King (or even Gray's) would be embarrassed to serve.

                                        The Griddle is fun (I live near it). Good food but great atmosphere! Looooong waits on weekends. Only open open for breakfast and lunch.

                                        I think that, for New Yorkers, Mozza is _the_ place to go for pizza. It is the best realization of the Ed LaDou revolution, more so than Spago or Caioti are today.

                                        Okay, I'll stop courting controversy now . . .

                                        1. re: Peripatetic

                                          My NY friends do enjoy Mozza, but I have a hard time recommending the place to NYers given how many amazing pizza places in NYC. For example, I'd take Otto over Mozza any day of the week.

                                        2. re: mrshankly

                                          If you can't make it to the Kogi truck, there's always the Calbi BBQ trucks in Santa Monica. Much shorter wait as well.