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NYC love for LA - trip report (Aug 11-15)

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pellegrino31 Aug 17, 2009 12:10 PM

I was in LA last week for a mix of work and fun, and knowing how many posts go on this board titled as "Recs Needed for NYC visitors" I figured I'd add this to the list of trip reports. I searched the boards a bit but the last time I was in LA was last summer, so the places I went to were a mix of repeats and new visits. And since it was partially work, I was a little confined on some days (including a terrible meal of take out Chinese while observing focus groups).

Here's the rundown:

I stayed at the Hotel Palomar which I mention only because I had their room service chopped salad and was a big fan of it. Simple and tasty. NYC isn't big on chopped salads which is a shame.

Tues dinner - EN Sushi in Santa Monica (think it was SM) - the sushi was good and the atmosphere was nice. I had had a long flight that day so I was happy to eat something clean and not too heavy.

Weds breakfast - I took at walk from the Palomar to Mary and Robb's on Westwood. Like a diner but a bit softer around the edges. Very good breakfast, I had the egg white scramble with tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and onions. And an Arnold Palmer. I love that I can get those really easily in LA. Again not a big thing in NYC.

Thurs snack – Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica – love this place. Got the al pastor tacos and a Mexican coke. Heaven.

Thurs dinner - Lares in Santa Monica - really like the food here. I got the chicken mole enchiladas and the mole sauce was thick and rich. I loved it. My brother got a lamb stew which was also very good and his girlfriend ordered what I think was camarones al ajillo. All great. We were a little disappointed with the margaritas - they seemed kind of weak.

Fri lunch - Father's Office in Culver City - we actually attempted to go to the Santa Monica location on Tues night but it was packed so we waited until Friday when CC's location serves lunch. I love the beer list - had a Hitachino White - and the burger was good but I think for me I'm not usually someone who likes a lot of stuff on their burger so it felt a bit messy. That said, the combination of toppings was tasty so I am glad I tried it. Loved the shoestring fries and garlic aioli.

Fri dinner – Park’s BBQ in Ktown– I love this place. I love the beef. This was a repeat visit – I had been thinking about it ever since the last trip. We had the gal bi and bulgogi, both excellent quality. We also were way ambitious and ordered dot sol bibimbab which we totally didn’t need (there were just 3 of us) but I can't resist the crispy rice that forms in the bowl. Everything washed down with a few bottles of Hite. The whole thing is a real bargain - about $40 each with tip.

Sat lunch – spent the day in San Clemente – we were with my brother’s girlfriend’s family for lunch and went to the restaurant at the pier in San Clemente. I thought it was going to be hyper-touristy which most people probably think it is, but I actually really enjoyed the food. We ordered a few buckets of the king crab legs which were great, and I also got an order of fish tacos which were tasty. More Arnold Palmers. I wish more beach-y seafood restaurants here were on the water, with the exception of out in the Hamptons or Montauk, few places on Long Island are actually on the water which is just odd.

Sat dinner – Gjelina in Venice – this was my “last supper” as I was taking the red eye back to NYC that night. Man is this place good. I felt bad retelling my meal to my fiance (who didn't come on the trip) since I would have been sad to miss out on the experience. My brother’s girlfriend had heard about it and wanted to try it so I had no idea what it was about before we went. We put our names in around 6pm and about 40 minutes later got a call and sat at one of the communal tables. While the week of eating was really good, this was amazing:

- started with melon and prosciutto – delicious salty and sweet – and roasted asparagus and the baby artichokes (the latter was the dish we swooned the least over, though still good)

- for second course, my brother’s girlfriend had a delicious grilled calamari and my brother had the lamb sausage pizza. I love that pizza.

- for my second course I had the lamb chops with pesto and harissa (perfectly medium rare, a little fatty – my brother and I actually ate bits off the bone it was that good) and I also ordered the ricotta gnocchi since I had to try it. OMG the brown butter sauce was intense and the gnocchi rich and velvety.

- dessert – we couldn’t pick just one to share so I insisted we get the butterscotch pot de crème AND the strawberry rhubarb cobbler. Both were good but I named the butterscotch “the devil” – rich, and was sprinked with sea salt so the first bit was intensely sweet then the finish was salty. Amazing. The cobbler was made even more divine with its cornmeal topping.

The meal with tax and tip was $180 for the three of us which I think compared to NYC prices is a complete bargain for the amount of food we had. Service was very good too. And we saw Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick come in for dinner as my one random celebrity sighting that week.

After dinner went to Intelligentsia down the street for what has got to be one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. I am not a huge coffee drinker but this could change my habits easily. I wish they had a store here in NYC.

So I think I managed to fit in a good bit of eating given that most of the weekdays I was working. The only thing I wish I had time to do was going for breakfast where I could get shredded hash browns. That seems like a West Coast thing that is rare here. I love eating in LA. New Yorkers need not worry about starving ;)

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  1. a213b RE: pellegrino31 Aug 17, 2009 12:31 PM

    Cool, glad you enjoyed and had a good time, and thanks for coming back and posting your thoughts!

    1. Das Ubergeek RE: pellegrino31 Aug 17, 2009 01:07 PM

      Hey, thank you for reporting back! It's pretty rare that we get a report so it's nice to see our area through "outside" eyes.

      Intelligentsia IS a great cup of coffee. While there is not the single-farm sourcing that Intelligentsia, I lived while working in the City on Zibetto (6/56, west side of street). Amazing espresso. Hopefully it can tide you over.

      1. Phurstluv RE: pellegrino31 Aug 17, 2009 02:38 PM

        Great call on the al pastor tacos at Tacos Por Favor, my fave with their red sauce!!

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          ultraviolet RE: pellegrino31 Aug 17, 2009 09:00 PM

          Sounds like you did some fantastic eating while in L.A.
          Good call on Lares, I haven't been there forever.
          Thanks for reminding me of them!

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            pellegrino31 RE: pellegrino31 Aug 18, 2009 10:17 AM

            Thanks everyone for reading my trip report!

            And thanks for the tip DU about Zibetto. I will have to pay it a visit. Intelligentsia has a coffee lab in NYC so I also might need to sign up for a class or two to get the coffee.

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