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Transplanted Boston foodies, I need your recommendations please

I'm looking for replacements of my Boston favorites like:

-Russo's in Watertown for produce and everything else fresh:
It's like having a farmers' market that's open all week long. Is Whole Foods going to be the closest to that?

-Rubin's Kosher on Harvard in Brookline for pastrami. It's a real, no nonsense jewish deli with the best pastrami sandwiches ever and if you were lucky, apple strudel from Tuler's.

-Courthouse Fish & Seafood on Cambridge in Cambridge for fresh and cooked seafood. I haven't found grilled sardines and bluefish like they do anywhere else. Can you even get bluefish on the West Coast?

-Blue Ribbon Barbecue in Newton for pulled pork, burnt ends and brisket. I've tried lots of places here but they're usually so precious and chi-chi. The closest i've found is Uncle Andre's in Studio City (too inconvenient because you have to call ahead and very $$) or Kansas City BBQ in North Hollywood, which is my current favorite.

-Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage in Cambridge - sadly, no contenders here. I am not a fan of Father's Office.

-Maria's Pastry Shop for amaretti almond macaroons - Eagle Rock Italian Bakery in Eagle Rock is the closest (spice-heavy, dense and dark, do they use whole wheat flour?) but still a far cry from the chewy lightness of Maria's.

I realize that these may be locale-specific treasures due to the immigrant Portuguese and Italian population there but thought I'd ask former Bostonians for their faves around these parts.

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  1. Love Bartley's for the novel toppings, red relish, and onion rings, but I was never wowed by the burgers themselves. You should give 26 Beach a try. Bigger but better quality meat, and the brioche bun holds up better to the juices. As for farmer's markets, there's always one somewhere every day of the week. The best I've found is the Wednesday market in Santa Monica. Far, far superior to anything I ever found in Boston, though I never tried Russo's.

    1. For pastrami sandwiches, you must try Langer's.

      For BBQ, try Big Mista's at the Glendale FM on Sunday mornings and you could pick up fresh produce while you're there.

      It sounds like you're based in North Hollywood now, is that correct? Would you prefer recs close to there or are you willing to drive?

      2 Replies
      1. re: mollyomormon

        Bigmista's Barbecue is at the Atwater Village Farmers Market, not the Glendale Farmers Market.

        Thanks Molly!

        1. re: bigmista

          Ack!! sorry about that! Glad you were here to post the correct info!

      2. You mentioned Portuguese in your post. Don't know if you like Portuguese pastries, but Natas Pastries in Sherman Oaks is really good. Check out their website:


        They also serve breakfast, lunch and dinner - these I've never tried, but I usually get one or two of their large boxes full of their natas, pasteis and malasadas. These usually last no more than a day. :)

        1. ...not a Bostonian, but thought maybe something would help...

          There are of course Farmers' Markets every day in LA, just different parts of the city. You might look into going over to Farmers' Market (the main one) at 3rd and Fairfax.

          For macarons, try Frances Bakery or La Provence.

          For burgers, maybe you could elaborate more as to what you're seeking... you might like 25 Degrees, Apple Pan, Jack's Classic Burgers in NoHo, Irv's Burgers in WeHo, Westside Tavern...

          For burnt ends, Bludso's in Compton, Spring Street Smokehouse downtown...

          1. I'm not even going to touch the boston versus LA versus new york pizza : ) but as you seem to have an adventurous palate, I'd suggest hitting Porto's Bakery in Burbank or Glendale.


            Great sandwiches (try the roast pork! try a potato ball!) and killer baked goods so cheap, you can easily try a boxful to find your favorites. Yes the classic guava/cream cheesse pastry is grand - but I have a new favorite - it looks like a giant flat fig newton, is guava and cinnamon filled and I could eat POUNDS of them. And I'm not a big girl, they're just that tasty.

            And good luck in your new hometown!

            1. Forgot, I'd also suggest trying The Oinkster in Eagle Rock for their pulled pork sandwich. A little southern, a little asian - all good.


              1. What do you think of "The Counter" (there are several) as resembling Bartley's. So, what was it about that place you miss? I ate there a lot in the early 90s but not since. i remember it as sort of a build-a-burger type place with piles of fries.

                Never seen bluefish on a menu in L.A./Calif. - Is it even commercially fished? I think of it like kelp bass or surfperch out here - popular as gamefish but doesn't make it to market (and therefore to restaurants).

                6 Replies
                1. re: cant talk...eating

                  Bartley's is one of those sentimental favorites. It's been there for a long time, they've got a huge menu full of creatively named items, the food is good, etc. It's hard to find a proxy for an institution of that sort. In fact, I would say that finding a proxy is hopeless in any city -- Bartley's is just Bartley's and there's only one. Instead, you could find the burger joints that are LA institutions. Apple Pan comes to mind -- the burgers, etc are the peak of simplicity. Father's Office has become an institution (albeit a rather young one), but you didn't like that. Pie 'n' Burger in Pasadena is an institution, though I was never blown away by it. It's good, but not amazing. The Counter is very popular, but it never quite clicked with me. The food was fine, but it did not have the personality and sentimentality of some other burger places.

                  1. re: cant talk...eating

                    I think the Counter is the polar opposite of Bartley's.

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      Ok, ok! Just to clarify, I agree that in terms of atmosphere/character, The Counter is 180 degrees from Bartley's, or really on another plane. I was thinking more about the menu, variety of burgers to choose from.

                      A lot of these transplant posts seem to be trying to recreate the feeling of a place that is unique to an area, rather than trying to find the food. Not saying this is what's going on here, but just a general observation. So short answer (as always) is: nope, not gonna find this or that place, just enjoy the tacos and Thai food, that type thing.

                      1. re: cant talk...eating

                        I could not agree more that folks trying to recreate the restaurants, etc. of their former homes are doomed to frustration and disappointment. It's true of all the NYers who are forever trying to find good pizza in LA, all the while driving past the best tacos, sushi, Thai, etc. that they could ever eat. Or the Jerseyians who are forever trying to find a diner that matches what they used to have at home. (And the flip side is entirely true, too -- Angelenos transplanted out East are forever trying to find a good taco or great, affordable sushi, only to be frustrated.) Bartley's cannot be replicated in LA or any other city for that matter. Same with the Summit Diner in NJ, Shopsin's in NYC, La Super Rica in Santa Barbara, or any other of those unique treasures.

                        1. re: glutton

                          At the risk of being kicked off this board, i have to give a shout out to the French Toast and the waitress at the Summit diner! On the other hand there is no doughnut except for the late lamented Trost's in Summit that is the equal of Bob's Doughnuts in the Farmers Market.

                        2. re: cant talk...eating

                          Ah, I see what you're saying. The Counter does indeed have a variety of toppings, as does 26 Beach.

                    2. You mention pastrami. Langer's is where you need to go. It's the best pastrami sandwich I've ever eaten in NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA, Paris, London, or any other city. The latest theory is that the pastrami is first class, but the double-baked bread is what differentiates it. Whatever the reason, it's outstanding. It destroys Rubin's IMHO.

                      1. ok as an angeleno who lived in boston for a few years - i had trouble adjusting there as well.
                        For general deli - go to brent's deli in northridge. Many jews live in the valley. the delis are there. notice your deli is in brookline - not in belmont or lynn or somerville.
                        for pastrami specifically, langer's. for corned beef, art's.

                        for produce, bristol farms and gelson's are as good as whole foods as far as taste goes. there is a farmers market around town every day of the week. and i promise you the tomatoes in march at any of them will beat anythig locally grown in new england at hte time. In the summer - go to Tapia Bros on burbank blvd for corn and tomatoes. grown on site. excellent. open every day from April to early december.

                        for serious barbecue - you're not going to find in iin sutdio ciyt or north hollywood. get in your car and go to Philip's in leimert park se of usc. i't's a middle class african american neighborhood. the ribs, the brisket are amazing. For pulled pork - check out baby blues, carolina style onein west hollywood one in venice.

                        I lived across teh street from Bartlley's. I loved their onion rings and their hamburgers reminded more of home in LA at the time (70's) than any other place in cambridge or boston. Givweup on designer burgers. but check out golden state on fairfax. also, go exploring for burger palces along say woodely and reseda blvd near sherman ya. you'll find the kind that have multiple toppings - mushroom burgers, avocado bacon burgers, whatever. For an easier time - just go to the hamburger hamlet on Sunset near doheny or if the one on van nuys and moorpark is still open, check it out. very old school. for the onion rings - i know of no other place in the country that makes them like they do at bartley's. love them. but the burger's - go explore - try irv's, try the stands, liek the great white hut, and have some fun. diner style places will be the best - esp if you see a sign that advertises "chili size".
                        Capra's bakery is gone . it was a vestige of the old italian neighborhoods now filled in by chi9naton (see italian cultural center and st anthony's cuhurch still there) and was fine. My guess is that if you look around atwater or glendale you may find something. In the mean time, chck out Claro's italian bakery/deli in San Gabriel and if you don't like theirs, ask them what places they might recommend for what you want. they'll be helpful.

                        I cannot stand bluefish. I love oily fish like mackerel and often have it just as sushi Perhaps i link itto college. Just gave it another try at no name seafood on teh waterfront last october, and it tasted the same. So sorry. If you want to try a local fish athat is nothing like bluefish but is a local specialty, look out for sand dabs. Chez Jay serves up a nice plate in santa monica. in fact, they're the only edible thing on the menu. But look around - places like stanley's in sherman oaks, or cafe bizou will have them. And they're delicious.

                        For malasadas (since you seem to be in the valley) and croquetas de bacalao, try nata's in sherman oaks near ethel. they're portuguese. there was a large group of portuguese in artesia and ceritos and now in chino that came to wokr the dairies. They have mostly assimiliated bu tif you like portuguese food, look up the cultural centers on lineand note when they have their festivals. The kids and grandkids of the portuguese have mostly assimilated - from sausolito and pescadero down to chino and artesia.

                        good luck. and try out stuff we have here and maybelook forward to visiting back home.
                        also, check out pico robertson for jewish bakeries for your apple strudel. schwartz's used tob e good, ahtough they were bought by iranian jews recently. but the poppy seed strudel is stil pretty good.

                        1. sardines aren't happening in LA. The seafood generally isn't good, unless you go to the Japanese and other Asian places. I haven't tried the redondo pier but i hear that's the place for sardines.

                          1. I too am a transplanted Boston foodie, some things you aren't going to find replacements for. Farmer's markets have great produce, and there are some every day of the week, Henry's market in Burbank has some decent produce.

                            As far as Maria's, you aren't going to find it. Eagle Rock is the closest Italian pastries I have found.

                            Just make sure when you go back to Boston, have what you like there.

                            1. I'm a California girl who has been going to MA annually for the last 10 years or so. I agree about Eagle Rock Bakery but they do make great bread and sandwich rolls. Also, I don't know if this is a traditional Italian cookie and I don't know the name but it is a drop cookie made with what I can only describe as fried won ton noodles. I love them. That being said, I'm going to suggest Bea's Bakery in Tarzana. It is a Jewish/Eastern European bakery but many things are cross overs so I think you might enjoy. The atmosphere reminds me of Marias. Instead of biscotti they have mandel bread, etc.

                              1. You set high standards! I grew up in Boston area - right near Wilson's Farm in Lexington - with an uncle working the fish pier and bringing us the freshest of fish. Closest to that kind of thing is Farmer's Markets. Check out Hollywood on Sundays and - if you can - Santa Monica on Weds. And BTW for FRESH fish for you to cook - the best I have found anywhere in 30+years living here is at the Hollywood Farmer's Market - J&P Seafood. Incrdibly fresh scallops, seabass, halibut, sole, salmon and sardines. Right "off the boat" and filleted by them the night before. As for Rubin's - I always go there when I visit Boston for the Romanian style pastrami. Langer's is close - nothing else in LA at all close. Ignore the guy below who compares Bea's Jewish pastry to Maria's. No comparison at all. And Nata's in Studio City is building a pretty good Portuguese menu - not Inman Square - but some good things. Also if Portuguese is a goal - some items on the menu at Alexis' in Northridge are very good Portuguese. Alexis is a Greek restaurant run by husband and wife chef team. Husband is Greek and wife if from Lisbon. . . .

                                AND SOnny McLean's in Santa Monica is a pub style haven for Boston sports fans. They have REAL clam chowder and even do Fried whole belly Ipswich clams - although the quality varies depending on who is cooking. But they feed all the Boston local sports games - from the Sox and the Pats and the Celtics - to BC football and basketball etc.
                                Welcome to the Left Coast!

                                1. I'm originally from Boston, and lived a two-minute walk away from Bartley's for a year. I'm still surprised that there's nothing like it here. IMHO The Counter is the closest in terms of product; Apple Pan and Pie 'n' Burger in terms of atmosphere. Father's Office has almost nothing in common with Bartley's, but I love the FO burger (even with enforced ketchuplessness) as much as I did the bacon swiss cheeseburger or Texas barbecue burger from Bartley's. (This was before Bartley's started with the cute names for everything.) It would be great if someone took the Umami (minus bad service) or Golden State template and created a true burger bar like Bartley's with, say, 31 choices of burger. The Counter does good burgers (at least the locations I've been to), but it's kind of sterile, and I like having a curated selection of burgers rather than having to re-think my burger from scratch every time.

                                  For BBQ, I agree with recommendations for Bigmista's and Bludsoes.

                                  For pastrami, I agree with the recommendations for Langer's or Brent's. Langer's is practially mandatory for pastrami lovers, and I prefer it to Katz in NYC. I'm also partial to Greenblatt's, which, while not in the same league, isn't far behind but tends to be overlooked by this board, and has great hours, location, _and_ food. Foodwise, it's what Canter's should be.

                                  I haven't found (or really tried hard to find) any Italian bakeries out here. I also have yet to come across any great seafood places like the ones in Boston (it was Legal and No-Name back when I lived there).

                                  FINAL THOUGHT: I would never swap the LA dining scene for the Boston one. I'm a very happy transplant.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: Peripatetic


                                    These are Boston-area places I miss, and some reasonable substitutes:

                                    Pizzeria Regina: Vito's Pizza and Joe's Pizza come the closest.

                                    Santoro's: One thing I miss most from Boston is good Italian cold-cut subs (aka "spuckie"). The closest thing I've found in LA is the Godmother at Bay Cities, which is excellent. There's a Santoro's in Burbank (started by relatives of the Boston Santoro's), but their version is an unsatisfying shadow of the real thing.

                                    Toscanini's: Scoops is closest, with maybe Glacier in El Segundo [CORRECTION: Manhattan Beach] a distant second. Fosselman's is more like Cabot's in Newton -- an enjoyable anachronism that won't knock your socks off.

                                    Galleria Umberto: nothing. :(

                                    . . .


                                    Vito's Pizza
                                    846 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                                    Joe's Pizza
                                    111 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90407

                                    Joe's Pizza - second location
                                    8539 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                                    Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
                                    1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                    712 N Heliotrope Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90029
                                    no website

                                    1605 N Sepulveda Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                      Just a quick correction Glacier is on Sepulveda Blvd in Manhattan Beach.

                                      1. re: Peripatetic

                                        Personally, I find Glacier just okay. They attempt doing chocolate, chocolate and chocolate in a dozen different ways that end up not seeming much different from each other. Not that chocolate is a bad thing, mind you. However, the South Bay does have Delicieuse on Artesia in North Redondo Beach. Far fewer flavors but true artisan effort and ingredients into their products. If you haven't given them a try, it's time.


                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          I agree, I did say "distant second". :) I think they've suffered since they first opened (in 2007). A few months after they opened, the co-owner mentioned that a lot of customers were disappointed that they didn't offer frozen yogurt. I get the impression they've since adapted to appeal more to the Pinkberry set.

                                          BTW, for the OP, this old thread has some musings on the ice cream divide between Boston and LA, complete with contributions from ex-Herrell's and Tosca's employees:


                                          I definitely will check out Delicieuse. Somehow I missed earlier posts about them.

                                          1. re: Peripatetic

                                            One thing is for sure - they rely a lot on kid traffic - kids dragging their parents there. I can see why the chocolate-heavy menu works for their shop. I love chocolate, but that place lobs chocolate ice cream at you by the buckets. It's overkill for me.

                                        2. re: Peripatetic

                                          Man, I miss Regina. But I still think the Counter is about as far from Bartley's as you can get, variety of toppings notwithstanding.

                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                            Agree. I was only referring to the Counter's variety. I'm surprised more places don't have more variety.

                                            1. re: Peripatetic

                                              Have you tried 26 Beach? I actually think the basic burger is the best, but they have lots of toppings.

                                              1. re: a_and_w

                                                Not yet . . . It's high on my list, though.

                                      2. As another transplanted Bostonian foodie, one word of advice I can give you is get thee to a 99 Ranch when the inevitable "Lobstah jones" comes on. When you see the monstah you will take home for sometimes 7.99/lb, you'll be too greased up with hot buttah and lemon to exclaim the obvious, that "Sometimes even L.A. can be wicked pissah!"

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: PinotPlease

                                          Yes! Also, do not overlook the joy of fresh dungeness crab, a west coast thrill. Get them fresh, cook them yourself, and they give lobster a run for it's money - so sweet!

                                          1. re: happybaker

                                            I think they're better than lobster...