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4 days in LA

First post! I'm heading to Los Angeles in May for 5 days and 4 nights from Rhode Island. I've been before, but not since I really developed an interest in food. Last time we went to a few of the touristy spots Koi, The Ivy, Mastro's etc. This time I'm trying to hit as many quintessential LA spots as I can. I'm willing to splurge on dinner one night where money is absolutely no object. The other nights I'd like to keep the bill for myself to $60 or below. For lunch I'll try to stick mainly to quick service places hot dogs, burgers, deli's and such. I'm staying in West Hollywood and will have a car. I don't mind driving far for good grub. Sushi and Thai will have to be on the agenda for dinner. I've done some research and have posted my potential lineup below. I'd appreciate input from any and all LA chowhounds who are willing.

In-n-out- This is non negotiable. I know there are better burgers in LA, but I've been before and I just have to get another double double and this time order my fries animal style.
Langer's- I doubt many will disagree with this.
Hot Dogs- I'm leaning towards Fab's but Portillo's and the requisite Pink's are also in the running.
Taco truck- This I could use some help on. Some people seem to love Tito's, others despise it. I'm open to suggestions, I'd prefer something close to the area I'm staying in (West Hollywood),

Providence- This will be my one night splurge
Thai- Wat Thai or Ayara. Are there other places I should be considering?
Sushi- Hirozen sounds reasonably priced and of pretty good quality
Spago- I've been before and enjoyed it. Seems to be one of those rare places who's food has kept up with the hype.
Other- In case one of the other choices doesn't work out. I was thinking Pizzeria Mozza.

Thanks in advance, I'm looking forward to your suggestions!

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  1. For Thai food you won't find Wat Thai any longer (if you are talking about the vendors who set up at the Thai Temple out in North Hollywood) as the city shut that down over parking / trash / noise issues in the surrounding neighborhood a couple of years ago.

    Ayara is okay for Thai food, but if you are in LA and want the best that we have to offer then you need to go to Jitlada in Thai Town (eastern Hollywood) and have Jazz (one of the owners) work up a Southern Thai menu for you.

    If you are thinking about subbing out someplace for Spago you might want to consider Animal on Fairfax. See some of the reviews at the link below. Very creative, delicious and cutting edge food from two guys who know their way around meat.

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

    435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      I agree with Servorg re: Jitlada for your Thai.
      Bazaar or Providence or Spago are great splurge options.
      Tito's is neither a truck nor good. LA has so much wonderful original Mexican. Look into Mariscos Chente, La Casita, La Sernada di Garibaldi, Babita, Monte Alban.
      Here's a list from a previous thread of what one serious Mexican hound says is the best in LA.
      Chichen Itza
      Monte Alban
      Natural Fruit Los Reyes
      Tacos Baja Ensenada
      D.F. Truck at Sycamore Grove Park
      Los Cinco Puntos
      El Borrego de Oro
      El Mercadito in East L.A.
      Birrieria La Barca


      La Huasteca
      La Flor de Yucatan
      Antequera de Oaxaca
      El Taco Nazo

      1. re: Ciao Bob

        Great list Ciao Bob. But, the Serious Mexican Hound and I recently went to La Barca, and I'm afraid they've turned for the worst. Not worth going anymore. And Taco Nazo is pretty bad these days, probably they used to be better too.

        I would also say that tracking down the Breed St. vendors is a worthy venture, or the newly minted Antojitos Carmen restaurant.

        To the OP, taco trucks in LA are an institution, but finding great ones takes a little effort, and you will have to get out of of WeHo for this. I'm really liking Tacos Cuernavaca in Montebello, RIcky's Fish Tacos in Silver Lake, and Nina's on 4th and Chicago in Boyle Heights. Tacos Jalisco in East LA has a delish shrimp taco.

    2. for the hot dog, stick with Fab's - it's a tiny little place with only a few tables. so i like to go during off hours (meaning not high noon or 7pm) - those people make some damn fine dogs!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jelly71

        Definately go with Fab. And their LA Street Dog is pretty fine so you can kill two birds with one stone.

      2. Much could change between now and May (or not). Keep up with this board. Dogs--find Kogi's truck or look around any Hollywood area club after dark and follow your nose to a bacon wrapped delite (sometimes called Sonora style) cooked on the street. Speaking of street, you might check The Street on Highland. Said to be good. Forget Tito's. Life's too short. Jitlada is really nice. Contrasts nicely with Ruen Pair (cash only, but cheap).
        There's good sushi at Hide (cash only), Sushi Zo, Mori, Sushi-Gen, et al. Spago is good, but I'd go to Cut if you like Puck and steak.
        If you are interested in molecular gastronomy, that's a whole other discussion.

        6 Replies
        1. re: mc michael

          I am interested in molecular gastronomy. What do you have in mind?

          1. re: ajh05004

            Possibly here: http://www.ludolefebvre.com/about/
            Definitely here: http://www.thebazaar.com/

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

            1. re: mc michael

              Bazaar's food is just the tip of the iceberg, molecularly speaking. But alas, it's the most "molecular" thing we've got so far in L.A... [sigh]

            2. re: ajh05004

              It's not MG but for unusal and very creative cooking I would lokk inot BistoLQ. It is beside Providence one of our favorites in the moment. Spago can be good but our most recent 10-course tasting menu was just OK .

            3. re: mc michael

              Another vote for Jitlada, really great Thai food. Zo is excellent sushi but I'm not sure if the OP can get out for under $80. Last time we were there we spent over $100/person though we did eat quite a bit. Ike is probably a better bet though sushi isn't quite as good.

            4. Langer's will not disappoint. Remember they close at 4PM.

              Langer's Delicatessen
              704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

              1. Definitely Jitlada for Thai Food .. I have been to Thailand and this is the closest it comes to authentic Thai food. The servers make great suggestions.. just ask for their most popular items.

                I would sub Spago for the Dining Room at the Langham in Pasadena. This is Top Chef Michael Voltaggio;s restaurant. Had one of my best meals there last month. Very innovative and creative Each dish is artistic, delicious, and full of surprises..

                Sushi Zo ..you will not find the typical salmon, tuna, etc here. Most of the fish they have here are flown in from Japan. He has a very exotic selection of fish. Can be $$ Their omakase "chef's choice" is about $120pp but the experience is unforgettable. YOu can do a search on Sushi Zo and see how popular this place is.

                1. I'm a sucker for Carney's chili cheese dogs & chili cheese fries. It's nostalgic! On Sunset Blvd in a train car! :)

                  1. Hi ajh05004,

                    One other suggestion, since you mention that you want "dinner one night where money is absolutely no object" would be the legendary Urasawa for a hybrid Kaiseki / Sushi experience. Do a search on Chowhound and you'll find wonderful articles from the LA Hounds on this. :)

                    Or, as an alternate, you might consider Mori Sushi for a less expensive alternative, but still outstanding Sushi (make sure you sit at the bar and request to be in front of Mori-san).

                    You might also consider Torihei for some outstanding Kyoto-style Oden and Yakitori.

                    Hope you enjoy your LA trip~ :)

                    Urasawa Restaurant
                    218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                    Mori Sushi
                    11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                    1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: exilekiss

                      I hesitated to suggest Urasawa because the cost truly is extraordinary but that would be my first choice over Providence, no question. Assuming the OP has 5 hours to spend on dinner.

                      1. re: exilekiss

                        I think I'm going to stick with Providence as my splurge option as of right now. Considering this, what would be a good sushi place where I can get out for around $60 or $70? People have mentioned Sushi Zo, Sushi Ike, Mori Sushi, Izakaya Hara Ulala, and others. Which place does everyone think I could get the most bang for my buck?

                        1. re: ajh05004

                          If you're looking for straight forward sushi and you want the best "bang for your buck" then you should go to Hide on Sawtelle. Cash only.

                          Hide Sushi Japanese Restaurant
                          2040 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                          1. re: Servorg

                            The only good sushi that's cheaper isn't sushi, it's the sashimi lunch special at Sushi-Gen in Little Tokyo.

                      2. Now that I think about it Sushi Ike is probably the best closest to you sushi.

                        1. jitlada for thai - no doubt. i've been obsessing over their mussels appetizer. there will be a wait for a table, most likely but it's worth it. the dining experience is slow, so have plenty of time.
                          i love hirozen sushi. it's one of my reliable favorites. on that note, i love going to little tokyo for sushi- it's such a neat experience, especially for an out of towner. the places i enjoy there are Sushi Gen (most say this is the best in the area), Oomasa, Sushi go 55 (which i recently discovered has great lunch specials when i was on jury duty and went twice- yummy blue crab hand roll). Also, my favorite at the moment is Izakaya Haru Ulala, on 2nd street. you can get sushi and small plates of other items like sesame spinach and miso eggplant. it's very casual and not as expensive as going out for sushi - i wouldn't recommend this instead of sushi, just if you want another option for somewhere fun to eat thats in the vein of sushi. another izakaya place that i recommend is next to sushi go 55 and it's called Honda Ya. But i do believe that Hirozen is a great choice. as far as sushi zo, yes, it's amazing! if you can afford, do it.

                          1. If you want a UNIQUE sushi experience then go to, Go's Mart in Canoga park. Do not dress up, but bring about 125 per person. Extremely casual atmosphere, almost to the point you can't believe how less than modest the decor is.

                            But the sushi is phenomenal! Some people get bent out of shape as to the condiments used...he puts his own signature on each dish. Usually consisting of truffle oil or shaved truffles, many types of natural sea salt, Yuzu zest, goji berry, and many other Japanese herbs.

                            I've heard critics say, let the fish stand on it's own, and it well could. You can not find a wider variety or better quality ANYWHERE! But his flavors enhance not detract. Lets face it, most of us dip each piece in soy suace/wasabi, that is not letting the fish stand on its own.

                            Start with the yellow tail belly, he serves that item plain, nothing on it. Don't let the orange paint scare you off!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Ogden

                              If I'm going to be getting the tasting menu at Providence, I don't know if I really want to spend $125 on sushi. I'd rather spend about $70 or $80. Would Hide be the best place based on these parameters?

                              1. re: ajh05004

                                If that's your budget for sushi, may I suggest a recent Jonathan Gold find:



                                Assuming you get a spot at the sushi bar...

                            2. The Wat has been closed for years, sadly, and was weekend lunches only when it was open.

                              Ayara is not worth the trip. It's good Thai, don't get me wrong, but if you're already in WeHo you should go east, not west. Go to Jitlada, or Sapp, or head up to North Hollywood for Sunshine, Krua, Bua Siam, Sri Siam, Swan, Khun Daeng (all within about a half a mile of Coldwater Canyon and Sherman Way).

                              If you want to head to the Westside for dinner, you've got to go to Mariscos Chente. $12 for a huge platter of shrimp; $18 a kilo for pescado zarandeado: a whole fish splayed open, put in piscine bondage (an iron cage) and grilled. Stunning, and in a small, unassuming, not-very-high-end-looking building.

                              Quintessentially LA: go to Koreatown and eat Korean food. Since it's just you, I won't send you to Park's BBQ (the best barbecue place) but try Sokongdong Tofu or Beverly Tofu House, which face each other.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                ajh: When Das Ubergeek speaks (about restaurants, anyway), it is wise to pay close attention. DU appears to know every restaurant in the greater LA area, and has amazingly good taste. Heed his words!