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Jan 29, 2010 10:07 AM

unique only in LA regional specialty

San Diego has the Fish Taco, Baltimore has the Crabcake, Philly has the Cheesesteak, Chicago has Deep Dish Pizza and Buffalo has the Buffalo Wing.
What unique reginional specialty does LA have? Or what does LA offer that no othe part of the country does better?

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  1. These are not LA inventions, but sushi and tacos are better in LA than any other city in America. Every other city has sushi and tacos, but none of them have the variety, quality, and convenience of the taco trucks and sushi spots all over LA.

    You could argue that the french dip sandwich at Phillippe's is an LA original. And it's very good -- I love Phillippe's.

    8 Replies
    1. re: glutton

      We specialize in taking other types of food and "LA'ing" it. Take a look at the creative sushi roll phenomena found at most sushi bars these days. Our little local place U-Zen has the JJ roll (for instance) that features jalapenos and hot sauce as part of the sushi.

      1. re: Servorg

        We do do the fusion thing--sometimes to good effect, sometimes not. Maybe it is more an approach to food, than a particular dish.

      2. re: glutton

        Definitely tacos are better in Santa Barbara than LA IMO. Sushi I agree on though.

        1. re: cls

          ...and they're better in Bakersfield then both of those places.

          1. re: heckonwheels

            Bakersfield, hmmm. I should try. I would guess San Diego too.

            1. re: cls

              Except for fish tacos, San Diego tacos are remarkably underwhelming.

          1. re: glutton

            I second the sushi and tacos. I'd bet that research would probably reveal that the foods other cities are known for weren't always invented there either. Sushi and tacos are ubiquitous (you can't turn around without running into either) and consistent here, and better than in any other U.S. city.

            Philippe's french dip is famous and original, but it hasn't really become an L.A. thing. How many other places here do it well? Not many.

          2. LA invented the taquito and, according to an article I read some time ago in either Bon Appetit or Gourmet magazine, the pepper belly was invented in the snack bar of the South El Monte Little League at New Temple Park. I do find that last one a little hard to believe, but take it as you may.

            As far as fish tacos in San Diego, wouldn't that be more of a Baja thing?

            6 Replies
            1. re: heckonwheels

              I know Fish Tacos began in Baja, but they gained notoriety in San Diego

              1. re: heckonwheels

                The invention of the taquito is credited to El Indio in San Diego.

                1. re: monku

                  El Indio, since 1940. Cielito Lindo (Olvera Street), since 1934.

                  1. re: heckonwheels

                    All I know is what I read too.
                    So who was first with the French dip? Philippes or Cole's?

                    1. re: monku

                      You got me there, I prefer to think Philippes but I don't think anyone really knows.

                    2. re: heckonwheels

                      I love Cielito Lindo's guacamole sauce and I wish I had the recipe.

                  1. re: wienermobile

                    The OP is asking for regional specialties, which is not the same as ranking the best food in town. Just because Langer's pastrami may be the best anywhere does not make it a regional specialty. Truth be told, IMO very few places in LA make what I would consider better-than-average pastrami.

                  2. If you're only talking things that have been invented here (though I would argue that Baltimore did not invent the crabcake, but is famous for a good one)...

                    Invented here:
                    The French Dip at Phillippes.
                    The California Roll.
                    The Cobb Salad (at the Brown Derby)
                    The Shirley Temple
                    Nouvelle Pizza (started with Spago moved to CPK)
                    Hot Fudge Sundae (at the defunct CC Browns)

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Jennalynn

                      The Shirley Temple is an unique LA regional specialty? I actually thought that was invented in Hawaii.

                      1. re: creamfinger

                        It was invented at Chasens. Shirley would often go to grownup events there and the bartender came up with the drink so she could have something fun of her own.

                        1. re: Jennalynn

                          I had the Shriley Temple (as a child) at Chasen's and they were very good

                      2. re: Jennalynn

                        I agree about the Crabcake, however that's why I was wondering about regional specialties that were actually invented in LA or that may not have been invented in LA but that the best of the best can be found in LA

                        1. re: Jennalynn

                          Whenever I read about sushi, it seems every book has a different source or inventor for the California Roll. Somebody even made the argument that the California Roll originated in Vancouver.

                          1. re: Jennalynn

                            I believe the Chinese Chicken Salad was also invented here (at Ma Maison).

                            1. re: SauceSupreme

                              No Chinese Chicken Salad was invented at the now defunked Madame Wong's in Santa Monica. Waaaay before Ma Masion

                          2. The French dip.

                            The ghetto dog (bacon-wrapped hot dog).

                            The Oki Dog (Google it, it makes me queasy to write about it).

                            The Korean taco.

                            The main course salad (maybe not invented here, but about as LA as it gets).

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              I saw the bacon-wrapped dog in Tijuana way before it became popular here. I would say that L.A. popularized it, but did not invent it.

                              1. re: heckonwheels

                                There is a recipe for bacon wrapped frankfurter (aka hot dog) in my German cookbook. Their were German immigrants throught the Southwest so they may have brought it to Mexico