Greeting fellow Chowhounders,
I have heard a lot of wonderful things about LA, but I have never had the chance to visit. Until now that is, well, March. I'll be in LA, for a week in March and I am looking for "must eats" recs. I'm open to both fancy and hole in the wall/ greasy spoons, so long as it's quintessential LA. I would be interested in both old school top chefs and new up and comers. I look forward to your recommendation!
Thank you in advance.
Thank you everyone for your help and suggestions. We had an amazing time in LA! Loved the food, the atmosphere, the shopping, but NOT the traffic! Ack!
We just wanted to report back and let you know where we went to eat and what we thought of the restaurants.
We arrived on a Tuesday night and decided to go to Park's BBQ. Seriously the best Korean food we've ever had!! The banchan selection was amazing, and we loved the fact that the waitresses came and cooked for us. The service was amazing, as they changed the grill plate every time it started charring our food. We ordered the marinated kalbee, the pork belly, and the seafood pancake. The kalbee was just the way we liked it, not too sweet. The pork belly was amazing!!! We did leave it on the grill for quite a bit of time to allow the most of the fat to render and caramelize. It was perfect! The sauce that came with it was SO GOOD. The seafood pancake was excellent too. It had a good amount of seafood in it, and was perfectly cooked, crispy at the edges and softer in the middle.
The next day, we went to Mariscos Chente for lunch and Animal for dinner.
At Mariscos Chente, we had the shrimp ceviche, the Peppered Shrimp, and of course the Pescado Zarandeado. We have never tasted shrimp like that before! It was amazingly creamy, sweet, and rich. Our favourite dish was definitely the Peppered Shrimp. There was a lot of black pepper, but it wasn't too spicy or overwhelming. It just enhanced the cooked shrimp so well. And the RICE....oh the RICE! It was sooooo good. It was rich and savoury.....and I've never described rice like this. It might have been a little mushy, but still so good!
We were so happy that we had the chance to try Animal. It was a Wednesday night when we went, but the place was packed!! We ordered one main dish and about 3 smaller dishes to share, and it was perfect. The highlights of that meal were the Chicken Liver Toast and the Fois Gras Loco Moco. The sauce/gravy in the Loco Moco was slightly sweet and complimented the Fois Gras perfectly. The service wasn't the best, unfortunately. I sat with an empty wine glass for quite some time before I could get our waiter's attention to ask for another glass.
The next day, we went to Disneyland! We wanted to eat lunch before we went, so we decided to try Cole's. I had the lamb sandwich, while my other half had the beef sandwich. Both of us definitely preferred the lamb sandwich. The sandwiches are definitely the star of this restaurant of course, but they should probably work on their sides dishes. The coleslaw was NOT good. I've had better from my local Safeway. And the fries were only ok. We understand that you go to Cole's for the sandwiches, but most people order sides along with the sandwiches, so they should pay a little more attention to them.
At Disneyland, we snacked on the famous Turkey leg, which was actually really good! We also had Churros (notice the plural!). Yum!
After we left Disneyland, we went to Roscoe's for a late dinner. We've never had chicken and waffles before, so for that it was great! The combo is very good! We've had better friend chicken though.
The next day, we had In and Out Burgers for lunch. Yum! Definitely good burgers for that price. For dinner, we went to Providence. A good experience overall. Food was good, of course, but service was only ok. Please tell me if this is normal for LA or not, since we aren't used to this....but we were seated at our table, asked if we wanted drinks. After the drinks were brought to us, along with some bread to nibble on, THEN a few minutes later, we were asked if we were ready to look at the menus. We just aren't used to that! At all the fancy restaurants we've been to, the wine list and menu are brought to the table as soon as we sat down. We just found it a little weird, but weren't too put off by it. Both of us ordered the 5 course menu, and ordered their recommend salt-baked prawns as well. The food was good, but the time between the courses were not even. We feel that when you have a multi-course menu, the timing between each course should be equal. ie. once our plates are cleared, the diners should expect to wait 10 to 15 mins for the next course. With our experience, we waited 5 mins between the 1st and 2nd course, and 20 mins between the 3rd and 4th course. It felt uneven. Unfortunately, the worst dish of the 5 course menu, was the meat dish. The chef definitely works with seafood better!
Our last day in LA was pretty comical. We purposely didn't make any plans just in case we were all "fooded-out". We ended up just saying, "what the heck!" and waited in line at Pink's. There's 2 hours of my time I'll never get back!!! We did see a "celebrity" there though! David Hoffman made an appearance for a charity. Woo hoo! =P
Thank you again for all your suggestions. We had an amazing time and will be returning soon to go to the places we didn't get a chance to go to! (Like Langer's! It's a MUST for our next trip.)
955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Thanks guys for your input....We're coming from Toronto and Seattle. Mariscos Chente sounds really good and I think it's something we're going to add to our list. Thanks for that recommendation!
Is it worth trying spago's or are we better off to go to providence? I only add spago to the list becasue it's Puck and he's the godfather of cali cooking isn't he?
Can anyone give use a recent review on animal?
To me, quintessential LA is eating from a taco truck. My favorite is El Chato (Olympic & La Brea, 9pm+) and Taco Zone is probably my 2nd fav.
I would not miss Langer's either. I would go to Umami Burger for lunch one day too. I'd also try to go to Animal - I had one of the best meals I've had in a long time there.
If you're going to be in the Westside area around lunch for taco trucks, one option would be the Cemitas truck parked in front of Smart and Final on Venice just west of Hughes. The cemitas from that truck gets lots of love on this board. It's usually there from mid morning till mid afternoon. I like it with the milenesa/beef. But the chicken has its share of fans.
el Chato is strictly a nightly experience. But it's a good truck.
If you can't find a truck and are on the Westside at lunch time, I really like Tacomiendo http://www.ta-comiendo.com/
I've only been to the Culver City location. It was my favorite lunch place when I worked nearby.
Thanks for the recs so far!! We're only in LA for 4 full days, and one of the days will be spent at Disneyland. So that's 5 dinners and 4 lunches. We've narrowed our restaurant choices to the following, so far, and need your help to either confirm we've made good choices and which ones we should prioritize, or to steer us in another direction.
(2) Church and State
(4) Soot Bull Jeep
Lunch/Snack (could also be dinner):
(3) In and Out Burger
(6) Grand Central Market for tacos
(7) Din Tai Fung for dumplings
(8) Daikokya for ramen
So what do you think? What should we prioritize since obviously we can't hit all these places!
It's the Pastrami that is king here but you can do some combo sandwiches. My sons like the #44 (their version of a ruben) and the # 6 Pastrami and chopped liver sandwich. Or go all the way with #28 - FRESSER'S SPECIAL SANDWICH Pastrami, Corned Beef, Tongue, Swiss Cheese and Turkey, Lettuce, Tomato and Russian Style Dressing. I stick with the #19.
Welcome to LA! I hope that you enjoy your stay. A few suggestions:
I would highly recommend Park’s BBQ over Soot Bull Jeep. Superior Korean BBQ due largely to the quality of meats used, including Kobe (Wagyu) beef and Berkshire pork selections. Great panchan too. Excellent service. The staff all but insists upon cooking your selections for you to ensure proper preparation and doneness.
955 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Try to fit Pizzeria Mozza into your plans for lunch, dinner or late night. Absolute greatness! Start with a wonderfully flavorful antipasti followed by chicken liver crostinis with guanciale. For the main, be sure to include the fennel sausage pizza with panna, red onions and scallions. The guanciale pizza is extraordinary albeit a bit salty. The Bianca with fontina, mozzarella, sottocenere and sage is awesome. Superb service and wine pairings. They’re open continuously from noon to midnight daily. Reservations are essential.
641 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
I would definitely add Mariscos Chente as a priority, probably for lunch (very casual). Incredible Sinaloan/Nyarit style seafood creations by Sergio Penuelos – an up and comer who is already a living legend. Virtually all of the seafood is sourced fresh from Mazatlan and has that unique Gulf taste that cannot be duplicated. The pescado zarandeado, a specially spiced and prepared whole grilled fish, is extraordinary as are his aguachiles and other shrimp dishes. Try one of the delicious smoked marlin tacos for a rare, unique and tasty treat.
4532 S. Centinela Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
You should also consider Sushi Nozawa, LA’s own, original “Sushi Nazi” - it's his way or the highway! Chef Kazunori Nozawa commands a very traditional sushi bar and serves up some of the freshest and finest sushi to be found anywhere. Mon-Fri, lunch/dinner only. No reservations. Be prepared for a brief standing wait. Sit at the bar and request the “omakase”, Nozawa-san's choice of the day's selections. Trust him, he will do you right. Whatever you do, DON’T ask for a California Roll unless you relish being the day's entertainment. (^_^)
11288 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604
I've listed a few alternates below. Aside from the historical value and the great hot mustard, the only one I really don't care for is Phillipe's. I've personally never had any wow moments there. Two sources of info that I've directed you to either directly or indirectly are Rameniac and Exilekiss. Both are very well versed in food and each deserve a bookmark.
i agree regarding the la food culture, and i do consider phiippe's a must do for la history (like the pantry, etc.). but, their food is just sub-par. i find it very fun to go to and to take people to - but it's never like some amazing meal. it's a fun place to go to see (as is union station across the street and olvera street nearby).
cole's - which is newly re-opened (thus, breaking the string of openness) - just has much better food.
Yes you guys are right, I shouldn't be expecting you to just tell me everything and I'm not. I am combing through the treads as we speak but, it's just nice some times to having at least a starting point. There are so many threads and it seems so scattered, I thought if LA founders could at least recommend the must hits I can start my research from there.
I appreciate all the help.
"Please keep the recs coming"
A goal of yours ought to be to comb through the board and take a look at any thread in which the title intrigues you. For instance, did you notice this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/690213 which was recently started? There are literally a hundred threads like that, which have been started over the past couple of months, if you are just willing do some digging (and you will end up with a lot more fish in your creel if you learn "how" to fish the waters of the LA board yourself instead of having LA hounds place the fish into your basket).
Tommy's Home of the original Chili Burger. Beverly & Rampart
Oki Dog Home of the Oki Dog 2 hot dogs wrapped in flour tortilla with chili cheese & Pastrami
Pastrami Burrito Pastrami grilled with Bell peppers, Onions & Cabbage.
Dino's Burgers El Pollo Maniaco plate. Pastrami Sandwich
A lot of neat, cool new places in downtown:
Church & State - excellent bistro, in the industrial part of LA / ELA
Rivera - cool Latin place, with a ceviche bar, in downtown at LA Live, by the Staples ctr
La Descarga - a rum bar with live jazz, not sure re: the food
Lazy Ox Canteen - in Little Tokyo, downtown, with interesting, eclectic pub food
The Tar Pit - another bar with a well known chef and interesting bar food
Here are my picks!
Good upscale restaurants:
Awful restaurants that have been around for ages:
Musso and Frank
Authentic ethnic restaurants that appeal to 1% of the population:
[Some place that serves xiaolongbao. Is Din Tai Fung too prosaic? Let me agonize about the best XLB for a few months and I'll fill this in later.]
Niche restaurants unique to LA:
Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles
In-n-Out Burger's Secret (hidden) Menu ...
These links may serve to enhance your InO experience. Have fun! (^_^)
For the record, my usual order:
- 3 x 2, animal style, medium, whole grilled onion, extra toast, extra mustard,
chopped chiles, no spread, no pickles
- Fries, extra crispy
- Root beer float or Lemon-up
this has nothing to do with foodie la - but is a list of quintessential la from north west to eastish:
patrick's roadhouse santa monica
father's office santa monica
hot dog on a stick under / next to the pier santa monica
veince bistro on venice boardwalk
gjelina abbot kinney
westside tavern in westside pavillion
in & out westwood village
beverly hills hotel - pool restaurant or polo lounge
spago beverly hills
nate & al's beverly hills
grill on the alley bevery hills
dan tana's west hollywood
rainbow west hollywood
chateau marmot - west hollywood
canter's - near the grove
loteria - the grove
el compadre hollywood
24 degrees hollywood
musso & frank's hollywood
cat & fiddle hollywood
langer's - almost downtown
barrangan's - almost downtown
king taco - almost downtown
nick & stefs downtown
sushi gen downtown
hama sushi downtown
nickle diner downtown
yang chow chinatown
This first thread should be helpful to you and the second linked thread will take you to the recent 2009 Ultimate Restaurants as voted on by the LA hounds broken down into over and under $25 pp categories. .