Hey, Los Angelesians - where should we eat??
My husband and I are coming to LA for the first time. We love good food. We have eaten at many great upscale places (Alinea, The French Laundry, Charlie Trotters etc.), as well as many great everyday finds (roadside stands in Vietnam and Ecuador, hot dog stands in Chicago, Ethiopian communal meals, etc.). We do not care about price or fanfare or theatrics - we just want to know what you think is great about LA. We want to go there. Where should we go?
I hope you have some wonderful experiences eating in our city. Please be sure to call us Angelenos, not Los Angelesians. I've had many outstanding meals at Hatfield's, and I hear their new space on Melrose is great.
Definitely narrow it down a bit. While IMO, the best things to eat when visiting are sushi, various ethnic foods (Vietnamese, Mexican, Korean, Chinese if you're not from NY) we also have some first class restaurants which are less "local." Mozza, Providence, Church and State, Drago Centro, Josie, AOC, Lucques, Jar, Gelina, Melisse, come to mind to name a few.
8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069
525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Where are you staying? What days of the week and for how long? Will you have transportation? How long are you willing to spend in a car to get to a restaurant (and does that answer change depending on whether it is a hole-in-the-wall ethnic place or a high-end upscale restaurant)?
LA excels at different ethnic foods that you may not get at home (I'm assuming you are from the Chicago-area based on the original post). However, the best ethnic restaurants tend to be in centralized locations (Chinese in the San Gabriel Valley, Korean in Koreatown, Thai in Hollywood or North Hollywood). Are there any types of food you are particularly interested in? Anything you want to avoid?
the answers to Jwsel's questions are crucial.
it is possible to spend 90% of your time here driving from one location to another (it can easily take 3 hours to drive from one end of Los Angeles County to the other. Much good food can be found in neighboring counties as well as in Los Angeles County.)
you will need a plan and a time schedule unless you have a helicopter at your disposal.
we can help you, but we need information
Where are you from? There's no sense in sending you to, say, Chinese if you're from Vancouver, or Cuban if you're from Miami, or a deli if you're from New York. I don't know much about our fine dining scene. I love the little holes-in-the-wall that tourists don't usually find, and so forthwith:
1. Dinner at Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista (between Culver City and the ocean, basically). Make sure to order a whole fish (pescado zarandeado), which will run you about $18 a kilo prepared. Stunningly good. Get a cubeta (bucket) of beers and maybe a shrimp dish to round out the meal. Completely unpretentious (you'll need to call out or gesture largely for service) and completely amazing. 4532 Centinela.
2. Park's (Korean) BBQ. Ignore the "American Kobe" and go for the prime kalbi, and if you like pork feel free to go for the Tokyo X pork. Make sure you get a bowl of their excellent mul naengmyon (icy-cold broth with buckwheat noodles and various additions, into which you squeeze spicy mustard and vinegar). 955 S. Vermont.
3. A taco truck or a taco table. They tend to be sort of wherever and most haven't embraced Twitter the way the new fancy mobile food vendors have, but you can look at 4th and Chicago for a few, or 1st and Breed. If that weirds you out, one of the best trucks has opened a bricks-and-mortar restaurant. Antojitos Carmen, 2510 E. Cesar E. Chavez. You want quesadillas de huitlacoche ("Mexican corn truffle" inside a homemade tortilla with cheese) and sopes de flor de calabaza (simmered squash blossoms in a "saucer" of masa para tortillas) and pambazos de papa y chorizo (potato and spicy sausage between two slices of bread that have been dipped in chile guajillo sauce and grilled).
4. Pretty much anything from Pal Cabrón, if you can make it down to Huntington Park, which is a surprisingly cool hidden huge Mexican shopping area. Get a clayuda, which is a thin crispy tortilla spread with beans and pork rendering, then topped with shredded quesillo (like a tangy string cheese), or get a cemita, which is a giant frigging sandwich with your choice of ingredients, or get a taco árabe, which is chile-marinated pork wrapped inside a large wheat pita. Make sure to have one of their insanely good micheladas, a beer cocktail with a real kick to it. 2562 E. Gage (half a block west of Pacific Blvd.), Huntington Park.
5. Whatever they're cooking that night at Rio Brasil Cafe in the Palms district of West LA. It's not Brazilian barbecue, it's more like stews and suchlike. Sometimes they'll have feijoada, the black bean and pork parts stew that is the national dish of Brazil; sometimes it'll be bobo de camarao, which is shrimp in a coconutty curry-like sauce. 3300 Overland.
6. Dim sum from Elite. This isn't women pushing carts around rooms; this is ordering off the menu and having it cooked to order. The price, while higher than cart shops, is still pretty cheap and the quality is three times what it is at even the best cart shops. Get the Macau-style roast pork, which has a sugar crust; get the shu mai and har gow, even though they're sort of cliché, because they're amazing here; get the hundred-year-old-egg and lean pork congee ("pay daan sau yook jook") and their brown sugar gao, which look boring but are simply amazing. 700 S. Atlantic, Monterey Park.
7. Thai food from Jitlada. This is not going to be pad Thai; let Jazz (the owner, who is really sweet) pick for you, make clear that you aren't afraid of the power of the chile pepper, and prepare to have your mind turned inside out. 5233 Sunset.
5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
2510 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033
re: Das Ubergeek
I second the recommendation for Park's BBQ - the seasoned galbi is so tasty, and the pork belly is awesome if you loooove pork fat. As others have mentioned, the restaurant is bright and clean, the staff is efficient and friendly, and the side dishes are great.
I however would not second the recommendation for Elite (though many people here would, to be sure) and instead suggest Sea Harbour if you're in that part of town. The dim sum at Elite is just too sloppy by comparison.
955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA