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Going back to Cali - USC and Downtown

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scscr Jun 25, 2010 03:32 PM

I'm heading back to LA for a month, staying in downtown for two nights and then near USC for a month. I've lived and worked in downtown and near USC before, but have not been back in about 4 years since moving to Miami. What are the best of the new places in town? What's good that is local to the USC area? I used to enjoy Sushi Gen, Pappa Christos, Phillips BBQ, El Taurino, Langers, La Taquiza and a few other spots that were close. Are these places still open and chow worthy? What else is good within a 10 minute drive? Thanks. I can't wait to come back to a town with such great food!

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El Taurino
2306 W 11th St, Los Angeles, CA 90006

La Taquiza Restaurant
4149 Tweedy Blvd Ste C, South Gate, CA 90280

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  1. wienermobile RE: scscr Jun 25, 2010 04:03 PM

    Langer's is still wonderful. The best pastrami on earth. They were voted the Number 1 Los Angeles restaurant in last years 2009 chowhound poll. Remember they close at 4pm and are closed all day on Sunday. Welcome back.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6736...

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

    1. Dommy RE: scscr Jun 25, 2010 04:34 PM

      Lots of love to your places!!

      Some other places you'd love are Mo-Chica in Mercado la Paloma, Woodspoon in the Fashion district and the Fancy Trucks that make their monthly appearance at the Art Walk...

      --Dommy!

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      Mo-Chica
      3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

      2 Replies
      1. re: Dommy
        s
        scscr RE: Dommy Jun 25, 2010 05:19 PM

        I will expose my ignorance and ask....what is a "Fancy Truck"? A glorified roach coach? When and where is the Art Walk?

        1. re: scscr
          Dommy RE: scscr Jun 27, 2010 11:06 PM

          Here's the website for Artwalk. It's basically the 2nd Thursday of every month... Fancy trucks are basically yes, glorified roach coaches, but they offer a wide variety of specialities, like Brazillian Snacks, Filipino Food, Sliders.... This is a list of the trucks who were at June's Artwalk

          http://twitter.com/#/list/DTLAfoodtru...

          --Dommy!

      2. Servorg RE: scscr Jun 25, 2010 04:36 PM

        Wood Spoon downtown for Brazilian food is great. The Nickel Diner is another great choice (bacon donuts...mmm!). Did you get over to Dino's (pay no attention to the "burger" part of their name) on Pico for their Chicken Maniaco with the day-glo orange marinade on top of the chicken and the fries down below? What about the classic old steakhouse, Taylor's on 8th or just down the street, Guelaguetza for Oaxacan food?

        Oh, and one more thing. One of our long time contributors who recently passed away (and who lived and worked in Colombia) would have posted to let you know that you aren't going to Cali (unless you were headed for South America)! -that one was for "Sam I Am"

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        Wood Spoon
        107 W Ninth St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

        Dino's Chicken and Burgers
        2575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90006, USA

        Guelaguetza
        3337 1/2 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

        Nickel Diner
        524 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

        3 Replies
        1. re: Servorg
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          scscr RE: Servorg Jun 25, 2010 05:23 PM

          Being that I live in Miami, I understand and appreciate the Cali reference. Unless I get homesick, I doubt that I will try the brazillian place unless it is unreal. I think we will focus on Asian, Mexican and California Cuisine (whatever that is these days). Is there anything worthwhile in Chinatown, or will I have to go to the SGV for my noodle and dumpling fix?

          1. re: scscr
            Servorg RE: scscr Jun 25, 2010 05:44 PM

            Not too far away is one of the classic LA institutions for Mexican-American food, El Tepeyac on Evergreen. A bit further to the East is one of my favorite Mexican food places, Teresitas. Both would be worth the little bit of travel to experience what they have to offer.

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            El Tepeyac Cafe
            812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

            Teresitas
            3826 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90063

            1. re: Servorg
              s
              scscr RE: Servorg Jun 25, 2010 08:36 PM

              Been to and will go back to El Tepeyac. If Teresitas is better, we will give that a shot this time. We are seriously craving Mexican here in Miami.

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              El Tepeyac Restaurant
              385 E Mill St Ste 4, San Bernardino, CA 92408

        2. r
          ricodanles RE: scscr Jun 25, 2010 04:51 PM

          There is a place right across the street from USC on Exposition; right next door to the Radisson. I have forgotten the name, alas, but it is a nice little gastro-pub. Good beer selection and pretty good food. Perhaps not worth an expedition, but well worth visiting if you are nearby the campus.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ricodanles
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            apple7blue RE: ricodanles Jul 25, 2010 09:44 AM

            The Lab?

          2. m
            mdpilam RE: scscr Jun 25, 2010 07:23 PM

            Wurstkuche is a fairly new place that has excellent sausages and a good beer selection (tap).

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            Wurstkuche
            800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

            2 Replies
            1. re: mdpilam
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              scscr RE: mdpilam Jun 25, 2010 08:37 PM

              This sausage place looks really good. Please keep these great suggestiongs coming!

              1. re: scscr
                t
                toonoble RE: scscr Jun 25, 2010 11:03 PM

                You hit a lot of the good standbys. Newer places in downtown that are worth a little trip are Coles, Rivera, Lazy Ox Canteen. Chitzen-Itza and Mo-Chica in La Mercado de Paloma are very good as well and in walking distance of USC. I dont recommend the food at The Lab Gatropub.

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                Mo-Chica
                3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                Lazy Ox Canteen
                241 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

            2. m
              MissCast RE: scscr Jun 26, 2010 12:17 PM

              Near USC:
              Bacaro wine bar.

              La Flor Blanca - awesome, authentic and cheap pupusas. Just a block from campus.

              Manas Indian Restaurant - 2 blks from campus. Good, well-spiced Indian.

              There are food trucks at Jefferson/McClintock but not as many as during fall/spring.

              In the food court of University Village mall across from campus, the Health Hut makes huge, inexpensive salads with tons of fresh vegetables and white meat chicken. Also fresh fruit and vegetable juices. My go-to lunch option when in a hurry.

              Can you tell I teach at SC? Food options used to be really sad, now, not so much.

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              Health Hut
              3333 S Hoover St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

              La Flor Blanca Restaurant
              4400 S Broadway Ste 105, Los Angeles, CA 90037

              3 Replies
              1. re: MissCast
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                apple7blue RE: MissCast Jul 25, 2010 09:54 AM

                What do you teach? I visited Berkeley, and the food options don't compare. I think its Telegraph, but late night you can walk to great places that a student can afford. A bunch of new places opened near campus, including near Staples Center, but a lot of it has ridiculous prices . . .

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                Staples Center
                1111 S Figueroa St Ste 3100, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                1. re: apple7blue
                  m
                  MissCast RE: apple7blue Jul 25, 2010 07:27 PM

                  I teach music.
                  I think walk is the operative word. Staples Center is driving distance and even though the SC tram runs there, students go mostly for a movie, not to eat, too expensive as you say.

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                  Staples Center
                  1111 S Figueroa St Ste 3100, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                  1. re: MissCast
                    a
                    apple7blue RE: MissCast Jul 26, 2010 09:20 PM

                    Cool . . . Also, there are a lot of movie discounts for students. Ever go to a Lakers game, you can pay like $20 for nasty snack food and soda. Though, Staples Center is walkable, not so cal walkable, but walkable. You have to walk underneath a freeway though, that makes any walk horrible, but same goes to walk to Chichen Itza area and people walk there all the time. But Dash is only 25 cents anyway. You could do this--take the USC trams to the executive center--whatever that is--which stops at the top of Bunker Hill or the one that stops at Union Station. So you can walk to Chinatown or Little Tokyo from Union Station.

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                    Chichen Itza
                    3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                    Staples Center
                    1111 S Figueroa St Ste 3100, Los Angeles, CA 90015

              2. s
                scscr RE: scscr Jul 15, 2010 08:16 PM

                My trip so far has been going well and I've hit a few of the old familiar places as well as some new spots. So far, I've tried....

                Langers X 2 - Been here so many times and still is the best sandwich in LA. If you have never been, run....don't walk to Langers. The bread is perfect. I'm not sure how you get such a soft rye bread, inside the most crusty yet light crust and still be able to handle what is really a sloppy sandwich. The pastrami is melt in your mouth tender and may be the best brisket beef I've had (including Texas and KC bbq). The fries are still as good as I remember. If you have never been, run....don't walk to Langers.

                Animal - Best restaurant that I have eaten at in a while based strictly on food and flavors. I really enjoyed this place and appreciated the value provided with such quality food. I thought the short rib sliders may have topped Langers as the best sandwich in LA...a large portion of short rib on a perfect bun with a fantistic mustard slaw that really complemented the bbq sauce. The short rib itself was really good with a crunchy outside and soft middle. The best of the rest were the catfish and the hamachi tostada (which I will try to recreate at home). I liked, but did not love the flat iron steak (although the truffle sauce was really good) and the poutine was a little on the rich side. The foie gras with biscuit and maple gravy was one of the dishes I was looking forward to the most and it did not disappoint. I wanted to lick the plate, but held back only because we were in public.

                Parks BBQ - What a welcome back to LA and K-town with this new find. I had my BBQ places when I was here before, but this really took the quality to the next level. I loved the beef, but the sides were just so-so.

                Soot Bull Jeep - Went back to this place with a friend and appreciated the value, wood BBQ, and generally great food. The beef was better at Parks, but we liked the sides here better.

                Don Dae Gam - The Parks of Pork. I did not try it, but my wife did and wants us to go back again. She is in love with the scallion salad.

                Golden State - Tried the burger and fries. Not that impressed. We have better burgers in Miami, and that is not saying much as the food in Miami is generally horrible. In fact, LA has plenty of better burger spots and I thought of this place as a bit of an 8oz burger knock off. I'm not sure the rage over these burger....they were just ok to me.

                Dino's Burgers (and chicken) - Had the chicken which was really moist with an unusual flavoring. It was pretty spicy, but not over the top and I loved the fries. This may be my new favorite $5 meal. Anyone know what the sauce is (my guess is Sazon, chili flakes and vinegar)?

                Vitos Pizza - This was good, with the potential to be great. It would instantly be the best pizza in Miami (again this is not a hard feat). The meatballs were incredible and the pizza sauce had great flavor. My only complaint was that the crust got a little stale on a few of the slices. I think this was because they were a little old. The whole pizza that we saw looked much better than the slices with a bubbly crust that I really like.

                Various Mexican including....Loteria at the Farmers Market, La Taquiza near USC, Chanos near USC, King Taco, El Cholo on Western, Wahoos at the new USC student union and Del Taco (I wanted drive through and trust me when I say that Del Taco and/or Wahoos would be the best in Miami as well). La Taquiza was a real winner, but the quality of Loteria really shines. El Cholo was not as good as we remembered. It has really gone downhill.

                Ocean Seafood - This was pretty good for a quick stop in Chinatown and we were happy with the meal although the place was empty. The food was fresh and the quality of the fish was good. I had never been here before (I usually go to the SGV) but thought this was decent for being so close. Again, my taste buds for Chinese may be off as there is NOTHING in Florida of any quality, but I thought it was a good meal and I would return.

                So far, we have had a pretty good stay, but there are still a few things that I need to try. We are going back to Animal to try as much of the rest of the menu as we can. Where should we go on the Westside for our last fine spectacular meal and what am I missing as far as "how could you go to LA and not have......?" In n out and a trip to the SGV for dim sum are on the list for sure, but what else is can't miss?

                Thanks.

                .

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                Soot Bull Jeep
                3136 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                Chano's
                3000 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                La Taquiza
                3009 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                The Golden State
                426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                Ocean Seafood Restaurant
                747 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                Sazon
                12424 Montague St, Pacoima, CA 91331

                15 Replies
                1. re: scscr
                  Servorg RE: scscr Jul 15, 2010 08:40 PM

                  I would say that you have covered a spectacular range of the best that LA has to offer so far. Some of your Mexican choices are a little peculiar (Del Taco?) when lined up beside some of the others, but everyone gets a pass now and again... ;-D>

                  So west side spectacular meals...are you looking for higher end or does it matter? I mean places like Bazaar or Cut or a tasting menu at Spago or Melisse or Valentino or...all come to mind for throwing high end calorie caution to the wind. How about sushi? Mori or Kiriko or Zo for omakase?

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                  Spago
                  176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                  Kiriko
                  11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                  1. re: Servorg
                    s
                    scscr RE: Servorg Jul 15, 2010 09:04 PM

                    Yes. Please give me a pass on the Del Taco/Wahoos. I only used it as a reference to how terrible the Mexican is in Miami (ie Del Taco WOULD be the best my town has to offer.) I only went because it had a drive through and I didn't want to get out of my car to go to La Taquiza. Please don't hold it against me fellow chows.....sometimes you have to break the rules!!!!

                    As for my last great meal on the Westside, I'm thinking of less than $60 pp so no Cut, Bazaar or Providence. Any good sushi in that range? What is the latest best for Dim Sum....Elite?

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                    La Taquiza
                    3009 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                    1. re: scscr
                      m
                      mdpilam RE: scscr Jul 15, 2010 10:15 PM

                      What about the drive thru - on the wrong side! - at Chanos :)

                      Oh, Umami burger is a great new (to you atleast) burger place. I recommend the Hatch burger highly. They have multiple locations now (La Brea/9th, SaMo: Broadway/5th, and 2 in Hollywood).

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                      Chano's
                      3000 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                      1. re: scscr
                        Servorg RE: scscr Jul 16, 2010 04:17 AM

                        Dim sum is a great idea (wonderful food at a typically inexpensive cost for what you get)...if you don't mind a non west side location for the best that the greater LA area has to offer. Sea Harbour or Elite would be my first two choices, but there are others worth mulling over too - if you want other ideas?

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                        Elite Restaurant
                        700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                        Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                        3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                        1. re: Servorg
                          A5 KOBE RE: Servorg Jul 16, 2010 02:07 PM

                          I agree with dim sum. It is really the only thing missing from your trip. Or even try a dumpling house.

                          Maybe try Din Tai Fung, Mama's Lu or Luscious Dumpling as well.

                          1. re: A5 KOBE
                            s
                            scscr RE: A5 KOBE Jul 24, 2010 11:41 PM

                            OK. I went to Elite. It was great, but wasn't this place called New Concept a few years ago?

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                            New Concept
                            700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                            1. re: scscr
                              Dommy RE: scscr Jul 24, 2010 11:45 PM

                              Yup... But that's just how it goes in the SGV... a constant 'freshing' of names and concepts...

                              --Dommy!

                        2. re: scscr
                          a
                          apple7blue RE: scscr Jul 25, 2010 09:51 AM

                          What rules? Did you go to Chipotle? Especially near USC . . . El Cholo is really overrated, but a better place close to USC is on Vermont. I forgot what its called. Its a really obvious place. Did you try King Taco, or El Taurino, near USC there are a few locations?

                          -----
                          El Taurino
                          2306 W 11th St, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                          1. re: apple7blue
                            Servorg RE: apple7blue Jul 25, 2010 09:56 AM

                            The rule that, while visiting LA spending some of your time and money making a pass through Del Taco is akin to staying in your hotel room watching repeats of "The OC" in place of getting out to experience what LA has to offer in a "non virtual" manner.

                            1. re: Servorg
                              a
                              apple7blue RE: Servorg Jul 25, 2010 10:00 AM

                              Heh well LA is the home of the Drive In and the Drive Thru--check out Reyner Banham's LA Architecture of Four Ecologies, the book and the cheesy ol' Brit film complete with topless dancers from LA . . .

                            2. re: apple7blue
                              m
                              MissCast RE: apple7blue Jul 25, 2010 07:29 PM

                              La Barca!
                              Cheap, good margaritas and a happy hour. Student tested and approved. :-)

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                              La Barca
                              2414 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                              1. re: MissCast
                                a
                                apple7blue RE: MissCast Jul 26, 2010 09:22 PM

                                Yeah I think La Barca is way better than El Cholo.

                        3. re: scscr
                          Dommy RE: scscr Jul 16, 2010 12:08 PM

                          Dat's good eatin'! Thanks for reporting back in and giving us your thoughts. I agree with you on the Golden State burger... for me, it's a carrier for beer float only... LOL!

                          --Dommy!

                          -----
                          The Golden State
                          426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                          1. re: scscr
                            e
                            ElissaInPlaya RE: scscr Jul 26, 2010 11:30 AM

                            Great report. I would really try to go to Father's Office, Chego, and great sushi (Zo, Hide, or Kiyokawa are my picks - but I am NOT an expert on sushi.) Based on your write-up, you might really enjoy La Huesteca also.

                            Also, if you love Animal and enjoy recreating, I highly recommend that you buy the chefs' cookbook - 2 dudes, 1 pan - it's been one of my favorites all year

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                            Father's Office Bar
                            1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                            Chego
                            3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                            1. re: scscr
                              n
                              Norm Man RE: scscr Jul 26, 2010 01:10 PM

                              Scscr, glad you liked the famous Chicken Plate at Dino's Burgers. It's one of my favorite meals at any price. Good luck at figuring out Dino's secret marinade -- I'm told that only family members know the recipe.

                              For perhaps the best carne asada tacos in LA, you have to try El Parian:

                              http://www.greattacohunt.com/2005/09/...

                              El Parian
                              1528 Pico Blvd
                              (5 Blocks East of Alvarado St.
                              )Los Angeles
                              (213) 386-7361

                              Also, for great late night eating, check out some of the great taco trucks like El Chao at Olympic and La Brea and Leo's Tacos at Venice Blvd and La Brea:

                              http://www.greattacohunt.com/2010/04/...

                              http://www.greattacohunt.com/2010/07/...

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                              El Parian
                              1528 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

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