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What to eat in LA if you're not from the US...

I have some family friends coming to town in a couple of weeks and they'll be staying in LA for a day or two at the beginning and end of their trip. I've been tasked to make a list of LA eats and I'm mixed about what to suggest.

What are the best LA eats that really give an out of towner a taste of LA? I think their budget ranges from $ - $$$$ so anything goes. And I'm not sure what cuisines they enjoy or if they'll try anything so I want to be able to suggest a bunch of places.

Try to keep the suggestions to the Hollywood/Santa Monica/Malibu areas (possibly Koreatown & Downtown as well). They're staying at the Standard in Hollywood. I should probably add a good Mexican and Korean place as well. Just starting the list but so far I have...

Pink's (touristy I know, but for someone from the UK I'm sure an American hot dog would be interesting)

Father's Office

Pizzeria Mozza
Osteria Mozza

The Bazaar

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

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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  1. Spago seemed very LA to this out-of-towner. Wolfgang stopped by to talk to each table the night I was there, which was neat.

    As an out-of-towner who will be visiting LA in the near future, I've got Animal and a half dozen Mexican places on my shortlist.

    176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

    2 Replies
    1. re: phoenikia

      Good idea about Spago. I'll suggest that in case they want the whole celebrity chef experience. Any great Mexican suggestions?

      176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

      1. re: cincodemayo1

        When I posted my request for suggestions, I was asking about decent Mexican options that were located near the Grove, so I have no idea what the good or great Mexican restaurants in/near Hollywood/Santa Monica/Malibu would be. Loteria, Pinche's on Sunset and Tere's Mexican Grill were recommended to me, but I haven't had a chance to try any of them yet. I realize they might not be great, or the best, but they're considered to be good by the CHs who recommended them.

        I'm sure some other CHs can suggest where to find the best Mexican options closer to Hollywood/Santa Monica/Malibu.

        I would expect the Thai food in LA to be much better than the Thai food in the UK. Jitlada and Nakkara are 2 Thai restaurants that found their way onto my shortlist. Jitlada is located in Thai Town in the eastern part of Hollywood.

        Tere's Mexican Grill
        5870 Melrose Ave Ste 1, Los Angeles, CA 90038

    2. In Koreatown, Park's BBQ is a great meal for meats and Korean BBQ such as short ribs. Great service, full meal with all the sides.

      Park's BBQ
      955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006

      1 Reply
      1. re: wienermobile

        Park's is a good idea too. I also like Genwa. I think sending them to one of these nicer Korean places is probably a good idea. Not sure they've ever had Korean but I'll be sure to throw it out there!

        5115 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

      2. For Mexican:

        I would try Guelaguetza, Moles La Tia, or La Huasteca for Oaxacan.


        They might also get a kick out of the fabulous fish tacos at Ricky's Fish Tacos in Hollywood...

        3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

        La Huasteca
        3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

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

        Moles La Tia
        4619 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90022

        11215 Long Beach Blvd Ste 1010, Lynwood, CA 90262

        Ricky's Fish Tacos
        1400 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

        1. I would take Pink's off and replace that with a taco from a truck, just for the experience.

          I would throw Langer's on there, and a nice Chinese restaurant a la Sea Harbour (see Exilekiss's review), but that might be out of your range.

          I agree w/ Pizzeria Mozza, Jitlada, and Park's BBQ for Korean. I usually don't take people to Guelaguetza because some people just don't enjoy mole.

          Also, AOC to me is still worth a mention in terms of good food and it's LA-ness. And I have no idea what the sushi scene is like in the UK, but Sushi Zo might be worth the trip as well. Or Urasawa if money really is no object, since they might be making the obligatory trip to Rodeo anyway.

          5 Replies
          1. re: andytseng

            I was definitely going to add taco trucks. And great other suggestions as well. Forgot about Jitlada and Langer's and AOC! Thanks!

            8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

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

            1. re: andytseng

              A big yes to Langer's, the best pastrami on earth. They close daily at 4pm and are closed all day Sunday. A real LA treat.

              You might also consider at trip to The Original Farmers Market on 3rd and Fairfax. Great for people watching and a good taste of LA.

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

              Farmers Market
              6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036

              1. re: andytseng

                What's wrong with Pink's?

                Take them early right after they first open (9:30am 7 days) and you won't have to fight the lines.

                It's been mentioned there's a Pink's at LAX Bradley International Terminal

                1. re: monku

                  Hot dog at 9:30 in the morning? Eek!

                  1. re: mstinawu

                    And if they're on UK time it's 5:30pm.
                    I do it all the time...other tourists are there right when they open.

              2. I would consider the untimate LA spot for the $$$$ to be Spago or CUT more than Bazaar, especailly for Eurpoeans. The Mozza's I like well enough but not really to show the LA of LA. Koreatown/Thaitown/Japanese enclaves like little Tokyo/Sawtelle/Gardena do that better. I would consider Yakitori-ya or Nanbankan for something the average Briton has not experienced.

                176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                1. If I were taking Euro tourists to LA, this is where I would take them:

                  - Ocean Star on a weekend for dim sum (both for the food and the experience of cart service)

                  - Sea Harbour for dinner (order up some live seafood and go at it)

                  - Park's BBQ or Soot Bull Jeep (tell them not to wash their clothes afterwards and they'll have a nice momento from their Korean BBQ experience)

                  - Spago (because, well, it's famous)

                  - Pink's (see above)

                  - Father's Office (see above)

                  - Urasawa (well, because, it's Urasawa)

                  - The Prince (can't imagine there are too many Korean pubs in Europe)

                  - Mercado La Poma (food ain't what it used to be, but it's still quite a scene)

                  - Lawry's (for some reason, tourists always seem to flock here)

                  - Jitlada (hard to imagine finding better Thai in these parts)

                  - Mr. Chow (this is about as close to the stereotypical LA as one can get I suppose)

                  - In N Out (just because man cannot dine on Father's Office alone)

                  - Tommy's (the Beverly/Rampart location) at about 2 a.m., preferrably after your trip to The Prince.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I'd substitute Katsuya for Mr. Chow because the food doesn't suck there, and the paps are lined up outside.

                    Katsuya Hollywood
                    6300 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                    Mr. Chow
                    344 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      Great list, and I also like Katsuya better than Mr. Chow. The two are actually quite different but both good suggestions.

                      Katsuya Hollywood
                      6300 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                      Mr. Chow
                      344 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        At places like Katsu-Ya and Mr. Chow, I think good food actually works against your dining experience. It sort of detracts from everything else that is going on in the room, which is what you really want to focus on anyway.

                        11680 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                        Mr. Chow
                        344 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                    2. I don't know how prevalent Peruvian cuisine is in the UK, but it almost always seems to wow our out-of-town visitors. Kotosh in Lomita, El Rocoto in Gardena, Mo-Chica in the Mercado La Paloma Building, and Puro Sabor in Van Nuys are stars in my book.

                      Another cuisine that seems very unique to folks from out of the US is great BBQ. Thanks to a great recent write-up by poster exliekiss, I went head-deep into some excellent Texas BBQ at Bludso's BBQ in Compton. I think a Brit would be hard pressed to find good authentic 'que back in the British Isles.

                      El Rocoto
                      1356 Artesia Blvd, Gardena, CA 90248

                      Puro Sabor
                      6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

                      3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        two other closer choices for good Peruvian are Mario's (kinda divey) and Los Balcones de Peru.

                        1. re: Emme

                          Thank you for noticing what part of town they were considering - I goofed. :P

                        1. re: mstinawu

                          Maybe a family that's half Korean and half Mexican that's headed for some disappointing restaurants hahaha.

                          Sorry. This is an important question though. I was wondering the same thing.

                        2. Lots of good ideas here, but to my way of thinking, they're all pretty much inside the box. If I were to be your guest, I would adore at least one great outside the box experience.

                          I suggest a well packed international picnic basket stocked with the likes of spanakopita, stuffed grape leaves, mini quiches, a pate or two with great breads and butter, some choice dim sum, a cold cassoulet, and an assortment of grape tomatoes, olives, pickled veggies and don't forget some criminal desserts. A thermos or two of great coffee, a couple (or more) bottles of wine and maybe a few cold beers (unless your guests are English, of course, in which case leave them warm) and then off to some place that is quintessential Los Angeles/Southern California. Maybe one of those beaches that is mobbed with in-line skaters or muscle builders to people watch? Some place along Mulholland Drive with a sprawling view of the city below. A quiet spot at the Mount Wilson Observatory where you can pretend to be James Dean and Natalie Wood. Even a table in Farmer's Market. There are tons of places, only limited by your imagination, that have to be equal to or better than any restaurant in town. But demand good weather first. '-)

                          1. Take Pink's off, and replace it with one of the trucks like Greasy Wiener or Let's Be Frank. You can find their location on one of the truck finder sites like clustertruck.com In fact, I would go to one of the spots where the food trucks park (Miracle Mile, Pennsylvania & 26th in SM, etc), it's a great experience.

                            Gjelina would be top on the list for a foreigner. Also take them someplace with a view (for a drink) like Lobster or Penthouse at the Huntley.

                            I always take out of towners to Chaya (any of them) which is always a huge hit.

                            1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: yogachik

                              Minor correction - it's clustertruck.org!

                            2. If the weather is nice...I would drive north of Malibu to county line and take them to Neptune's Net. Clam chowder, grilled cheese sandwiches or snow crab legs. You can't beat the view.

                              1. For someone from the UK, LA's best attraction is the weather! :)

                                Take them outside to one of the places where lots of gourmet trucks hang out. It's the current trendy thing to do.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: munchabout

                                  Or to the Getty Center for dinner ... go for the food, stay for the art and view.

                                  Getty Center
                                  1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049