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Where is the center of the LA food universe?

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  • scscr Oct 28, 2010 10:27 AM
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My wife and I are considering a move back to LA and it got me thinking.....if you could live anywhere in the city only based on access to good and diverse food both walking, driving and metro distance, where would you live? I was thinking somewhere a little west of downtown, like K-town. Any thoughts?

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  1. A highly subjective and debatable subject which has (as one would imagine) come up here before more than once: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6372...

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/515188

    1. Much like the nature of the LA area, I don't think there is a single center of the LA food universe. I live in the SGV, and I like the abundance of Chinese and Vietnamese places. I think it's fairly well-located, but it really depends on what you're looking for.

      1. Tricky question, since L.A. is defined by its sprawl. That's why cars are de rigeur.

        1 Reply
        1. re: J.L.

          Exactly. Thai town, K-Town, J-Town, Chinese in the SGV, Mexican (all over but,) ELA... It's just so spread out.

        2. DTLA by a mile if you're talking about metro access.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ns1

            You might bump this up in 20 years when we have a subway to the sea.

            1. re: mc michael

              center

              by default DTLA = center of LA

              pretty much any food worthy location in LA reachable within 30 minutes. (not necessarily by metro, just sayin)

          2. Indeed, LA is well known as a decentralized city. There have been attempts to improve downtown, but given the size of the city combined with lack of desire for traffic, that can only go so far. Thus, you'll continue to have places in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Venice, Pasadena, parts of the SFV and SGV and others.

            Personally, I'm quite content with this. I don't have to venture into downtown for a nice restaurant. I have options.

            1. It's actually quite simple. The center of the food universe in LA is currently (excluding ethnic food of course) on the corner of Melrose and Highland.

              It's where the Mozzas are.
              1/2 a block away is Hatfields.
              Providence is few blocks away.
              Animal and Bistro LQ are within 2 mile radius.

              Right there you have 5-6 of the top 10 most talked about/most highly recommended restaurants on the board at any given time. The only heavyweights not included in the immediate vicinity is Urasawa and Mori Sushi.

              -----
              Urasawa Restaurant
              218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

              Bistro LQ
              8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048

              17 Replies
              1. re: Porthos

                Sure if you got boatloads of money....

                IMHO the true allure of LA is multiple ethnic groups producing fantastic food at < $10

                404 diversity not found @ Melrose/Highland

                1. re: ns1

                  Agree which is why I excluded asian/ethnic. For asian/ethnic the center would be at the respective centers of the cuisine you're interested in.

                  Downtown doesn't have good asian cuisine, the dining options are actually a bit limited and not the best even in their respective categories so I wouldn't put downtown as the default.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    But aren't Urasawa and Mori Sushi Asian/ethnic restaurants?

                    1. re: raytamsgv

                      Good point. Asian/ethnic restuarants of the <$20 pp type then?

                      Let's say we figure asian/ethnic into the equation. By the sheer volume that would drag the center eastward and place it somewhere around SGV with Monterey Park keeping things eastward (and maybe a bit south) and Rowland Heights balancing things eastward against all the mid-high end restaurants West of the 110?

                      Thus I should revise my previous statement that the center of the mid-high end restaurants is melrose and highland and that the absolute center would be SGV...but what if we only count good restaurants?

                      1. re: Porthos

                        but then you're limiting asian/ethnic to just chinese/vietnamese

                        there's great pockets of thai in Hollywood/NoHo, ktown, jtown, + lots of persian/armenian food in glendale-ish

                        + japense on the westside/gardena/torrance....

                        This is a much better situation then say, New Jersey, where you had 2 choices for cuisine: american and italian.

                        Also by "good" you mean dressy ;)

                        1. re: ns1

                          What you've really proved is that there is no "one center" of the known LA food Universe. It all depends on what each one of us likes and how far we are willing to drive to satisfy our food longings. Are we going to drive for good chow? If not can we still claim the mantle of "chowhound?"

                          1. re: Servorg

                            "can we still claim the mantle of "chowhound?"

                            driving >50 miles for food should be a prerequisite

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Lots of clusters. No one area rules. For instance, SGV has tons and tons of great Chinese and Vietnamese for the most part and dozens can be had within a five minute radius, but try to find a serious cup of coffee.

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                "...but try to find a serious cup of coffee."

                                As Mr. Tea liked to say "I pity the fool!!!" ;-D>

                            2. re: ns1

                              "Also by "good" you mean dressy ;)"

                              Nope by good I don't mean dressy. I mean do you count DTF, Jin Jiang, Elite, Sea Harbour, Duck House, Din Sean World, Luscious Dumplings, and the likes only or do you count every single eatery good and bad in each culinary pocket?

                              I'm not discounting Torrance, Westside, Thai town etc. I am probably neglecting Glendale area since I only go up that way for Porto's. But Melrose and Highland is pretty central to all those pockets you mentioned wouldn't you say? It's 10-20 minutes to K-town and Thai town on local roads. And evenly split 30-40 minutes (discounting traffic of course) to points eastward for regional chinese cuisine, southward for Japanese cuisine, northward to the persian/armenian pockets I know nothing of, and westward for more persian food/fine dining/sushi.

                              -----
                              Luscious Dumplings
                              704 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                              Jin Jiang Restaurant
                              301 W Valley Blvd Ste 109, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Personally I would count every good restaurant regardless of price or ethnicity.

                                But then again, this entire thread concept is open to debate: what's central? I mean really, what do you even define as LA? Where does Seal Beach lay on a map? Personally I stop calling it LA after Long Beach.

                                1. re: ns1

                                  what's central? in France, they measure everything from the Eiffel Tower. it's the "center." so in LA, I guess the "center" would be City Hall which is iconic, I suppose.

                                  1. re: mc michael

                                    For mileage calculations The Screen Actors Guild considers The Beverly Center to be the center of Los Angeles.

                            3. re: darrelll

                              Folks, please let's get back to the food available in the L.A. metro area, and not argue about political boundaries. For the site's purposes, all of Los Angeles County is in play for this particular thread.

                              Please keep in mind that this board covers all of LA, OC, Ventura, and western San Bernadino Counties. Any chow within that region is on topic. Let's move on and discuss the chow.

                      2. re: Porthos

                        Thanks for the reply on my NYC thread. I did not move to LA, but hopefully NYC will lead to my return to LA. We would move to Larchmont or Hancock Park if we returned, very close to your suggestion of Melrose and Highland (I think the "food center of LA is closer to downtown given the great food east of downtown, but would not want to live there!)

                        1. re: Porthos

                          Good answer to an impossible question. Interesting to note there are neighborhoods where you can find decent restaurants within, say a mile. (is that walking distance?). Montana and Lincoln and you'd find Melisse, Father's Office, Rustic Canyon, Fraiche, Musha, Hungry Cat, Delfinis, Giorgios, Sam's, Michael's, Fig, Huckleberry, Border Grill.

                          -----
                          The Hungry Cat
                          1535 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                          Father's Office
                          1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                          Fraiche
                          9411 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                          Border Grill
                          1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

                          Musha
                          424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Totally agree, but I'm biased because I live near there. I'd add that Lou on Vine is within walking distance. And it's less than fifteen minutes to WeHo, Koreatown and Thai Town. Mercantile, Hungry Cat and BoHo are close. And K&L for wine. Hollywood is really, really central foodwise in L.A. For shear diversity of offerings from fine dining to the best ethnic storefront places, I can't think of anyplace else in LA where there are more offerings within a few minutes drive.

                            -----
                            Lou on Vine
                            724 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                            BoHo
                            6372 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

                            The Hungry Cat
                            100 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402

                          2. I've always held that the stretch of Venice a few blocks east and west of Best Buy is the best above average, ethnic variety of locations for food in the city. Not one name chef or fancy restaurant but a chow hound could walk that stretch blindfolded and do pretty well.

                            1. There's a scientific term called "clumping" - in that there are pockets where restaurants seem to be near each other. As Porthos pointed out with Mozza, Providence, Animal.

                              I'd say Santa Monica/Brentwood/Venice; these restaurants are all around 5-10 minutes. Melisse
                              Valentino
                              Gjelina
                              Michael's
                              The Hungry Cat
                              Delfini
                              Catch
                              Fraiche
                              Fig
                              Jiraffe
                              Josies
                              Drago
                              La Botte
                              Ado
                              Chinois
                              Sam's at the Beach
                              Vicente
                              Rustic Canyon
                              Il Grano
                              Pecorino
                              Monte Alban
                              Mori Sushi
                              3 Square
                              Father's Office

                              -----
                              Jiraffe Restaurant
                              502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

                              Monte Alban
                              11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                              Il Grano Restaurant
                              11359 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                              3 Square Cafe
                              1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                              Chinois
                              2709 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                              Pecorino Restaurant
                              11604 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

                              Drago Restaurant
                              2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403

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

                              Mori Sushi
                              34320 Pacific Coast Hwy Ste B, Dana Point, CA 92629

                              Fraiche
                              9411 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                              Gjelina
                              1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                              The Hungry Cat
                              100 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                nearby to all that is good Mexican seafood in Mar Vista, and decent Indian in Culver City. Good Japanese food isn't far, and a decent cup of coffee is easy to find.

                                1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                  Adding a few to your already great list:

                                  Capo
                                  Melisse
                                  Huckleberry
                                  Sweet Rose Creamery
                                  Whist
                                  Giorgio Baldi
                                  26 Beach
                                  Tasting Kitchen
                                  Shima
                                  Joe's
                                  Jin
                                  Sauce
                                  Piccolo
                                  Snug Harbor
                                  Amandine
                                  Le Pain Du Jour
                                  The Daily Pint
                                  Bite (R.I.P)
                                  Caprice Pastries

                                  Also, because of the contiguous nature of the general Westside and point beyond, as Santa Monica rolls into Brentwood and Venice, it also is adjacent to Palisades and Malibu, and as Brentwood and Venice roll into West LA, Westwood and Mar Vista, and then those of course roll into Palms and Culver City. Fortifying your list with these areas' consumables would be a daunting task. As posters J.L. moto mentioned, sprawl is what defines LA, no matter where one tries to focus on.

                                  -----
                                  26 Beach
                                  3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                  Le Pain Du Jour
                                  828 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                                  Snug Harbor
                                  2323 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                                  Daily Pint
                                  2310 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                                  Shima
                                  1432 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                                  Sweet Rose Creamery
                                  225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                                  Tasting Kitchen
                                  1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291

                                2. imho, the nature of the LA eating opportunities are such that there is no "center of the food universe" here.
                                  clearly, there are clusters scattered around the LA basin, but, unless you only like one type of food (i.e. chinese food) there is no "center" for all food types.
                                  if you have an adventurous palate, get ready to drive.

                                  1. the center of my PERSONAL food universe is Mariscos Chente on west imperial highway near the forum.
                                    that doesn't mean i want to live near there. . . . .
                                    the next best center of my universe is FIG tied with GJELINA which, being in santa monica and venice, respectively, are at least in striking distance from each other.

                                    then there are the drinks:
                                    would be nice to be within WALKING distance of the margaritas at Kay "n Dave's in culver city.

                                    1. Abbott Kinney. No brainer.

                                      1. Based on the map of mentioned places, it would look like it's on the westside. When thinking about where I wanted to live and what I would want to eat (also, being Chinese factored in some), the SGV was an easy choice for me. Although there are some great places westward, I'm not going to alternate between eating Mozza, Hatfields, and Providence on a regular basis. For me, those are special occassion places where I don't mind the trek out every now and then.

                                        I would rather be 5 minutes from a boatload of places that I can eat a good dinner for under $15-20 pp, because I eat that a lot more than the aforementioned places.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: andytseng

                                          We usually make it out to the SGV one to four times a month. Driving down the major streets in Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel and Rosemead is pretty mind-blowing even for the food-obsessive. Granted, the choices are overwhelmingly Chinese or Vietnamese, but one or two blocks along streets like Valley, Garfield or Las Tunas might have more good eatery choices than a mile or two worth of blocks in other parts of the LA area. I couldn't live in the SGV - in my mind, it's too food-dense - I need at least some elbow room between my eateries, if that makes sense.

                                        2. You've touched a wild card for sure. It depends on what types of cuisine you like, what ethnic food turns you on. I'm biased. I'm a native Angeleno and the Westside is where it's at. I like West L.A. for many reasons. Since I'm Asian, it has some of the best Japanese food in the city. On Sawtelle Blvd. you can feast on ramen, sushi, Japanese curry, etc. The owners are for the most part from Japan so it's authentic. The choices! On Venice Blvd. in Palms, you can get Brazilian food, Cuban food, Thai. If you drive to Santa Monica, you can get British pub food at Ye Olde King's Head. Of course, you can also find the proverbial coffee shop greasy spoon joints like George's Coffee Shop in Culver City. It's also the best place to live in L.A. - little to no crime, clean, great markets, good shopping and access to the Santa Monica mountains, the Getty Center, UCLA and the Santa Monica Pier.

                                          -----
                                          Ye Olde King's Head
                                          116 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

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

                                          George's Coffee Shop
                                          5439 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

                                          1. imho, there is no "center" of the LA food universe unless you are very limited in the types of food you like.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              I thought the "center "of the LA food universe was Inglewood:)

                                              1. re: maudies5

                                                for my taste, you're right.
                                                that said, i still have Fig, La Cachette Bistro, and Gjelina on my regular rotation too.
                                                if The Spot, in hermosa were closer, i'd probably be eating one of their superburritos for lunch regularly, but i no longer have the time to make that drive.

                                            2. I'm pretty happy with Pasadena, although (as some folks say too insistently) it has few "destination" eateries of its own. It is however handy to the SGV and to downtown, to Silverlake and Echo Park, and we like a lot of the Mexican and other Latino places within a half-hour or less of our house. I'm really looking forward to Metro's light rail going into Culver City, since that will give us non-driving access to the several places there we like so much - not that I mind driving, but a Senior Metro day pass runs about a quarter of what I'd spend on gas!

                                              1. So call me crazy, but I would choose to live in an area based on more than food. I love Asian/Chinese food, Vietnamese, BBQ, fresh innovative, etc, but I am not going to live in the SG Valley, Garden Grove/Westminster, South LA or even mid-Wilshire/Beverly Hills. I like the beach. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: scottca075

                                                  Choosing a neighborhood for reasons besides food? Scandalous!

                                                  It's hard to come up with criteria on this one. If you look at Jonathan Gold's 99 (insert snarky remark here), he's got about as many places east of Vine St. as west of Vine. To the east there's Thai Town, Koreatown, Downtown, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, Pasadena, San Gabriel Valley. To the west there's Hollywood, Fairfax, Beverly Hills, Westwood Blvd., Sawtelle, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Venice. Very different kinds of food in the two directions, but maybe relatively even.

                                                  If you located around Hollywood & Vine, you'd have good transit access with the Red Line subway station and a bunch of bus lines converging. From a driving standpoint you'd probably want to be a little further south.

                                                  -----
                                                  Little Tokyo Restaurant
                                                  150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

                                                  Vine St
                                                  1235 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                                                  1. re: scottca075

                                                    i'm sticking with scottca075's story as well.
                                                    sticking to the beach.