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What will blow my mind in the LA area?

I know this is a ridiculous question. I am headed your way from NC, where we struggle to find amazing, mind-blowing food (there are some exceptions, but generally speaking the pickin's are slim). The LA area, of course, is loaded with options.

So, I will be staying for 4 days with dear friends who are food-loving and adventurous. They are planning on taking me on a taco tour to include Cacao Deli, also to a place called Bashan Restaurant in Glendale and we will peruse the beautiful offerings at McCall's Meat & Fish in Los Feliz to cook one night. That's what they have planned thus far.

So, I would like to suggest something amazing to do with them that they maybe haven't experienced and that would knock our socks off (Nothing high end, please). It could be a dim sum restaurant, an amazing breakfast spot, a cheesemonger or bakery, a hot dog truck - whatever. I'm open to any and all suggestions in the general area (home base is Monrovia).

So LA CHers, what is your suggested must-do food experience? Again, I know this is extremely broad and I apologize, but I trust that y'all are up for the task. I rarely get to the west coast and I want to make the most of it and would like to give back to my very gracious hosts.

TIA!

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  1. It would really help if you mentioned what your budget is... and how far you were willing to drive. Anyhow, here's some suggestions:

    1. Jitlada for thai food. It's in Hollywood.
    2. Din Tai Fung for soup dumplings. It's in Arcadia. It's super close to where you'll be staying. They've probably already been there.
    3. Langers for pastrami on rye. It's in Downtown LA.
    4. Not necessarily blow-your-mind food amazing but it's an LA Institution that not all Angelinos have been to and the food is honest and affordable: Philipes (it's in downtown LA, home of where the french dip sandwich was invented... go for the lamb or beef dip).
    5. I'm going to give you one high end suggestion (since you didn't really mention your budget), not super close to Monrovia, that serves up unique takes on food: The Bazaar. (Reservations recommended.)

    -----
    Din Tai Fung Restaurant
    1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: DrBruin

      Langer's Deli Pastrami will blow your mind. Tender, smokey, spicy, hand cut and melt in your mouth on the best rye bread you'll ever taste. The best pastrami anywhere, period.
      http://www.langersdeli.com/

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

    2. Jitlada Southern Thai in Hollywood. You won't find anything like it anywhere else in the country and it is fantastic. Ask for Jazz - the manager - and have her put together the meal for you.

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

      1. lynnlato,

        Here are some suggestions.

        1. Dim Sum. Go to Oceanstar in Alhambra. It's a big palatial space with cart-style dim sum. It's a cool experience, even though it may not be the best in terms of food, it is probably the best combo of food and experience.

        2. Korean BBQ. Park's BBQ in Koreatown. Bring a change of clothing.

        3. Soup Dumplings (or Xiao Long Bao). Try Mei Long Village in San Gabriel. Get an order or two of soup dumplings plus the "pork pump" and when you finish your meal, go next door for a foot message. You won't be sorry -- for either experience.

        4. Pizzeria Mozza. One of 2 best artisan pizzas in North America in my opinion.

        5. Japanese Izakaya. Try Izakaya Bincho or Musha. And if you want to do yakitori, try Torihei.

        Enjoy your stay.

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

        Musha
        1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

        Mei Long Village
        301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

        Izakaya Bincho
        112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

        Torihei
        1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501

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

        Izakaya
        8420 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

        23 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          ipse, i know it's not strawberry & peach season but would any of the other offerings at your beloved Donut Man be worth a stop for lynn?

          -----
          Donut Man
          915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            No, not really. Good dounts but not worth the drive out to Glendora.

            And you know what? For people who grew up on Krispy Kreme's, I'm not sure Donut Man will have the same appeal.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              ooh, good call on the KK! i forgot about that :)

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Ha! Actually, I'm not from NC, but it's where i've been for quite some time. I grew up in the NE as a Dunkin Donuts girl. ;-)

                The recs are awesome - we have no Korean BBQ joints here in the land of BBQ. Cart service dim sum, soup dumplings and a foot massage is so my style, you have no idea. Thank you.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  lynnlato,

                  Let us know if there are specific things you are looking for. Be happy to help. Sort of awkward trying to give you guidance without knowing more specifics ...

                  Enjoy your stay wherever you end up!

                  1. re: lynnlato

                    PARK'S BBQ is really good, probably the best in Koreatown, though way more expenisve than the rest.

                    You could also go to the Office in Culver City for the famed burger or other fine tapas style dishes and wash it down with copious amounts of triple Belgians or artisanal sours. Great stuff that you won't find in NC.

                    And if you are looking for coffee either Inetligentisa in Silverlake or LA Mill in Silverlake too, should fit the bill beyond nicely.

                    You can also go to one of the great Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley.

                    1. re: kevin

                      That would be FATHER'S Office in Culver City, for the uninitiated. =)

                      -----
                      Father's Office
                      3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034

                    2. re: lynnlato

                      Have an amazing and delicious trip. You may want to try www.chowongardencharlotte.com Cho Won Garden here in Charlotte. Great korean restaurant w/ superb korean BBQ

                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I second Park's BBQ in Koreatown. The best short ribs I've ever had. Great service. A meat eaters Disneyland.
                    http://www.parksbbq.com/

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

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      PARKS BBQ!!!! Delish. Soot Bull Jeep is also great but the service isn't as good. Take advantage of the great Korean food here in LA!

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

                  3. re: ipsedixit

                    Pizza Margherita at La Finestra in Tarzana is the best in LA, possibly the best outside of Naples. Very thin, imported cheese, perfect in it's simplicity.

                    -----
                    La Finestra
                    19647 Ventura Bl., Tarzana, CA 91356

                    1. re: valleypizzaeater

                      hmmn, never heard ot this place, will have to definitely check if it is better than Naples? is there a website for this joint?

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      Oceanstar is in Alhambra
                      145 N Atlantic Blvd # 201, Monterey Park, CA 91754
                      (626) 308-2128 ‎

                      I'd also rec'd Elite for dim sum also in Monterey Park.
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/454710

                       
                      1. re: monku

                        I'd choose Elite over Ocean Star, but either will do fine.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          The reason to choose Ocean Star over Elite for an out-of-towner is that Ocean Star is cart-style and when the large banquet sized dining room is in full swing (e.g. weekends) it is quite a scene -- both the din and activity in that big room is a quite a scene. Something an NC native may not get anywhere else near home.

                          Elite may in fact be better food-wise, but as far as overall "wow" ambiance it falls short.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            We actually have cart service dim sum here in Charlotte - but at only one restaurant and only on the weekends. It's a great scene, as you described, packed with people and lots of carts and a variety of people. I love watching the pros eat the chicken feet with chopsticks - impressive!

                      2. re: ipsedixit

                        Ipse - I have to know - what is the other best artisan pizza in North America?

                        1. re: aching

                          I'll answer, though I don't necessarily agree.

                          Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix.

                          I had an awfully sublime white clam pie at Pepe's in New Haven.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            Yup. Bianco. Even with Chris no longer manning the ovens, it's still the best, with Pizzeria Mozza a very very close 1A.

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

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              Having tasted both, I second your Pepe over Bianco vote.

                              That said, I'd also say Mozza is a good stop in LA regardless, as they do more than pizza extremely well.

                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                I'd have to disagree with you folks. Pizzeria Bianco's pizza is delicious for about 4 minutes after it comes out of the oven, but it quickly becomes hard and less enjoyable. I'd put it behind Pizzeria Mozza AND...Great Lake (in Chicago). Great Lake is incredible, but the people who run that place are illogical, self-righteous, egomaniacs who drive customers away. I'd say between Mozza and Great Lake it is a toss up (heh heh), but Mozza takes it because it's a much more pleasant experience.

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

                        2. Since you will be in Monrovia, I suggest you go to Restaurant Devon. Two reasons: first, it's one of the better spots in the area; second, to talk to Greg the owner and get tips from him about other good places in the vicinity.

                          -----
                          Restaurant Devon
                          109 E Lemon Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: mc michael

                            I'm sorry, but I disagree on both fronts.

                            Devon is mediocre even by Monrovia standards, and the best thing to explore in the vicinity might be the damage from our recent rain and torrential floods.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              they used to have a pastry chef, Jefferey Johnson, there that made these unique desserts.

                              do they still serve stuff like goat cheesecake with four d' ambert bleu cheese ice cream?

                              thanks.

                              1. re: kevin

                                Not that I recall the last time I was there. ~1.5 years ago.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  is the canadian cafe still there in m0onrovia for poutine?

                                  or there was an old fashioned ice cream parlor in the vein of fosselman's and or fair oaks pharmacy, is that still there too?

                                  thanks. it's been way more than 1.5 years since i've been there, probably at least four or five years for me.

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    Canadian Cafe closed a while ago.

                                    Dunno about any old fashion soda fountain place. Was it downtown Monrovia? If so, probably got booted out when the place got a good dose of gentrificaiton.

                                    I think the best place to dine in Monrovia might be the Peach Cafe.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      the old fashioned joint was on Monrovia's main street of sorts, probably Myrtle Ave, and Restaurant Devon is on Lemon Ave, i think???
                                      also, someone told me there's a middle eastern cafe with a nice open patio (though not in this weather of course) that had the usaual keababs as well as frog leggs, heard oti? or know about it? thanks, it may have also had hookahs there too

                                      -----
                                      Restaurant Devon
                                      109 E Lemon Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        someone told me there's a middle eastern cafe with a nice open patio (though not in this weather of course) that had the usaual keababs as well as frog leggs, heard oti? or know about it?
                                        __________________

                                        That's the Mediterranean Garden Grill.

                                        http://www.mediterraneangardengrill.com/

                                        -----
                                        Mediterranean Garden Grill
                                        335 W Foothill Blvd, Monrovia, CA 91016

                                        1. re: kevin

                                          I'm not a big fan of Mediterranean Garden Grill. The food is decent, but nothing to write home about. If you want food (and not ambience), try Janet's Mediterranean Cuisine in Duarte. Even by my ridiculously low standards, this is a true hole-in-the-wall. The furniture consists of Costco-type tables and fold-up chairs. But the food is good.

                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                          And an ice cream place worthy of a slight detour would be Bulgarini's just north of Pasadena, at 749 Altadena Drive in Altadena.
                                          www.bulgarinigelato.com
                                          Or if you are in the Hollywood area, Scoops at 712 N. Heliotrope, just west of Vermont and north of Melrose, adjacent to LA City College.
                                          And Marouch for Middle Eastern/Armenian/ on Santa Monica Blvd. at Edgemont, a few blocks west of vermont and near by would be the place to dine before dessert at Scoops.

                                          -----
                                          Marouch Restaurant
                                          4905 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90029, USA

                                          1. re: carter

                                            Bulgarini is a good rec.

                                            Esp. coming from Charlotte. I remember when I was waylaid at the Charlotte Airport for nearly 6 hours on my way to Tampa, I tried Pino Gelato which to my surprise was probably even worse than I had every right to expect, even though the good people of Charlotte had assured me this was the best stuff around.

                                  1. re: tldmatrix

                                    So, I would like to suggest something amazing to do with them that they maybe haven't experienced and that would knock our socks off (Nothing high end, please)
                                    _____________________

                                    Bazaar does not fit -- esp. the latter criteria.

                                  2. just had a thought for something cheap, good, and very LA...breakfast burritos.

                                    what say ye, folks? who has the best these days?

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Lucky Boy might have one of the biggest Breakfast Burritos. http://www.luckyboyburgers.com/

                                      Corner Cottage in Burbank is certainly a contender for tastiest Breakfast Burrito, esp. if you judge them by their customer girth.

                                      But my personal favorite is at Mai Mexican in downtown LA on Spring, between 6th and 7th streets.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        i really like the ones at the corner cottage, but get there before, the stroke of 1030 or they are gone for the day.

                                        bea bea's in burnbak, near corner cottage, makes a decent chilli cheddar scrambled egg potato version with avocado on the top. and their chocolate tuxedo french toast is one of the best sweet treat french toasts that i have ever had.

                                        1. re: kevin

                                          A million times second the ones at the corner cottage. Get it with bacon and hot sauce. So good. SO good.

                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                          ipsedixit, not to stray too far from the thread's topic but what else(if anything) do you like at Mai's? I've been once or twice a while back and don't recall what I had, good or bad. But it's super convenient to my work if there's something other than breakfast burritos.

                                          1. re: baloney

                                            I think most of the burros are ok at Mai's. But if I go after the witching hour (i.e., after the breakfast burros are no longer an option), I opt for anything with carnitas. Usu. carnitas tacos.

                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                            The Lucky Boy Breakfast Burrito is probably not the best but it does offer a satisfying guilty pleasure feeling when consumed.

                                          3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I like it, GHG! This is exactly what I'm talking about. Man, y'all have so many good recs I'm going to have just as difficult a time sorting through these recs and making a decision.

                                            1. re: lynnlato

                                              well, i figured since you're staying too far away from me to meet up for coffee or chow while you're here, the least i can do is come up with something good for you to enjoy! happy holidays, have a great trip, and next time stay closer to the Westside ;)

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Damn! Maybe after she picks me up at LAX? I would LOVE to meet you, darlin'! What's the skinny on this Korean bbq place, Parks bbq, is that a possibility for a lunch date? Email me! (sorry, I can't find your email).

                                          4. I think our local Chowhounds well advise you to go the route of what places are not only first rate, but also places that that you will find sorely neglected/omitted from your stomping grounds. While I don't consider myself to be a first or second tier Chowhound - more of a pup growing into his adolescence - you should focus on the choices that the general LA area excels at. Ethnic cuisine is top notch. You couldn't go wrong at the ethnic recs that our venerable and trusted local hounds have offered you. Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin cuisines are what LA excels at, and I would respectfully throw in Rivera in the Downtown LA area for upscale Latin/fusion cuisine as well for a more $$-motivated rec. We enjoyed their tasting menu last weekend and still fawn over their bold yet calculated menu. The wine pairing is worth it as well. If tequila is something you wish to venture into, you should put this into your calculations as well.

                                            Since it sounds like you're adjacent to the San Gabriel Valley, you really should consider anything Chinese, particularly dim sum, and of that, I'd rec either Sea Harbour in Rosemead, or Elite in Monterey Park. These are order-off-the menu dim sum houses which are at a higher tier (IMHO) compared to the cart-driven dim sum houses that are very respectable in themselves. I seriously doubt that the SE has anything remotely close to the vast enormity of Chinese offerings in the San Gabriel Valley. Regardless of where you decide on if dim sum is your choice, the earlier you go, the easier the seating will be. Dim sum is the Chinese equivalent of weekend brunch particularly on the weekends, so be prepared.000000000

                                            Sea Harbour Restaurant
                                            3939 Rosemead Blvd
                                            Rosemead, CA 91770

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

                                            Rivera Restaurant
                                            1050 S. Flower Street, #102, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                                            1. One place that would be a good balance of convenience (from Monrovia) and good food is Zelo. They have a really nice variant of Chicago-style pizza. I'd be surprised if your friends don't know about it, especially if they're already aware of Cacao (which is outstanding) and Bashan.

                                              If you love coffee, you might also want to try the new Intelligentsia in Pasadena, or even the original (LA) one in Silver Lake. I'm not sure if there's many so-called "thrid-wave" coffee houses in NC (does Counter Culture Coffee actually have shops?), but Intelligentsia is definitely worth a visit. The Silver Lake one is further from Monrovia but has a much more LA vibe.

                                              Zelo Pizzeria
                                              328 E Foothill Blvd, Arcadia, CA 91006
                                              626-358-8298
                                              http://www.zelo.us/

                                              Intelligentsia (Silver Lake
                                              )3922 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
                                              323-663-6173
                                              http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/

                                              Intelligentsia (Pasadena
                                              )55 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105
                                              626-578-1270
                                              http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/

                                              1. For the best burger you'll ever have, head down to Sandos Sub Shop in Manhattan Beach. It's a tiny little joint that serves absolutely incredible 100% free-range grass-fed burgers. It'll be one of the foodie highlights of your trip no doubt!

                                                http://www.gourmetmiser.com

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Gourmet Miser

                                                  someone else mentioned the burger here is pretty terrible, why is it so great in your opinion?

                                                  and what other burgers do you like in town, so we'll have some point of comparison.

                                                  thanks.

                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                    In our opinion, what makes the burgers at Sandos so great lies in the quality of ground beef they use. You can really taste the complexity of flavors with the 100% grass-fed beef which leaves you feeling fresh and full instead of feeling like you have a pit in your stomach. Ultimately, this leads to a better tasting burger. We've searched for a burger better than Sandos including those from Father's Office, Houston's, Apple Pan, Fatburger and In N Out and have so far come up empty handed. Yes, they make mistakes like everyone else, but their friendly staff would be more than happy to remake your burger if it was not cooked right.

                                                    www.gourmetmiser.com

                                                    1. re: Gourmet Miser

                                                      You seem to have a "burger" jones going on. Have you seen this prior (epic) post/thread on the LA board by any chance? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7010...

                                                    2. re: kevin

                                                      A pretty thorough critique of the burgers at Sandos was posted here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3383...

                                                  2. Well, I wouldn't wan't to over hype this rec, but if you're in the downtown/Union Station area, I'd recommend chilaquiles at Homegirl cafe followed by some piloncillo sweetened treats along Olvera Street.

                                                    1. Welcome to Los Angeles.
                                                      I like Phillipes for dip sandwiches, pies, salads, etc.
                                                      El Tepyeyac on Evergreen for great burritos, tacos, chiliquailles etc. I like to get their all machaca burrito with a side of taquitos that comes with a huge amount of guac.
                                                      Korean is great out here. I have not been to Park, but I do go to Soot Bull Jeep, which is very good and is less expensive. Just realize when you go your clothes will smell from the coal from bbqing your own food.
                                                      Senor Fish for fish tacos or fish burritos. They have great fried shrimp, and scallops, etc. There are several in the Pasadena, Alhambra area.
                                                      Definitely try the taco trucks, there are some great ones out there.
                                                      I don't know if you have good bbq, but there are some very good bbq places that you could pick up and bring back to the house. Bludso's, Jaybees, Philips.
                                                      Hope you have a great time.

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

                                                      12 Replies
                                                      1. re: paprkutr

                                                        OH NO you didn't! TEll me you didn't tell someone from NC to get BBQ here.

                                                        1. re: coconutz

                                                          Ha! I didn't want to say anything, but yea... lol. :-)

                                                          But I'm definitely going to get me some Korean bbq, and fish tacos are my friend too and I'm sure any that I've had here pale in comparison to what you have. Thanks for the recs, paprkutr!

                                                          1. re: lynnlato

                                                            lynnlato,

                                                            Please don't take umbrage on all LA 'Hounds by this statement from paprkutr: "I don't know if you have good bbq ..."

                                                            I almost blushed right out of my raincoat reading that ...

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              Sorry didn't mean to say it like that. Shame, shame on me.

                                                              But for others, they still are good.
                                                              Enjoy eating.

                                                              1. re: paprkutr

                                                                Hopefully you took the dig in good fun! :-)

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  Absolutely, but thanks for being concerned.

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    I always thought the blushing was traditionally done by those who saw the raincoat pulled open? ;-D>

                                                            2. re: coconutz

                                                              Jay Bees BBQ is related to Interstate BBQ out of Memphis, but they got an attitude problem that starts with the bullet proof glass order window.

                                                              1. re: monku

                                                                "they got an attitude problem that starts with the bullet proof glass order window."

                                                                AHAHA!!! I think I'll pass then. I never could wrap my mind around bbq spaghetti anyway. It just seems wrong. ;-)

                                                                1. re: monku

                                                                  Most of the great cue places have bulletproof glass for some reason.

                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                    Really? This is worth explication. Which ones? Photo essay? Might be educational/artistic.

                                                                    1. re: mc michael

                                                                      An explosive subject! (If you think about it, an all cash business (originally) in a problematic area of the city it makes sense)

                                                            3. I've got just one place to add to the list: Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. I know you're probably looking for something a bit more unique than chicken and waffles, but Roscoe's is a staple that I find myself returning to every time I visit LA. Imagine perfectly crunchy fried chicken smothered in sweet onion gravy and served with a side of some of the fluffiest, cakiest waffles you can get anywhere. It might not be for everyone, and it's definitely not a glamorous place, but it's one of the few places that is as good as they say.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: The Food Buster

                                                                In addition to the BBQ upthread..Ya, prolly wouldn't send someone from the south to a fried chicken place in LA. (As Iconic as Roscoe's is)

                                                              2. Here are some suggestions:

                                                                1. Wurstkuche - Little Tokyo / Arts District - If you enjoy hotdogs and sausages in a festive environment. You can order some Rattlesnake / Rabbit or Alligator / Pork sausages with some really good Belgium Dipped Fries paired with some interesting dipping sauces, i.e., curry ketchup, thai peanut, buttermilk ranch and wash it all down with some really good beer. You sit in a large communal table.. kinda like a biergarten in Germany I guess.

                                                                2. New Capital or Elite - If you want the quintessential dim sum, experience, namely chasing Chinese aunties to see if your fave dimsum is in the carts they push around, New Capital on Valley in San Gabriel, is cheap and good. If you are a little more reserved and not accumstomed to shouting at people for your food, previous Chowhound recommendations of Elite is good as well.

                                                                3. Marstons - Pasadena - They have the most amazing blueberry pancakes, corn-flake coated French Toast, and omlettes. Also, in a nice quaint house converted into a restaurant.

                                                                -----
                                                                New Capital
                                                                8823 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA

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

                                                                1. Did anyone mention Animal? There are other new restaurants around the country that celebrate meat--especially of the pig (thinking Feast in NOLA/Houston and Le Pigeon in Portland) but Animal is really a trendsetter and also has really really good food, in creative and mainly successful combinations. Also, if you are coming to see Los Angeles, you might want to wander out of the 'burbs and into the more trendy hip parts of town, just to say that you did....
                                                                  And while we are on that note, a restaurant that is well-reviewed here but that I can't personally vouch for is The Gorbals, with its Scottish/Jewish take (bacon-covered matzah balls, etc)

                                                                  -----
                                                                  The Gorbals
                                                                  501 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                                                  1. How about banh mi? Since you're going to be in the SGV and it's delicious, inexpensive, and I think not a specialty of NC! There are many others here who are more expert in all things banh mi, but I like Banh Mi My Tho very much.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Banh Mi My Tho
                                                                    304 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: aching

                                                                      Banh mi is a great idea... if you can make it to Little Saigon in Garden Grove/Westminster that will open up a whole world of possibilities (not just for banh mi, but for all kinds of Vietnamese food).

                                                                      Thanks to Das Ubergeek and Prof Salt for opening my world to the pork meatball banh mi at Banh Mi Cho cu. Outrageously good, on french bread with an intensely crisp crust and an interior that is light as air.

                                                                      http://www.yelp.com/biz/banh-mi-cho-c...

                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                        I'll have to try that one - sounds delicious!

                                                                    2. Some geat rec's here!!! I'd like to add Porto's potato balls, ham croquettes, and chicken croquettes to the list.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: mrshankly

                                                                        Great recs is an understatement, mrshankly. I'm swimming in fabulous ideas and very thankful for everyone's help.

                                                                      2. If you are interested in tacos (street tacos, not Americanized) go to Tacos Tamix, Leo's Tacos and Mexicali Taco Stand (get the vampiro and cachetada for sure).