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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.)

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    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.

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      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?

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          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. =)

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                      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!

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                      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.