- Mr Grub Nov 28, 2005 01:19 PM
For the past few years, LA hounds have participated in an annual Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants survey. The concept is simple: everyone is asked to list, in rank order, your top 5 restaurants in LA County that you would recommend to houndly out-of-town visitors or to chowfriends for a special occasion. Your ranking should be based 75% on food and 25% on everything else.
To participate, reply with a list of ONLY your top 5 choices -- in RANK ORDER, 1 being best. This is what we used to call in school a forced-choice exercise. Responses with more than 5 choices will NOT be included. Replies with fewer than five choices will be tabulated. A simple list will suffice, but any & all explanation is welcome.
More than 60 hounds responded last year. The more replies we receive, the more useful are the polls findings, so please do reply.
Heres the Grubsters top 5:
1. Providence a master seafood chef at the top of his game
2. Spago still the reigning champion of the Champions Tasting Menu League
3. Lucques has found its way back to the top
4. Water Grill rock (cod?)-solid performer
5. La Buca Mama, Mama, I think I love you, Mama
1. Providence (amazing, near-perfect in every way)
2. A.O.C. (reliably great)
3. Kiriko (omakase? omigod-se!)
4. Chosun Galbee (had an amazing meal there this weekend)
5. Josie (short ribs are to die for)
1. Sushi Shibucho (tho' technically not in LA County)
4. Mei Long Village
...all under $10.
1. Ruen Pair (Hollywood)
2. Newport Seafood (San Gabriel)
3. Nanay Gloria (Eagle Rock)
4. Phillipes (Downtown)
5. My Taco (Highland Park)
These, to me, represent the best of L.A. chow. All except Phillipe's are in strip malls. Hey, if I could afford to eat as frequently at more expensive places, believe me, I would!
1. La Barca (the one on Vermont) for their cheese enchiladas, friendly service, and lively atmosphere
2. Sushi Ya (Sepulveda Blvd just south of Venice) for their consistently fresh fish and amazing Chilean Seabass
3. NBC Seafood (Monterey Park) for their dim sum
4. Pink's (Hllyd) for satisfying my hot dog cravings
5. Cafe 50's (WLA) for their homestyle cooking and decadent milkshakes
2. Angelini Osteria
3. Sushi Shibucho (again, the one in Costa Mesa, so I don't know if this counts)
Buncha really wealthy chowhounds in L.A. by the looks of the thread. My friends are too poor for most've the places mentioned... Best we can manage is:
3) Krua Thai
4) Echigo (for lunch only)
5) Tacos Baja Ensenada
1. Spago (tasting menu only and desserts)
2. Sushi Nozawa
3. PCH dogs (for some darn good gut busing chili dogs)
4. Shibucho (the one in Los Angeles)
5. Bay Cities Italian Deli (for some great sandwiches)
but this could all change on a daily basis.
re: Mr Grub
I don't know if you will see this reply, but Park's BBQ is a Korean barbecue place that I have mentioned before on this board. It is my absolute favorite Korean BBQ, especially for the quality of its unmarinated short ribs, which I think are the best in this city. Personally, I prefer these much better than the marinated ones. They also do an amazing yuuk hae (Korean style beef tartar), hae mul pajun (seafood pancake), short rib soup, and stone skillet bibimbap (mixed vegetables and rice).
955 S Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Well, I'm not really a fancy sort; so I'd take some chowish visitors to:
(1) Leda's Bake Shop;
(2) Din Tai Fung;
(3) the Hollywood Farmers' Market for hot coconut waffle balls;
(4) Primos; and
(5) the stand that sells hot pancakes with caramelized brown sugar right by the Korean supermarket at Western and 5th.
Yup, it's right in the parking lot by the front entrance to the grocery store. It's a shiny stainless steel trailer that looks like it's a permanent fixture there. Sorry I don't remember the name of the market. I love these pancakes so much that I usually end up burning myself on the hot sugar.
1 Sona -- sublime tasting menu
2 Mastro's -- best steak and sides in town
3 Katsu-ya -- fantastic sushi and handrolls
4 Angelini Osteria -- authentic Italian fare
5 Cobras y Matadors -- fun, interesting tapas
but we haven't yet tried Providence, Ortolan nor Spago...
1. Kiriko (mmm, smoked salmon)
2. A.O.C. (cheese plate and charcuterie)
3. Il Pastaio (because sometimes I need spaghetti and meatballs -- or bucatini con polpette)
4. Best Szechuan, Monterey Park (just because)
5. Saddle Peak Lodge (although partly for non-chow reasons)
Okay, I am a student on a limited budget so here's my top cheap eats ($15 and under for 2) in L.A.:
1) Zankou Chicken (Sunset)
2) India Sweet House (Pico near Fairfax, get the purichana or the thali)
3) Skye's Tacos
4) Happy Tom's of Echo Park (great burger here and the soup ain't bad)
5) Pho Cafe (Sunset and Silverlake)
6) Liliana's Tamales on First (Weekend tamale plate and pozole)
7) Vero's (in Pasadena on Lincoln & Orange Grove--get the tortas)
8) Huarache Azteca #2 on Sunset in Echo Park
9) Samamlang Cafe (sp?) for soup, although I haven't been there in at least a year
1. Uncle Bill's Pancake House (Manhattan Beach, the cheddar cheese & bacon waffles just can't be beat)
2. Saddle Peak Lodge (it's about the elk; great atmosphere too)
3. Providence (creatively prepared fish)
4. Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles (#13; fried chicken & waffles - eat a bit of both in each bite - yes together!)
5. Sushi Nozawa (great fresh fish, but basic & total dive)
off the top of my head, but, of course, subject to change:
2. angelini osteria
3. merkato ethiopian
4. murakami (sushi)
5. la buca
if i could have a 6, it would be the burrito king on sunset and alvarado.
I prefer hole-in-the-walls for great food. But, if you're polling for a "Special Occasion", based 75% on food, and 25% everything else, then:
5. Hotel Bel-Air: A romantic, intimate setting, attentive service, great celeb watching, and really good consistent food.
4. Matsuhisa: Nobu's flagship is still his best.
3. L'Orangerie: 'Hounds may disagree with me on this one, but every one of my 5 visits there so far this year has been simply stellar.
2. A.O.C.: The current vibe of L.A. dining is palpable at this eatery. Your out-of-town guests will have a very "L.A." dining experience (for lack of a better desription). The food and the wine are the focus, unlike many other current hip dives.
1. Urasawa: On the night you visit Hiro-san, rest assured that no one west of the Mississippi River will have has a better dining out experience than you.
1. Lucques (for the short ribs - sorry Josie)
2. Josie (for the chocolate bread souffle)
3. Teresitas (for the albondigas on Tuesday's and the Costillas de Puerco en Chile Negro - Pork short ribs prepared in a spicy(mild) black chile sauce on Wednesday's)
4. Pann's (for the grits and wings and stuffed chicken)
5. Akbar's (for the tandoori Chilean Seabass)
One interesting observation about the places mentioned. I don't recall seeing even one vote for Capo. Hmm?
I have not made it to many of Mr Grubs favs, but here are my favs...of the ones I've been to:
#1 Jiraffe ("Nearly perfect in every way.")
#2 Julienne (Haven't been in a while, but a classic.)
#3 A.O.C. (A unique and pleasurable experience.)
#4 Spago (Tasting Menu great-but failed at dessert)
#5 One Pico (Great breakfast, fantastic view.)
1. Spago (Best Overall for Me)
2. Mastro's (Steak Me Up!!)
3. Sushi Gen (Straight Up Sushi-- Uni, Toro, and Red Snapper)
4. Lucques(Solid Cooking for any occasion)
5. Langer's (Hand Cut Pastrami kicks Katz's and Second Ave. Deli to the Curb)
I will strike a blow for the proletariat and the landlocked peasantry. These are my choices for budget-conscious visitors who appreciate foods they may not be able to get in Topeka.
1. Tacos Baja Ensenada...heavenly fish tacos
2. Baguette Express...exquisite banh mi
3. Golden Deli...the cha gio
4. Giang-Nan...perfect xlb and spring rolls
5. Yi-Mei...baozi and soy milk (my faves)
1. Spago -- tasting menus (including dessert tasting!)
2. Sushi Nozawa -- succulentest fish
3. Josie -- venison, tagine
4. China Islamic -- lamb, handcut noodles
5. Mandaloun -- muhammara, hoummus w/ beef & pignolias
1) Kiriko - my local and my fave (lucky man am I)
2) La Playita - tops in the category of shack food!
3) Baguette Express - Banh Mi and Vietnamese iced coffee - if only I lived a lot closer
4) Meals By Genet - the only place to make me crave Ethiopian food more than once a season
5) Krua Thai - noisy, terribly lit, but does this place ever take me back to my days in Bangkok - and I have yet to even try their pad see ew!
1. Urasawa (40 courses)
2. Providence (12-14 courses)
3. Spago (14 courses)
4. Melisse (10-12 course)
5. Valentino (9 course)
All are based on Tasting Menus only in the last 3 months.
1. AOC (consistently great - menu changes so frequently that I can always mix old favorites and new dishes)
2. Angelini Osteria (pastas are heaven on a plate and (manager) Gino is as charming as can be)
3. Sona (would be no. 1 but I have only been once so not sure of consistency - 9-course tasting menu was the best meal I ever had in L.A.)
4. The Hungry Cat (refreshing spot with great seafood and cocktails - wish they'd add more whites to the wine list and use real wine glasses- still, LOVE it and make frequent visits)
5. Saito's Sushi - (omakase, all the time. Fresh as can be)
1) AOC - consistently heavenly
2) Sona - the best tasting menu evah
3) R23 - salmon you'll want to propose to
4) Patina - ambiance, service, and fabulous food
5) L'Orangerie - so romantic, so French
Arggh!! This was so hard for me! Thanks to the hounds I've had some AMAZING meals... both high end and low end... Here's the list of the restuarants that I would LOVE to go to this weekend...
1) Tacos Baja Ensenada: They sure have spruced up the place, but the tacos, rice and beans kept on to all their soul And best of all, free all you can eat roasted and salted chile guerros
2) AOC: I was lucky enough to have three meals there this year, an absolute COUP for me who rarely goes to the same restaurant twice...
3) Campanille: Since last we did this poll, I had a family supper at Campanille with the most perfect brussel sprouts ever
4) Sapp Coffee House: I dream of their boat noodles.
5) Bay Cities Deli: Godmother still makes me weak in the knees
The focus of the criteria is on what place would you recommend to houndly out-of-town visitors or to chowfriends for a special occasion. The ranking should be based 75% on food. That makes whatever is the 25% a moot issue. In-other-words, Food is everything in the ranking. When I think of houndly out-of-town visitors I think of me on the road. When I go to San Antonio I want the best Chicken Fried Steak and ambiance is moot. Therefore, if I were from NYC or Chicago I do not want a fancy steakhouse in L.A. (Got that at home). I want to know what local hounds go grindz maybe two or more times a month maybe once each week. That said, this is ware you will find me and this is what I would say a Chow-visitor should not miss before they go home -- IMO this is L.A.
El Parian Restaurant (Must try Carne asada, Goat, & Carnitas tacos. #1 because this food is not found in Chicago, NYC and Boston).
1528 W. Pico Blvd.
Petrillo's Pizza (Best sausage, pepperoni, cheese, sauce and crust in the USA. Because Chicago and NYC hounds need to know the truth about what a good pizza is)
833 E Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Carneys (Best Chili Dog w/ Chili cheese fries. Because Chicago and NYC hounds need to know the truth about what a good dog is)
8351 Sunset Blvd.
In-n-Out (For a triple-triple with extra pickel, Because Chicago and Boston Hounds need to know that a Ball of meat is not what makes a good burger. A good burger needs a higher ratio of cooked surface, hence a 3X3)
420 N. Santa Anita Ave. (A cool Two Lane drive thru w/ hot burgers, Driving in So. Cal is more cool than sitting in a pub some place)
Arcadia, California 91006
Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles (Best Fried Chicken, Best Waffles and Best syrup. Because all the big cities have chicken and waffles. Roscoes has it right and tops it all with the best syrup
)830 N Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA 91104-4560
1. sushi nozawa
i find myself returning despite all the negatives on decor/service because the food is just sublime. there's no creativity in presentation, no new or exotic items to look forward to, same 7 or 8 dishes everytime...but there's no denying the quality of fish is absolutely amazing.
1. Noe - Best meal I had in LA this year (12 course extravaganza). Granted it's not for everyone.
2. Bistro K - My budget, no corkage, ambitious go to place. I've taken people that are wowed by Laurent's cooking.
3. Sea Harbour (Rowland Heights) - Best damn dim sum to my taste.
4. Marouche - My sentimental favorite restaurant in LA. But the food still kicks ass.
5. Polla a la Brasa - Is there a better rotiserie chicken in LA?
Observations: No Italian. I continue to be underwhelmed by the Italian restaurants in LA save for Tre Venezie, which just missed making my top 5. The venerable Ruen Pair is usually in my top 5 but in the last 2 or 3 meals there, I'm noticing a slip. The "C" rating doesn't help either. Still it would be in my top 10. Mexican-I'm just not wowed by the places in my hood these days (Los Feliz, Silverlake, Atwater Village). I love Alegria on Sunset, but only for the Jason burrito with the salad on the side. I love their smokey bbq hot sauce, too. Tacos Villa Corona is very good, but not great. Granted, I haven't searched very enthusiastically. The other unfortunate observation is the absence of any non chic, "ethnic" type eateries from the top 5 as you can see below.
A big graceous thank you to the Grubs. This will be my third poll and I'm ever so grateful, you started this and take the time to compile the results. Your list always gets saved to my favorites.
For those of you that have not seen past polls, here you go:
The top 5 from 2004 Ultimate LA Restaraunts:
Spago 113 (27/15)
AOC 73 (21/8)
Water Grill 61 (16/5)
Lucques 50 (14/4)
Urasawa 35 (7/7)
The top 5 from 2003 Ultimate LA Restaraunts:
Spago Beverly Hills 74 (19/9)
Water Grill 46 (14/1)
AOC 41 (11/6)
Lucques 38 (10/3)
Angelina Osteria 36 (11/3)
2) Echigo [lunch special!]
3) Wat Thai Temple
4) Indo Cafe
5) In'n'Out [people talk about it all over the country]
As always, a hard call. These are the five places I am most likely to rec or take out of town visitors, ordered by how frequently I've taken an OOT visitor there in the last year.
Wa Sushi and Bistro
Whew, tough. Had to leave out some of my favorites. Based on your criteria:
2. Ruen Pair
3. Angelina Osteria
4. 888 Seafood
In no particular order ...
1. Dodgers Stadium (for a grilled Dodger Dog and a cold beer. I'm not a Dodgers fan and I don't think that Farmer John makes the best hot dogs, but Dodger Dog and a beer is a quintessential Los Angeles dining experience).
2. Tommy's (Beverly and Rampart) (I probably eat other hamburgers more often, but a Tommys chiliburger is a rite of passage in Los Angeles. I grew up going to the Roscoe Blvd location, the place every kid in the Valley met up after high school football games. But Beverly and Rampart is the original and the cross-section of people there clinches it for me).
3. Geoffreys (Malibu) (I was hesitant to name this place because so many Chowhounds know more about fine dining than I do. But I felt my list needed someplace with an ocean view and a ride up the coast, so I chose Geoffreys. I haven't been in a while, but really enjoyed it the times I was there. Go at sunset. Or in rainstorm. This choice pushed Hot Dog on a Stick at the Santa Monica Pier off my list.)
4. La Playita (Venice/Santa Monica border) (I knew my list needed a Mexican selection, but there were too many to choose from, what makes one the best. What makes L.A. great, though, is not just the Mexican food, but the fact that so much of it is available at taco trucks and little stands like this one. I chose La Playita because it's the one closest to my kid's school and therefore the one we go to the most.)
5. Musso and Frank's (Hollywood) - (Because of history and the power brokers and movie stars who have eaten there. What makes a restaurant better than another? What makes our best steak better than someone else's? I dunno. I chose Musso because my tour of L.A. recommendations needed the Hollywood touch. I considered Pacific Dining Car but decided that political L.A. history wasn't as much fun as Movieland history. I also considered Canter's, but went with Musso's.)
Not the 5 best, just my 5 favorites - in that they seem to be the places I go back to the most.
Apologies in advance that my choices are so Pasadena-centric! I haven't gotten out much lately due to work....
1. Z Sushi- just consistently delicious and creative sushi at reasonable prices. Great sake selection.
2. Blair's - Food is always good. Always.
3. Parkway Grill- again, consistently good and service is unbeatable. The chicken blew my socks off the last time I was there. Yes, the chicken.
4. Grace- elegant and delicious food, love the bread and service is always impeccable.
5. Cafe Atlantic- great new little cafe that has amazing tapas and great sandwiches. Perfect ambience as well- Pasadena has needed a place like this for awhile.
1-Pacific Dining Car-The food, the service. Whenever I feel like being pampered, I am there. All they need is a masseuse and I would be the happiest person in the world.
2-Babita-The Chef is an artist. Forget the menu, just ask him what's inspiring him at the moment, you won't regret it.
3-Triumphal Palace-It is all that. My whole family is in agreement and for a Chinese family to agree on a Chinese restaurant, that's something.
4-Gerlach's-Where else can you get a great piece of grilled fish and sauteed veggies, rice and salad for uder $10 smackers!
5-KPs Vietnamese American Deli-Honestly the only thing I crave during the week is a KPs Cold Cut. I could eat that every day!
1. aoc (always splendid)
2. mastro's (meat has never tated so good)
3. sushi sasabune (the new location is great)
4. langer's (better than katz, for sure)
5. din tai fung (the wait just makes the dumplings taste even better)
For Hounds stuck in Long Beach, here is my list:
-- Frenchy's Bistro
-- King's Pine Avenue Fish House
Humble-- but solid performers all. Besides, other geographic areas in LA County are well-represented. Why not grimy ol' Long Beach?
1. Sona - tasting menu with wine pairings 2. Normans - interesting item: sashimi and sausage appetizer. And one of the few places in town that doesn't shake a manhattan. 3. Sea Harbour - both for dinner and dim sum 4. Hungry Cat - cant wait for the skate to return 5. Zankou - obviously
1) ursawa...however there is no "great" restaurant in this town...alinea in chicago is the best in the country...urasawa ia the closest thing
3) water grill
5) spago/ and possibly angelini osteria
1. Dinah's (for a well done, extra cinnamon Apple Pancake.)
2. Midori (3 valley locations to satiate your sushi craving with made to order all you can eat sushi that is by the far the best AYCE sushi in town.
3. Mu Dung San AYCE korean bbq that will spike your cholestrol at least 20 pts by the time you have overeaten yourself to satiation. p.s. the spareribs are different but good and the duck is to be avoided.
4. Canters- not for the deli, but the bakery up front where you can get the best grande custard filled eclair in town 24/7.
5. Vito's pizza- a great slice from people so nice. first time chowhounders can mention chowhound and get a free slice.
for me, the food is 97.5% and everything else is 2.5%
This was tough. But I took the challenge seriously. I have lived in Los Angeles for almost ten years and when here eat out almost every night. I travel abroad about two months each year, originate from New York City and frequent the cities of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Rome and Shanghai the most. In setting my criteria of what is essentially the best five LA restaurants – I thought – I could easily list my five favorite Chinese restaurants in Monterey Park, San Gabriel or Alhambra and be done with it. As no other city in the country is hitting the levels of the Chinese culinary explosion than what is currently happening here in LA. Yes I love Mozza - but there is much better pizza in New York and Chicago. What are the places - thinking equally across the board – where I could bring friends to in LA where upon returning back home they would have trouble recreating the same experience or would have to fly to particular location to relive its authenticity. Valentino and La Buca are fine restaurants but you can fly to Vegas and have your Italian doors blown off on higher levels at two or three places without even having to mention going to New York or Chicago for at least 10 better levels of Italian. I wouldn't go near French in LA. My friends in Berkeley know Thai on a whole other level. And as for next generation high-end eateries (Spago/Maestros/Patina/Cut/Providence/etc) - one could easily name 5 restaurants in the cities of Chicago - San Francisco and New York high on the cutting culinary edge, which can sadly pummel the "best" high-end eatery LA has to offer. Of note what is missing sadly from my list (and almost everyone else’s) is a Korean or Mexican restaurant. I eat Korean at least three times a month and while LA has some fine Korean restaurants none hit the levels of what I have eaten in either Seoul or even mid town Manhattan. Mexican in Los Angeles breaks my heart. There is no reason why we should not have ten of the top Mexican restaurants in this country. I eat in La Paz or in Mexico City and wonder not what is going on with the Mexican restaurant scene in Los Angeles but where is it – as it truly doesn’t exist – not even on the same levels as it does in Texas and/or Arizona – not even close.
Thus my list.
1. Dai Tai Fung (25% the dumplings - 75% the cost of having to buy a ticket to Shanghai or Taiwan to experience the same dumpling)
2. Campanile (25% one of the most consistent kitchens in LA - in addition to the wine list and having its own bakery next door -- 75% the restaurant situated within Charlie Chaplin’s old film studio/offices)
3. Pacific Dining Car (downtown location only) - 25% they dry age their own meats - Denzel Washington shot a scene from "Training Day" in the main dining room - an amazingly impressive and affordable wine list - incredible steaks and 75% where else will you find this high level of an eating establishment open 7 days a week 24 hours a day in any city?
4. Daikokuya - 25% the homemade broth - 75% the handmade noodles -- it is dingy - yes the line is always long - but it is eclectic is hip and to me it is essentially LA - go on a cold fall night - eat the raumen and sleep well knowing you’ve just eaten one of the best dishes LA has to offer.
5. Sushi Nozawa - This was hard. As I truly believe if no other list on this board look nothing alike one thing in common should be that each one should have listed a Sushi restaurant as what LA does better than almost anywhere else in the country is Sushi and the variety of places to experience it here in Los Angeles is unparalleled in the US. Nozawa got my vote, as it was one of the first sushi restaurants I visited upon arriving here in LA and it is still serving consistently reliable and amazing sushi. Yes there are fancier places - yes I enjoy certain dishes more at other restaurants - but I gave my vote to Nozawa's crab roll and having overall served some of the best sushi I have eaten in LA for over 10 years.