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Best Cheap Unusual L.A.restaurants

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A friend is coming into town who is a very adventurous eater. He's from New York. Any ideas for food he couldn't get anywhere else? Or the very best LA food of its kind (Mexican, burgers, etc.)

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    1. Take him to the San Gabriel Valley!!!
      NYT did a whole thing on eating there...

      2 Replies
      1. re: mendogurl

        A person from NY would probably not really find anything in SGV to be all that unusual, more like quite usual if they've ever been to Flushing or points thereabouts. Food might be better in SGV, but unusual? Nope.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Does Flushing are elsewhere have a great beef roll? Beijing lamb skewers and beef rolls - yumm-e!

      2. also, korean sashimi? complete with octopus heads and all?

        3 Replies
        1. re: ns1

          Yeah, a place like Hwal A Kwang Jang for sannakji would definitely be unusual, although not necessarily cheap, however.

          1. re: ns1

            If one hasn't seen this famous (infamous?) video clip from eating live octopus at The Prince in K-town it never fails to get a laugh: http://www.vimeo.com/388584

            1. re: Servorg

              I should add that there are places in NY that have live octopus as well. Most notably Sik Gaek, as well as a few in Flushing.

          2. You want restaurants with unusual food, not unusual restaurants, right?

            In either case, you might be hard pressed to find any place like Ricky's Fish Tacos in NYC.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Peripatetic

              i don't know, baja style fish tacos are pretty normal to anyone on the west coast. Might be different for east coasters?

              RFT still worthy of a visit though. Add Mexicali Taco Co while you're at it

              1. re: ns1

                I took the OP's use of the word "unusual" to mean "unusual to a New Yorker".

                1. re: Peripatetic

                  Fish Tacos are HUGELY different to folks on the east coast.

                2. you could always visit a vietnamese coffee shop.

                  GOT THOSE IN NY!?!?

                  4 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          maybe we should start by saying what ny DOESN'T have

                  1. just recently, i had tacos at some stand that was set up on serrano and 3rd in koreatown. al pastor from a split. $1 tacos. very good. lots of people coming by. tried looking for a review elsewhere and couldn't find a thing. stuff like that is probably tough to find in ny. just the quality of street tacos in la vs ny is beyond compare.

                    while there are kogi copies now in ny, it's worth trying the original. that and chego.

                    1. Oki Dog - bring the Pepto.

                      Gaja Moc in Lomita. Not cheap, but not expensive either.

                      Gaja Moc
                      2383 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717

                      Oki Dog
                      860 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

                      1. Oki-Dog.

                        you'll find plenty of info if you Google, and among the hits will be this write-up from fellow Hound pleasurepalate....

                        Oki Dog
                        860 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

                        1. I don't really care if NYC already has it, but I think you should try Goat's Blood Jello at Binh Dan.


                          Binh Dan
                          10040 McFadden Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Might as well throw in Eddie Lin and "Deep End Dining," as a reference for the unusual...


                          2. not being familiar with new york, it took a while for me to run through the possibilities. you can find almost anything in new york, except for maybe one thing:


                            available on saturdays at natraliart.

                            Natraliart Food Market
                            3426 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018

                            1. Wurstküche
                              "Purveyor of Exotic Grilled Sausages"


                              1. As everyone else has mentioned there is not much here foodwise that you could not find in NYC. So these are my suggestions for dining experiences that you might not find elsewhere. Though not really cheap for dinner they could try Saddle Peak Lodge at happy hour. And maybe not really adventurous they might like to try Neptune's Net (for the biker ambiance) or Malibu Seafood (for the view) or Inn of the 7th Ray (for the hippie dippie ambiance). If that fails you could just send them to Noshi Sushi and tell them to order the Nattō.

                                Saddle Peak Lodge
                                419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302

                                Noshi Sushi
                                4430 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004

                                1. Omar's Xinjiang Halal Restaurant

                                  I do not like lamb in general but they are known for their lamb dishes. Their Big Plate Chicken w/ Hand Pulled Noodles is really unique and inexpensive.

                                  Omar's Xinjiang Halal Restaurant
                                  1719 N New Ave, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                  1. Regional Mexican, e.g., pescado zarendeado at many of the sinaloan/nayarit style mariscos joints,
                                    carne asada BBQ joints, Yucatecan, Oaxacan, guisado burritos, breakfast burritos, LA style tacos (i.e., Tito's), birria at birrierias, Ensanada style fish tacos, taquitos
                                    Guatemalan ceviche at La Cevicheria
                                    Cook it yourself kababs at Feng Mao Mutton Kabab
                                    Better than NYC, but not as good as New Orleans cajun/creole food
                                    Cambodian food in Long Beach
                                    Regional Thai food (southern, Issan, boat noodles, wild boar curry, etc.)
                                    Chicken plate at Dino's
                                    Persian food and Persian ice cream
                                    A good version of Chiu Chow saday (sate) noodles
                                    Imagawayaki at Mitsuru Cafe

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: E Eto

                                      E Eto thanks for the tips. glad to see that some one just put it out there.
                                      Ill add:

                                      Al Watan
                                      How about Breed Street
                                      Any Taco Stand read: www.streetgourmetla.com

                                      Al Watan
                                      13619 Inglewood Ave, Hawthorne, CA 90250

                                      1. re: Foodandwine

                                        You're welcome, but I'm not sure why Al Watan would be on the list, when Pakistani and all kinds of halal foods are ubiquitous in NYC. Also, there are good tacos to be had in NYC, which is why I didn't include them in my post and concentrated on the other regional foods of Mexico.

                                      1. There is a great place in Anaheim Hills called Slaters 50/50. Some of the best burgers around and the 50/50 is half ground beef and half ground bacon. It's a heart attack in the making but oh so good.

                                        1. Raw milk
                                          Ondal -- crab stew
                                          Hotteok -- can find in NYC but very difficult; much easier in LA

                                          3160 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                                          1. If your friend is angling for the "deep end dining" experience, you might be interested in the chicken anuses at Ogamdo (a Korean-style Chinese restaurant decorated to look (sort of) like an Adirondack ski lodge):


                                            Ogamdo Cafe
                                            842 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Peripatetic

                                              These are actually found at many Korean drinking joints. Apparently a good version is served at I think Go Hyang San Chon in Garden Grove and possibly Jang Toh as well. I wouldn't know since I don't eat chicken these days and if I did, I wouldn't eat these.

                                              That said, Korean food in LA is light years ahead of New York (Momofuku doesn't count since it's not really that Korean).

                                              Jang Toh Restaurant
                                              9872 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                                            2. Last I knew, NY did not have a large Thai population, so possibly a place like Jitlada would be unique for your friend. Not cheap, cheap, but not expensive either. And they have regional Thai cuisine there too, so you can probably find some very unique dishes. Lunch specials are usually a good buy. There are probably many other smaller, lesser known Thai places that are good too, in Thai town.

                                              Also, I know when I moved here, places like Pink's and La Super Rica taquieria in SB were very unique to LA. Now, it's been a (little) while since I've been dining low key in NY, but these would fill the bill as far as cheap, and slightly unusual for a NYer, unless they now have taquieria's with homemade tortillas on every corner now. And I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Although Pink's gets no love here, grabbing that burrito dog with chili, cheese, onions, relish, mustard & bacon was very unique to me when I first moved here. A gut bomb, but good.

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

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                                How is a taqueria 100 miles away in Santa Barbara very unique to Los Angeles?

                                                1. re: Ernie

                                                  Well, it was unique to me in that I came 3,000 miles to try the place. I had never been to a taquiera that made fresh tortillas hourly in the burbs of Boston & Providence at that time.

                                                  And which major metropolis is closest to Santa Barbara??? I didn't say it was part of LA, but it's certainly close by enough for a day trip.

                                                  Picky, much??

                                              2. I would take him to a good taco truck. There's one on Fair Oaks in Pasadena that I like, but I don't know the name. Very cheap, and very delicious. Get a three taco plate and an horchata or a Mexican Coke for under $5. I like lengua, carne asada and pollo. Load them with all the fixings. There are many taco trucks out there, so just do a search on this board for taco trucks in the part of the city where you will be.

                                                One thing I never found in NYC was Persian food. I'm sure that's changed now. When I lived there, there was only one Persian restaurant in the whole city. I'm sure that's changed now, as it's been over a decade.

                                                That said, take your friend out for some Persian food: Shamshiri Grill or Shahrzad in Westwood, or if you are east of downtown, go to Raffi's Place. Depending on what you order, you could probably get dinner and a drink for about 20 bucks each.


                                                Shamshiri Grill
                                                1712 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                                Raffi's Place Restaurant
                                                211 E Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205

                                                1422 Westwood Boulevard, Westwood, CA