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In Los Angeles for a weekend. Where do i have to go?

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I will be in LA for a weekend at the end of the month and was wondering what the culinary must-dos are thereabouts. I have been lurking on this list for a while and have definitely picked up that BBQ is a big deal out there. That surprised me. Other than that though I have not really seen anything that stands out. What should I be looking for (both categories and specific restaurants)? I would definitely like to do a nice dinner or two at a fancy place but also would like some tips on more casual, street food type LA standouts. Any ideas are appreciated.

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  1. To start you off, I'd say to visit this thread about the Farmer's Market, which is on 3rd and Fairfax, for all your "casual food" needs.

    I'd also venture to say to skip BBQ if you're only here for a weekend. Definitely replace that with Mexican. There are tons of threads on good local Mexican. Just do a search and you'll find stuff!

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    1 Reply
    1. s
      Silverlake Bodhisattva

      So, where are you coming from, where will you be, what transport will you be using, and what do you like/hate?

      I'd say Thai (the Wat, maybe?) Oaxacan, Chinese in the SGV (dim sum on the morning you're NOT at the Wat?)Tamales at Macarthur Park, for the daytime; nicer dinner, the "upscale" places in SGV, Water Grill, Providence, maybe AOC...

      7 Replies
      1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

        Concur on all these questions.
        I will add that if sushi is of interest, you will find over 25 in Studio City alone, and one on about every other corner of the west side, however described.

        1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

          first off. thanks for the reply. i am coming from NYC. have to say i like most things, not a big sushi fan which i know is something that LA is supposed to do up real good. aside from that i am very open. lots of talk about mexican which i like but i rarely find inspirational. maybe this is my chance to change that. i guess i really want something that i will not find in NYC. i am staying right in the middle of LA (South Grand Avenue it looks like), i will have a car and will be visiting some friends though i have no idea where they live as of now. i definitely am not opposed to going out of my way for food that is worth it.

          1. re: ecl

            Oh, you're staying downtown? Definitely check out the Grand Central Market...its very close....Maria's Seafood for their fish tacos and other assorted seafood dishes. Great stuff.

            Link: http://www.grandcentralsquare.com/

            1. re: ecl

              If you're downtown (and walking distance from the sublime Walt Disney Concert Hall), go to the restaurant there for lunch. Forgotten the name, but it is really good.

              An essential downtown trip is Phillipe's, home of the hand-dipped sandwich. I personally don't like the dipped gravy idea, but the sandwiches are wonderful, as is the mustard (I always bring a couple of jars home to NYC with me).

              Locals will give you the best Mexican opportunities, but two more restaurants that are highly recommended are Lucques, run by the great chef Susanne Goin, and Josie's in Santa Monica, if you can make it over to the west side.

              1. re: ecl
                Silverlake Bodhisattva

                Serenata de Garibaldi (Mex. seafood E. LA) or Guelaguetza (Oaxacan) might inspire you. I'd definitely hit a Thai place, too.

                R Gould-saltman

                1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

                  Make sure you live it up Mexican. You can't beat LA anywhere, even Mexico, for the variety of styles.

                  Hit up Guelaguetza. Very famous place. Black Mole is a must. (8th and Normandie, not too far from where you'll be) LA's the Oaxacan capital of the states and we're all very happy for it. (Though, my personal favorite Oaxacan place is on the westside, El Sazon at Grandview and Washington Pl)

                  Oldest standing restaurant in LA is Philippe's downtown by the Train Station (1929 or something like that) for some affordable French Dip and a pickled egg.

                  Yucatecan food for a quick bite if you wanna head to Los Feliz Village is Yuca's Hut. Conchinita Pibil, Yucatecan style pork, is as inspirational as it gets.

                  Drive to East Los and Tacos Baja Ensenada for the very hyped best fish taco I've ever had.

                  Besides Mexican, Korean. Los Angeles Korea Town out does Korea sometimes. A lot of the Korean dishes were invented in LA and brought back. K-town is amazing, but I don't have any specific headsups for you.

                  Good luck have fun I'm jealous and stuck in bland Bay Area.

                2. re: ecl

                  It would be a shame not to experience Water Grill, since you will be downtown:

              2. The Los Angeles Hot Dog quest. Although I'm not really a fan, I think its a must do (Sorry, I've been watching the LA Episode of A Cook's Tour too much where Bourdain visited Tail of the Pup, Pinks and Oki Dog). Of those, you should go check out Pinks Hot Dogs...just to say that you went there. Strange and weird combinations of toppings....it definitely fits the street food. Always a longish line, a bit underwhelming, but its a vurnerable LA experience. Also, its of the good fortune of being on Melrose if you're into people watching/shopping.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Xericx

                  The original poster might be forewarned that his ENTIRE weekend may end up in the line at Pinks FWIW

                  1. re: Mealcentic

                    Hey, its not part of the pink's experience if you're not looking at the "cooks" with disdain and thinking of ways that they can expedite their modus operandi.

                2. I'll stick my neck out there and say that BBQ, though being a hot topic lately, isn't king on this board. I would try our ethnic offerings, Korean BBQ in K-Town, Chinese food in the San Gabrial Valley and Mexican.

                  If you're here only for a weekend, you would be better off checking out these types of food, rather than BBQ. IF you post back with where in LA you will be and you mode of transport, you'll get lots of recs.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mealcentric

                    This is a list I give all friends and relatives coming to L.A.

                    3 places for Breakfast

                    Rutt’s Hawaiian Café (Try the Royal w/ Bacon FRIED Rice and Pourtugese Sausage, Bean Sprouts & Onions, also Loco Moco, and great Burgers)
                    12114 Washington Blvd.
                    Culver City
                    (310) 398-6326

                    Eat At Joe's (Any omelet, also try the “John Wayne Special, be early or you will wait)
                    400 N. Pacific Coast Highway
                    Redondo Beach, CA 90277
                    (310) 376-9570

                    Pann’s (Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner / Must Try Country Fried Steak & eggs, Fried Chicken Wings are a must try, Split Pea soup, Meatloaf, Fried chicken, Rosemary Chicken, Stuffed chicken, Fish & Chips, Every night a different Blue Plate Special – Lasagna, Pot Roast, Fried Chicken, Pot Roast, Ribs and Turkey )
                    6710 La Tijera Blvd.
                    LA, CA 90045
                    (310) 670-1441 (323) 776-3770
                    Home page, http://www.panns.com/Catering, http://www.panns.com/catering.htm

                    6 places for Lunch or low dollar Dinner

                    El Parian Restaurant (Must try Carne asada, Goat, & Carnitas tacos).
                    1528 W. Pico Blvd.
                    Los Angeles
                    (213) 386-7361

                    Petrillo's Pizza (Best sausage & pepperoni in the USA.)
                    833 E Valley Blvd
                    San Gabriel, CA 91776
                    (626) 280-7332

                    Carney’s (Best Chili Dog w/ Chili cheese fries
                    )8351 Sunset Blvd.

                    In-n-Out (For a triple-triple with extra pickel)
                    420 N. Santa Anita Ave
                    Arcadia, California 91006

                    Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles (Best Fried Chicken Breast, Best Waffles and Best syrup) 830 N Lake Ave
                    Pasadena, CA 91104-4560
                    (626) 791-4890

                    California Chicken Café (Best Chinese Chicken Salad, several locations
                    )6805 Melrose Avenue (between LaBrea & Highland at the North/West corner of Mansfield)
                    Los Angeles, CA 90038
                    (323) 935-5877

                    Dinner, Note, Lawry's and Tam O'Shanter are run by the same owners and IMO a great meal. Also, The Hot Fudge Sundae dessert is a must have – Made w/ C.C. Browns Hot Fudge sauce
                    Lawry's The Prime Rib (Prime Rib, Hot Fudge Sundae)
                    100 N. La Cienega Boulevard
                    Beverly Hills, CA 90211
                    (310) 652-2827
                    Lawry's Home Page
                    C.C. Brown Hot Fudge Sauce http://www.lawrysonline.com/e-store/p...

                    Tam O'Shanter Inn (New York, Prime Rib, Lobster, Turkey Platter, Baby Back Hot Fudge Sundae
                    )2980 Los Feliz Boulevard
                    Los Angeles, California 90039
                    (323) 664-0228

                    Hop Li (Chinese, Located in LA’s Chinatown, Everything on the menu is good)
                    526 Alpine St
                    Los Angeles, CA 90012-2308
                    (213) 680-3939
                    Cross Street: Hill Street

                    Two Places to grab a sandwich for the trip back home. Both are ten minutes from LAX ( if you flying
                    Uncle Darrow's (Shrimp, Oyster Po’Boy - request grilled fish to be healthier, Peach Cobbler) original post by Xericx
                    2560 S Lincoln Blvd
                    Marina del Rey, CA 90291
                    (310) 306-4862Cross Street: Washington Boulevard

                    Original Rinaldi's (Maybe the Best Italian combo in L.A., Meat Ball sandwich, Hot Chicken sandwich) original post by Wes 1/8
                    323 Main St.
                    El Segundo, CA 90245
                    (310) 647-2860
                    From N. Sepulveda Blvd go West on E. Grand to Main St.
                    From W. Imperial Ave. Go South on Main
                    Right across from the Fire Department

                  2. Here's my suggestions for someone staying downtown for a weekend (leaving off sushi since you said you're not a fan, although I did consider there might be spots that could change your mind).

                    1) Lunch @ Grand Central Market. Sounds like you'll be within walking distance, and you'll get both the flavor of downtown LA (the seediness, the potential, etc.) and a chance to sample some tacos. Perhaps not the absolute best in LA, but the atmosphere and closeness make up for it.

                    *GRAND CENTRAL MARKET
                    317 S. Broadway
                    Los Angeles, CA 90013
                    Monday - Sunday 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
                    Telephone: (213) 624-2378

                    2) Alternate lunch idea: Phillipe's the Original. On Alameda, across and up a bit from Union Station. You can either take a DASH bus straight there (the financial district DASH runs to Chinatown) or the red line metro to Union Station, or drive. French dip beef, turkey, lamb, old school pie, weak lemondade, 15 cent coffee, sawdust on the floors, a bit of old Los Angeles.

                    *Philippe The Original
                    1001 N. Alameda St.
                    Los Angeles CA. 90012
                    (1 block north of Union Station, Olvera St, and the Hollywood 101 Freeway at Alameda and Ord St.)
                    (213) 628-3781

                    3) Second alternate lunch idea. Mama's Hot Tamales. For this, easiest thing is to take the red line to MacArthur Park station. The tamale shop is facing the park. Be warned: not the greatest area. BUT a neat experience, not equaled in New York, of getting to taste tamales with the recipes coming from all over Central and South America.

                    *Mama's Hot Tamales
                    2122 West Seventh Street
                    Los Angeles, CA 90057
                    Open everyday (including weekends) 8:30 am to 2:30 pm.

                    I would recommend you spend some time in Santa Monica. If you want to go in the morning (that way you can see the beach in the daylight) you could consider driving to:

                    -- Joe's in Venice. Their brunch is supposed to be very good. And they are very much a typical California-style restaurant.

                    *JOES RESTAURANT
                    1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
                    Venice, CA 90291
                    (310) 399-5811

                    -- If you are not a big breakfast eater, you might be go to the Santa Monica farmer's market at 3rd & Arizona. Stop somewhere nearby for coffee, and stroll around, picking up some baked goods and fresh fruit, or maybe even some cheese if and bread if you feel like a picnic later. This market is not quite as good as the one on the same spot on Wednesdays, but it's still good entertainment.

                    Arizona Ave & 3rd St.

                    For dinner:

                    Downtown: Patina for everything and the Disney Hall setting; Water Grill for seafood (your hotel will know where these are
                    Elsewhere: Angelini Osteria (for food and a chance to see the scene on Beverly Blvd.), or Lucques or AOC for everything. Search this board for reviews ...

                    1. Agree on the suggestion of picking a farmers market and just taking in the abundance of beautiful produce southern california has to offer. Of course, almost every stall will give out samples, which is a bonus. google southern california farmers markets for locations and times.

                      If the weather is nice, get out of downtown and drive PCH to Malibu stopping at Malibu Seafood, a little shack on the non-ocean side of the highway, for wonderful fresh seafood at reasonable prices.

                      1. fish tacos at tacos baja in east los angeles on whittier and oakford, they also have shrimp tacos....and yeah, skip the bbq, the city of angels is not really known for it

                        1. Wow!! I grew up in LA and I don't think I can get all of these great recommendations in on one trip! All are great recommendations and I think trying the Mexican food out here is a MUST... just like trying the pizza in NY is a must. If you can travel a bit to east LA, try out the famous El Tepeyac. And (although it may not be a big favorite with Angeleno foodies) you can also give Tommy's Burgers a shot.

                          1. If you don't get to L.A. very often, and you've never been to the Getty Center, it's a great place to visit and sunset dinner at the restaurant is a lovely experience.

                            1. A New Yorker eh. Well, I am glad that you give LA such "respect" by even thinking that LA can offer something that NY cannot.

                              if you live here and explore here, there are very good places to eat in LA, but for tourists, especially from NYC, nothing really stands out, although many places are very good.

                              Your best bet food in LA would be taco trucks (just search chowhound for the best) that make FRESH tortillas. Oaxacan places that have great savory moles! Somewhat imaginative mexican food with places like Babita in San Gabriel. And sorts of chinese food from the San Gabriel Valley. Of course, Japanese and korean food of all types (not just sushi and k-bbq) are also exceptional in LA.

                              Also of interest in LA could be places like Lucques simply because of their salads and seasonal ingredients. CA has phenomenal fresh produce, so getting some delicious seasonal, truly farm fresh salads are always a very good bet.

                              I dont know how common buratta(mozzarella and mascoporne cheese) is in NYC, but in LA, it is extremely common. To get your fill of it, I would try the mozzarella bar at Osteria Mozza. Dont get a reservation or sit at a table, but go STRAIGHT the mozzarella bar and have all sorts of appetizers and wine. If you really want to order other food there (that is inferior to Manhattan italian), search chowhound and get ideas on what is best to order. The fowl is supposed to be very good.

                              In a similar spirit, you should try artisinal CA pizza at Casa Bianca or BETTER YET, at pizzeria mozza. I would go very late at night to avoid the wait, say 10-11pm, and sit at the bar. Get some pizza, appetizers (especially the various bruschettas), and more wine.

                              I know you dont like raw food, but the raw bar at the Hungry Cat in hollywood is very good. Grab some oysters, fantastic wine or microbrew beer, some raw fish, or an absolutely fantastic cocktail. The burger there is also extremely good. It is in the heart of hollywood (which isnt much to see YET, but getting there).

                              You are downtown, so the bar food and drinks at the edison bar are always fun!

                              There are all sorts of other notables like pig candy and cheese at Lou on Vine, tasting menus at providence, cajun food in run down south LA (harold and belles or creole kitchen), ethopian food on fairfax ave in little ethiopia, beer and food pairings at blue velvet near downtown, french-japanese cuisine, etc. etc.

                              Just a warning about downtown. Downtown LA is improving slowly but surely, but it is still about 10 years away from being a truly awesome neighorhood. I like going downtown, but i wouldnt like it if i were a tourist. Anyhow, many of the businesses close on the weekends, so I dont know what will be consistently open.

                              notable bars are seven grand and the edison, or if you are a tourist and dont mind crappy velvet ropes, the standard hotel and takami elevate lounge offer great views.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jlrobe

                                I second the motion - MEXICAN! Just look east for the MECCA of ALL Taco Trucks, Olympic Blvd . It starts at Olympic Blvd and Soto Street in Boyle Heights and flows eastward towards Atlantic Blvd in East Los Angeles. Here you find trucks creating the best Mexican food from ALL parts of Mexico.
                                If you need a good listing of ALL the major players in the Taco Truck league check out: http://tacohunt.blogspot.com/ . It's been inactive for a while but it should give you an idea of what is offered.

                                This should be one top of your list, Taco Trucks are really big here in Los Angeles. They offer some amazing food and you can't beat the street atmosphere. A little Spanish goes a long way.

                                Also The San valley offers more top rated Chinese Restaurants outside of China. Start at Valley Blvd. and Garfield Ave in Alhambra!

                                1. re: jlrobe

                                  Since we've revived an ancient topic...

                                  What stands out in Los Angeles at this time of year is the produce. Local produce in New York at the end of February is horrendous -- all cabbages and broccoli and sweet potatoes and hardly any fruit at all except apples and pears. You can GET other fruit, but it's always shipped in from elsewhere (here in California, Florida, Israel, Chile...) and suffers for the voyage.

                                  Whereas if a tourist came to LA at the end of February and roamed the Wednesday Santa Monica market, or the Saturday Irvine, or the Sunday Hollywood, he or she would find the season's very first strawberries, tiny tender artichokes, young asparagus, green garlic, avocadoes, fantastic citrus the likes of which can't be got in New York without spending a fortune, guavas, dates... all grown within 100 miles of the city, and all quite cheap. Strawberries, even in season, in New York, are very expensive, whereas here three pints can be got for $7, and cheaper than that at the height of season.

                                  It'd almost be worth renting an apartment or room with a kitchenette just to be able to cook.

                                2. so true, but if you come to l.a. and not expect to wage war with traffic, then you shouldn't come here, besides, it'll give em' something to talk about when they get back, fyi, stay away from the freeways coming into the city in the mornings, and then out of in the afternoon, early evening, monday thru friday,

                                  i won't recommend going to the pantry, but the cafe next door has been re-invented, it's now riordan's tavern, i haven't eaten there yet, but i checked it out with my honey bunny (after we had killed a roast beef at the um....pantry), the decor is business casual, not stuffy at all, the watering area was has a semi sports bar feel with some decent selections of draft beers, and a full bar, the menu prices are competitive to the landmark eatery, but we were assured that the dishes surpass it, mind you, both places are owned by the same guy, richard, go figure