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West Coast Bias (WCB)

Good day Los Angeles area,

Next month I'll be visiting LA, I'm from Philadelphia and have never been to LA. For about 3 weeks to a month I'll be staying with family. I know there are so many things to see and do, I just don't know where to start first. While in the area I hope to visit a few college friends, see the sights, and catch a Dodgers game. I'm not sure as of yet where in LA I'll be staying but when I do I'll update this post. I'm 24 years old and will probably be spending my 25th birthday (June 22nd) in LA. I would like to make the most of this visit by being entertained and eating in the places that the locals deem the best. I don't understand how certain TV shows can claim that a certain restaurant, bar, or shop is tops when the city is so big. I want to hear the opinions of the LA CHOWHOUNDS, the people who matter. Because you live, breathe, and eat in the city of Angels. I want your opinion on the most underrated, underappreciated, and diamond in the rough Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert spots in all of LA. For the record I don't eat pork. Without further adieu engulf me with your knowledge LA Chowhounds.

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  1. Read through this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785851 then dine at each spot. Then report back. ;-D> This is actually a very good thread as a first pass for LA eats.

    1 Reply
    1. Not on the other list is Philippe's one of two places in LA that lay claim to the origin of the French Dip. My favorite is the lamb, and the mustard (heavy with horseradish) is great. It is adjacent to Chinatown and a good spot to eat before going to Dodger Stadium. If you do go to the Stadium, make sure you get an all-beef dog, since the original Dodger Dog is pork.

      Another can't miss hole in the wall is Tommy's Burgers on Rampart and Beverly, a good option after a Dodger Game (though it is in a very dodgy neighborhood); one of the best burgers anywhere is the Double Double Animal Style you can order at any In-and-Out, but your college buddies should know about the In-and-Out.

      I am not a huge fan of Pink's, but it is an LA Institution and great for people watching. If you have adventurous friends/families, LA has large Thai, Korean and Vietnamese populations. Thai Town is near Hollywood, and the Korean and Vietnamese centers are in Northern Orange County. I really like Lighthouse Korean BBQ and Brodard (very casual) and Brodard Chateau (more upscale) are very good Vietnamese spots, though there are lots and lots of other good options as well.

      One of my favorite places for a drink in LA is the rooftop bar at the Standard in Downtown LA. Make sure you get there early, I love the transition from daytime to night time nestled among the big buildings Downtown. I would stay away on weekends though, it will be expensive and club-like, if not reserved outright.

      -----
      Philippe the Original
      1001 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

      Tommy's Original World Famous
      2575 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

      Pink's
      709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

      Brodard Restaurant
      9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

      Cole's
      118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

      Brodard Chateau
      9100 Trask Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

      Lighthouse Korean BBQ
      1307 S Beach Blvd, La Habra, CA 90631

      9 Replies
      1. re: ocshooter

        Philippe's is mediocre. I've had the double-dipped lamb several times, and the meat is kinda dry (thus needing the double-dipping) while the double-dipping makes the bread soggy, not to mention not every part of the sandwich gets dipped. I think not providing the au jus on the side so diners can dip as they eat is a detriment. The mustard is great though. I don't know if the French dip at Cole's is any better, but inside Cole's is The Varnish, if you want good (but expensive) "artisan" cocktails.

        Pink's is terrible. Skooby's on Hollywood Blvd. is much better, though its menu is much more limited.

        I prefer Japanese yakiniku to Korean BBQ (Tsuruhashi in Fountain Valley is my go-to place), but if it's Korean you seek, Park's BBQ in Koreatown is probably the best. Go with lots of people though, because the portions of meat are sized accordingly.

        I definitely think the OP should concentrate on the great ethnic cuisines we have that Philly is lacking.

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

        Skooby's
        6654 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

        1. re: mrhooks

          agree with MrHooks, re: Philippes

          A lot of people LOVE Philippes but the fact that it is such a polarizing institution should tell you something.

          1. re: ns1

            Love it or hate it, doing a food tour of what is unique from LA would be incomplete without Philippe's or Coles. I think the quality has gone down, and the price has gone up, but I still love it. It would be like going to Philly and not having a cheesesteak at either Pat's or Gino's.

            1. re: ocshooter

              I would never recommend Pat's or Geno's to people visiting Philly and looking for a good cheesesteak...though there is something to be said from a sociological point of view for witnessing the ordering process at Pat's.

              1. re: New Trial

                I agree with you those places are for the tourists. I would recommend Jim's Steak or a host of others. I want to come to LA and eat at the places the tourists don't know about. I don't want to go to the typical places that we see on TV.

                1. re: Hungrierthanever

                  Phillippes isn't a tourist place per se. It is just a place that people go for the sense memory of being there since it has always been there and it is different from everyplace else. Probably most people there are locals. But they aren't there for the best food. So you have to decide how much you are travelling to find a sense of place, and how much you care about the gustatory experience. In some cases these are the same, but in some cases they are not. Farmers Market is similar. It is a very great good place. It is also a huge tourist draw, and only a few stands there have very good food. But, we have gone there week after week for 19 years and bought our doughnuts from the same women behind the counter.

                  So, my recommendation would be not to exclude places that tourists go to, but to include places that locals go to.....which in LA can be the same places. (And remember that so much is shot in LA, that almost everything is on TV eventually. )

                  1. re: Hungrierthanever

                    Jim's was my go to cheesesteak place during my years in Philly (now, when I visit, I seem to favor Tony Luke's). There are a few decent versions in L.A. (some of which even fly in Amoroso rolls), including a surprisingly good food truck's called the South Philly Experience. However, in L.A., you want the places like those mentioned in the links Servorg and wienermobile provided and those listed by bulavinaka, as well as Elite, El Parian, Mo-Chica, Monte Alban, Pal Cabron. For your Birthday meal, if you want to splurge, Osteria Mozza, Providence and Spago remain strong choices but Hatfield's is also worth consideration. Once you can tell us the geographic areas you will be in and around, we will be able to give better guidance.

                    -----
                    Spago
                    176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                    Monte Alban
                    11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                    Mo-Chica
                    3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                    El Parian
                    155 E 7th St, Oxnard, CA 93030

                    Pal Cabron
                    2560 E Gage Ave, Huntington Park, CA 90255

                    Osteria Mozza
                    6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                  2. re: New Trial

                    @ocshooter then go to Cole's and hit up Varnish while they're at it ;)

            2. re: ocshooter

              Sorry, but everything you rec-ed I would consider overrated. I remember going to New York after hearing for years that New York pizza was SO MUCH BETTER than what he had in L.A.

              It wasn't any better, it was just different. Okay, the dough had a kind of sweet quality - which tasted like the (excellent) tap water N.Y. used to have.

              But Tommy's? It's a chili burger, really. That's it. I like them, I like Philippes, but I think it's more of a nostalgic thing.

            3. Thanks to local chow-hounder maxzook this is a link to Choundhound's vote for our favorite restaurants in 2010 in two categories over $25 and under $25. Take a look and ask away. Welcome to LA and stay away from Dodger Dogs.
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755966

              P.S. I love that Langer's Pastrami.
              http://www.langersdeli.com/

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

              1. Why is Providence such a popular place to eat? What is it that the restaurant possess that others don't?

                6 Replies
                1. re: Hungrierthanever

                  Read through this current thread about two other well-respected restaurants and the issue of Providence comes up:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/727128

                  I echo wienermobile's suggestions on the linked thread and Langer's as well. You might also search for "The Best _____" types of lists of what might interest you. Another thread pertaining to lists has recently moved up again:

                  Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate". What have you tried in L.A.?
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/723911

                  Some of these foods and places listed are tourist traps and/or not considered worthy by many on this board, but it might be interesting for you to pick and choose what appeals to you. Since this list is based on a cable TV program, you and your friends (here and back home) might be familiar with it, and you can affirm or out the ones that you try.

                  Downtown LA has been going through a long-overdue revival (maybe 60 years overdue?) and this would be easy for you to hit up a lot of places that have popped up over the past few years. Downtown LA is very condense relative to the rest of "LA," where most of the streets are laid out like a grid, and the public transit around there (LA Dash) is very user-friendly. Thinking of what might be unique to LA (or at least probably not normally found back home for you), I would consider Rivera, Starry Kitchen, Lazy Ox, Spice Table, Chimu (and Grand Central Market where Chimu is located), Aburiya Toranoko, Church & State, The Gorbals, The Wood Spoon, Honda-ya, Izayoi, Haru Ulala, Sushi Gen, Sushi Go 55, and please make a trip to Langer's which is directly adjacent to Downtown LA.

                  I think one of the best represented cuisines in the general LA area is Chinese. The influence of Chinese culture spans so much of Asia, and so many of those various groups and regions are found via food in the San Gabriel Valley (SGV). This region of the general LA area is home to one of the largest ex-pat populations outside of East Asia. You could easily spend your whole stay in this general area and only scratch the surface of the SGV's offerings. The price/quality ratio is high, the food is so varied, and it's relatively easy traveling around here during the week. The downside for someone new to the area is that the addresses can start and stop along main streets like Valley, Las Tunas/Main or Garfield because this general area is made up of many small cities. GPS or any Mapquest-type site will be your friend. Also, language can be a challenge as Mandarin and Cantonese for the most part are widely spoken around here. Still - don't let that stop you. Many non-Chinese speaking eaters frequent the area, so one way or another, your desires and orders will be conveyed. Probably the easiest and most accessible Chinese food experience would be dim sum in the traditional cart-style - it's point and nod for ordering the various dishes that come to your table. Wake your buddies up on the weekend and head out to a place like 888, NBC or Ocean Star and take in the frenetic energy and great food. The service is amazingly fast, the food is unique yet very approachable for the most part (chicken feet and pig's blood usually curl the toes of dim sum newbies), and the cost is relatively negligible.

                  Welcome to our town and have a great stay...

                  -----
                  Haru Ulala
                  368 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                  Izayoi
                  132 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                  Grand Central Market
                  317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                  Sushi Go 55
                  333 S Alameda St Ste 317, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                  Wood Spoon
                  107 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                  Church & State
                  1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

                  Starry Kitchen
                  350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071

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

                  The Spice Table
                  114 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

                  Aburiya Toranoko
                  243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    I forget, how do you make this post a "stickie" again?

                    1. re: Porthos

                      Sorry, but my computer literacy goes as far as tapping those button-thingies with letters and numbers on them and rolling around that ping pong ball doo-hicky to make the arrow move...

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        I was joking. CH mods should make this a "stickie" and add it to the top of the LA page since it's such a comprehensive answer to a very often asked question.

                    2. re: bulavinaka

                      I would heartily endorse exploring SGV offerings for anyone looking to do a food tour of LA. Especially dim sum, you have to do that. The one caution I would add is the pork restriction. Lots of dishes without pork but just have to be a bit careful.

                  2. I don't think a trip to LA would be complete without some tasty Mexican food. An L.A. classic is Manny's El Tepeyac Cafe. Get a GIANT yet wonderfully tasty burrito. I always take my out-of-towners there and get great reviews.

                    For some greasy fried shell tacos (I will not apologize for liking them) is Tito's tacos. Long lines, not as good as they used to be but still different. I drown them in the salsa and love 'em still. Cash only. Lines can get hefty.

                    Have a great trip!

                    -----
                    Tito's Tacos
                    11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230

                    El Tepeyac Cafe
                    812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: gr8pimpin

                      I agree that 'tasty Mexican food' should be on the radar but the above places are not 'destination' restos. The best topic that I can recall is this one:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/540566
                      A ton of great places to try ranging from regional specialists (especially Oaxacan and Yucatecan) to alta cocina (upscale and modern). There are also some great 'fusion' dishes, the Greek inspired 'DayGlo' Chicken at Dino's Chicken and Burgers on W Pico and N Main coming to mind.

                      Of course being 25, the OP could probably dive into a Manuels Special Burrito at El Tepeyac and still live :-).

                      To the OP, it would be helpful if you could post the neighborhood where you will be staying - Los Angeles is a huge place to navigate!

                      -----
                      Dino's Burgers
                      2817 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90031

                      El Tepeyac Cafe
                      812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

                      1. re: DiveFan

                        For Yucatecan, we really enjoy La Flor de Yucatan - I can see a 25 year-old downing all those great baked, cooked and fried items with his buds and chasing it all down with a few cold ones.

                        1. re: DiveFan

                          I'm not sure right now, when I do I'll definitely post it.

                          1. re: DiveFan

                            I agree there are better places, but most are not uniquely touristy L.A. I was thinking he wanted to see those famous spots. Sorry if I missed. But there are hundreds of people lining up at these places each day, disagreeing with us on Tito's.

                            I like that list you suggested. Thanks!

                            1. re: gr8pimpin

                              It doesn't sound like the OP wants uniquely touristy though. Looking for the local gems.

                              1. re: Jase

                                Correct, I want to go to the places where the locals go and enjoy eating.

                                  1. re: gr8pimpin

                                    I will probably try some of the place on that list but I want try the places where u guys call the best

                                    1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                      Us "guys" fight more over what constitutes the best like maladjusted dogs fight psycho cats...on the LA board "consensus" is not a word that gets much play... ;-D>

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        I think there's a consensus that no one can agree on anything. I can't think of a single place that doesn't have it's share of detractors. Well, maybe Urasawa.

                                        -----
                                        Urasawa Restaurant
                                        218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                        1. re: Jase

                                          Blah, overpriced, awful service, just a bunch of hipsters with expense accounts. I prefer the California rolls at Ralphs.

                                          (just to be safe, that was a joke)

                                          1. re: Discokill

                                            "(just to be safe, that was a joke)"

                                            Obviously it was joke. Everyone knows you prefer the CA rolls from Vons! ;-D>

                          2. re: gr8pimpin

                            I would definitely go to El Tepyeac. I love their machaca burritos. Nobody mentioned La Casita Mexicana in Bell. It is not the typical mexican restaurant, they make everything from scratch and it is goo. You might consider doing a taco truck tasting one night, we just did it with friends from Hawaii and they loved it. We tried the new Mexicali Taco Truck and it was awesome, then went to El Chato, and ended up at Leo's for their al pastor.

                            -----
                            La Casita Mexicana
                            4030 Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201

                            1. re: paprkutr

                              Second La Casita.

                              El Tepeyac... el tepid-yuck, really. I never saw the appeal. Giant burritos that were neither as tasty nor as gut-bomby as the Pregnant Burrito at El Nopal (also not a destination).

                              Head for East Los Angeles. Eat at trucks and taco tables after dark. Or head for Mariscos Chente.

                              Eat Korean food (Parks? Beverly Tofu House?); eat Vietnamese. Have dim sum on a weekend morning at Elite or Sea Harbour.

                              -----
                              El Tepeyac Cafe
                              812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

                              Mariscos Chente
                              4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                              Tofu House
                              928 S Western Ave Ste 139, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                              El Nopal Restaurant
                              10426 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                              1. re: paprkutr

                                Great call on a Taco truck tasting! I have done that a few times and it's great fun.

                            2. Another thing I'll add. Since you'll be here 3 weeks to a month, it might be helpful if you posted a to do list of the first week for review. That'll prompt more discussion and help you focus in other places for the succeeding weeks. As you've probably gathered by now, LA is such a huge sprawling place and there's so much diversity even within one ethnicity of food, your question is very broad and hard to answer.

                              If you were to say, I'm spending two days exploring Korea town, people will be happy to give you a ton of suggestions within that area. That would make your exploration more efficient. Sitting in LA traffic is one of the biggest frustrations of this wonderful city.

                              On that note, I'd suggest Beverly Soon Tofu and Park's. The first is a great soft tofu place and you can get a combo with a grilled dish. High quality version of that dish and the banchan is also solid.

                              Park's is a top line version of Korean bbq. You may be familiar with the all you can eat bbq Park's isn't but their meat quality is tops. Their banchan quality is also great and that is unlimited refills.

                              -----
                              Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant
                              2717 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                              1. I understand there isn't a consensus but I want "u guys" (in no way do I mean disrespect) to recommend to me the places that when you leave there's a smile on your face. I don't want the typical "everybody goes here" place because I won't be impressed and I want to be WOW'd. I know there are at least three places that can be agreed upon that are either underrated or unknown.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                  Your profile says you favorite restaurants are Maggiano's Little Italy, Buffalo Wild Wings, Koch's Deli,

                                  Are those the kind of places you're interested in?

                                  -----
                                  Maggiano's Little Italy
                                  189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                  Buffalo Wild Wings
                                  40155 10th St W, Palmdale, CA 93551

                                  1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                    These are few places that I travel to with friends. Koch's is Philly favorite, they serve some of the best cold sandwiches in the city. I've visited many places that weren't mentioned, when I created this profile I rushed through it. I'll eventually resvise the restaurants and put new ones.

                                    1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                      The reason I make this point is that - I find - to use Chowhound effectively is to not blindly listen to everyone, but to check their profiles. If they love a restaurant you think is mediocre, andt then they rave about some hold in the wall as being something special -- you probably won't agree. I see a variety of suggestions on this thread, but not sure if they would appeal to you or not. Do you like the find dining experience? Do you prefer a creative, contemporary, casual cuisine? Ethnic foods? And if so, which ethnicity?

                                2. you've got a lot of great feedback here regarding where to and where not to eat... i'll just add a few of my 'i ain't gotta get dressed up to grub" places...

                                  mariscos chente - as mentioned above. if i want good fresh seafood, i'm here for the aguachiles.

                                  mario's peruvian - been going here since high school ... don't know if it's nostalgia still, but i still like it

                                  monte alban - good oaxacan

                                  kiyokawa - great no frills sushi bar, quality, great service

                                  huckleberry - not as hole-in-the-wall but we do lunch/brunch here fairly often

                                  nate'n'al's - perhaps a nostalgia thing, but i like an omelette here; my mom loves the burnt matzo brei (blanking on who it's named after) and the blintzes

                                  jitlada- for southern thai

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Emme

                                    jitalda - high ratings for food but constant scorn over service

                                    ie if the food weren't so damn good we'd never come back, and even then...

                                    1. re: ns1

                                      you're not wrong... i don't go as often as i used to. and never when i'm not willing to tough it out. i tend to go with people i need to "catch up" with...

                                  2. Just found out where I'll be staying. My cousin lives in Central Alameda just outside LA. It's been a while but I've doing research on a lot of the restaurants that were posted here. Keep them coming, I think I'll begin to ask a few more questions about certain restaurant if it pleases the board.

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                      Hm... do you mean Central and Alameda, which are streets parallel to each other in downtown LA? Or did you mean central Alameda, which is just outside San Francisco?

                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                        I suspect he's referring to this section of The Neighborhood Formerly Known As South Central:

                                        http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-l...

                                        I hadn't heard of it before, either.

                                        1. re: Peripatetic

                                          I used to work in that neighborhood and had to Google it as well as I'd never heard of it referenced as such.

                                          1. re: Peripatetic

                                            In that case, La Casita Mexicana ought to be a slam-dunk—it's just a few minutes east on Gage and is one of the best Mexican restaurants in LA.

                                            -----
                                            La Casita Mexicana
                                            4030 Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201

                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                              I think that Plaza Mexico and La Huasteca are even closer.

                                              -----
                                              Plaza Mexico
                                              3100 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                                              1. re: JAB

                                                Well, La Casita is better than La Huasteca (in my utterly humble opinion) and it's closer than La Huasteca, which is way down by the 105. La Huasteca might be a better party place, though... especially on nights they have the full mariachi.

                                                -----
                                                La Huasteca
                                                3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                                              1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                                Mo Chica is pretty close to your cousin's home.

                                                -----
                                                Mo-Chica
                                                3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                  Good call. Chichen Itza and Taqueria Vista Hermosa in the same "food court" as Mo Chica are worthy as well.

                                                  -----
                                                  Chichen Itza
                                                  3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                                                  Taqueria Vista Hermosa
                                                  3655 S Grand Ave Ste C5, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                    Talk about one stop shopping for several cuisines. Not far from the USC campus, yet just south of downtown LA by 1-2 miles.

                                                    For the convenience factor, read up all the commentary regarding downtown LA places, as proximity will be good, food will be even better.

                                                    If a wine bar/wine shop/place to meet people might be of interest, check into Silver Lake Wine as it has wine tastings on Monday and Thursday evenings as well as 3pm on Sunday. Great way to meet people, have very good food and wine, etc. Website is www.silverlakewine.com for details.

                                                    1. re: carter

                                                      The OP's proximity to the 10/110 interchange puts him in the general vicinity of where J Gold would choose to live if he didn't want to be car-dependent...

                                                      http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...