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.
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
709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844
118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
9100 Trask Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844
Lighthouse Korean BBQ
1307 S Beach Blvd, La Habra, CA 90631
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.
955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006
6654 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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. )
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.
176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007
155 E 7th St, Oxnard, CA 93030
2560 E Gage Ave, Huntington Park, CA 90255
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
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.
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.
P.S. I love that Langer's Pastrami.
704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057
Read through this current thread about two other well-respected restaurants and the issue of Providence comes up:
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.?
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...
368 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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
107 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Church & State
1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021
350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
501 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
The Spice Table
114 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
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!
11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230
El Tepeyac Cafe
812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033
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:
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!
2817 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90031
El Tepeyac Cafe
812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033
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!
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
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
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
928 S Western Ave Ste 139, Los Angeles, CA 90006
El Nopal Restaurant
10426 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034