Any foodie worthy restaurants in this region?
After my experience at La Cachette, and other places, I'm feeling a tad disappointed in the LA food scene.
It could be because I'm French, or because I'm a New Yorker, but I just haven't really seen anything appealing, in terms of dining options in this city.
Any suggestions for changing that?
Have you seen this post http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7689... (or for that matter the entire thread)? Have you delved into our Korean food offerings? How about our Mexican/Oaxacan food offerings? I feel certain when I say that for Korean and Mexican/Oaxacan we far surpass anything you will find in either NY or France.
I am French too, and I have to say that if you live in LA, just go eat all the great ethnic food that isn't available in France (or NYC in some instances). If you know how to cook, there's no point in going to French restaurants except in case of extreme homesickness, and for this you have Le Saint-Amour and Alain Giraud's new restaurant in the Palisades.
In the San Gabriel Valley you will eat Chinese food like you never had, there is great Thai food to be found in Hollywood, and I'm not speaking about all the Mexican, Salvadoran, Peruvian places, etc. Taco trucks are a local treasure. We have two of the most perfect gelato places with Bulgarini in Altadena and Culver City, and Grom in Malibu. There are great pupuserias all over the place. Just peruse this board and you will find great recommendations for pretty much everything.
You have to be willing to drive and spend some time looking around, realize that most Euro-inspired food in Los Angeles will be Americanized, and give in to the fact that you can't recreate France here, the same way you wouldn't try to re-create NYC in Paris, as Servorg and Wienermobile are saying below.
Out of curiosity where else have you tried? Here's my boilerplate spiel from someone who used to live a block from Fairway.
You should be prepared to be gouged in LA when it comes to cheese, coffee and olives. They won't be as good here and certainly not as inexpensive. Otherwise, grocery shopping in LA is a million times better as long as you are 1) intrepid and 2) learn to accept what is available rather than hoping to get what you want all in one place. Fairway does not have the deli counter of Alpine Village. Not the mezze (and feta) of Super-King. Not the hand-made tortillas, the obscure SE Asian vegetables and the general sense that, in fact, YOU NOW LIVE IN THE FOOD CAPITAL OF THE UNIVERSE.
If fine dining and fine dining alone is your thing then, well, sorry, wrong town. The truth of the matter is that the Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Middle-Eastern, Regional Mexican is all second here only to its country (or more accurately in many places, village) of origin.
Explore this city with an openness of mind (and a willingness to venture) and she will reward you a thousand times over.
Uh...why would you go to La Cachette in the first place? No wonder you're disappointed because you went to one mediocred restaurant? You're disappointed with the L.A. food scene because of that? Maybe you should be disappointed with whoever recommended La Cachette (or perhaps whoever raved about it because clearly you were let down.) Who told you go to go there?
There are plenty of places, but I think would needs to know what you're looking for. Specially, what are your amongst your faves in New York? Per Se? Prune? Give an idea of what you're looking for in terms of food, or ambience, or both. You can find rought equivalents, or something new and fresh and different.
As many other posters have already stated, it's doubtful there's another city in the world that has as abundant a selection of really good ethnic restaurants. However, like everything else with L.A., the problem is driving to get there.
But I take issue with the notion that this isn't a really good food town for non-ethnic foods. I haven't been to NY lately, but I have spent a fair amount of time in San Francisco and Paris (two other great food cities), and I am convinced that the best restaurants in L.A. are absolutely as good or better than the best restaurants in either SF or Paris. And as for the diversity of cuisines, I suspect NY is the only place in the world that has a culinary scene as diverse as L.A.'s.
As for exceptionally good non-ethnic restaurants, here are my top three:
Osteria Mozza (Italian, but that doesn't really count as ethnic in L.A.)
I'm also eager to try Ink and The Royce.
Has the OP tried a newly opened place in Venice called, Le Zinque? The name should evoke some memories of Paris. The owner is from France, a really warm and cordial gentleman, and has spent a lot of time and effort in creating his version of the zincs in Paris. Mind you, I've never been to Paris so my impressions are that of a total newbie, but I can't help but think this place is worth considering if the owner's preferences are so strong that he feels the need to import his breads and pastries from Paris. The coffee is amazing enough to court over some Intelligentsia folks who might consider the far more comfortable and relaxed atmosphere here as well. I haven't tried the wine or beer yet, but based on the owner's preferences, it should be great.
Bon, j'ai de mauvaises nouvelles pour vous... ici, c'est pas la France.
I don't mean that at all to be catty, just that the food here is nothing like in France. There are no zincs parisiens, there are no bouchons lyonnais (even the bad ones), there are no vieux mas provençaux, no petites auberges normandes, no grands restaurants à vins bourguignons, and no relais gascons. We just have "French" restaurants that usually attempt to replicate Parisian bistrots. Those French restaurants that we do have either import the stuff from France and do the best they can, or they depart from the traditional by using the produce we have here. "Manger à la française" to me means working with what's the best locally. The best French, to me, is Mélisse, and even that is still heavily Cal-French. La Cachette? Autrefois un grand restaurant, qui se repose sur ses lauriers depuis des années. [Once a great restaurant, that's been resting on its laurels for years.]
Second, I suspect that you're only looking for high-end dining experiences, and no, we are not at all like Paris or New York, and I wouldn't change it for the world. For one thing, eating in Los Angeles means eating at shockingly low prices. Even a full dinner at a high-end place will cost less than $100 per person. For another, we eat across the world here in a way that French people simply don't.
Chinese in particular strikes me as a great place to start; while New York has great Chinese, I think the breadth and depth of our Chinese cooking is far better; the same goes for other Asian, especially Vietnamese, Thai and Korean. There are places all along the socioeconomic spectrum, from nice sit-down places with proper service to trous perdus.
I will say that every time I go to France, I throw myself into the French way of eating, but after a month I find myself longing for the ethnic options I have here at home, where I can eat Vietnamese for lunch and Mexican for dinner, or have a really great cocktail ( les cocktails français, beurk ! ) and then go eat Peruvian small plates, or whatever it is that strikes my fancy.
So, il vaudrait mieux que vous éclaircissiez vos exigences: what exactly do you want in a restaurant? Be open to more things and you'll find that dining here is far better than you thought, and we can give you specific recommendations.
I have to say I am in the same boat as adrouault and for all of the glowing advice on this board, after 5 months in LA I am beginning to get rather discouraged by the food scene here, though I haven't given up quite yet.
My husband and I both feel that you can get lots of good food if what you want is greasy, comfort / fast food type food. But after awhile that gets limiting.
As far as the 'nice' places I've been to - the only place that has impressed me has been Son of a Gun. That is it. Otherwise everything I've encountered in LA has been disappointingly mediocre.
I would also love to know where all the Vietnamese places in LA are - scanning this post I see all these mentions of Vietnamese, yet as far as I can tell there are hardly any Vietnamese restos in LA itself and you have to drive an hour to Orange County to find anything decent. That's like a day trip for me, not something I can get after work on a Wednesday night.
I always hear locals talking up the best Mexican, best Chinese, best Vietnamese, etc., but if it requires half of my Sunday to get there and back, it hardly matters that it is there. When it's a weeknight and you're tired after work and you want a good meal, it seems like there's nothing worthwhile out there (I'm in West Hollywood).
Except for Son of a Gun you don't say anywhere else "upscale" you've been to and how those places failed to live up to your expectations. Where did you come from (in terms of a city/state) and what are you comparing the LA places against in terms of other restaurants? Chowhounds routinely "travel" to find great food in the LA area. It's just part of the deal here. We are "spread" out horizontally, so you need to be ready to do road trips to get to where the good stuff resides.
You're in West Hollywood, voilà le problème. Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. restaurants can't afford the rent there. You have to travel to find it, or move somewhere more freeway-friendly. People drive for food here, and our great ethnic enclaves are just that—enclaves. The only ethnic enclave in West Hollywood is Russian, though you are within very close range of Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, Little Armenia, Thai Town...
It takes me an hour most days to get from Burbank to Orange County. Some days—especially Thursdays and Fridays—it sucks. But you can get Vietnamese food in the San Gabriel Valley. On a Wednesday night I can leave my office at 5:30 p.m. and be seated in front of a bowl of pho at 6:45.
Dmoutsop - I think you hit the nail on the head: you live in West Hollywood. Our views on "local restaurants" are deeply colored by what local means to us. After living all over the place in this area (Riverside to Beverly Hills, Highland Park, etc.), I can say that what you can grab on a weekday night varies tremendously depending on what 1-mile radius you're dealing with. And yeah, WeHo up by Sunset was seriously depressing for foodie-type places, at least when I've lived there. The restaurants up there are basically networking spots, not places where food has any primacy, on any level. It starts with the vision of the owner, and trickles down to the server-models. Here where I live now (San Gabriel), I'm continuously amazed at the variety of dishes on offer within 15-20 minutes of home. So yeah, if you're craving Vietnamese or Mexican where you are, it's really a "can't get there from here" scenario. But don't paint all of L.A. with the same brush - take every Sunday you can to head east or south and explore (or move! ; )
re: cant talk...eating
You and DU hit the nail on the head several times. Knowing the enclaves, and the willingness to drive to them and seeking what suits one's palate and other senses is what LA Hounding is all about. I feel somewhat proud yet cursed that we introduced my Bro-in-law to Peruvian cuisine from the Japanese perspective - Kotosh in Lomita. He's in town again from Singapore, and this is always our first stop when he arrives. It's the only cuisine that he is head-over-heals about that can't be found in Singapore. And we've tried taking him to many many other Peruvian places, from Mario's to Puro Sabor, from El Rocoto to the venerable Picca. And as much as most love these places, his discerning Singaporean tongue has proclaimed Kotosh as his favorite - a healthy drive on a good day from our home. As a commuting Angeleno, I hate it. As an eater who strives to be a true Hound, I accept it as a small price to pay for what I (and my Bro-in-law) truly enjoy lapping up with abandon. Where one chooses to live can be based on many factors. Blaming the lack of choices on this region is denying one's lack of knowledge or effort.
hey bula, i thought you sung the praises of Mezze in Culver City on Washington before, do you happen to know what happen to it? They closed down that whole stretch along with the movie theater that played movies that were about 3 or 4 months old at reduced prices.
has mezze resurfaced anywhere else?
Mezza had to move out of that building due to a huge renovation. The building will be converted into a mixed-used building, where upon Mezza has the option to move back in. The only problem that concerned them is ventilation for the kitchen post-renovation. They are currently out in Cerritos - haven't been out there. The owners spoke of desiring to return to the Westside but had no near-term plans. Much of their business leading up to their move was in catering. My guess is that if that continues, location isn't so important to them.
Mezze is another Mediterranean restaurant in the WeHo area. I haven't been here but the menu does seem very inspiring.
"is Mezze in weho related???"
No it is not, it is from former Craft chef Micah Wexler. New American menu inflected with Arabic flavors. Really good food. Here is a link to J. Gold's recent review:
Mezze Los Angeles
401 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
"after 5 months in LA I am beginning to get rather discouraged by the food scene here, though I haven't given up quite yet."
May I say, you haven't given yourself near enough time. I can say this with absolute conviction, having been through what you're going through.
Having transplanted here almost 12 years ago I thought I was going to go nuts trying to find my grip in the food/restaurant department.
It took me at least a year to figure this stuff out. I live near where you live and Santa Monica is a nightmare, especially on Thursdays, for some ridiculous reason. I remember being invited to Capo in Santa Monica (a wonderful find BTW) and with Santa Monica backed up to WeHo I figured I'd take all the alleys to SM....it worked and it was fast.
Point is...read these boards and find the best way to get to what sounds good. I've found, through Chow, most likely the best donuts in LA imho. Primo on Sawtelle. Problem is...you've got to get there early because everyone else feels the same. There are hole-in-the-wall restaurants that turn out to be some of the finest I've experienced and once the owner knows you, you'll become a favorite. One of my favorites is within walking distance from WeHo.
LA is huge, as you've found. Finding your favorite Italian, for instance, is part of the adventure. Finding your favorite Farmer's Market is exciting. I love the idea of walking to my Farmer's Market every Sunday and purchasing my salad greens for the week. At that market I'll meet the new handmade cheese woman whose cheese is remarkable or the guy who sells his stuffed sweet peppers to BH Cheese Store.
When I can't find a food I'm used to from my old hometown I'll fly home for it. i've yet to find oysters on the half shell that taste like that familiar Puget Sound. It's just what it is and it doesn't take away from the remarkable place LA is and the phenomenal restaurants there are to find.
Decent Vietnamese food in Lawndale, Torrance area are Phoever ("Pho" ever), and Pho Hong Long. It will satisfy your hunger for Vietnamese food on Wednesday night. I am Vietnamese living in Orange County, when I travel to Lawndale I always stop by either of them to eat. Pho, especially Pho Hong Long.their Pho is as good or better than some of the Pho in OC. PhoEver offer some Vietnamese salad dishes that are not available in OC. Hope you will enjoy the food.
We went to Phoever last night (it's in Gardena) and were caught off guard with some of the more unique menu offerings. I usually avoid places that play on the word, "Pho." But we didn't want to battle our way out to either SGV or the OC on a friday night, so this was our choice and were pleasantly surprised.
You are probably no longer in LA but I thought I'd reply in case you come back! What makes the LA food scene different from NY or Paris is its size and diversity. Unlike Pari you can't simply walk down a boulevard in LA and easily find hundreds of restaurants or cafes, you have to find them -- but I assure you they are there! For many New Yorkers that can be a put off, but that's what I personally love about LA -- it doesn't give away its love so easily. Sure, it has a stereotype just like NY or Paris, but we know those stereotypes are so far from the reality of a city.
I recommend looking for restaurants by neighborhood. Each neighborhood has its own personality. People from NY tend to like Downtown, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Echo Park, Atwater Village, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Koreatown, West Hollywood, and even Santa Monica (which isn't technically part of LA). However other neighborhoods have their own gems.
If you are coming from NY/Paris then you should definitely try the little Mexican food restaurants out here -- I've had Mexican food in NY and it's usually very Americanized. Highland Park has particularly good Mexican food.
Another tip is that the best restaurants aren't usually going to be the upscale, expensive ones -- they are going to be the little hole-in-the-walls.
LA has different kinds of food scenes, which is why it's exciting. Research not only by neighborhood but by type. There is currently a big gastropub and food truck scene, but that's only part of it.
There are so many great places to eat in LA that it's difficult to make recommendations!
Here are a few of my favorites...
Spring on Spring -- Downtown
Proof Bakery -- Atwater Vilage
Casbah -- Silver Lake
Intelligentsia -- Silver Lake
La Mill -- Silver Lake
Gelato Bar -- Los Feliz
Bourbon Street -- Koreatown
Canele -- organic, seasonal -- Atwater Village
Square One -- brunch -- Los Feliz
Osteria Mamma -- Italian, seasonal -- Larchmont Village
Animal -- upscale hip -- West Hollywood
Cafe Beaujoulais -- French & run by a group of French men -- Eagle Rock
Church and State -- upscale hip -- Downtown
Wurstckuche -- sausages, beer, belgian fries -- Downtown Arts District
Urbano -- Italian gastropub -- Downtown
The Little Next Door -- French/Moroccan -- West Hollywood/Beverly Hills
Daikokuya -- Japanese Ramen -- Little Tokyo, Downtown
Lazy Ox -- upscale hip -- Downtown
Jar -- upscale hip -- West Hollywood
Salt's Cure -- brunch, organic -- West Hollywood
Four -- organic, local, seasonal -- Eagle Rock
Huaraches Azteca -- Mexican -- Highland Park
Tacos villa Carona -- Mexican -- Atwater Village
Dan Sung Sa -- Korean -- Koreatown
Figaro -- French -- Los Feliz
Auntie Em's -- Brunch, local, in-house -- Eagle Rock
Most of these restaurants have a website so you can check their menu to see if you'd be into it.
I really hope this helped someone.