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General Intro to L.A.?

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I realize the following is a frustratingly vague request, but can anyone point me to a general overview of the chow scene in L.A.? Or to a kind of chow.com Hall of Fame for the L.A. area? I'm a New Yorker and dedicated chowhound who's just come to L.A. and I am both tremendously excited and overwhelmed by the food scene here: my first-impression sense of it is that there is such a wealth of great eating options spread so far apart that there isn't the same digestable (no pun intended) consensus list of great places that more or less exists in NYC. Where do I start?

Any and all help is greatly appreciated: I'd love links to previous board threads here, links to other online resources, recommendations of offline resources, even lists of one's own Hall-of-Fame can't-miss gotta-go-there-NOW restaurants. I need to know where to begin! Thanks so much.

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  1. Welcome to L.A.! :D For a start, you can check out these threads for the results of the "2011 Ultimate LA Restaurants Poll," as well as the results for previous years linked to within:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/839271
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/839272

    I tried writing out a suggestion on how to start, but it was getting way too complicated and wordy. You may want to try to break it down by location, cuisine, and/or specific foods.

    1. One approach: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/794835

      1. When I first moved to Los Angeles from the midwest (more years ago than I care to count) I had a funny experience. I was at a party with folks from my college and when I told one guy that I was moving to Los Angeles, he only had one word to say. "Produce".

        I swear, I felt like I was in The Graduate!

        But he was right in that, the availability of good produce here year round affects so much.

        Go to the Hollywood Farmers Market. Kind, cool, tons of fun. Maybe I am biased but I find it much more comfy than the santa monica farmers market (a least the one off main!)

        Luques Sunday Supper is not cheap but great value for the money and very LA as far as produce, freshness etc.

        Next up, the San Gabriel Valley for fab chinese - dim sum and more.

        I LOVE banh mi and I really love Siagon Bakery by the San Gabriel Superstore.

        And LA has incredible Thai food. A lot depends on where you are - there's great places in North Hollywood, fab places in Hollywood and as I am by Glendale, I love Sedthee Thai - can't believe I have a place that makes their own curry pastes, fresh, so close by.

        Enjoy your new world. More driving, yes. But great fun and food too. Welcome!

        3 Replies
        1. re: happybaker

          Great advice. Produce is THE one word. It plays out to the benefit to those that capitalize on its availability, as well as to those cultures' cuisines that depend on it - one of LA's other food strengthes is in its ethnic enclaves.

          I like the Hollywood FM as it is big enough to carry a great selection of produce yet also has nice food and some crafts as well. But I still consider the Wednesday Santa Monica FM on Arizona to be the best that I've seen for things from the farm. However, I think most neighborhoods now have FMs that have good to great stalls and that it is critical to support those that one feels are deserving.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            Bulavinka, I have friends who swear by the Wednesday SM market on Arizona - I've simply never been to that one.

            It is indeed a treat that we have all these choices!

            1. re: happybaker

              I think the vast majority of FM-goers would be perfectly happy with the Hollywood FM - I think it takes the Silver in this town. As broad and deep as the SM FM on Arizona on Wendesdays is, much of the best of the produce is usually snatched up by restaurant chefs, and the number of frantic rude people I've encountered shopping there makes this FM one I only go to sporadically and briefly as well. One walk-through, buy what I need and leave. The Hollywood FM is a place that I only go once in a while, but when I do, I find it much easier to linger and talk with the providers and other shoppers. If I lived closer to this one, I'd be a regular here. For Westside markets, I like the Sunday Mar Vista FM on Grand View. It is of manageable size, the diversity of stalls suits most of my needs, the providers in general are very nice folks, the manager is capable and fun to talk with, and the crowd in general is very laid back and friendly. If Harry's Berries were here, I'd be set.

        2. Here are three threads that, while not comprehensive introductions to LA, provide some perspective on the LA dining scene:

          Any foodie worthy restaurants in this region? (36 replies)
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/826878

          Where is the center of the LA food universe? (43 replies
          )htte://chowhound.chow.com/topics/743499

          You would have a hard time finding _________ in Los Angeles (510 replies!)
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716045