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Apr 11, 2012 03:20 PM

Visiting from NYC - what's the "best" of the things that aren't great here?

Hi all,
I am starting to trawl through this board, but wanted to put the question out there, in case someone has been/entertained someone in my position and has a hit list...

The Situation:
I will be visiting for 4 days in May.
I will be with my husband (who is Italian) and my parents (who are Indian but live in the UK - I am also originally from the UK)
We will be staying in a hotel in Beverley Hills, but will have a car and are definitely willing to travel for great eats.
We ate and enjoy all types of food and different cusines.
We don't have any budgetary restrictions and would be just as happy in a roadside shack as a 3 Michelin star type of place.
It will be my parents' first visit to LA.
I am looking for the best of the stuff that is not available, or not great, in NYC.

The Ask:
So, that would mean that I do NOT really need reccos for Italian or French (unless someone disagrees!), BUT do need reccos for Mexican and Korean (before anyone says anything, I know that these are getting better and better in NYC!).
I would also LOVE reccos for other restaurants that you think are outstanding - especially if it is the kind of food/type of place/kind of atmosphere that I would be hard pressed to find in NYC.

All tips and reccomendations will be most gratefully recieved!

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  1. This is a broad question, so I will answer broadly.

    You should search the Los Angeles boards for

    Mexican-Ensenada fish taco
    Korean charcoal bbq
    Korean soondubu
    Chinese-Chiu Chow
    Chinese Shaanxi
    Chinese-dim sum
    Little Saigon

    That's enough to get you started.

    Mr Taster

    34 Replies
    1. re: Mr Taster

      add to Mr Taster's list:
      Mexican Seafood prepared in the style of Sinaloa and Nayarit

      1. re: westsidegal

        I intentionally left it out because I felt the "rules" surrounding Mariscos Chente are a little complex, and besides- there's enough other stuff on my list to keep monab occupied for several years' worth of visits :)

        Mr Taster

      2. re: Mr Taster

        Thanks - I will do!
        But, just for my reference, if you have favs in any of the above categories, I'd love to hear them :)
        And - I'm intrigued by "the rules".
        I will research right now!

        1. re: monab

          If you are intrigued enough to give Mariscos Chente/Coni' Seafood a try the only "rule" is to make sure that Sergio is cooking that day. Otherwise go and enjoy yourself (just remember to take your own beer or a container of margaritas if so inclined as they have no booze license of any kind).

          You can read Jonathan Gold's review here:

          1. re: Servorg

            This place is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind!
            Thanks for posting the review!

            1. re: monab

              here is their telephone number:
              3544 west imperial highway
              inglewood ca 90304

              also, you should know that during the week they close at 8.

              1. re: westsidegal

                Thanks! Are the open on Sundays? - might be a good idea for lunch before heading to the airport

                1. re: monab

                  sunday lunch is their busiest day/time.
                  leave extra time for a sunday afternoon meal.
                  the kitchen and the waitstaff may be slammed depending on the flow of customers and the flow of to-go orders.

          2. re: monab

            Chente is ok, but might be too sloppy(the food) for your parents. If you are thinking about this type of place, then Gloria's on Venice Blvd. is better.

            1. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

              ok but sloppy? You have to be kidding - this verges on trolling. The seafood at Mariscos Chente is probably in LA's top 10 in terms of freshness and preparation, regardless of price or style.

                1. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                  You consider Gloria's "style" is in some way superior? How so? I've been to both places and consider them as two totally different animals. And the camarones aguachiles at MC/Coni's is a sight to behold.

                2. re: bulavinaka

                  Ah but trolling is one of the ways you can catch fish--including, of course, Sergio's prized snook. However, comparing Gloria's to Coni's is the wrong way to get snookered. Gloria's is good for what it is (I tend to prefer the Salvadoran offerings to the Mexican) but does not have the lure Coni's does.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    I agree re Mariscos Chente. Many board-favorite ethnic restaurants use mediocre ingredients. But the seafood at Mariscos Chente is truly high quality. In about ten visits, I haven't eaten one piece of seafood at Mariscos Chente/Coni Seafood that wasn't great quality. I wish I knew where they bought their seafood so I can make fresh-tasting dishes at home, but I'm stuck with the overpriced mediocre offerings at Santa Monica Seafood.

                  2. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                    imho, Gloria's on Venice is not at all like Coni'Seafood.
                    completely different menu items.
                    very different preparation of the items that are sort of similar
                    also, the quality of the raw ingredients very different.

                    Gloria's is ok for what it is.
                    doesn't rank as a destination restaurant imho, ok if i happen to be in the neighborhood.

                3. re: Mr Taster

                  I would add tortas ahogadas to that list and remove cemitas. NYC has a plethora of places that serve good to great cemitas, since over 90% of the Mexican immigrants to NYC are from Puebla.

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    LA has the worst chinese food. NYC has 200 great chinese places.

                    1. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                      After reading your two posts here, you really need to qualify these claims. LA has the worst Chinese food? Maybe this claim has to do with what you consider to be LA? Have you been to places like Sea Harbour, Elite, Bejing Pie House, Luscious Dumplings, etc.?

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Montery Park and San Gabrial is not Los Angeles. I go to Montery Park at least once a month for food. She's in Beverly Hills. Maybe Santa Barbara is Los Angles as well.

                        1. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                          "Montery Park and San Gabrial is not Los Angeles."

                          They are however, unlike Santa Barbara, part of the Los Angeles Chowhound board for finding and discussing great food...

                          1. re: Servorg

                            She may not know that, and it will take significant time to get there, especially in traffic. However, our Los Angeles AREA Chinese and Sushi restaurants are about half the price of similar in NYC, and by in large, they are mostly very good.

                            1. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                              Just think of Alhambra and Monterey Park and the like as our "Outer Boroughs" and all will be well (especially since the OP has a car and is willing to drive for great chow - the mark of a true Chowhound).

                              1. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                                I just can't resist chiming in anymore.

                                Yesterday Jerry P. said, "LA has the worst Chinese food."

                                Then you say, "by in [sic] large, they are mostly very good."

                                Which is it?

                                Mr Taster

                            2. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                              Your claims are too vague and or that of a person from another area. The SGV is part of LA county and part of Chowhound's LA board. And what's this noise about new york's 200 chinese restaurants? Good luck convincing this board that new york has better Chinese food. Again, please qualify. if you are from new york, your definition of jurisdictions and boundaries is understandable but does not apply here. Your perspective maybe to look up and down but in LA you have to look across the much broader horizon.

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                So you want her to drive from BH to Montery Park -lets say on a Tues, at 6pm-that will take 1.5 hours one way.

                                1. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                                  Don't know the OP's daily schedule or intended times of travel if they decide to head to SGV. I do the drive from the Westside often. Did it yesterday at 9:30AM and made it to Alhambra in 25 minutes. It's all about timing, depending on one's Point A and flexibility in schedule.

                                  These are some of the OP's listed points:
                                  >>We will be staying in a hotel in Beverley Hills, but will have a car and are definitely willing to travel for great eats.
                                  We ate and enjoy all types of food and different cusines.<<

                                  You pick the worst time to travel as an example. I'd choose otherwise.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    Or get 3 people in your car & take the El Monte Busway to shave a good 20 minutes off the drive.

                                    Mr Taster

                                  2. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                                    Let's say on a Sunday, at 11 am -- it takes 20-30 minutes. SGV is part of the Los Angeles Metropolitan area.

                                    1. re: Savour

                                      ...and comparatively speaking, it took me a lot longer (and alot more money) to get from Katz to Port Authority Terminal. I'm sure a NY'er can handle 310 -> 626.

                                      1. re: ns1

                                        It's a non issue. JPSM recommended places in the Valley and in Malibu in his below posts. SGV is just as far and may be even closer/shorter drive in many cases. It's just an excuse to back track on/qualify the absurd statement that LA has the "worst" Chinese food and NYC has "200 great Chinese places".

                            3. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                              man this Jerry P guy is comical. 626 = mini china.

                              I know who's tastebuds I DON'T trust.

                              1. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                                Jerry, your reply is not very helpful to the OP. If the OP wants good Chinese food, why not mention the SGV, which is less than ten miles from downtown LA and considered by most be part of the greater LA area? Let the OP decide if the city boundary is the sole reason for not going to the SGV for a great Chinese meal.

                                I am curious why you are so strident in saying that the SGV is not part of LA yet not mention that Malibu and Santa Monica (that have some of your recommended restaurants) are also not part of LA.

                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                Missing category: Burgers!

                                NYC is nowhere close. Low end: Tommy's (really a must-do), Carney's. High-end... well, others will have their opinions. Me, I'm not really a high-end burger guy.

                                Oh, I now see below that the OP's parents don't eat beef. That is sad. Perhaps you'll slip out on them and pop into Carney's.

                              3. I do love Park's BBQ. Wonderful Korean flavors. Their cuts of meat are above most steak houses. Wonderful service. Make sure you try their Seasoned Boneless Beef Short Rib • 주물럭 (one of my favorite dishes in Los Angeles) and their Pancake w/ rock shrimp & green onion • 파전, Highly Recommended.

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

                                and for a great taste of farm to table California cuisine I really like Gjelina in Venice
                                and Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica.
                                Welcome to LA

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: wienermobile

                                  Gjelina has become my favorite restaurant in L.A. the last couple of years. It is on Abbott Kinney in Venice (westside coastal south of Santa Monica), open for lunch and dinner, where reservations are a necessity. Ask for the patio. Smaller plates, a lot of glorious southern California product prepared relatively simply with much coming from the woodburning oven. Great veggies (broccolini, cauliflower, asparagus, others), fine pork belly dish with greens and polenta with vinegar, excellent gnocchi (simpler with brown butter better than with a ragu). Not NYC pizza but their thincrust charred from the oven with lamb sausage is a great starter. No alterations to dishes. Save room for the butterscotch pot de creme -- I like it better than Mozza's budino. Can easily feast for under $50/pp before wine, tax, and tip.

                                  1. re: nosh

                                    Gjelina's gnocchi are little pillows from heaven swimming the back flip in warm melting brown butter.

                                  2. re: wienermobile

                                    Thanks wienermobile!
                                    Seem like Park's BBQ is universally recommended on this board. Just one question - my parents don't eat beef (Hindus) - is it still worth going?

                                    And - Gjelina sounds incredible! I will try to get a booking.


                                    1. re: monab

                                      In that case I would skip Park's for another time.

                                      If they eat seafood Providence is one of best restaurants in Los Angeles. I really recommend their tasting menu. Wonderful food. Wonderful service. Let them know any dietary restrictions when you make your reservations. They will gladly accommodate any of your needs. They can also do a wonderful vegetarian tasting menu at your request.

                                      Spago Beverly Hills would be another excellent choice for you.

                                      1. re: wienermobile

                                        There is also Don dae gam, Park's pork centric sister restaurant

                                        Opps posted in the wrong place!

                                        1. re: wienermobile

                                          fwiw, imho there is much overlap between the type of wonderfulness that is offered at providence with the type of wonderfulness that is offered at le bernadain.

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            humm... that's what i was thnking - although it does look delicious...

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              Agreed ... no point in going to Providence when you have perhaps the best high end seafood-centric restaurant on America in your back yard.

                                              In fact we were just at Providence the other night, and aside from a revelatory scallop I wasn't particularly blown away by anything else.

                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                Actually, I think Providence is a lovely choice. I really love le Bernadain but the cooking is very different as are the fish choices. Providence has more Asian influence and seafood selections are different enough that I think I would still go.

                                            2. re: monab

                                              I don't eat beef and Park's is one of my favorite spots in LA. just watch out for some meat in the glass noodle banchan. There's Shrimp to grill on the BBQ, or my favorite dish from the Kitchen... the spicy black cod! It's so very good... there's also mackerel and other fish options but if spicy is OK, i highly recommend the cod.

                                          2. Just to get a sense of your preferences, what are a few of the places you would recommend to yourself if you were an Angelino visiting NYC. I know it's not entirely straightforward, but it might give us a sense of what you would like here. (I lived in NYC, so it would help me at least.)

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Peripatetic

                                              First of all thanks everyone for your recommendations - I will do more research on the board to find which regional mexican places to go to!
                                              As for what i would recommend to and Angelino visiting NYC - a small sampling:
                                              low end:
                                              - x'ian famous food
                                              - keste
                                              - savoy (now back forty west)
                                              - buvette
                                              - osteria morini
                                              - mailino
                                              - momofuku saam bar
                                              - aldea
                                              - red cat
                                              - red egg
                                              - market table
                                              - po
                                              - kuma inn
                                              - sorella
                                              - txikito
                                              - torrisi
                                              high end:
                                              - eleven madison
                                              - le bernadain
                                              - marea
                                              - SHO

                                            2. I don't think that there's anything like LA's own original Animal anywhere else.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: wienermobile

                                                Much agreed it's a pretty unique restaurant. Some would say it's the spirit of Southern Food in Los Angeles but in a more upscale take.

                                              2. Are you considering a trip to Artesia, which has a large Indian population?

                                                Have you considered Vietnamese?

                                                Are any of you vegetarian? Ethopian might be an interesting option.

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: JudiAU

                                                  African and Indian foods (as well as Caribbean) are much better represented in New York as their immigrant populations are much higher there.

                                                  Vietnamese, as well as most southeast and east Asian food (aside from Japanese) are all good choice for a visiting New Yorker. However, now that I think about it... of course New York has a lot of excellent sushi (and I would guess both izakaya and ramen, since they're both so trendy now that I can't imagine it hasn't caught on there) but I'm not so sure about Japanese homestyle, comfort food. Okinomiyaki springs to mind. Or that Okinawan place down in Gardena. There may be a better representation of those kinds of Japanese foods in LA.

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                           which case, I'd rec spice table in little tokyo.

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                      NYC is actually slightly ahead in the ramen scene with 2 branches from Tokyo (Ippudo and Setagaya)

                                                      To the OP, since you like Momofuku and EMP, I would recommend Red Medicine as it's a hypothetical blend of those two. Actually probably more a hypothetical blend of Ma Peche and Alinea.

                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                        Second Red Medicine. And for the record, I adore both EMP and the Momofukus.

                                                        1. re: a213b

                                                          Never really cared for the Momofukus, but I think Red Medicine is doing more groundbreaking cooking under the radar than David Chang has done. Also, drinks and desserts there are worth the trip alone.

                                                        2. re: Porthos

                                                          I would not recommend Red Medicine. I've rarely been so dissappointed in a meal. Utter mess.

                                                          1. re: JudiAU

                                                            I am speechless. I don't understand how anyone could NOT like Red Medicine. I'd rank it one of LA's best right now. There is elegance and refinement there that rivals Providence and even exceeds it in some cases (eg foie) and creativity that rivals SF's and NYC's finest (eg. Gage plum dessert).

                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                              Perhaps JudiAU went close to when RM first opened. I think it was quite average then Certainly not an "utter mess" but nothing like as spectacular as it is now.

                                                        3. re: Mr Taster

                                                          I LOVE Okonomiaki!!! And, I have'nt found a decent on in NYC.
                                                          The Dutch do a fancy one for brunch, but it was a hugh disappointment :(
                                                          Do you have a recommendation and - not to be a total food nerd, but - do you know if they do osaka style or hiroshima style?

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              Thanks to the link Servorg!
                                                              I should have known that I couldn't possibly out-"food geek" this board!
                                                              And I definitely mean that as a compliment :)

                                                        4. re: JudiAU

                                                          Not vegetarian and would LOVE to get some Vietnamese - we lived in HK for a few years, and went to Vietnam 4-5 times - and I have yet to find vietnamese food that even comes anywhere close to what I had there, so would love reccos if you have them!

                                                          Not sure about Indian as my parents eat indian at home every day, and area they live in the UK (west yorkshire) has an enormous indian and pakistani population, so great indian restaurants.

                                                          That being said, they will probably have a craving for it by the end of the trip, so if we wanted to go somewhere that's great but not just standard north indian/pakistani/pujabi food, where should we go? (PS i am not a big fan of dosas, idllies etc.)