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Last Meal in LA? Leaving after 20 Years

Leaving LA for Chicago after 20 outstanding years, just curious where others might choose to dine if faced with the same scenario? I only have one week left!

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  1. When I left LA for Chicago ~ a decade ago, my last meal, w/ the trailer in tow, was at Roy's. Don't make the same mistake.

    Thank god I came back. Hope you will too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TonyC

      I love LA, but with two little ones now, schools are dismal. I will check Roy's off my list, funny, I don't think I've ever even eaten at a Roy's!

    2. Spago, tasting menu. Then straight to LAX. Not necessarily the best, but archetypical L.A.

      And upon arrival in Chicago, reserve at Alinea. Amazing, and unlike anything in L.A., and yes I've tried Bazaar, which is fun amd interesting, but no contest.

      3 Replies
      1. re: techbod

        Agree 100%. It doesn't get any more LA than Spago

        1. re: techbod

          I concur. The tasting menu at Spago is a fine dining experience, and it is quintessentially LA.

          I also agree with the Alinea rec. My dinner at Urasawa was how I used to respond when asked what my all time favorite meal. Alinea tops the list by leaps and bounds.

          I would also sneak in an In 'n Out with grilled onions, if possible.

          1. re: techbod

            baazar was made for people who think they know food.. Jose andres, while a great chef, isnt original. making things he learned at ferran's kitchen. Still all good, but he is also never at the kitchen. Grant is at Alinea and Next. all the time. those guys have a vision. Baazar is a high end katsuya hollywood.. enough with the foie gras and cotton candy.

          2. man...if i was leaving LA...and i had a week, i would go:
            dim sum in sgv
            good mexican in east l.a.
            good ramen

            7 Replies
            1. re: rickym13


              How's the sushi in Chi-town? Maybe you should hit up Mori or Kiriko.

              1. re: rickym13

                Langer's would also be my last meal....

                1. re: wienermobile

                  I like Langer's as well, but Chicago has so many great delis...Kaufman's, Max & Benny's, etc.

                  1. re: MahiMahiFish

                    I would make my second to last meal someplace new and my last meal would be at a place that I already knew I loved and would leave me with a great memory to "bow out" on.

                    Have you been to Red Medicine? Great food.

                    1. re: MahiMahiFish

                      Indeed Chicago has many a delis. And Italian beef. And jerk chix. Ribs. Fantastic nouveux Mex. Solid Thai options. Armenian/Polish, blah blah blah.

                      What it doesn't have: Vietnamese/Chinese food (I don't care if Tony Lu opens his 10th restaurant), omakase, the beach(es).

                      Combine JL & linus's posts -- pound omakase lunches for a week, Chinese/Vietnamese dinners for a week. Take beer to Huntington Beach, sit with the kids & drink.

                      Lake-effect snow was so, so depressing.

                      And may I suggest LTHforum ? Fantastic folks.

                  2. re: rickym13

                    i would add good korean bbq to my list as well.....parks?

                    1. re: rickym13

                      Langers. Especially if hes going to chicago. Din tai Fun.. good ramen.. good mexican. I like your style. You can eat with me any time...

                    2. i'll be the first to admit the food is sort of disappointing, but drive up to neptune's net, get a big bottle of one of the halfway decent beers they have there, find a table and bask in the glory that is the mighty pacific.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: linus

                        If it were me, Dan Tana's, Sotto then Il Piccolino. However, you can't go wrong on the patio at Spago.

                        1. re: Thor123

                          sotto is a 7 out of 10 at best. plus its new. Has not survived .. Langers is an LA place.. thats only in LA. whats next? youll tell him to go to umami?

                          1. re: burtBAKMAN

                            You could not be more wrong. Sotto is one of the top spots in LA. Umami is unique, good call.

                            1. re: burtBAKMAN

                              Have you eaten there burtBAKMAN? The food, service and vibe are outstanding. There pork chop is perhaps the best in the City and the pork cheek pizza is great. Very consistent too.

                          2. re: linus

                            This suggestion, whether taken by the OP or not, will be remembered during Chicago's winter... under five layers of clothes... and still feeling butt-naked...

                          3. The obvious question is how much money are you willing to blow.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: ns1

                              Money is not an issue, however, I don't believe in any correlation between cost & quality (clothing is excluded from this rule).
                              I've eaten at a number of outstanding sushi places here that are far better than Urasawa & far less expensive.
                              It's the quality of the ingredients that really matter!
                              So, just for reference, I'm ending one of my days here this week @ Pie N Burger.

                              1. re: MahiMahiFish

                                got to do an in n out.. apple pan.. maybe fathers office..bills burgers in van nuys..

                                1. re: MahiMahiFish

                                  It's kinda funny... I was thinking along the Pie N Burger, Dino's Chicken & Burgers, Pho 79 lines. If I were leaving a place I lived for many years, I would go to places near and dear to my heart AND hit a Dodger's game. And then, when I arrive in Chicago, hit either Frontera Grill or Topolabampo, grab a Chicago dog and attend a game at Wrigley. :-)

                              2. I've moved from LA to NYC to SF to Miami back to LA. I find myself craving the low end stuff from each city. Before I left NYC and when I return, I always have bagles with whitefish salad and pizza on Day 1. When I lived in NYC and visited LA I would focus on Asian food (except Japanese). I'd focus on whatever homey stuff you crave focusing on what's stronger here in LA.. Probably would pass on high end since Chicago's high end is supposed to be crushing it these days.

                                Maybe: Din Tai Fung, Park's BBQ, Pizzeria Mozza (not knowing how the pizza scene in Chicago is), sushi at your favorite sushi place better than Urasawa (mine is Mori), Yamadaya Ramen, Torihei in Torrance, maybe pho in Westminster?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Porthos

                                  My brother used to live here and now lives in NYC and the first thing he does it gets In n Out straight from the plane. Then he usually craves Mexican food like tacos and burritos. Oh yeah, and he goes to Hot Dog on a Stick because corn dogs are almost impossible to find. lol

                                  1. re: A5 KOBE

                                    I would have added In n Out but then realized that I haven't had it in at least 3 years and would rather have the burger at Father's Office. But I'm sure they make some good burgers out in Chicago.

                                    And doesn't Shake Shack satisfy your brother's burger craving or is it more a nostalgia thing?

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      He does like Shake Shack but the lines alone are unbearable for him. The crowds of tourists really annoy him so he avoids them at all costs unless I am in town to do all the touristy stuff. He is not a big time foodie but I am slowly converting him. I got him addicted to Travel Channel and Food Network. One of his favorite shows currently is Man vs Food.

                                      It could be nostalgia, but I think it is more that he is lazy and does not want to buy a metropass to wait in line for an hour. : )

                                      I don't know what it is about In n Out. My brother even has to take burgers back to his co-workers. They even want day old animal fries which to me sounds disgusting, especially warm you reheat it. He literally takes the lettuce and tomato out for them and everything. I eat it maybe once a year, tops.

                                    2. re: A5 KOBE

                                      A5 - my brother has lived in Wisconsin for the past 10 years and only been home (here) twice since, the last time being this past December. His wish every time I visit is to bring him a double double, which I have never done (although I did go to the Buena Park Store and bought him a set of magnets, one of which is a double double - he was not amused). Anyway, when I picked him up at LAX we drove around the corner to the In N Out and the first thing he said after his first bite and eyes rolling into the back of his head, was "Damn, these things have gotten smaller". I kept asking him if he wanted to go again during the week he was here but he apparently had had his fix. Maybe sometimes the memory of something is better than the real deal. ;-)

                                  2. Bruddah's in Gardena.
                                    I didn't notice a glut of mom-and-pop Hawaiian restos in Chicago when I was last there. Roy's doesn't count :-).

                                    1. Anything Asian..being in LA means having the some of the best Asian cuisines due to proximity. So I'd do Japanese, Thai, Korean or Chinese. You will definitely miss these in Chicago (based on my personal experience).

                                      1. this is a very easy one.
                                        you pick the most sentimental one to you.
                                        whether it be a $3 slice of pizza, or $400 sushi bar.

                                        1. I'm moving away in a few months and I'm taking my time sampling all I'll miss which is evenly divided between my local taco trucks, Jitlada, Chinese food in the SGV and all the old school places such as Apple Pan, Philippe's and Musso and Frank where I'll go get a last drink the day before I leave. One thing I know I will miss for sure is not to be found at restaurants, it's the great local produce found at farmers markets. I don't think I ever had white peaches as good as the ones in Los Angeles.

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: bad nono

                                            I've always given your posts the highest degree of regard. I've guessed over the years that you are from France and fortified with a deep knowledge of so many things good. Our loss will hopefully be the gain of another CH board...

                                            1. re: bulavinaka


                                              bad nono, I've always valued your opinion, and even solicited it directly at times!


                                              Sorry you will be leaving.

                                              1. re: Peripatetic

                                                Oh wow I'm super touched, you two are so very sweet. Yes I'm French and I come from a cooking family with rural roots, and 1/2 of my family is Spanish via Algeria.

                                                I'm moving to Belgium as a matter of fact, but I plan to come back to LA about once a year if I can.
                                                I've learned a lot on CH and I will for sure lurk on the board to prepare for return trips. I know I am going to miss ethnic food much more than anything in Belgium/Europe.

                                                It reminds me I have to add pupusas to the things I'll have to sample again before I leave for good, and one last trip to Mo-Chica.
                                                And for old school I have to go to the Pacific Dining Car, believe it or not I've never been.

                                                1. re: bad nono

                                                  Your lineage is quite the pedigree! Belgium gets the eye of envy for its share of edibles and drinkables as well, but I've heard about the fickle weather there - hoping your days here are sunny and bright.

                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                    As the Irish like to say (with a glass of Guinness at the ready):

                                                    May the road rise up to meet you.
                                                    May the wind be always at your back.
                                                    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
                                                    the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
                                                    may Big Chow Dog hold you in the palm of His hand.

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                      The plan is to take my yearly vacation not in Summer like all Europeans do but come to LA at the end of February/early March. I'll avidly lurk here prior to see what's new, maybe one day there will be a subway all the way to Santa Monica *and* great Chinese food on the Westside!
                                                      And, to Servorg :-)

                                                      1. re: bad nono

                                                        "... maybe one day there will be a subway all the way to Santa Monica... "

                                                        According to my information from the city, I think my grandchildren may enjoy this subway's maiden voyage. [sigh]

                                                        I have relatives in Brussels, and they're Chowhounds too. There is certainly good food to be had! I try to go yearly to Bruxelles and have some spectacular chocolates, moules et frites, and trappist beers.

                                                        1. re: J.L.

                                                          A true story from my distant past:

                                                          In 1973 I attended an NAACP function here in Los Angeles and, as luck would have it I got to get a little one on one time with Tom Bradley who had just been elected mayor of LA. I told him (with all passion a 25 year old who is certain that they know all that is right and good in the world, can bring to bear when they are full of P&V - and a little drunk too boot) that Los Angeles would never be a world class city until we had a true subway from downtown to the Santa Monica pier. I like to think that Tom's championing of just such a subway bloomed that night and that I was Mayor Bradley's muse (his "Erato" as it were) for the eventual launching of the Red Line and the (I hope) continuation of the line (purple or what have you) under Beverly Hills High and all the way to the blue Pacific...(you can all thank me after the "subway to the sea" is finished).

                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            I'll thank you, and I'll thank you again and again and again when I come back to LA and ride that subway-to-the-sea and upon exiting will find a fantastic Chinese restaurant in Santa Monica :-)

                                                            1. re: bad nono

                                                              I dream a dream in time gone by....

                                                        2. re: bad nono

                                                          > maybe one day there will be a subway all the way to Santa Monica

                                                          I expect there will be nostalgia restaurants specializing in dishes using foams and liquid nitrogen around then.

                                                2. re: bad nono

                                                  ITA with your produce comment. I am in the DC area but grew up in LA. I go back several times a year and always enjoy the delicious eating but it is the farmers markets that wow me. Deli, dogs, asian, ethiopian....I can find all of that in the east. But forget about finding the same abundance of plouts or avocados or baby artichokes or dates or the flowers.....

                                                  Oops, this was supposed to go under Bad Nono's post.

                                                3. I live in Chicago, but have family in LA. I would agree with the Spago suggestion (ultimate LA) and based on our must-have unique spots when we are out there - I would have to add Apple Pan, In and Out and Roscoe's Fried Chicken. Chicago has most of the ethnic bases covered (including Chinatown, large Indian and Korean communities) and have some hometown faves like the Chicago style hot dog and Italian Beef. Chicago's fine dining is top notch and I think you will have many choices that rival the best in LA in that category.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: shell22

                                                    Funny, I'm living in Chicago now & after my departure, I found that nothing really compelled me to try the "LA" spots before I left. I spent my last evening with my wife in a favorite Mexican dive near LAX, they make an outstanding Carnita's taco.
                                                    I decided instead to spend time at the Getty & the Huntington, two "LA" places that I will miss dearly.
                                                    However, I don't think it's a secret, that the restaurants here are quietly kicking LA's culinary butt!
                                                    Avec, Balena, Ada St, Nellcote, to name a few...