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Tourist Chowhound Food Crawl

Let's say you have friends visiting LA for Memorial Day Weekend.

Let's say they want to visit all the notable tourist (food-related) spots that's made LA what it is.

Let's say you have no interest in accompanying them.

Let's say you've agreed, however, to give them guidance.

So, then, what say you ... what would your itinerary look like?

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    1. You forgot the most important piece of info: Where are they from?

      7 Replies
      1. re: Porthos

        Hey - for once LA gets to say, "it's not about you - it's about ME!" The good, bad and the ugly...

        1. re: bulavinaka

          Be that as it may, my formula for recommendations go (Best of LA) - (Best of Visitor's City) = What you should try in LA. Not going to recommend sushi, French, or Italian for someone from NYC, not going to recommend cal cuisine, Italian, or pizza for someone from SF, etc.

          1. re: Porthos

            Some random half-decent sushi place for California roll?
            Chinois for catfish?
            Spago for the cal cuisine?
            Abbot's Pizza for salad pizza?

            I feel you're denying future doe-eyed (or is it dough-eyed) tourists of some living history... :)

        2. re: Porthos

          You forgot the most important piece of info: Where are they from?



          1. re: ipsedixit

            Red Medicine
            Spago brunch in garden/atrium or Cut- Puck factor and BH factor and Pretty Woman factor and Rodeo factor.
            Pizzeria Mozza
            Osteria Mozza
            Mori Sushi
            Bouchon or Hungry Cat for raw bar
            Totoraku if you can. If not, Park's BBQ.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Yes. Excellent pizza and excellent Italian food. Two totally different cuisines and both better than what can be had in Taiwan (I am assuming).

        3. > Let's say they want to visit all the notable tourist (food-related)
          > spots that's made LA what it is.

          This is a trickier question than it might seem at first. Do you mean:

          - places that influenced the LA dining scene, e.g. Spago
          - places that are food museums, e.g. Philipe's, Apple Pan, Du-Pars, Musso & Frank
          - places that are tourist icons, but are generally derided on this list, .e.g., Mel's, Canter's, Pinks
          - architectural icons with decent food, e.g., Pann's, Randy's
          - Entourage-y places like Urth?

          Since it's you asking, ipse, I assume you're looking for more than a cookie-cutter answer.

          P.S. Unless they're vegivores, I'd almost certainly put the Pasadena In-N-Out (Foothill Blvd location) on any list!

          6 Replies
          1. re: Peripatetic

            I would really try to break something like this down into "neighborhood food crawls" that grouped each day by geographic location that hit the culinary "highlights" of each of those neighborhoods. Highlights can be cheap or middle or upper income spots. They just need to give you a good cross section of what each area has to offer in the way of "good eats."

            1. re: Servorg

              And since it's Memorial Day weekend, I'd stay away from places like the beach - unless they're adamant about, say, Hotdog on a Stick at the Santa Monica Pier...

            2. re: Peripatetic


              I leave the parameters up to you (and the Chowhound community).

              Perhaps, if I rephrased it this way: "If someone visiting from outside the U.S. asked that you take them on a tour of all the food-related attractions that makes LA is what it is, where would you take them?"

              If you think "cookie-cutter" is the right way to go -- e.g. Pinks, Pantry, Canters, etc. -- then so be it.

              If you think it's something else, then let's hear it.


              1. re: ipsedixit

                This seems somewhat futile w/o knowing much about the visitors. Nevertheless, here are some places I'd suggest to visitors from Taiwan who I thought were somewhat like-minded to me, but not as obsessive about food:

                - Langer's Deli
                - Pizzeria Mozza
                - Pann's
                - Father's Office (Culver City-adj location)
                - Urth Caffe (Melrose Ave location)
                - In-N-Out (Pasadena Foothill Blvd location) or Apple Pan
                - Spago
                - Tacos Leo or Kogi BBQ or Ricky's Fish Tacos
                - Musso & Frank
                - Oki's Dog (Pico Blvd location)
                - The Fountain Coffee Room (at The Beverly Hills Hotel)
                - Cacao Mexicatessen or Mexicali Taco

                I can't in good conscience include El Cholo/Titos OR omit Mexican food entirely, hence the recommendations for Leo/Cacao/Mexicali, even though they're not touristy. And sorry, I can't include Pink's -- it's just wrong.

                1. re: Peripatetic

                  Re: In N Out. Why the Pasadena Foothill location?

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Because of the historic, old-school, dual-drive-thru design. I know there's other similar historic locations (e.g., Rosemead), but Pasadena is probably more convenient.

                    Sure, you can go to any In-N-Out, but the newer locations lack character. Is it worth 30 minutes on the 110 or 134? Maybe, maybe not. Just be sure to brief them on the secret menu.

            3. If they are open to ice cream/gelato, it seems the general SGV area has had a recent bumper crop of great places to enjoy. Fosselman's, Bulgarini, Carmela and Mother Moo. This recent "best gourmet ice cream and patisserie" thread might help as well:


              Donuts are a SoCal staple - how about a run to The Donut Man for strawberry-filled donuts?

              3 Replies
              1. re: bulavinaka

                These are all great suggestions, but (besides maybe Fosselman's and Donut Man) I'd have a hard time saying they're "notable tourist (food-related) spots that's made LA what it is". As of yet, at least. In their place I would probably propose Scoops (at Heliotrope or maybe at Golden State), Bob's, and/or Milk.

                1. re: Peripatetic

                  The reason I'd hit up these ice cream places is you can see the evolution of ice cream in LA, from Fosselman's (old school/traditional done right but with Asian-likeable flavors as well) to Bulgarini (Europe has finally hit the shores), then Carmela and Mother Moo ("artisan," sourced ingredients, more unique combo flavoring, etc.). Scoops et al have a place in there too, probably next to Bulgarini, but I'm assuming it's pretty easy to do the four I mention because they're all SGV, and I'm assuming Ipse's Taiwanese guests might be starting from around there as well.

                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    And before you hit Scoops, eat at MAROUCH!

                2. The Hat for pastrami chili cheese fries
                  Intelligentsia for coffee
                  Bludso's for ribs
                  Magnolia for banana pudding
                  In n Out
                  CUT for bone marrow flan and steak, Mastros for old school steak
                  Portos for guava cheese and cuban sandwich

                  1. The Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax, An LA food landmark.

                    1. How old are your friends? What's their budget?

                      I think most of my own suggestions have already been thrown in by others, e.g. Philippe (pork or lamb), In-n-Out (medium rare, chopped chile, whole grilled onion), L.A. Farmers Market, etc.

                      I would throw in at least one really good Chinese restaurant, like Sea Harbour. Something that your friends would find familiar, something that they can complain that the Chinese food in Taiwan is better than, naturally, but at the same time probably enjoy more than the "foreign" food they're sampling.

                      Also, really good seafood places.

                      1. Memorial Day weekend screams for Neptune's Net. Get some king crab legs, corn on the cob, a bottle of beer and watch the surfers and the bikers. Quintessential LA.

                        1. With friends like these... So you are going to let your friends from taiwan(who presumably speak english as a second language) fend for themselves in la?

                          based off what you are saying they want, I'd go more bold flavors rather than subtle. Peruvian, mo-chica. farmers market. Brazilian bbq, fogo de chao. Lawry's, although I know many taiwanese who refuse to eat anything under medium well so that might not be worth it for them? Are they lactose intolerant? Thai town, shamshiri, europane...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chezwhitey

                            Peruvian never fails with our visitors from Asia.

                          2. Well, this what they ended up doing ...

                            Friday night: Pann's

                            -breakfast: Nickel Diner
                            -lunch: Langer's (eaten at Getty Center)
                            -dinner: Musso & Frank

                            -breakfast/brunch: Marston's
                            -lunch: some combo of Mother Moo, Bulgarini and Tonny's
                            -dinner: Father's Office

                            -breakfast (leftovers at home)
                            -lunch Spago

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Thank you Joe Friday...(just the facts, ma'am). Did they perchance indicate anything about what they had or how they liked any of the places on that list?

                              1. re: Servorg

                                From what I could gather ...

                                - they though Pann's was sort of creepy

                                - food at Nickel Diner was too bland (even the donuts) but the server was cute

                                - too many old people at Marston's

                                - though M&F was awesome (but I believe they only had drinks there, not sure, might have gone for sushi afterwards but dunno where)

                                - really, really enjoyed Father's Office and Spago but felt slighted at being seated at a bad table

                                - did not care for gelato, at all

                                - thought the pastrami was too fatty (Langer's 19)

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Interesting feedback. Honored that they went to five places from my list (not that they weren't pretty obvious ones). Interesting feedback about Pann's. Langer's -- there seems to be more than one report of bad cuts of pastrami recently. I wonder if they're slipping, or perhaps giving inferior cuts to obvious tourists.

                                  1. re: Peripatetic

                                    I don't quite know what to make of the "creepy" comment with regard to Pann's? Is that code for something about location or clientele as far as visitors from Taiwan are concerned?

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      philippe, valentino, matsuhisa, in n out burger, roscoe's chicken and waffles
                                      you've already done spagos its seems

                                      im sure you'll find many lists on la's top restaurants of the moment, but these are certainly amongst the most famous over a decade or two

                                      may i also suggest soot bull jeep for korean bbq, and animal for something trendsetting at the moment, huckleberry is also great if you want breakfast

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        No, not code. They just felt the place was dingly, a bit dirty, and the crowd kind of weird.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Dingy (if that was what "dingly" meant?) and dirty definitely don't apply. The place is immaculate and brightly lit.

                                          The crowd is a United Nations clone. Every color of the human rainbow and from blue collar to executive types to you name it dining there (I've seen Barry Bostwick in the next booth and the, recently retired, Cardinal Roger Mahony at an adjacent table along with officers from at least 4 of the local police forces...the women's hats you see after church lets out on Sundays are a sight to behold).