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LA area mainstays/popular spots

I am new to chowhound so please excuse, I am coming from the Bay area this weekend and I am sure this thread is on here a million times but i have no time to sift and look for it. What would be the "Must Go" places in the LA area? I mean popular/ unique places, excluding all mega chain restaurants. I have seen a few on TV and would like more places like these. When i google search for "best restaurants in LA" all i ever get is a list of the nicest places that serve the highest quality food, which is great but I'm also interested in the greasy spoon places too. I'm not really looking for a specific type of food just one that everyone knows is the best. Here are the ones I'm aware of already and this may give you a better idea as to what I'm asking about.

Phillipe the original- French Dips
1001 North Alameda Street Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-3781

Pinks-Hot dogs
709 North La Brea Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 931-7594

Roscoes Chicken and Waffles
1518 N Gower St
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Portos Bakery
3614 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, CA 91504

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  1. King Taco
    Langer's Deli
    Caioti Pizza Cafe
    Kogi Truck
    101 Coffee Shop
    Grand Central Market

    Except for maybe the pastrami at Langer's (get the #19, or just plain w/mustard if that's your bag), I don't know that any of these are "the best". I know they're all good for what they are, relatively inexpensive, places I frequent, and most importantly based on what I got from your post, somewhat unique or iconic (using this term very loosely) LA culinary experiences.

    BTW, this probably won't and shouldn't matter to you, but off your list, I'd recommend Phillipe's and Roscoe's. I don't like hot dogs or lines, so that's why I'm not saying Pink's (it was fine the one time I went a few years ago, but not really my thing) and Porto's is good if say you're meeting your friend who works at a post house down the street or need to get your gf a birthday cake, but I'm always baffled why people from out of town are compelled to go there. Like my brother-in-law was in town last month and insisted on it. I mean it's good, I just don't get why it's so incredibly appealing. Anyway, they must be doing something right, more power to them...

    5 Replies
    1. re: vegetablelasagna

      "I'm always baffled why people from out of town are compelled to go there."

      That's my opinion of Philippes, Pink's, AND Roscoe's.

      1. re: ns1

        Here's the thing though, I don't think the food sucks at Porto's. I think it's good, but not good/unique/iconic enough to warrant a visit if you're from out of town. I don't like Pink's (not sure if they do a good version of something I don't like or an overrated/overpriced version of something I don't like) but I get why people want to go (to) there. Phillipe's and Roscoe's I think do do a good version of something I like that others may not, and are unique/iconic/whatever to LA/LA's food history/landscape.

        1. re: vegetablelasagna

          LA, being as big and as diverse as it is, really doesn't have any "mainstays," imho.
          almost any place that serves good food will become "popular."
          MANY of the "legendary" spots only serve mediocre food.

          that said:
          i'd skip Pinks (go to Top Dog in Berkeley instead. i worked my way through college at the Top Dog North Side location admit that i am partial to it.)

          portos is ok, but imho, not a destination place. not good enough to induce me to plan my time around going there.

          Do you want good or innovative food at a price or do you want to be able to say that you've been to the legendary places? although there is some overlap between the two groups, they don't overlap as much as you'd think

        2. re: ns1

          for the record I have been to Pinks and was really not a fan of it. I have to reserve my judgement for Roscoes and Phillipes. I have had a lot of Porto's as well, while it was very good I do not plan on visiting while in the area. Thank you for your response by the way!

          1. re: Rtheightyfive

            Take pictures (mental or digital) of Phillipe's and take in the smells of the sawdust. After that, head to Langer's for a seriously memorable pastrami sandwich.

        1. Pinks + Philippes = 2 of the most polarizing restaurants on chowhound.

          1 Reply
          1. I'd go old school:
            Musso & Franks
            Dan Tana's
            original Farmer's Market on 3rd St.
            Fountain Room at Beverly Hills Hotel
            Apple Pan (more polarizing love/hate here)

            3 Replies
            1. re: iOnLa

              +1 for original farmers market on 3rd.

              1. re: westsidegal

                +2 for Farmers Market and would add Ricky's Fish Tacos too.

            2. Pink's and Roscoe's not worth the bother. Portos is fine but not worth a detour. Certainly go to Langer's for a pastrami sandwich.

              Phillipe's for a French dip (order the lamb) is also iconic. Suggest you consider some Chinese options in SGV (search the board for a zillion posts).

              Go to Mozza for a pizza. Take advantage of the current lunch special: $20.00 for any pizza at the bar with a glass of wine and dessert. For dessert get the butterscotch buddino.

              For dinner, try Animal or Red Medicine, which are both probably very different from what you'd find at home.

              1 Reply
              1. Thank you all for the suggestions! much appreciated. I look forward to experiencing these places.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I'll see your OPC and raise you one (Manuel's original) El Tepeyac! (MOET?) ;-D> http://manuelseltepeyac.com/

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        We may have just "jumped the Cholo!"

                      2. re: Servorg

                        +1 for El Tepeyac. I wouldn't bother with OPC, nothing is noteworthy there.....

                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                          Agreed, skip OPC and go straight to Langers.

                          1. re: ns1

                            Well, I'll give a vote for OPC for a couple of reasons. First off it's open 24/7/365. Secondly they have no lock on the front door. Finally, they have some good griddle fried sourdough bread to go along with your eggs, bacon and potatoes. Fancy (either food or location) it's not. But when the hunger pangs strike at 0400 dark, it fills the bill without breaking the bank.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Well, at 4am in the morning it's most certainly better then Denny's....but I wouldn't stand in that ridiculous line come 8-9am.

                              1. re: Servorg

                                You could make a similar plea for Tommy's at Beverly & Rampart for chili burgers.

                                1. re: mc michael

                                  And Pacific Dining Car, for that matter.....

                                  1. re: mc michael

                                    Hell, yes...but sometimes the taste buds want chili burgers and drunken banter filling the air and sometimes they want to sit down, contemplate the fate of the Western world and eat bacon and eggs with like minded nuts...(and my taste buds looked in my wallet and saw that Pacific Dining Car was going to mean they weren't going to get fed again anytime soon if they ended up there, so voted it down). ;-D>

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      You can probably do 7-8 Pantry visits for 1 PDC meal. And their valet costs more as well. But there's the car wash option.

                        2. It's a little more expensive, but at this point I think I'd go with Cole's over Phillipe's.
                          As for must go, probably Jitlada for spicy Thai.

                          1 Reply