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Visit to LA from NYC

Hi, coming into town in late October and would love some must eat food spots. Will travel in any part of LA for good food! I do have a few things I'd love suggestions on:

1. Soup Dumplings-- We have Joe's Shanghai in NYC. Anything similar in LA? Would like to try a West Coast rendition.

2. Best Hamburger-- Where can we find the best hamburger in LA? I'm in love with the Minetta Black Label burger and the Shake Shack burgers (although two completely different styles, both monumental).

3. Best Mexican-- So full disclosure, I'm originally from Austin and grew up on cheesy tex-mex. Would like to find something like that, but totally appreciate the cleaner flavors of West Coast Mexican too. Maybe a place that has both?

4. Wild Card-- what one place do we need to try?

Thanks!!

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  1. Hi~ I'm originally from NY but haven't lived there in so long that I can only really comment about pizza & bagels :)
    As far as your wild card, I'd recommend Korean food! It's amazing here...Parks BBQ, Soot Bull Jeep, etc...there are tons of amazing places to choose from. Sushi is also amazing here - I'd recommend Kiriko or Mori in West LA, or if you want the little tokyo experience, maybe Sushi Gen or Hama while they're not the best in the city, I love being in little tokyo.
    Mexican... I'd recommend some fish tacos! Ricky's is a stand that's open from 12:30 - 4:30 wed- sunday as long as it's weather appropriate. He's vermont south of sunset or something like that... others may jump in with some authentic mexican food trucks as well.
    i don't eat meat but my coworker LOVES Stout & Golden State for burgers.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Clyde

      I'll take a pizza recommendation too! We're going to be there for 6 days!

      1. re: christinec222

        might as well hit up Pizza Mozza for a good LA stand-by. Hit up Sotto if you want to argue about the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza for a few days on CH.

        1. re: ns1

          re: Mozza, make a reservation... and get the butterscotch budino thingy for dessert. I have a hard time recommending pizza here when you have such amazing spots in NY. But, pizza is improving here and Mozza is a pretty good bet for some good food.
          You may want to try 2 korean spots!!!! definitely try a korean bbq joint and then maybe like the other recommendation- try soon tofu/soondubu. it's really outstanding, but you'd have to go to either Sokongdong as Mr. Taster suggested or across the street to Beverly Soon Tofu. Another Korean dish you may like is bibimbap! Do some research on these things on here and you'll be set!

          1. re: Clyde

            To be fair, when you say "amazing pizza in NY" you mean about 20 pizzerias out of 5000.

            The OP asked for a pizza recommendation...

            1. re: ns1

              II wouldn't go to NYC and seek out Korean food, just saying.

              1. re: Clyde

                Korean is turning up in a lot of the wildcard recommendations. I've only ever had NYC Korean and have always been so/so about it. I'm guessing LA Korean is a whole other animal. Will have to do this when we go out there.

                1. re: Clyde

                  The OP asked for a recommendation, just saying.

                  1. re: ns1

                    ns1, why don't you give her one then? can you do better than Mozza?

                    1. re: Clyde

                      That WAS my pizza rec.

                      I'm not gonna recommend NY style pizza to a NY'er and I said my piece about Sotto ;)

                2. re: ns1

                  I wish we had 20 here in LA, but I'll settle for 10

        2. for the mexican,
          i'd go for mexican seafood done in the style of sinaloa and nayarit.
          warning: in this style
          A)the shrimp are served with their tails peeled, but their heads still attached.
          B)the ceviche is made to order, so the acid doesn't have a lot of time to "cook" it, which means that the texture is more like that of raw fish than like that of cooked fish.
          C) the barbecued fishis is served with the head on and the bones in
          and
          d
          D) the deep fried fish is served with the head on and the bones in

          1. 1. "Soup dumplings" (most menus here translate them more accurately as "juicy pork buns", since they are not technically dumplings). Go to San Gabriel, spin around and point, and the likelihood is that you'll be looking right at some restaurant that serves some iteration of them. They're a Shanghainese dish but have become wildly popular over the last few years, so even non-Shanghainese restaurants are serving them now. But you should get them at a Shanhainese restaurant-- Dean Sin World or Mei Long Village, or J&J next to Mei Long Village. If you go to Mei Long Village, be sure to get the pork pump too. But why limit yourself to XLB? There's so much great, regional Chinese cooking to choose from in the San Gabriel Valley.

            2. Best hamburger is somewhat controversial, but I think you can't go wrong with either Father's Office or Umami Burger, or Golden State (all expensive to very expensive). Or go to In-N-Out for a classic California style fast food burger that won't blow your socks off, but it a helluva sandwich for $2-3. Avoid the admittedly adorable, historic restaurant "The Apple Pan", unless you don't mind paying upwards of $25-30 for a small coffee shop burger, fries, coke, pie and coffee. (However, the banana cream pie is truly extraordinary-- you might want to consider getting a takeaway slice).

            3. Best Mexican-- most Mexican restaurants worth going to in LA are going to cook in the style of someone's abuela and less in the style of a Tex-mex margarita mill. You absolutely won't find the two under the same roof (great Tex-Mex + real Mexican food, I mean-- it would be like having a synagogue and church under the same roof). As for this, pick your region and decide from there. The moles of Oaxaca? (Monte Alban) The haute cuisine (Babita) or little snacks (Antojitos Carmen) of Mexico City? The seafood of Sinaloa or Nayarit (Coni' Seafood- be sure Sergio is cooking the pescado zarandeado when you go)? The funky melange of cultures and tastes of the Yucatan (La Flor de Yucatan or Chichen Itza)? The tried-and-true food of the LA Chicano, LA's immigrant cooking (Manuel's El Tepayec)? Take your pick. If you really want to immerse yourself in the LA's immigrant culture, go to El Mercadito in Boyle Heights or the Alameda Swap Meet. Let your eyes, ears and nose guide you.

            4. Agree with Korean. There's nothing to compare in New York. Try the the soontofu (spicy fresh tofu stew), bulgogi and raw crab panchan at Sokongdong in a Koreatown minimall on Olympic and Vermont.

            Mr Taster

            19 Replies
            1. re: Mr Taster

              Thank you for this! What a great summary. So regarding #1: other than Mei Long Village and the like, what would you recommend in another Chinese regional style? again, 6 days so I'm sure we'll have time to try another. Regarding #3, I'm very interested in the LA immigrant style cooking so I"ll try that.

              1. re: christinec222

                One other hamburger suggestion. Plan Check http://www.plancheckbar.com/ on Sawtelle in West LA. Great burgers. Had their blueprint burger with smoked blue cheese, pig candy, fried onions, roasted garlic steak sauce, peppercress for $11 just the other day. Absolute knock out. Had their version of poutine with pastrami topping the fries. Another delicious and creative winner. Wonderful beer list (I consumed their St. Peters Cream Stout from the UK (500ml) for $15) and cocktails too. Last item to sell Plan Check are their house made cruller donuts with cinnamon sugar and fresh fruit and cream.

                1. re: christinec222

                  You'd be doing yourself a disservice by limiting yourself to only trying LA's Chicano cooking. These are the huge burritos, beans and rice plates that you're used to seeing, and that you might be able to find serviceable (though not superlative) versions of in NYC. You will likely not be able to find in NYC the kind of intricate, careful, regional cooking that you'll find at La Casita Mexicana, Babita or Chichen Itza,

                  As for Chinese, you really should read this board. It's stuffed to the gills with recommendations for Chinese restaurants, from Xinjiang (Omar's) to Cantonese/Dim sun (Elite/Sea Harbour), the Muslim influence of China's central Shaanxi province (Shaanxi Gourmet, China Islamic), the dough sliced noodles and dumplings of northern Shanxi province (101 Noodle Express), the delicious shared social activity of Little Fat Sheet (Mongolian hotpot), Taiwanese comfort food at Old Country Cafe (pork cutlets) or Sinbala (Taiwanese sausage with raw garlic, shaved ice dessert.) The list goes on and on and on and on and on and on................

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    Thank you! will begin to dig in deeper with these recommendations.

                  2. re: christinec222

                    As an Angelino I HAD to go to Shake Shack when I was in NY, so I would encourage you to go to In N Out. It's only 6 bucks all in.

                    I mean at the end of the day we'll both prefer what we have, but it's good to see what the other side has ;)

                    1. re: ns1

                      Totally agree. I also think it would be a complete miss to not have had In-n-Out while out there.

                      1. re: christinec222

                        Just keep in mind that one of the great things about In-N-Out is the customization of the "secret menu". If you've never been, I suggest ordering the burgers "animal-style" at the minimum. Everyone has their preferred prep but a simple Google search ought to reveal how deep the rabbit hole goes...

                          1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                            You can get the complete list of all the variations In_N-Out offers at my favorite food blog, Serious Eats, which, as a New Yorker, should be very familiar to you. If you want to make a Taco run and see some historic sites in CA, go on the 101 to Santa
                            Barbara, about 1 hour north of LA. On Milpas Street, an exit on the 101, is Super Rica, a really good taco place, and you can check out the Mission while you are there.

                            1. re: pizzafreak

                              "Santa Barbara, about 1 hour north of LA"

                              Damn, I must be doing something wrong all these years since it takes me 50% longer than this to make that drive...

                              1. re: Servorg

                                Well, it's about 1 hour from north, north Los Angeles.

                                Just did the trip 2 weeks ago.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  Me too. It took us two hours, with no traffice from Pasadena. It takes us 1.5 hours from west LA.

                                  La Super-rica is great, we love it, but there must be something very similar in East LA. Anyone?

                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                        Same - I can never make it out there during the hours they're open though.

                                2. re: pizzafreak

                                  Even better than La Super Rica is Taqueria La Colmena ("beehive"), also on Milpas St. but a bit closer to the freeway. Everything I've had there equals or surpasses the congruent dishes at La Super Rica, and I've never had to wait in line.

                                  http://losangeles.grubstreet.com/2011...

                          2. re: christinec222

                            Would really recommend you skip Shanghainese in LA unless it's Shanghai #1 Seafood Village. There you can do your soup dumpling comparison but do one better and try seriously awesome pan fried buns (aka shenjian bao). These versions are like soup dumplings on steroids and pan fried with a crispy bottom.

                            Mei Long Village is no better than Yeah Shanghai Deluxe and the XLB at Mei Long Village have been horrible for at least 2 years now. Yeah Shanghai Deluxe has a pork pump too. It's probably "rump" on the menu.

                            Also I would add Red Medicine as your wild card.

                          3. re: Mr Taster

                            Golden State is one of my favorite burgers in Los Angeles. (beer floats too).
                            http://thegoldenstatecafe.com

                            The Umami Hatch Burger is very tasty (and don't miss their cherry almond pie...so good!
                            )http://www.umami.com/umami-burger/

                            and Plan Check is part of my holy trinity of LA burgers (also try their pastrami poutine).
                            http://www.plancheckbar.com

                            1. re: wienermobile

                              My favorite pizza can be found at:
                              1. Pizzeria Mozza Hollywood
                              2. Stella Rosa Pizza Bar Santa Monica
                              3. Milo and Olive Santa Monica
                              and tied for 3rd Gjelina in Venice
                              Enjoy!

                          4. 2. Up for debate, but if you don't have Umami burgers in NYC, these are a good intro. For fast food type, In n Out is a famous & well loved chain. Tommy's chili burgers are also a delicious example of another well loved LA chain. But practically any decent restaurant has a burger on the menu. But I do have to disagree with my friend above about the Father's Office recommendation. Unless you like your burger a particular way (no ketchup, only blue cheese, caramelized onions, and in the soup nazi style of NO Substitutions EVER!) it's not worth it.

                            4. Agree with all who point you toward Korean. But if that's not your style, you should try to get a reservation at Animal. You won't regret it.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                              and add Son of A Gun. The seafood version of Animal from the same two wonderful chefs.
                              http://sonofagunrestaurant.com

                              1. re: wienermobile

                                Thanks, wienermobile. I was going to let you add that one. And I also agree with my hotdog carted friend on the Hatch burger being the bomb at Umami ( only one I crave) and actually I adore the pastrami nosh, pcb burger & fried chicken sandwiches at Plan Check, not to mention their addicting butter lettuce salad. In fact, just about everything on Plan Check's menu is delicious.

                            2. 1. Joe's is to NY as Din Tai Fung is to LA. Note there is a very long wait at both DTF locations which are just walking distance from each other in Arcadia. If you're not looking for the big name, there are a number of other very good/better soup dumpling contenders in the San Gabriel Valley. Any search for 'XLB' or 'xiao long bao' on the board should pull these up - Dean Sin World, J&J are some.

                              2. In-N-Out is our equivalent to Shake Shack - the one that locals grow up on and crave when they move away - and you definitely need to try a double-double animal style if you haven't before. The other thing LA has is the ubiquitous gourmet burger of which we have lots of good ones - Father's Office, Umami, Golden State, Short Order to name a few.

                              I'll leave Mexican to the many other good recs in this thread, but for your wildcard I suggest you have Californian or Cal-French while you're out here - Gjelina, Hatfields, Jiraffe.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: TracyS

                                Din Tai Fung is about as diametrically opposed to Joe's Shanghai as you can get. Joe's XLB are dense, thick and greasy whereas Din Tai Fung's are light, fresh, brothy. It might actually be worth the OP trying them out just to get a sense of the range of what XLB can be.

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                  I completely disagree with the statement that Joe's XLBs are thick, dense and greasy. I have eaten at 12 of the 15-20 or so places in Chinatown that serve XLBs and have soup dumplings probably about 4-5 times a month. Joe's dumpling skins are super thin and delicate and while the inside is oily, the outside is not greasy and they are not dense.

                                  1. re: christinec222

                                    I'm sorry, I was sloppy in my description. I was trying to communicate that the soup inside was greasy, unctuous-- not the buns themselves. The broth in Din Tai Fung's version is very clean and bright, just the opposite of Joe's.

                                    As for the thickness of the skins, at that time in my XLB development when I ate at Joe's, I primarily had eaten Din Tai Fung's version, whose skins are gossamer thin to the point of translucency. This is unusual even among the top San Gabriel Valley XLB places. I last ate at Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown upwards of 6 years ago, so I admit my recall may be suffering. Perhaps I'm remembering that Joe's skins were thick compared to the impossibly thin skins of Din Tai Fung. The bottom line however is that my overall impression of Joe's was very unfavorable.

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      Maybe they've refined them since then or maybe these ones you're describing are out of this world. Either way, now you have me very interested! ;) I'll give them a whirl and report back.

                                    2. re: christinec222

                                      I've been to DTF in Hong Kong, Shanghai & Tokyo and it's roughly a million times better than Joe's Shanghai, so if LA's are anything similar than I'm sure Mr. Taster is correct. There are much better XLB than Joe's Shanghai even in NYC, although you have to go to Queens.

                                    3. re: Mr Taster

                                      I was more referring to the way that DTF automatically gets named when someone asks about XLB in LA.
                                      I think Joe's stirs the same controversy in NY - it has both its devotees and others who think it's all hype and nowhere near as good as the hole-in-the-wall place that doesn't get press.
                                      Anyone who enjoys XLB definitely has to try DTF at least once to judge for themselves.

                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        Another one for DTF. It is superb. Also, in order to avoid the line for dinner just come in at 4:45 you will just walk in. Everyone seems to get in at 5:00. Always amazes me. For lunch there is usually no line

                                    4. You've gotten some great suggestions already.

                                      1. Another vote for Din Tai Fung.

                                      2. Burger - another vote for In 'n' Out for a fast food-style burger. For a restaurant burger, it's hard to beat the lunchtime-only burger offered at Morton's Steakhouse. Yes, it's a chain, and not even an L.A.-based one at that. Nevertheless, it's the best "gourmet" burger I've had. It's made of prime beef (steak trimmings), comes with bacon, your choice of cheese, grilled onions, mushrooms (if you want 'em), and even includes steak fries. All for $17. The burger patty itself is quite large, easily 1/3-lb and quite possibly 1/2. Cooked to your desired temperature. It is a very fine burger.

                                      4. Wild Card - take a drive up PCH on a nice day (or even an overcast one) into Malibu. A couple of miles past Pepperdine University, pull into the parking lot of Malibu Seafood, get whatever sounds good (I like the tuna burger, but they do good fish and chips, or even a shrimp cocktail) and enjoy it at one of the many picnic tables on the property. You're across the street from the beach. If you've got more time, you could continue past Malibu Seafood and go all the way to Neptune's Net. Similar kind of place - just a little spot on PCH across the street from the beach. This is an experience I guarantee you will not be able to duplicate in NYC.

                                      Malibu Seafood: http://www.malibuseafood.com/
                                      Neptune's Net: http://neptunesnet.com/

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: Jack Flash

                                        I love Malibu seafood too. Just know it is close don Mondays, parking can be difficult if small lot is full and it's BYOB, so a stop at the Von's at Sunset might be in order before if you want to enjoy some wine, beer or other spirits with your food.

                                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                          Thanks for adding that info. On that subject, Neptune's Net DOES serve beer and wine.

                                          1. re: Jack Flash

                                            They have a pretty darn good beer selection in bottles.

                                        2. re: Jack Flash

                                          This is fantastic. We were already planning a trip up PCH into Malibu. Super excited about this. Seafood is actually one of my favorite types of food (although not so much for my travel companion). Neptunes Net serves beer and wine, so it may be the one.

                                          1. re: christinec222

                                            Well if you are heading that way, then I suggest a trip to Saddle Peak Lodge.

                                            www.saddlepeaklodge.com

                                            1. re: christinec222

                                              i often recommend folks toddle up to neptune's net, because it's a fun place to people watch while nursing a beer on a sunny day.
                                              however, it is not a food destination, and saying they "serve" beer and wine is sorta a stretch, because you get it yourself out of a cooler while you stand in line to order.
                                              a "seafood lover" will probably be disappointed by the quality of the chow; however, the atmosphere is very pleasant.

                                              1. re: linus

                                                I normally get the crab cake "burger", but you are right. The food is nothing to write home about. Setting is lovely. Port-a-Potties are not something you want to experience after a horde of biker's have been through on a "run" (g) and I'd eat at Malibu Seafood Grill over NN any day of the week...

                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  y'know, i find their port-a-potties quite clean, actually.

                                                  1. re: linus

                                                    I often throw Mr. Facts under the bus when in search of a laugh...

                                                2. re: linus

                                                  concur with linus' neptune's net opinion

                                            2. Hi Cafe del Rey in Marina del Rey has a very nice brunch and they serve California Cuisine
                                              Went there on Sunday and one of us had a lamb burger which looked very good.
                                              I had duck confit hash with potatoes and eggs. Price is $35 includes apt and desert and
                                              a mimosa or champagne. It righf on the water and is very laid back compared to NYC.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: smiling ed

                                                I believe they still do bottomless mimosas or champagne.

                                              2. Hey Christine, I'm a native NYer (Manhattan & The Bronx) who's been living in LA for a few years now. All the recs you've gotten so far are great, from people who, trust me, definitely know what they're talking about. For what it's worth, I'll add my 2 cents...

                                                1. Burgers. Yes, try both In N' Out and Umami. At In N' Out, I usually get a cheeseburger or double double (2 meat 2 cheese) Animal Style, medium rare, light lettuce (since sometimes it feels like they put half a freaking iceberg wedge on there and it gets weird.) I also get Animal Fries (grilled onions, melted cheese and special sauce.) You can customize your fries any way you want, just cheese, just onions, sauce on the side, etc. If you go with just plain fries, I'd recommend getting them Well Done, as they can be (although tasty) kind of pale and limp otherwise, which I actually prefer if I get anything on them. As for drinks, I like either their Vanilla Milkshake, or Chocolate Milkshake with no more than half a packet of salt I add to kick it up a few notches (don't ask them to do it for you, gets way too salty. Also, don't salt the Vanilla. Made that mistake before, not a good one.) As for Umami, I love it, but be warned, the burgers can be on the rare side of medium rare and a little mushy in texture. If that's not your jam, obviously don't get it well done, but you might want to ask for between medium rare and medium.

                                                2. Pizza. Obviously in NY you have access to great (or if not great then at least your favorite) slice joint pizza and fancy (Neapolitan) pizza. What you might want to try is old-school California-Style Pizza (not CPK.) The place I like is called Caioti Pizza Cafe on Tijunga in Studio City (the Valley.) It's the restaurant of the late Ed LaDou, godfather of California-Style Pizza and the guy who did the original menu for CPK. Unlike CPK it's not a chain and doesn't taste or feel like corporate food. It's pretty 80's/90's, and not a very hip place in not a very hip area, but it's good food and as a NYer, an experience I always find interesting. Mozza's wonderful, definitely a better restaurant, but an experience you can easily have in NY.

                                                3. Mexican. As I previously said, all the recs you've gotten so far are great. Here's some other, more taco oriented ideas. Cactus on Vine Street, any of the stalls at Grand Central Market on Broadway (Downtown LA -- don't forget to visit the Bradbury Building across the street), King Taco on Pico & Alvarado, El Super Taco on Santa Monica & Brockton in West LA (next to the already mentioned Monte Alban), and Cacao Mexicatessen in Eagle Rock (but only if you're in the area or Pasadena.)

                                                4. Wildcard. Jitlada in Thai Town, Black Hogg in Silverlake, Scoops on Melrose.

                                                Enjoy your trip, and happy eating!

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: vegetablelasagna

                                                  I would also suggest X Toast bun on the InO burger, esp. if you're doing it animal style. My preference is also for well done fries.

                                                  Also, animal style burger AND animal style fries = artery clogging IMHO.

                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                    i've never been able to distinguish animal style fries from animal style packing peanuts. then again, although i enjoy going to in and out two or three times a year, i'm baffled as to why anyone coming from new york (or billings. or oxford. or el paso.) needs to get their burger fix there.

                                                  2. re: vegetablelasagna

                                                    Hi veg lasagna....id suggest from my experience that strip of Studio City, (Tujunga?) is fairly hip with some reasonably cool cafes, nightclub,Vitello's, that has great jazz almost nightly, and the aforementioned pizza which is interesting but as an xNYer, id skip Caioti Pizza...for pizza id stick to Mozza, Sotto or Settebello to see how LA matches up...
                                                    And id try Sea Harbour for great dim sum!
                                                    If you try Apple Pan, i would just for the experience, you might see a film at Westside Pavillion(Landmark Theaters)

                                                    1. re: lapizzamaven

                                                      Pizza, I actually really like that strip of Tujunga (yeah, not sure how to spell it either.) All I meant was it's not Silverlake or The Strip or Downtown. It's not a "scene" in other words, and arguably not the most exciting part of LA for an out of towner, though it does have a certain low-key charm and is one of the funkier stetches of the Valley. Now, the reason I suggested Caioti over those other places is as a NYer you can get Mario Batali food and Neapolitan pizza, but it might be interesting and worthwhile to get something here you can't get there -- namely good California-Style Pizza at the restaurant of the person who invented it (I'm not really interested in going back and forth about whether we agree it's "good" or not. I think it is, others may not, such is life.) That said, the OP may very well want to see how Silverton-influenced Batali food in LA is or how Sotto compares to Keste or how Langer's compares to Katz's, or may even just want awesome pizza regardless of if they can get it back home. I was just presenting the option that I personally would find most interesting and appealing, and the reasoning behind it, as I know you were as well. 

                                                      BTW, huge fan of all those places you listed and the OP would have a great meal at all of them.

                                                      PS -- Even though it's not Neapolitan and Nancy Silverton does the crust (and it's, you know, in LA), I still wouldn't classify Mozza as California-Style Pizza. I think of it more as "Chef" pizza the way Chris Bianco's pizza is, or Ed LaDou/Wolfgang's was before there was even such a thing as California-Style Pizza.

                                                      1. re: vegetablelasagna

                                                        SUPER interested in trying California pizza. I'd heard of CPK (and had it once-- and didn't like it) but never knew it was an actual category/style of pizza. Thanks for the heads up.

                                                            1. re: beaubourne

                                                              you are being too kind, beaubourne.
                                                              it is worse than crap.

                                                        1. re: vegetablelasagna

                                                          @veg lasagna, agreed, def not a scene but kool for SFV...yeah, Caioti might be interesting, espec for someone inteested in the historical dev of Calif pizza....oh yeah, def wouldnt call Mozza Cal style pizza...id go with Neapolitan-influenced...artisanal, chef driven pizza...oh why did you mention Bianco...now i have to see whens the soonest i can go to Phoenix!!!!!!

                                                    2. Since nobody has explained Animal style to you, I will do you a solid so you don't have to wade thru the definitions on the web. They smear the rare burger patties with yellow mustard and grill them that way. They also grill the onions really well to add onto it. Unless you hate or are allergic to mustard, it's really the way to go.... You can barely even taste the mustard, but somehow it makes the burger sing.... And we all know what raw onions do to you an hour later after enjoying them on your burger.

                                                      22 Replies
                                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                        You know, I've been eating animal style for over a decade and did not know they put the mustard on the patty before cooking. I have eaten hundreds of animal style burgers and I never got the taste of mustard.

                                                        Hard to tell under the spread/pickles/cheese/grilled onions

                                                        1. re: ns1

                                                          I know, you would never know it if you didn't hear/read it. So yummy tho. Only way I'll eat them now....

                                                        2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                          I'm deeply, DEEPLY confused by all the In-n-Out recs here. I think the place worth a visit only for its uniquely Californian vibe and b/c the milkshakes are good (the fries are tasty only when eaten IMMEDIATELY). I've never understood why anyone finds their burgers particularly compelling. It's a fast-food burger. It tastes better than any other fast-food burger, but i think you could do better at home simply grilling your own burger and then slapping on the condiments (+ thousand island). ::shrug:: Having said that, my sister (who lives in NYC) says that she thinks In-n-Out would do great there. And I, in general, find fast-food burger detestable and not worth the calories or fat. YMMV.

                                                          Do LA XLB taste different than NYC's? My sister was unimpressed w/ DTF. I think J&J or Mei Long Village might provide a less sanitized (and possibly more enjoyable) experience than would DTF. I also think the SGV is worth a visit simply to see the vast number of restaurants and regional specialties available.

                                                          Do we do dim sum better/differently than NYC? If so, there are numerous threads covering that.

                                                          I do think Father's Office or Plan Check are worth a visit for the burger. Milo + Olive or Huckleberry are delicious. I'd skip the wait at Gjelina and just have a slice of pizza at Abbott Kinney pizza and then walk along Abbott Kinney to people watch. I haven't the slightest idea where you'd get tex-mex, but agree that Monte Alban (or Juquila) would be good for Oaxacan. I'm assuming you have nothing like Ricky's Fish Tacos in NYC. Or perhaps La Cervicheria for, duh, ceviche (available in multiple styles).

                                                          Totally agree w/ Jitlada as a wild card. Or maybe Izakaya Bincho?

                                                          To the OP, why are you looking for things that are familiar to you (e.g., XLB similar to Joe's or tex-mex)? I think part of the fun in traveling is trying things are are unique to that city.... =)

                                                          1. re: ilysla

                                                            I think the "wildcard" suggestion sufficiently covers the "things I'm not familiar with" category and I'd hardly consider a suggestion for West Coast Mexican or West Coast style dim-sum/soup dumplings to be something I'm familiar with. These foods are just as regional as any other (as has been confirmed by several posters). And hamburgers? they're just damn good. I'm also traveling with someone who is NOT from NY and is joining me from Austin.

                                                            1. re: christinec222

                                                              I think it's more of an issue of the wording of your original post (at least IMO). You asked about places that are similar to Joe's and to the tex-mex w/ which you grew up. And I questioned why you simply didn't want to skip the comparison altogether to try something entirely new and different that you can't easily replicate in NYC (e.g., instead of West Coast vs. East Coast, how Mexican vs. Peruvian?). To me, that' the more interesting eating experience. =)

                                                              And hamburgers are good. But not the In-N-Out ones.... ;) (again, just IMHO) If you're gonna get a burger, get a really good one! =) BTW, do realize that weekday evening traffic can easily make your commute from Santa Monica to Sawtelle (Plan Check) can easy take 30 min. =( Plan accordingly (fortunately, Plan Check is open pretty late at night.... =) ).

                                                              To ns1, the question is do I *want* to replicate a #1? And the answer is no. ;) i also tell people who want to go to Pink's to simply walk by late at night but to go eat somewhere else. The food at Pink's is totally passable, but why would you waste the time? You get the experience by briefly visiting or walking by but then waste the calories on something far tastier. ;)

                                                              To get back to the thread topic, I think Zelo and Ondal mentioned below are good rec.

                                                              1. re: ilysla

                                                                Plan Check actually serves all afternoon. So no reason to head down there during rush hour if you don't have to.

                                                            2. re: ilysla

                                                              "I've never understood why anyone finds their burgers particularly compelling. It's a fast-food burger. It tastes better than any other fast-food burger, but i think you could do better at home simply grilling your own burger and then slapping on the condiments (+ thousand island)"

                                                              You answered your own question - they are delicious fast food burgers that are better and cheaper than the competition, and there is no way you can replicate a single #1 at home for $6.xx in 15 minutes.

                                                              You go to InO to check out what all the fuss is about - same reason I went to the halal cart in NY, white castle in NJ, Skyline Chili in OH, etc...

                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                as much as i bitch about in and out:
                                                                they will(in california, at least) make your hamburger as close to medium rare as a patty that thin can be made.
                                                                and, their counter people are the most pleasant in fast food landia.

                                                              2. re: ilysla

                                                                i concur with ilsia's take on in-n-out.
                                                                it's a fast food burger.
                                                                never understood why some people think it's much better than any other fast food burger.
                                                                maybe, on occasion, slightly better, but definitely in the same league as other fast food burgers.
                                                                that said, i've never been a specialist in the nuances of the stuff turned out by fast food chains.

                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                  I disagree with this statement but any/all thoughts regarding the subject are probably covered by this 185 reply thread

                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7752...;

                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                    Thanks, westsidegal. ;)

                                                                    ns1, next time I'll run the search function on historically controversial subjects.... ;)

                                                                    1. re: ilysla

                                                                      pft, after a few years on CH I've practically memorized the thread titles for controversial subjects =D

                                                                      1. re: ns1

                                                                        They (CH controversial subjects) all go In (one ear) & Out the other...

                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                          And how long did it take you to dream that one up??? ;)

                                                                  2. re: westsidegal

                                                                    But there's something kind of wonderful about a fast food burger as a genre, and I think InO is the peak of that genre.

                                                                    1. re: Savour

                                                                      I agree with you! When I'm in Texas I always seek out Whataburger. I crave it from time to time also. Its pretty tasty, but is it a Minetta burger-- no. But it also isn't' supposed to be.

                                                                    2. re: westsidegal

                                                                      Basically the fascination with it for those back east is that there is no comparison to it there. At least there wasnt when I left the area 20 years ago.

                                                                  3. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                    Thanks for that! I actually am a huge fan of mustard so this sounds like it would be the way to go. Same with onions-- yum. How would you order fries? Well done?

                                                                      1. re: christinec222

                                                                        I liked them the soft way at first, for the first twenty times or so I tried it. Then I tried them well done, and liked them, Even more. But now, I don't order any & just pick off of my kids'.

                                                                        1. re: christinec222

                                                                          Light well. If ordered well, at times, you end up with potato sticks as opposed to fries.

                                                                        2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                          Don't forget that Animal style has extra sauce and pickles, which don't come with a regular cheeseburger (but can, of course, be requested).

                                                                        3. We're staying in Santa Monica, so if there are any brunch suggestions in Santa Monica (or lunch/dinner that is not to be missed), we'd love that too. I think a lot of what has already been suggested is in or near (Plancheck bar I think is pretty close).

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: christinec222

                                                                            Check out the weekend brunch http://www.richardsandoval.com/zengos... at Zengo in Santa Monica at Santa Monica Place mall. $35 for all the small plates and drinks (both alcoholic - see menu for types available - and non alcoholic) you can/want to consume.

                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                              One of the best Sunday brunches is at Saddle Peak Lodge in Malibu Canyon. Rustic setting with wonderful food. Great Patio too!
                                                                              http://www.saddlepeaklodge.com

                                                                              1. re: wienermobile

                                                                                I see Ipse beat you to it above... ;-D>

                                                                                1. re: wienermobile

                                                                                  The thing with living in NYC is that when I vacation, I crave beaches, outdoors and nature. I think I could spend all day there. This is such a great suggestion. thank you!

                                                                                2. re: Servorg

                                                                                  What a fun menu.. a little asian meets mexican action.

                                                                                  1. re: christinec222

                                                                                    +1 on Zengo. Try to get a seat on the patio if it's sunny out.

                                                                                3. re: christinec222

                                                                                  You might want to check out Huckleberry in SM for pastries or a light lunch (La Monarca, across the street, has some nice Mexican breakfast pastries which you don't really see in NYC). Milo and Olive in SaMO (same ownership as Huckleberry) also does a nice breakfast, and good pizza (but the thing to try is their garlic knot.)

                                                                                4. For Mexican, I do agree that LA offers a range of regional cuisines you don't find in NYC. Besides the Oaxacan, Sonoran, Yucatan, and Baja style fish tacos mentioned in this thread, try a Guadalajaran torta ahogada. Don't bother with anything Poblano in LA. NYC has that one down, since 99% of the Mexican immigrants to NYC are from Puebla. Also along the line of Mexican cooking, try some Guatemalan ceviche.

                                                                                  For Korean, I wouldn't go to any great lengths for BBQ. There are many good Korean BBQ places around NYC in Flushing/Murray Hill/Bayside as well as around Fort Lee NJ. Though Parks BBQ offers more premium cuts than anything I've seen in NYC. Instead, try some styles of Korean cuisine not found in NYC, like the crab hotpot at Ondal or the other crab joints in Koreatown, or maybe the table d'hote style dining at Yongsusan. If you're into late night eating, maybe try some festive po chang ma cha joints around Koreatown (careful with the soju though).

                                                                                  Couple other wild cards could include:
                                                                                  *Cajun/Creole, which is pretty much non-existent in NYC (or at least any good versions). There are a good handful of places in Inglewood and South LA that offer good versions of gumbo, crayfish etouffee, jambalaya, po' boys, etc.
                                                                                  *Persian along the Westwood Blvd strip. Finish off with some good Persian ice cream.
                                                                                  *Breakfast. Not brunch. LA does some good early morning food, which doesn't seem to exist in NYC.
                                                                                  *Zelo for pizza. Even during my 20 years enjoying NYC pizza, I always had a craving for Zelo's wonderfully unorthodox pizzas.
                                                                                  *Dino's for the chicken plate. A visit to LA wouldn't be complete without a visit.

                                                                                  21 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: E Eto

                                                                                    Zelo is a good rec.

                                                                                    I wonder if cornmeal crust pizzas are found anywhere else in the U.S.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      Does this mean its technically gluten-free?

                                                                                      1. re: christinec222

                                                                                        Don't believe so.

                                                                                        The crust is not entirely cornmeal. That would be kind of ... odd.

                                                                                        1. re: vegetablelasagna

                                                                                          Zelo's cornmeal crust is a bit different than any of I've seen (SF included) because it's not really a deep-dish (or a faux Chicago style) type of pizza.

                                                                                          Zelo's pies aren't deep-dish creations.

                                                                                      2. re: E Eto

                                                                                        Agree that Korean IS the way to go but not Korean BBQ.

                                                                                        Both Ondal and Youngsusan are non-BBQ ideas worthy of merit.

                                                                                        I would also consider Soon Tofu at Beverly Soon Tofu or one of the Korean pork specialists like Ham Ji Park.

                                                                                        1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                          I like Tofu, but my traveling companion-- probably not so much. Is it all vegetarian?

                                                                                          1. re: christinec222

                                                                                            You can orgder the tofu with or without meat/seafood.

                                                                                        2. re: E Eto

                                                                                          I would love to know what places you are recommending for Cajun/Creole. We crave that food, and haven't really found a standout since we left the eastside of Pasadena, and the little cafe Cajun Way closed.

                                                                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                            the creole chef used to be awesome but closed. Anyone know what happened to the owners/if they've moved on?

                                                                                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                              I love cajun food, but being from Central Texas and a Mom who lives in Louisianna (and cooked it growing up), I have a hard time eating it out of the Gulf region.

                                                                                              1. re: christinec222

                                                                                                I have not been but have been told that Nola in downtown is pretty good.

                                                                                                1. re: christinec222

                                                                                                  Understood. Definitely not one of our strongest points.

                                                                                                  1. re: christinec222

                                                                                                    If Cajun/Creole is in your home territory, then it shouldn't be a priority. But for NYers who visit LA, it should definitely make the list. I'm partial to Harold & Belle's, but I don't have much experience with this cuisine at its source, and I kind of grew up with H&B in the 'hood and they've always done me right.

                                                                                                  2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                    Dirtywextraolives...Ive never been but someone told me she liked Uncle Darrow cajun on Lincoln near Washington...from the street it looks tiny but "one never knows, do one?"

                                                                                                    1. re: lapizzamaven

                                                                                                      Trust me, don't bother, it's like cafeteria style soul food & very forgettable.

                                                                                                  3. re: E Eto

                                                                                                    Excellent synopsis, E. I would like to add Vietnamese cuisine. The breadth of styles available in Los Angeles and Orange County is amazing. Everything from inexpensive and delicious phở, nem nướng, and bánh mì shops to nouvelle fusion, e.g., Red Medicine, Xanh Bistro

                                                                                                      1. re: JAB

                                                                                                        Aw bummer, thanks for the info

                                                                                                  4. so many rec's here are just two more... look up for more details
                                                                                                    for xlb (soup dumplings) either all pork or pork and crab, i like giang-nan in monterey park. There's a full menu of Huaiyang food ("shanghai" cuisine) including fish with pine nuts, and chicken with chestnuts. their yangzhou fried rice is the real deal, not canto style, very delicate. worth the price.
                                                                                                    for mexican, just something a little different (althouhg i love the seafood houses, and places like La playita) huaraches azteca on york in eagle rock. just order a simple huarache (not the salad, the dish).http://www.elhuaracheaztecala.com/ see it's on j gold's list. too bad.
                                                                                                    annd if you're in the valley, cemitas poblanas at don adrian... the place at victory and kester is tiny but good. they have a larger space on van nuys blvd.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Jerome

                                                                                                      i had no idea there was a don adrian on van nuys. same people? same food? same papalo?
                                                                                                      thanks.

                                                                                                      1. re: linus

                                                                                                        Found it at 6524 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys 91401. Haven't been.

                                                                                                    2. So, thanks everyone for the amazing recommendations! We had some really great food on our trip. Umami burger-- probably in my top 2/3 burgers of all time. I had the truffle burger with truffle cheese fries and my friend had the manly burger. We were full but were right on the edge of ordering another burger to split it was so damn delicious (and we were starving having just run a half marathon). I hear that they're building the first NYC outpost of Umami burger in Greenwhich Village in a few months. SO EXCITED! It'll def give the Minetta Burger/Black Label burger a run for its money. On a recommendation of a local resident where I was staying, we went to El Abajeno in Culver City for some really solid Mexican food.

                                                                                                      I will say the most disappointing part of the food expedition were the soup dumplings (sorry!). I had planned an evening where we would start at one, order dumplings then go to another then another (so 3 total). The three we set out to try were: first Shanghai #1 Seafood, second Din Tan Fung, and then on to Dean Sin World. So we get to Shanghai and sit only to find out that they were out of soup dumplings-- which is really strange since they make everything fresh to order in NYC, but we shrugged it off and had the fried dumplings (which were very good btw). We wanted to save room for the other two spots, but in retrospect, we should have just stayed here and enjoyed a variety of Dim Sum. Lesson learned for next time. We went to DTF next and ordered an order of xlb. They were small, delicate and over-all pretty good, but in my opinion not the taste/quality of the ones found at Shanghai Cuisine in NYC. Its actually probably not even fair to compare them because they were soooo different. So, lastly we made it over to Dean Sin World. The soup dumplings there were terrible. We were the only ones in the restaurant, so maybe they were either closing or not expecting a table to come in so maybe that's why the food suffered (it was 8:00 pm on a Monday evening). At any rate, the dumplings came and the skins were mushy and thick (which seems like a contradiction) and pretty bland. I think some of you warned me that I should have other things besides xlbs. Next time for sure! Thanks again for all of the recommendations!

                                                                                                      OH! And we made the drive out to Malibu and ate at Neptune's Net. Yeah, the food was very so-so but worth it for the view and atmosphere! Amazing

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: christinec222

                                                                                                          too bad. abou thte xlb. still like the ones at Giang nan. in monterey park. maybe next time.

                                                                                                          1. re: christinec222

                                                                                                            Too bad you didn't get a chance to try the XLB at Shanghai #1. At least you got to try the pan fried buns (I think...you called them dumplings).

                                                                                                            Sorry you fell into the Dean Sin World contrarian play for XLB. I like the place but XLB was never their strong suit. Even less now that Shanghai #1 opened.

                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                              Porthos, yes next time for sure! Shanghai over-all seemed to be the best of the 3 in terms of service and selection.

                                                                                                              1. re: christinec222

                                                                                                                so sad in a way, dean sin world is 20 steps from Giang-nan on garvey.