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Visiting from Seattle! (Critique my itinerary please?)

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OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 02:41 AM

Hey everyone! So I'm a Seattle resident who's visiting LA for the first time. Food will play a pretty big role in the planning of the trip so traveling to get good food is not much of an issue. (That said, if there are any interesting things to check out, people watching, sights, etc. I'd appreciate reccos near the restaurants.)

I'm taste wise I'm open to anything, though I'm looking to try things that LA does best, especially things I can't get in Seattle.

After doing some reading this is my list so far:

Dinner:
Son of a Gun (Animal?)
Red Medicine (n/naka?) *Tasting menu.
Chichenitza (Babita?)
Soontofu (Mottainai?) (Casita Mexicana?)

Lunch:
Umami Burger
Zengo (Brunch)
Jitalada
Gjelina

Anything I've missed, or places I should substitute?

I'll have one splurge meal, for which I'll probably do a tasting menu. I'm torn between Red Medicine and N/Naka, any thoughts between the two?

Also, the best and most authentic mexican I've ever eaten is at an Oaxaccan place in Seattle (owing to living in in the North my entire life), so I'd really like to see what Mexican food is all about, if I had to pick one or two mexican options in LA, where would you send me?

Finally, Son of a Gun and Animal both look amazing. Aside from the seafood vs land, is there a significant difference in ambiance or quality between the two?

Thanks in Advance!!!

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  1. Servorg RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 06:01 AM

    You already have two great Mexican food places on your list, Babita and Chichen Itza. If you want more suggestions then you ought to consider places like Guisado's http://guisados.co/ and the Mexicali Taco & Company http://mexicalitaco.com/ and Coni'Seafood located at 3544 West Imperial Highway in Inglewood (310)-672-2339 along with Cacao Mexicatessen http://cacaodeli.com/

    As far as your other choices I think they are all excellent. If you are sensitive to noise I'll just say that I find Red Medicine extremely noisy (but love the food).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg
      Servorg RE: Servorg Jan 7, 2013 07:25 AM

      One open question for you O Duck...where are you staying in LA? Do you have a central base from which you'll do your food exploration? I see you say below that you will have a car, so that is one question answered.

    2. wienermobile RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 08:08 AM

      You forgot Langer's.
      http://www.langersdeli.com

      1. e
        Ernie RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 09:52 AM

        Excellent list, however I would ditch Umami Burger for Langer's No. 1 pastrami. I would also consider El Gallo Grill in East LA for great Mexican

        1. Novelli RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 11:02 AM

          If you're really up for a burger and are in the area, I'd look into Plan Check Kitchen+Bar. Ridiculously good.

          http://www.plancheckbar.com/

          1. ipsedixit RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 11:36 AM

            Do Babita over Chichen Itza. That's not even a close call.

            Animal over Son of a Gun. Again, not a close call.

            For one of your lunches, I would consider Park BBQ for Korean BBQ.

            Also, if you want another, more casual Mexican place, try Mariscos Chente's on W. Imperial Hwy in Inglewood.

            I really think you should squeeze in both Red Medicine and n/naka and forget Soon Tofu, Mottainai, and heaven forbid, don't waste a meal at Casita.

            8 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit
              wienermobile RE: ipsedixit Jan 5, 2013 01:04 PM

              I actually like Son of A Gun over Animal. Their linguine and clams, uni aglio-olio, chili & breadcrumbs is one incredible dish and so is their smoked steelhead roe, maple cream & pumpernickel. And don't forget that fried chicken sandwich too.

              and 100% agree with your Parks BBQ recommendation plus maybe Mozza for some pizza. Sea Harbour for Dim Sum and Sweet Rose Creamery for some ice cream.

              1. re: wienermobile
                ipsedixit RE: wienermobile Jan 5, 2013 04:47 PM

                OP is from Seattle and I'm guessing he has been to Vancouver for dim sum, which makes the stuff in SGV look and taste like it's from the Paleolithic Era.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  wienermobile RE: ipsedixit Jan 5, 2013 05:15 PM

                  agree but just in case.....

                  1. re: ipsedixit
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                    latindancer RE: ipsedixit Jan 5, 2013 05:56 PM

                    Yep.

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      j
                      jasongg06 RE: ipsedixit Jan 6, 2013 01:12 AM

                      agree

                    2. re: wienermobile
                      Ciao Bob RE: wienermobile Jan 7, 2013 02:03 PM

                      I agree with SOAG over animal. My last experience at animal was disappointing comapred to SOAG.

                    3. re: ipsedixit
                      Porthos RE: ipsedixit Jan 5, 2013 01:36 PM

                      +1 Do both Red Medicine and n/naka: both will probably be trip highlights, they are very different from each other, and they both set LA apart vs other culinary cities such as SF or NYC.

                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        westsidegal RE: ipsedixit Jan 5, 2013 05:34 PM

                        the Mariscos Chente's on West Imperial Highway in Inglewood has had a name change.
                        It's new name is:
                        Coni'Seafood
                        3544 west imperial highway
                        inglewood ca 90304

                        310-672-2339

                        keep in mind that during the week they close at 8pm.

                      2. LA Buckeye Fan RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 01:49 PM

                        I think Neptune's Net...king crab, corn on the cob, clam chowder and a point break at county line. Not known for food...but they can boil some crab. Enjoy your visit. Bring sunblock. :)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LA Buckeye Fan
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                          Dirtywextraolives RE: LA Buckeye Fan Jan 5, 2013 06:52 PM

                          Seems OP is from Seattle, and probably gets better seafood than what is offered at Neptune's Net.

                          I would do both Animal & Son of a gun, their food is incredible. Plan Check's burgers are better than Umami, though I like both, PC has a better menu overall.

                          As far as Mexican, I wouldn't bother with Casita Mexicana, as it is way down south from LA proper, and though good, not worth the drive, as there is nothing else around there. There are lots of similar, decent places within the city proper. Guisados is excellent, and we enjoy El Tepeyac in East LA, gringo-Mexican Chicano fare, if you're interested in that. And there's lots of history to go along with the place.

                          Jitlada is solid Thai food, I enjoyed my meals there. Zengo has a decent brunch, the food is tasty and quite interesting, and the best deal on the Westside. The atmosphere is very pleasant, especially if its sunny & warm at the coast that day.

                        2. l
                          latindancer RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 06:59 PM

                          <seafood vs land>

                          So many great recommendations on this thread. As a former Seattleite, born and raised, I'd love to hear what you think after you've come and gone back home. The only thing I miss in the way of food is the fresh fish in Seattle. Other than that it's wonderful. Have fun :).

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                            OrigamiDuck RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 07:16 PM

                            Thanks for all the great feedback guys!

                            As far as Plan Check goes, do they have seating for under-age? (alas I'm not quite 21 yet.) I'd originally had Father's Office in the running too before realizing it was a 21+ establishment.

                            Revised version:

                            Dinner:
                            Son of a Gun (Animal?)
                            N/Naka (Tasting menu)
                            Red Medicine (Regular Menu)
                            Babita

                            Lunch:
                            Umami Burger (Plan Check?) (Langer's?)
                            Zengo (Brunch)
                            Park BBQ(Jitalada?)
                            Gjelina (Other Mexican?)

                            I think I'm alright as far as pizza and dim sum go. We have a number of good neapolitan/ chef driven style pizza places here in Seattle. As was mentioned, Vancouver has me covered for Chinese.

                            I've also had some pretty good Thai in Portland, after thinking more about that I swapped Jitalada out for Park BBQ (I haven't tried Seattle's K-BBQ but I've never heard anyone rave about our Korean).

                            Still torn on Son of a Gun vs Animal, is there a difference in terms of ambiance / service between the two?

                            Also, I'm thinking of swapping out a lunch for a second Mexican meal since I don't often travel to places which do Mexican well. Any nominations for a second place to go along with Babita to give me a rounded Mexican experience?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: OrigamiDuck
                              d
                              Dirtywextraolives RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 07:24 PM

                              Yes, you can sit on the patio or booth if not 21 at Plan Check.

                              Babita is not really in LA city, it's east of the city in a small city southeast of downtown. As mentioned above, try Guisados for tacos or El Tepeyac for gringo-Chicano style. Both are in East LA, more representative of the Mexican heritage of this town, than say, Babita, which is in San Gabriel, a city that is synomonous with authentic Chinese food here.

                              I did not find much difference in service or ambience between Animal & SoaG. Their staff is very knowledgeable and helpful at both places. I guess ambience would go to SoaG, as Animal is extremely spartan. Good luck and enjoy LA! Let us know how it went!

                              1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                ipsedixit RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 07:53 PM

                                Also, I'm thinking of swapping out a lunch for a second Mexican meal since I don't often travel to places which do Mexican well. Any nominations for a second place to go along with Babita to give me a rounded Mexican experience?
                                _____________________________

                                As I mentioned above (and corrected by westsidegal), get thee to Coni'Seafood (f/ka Maricos Chente).

                                1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                  J.L. RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 5, 2013 11:20 PM

                                  My $.02:

                                  I like your dinner plans. Note that n/naka is by reservation only and price-wise, is considered "splurge-y".

                                  Your lunch picks seem OK, but for weekend brunch I'd swap out Zengo for Scarpetta (again, a bit splurge-y, but Scarpetta is so good). Zengo feels a bit tourist-trappish to me, but the food there is OK. Maybe for more Mexican, you'd like Ricky's Fish tacos (near Childrens Hospital L.A.) for a great (& affordable) Ensenada-style taco experience.

                                  1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                    wienermobile RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 12:01 PM

                                    "Lunch:
                                    Umami Burger (Plan Check?) (Langer's?)"

                                    Langer's hands down!

                                  2. o
                                    OrigamiDuck RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 12:18 AM

                                    Thanks again for the advice everyone!

                                    Here is my (final?) itinerary:

                                    Dinner:
                                    Animal
                                    N/Naka
                                    Red Medicine
                                    Son of a Gun

                                    Lunch:
                                    Plan Check
                                    Guisados
                                    Coni'Seafood
                                    Park BBQ

                                    Any final comments?

                                    I'm really excited for the trip, and I'll be sure to report back with my experience!

                                    Also as far as coffee goes, my preference is toward the more third-wave 'hipster boutique' profile roasting style of coffee.

                                    My list:
                                    -Intelligentsia
                                    -Cafe at Proof Bakery (can't recall the name atm).
                                    -Handsome Coffee

                                    Anywhere else worth a visit?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                      Porthos RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 12:24 AM

                                      I disagree you need to do both Animal and Son of a Gun. I would pick Gjelina for dinner over either of those easily.

                                      1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                        J.L. RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 12:52 AM

                                        As for Coni's Seafood, be sure to call ahead to make sure that Sergio is cooking.

                                        1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                          ipsedixit RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 11:16 AM

                                          Agree with both Porthos and J.L. up above.

                                          Ditch Son of a Gun and do Babita for dinner. If you call ahead, Chef Roberto Berrelleza at Babita will tailor a menu for you -- a pseudo tasting menu, if you will. You won't regret it.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
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                                            carter RE: ipsedixit Jan 6, 2013 11:44 AM

                                            Absolutely agree with the Babita re-recommendation.
                                            San Gabriel Blvd. is not that far east of downtown LA, yet his dinners are very special and worth the slight detour.
                                            Too bad about being not quite 21, as Babita has some very good wines from the Guadalupe Valley, east of Ensenada.

                                        2. a
                                          andytseng RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 12:05 PM

                                          Looks like you've got it focused down pretty well. Just some comments on your most recent plan:

                                          People have recommended taking Son of a Gun off the dinner list, which I would agree with. Or at least swap the lunch/dinner with Park's BBQ. I don't think I've ever found myself wanting to eat Korean BBQ for lunch. It's usually such a heavy meal.

                                          I'm surprised people think Plan Check is a destination restaurant. To me, it's more of a, I happen to be in the area, might as well kind of restaurant. Not a, I'm flying in from far away and have a limited # of meals. I would replace it with Langer's, which is not just one of the best sandwiches, but also an LA institution.

                                          As far as coffee goes, you're hitting the right spots. Proof Bakery's coffee counter is manned by someone from Cognoscenti Coffee, which now has its own stand-alone in Culver City, so depending on where you're staying, that is an option as well.

                                          I would also recommend throwing in a taco truck, just because it is an "LA" thing to do. In that vein, I'd throw Gjelina back in the mix as well. They might do the best of what is the trend in LA now (New American small plates).

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: andytseng
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                                            BrewNChow RE: andytseng Jan 6, 2013 01:06 PM

                                            Agree with Langer's > Plan Check. Disagree with trucks, taco or otherwise.

                                            Dessert wise, I strongly recommend trying some ethnic ice cream, either Saffron and Rose/Mashti Malone's (Persian) or Mateo's (Mexican.)

                                            Finally, I have to recommend Zam Zam Market for Pakistani. It's the best Indo/Pak food in LA by far. Maybe the U.S....

                                            1. re: BrewNChow
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                                              OrigamiDuck RE: BrewNChow Jan 6, 2013 02:50 PM

                                              Ah, thanks for the dessert reccos, will definitely keep those in mind.

                                            2. re: andytseng
                                              o
                                              OrigamiDuck RE: andytseng Jan 6, 2013 02:49 PM

                                              Good point about the BBQ, I haven't had it in a while and I'd forgotten that it is indeed quite heavy. It wasn't really at the top of the list anyway, so I swapped it out for Gjelina.

                                              As far as Langer's goes, what's best to order?

                                              1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                wienermobile RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 03:00 PM

                                                ...any pastrami on rye. Their most popular is their #19 with swiss cheese and slaw or their #44 is their grilled pastrami Rueben. #8 is pastrami and chopped liver But alas you can never go wrong with just plain pastrami on rye. Langer's closes at 4pm and is closed on Sundays. Free parking one block east. The line usually starts before noon.

                                              2. re: andytseng
                                                Novelli RE: andytseng Jan 7, 2013 07:16 AM

                                                I don't believe it was ever stated that Plan Check was considered a destination restaurant. It was just a suggested alternative to the Umami inquiry in the OP, if they were really looking for a spot to grab a good burger or other similar items...just done better.

                                              3. d
                                                Dirtywextraolives RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 12:18 PM

                                                Meant to ask if you will have a car or not. Makes a huge difference, as most of these recs have you going all over the basin, from San Gabriel to Venice and back.... Some will say its not very far, but if you are driving cross town in rush hour traffic, time will be ticking away pretty quickly. You will basically have no time for anything BUT driving from one area of the city to the other. Just something you should consider.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                  o
                                                  OrigamiDuck RE: Dirtywextraolives Jan 6, 2013 02:46 PM

                                                  Ah, thanks. As far as I know, I will have access to a car, so distance shouldn't be too big an issue.

                                                2. f
                                                  foodiemahoodie RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 01:11 PM

                                                  I'd go for n/naka over Red Medicine.

                                                  Red Medicine is less formal and the food a bit more cerebral. n/naka is both decadent, elegant and serene.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                    Porthos RE: foodiemahoodie Jan 6, 2013 01:39 PM

                                                    n/naka and Red Medicine are so different from each other that both are warranted. One is modern Japanese kaiseki the other is an unique blend of Vietnamese and International cuisine with carefully applied molecular gastronomy techniques.

                                                    It's much more different than Animal vs Son of a Gun both which lean heavily towards unctuous American cuisine. If I understand correctly, Seattle has its fair share of pork fat/meat heavy newcomer restaurants complete with their versions of bacon in desserts.

                                                  2. o
                                                    OrigamiDuck RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 02:46 PM

                                                    Alright, super-ultimate revision:

                                                    Dinner:
                                                    Animal
                                                    N/Naka
                                                    Red Medicine
                                                    Babita

                                                    Lunch:
                                                    Langer's/Plan Check (Play by ear).
                                                    Guisados
                                                    Coni'Seafood
                                                    Gjelina

                                                    Also, seeing as I'm pretty close to a Mexican Food virgin (I've eaten tex-mex, plus some of the stereotypical stuff tamales, tacos al pastor, posole, etc.) what should I order at these places?

                                                    (Also, is Pastrami pretty much the obligatory order at Langer's?)

                                                    26 Replies
                                                    1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                      d
                                                      Dirtywextraolives RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 03:18 PM

                                                      I am in the minority here, but IMHO, the pastrami nosh sandwich at Plan Check is miles above the #19 at Langers, which is an old, dated Jewish deli, and like most, overpriced for what you get. At least at Plan Check, there's a full bar (which I know, doesn't affect you) it's open all day with a pleasant patio, and the menu is inspiring. And it's in a decent neighborhood with tons of other options all around. Whereas, Langers is in a really dicey area, and probably the reason it closes at 4, unless you lived there, you wouldn't dine there at night. But I do give it respect as being an LA institution, just prefer Phillippe's or other institutions a bit more ;)

                                                      At Guisados, their conchinita pibil tacos are delicious, as we're the tinga de pollo & chicharrones ones. They specialize in the slow cooked stews that are hyper flavorful, and they have a number system to let them know how hot you want it. We inadvertently had an "8" for our conchinita pibil tacos, it was delicious, but I couldn't finish mine, my husband thought they were wonderful and still dreams about them. The tortillas are hand made and pressed. You can always order a sampler, and then go back for those you really liked.

                                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                        wienermobile RE: Dirtywextraolives Jan 6, 2013 03:22 PM

                                                        Kindly disagree with you about Langer's Deli...

                                                        Langers is a recipient of the James Beard Foundation award.

                                                        Jeff Mauro, host of Food Network's "Sandwich King." In it, he proclaims his favorite sandwich in the entire world: a Langer's Deli hot pastrami on rye with mustard.

                                                        The LA Weekly has named the classic hot pastrami on rye sandwich served by Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant as #9 on its 100 Favorite Dishes list for 2012.

                                                        From LA Food Critic J. Gold "By this point, it is a matter of conventional wisdom: Langer's serves the best pastrami sandwich in America. No matter how many doubting New Yorkers you drag here, no matter how many Chowhound throwdowns between Langer's and Katz's there may be, the results are always the same: The thick, peppery, smoky slices of hand-sliced meat; the thickly cut seeded corn rye; and the dab of yellow mustard as important to the whole as a sushi master's wasabi, make victory inevitable."

                                                        and finally....

                                                        ""The hot pastrami sandwich served at Langer's Delicatessen is the finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world. It's a symphony orchestra, different instruments brought together to play one perfect chord. It is, in short, a work of art."
                                                        — Nora Ephron

                                                        ...and I just had lunch there last Saturday so I rest my case.

                                                        1. re: wienermobile
                                                          d
                                                          Dirtywextraolives RE: wienermobile Jan 6, 2013 04:36 PM

                                                          That's all fine and good, for them. I respectfully disagree with all of them, I don't like the consistency of their pastrami & how it is more like corned beef in texture to me. It is nothing like the pastrami I grew up with, and I've tried it, on multiple occasions and I still don't think it is all that & a bag of chips. But as I said that is my humble opinion, and we are all free to agree or disagree. I'll give you that the bread is delicious, I just don't think it is anything to go out of my way for. And I loved the consistency to PC's pastrami much more. To each his own.

                                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                            l
                                                            latindancer RE: Dirtywextraolives Jan 7, 2013 07:58 AM

                                                            There's nothing that comes even close to Langers in Seattle, regarding deli food.
                                                            It's on my list for a Seattleite....especially if it's a Seattleite who wants a 'taste of LA'.
                                                            I'm a westsider. While I love alot of restaurants in my neck of the woods it's, to me, a necessity to take out of towners, to places in LA that represent its history.
                                                            Great Mexican and Langers would be my top recs.

                                                        2. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                          l
                                                          latindancer RE: Dirtywextraolives Jan 7, 2013 07:44 AM

                                                          <Langers is in a really dicey area, and probably the reason it closes at 4, unless you lived there, you wouldn't dine there at night>

                                                          Here you go again with the 'area' problem. This is a young person from Seattle. I'm assuming, like me, he's adventurous and willing to drive to get good food. LA, to a Seattleite, is one of the great destinations...plenty to see, experience and remember when you go back home.
                                                          Langers is historical and in a historical area....as a woman I'd have NO problem going there to get, in what I consider, a fantastic deli meal....anytime day or night.
                                                          Plan Check is good and it's inconsistent and, if I were recommending a great pastrami, I'd steer the person to Langers...in a heartbeat.

                                                          1. re: latindancer
                                                            d
                                                            Dirtywextraolives RE: latindancer Jan 7, 2013 04:31 PM

                                                            As I stated above, that's all fine & good for you. I agree it is part of LA's history and deserves a rightful place there. Just because something is of historical value, doesn't mean it has good food - I'm thinking of places like Pink's, Original Pantry, Cantor's, Hank's, Phillippe's .... Some have good food, some do not. Some you have to try just to be able to say you did. Langer's is just not where I would send a tourist, mainly for the reason that I wouldn't send someone who's never been here to a place for lunch with junkies shooting up in the alley next door. I wouldn't want them going home with that particular impression of my city, even though its been cleaned up, and the dicey parts tend to move around as some neighborhoods become gentrified. But that's just me.

                                                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                              e
                                                              Ernie RE: Dirtywextraolives Jan 7, 2013 04:46 PM

                                                              I have been going to Langer's for many years and have never witnessed anyone shooting up nearby. However, it is good to know there will be one less person in line.

                                                              1. re: Ernie
                                                                d
                                                                Dirtywextraolives RE: Ernie Jan 7, 2013 06:37 PM

                                                                Saw it with my own two eyes. Last time I went. It's my pleasure to give you that spot in line.

                                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                  j
                                                                  Jase RE: Dirtywextraolives Jan 7, 2013 06:57 PM

                                                                  I must live in an alternate universe. I can't visualize an alleyway between the parking lot and Langers.

                                                                  I've also never encountered long lines there. Just lucky I guess.

                                                                  1. re: Jase
                                                                    Servorg RE: Jase Jan 7, 2013 07:29 PM

                                                                    There is an alley across the street from Langer's as far as I recall...but really, this argument about "danger" or "unsavory people" is just not something that resonates with me or hounds in general. Langer's is world class pastrami. If you don't try it when presented the chance you will be poorer for the missed experience. And bad things happen in good places as well as bad. It's just the (bad) luck of the draw.

                                                              2. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                ipsedixit RE: Dirtywextraolives Jan 7, 2013 05:40 PM

                                                                Words fail me.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  l
                                                                  latindancer RE: ipsedixit Jan 7, 2013 06:05 PM

                                                                  <a place for lunch with junkies shooting up in the alley next door>

                                                                  I give up. I will continue to go to Langers and hope the OP considers this wonderful LA landmark. You will never find anything remotely close to it in Seattle, I can assure you. You will leave LA knowing you've possibly had the best pastrami you've ever eaten and your view of LA and all it has to offer has opened your eyes to a great, great city with a rich cultural diversity. I urge you, OP to consider it.

                                                                  1. re: latindancer
                                                                    ipsedixit RE: latindancer Jan 7, 2013 06:12 PM

                                                                    Um, how come you are replying to me and quoting Dirtywextraolives?

                                                                    I don't go to Langer's for the junkie scene. Maybe to pick up an extra Green Card, but not for used needles.

                                                                    1. re: latindancer
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                                                                      latindancer RE: latindancer Jan 7, 2013 08:32 PM

                                                                      <how come you are replying to me and quoting Dirtywextraolives?>

                                                                      Many apologies for the mistake. I'm not sure how I did that and sorry to attach your name to the discussion.

                                                                  2. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                    l
                                                                    latindancer RE: Dirtywextraolives Jan 7, 2013 05:49 PM

                                                                    The reason I mentioned Langers as historical is because, with your negative assessment of the area, I think it's important to explain to the OP that there is something valuable about the area so they're not thinking twice about going there....you make it sound dangerous and risky and it's not. The food, as many of explained, is worthy of an out of towner's consideration. The OP is looking for places to eat that they can't get Seattle. There is nothing in Seattle that comes remotely close to Langers. There are many restaurants in LA, however, Plan Check being one, that the OP *can* find in Seattle.

                                                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                      j
                                                                      Jase RE: Dirtywextraolives Jan 7, 2013 05:50 PM

                                                                      I find it interesting that you would find Guisado's area acceptable but not Langer's. I don't think there's much of a difference between the two.

                                                                      Both are in heavily Mexican oriented business with plenty of families walking around, major foot traffic and very safe in daytime. If one were splitting hairs, Guisado's might be a touch grittier and the closest public parking lot is unattended tucked into a side street and further away. Meanwhile Langer's lot has attendants, a short block away and the entire block is along a major street that has heavy pedestrian traffic.

                                                                      I haven't seen any junkies or remotely threatening incident in years of going there during daylight. Heck areas of Venice are scarier during the day.

                                                                      Everyone has their own level of risk assessment, but I'd feel comfortable recommending Langer's area to even white bread South OC people.

                                                                2. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                                  ipsedixit RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 06:56 PM

                                                                  Also, seeing as I'm pretty close to a Mexican Food virgin (I've eaten tex-mex, plus some of the stereotypical stuff tamales, tacos al pastor, posole, etc.) what should I order at these places?
                                                                  ____________________________

                                                                  At Babita, check their online menu, see what tickles your fancy and call and see if they will tailor a pseudo tasting menu for you; otherwise, I'm partial to the Conchita Pibil, Barbaoca and the Salmon Sope.

                                                                  At Coni you should focus on the ceviches and the grilled whole fish.

                                                                  I've never been enamored with Guisados.

                                                                  1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                                    Servorg RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 6, 2013 07:59 PM

                                                                    A bit of history in a 2007 review of Babita here on Chowhound by one of our long time regular posters, kevin who had their spiciest dish: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/385230

                                                                    1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                                      TonyC RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 7, 2013 12:18 AM

                                                                      Doing Animal+Plan Check+Gjelina or any other gastropubby/hipster butcher/farm-to-table ish food in LA is a waste of your food miles/calories as that scene is thoroughly ploughed in Seattle. Tilth/Spring Hill/Smith/Quinn's/Dahlia have been there for ages, and LA hasn't reinvented anything in those genres.

                                                                      I can understand a person from Portland proclaiming they have great Thai food, but Seattle? Skipping Jitlada/Pailin/Pa-Ord/Darabar is an absolute disservice to the largest Thai population in America

                                                                      Guisados and Babitas are on opposite ends of the Mexican price spectrum, and if one's hiking out to San Gabriel just for Babitas, then might as well hop off the 60 for 12 minutes and taste 6 minutiae tacos from Guisados. If you're a Mex virgin, beyond actually losing it in Tijuana, minimally hit both Guisado's and some kind of al pastro tacos (Leo's, Tamix, etc.). Chicago is a far better place to do haute Mexican than LA, and if you plan on visiting it this year, skip Babitas all together.

                                                                      Langer's, much like Zingerman's, is a Tribe approved institution. It's pricey because pastrami is pricey. Plan Check won't be around for another 5 years. Want hooch with a pastrami? Bring scotch in a plastic flask and park yourself at MacArthur Park with said sando. Personally: #10 > #19.

                                                                      1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                                        r
                                                                        raizans RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 8, 2013 12:50 AM

                                                                        Tweaks I'd make.

                                                                        Dinner:
                                                                        Park's
                                                                        Shunji
                                                                        Tacos Leo
                                                                        Coni'Seafood

                                                                        Lunch:
                                                                        Langer's
                                                                        Guisados
                                                                        Pailin
                                                                        Tsujita

                                                                        1. re: raizans
                                                                          s
                                                                          sassille RE: raizans Jan 8, 2013 07:44 AM

                                                                          if your ARE going to Langer's and you ARE interersted in Mexican food, I suggest you walk down the block to Mama's Hot Tamale Cafe and pick up a tamale stuffed with Mole Negro. then you can say you are no longer a Mexican virgin.

                                                                        2. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                                          Ciao Bob RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 8, 2013 08:36 AM

                                                                          <<is Pastrami pretty much the obligatory order at Langer's>>

                                                                          Not at all. I find the pastrami itself a little less flavorful than Katz's or Carnegie's, but Langer's sandwiches are still amazing, because of the rye bread. Many NYC born-'n-raised deli lovers I know go with corned beef and brisket over pastrami.

                                                                          1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                            l
                                                                            linus RE: Ciao Bob Jan 8, 2013 09:51 AM

                                                                            going to langer's and not ordering pastrami is like going to the varnish and ordering a heineken, or like going to a great mexican joint and ordering the american hamburger basket.

                                                                            1. re: linus
                                                                              Ciao Bob RE: linus Jan 8, 2013 09:59 AM

                                                                              I would agree, but only if you substitute "a sandwich" for "pastrami." Have you tried the brisket or corned beef? Can you compare the pastrami to that of the world's great pastrami?

                                                                              1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                                l
                                                                                linus RE: Ciao Bob Jan 8, 2013 03:06 PM

                                                                                i have not tried the brisket or corned beef. i don't really see a reason to.
                                                                                i think it would be rather silly for a first timer to try those instead of pastrami.
                                                                                i've tried the soup, the liver and some other things at langer's, and, um...no.

                                                                                the world's greatest pastrami? not sure where that is. i'll tell you this: carnegie sure ain't it. i'm not quite sure if i've had katz's or no.
                                                                                the old pastrami king, out in kew gardens, was pretty special, if i recall.

                                                                                1. re: linus
                                                                                  Ciao Bob RE: linus Jan 8, 2013 03:32 PM

                                                                                  Wow, linus, that brings back some memories - the old Pastrami King in Queens was, indeed, special - I still burp garlic and pickle from a sandwich I had there in the 80's.

                                                                                  Personally, I prefer medicore pastrami to great brisket or corned beef anyway. I was just pointing out, for those who love the latter (like my Mom) Langer's versions are excellent.

                                                                        3. o
                                                                          OrigamiDuck RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 21, 2013 04:01 PM

                                                                          Hey Everyone, just saying thank you for all of the great recommendations, and reporting back on my experience.

                                                                          Overall it was a fantastic few days, and we enjoyed almost everything!

                                                                          Here were my impressions:

                                                                          Langer's:

                                                                          I ordered the #19, since it seemed like the flagship sandwich. Pretty tasty, I'm not convinced that it was worth the 1-hour bus ride each way though. (I'm not a pastrami connoisseur though, so perhaps I just cant appreciate it to the extent some of you seem to).

                                                                          N/Naka:

                                                                          I was blown away by this restaurant, definitely some of the best Japanese food I've ever eaten, including the best piece of tuna I've ever eaten in my life (which was surprisingly, not o-toro). Too many courses to name all of them but standouts were the tuna and uni nigiri, a modern style scallop sashimi which included yuzu zest, Parmesan, and truffle. As well as a high-class interpretation of mentaiko spaghetti which was divine. Fantastic, probably my favorite meal of the trip.

                                                                          Gjelina:

                                                                          Quite nice, and I was pleasantly surprised by the service given the pretentious atmosphere in Abbot Kinney. We actually ended up going twice, once for lunch, and then again for brunch (we ended up staying in Santa Monica near the beach, so it was convenient, and I felt I needed something lighter to offset all of the heavy eating.). For lunch I had a lamb burger with harissa aioli, which was delicious, and tasted very much of lamb (in contrast to many lamb burgers I've eaten in the past), the bun was good, brioche I believe and although some might complain the portion size it small, I actually prefer the size they provided, it was perfect. Dinning partner had a turkey sandwich with prosciutto which they enjoyed. For brunch I had the veggie sandwich, pretty standard and not overly exciting, but it was well executed and I was thankful for the lighter option. DP had the poached eggs and lentils which were nicely done.

                                                                          Babita:

                                                                          This was the only real disappointment for me of the trip. The service was fantastic, the chef can out to greet us and chat, and really went out of his way to make us feel welcome.

                                                                          I also felt like the chef had good ideas, the menu seemed interesting and he seemed to put a bit of his own spin on things, unfortunately these virtues were betrayed by some execution issues and average-quality ingredients. My starter was the chef's riff on huevos rancheros, which sounded good in theory, he served it in a similar way to a tostada, and the egg was a sunny-side up egg placed on top. But the flavor of the dish overall just fell flat. Not to say it was bad, it just didn't wow me at all.

                                                                          The same goes for my main, which was Mahi-Mahi served in a Veracruz inspired sauce, served on top of a pork tamale. The sauce was good, but not amazing, and was not anything new to me or overly exciting. The Mahi, while decently fresh was overcooked, as was the tamale which was dried out and pretty bland. Again, not 'bad' per-se, still definitely edible but disappointing. DP Started with the chicken sope which he enjoyed, and had the chef's version of Chiles en nogada for his main. He said it was alright but he liked the app better (I tried some, and found it to be so-so.)

                                                                          Guisados:

                                                                          THIS is the mexican food I've been searching for, both of us tried the 6 taco sampler, all of which I found delicious and some of which were new flavors for me. (I was less keen on the chicharon, but it was still tasty). The were all delicious, but one of my favorites was (I think, it was hard to keep track of which was which) the chicken tinga.
                                                                          Fantastic.

                                                                          Red Medicine:

                                                                          Overall, liked the food at this place quite a bit. We had the turnips, which were good the kale chips added a nice textural contrast. The Akaushi Beef, which was tender and tasty. The

                                                                          Turbot and Grains were the standout dishes for me, pan-seared and brushed with squid ink, topped with a charred onion sauce, the fish was perfectly cooked and had some great flavor, my only critique would be that the carrots it was accompanied by were a little too sweet after the addition of the onion sauce. The toasted grains came as a warm-grain salad, but a duck-broth was poured over it and over time it became more like a grain-risotto. Very good flavors, the duck broth was delicious and the hazelnuts added a very interesting dimension.

                                                                          For desert I had the milk chocolate icecream japanese style, with crunchy black forest cake, buckwheat, cucumber, and a few other elements I cannot readily recall. The dish nailed the textural component, the ice cream was more like a mousse or dense chantily, there were balls of what appeared to be ganache (both buckwheat and chocolate), and it was encased in a cage of crispy cake batter which added crunch. Unfortunately I found the flavor of the ice cream itself to be just 'ok' and the cucumber/vegetal element was done as a sauce poured on the bottom, but it seemed to get lost under everything else. (Also, it wasn't really viscous enough to adhere to the rest of the desert, so it was difficult to get into a bite).

                                                                          I will say, although I liked the food I think the restaurant's concept is a bit at odds with it's menu. I can definitely understand why people complain about the noise level here, though I didn't mind it too much. The issue though, is this place serves fairly complex foods which require a fair amount of concentration to fully appreciate, but I found the atmosphere detracted from that for me.
                                                                          (Still and overall good experience though).

                                                                          Animal:

                                                                          This place was good. I know one or two of you cautioned me against it saying that this sort of food is already overdone in Seattle. But as a resident I must beg to differ. Yes, we do have gastro-pub, butcher-to-table style restaurants, but I don't think the palates here are ready for the more 'variety meat' dishes on the menu at Animal. Sure, you can get marrow and chicken liver mousse at plenty of places in Seattle, but I've yet to find head or brains on any non-asian restaurant around here, and others like heart and pig's ear are difficult to find since they generally only exist as specials.

                                                                          We had the tendon chips with pho-dip. Fantastic and fun dish, which really did remind my of pho, but managed to be interesting none the less. The Tandoori Octopus, this came slightly overcooked, and I couldn't really taste the tandoori spices (though the raita was good, and the flavor was still good, just not tandoori). The poutine (The oxtail gravy was delicious, the other components were just average in my opinion. The Rabbit/Shrimp Spring Rolls with green curry, these were fantastic, great texture and flavor. The pig's head, which I wasn't too impressed with, not because there was anything wring with it but after being breaded and deep-fried the taste was nearly indistinguishable from schnitzel. Finally the veal brain, this was a first for me and I was quit pleasantly surprised, nice flavor and texture, plus a sweet-ish citrus sauce complemented the flavor nicely.

                                                                          One night we also managed to try Sweet Rose Creamery, which I found interesting. They had some tasty and interesting flavors (such as the Yam w/ Sesame Praline, Quince w/ Machego, and Mint Cholotalte Chip which actually tasted like fresh mint leaves.) That said, the ice cream itself was not nearly as flavorful as others I've tried (my favorite thus far is Salt and Straw in Portland, OR).

                                                                          In any case, that was my trip which (thanks to you hounds) was indeed a delicious one. Thanks again!

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                                            Servorg RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 21, 2013 04:16 PM

                                                                            Great summation and glad to hear Guisado's and Animal were hits. I really like the food at both and your sampling of our local places puts you into excellent standing as far as the ethos of Chowhounding is concerned. You did the entire community up proud with both the breadth and depth of your hounding while here.

                                                                            1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                                              Porthos RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 21, 2013 04:23 PM

                                                                              Stellar report back.

                                                                              Good to see you hitting both Red Medicine and n/naka! :)

                                                                              1. re: OrigamiDuck
                                                                                d
                                                                                Dirtywextraolives RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 21, 2013 08:44 PM

                                                                                Awesome job! Both the eating and reporting. Thanks for letting us know we helped you out. You hit a lot of great spots and did us proud.

                                                                              2. f
                                                                                foodiemahoodie RE: OrigamiDuck Jan 21, 2013 07:59 PM

                                                                                You don't have Melisse on there. For your splurge I'd put that at the top of the list. Certainly over Red Medicine.

                                                                                But I do like n/naka a lot. Can't go wrong there.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                                                  westsidegal RE: foodiemahoodie Jan 21, 2013 08:40 PM

                                                                                  i'd recommend checking out the price at melisse before you actually go there in order to avoid shell shock.

                                                                                  1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                                                    Porthos RE: foodiemahoodie Jan 21, 2013 09:21 PM

                                                                                    Melisse isn't really unique to LA. NYC, SF, and Vegas have better versions of that kind of cuisine

                                                                                    OP did stellar.

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