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Spending a few days in LA, looking for recommendations

I'm going to be staying near USC for a few days (1/31-2/4).

I've never been to LA before, so I'd love some recommendations if anyone has a couple minutes.

Likes: Just about everything, "strange" food, strong leaning towards Asian options

dislikes: super-spicy food

I'm trying to not go completely broke on this trip, and I don't plan to pack fancy clothes, but beyond that, I'm open to eating just about anything anywhere.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations... I know this post is a bit general, so I'll try to help narrow it down as people respond.

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  1. Don't miss Koreatown. We really like Park's BBQ.

    Downtown, try the Parish for breakfast or dinner, UMAMIcatessan for burgers & beers, Phillippe's for French dip sandwiches, Wurstkusche for sausages & beer.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

      Just checked out the menu at Park's and it looks AWESOME.

      1. re: dcrulz

        +1 for Park's BBQ. Some of the best cuts of meat in Los Angeles and open late.

    2. Don't miss Langers for a pastrami on rye.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JAB

        +1 for Langers. Best pastrami on rye anywhere. 3 stops from downtown on the red line subway. Open til 4pm and closed Sundays.

      2. You are close to Hollywood - If you check out the footprints at Grauman's Chinese , you HAVE to get a pink's Hot Dog!! - 709 La Brea - Hollywood

        Wooo! So many people upset so early in the morning! - Didn't get your coffee yet? - OK, try Mel's on Highland ....... We're not all accustomed to the Beverly Hilton, folks.........

        20 Replies
        1. re: Elvis58

          respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the recommendation of pinks.
          fyi, there has been a lot of past disagreement on the board about pinks.
          imho, lots time spent waiting in line for a completely mediocre hot dog.

          1. re: westsidegal

            I read a comment today that said Pinks is equivalent to eating somewhere like TGI Friday's in times square. Maybe something to cross off a list, but doesn't sound like a Hot Doug's experience...

            1. re: dcrulz

              If you are in that general area then try Carney's on the Sunset Strip for chili cheese dogs http://www.carneytrain.com/

              1. re: dcrulz

                if referring to hot doug's means you're coming from chicago, i wouldn't bother trying a hot dog here at all.

                1. re: dcrulz

                  Avoid Pink's at all costs. It shouldn't even be on your list. All of dirtywextraolives' suggestions were good. Give them a try. Also, I'm not sure I would stay around USC. Its not a very nice area. If you will be spending alot of time on the USC campus, I would stay in Downtown LA and drive 10 minutes to USC.

                  1. re: jgilbert

                    What is this major disdain for the area around USC?
                    I don't get it especially when the OP has already decided to stay there and is only asking for recs for food not accommodations.

                    1. re: latindancer

                      Thank you. 100% agree. A great part of our city and it's Langer's, dinosaurs & space shuttle adjacent.

                      Plus the new Expo rail line will take you right into downtown LA in minutes.

                      1. re: latindancer

                        Undoubtedly has something to do with USC now locking down their campus at night (except to students, staff and those who have been registered by either staff or students in advance) after 9 PM

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Which I assume was a reaction to the recent shooting? =( Very sad. Although, as someone who went there (and lived on-campus for 4 yrs), I'm surprised they didn't do it sooner....

                          On an unrelated note.... To the OP: Beware of Downtown LA traffic on the weeknights! Although it seems that a good portion of your trip covers the weekend....

                          1. re: Servorg

                            knee jerk reaction to appease the media.

                            USC has had the reputation of being a dangerous area well before this school lockdown policy. I was pretty shocked the first time I saw bullet proof glass around the drive-through window of KFC.

                            Area south of Jefferson = not the best. I don't see how anyone can dispute this fact. That said, you can find lots of great grub south of Jefferson (see: bullet proof glass theory). I sure as hell wouldn't want to walk too far south of the coliseum though.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Perhaps. I think it has alot to do with a few things, not worth mentioning.
                              Chichen Itza, Nickel Diner, Koreatown, Langers...
                              Any of these places helps to make downtown rich, diverse and fun and different from the westside. The architecture is, alone, something that excites me.
                              I feel the same about the areas around USC.

                            2. re: latindancer

                              I don't think it is disdain so much as it is caution. And besides I never hear about a bunch of great places to go eat there for dinner so, what is wrong with wanting to warn visitors that lots of crimes occur there? Oh, right, you all still think I'm nuts for not liking the MacArthur Park area too.....

                              So, latindancer, what are the great restaurants to try by USC? I don't recall seeing much on my way down to see the Endeavor a couple of weeks back..... Unless they are all on side streets....

                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                Mercado Paloma which includes Chichen Itza is highly recommended.http://www.mercadolapaloma.com/restau...

                          2. re: westsidegal

                            +1. Walk over late at night on the weekend to marvel at the long line, to do some people watching, and then keep walking. The polish dog I had there yrs ago wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything I'd wait in line for (I went b/f the crowd started).

                            To the OP, you'll find a lot of threads here on Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley, if you use the search function. The drive out to the area from USC (I'm assuming main campus) isn't too bad on the weekend.

                          3. re: Elvis58

                            Hounds don't let Hounds eat at Pinks.

                            1. re: ns1

                              oh baloney, no pun intended.
                              yeah, the line sucks. but if there isnt one, some of of the dogs there taste just fine. i like the spicy polish.

                              that said, the line really does blow. on the other hand, i went there when it opened once. very few people in line, but it moved even slower.

                              1. re: linus

                                Sorry, was there an argument in there for Pink's being a destination hot dog stand? Must've missed it ;)

                                1. re: ns1

                                  i'm sorry, you lost me at "destination hot dog stand."

                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                Yeah, I'll have a car. Willing to drive a bit.

                              2. You wont need fancy clothes - at few places in LA will you feel out of place in shorts and flipflops (well, maybe, lose the flipflops.

                                Try some Mexican (Ricky's Fish tacos, Pinches Tacos, Loteria Grill), Koreatown (Park's, Soot Bull Jeep, Ham Ji Park), Shangahi or Cantonese style (in San Gabriel), splurge on Shunji's for Japanses fish and other creations, Pizzeria Mozza, if you have never had good yakitori get some grilled chicken butt/knee cartilege/breast bone at Nanbankan or Kokeekoko, ask for non-spicy food at Jitlada or another thai town joint. Maybe a Vietnamese 7 course beef dinner too.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                  I disagree that there are "few" places in LA you would feel out of place in shorts. There are lots and lots. You won't need a tie for 99% of the places, but slacks, a long sleeved collared shirt and maybe sport coat are still the norm at many places, especially the nicer places.

                                  You would be fine in shorts at the Mexican places mentioned, but not at a lot of other restaurants.

                                  As to Pink's, I like Pink's and think it is worth a visit, but not on a short trip and I would never, ever eat at a TGIF no matter where it was. Pink's is more akin to the old Tavern on the Green in terms of the "check off" list.

                                  How near to USC are you? Not the best area.

                                  1. re: scottca075

                                    I don't think there "are lots and lots" of places where you would feel uncomfortable in shorts.

                                    Aside from maybe Melisse and the Hotel Bel-Air, I don't anyone would be uncomfortable with shorts in just about any other LA restaurant.

                                    I've been at Providence in shorts, and have seen many folks in shorts at both places like Spago and Patina.

                                  2. re: Ciao Bob

                                    With all due respect, I don't think I'd suggest Pinches Tacos.

                                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                                      Those suggestions sound awesome. Exactly the kind of food I can't easily find in Raleigh!

                                    2. Awesome.

                                      I love the area around USC....lots of great places to try and places to see, including the campus itself.
                                      Langers is a must for Pastrami, as stated on the thread.

                                      1. Try DGM in Koreatown, they have a lot of Korean snacks you probably aren't aware of. The venue is also kind of unique. Not everything is spicy. El Matador in the area has cheap tacos, including brain.

                                        Sawtelle is a great street to go to. Tsujita (open until 3pm) has tsukemen, something very rare in the US. You can then hop down the street to Seoul Sausage for Korean hot dogs, and Blockheads for Taiwanese style shave ice. Blue Marlin has unusual spaghettis like sea urchin and tarako.

                                        Animal in mid city is great, one of the restaurants of the moment. Offal organ dishes and such. But it is aand famous hamburger.

                                        If you're willing to drive, there's many Chinese options east of where you're staying, in San Gabriel/Arcadia/Monterey Park. Taiwanese stinky tofu and other items.


                                        1. USC is directly south of downtown L.A., between Figueroa on the east and Vermont on the west. You will have a car, so all of the area is accessible, as long as you avoid weeknight rush.

                                          +1 for Langer's, a truly extraordinary pastrami on rye. Not inexpensive, $13 now?, and not huge. But worth it. It is about 3 or 4 miles north, on the S/E corner of Alvarado and 7th, west of downtown, east of MacArthur Park, with a validated parking lot a block east on the N/E corner.

                                          Hopefully you can take or make a friend or three and head east (go north to the Santa Monica 10 freeway, head east, the 10 turns into the 60, and the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) will be north of you). Search this board for dim sum, decide whether you want carts (I think a good part of the experience for a first-timer) or menu and have a great brunch/lunch. In the morning on a weekend or after 10 on a weekday probably 20 minutes drive.

                                          Cheap, great lunch -- Dino's. Vermont north to Pico, left turn, two blocks, Dino's on the N/W corner of Pico and Berendo. Everyone (almost) will be ordering the chicken special combo -- half-chicken, red-tinged from a marinade, flame-grilled, served over a huge mound of fries with a cup of cole slaw and some tortillas -- $5.50. I ask for extra "sauce." Only 5 minutes from the west side of USC.

                                          1. I live around USC and it is awesome. Figueroa Philly makes a really good cheesesteak imo. Best I've had outside of Philly. Maybe not worth driving across town for, but if you're by USC definitely stop in for lunch at some point. You really cannot go wrong with Wood Spoon in downtown. Small, intimate place. Shortribs are perhaps my favorite meal at the moment, but most people swear by the chicken pot pie. Guisados is good for tacos and that ain't too far. Definitely hit up Chichen Itza. I love their soups and their pollo pibil.

                                            Wurstkuche is really, really fantastic. Go rattlesnake/rabbit sausage and you will not be disappointed.