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SF Hound Coming To LA Next Week 18th-20th - Input Needed

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  • benv Mar 16, 2013 10:52 PM
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I will have 3 full days of eating which are this Monday the 18th though end of the day on the 20th. I have been doing my research and would like to get some last minute opinions on some of the meals I am trying to decide on.

All of my food adventures will all be done solo, and I do not have a spending limit. I will also travel to any distance to eat something incredible and do not mind a wait.

I will be able to fit in a total of three lunches and three dinners, and for breakfasts I plan on hitting up some of the talked about bakeries, doughnut shops, etc.

Lunches: Which three would you pick, or where else would you recommend?

- Superba Snack Bar
- Son of a Gun
- Baco Mercat
- Sotto (they start lunch service on Wednesday so I could plan on it for my Wednesday lunch is I decide to not make it one of my dinner. Looks like they have some of their most talked about items on the lunch menu.)
- Langer's (I could also just get the #19 for breakfast to make room for another lunch spot)
- Tsujita
- Plan Check
- Elite or Sea Harbor (which one is considered tops at the moment?)

Dinners: Which three would you pick, or where else would you recommend?

- Red Medicine (this is for sure my Monday night dinner)
- Animal
- Bestia
- The Parish
- Alma
- Sotto (does this need to be done for a dinner or could I do this for Wednesday lunch and still have a great experience?)
- Fathers Office
- Allumette

I know it looks like I am still asking a lot but damn am I having a hard time narrowing the lists down. I only have 3 days and want to make the best of it. I am open to any and all recommendations and advice.

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  1. Also forgot to add Ink to a possible dinner. I have dined there before and really enjoyed it.

    1. I believe that Superba only serves lunch on Fridays (Brunch on the weekend) so, for lunch, I would go with Elite, Langer's and Tsujita. Not that the others are not good, just that I crave the three I listed more (and, good as the pastrami at Plan Check is, Langer's leads)-of course, if you have Langer's Pastrami for breakfast (and, btw, I prefer the #1 to the #19) you could plug in Son of a Gun or Sotto (on Wednesday) in its stead. For dinner, Alma, Animal and Red Medicine would be my top choices from that list.

      5 Replies
      1. re: New Trial

        Just saw that Superba only does weekday lunch on Friday like you said so that is out, unless you think it is a good choice for a dinner spot?

        Also, I have been really interested in Alma. Is it really as good as some people are saying? And, would you say the tasting menu is a must here or is the a la cart just as good?

        At the moment I think Animal will be another for sure dinner as well as Red Medicine.

        1. re: benv

          While I like and frequent Superba, and it serves some inventive and delicious pastas (and snacks), it is not a "must try" dinner during your three day visit. If great pasta was the draw, from your list go to Sotto for more traditional--albeit not typical--options such as the casarecce with lamb touted by Porthos (as an alternative, not on your list and a tough reservation, Osteria Mozza, which I think prepares some of the best pastas in town--including a marvelous cold pasta with crabmeat and uni. If that appeals and you are dining there alone or with just one other person, you can often get a walk-in seat at the mozzarella bar without too long a wait).

          Alma is very good and the tasting menu is the way to go. As noted by yogachik, the place is quite small so a reservation would be advisable if not mandatory.

        2. re: New Trial

          What's the #1 at Langers?

          I'd advise any first timer to just eat a plain pastrami with Gulden's spicy brown...the other sandwiches are for follow up visits!

          1. re: manku

            #1 pastrami with coleslaw and Russian dressing

            1. re: Servorg

              And I always have them hold the Russian so I can use the spicy brown mustard instead.

        3. You're missing sushi. SF sushi is oddly lacking. Try Mori or Shunji.

          I love Sotto but it's very similar to the places you have in SF.

          Elite and Sea Harbour are not necessary if you go to Koi Palace. Try Din Tai Fung or Shanghai No 1 Seafood Village instead.

          Red Medicine is stellar. Like Slanted Door mixed with Atelier Crenn and Commonwealth.

          Tsujita rocks for their tsukemen at lunch. Don't change that for anything.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Porthos

            Sushi is really not my thing so I will be leaving this out on my trip. Not the biggest fan of Japanese food so that is also why I have not yet considered n/naka for dinner even though it gets some pretty good reviews here on the board.

            Maybe to not overload on Italian I should try to decide between Sotto and Bestia? Which one do most here think is better?

            I do frequent Koi Palace a lot. Maybe I should just skip dim sum here then? I was going to try to fit some ethnic eats in my trip so maybe breakfast at Huge Tree Pastry or some snacks at Dean Sin?

            1. re: benv

              If you do Dean Sin World, don't miss the shredded radish pastry and the onion pastry.

              I still highly recommend Shanghai No 1 for their panfried buns and modern shanghai cuisine. Even their dim sum is a little different from traditional Cantonese dim sum.

              If you're going to do Italian, stick with Sotto. The pastas were excellent. Very al dente. I highly recommend the casarecce with lamb ragu. The pizzas are Neapolitan style which upsets some people here who insist on crispy crust. But being from SF if you like the style, you're going to love the version here. Go simple, stay with the Margherita.

              Had the Easter soup last night which was a new menu item for me. Lamb meatballs, kale, and bread. Very delicious and soulful. Try the blistered little gems with anchovy if you need a salad. Sotto is spectacular.

          2. I believe that Sotto is only open for lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and your last day in LA is Wednesday the 20th, if I have your schedule right, so that would be the only day you could do lunch there.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Servorg

              That was my plan, do it for my last lunch of the trip.

              For Italian in LA is it Bestia > Sotto or the other way around?

            2. I may the only one here who doesn't like Superba, but I really don't. We've had a couple of meals (brunch and dinner) where we took a few bites and couldn't do anymore.

              Alma is incredibly tiny so you have to plan now for a dinner there, plus driving downtown during the week is a pain in the rear. It could take over an hour, and I don't know that it's worth that. It's great when you're already downtown, and it's easy to get to.

              Which Father's Office are you visiting? I would add Rustic Canyon to your list.

              1. Lunches:
                Sotto- pasta not pizza
                Plan Check- pastrami nosh sandwich, crullers
                son of a Gun-linguine & clam sauce with uni - ethereal

                Dinners:
                Red Medecine- New England scallops, sweetbreads, pork pâté
                the Parish- fried oyster poutine, pork head fritters, hangar steak
                Bestia- mussels with 'nduja, preserved lemon

                8 Replies
                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                  "Bestia- mussels with 'nduja, preserved lemon"

                  Speaking of 'nduja, did you ever find any or buy any online (given your previous thread on this subject and search for same)? If so what did you do with it?

                  1. re: Servorg

                    No, not yet, there is none that is imported from Italy, as it is banned, according to Gessica Guidi, from the market in SaMo. I have not been able to find any at any WF markets on the Westside, and even the Beverly Hills cheese store said he doesn't usually carry it. I'm going to have to break down and order some online from Baccalone....

                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                      Brought some nduja back from Boccolone. Delicious with bread, not so successful making sauce with it. It was so salty I didn't add extra salt and it still overloaded the dish. Also imparted this odd taste to it. Just a heads up if you decide to cook with it.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Really? Bummer.... I've heard from other hounds on the home cooking board that have used it and have not had the same complaint. Guess I will have to try it out for myself but thanks for the heads up.

                  2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                    Respectfully disagree. Pizza is a must. I think dinner is better and the pork chop is the best in town. Upstairs is another great place, Picca, awesome Peruvian small plates.

                    1. re: Thor123

                      I enjoyed the pasta much more than the pie.

                      1. re: Thor123

                        Does Sotto even have the best Napoli-style pizza in town? I think Settebello in Pasadena has to be better...

                        1. re: set0312

                          Not in my opinion......

                    2. Ok, benv, based on your initial list and some of your follow-up responses, here are my suggestions.

                      Lunches
                      - Langer's (while I'm not a fan it is sort of a LA institution and if you like pastrami you owe yourself a visit)
                      - Pizzeria Mozza (if nothing else it would be a nice point of comparison to all the pie places up north)
                      - Shaanxi Gourmet (regional Chinese food you won't find many places else incl. SF, get the hand-palm noodles)

                      Dinners
                      - Red Medicine (no brainer)
                      - Racion (tapas done right)
                      - Animal

                      1. I highly recommend Alma's tasting menu. If you just grab a later reservation (8:00 or later) you should have no problem with traffic.

                        Another thing you could do is Baco for lunch then hang around downtown (check out a museum, Chinatown, Disney, etc.) and then just head over to Alma for dinner.

                        Heck, if you were feeling really ambitious, you could do Nickel Diner for breakfast/donuts, then Baco, and then Alma and in total move something like 5 blocks.

                        Also, considering you'll be so close to Boyle Heights, it might be worth it to head over the bridge and try Guisado's for very solid tacos. If you're a big eater you could do something like this:

                        9am: Nickel Diner
                        11am: Grab a taco or two at Guisados
                        1:30: Baco
                        6:00 Alma.

                        1. Bay Area native here. Hopefully I can offer some insight on what to get in LA that SF doesn't offer.

                          Lunches:
                          - Son of a Gun is an excellent choice, but if you also want to go to Animal for dinner I'd maybe consider just doing Animal. It is quite great though so you really can't go wrong either way. They have communal tables for walk-ins.
                          - SF is not lacking in good Chinese food (dim sum included) so I would replace that with Korean food for LA.
                          - I still stand by Daikokuya as my favorite ramen in LA, but you could do a lot worse than Tsujita.

                          Dinners:
                          - I highly recommend driving down to Manhattan Beach and having dinner at Manhattan Beach Post. They have plenty of communal tables set aside for walk-ins.
                          - Animal is an excellent choice and a good representation of what the LA restaurant scene is about. The bar is set aside for walk-ins.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kelviny

                            Respectfully disagree regarding Daikokuya. Santa Ramen in San Mateo (old location) ran circles around it and it wasn't even the best ramen when I lived in the Bay Area. Stick with Tsujita specifically for their dipping ramen (tsukemen) and their egg.

                            Adding Korean is a great recommendation.

                            Not sure someone from SF needs to drive past Gjelina to go to MB Post to do the farm to table thing considering how many places do that up in SF.

                            1. re: Porthos

                              If I do end up making one of my lunches a noodle one then I was for sure gonna do Tsujita over Daikokoya as tsukemen is more hard to come by in SF. And I have heard nothing but excellent things.

                              And I agree with your point on Gjelina and MB Post. I actually hit up both spots on my last trip last October and found that I can already find that style cuisine in SF, and in my opinion done better.

                          2. i'm a fellow SF hound that also visited LA recently - would strongly strongly recommend animal - nothing quite like it in SF (or anywhere else) - far more innovative than incanto.

                            eat asian food - other than cantonese and burmese, LA outdoes SF in every asian food.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: vulber

                              Thanks for the input vulber. Glad to see you chime in on this as I agree with a lot of what you say on the SF boards.

                              1. re: vulber

                                Another SF hound here, and I found Animal to be a lot like Bar Tartine in terms of the experience if not the actual dishes: excellent offal, excellent service, and truly awesome for solo dining (at the counter). The two also share something else: no signage ;-)

                                1. re: stravaigint

                                  IMHO, animal is not as good as Bar Tartine. Perhaps it used to be but the fanfare, side projects and low-common-denominator crowd seem to be eroding what was unique. Or, maybe, I just got bored by it

                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                    "low-common-denominator crowd"

                                    Is that akin to the "low brow" crowd? No going to hear the results of Dudamel's baton waving, and then having dinner at Animal?

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Actually, I have done that! I am sure YOU know I meant that with the fame those two dudes with a pan have achieved comes a crowd that just wants the same pork belly sliders over and over again...where innovation dies, repitition thrives.

                                      1. re: Ciao Bob

                                        The thing is, Animal changes the menu all the time, with a few exceptions. So I really don't see them having an "innovation" issue.

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          I find they rotate the same things on and off, rather than truly "change," the menu. Bar Tartine however, really changes things.

                                    2. re: Ciao Bob

                                      Big +1 with you on this one CiaoB.

                                2. Arrived in LA this morning at 6am. First stop was to Primo Donuts for a glazed buttermilk and then over to Langer's for a #19 when they opened at 8.

                                  Here is a more revised itinerary:

                                  Monday:
                                  Breakfast - Langer's
                                  Lunch - ???
                                  Dinner - Red Medicine

                                  Tuesday:
                                  Breakfast - Breakfast goods at Sycamore Kitchen and Short Cake
                                  Lunch -
                                  Dinner - Animal

                                  Wednesday:
                                  Breakfast - Proof Bakery or breakfast biscuit sandwiches at The Parish or both
                                  Lunch - Sotto
                                  Dinner - Alma or Bestia or The Parish

                                  So I cant still decide on the two lunches. I know that lunch today is coming up close time wise so I might just go with what I am craving more at the moment but still up in the air for tomorrow.

                                  I know that even though I am planning on dinner at Animal I was thinking I am going to do Son of a Gun for lunch today and for tomorrow its either Tsujita, Bar Ama, Baco, or ???

                                  Also, any sit-down breakfast places worth checking out or is bakeries/doughnuts/snacks the way to go?

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: benv

                                    Look at Plan Check for one of the lunches. http://www.plancheckbar.com/ Sit down breakfast is a good way to go and have a more relaxed meal. Square One http://www.squareonedining.com/ Griddle Cafe http://www.thegriddlecafe.com/

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      +1 to Griddle and Square One, although the former tends to wipe me out for the day (poached y papas is a *lot* of food). Sycamore was good, but you could throw a rock in Mission SF and hit similar baked items, so maybe try something different.

                                    2. re: benv

                                      How about Salt's Cure for a sit down breakfast? Their 2 by 2 by 2 (plus pancakes) is so good.

                                      1. re: CLowe

                                        they only do brunch on the weekends if i remember correctly.

                                        1. re: cdub

                                          Perhaps, but the 2+2+2 seems to be on their chalkboard during the week too, as I've been there for lunch midweek & saw it.

                                    3. Keep Tsujita, but get there 15 minutes before they open for lunch just to spare yourself some wait time.

                                      I agree that Animal should be a definite. I love everything they do there, esp the pork belly sliders.

                                      I enjoyed Red Medicine, but we spent a good deal of money and still wanted a snack afterwards. The desserts are so beautiful, though. To be honest, I probably won't visit RM very often but I'll remember the desserts forever. Or I'll go for wine and dessert only. :)

                                      I feel like you need a good hole-in-the-wall experience in there. Al & Bea's for a bean/cheese burrito, maybe? Then walk 5 blocks for a taco sampler at Guisado's. You will surely need a nap at the end of that tour, but it's all worth it.

                                      For Chinese, I'll throw Lucky Noodle King into the ring. The dan dan mien is my favorite, and last time we tried the fried pork and bean curd with greens... divine. Not much in the way of ambiance or anything, but if you trek to the SGV at all it's a place to consider. I'm also obsessed with the Shanghai fried rice cake at Emperor Noodle.

                                      I'm going to Alma this week finally myself... perhaps we'll be there the same night! ;)

                                      As for breakfast, it sounds like you've got a plan... make sure Sycamore Kitchen is in the mix. Try the babka for sure (if you can score one fresh out of the oven, you'll be in heaven), and I would eat the pork belly hash bowl for breakfast everyday if it didn't mean harsh long-term consequences.

                                      Have a great time, let us know what you think about the places you end up trying! Always fun to get a visitor's perspective on our crazy dining scene.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: CLowe

                                        I went to Lucky Noodle King on Saturday for lunch. Something wasn't right. The owner who waits the tables wasn't her normal perky and cordial self - she appeared very worn. No peanuts or pickled cabbage to snack on. The dan dan mian was very good - not great. No ma la. She dissuaded us from ordering three of the four menu choices. She even dissuaded me from getting the yogurt in the cold case. One of my favorite stops in the SGV has turned a little sour.

                                      2. Just to post a quick update on my day yesterday.

                                        After my Langer's #19 breakfast I headed to Son of a Gun for lunch. Got there around 1:30 and the tables and communal table where full with diners but I got a seat right away at the bar which is exactly where I wanted to sit. I got the lobster roll, shrimp toast, hushpuppies with ham and honey butter, and the fried chicken sandwich. All where tasty and man do I wish you had the option to make the lobster roll 5 times the size.

                                        After lunch I headed straight to Sweet Rose Creamery. I sampled a few flavors first then decided on a double scoop consisting of candied kumquat and salted caramel on a home made waffle cone. I was actually very pleasantly surprised into putting those two flavors together and how great they worked with the other. Ice cream was good but does not rank up there with any of my favorites in SF. I did appreciate the worker helping me sprinkle an extra dose of sea salt on top of the salted caramel. The kumquat, while great when I got a bite with some of the candied peel in it, felt a little muted to me in the overall flavor and was hoping for it to be more like eating a frozen kunquat. I plan on trying Neveaux today after lunch.

                                        Dinner was at Red Medicine. Got there at 6:15 and left at 9:15. I normally do not mind a long meal of this length but this time I felt it was due to the very slow pace of the kitchen. When I got there there was maybe 4 other parties in the restaurant and when I left there was also only 4 other parties. So the slow plating was not due to a backed up or busy kitchen. It was really not a big deal, just wanted to point out my one and only little itch I had with my meal. In all due respect, I did go for the tasting menu and I also added on 2 more savory items from the main menu and added one more dessert, which I am glad I did. Highlight of the meal was definitely the two desserts, especially the "Birch Ice". This may be my favorite dessert I have ever had and I ALWAYS have dessert. I am planning to go back either late tonight or tomorrow for another round of the two sweets. In addition to the tasting menu which is still the current one listed on their website I ordered the sweetbreads and the uni with chinese sausage. My favorite two savories would have to be the trout roe with rice pudding and quince off the tasting menu as well as the sweetbreads off of the regular menu.

                                        So for today I am going to go to The Donut Man early in the morning as I hear that the fresh strawberry filled doughnuts are back in season. After that I with do a little pastry crawl with a friend of mine. We are thinking Proof, Sycamore Kitchen, Short Cake, and maybe Huckleberry. Also if we are still needing more sugar and have the time we will go to Nickel Diner for some doughnuts.

                                        Lunch I have still not set in stone yet even with all of your guy's help. I am a very indecisive human being. I am still debating between:

                                        - Tsujita (probably my #1 right now)
                                        - Bay Cities
                                        - Baco Mercat
                                        - Pizzeria Mozza
                                        - ???

                                        Between lunch and my 6pm reservation at Alma for their tasting menu I was thinking of either going to Neveaux, Class 302 even though I will not have a car and it will seem like a pain to get out their with transit, or something else.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: benv

                                          mozza is on par with the best pizza places in sf

                                          1. re: benv

                                            Great report.

                                            Guess it is safe you like RM if you're going back? ;)

                                            Tsujita for lunch today. No brainer.

                                            1. re: benv

                                              pass on bay cities, you already got the far superior sandwich (#19)

                                              <puts on flame suit>

                                              1. re: benv

                                                Just a word of caution regarding RM... I think the Birch Ice is the best dessert on the menu atm. Maybe the current plum/pear thing is worth trying too. RM is my favorite spot in the city for dessert, but since you're just visiting, might be more worth it to try another spot.

                                                Doesn't seem to have a lot of love on the board, but maybe ink. for the apple pie-ish dessert? Alma has some tasty desserts, but man is everything tiny there.