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Berkeley hounds relocating to LA, where to live/shop/eat?

Greetings LA hounds!

My spouse will be at USC health campus (Lincoln Park, not the main campus downtown) for the next couple years & we are looking for the right neighborhood to land in. So far checking out Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo, Eagle Rock/Mt Washington, South Pasadena, El Sereno, &c.

I would love to hear more about these places through a foodie lens.

Specifically, we are veggie-leaning (but not vegetarian), farmers market-oriented, tend to eat very healthy. In the spectrum of foodies we are not the pork belly people, nor the foie gras people, but more the kale salad, roasted asparagus, shelling peas, homemade yogurt, farro & beets people. Last time we were in town we were happy eating at Four Cafe in Eagle Rock & Forage in Silver Lake.

I will want to grow at least a small barrel of herbs, but prefer a raised bed worth of veggies & a tripod of sweetpeas.

Which are the best farmers markets in the area for selection & quality of organic local produce? (Santa Monica sounds good but probably too far for regular shopping.) Glancing through farmers market websites, it seems like a lot of them are small, not necessarily organic, & skewed toward prepared food. In Berkeley we get probably 85% of our fruits & veggies from farmers markets, as well as pastured eggs. Possible to live similarly in LA?

We are aware that your Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese food scenes kick Bay Area ass, so are especially eager to hear about any versions of those that source better quality ingredients.

Feel free to throw any other foodie advice our way.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. In terms of Farmer's Markets, Hollywood is (IMO) as good as Santa Monica and much more convenient to the East Side. That said, we live in Pasadena and usually frequent the Pasadena Saturday market - it's nowhere near the size and scope of Hollywood or Santa Monica but it's big and varied enough for most home cooks.
    In terms of neighborhoods, you'll probably want to settle where housing stock/affordability/transportation appeals to you. We live in west Pasadena and regularly frequent Eagle Rock, South Pasadena, the San Gabriel Valley, Highland Park, Glendale ...

    I would say that as a general rule, LA doesn't tend to focus on organic as much as the Bay Area, but that doesn't necessarily mean the produce is lower quality.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Savour

      Thanks so much for this info! I feel quite reassured. Will definitely check out both Hollywood & Pasadena markets!

      1. re: Savour

        The South Pas one on Thurs and the Burbank one on Sat are also both pretty good.

      2. sounds like you belong in silverlake/echopark/highlandpark, depending on your financial resources.

        1. Check out Sqirl http://www.lamag.com/lafood/digestblo... on N Virgil (now that the weather is nicer and you can sit outside as they have VERY limited inside seating). Also check out Cafe Stella http://cafestella.com/ in the Sunset Junction building (although they have no signage - at least when I went)

          1. I don't normally make the commute to HSC, but my friend who lives in the Pico-Robertson area never complains about the commute. Depending on the hrs, I imagine that traffic is somewhat heavy until you reach downtown and then it probably clears up quite a bit after that?

            So if the westside if viable, Culver City might work. If you're spouse has a job where he/she can use public transportation, you could take the Expo line to UPC and then the tram to HSC. Culver City also has a good food scene (if you include West LA, Venice, Santa Monica, all of which aren't terribly far). There's decent indian; good persian, gastropubs, Japanese; a good number of restaurants that go vegetables well).

            Agree that Los Feliz would probably be a good place to look, although the only restaurant I frequent there is Square One (and Ricky's Taco stand, when he was there.... ::sigh::). You're not too far from the Hollywood area (and not too far from K-town, I think), which opens up a lot of ethnic food.

            38 Replies
            1. re: ilysla

              Wow, you're the first person who has suggested the westside could be viable. Everyone else has adamantly warned us against it (traffic being the #1 reason). Thanks for the data point!

              1. re: indigirl

                some people have a higher tolerance for traffic than others.

                1. re: ns1

                  Oh yes!

                  I used to live in the Pico/Robertson area and still have pals/fav places by there. I am now Glassell Park/Eagle Rock and the drive back there? Kills me. You really have to plan your times because if you hit traffic? Horrific. It's doable but to do it five days a week would really impact your quality of life. And our Metro is coming along, but it's not nearly as handy as BART, so generally, unless you live by a specific hub, you are going to be driving.

                  Plus, the Westside is way more expensive. I think you get much more bang for your buck in this part of town and since the commute will be easier for you, why not plan east?

                  Plenty of Farmers Markets in Hollywood, Eagle Rock, Pasadena and more. And the Silverlake food scene should suit you just fine!

                  1. re: happybaker

                    Another area that would work is the Mt. Washington area. Close to Pasadena, the York Blvd./Eagle Rock area and is an easy drive to where your husband will be working and the Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Downtown and even East LA areas too.

                  2. re: ns1

                    Well, I did specifically only mention Culver City. ;) And I was hoping that the spouse was a resident; traffic at 6AM is not an issue, unfortunately....

                    To the OP, if South Pas fits into your price range, you might find it quite pleasant (Monterey Hills is very convenient but rather drab, I think). Surprisingly close to HSC (just go straight down Huntington Dr), a suburban environment that still has lots of charm, a decent eating scene (more than decent if you include the rest of the SGV....), and plenty of green (relatively speaking).

                    I wouldn't know what a midscale Asian restaurant would even look like? There's the lovely hole-in-the-walls and dim sum/seafood restaurants. Not sure what exactly exists in between....

                    1. re: ilysla

                      Mid level would be places like MLV, Ji Rong, Changs Garden, Tasty Garden, etc.

                      1. re: ilysla

                        I was thinking Blue Hen/Good Girl Dinette in Eagle Rock and Highland Park.

                      2. re: ns1

                        Some people have a higher tolerance for the west side than others.

                        1. re: Savour

                          Totally agree we Westside tolerance =). Why even deal with all that Traffic when we have such amazing Neighborhoods on the Eastside. I have lived in Eagle Rock/Highland Park area for 7 years and I love it. Our ethnic food choices have always been great and our other food choices keep growing and growing. Eagle Rock has such a small town vibe yet it is 15 min from Downtown LA with it's exploding food scene. We are also pretty close to SGV and all the delights it offers. Oh and 15min from Angeles National Forest great hikes.

                          1. re: MissBubbles

                            I agree with both of you, Savour and MissBubbles, re: the Westside.

                            But for someone like indigirl (coming from SF) the Westside might be more preferable b/c it's just cooler during the summer months. Points east of DTLA (or the 710 fwy to be exact) can get mighty steamy during Aug and Sept., esp. Pasadena/Eagle Rock/Glendale, etc.

                            Which is why I think DTLA is the perfect landing spot for indigirl. It's central to all points that she would be interested in, and the weather doesn't get too hot during summer months, and she can access the first-world, fascination with organics culture prevalent west of La Cienega Blvd, while still enjoying some of the diversity on the east side of town, and all the while still enjoy the urban renewal that is DTLA.

                            And indigirl, DTLA is not one gigantic concrete block. You can get lofts that allow for sizeable gardens on the patio, or you can look for a place bordering between DTLA and Ktown, which is like an exurb of the DTLA.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              So true.

                              So much of the congestion on the Westside, on a warm day, is due to the traffic from the people, on the Eastside, who're looking for relief from the heat.
                              I'd much rather be on the Westside during the summer months or even downtown LA. Loft living is becoming increasingly popular and deservedly so.
                              So many parts around Pasadena are historically known for the air quality during hot summer days.

                              1. re: latindancer

                                It funny though as an Eagle Rock resident for 7 years I can atteste to the fact that because of where we are situated (on clear days we can see the ocean from parts of our area) we tend to be a wee bit cooler and have much better air quality that both Glendale & Pasadena. Oh and I never go westside looking for heat relief unless friends want too, way to much traffic and hassle. I usually just head up into the mountains. If we are looking for beach we tend to drive to Oxnard or Upper Malibu, it's approx one hour easy driving on the 210 to the 118 to 23 etc (takes the same to deal with the traffic to Santa Monica or Venice) and it's prettier IMHO

                                1. re: MissBubbles

                                  I am in Altadena, at about 1650' elevation. We have very good air quality - much better than when I first came in 1985. Over the years it has really improved. On many days we can see the ocean at both Santa Monica, as well as Long Beach. We can see Catalina also.

                                  1. re: suvro

                                    We have very good air quality - much better than when I first came in 1985.

                                    You and both lived through those "red flag warning" days.

                                    God bless the CARB and SCAQMD.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      What is CARB?
                                      I remember in 1986 showing a prospective graduate student around at Caltech, and saying "On a clear day, you can actually see mountains if you look that side".
                                      Also Altadena stays 5 degrees cooler than Pasadena, all year round. Of course fire and mud slide dangers remain!

                                      1. re: suvro

                                        "What is CARB?"
                                        California Air Resources Board.

                                  2. re: MissBubbles

                                    It's true. I live in west Pasadena (west of the Arroyo) and it's usually a good 5-10 degrees cooler than points east. Our temps tend to be within 1-2 degrees of DTLA.

                                    1. re: MissBubbles

                                      Aren't we all glad we all don't have the same needs and we all love different things about this city so we don't all live in the same place? We get to spread out.

                                      That's the beauty of Los Angeles....
                                      We each get to take our priorities, our loves and our decisions about how we want to live and just move there.

                                      There's nothing like this place....gotta love it.

                                2. re: MissBubbles

                                  15 min from Natl Forest hikes! Them's the magic words!

                                  ipsedixit, you make a compelling argument for downtown. I will try to be more open-minded on my next craigslist search :) However I must point out that as a native Bay Arean, I have a lifetime deficit of heat that I'm hoping to make up for.

                                  This is exactly the kind of discussion I need! Y'all rock! Keep it coming!

                                  1. re: indigirl

                                    You really will enjoy the San Gabriels. For starters Santa Anita Canyon has wonderful hikes of 3, 5, 9 and 10 miles - with great swimming holes in the summer. Afterwards you can get lunch or dinner in the San Gabriel Valley.

                                    1. re: ebethsdad

                                      Swimming holes!!!!!
                                      (Falls over in a swoon.)
                                      That could make up for a lot of heat orgies. (replying to below comment... I can NOT get the hang of the threading around here, ever since they changed it!)

                                        1. re: indigirl

                                          If you've inadvertently re-set the sort order of posts in a thread, here's how to fix it.

                                          1. re: indigirl

                                            Here's a pic...not mine
                                            Oh - you can swim in the ocean down here too.

                                            1. re: ebethsdad

                                              Waterfall added to the to-do list!
                                              The ocean... oh yeah ;)
                                              & of course, to keep things on-topic, y'all will recommend the best picnic provisions, right?

                                              1. re: indigirl

                                                Nicole's in Pasadena or Fiore in South Pasadena.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Totally 2nd these recommends. Also on a more old school side the Italian Bakery in Eagle Rock. Good fresh bread, prosciutto, fresh Mozz etc

                                                  1. re: MissBubbles

                                                    I always hate to tell people about Fiore. It's crowded enough as it is, esp. when the FM is going on.

                                        2. re: indigirl

                                          You may have a lifetime deficit of heat to make up for, but you certainly don't want to do it all in one week.

                                          Pasadena (and surrounding environs) typically experience anywhere between 7-10 days of summer days when the highs will be between 98-101.

                                          That's like making up for 20 years of celibacy with 2 nights worth of orgies orchestrated by Tiberius. You'd be very sore, and hot.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            You meant to say Caligula, Tiberius' successor, right?

                                            1. re: J.L.

                                              No. The master was always more profligate than the student.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                When the student is ready, the teacher will appear...

                                                1. re: J.L.

                                                  “Always two there are, a master and an apprentice.”

                                                  1. re: raytamsgv

                                                    Thank you for bringing balance to the Chowforce.

                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                      Eat or eat not. There is no try.

                                  2. re: indigirl

                                    I commuted from west (Sawtell) to east (Echo Park) for years, and if you head to work early (say 6:45 or 7:00), traffic is pretty minimal. I grew up in Nor Cal and still have a pretty low tolerance for traffic, but I really didn't mind that drive. Viable? I think so.

                                    That being said, now that I live in mid-city and visit the eastern areas of the city more, I love Echo Park, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, downtown, so on. Do a few walks around those areas and see how you feel. IMO the westside is too much of a bubble. But that's just my opinion.

                                3. Many of the students/residents/fellows/postdocs at HSC/USC live around Monterey Hills (Via Marisol), El Sereno, South Pasadena, Pasadena, and the San Gabriel Valley (Alhambra, San Gabriel, Rosemead, Temple City, Monterey Park).

                                  The commute to/from the Westside to HSC/USC can be absolutely mind-numbingly repulsive. I'd highly recommend against roosting there if you want to retain your sanity.

                                  99 Ranch Market (an Asian supermarket chain with a huge store in San Gabriel) has very fresh veggies, and a wonderful produce section.

                                  30 Replies
                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    Yes, the Asian vegetable produce selection at the 99 Ranch markets are wonderful, but "organic" is not a word I would ever use to describe them.

                                    In fact, if the OP wants to experience the voluminous bounty and diversity of the Chinese/Vietnamese San Gabriel Valley, they need to learn to check a lot of their first world foodie expectations at the door.

                                    Indigirl, if you can do that, there's glory to behold-- not just in the San Gabriel Valley, but all throughout the city. Our diversity is our greatest treasure, particularly when it comes to food.

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      With the larger population, I had hoped Los Angeles might be ahead of us in this regard. In the Bay Area, Hmong/Viet/Lao farmers in Fresno, Merced, Stockton, etc. who grow organically/sustainably sell a wide array of Asian greenery at our farmers markets. They are motivated by the premium price they can earn by standing apart from commodity producers. In the Salinas Valley I've talked to Latino small farms who have found a market for their certified organic Thai bird chiles and Thai cilantro roots in Bay Area Asian shoppers. In SF I'm seeing Chinese green grocers that offer as much organic produce as they can locate in their small shops because their Chinese customers want it.

                                      Please keep asking, the market will respond eventually.

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        There is 1 vendor @ HFM that deals with many asian ingredients and I don't know of the top of my head if they're organic, but they're definitely a cut above the asian markets.

                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                            Every vendor at the Hollywood Farmers Market will tell you they're either 1) organic or 2) don't spray. Whether this is true or not is up for grabs.


                                            Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          Unlike San Francisco, the growing season in Los Angeles is year-round. You can pretty much plant to your heart's desires in this climate and grow organic anything

                                          1. re: Ernie

                                            regarding <<grow organic anything>>

                                            be aware that many of the plants and seeds sold at plant nurseries have been doused with neonicotinoids

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              I had *such* a time tracking down organic seedlings... finally found them at Sunset.

                                              1. re: indigirl

                                                Folks, this discussion ended up getting really personal with a lot of not very friendly terms being thrown around by people who disagree with each other, so we've removed a lot of it. We know these issues can be a source of passionate disagreement, but it still needs to be friendly.

                                                We'll send emails with copies of some of the longer posts in case the posters want to edit and repost, but if we miss any of yours and you want them back, feel free to write to us at moderators@chowhound.com

                                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                                            Know what is even more profitable than selling organic produce? Selling conventional produce with the organic markup. At farmers markets, it's always buyer beware. I remember one of the local stations did an expose on fake organic market stands. The reporter visited the farm address and found barren fields. Turns out the veggies they sold came from cold storage.

                                            Now I don't dispute that there are some things that are clearly superior at local markets. Just don't kid yourself. Always be skeptical of anything the farm stand owners claim.

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                              Yes, I'd read about the scandals in LA at the time, where market managers and the ag commissioners aren't doing their jobs of inspecting farms. You can always ask for their certified producer documentation and for their organic certification. If they're not on display or they won't show them to you, well, that's all we need to know. And I understand that in LA you are farther from the farms and don't have a chance to visit them yourselves and know your farmers.

                                              To be helpful to the OP, is the Hollywood farmers market management known for keeping a close eye out for these kind of abuses?

                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                Here's a link to the news expose from 2010.


                                                As you can see, the scammers provided their documentation. They weren't counting on the fact that their produce was going to be tested in a lab, nor were they expecting a camera crew to show up at the address on the certificate. So, merely asking for the certificate is no guarantee of anything.

                                                The LA Weekly article from 2011 essentially says the market managers are ill equipped to deal with violations. What regulations there are are largely unenforceable. For example, where there is a legal definition for "organic", there is no legal definition of "no spray", so even if a farmer makes this claim and uses pesticides, there's no actual violation, as shifty and immoral a practice as that is.

                                                So, do we know how vigilant the HFM management is in enforcing the law? What law? The law that allows anyone to say "no spray" the way conventional meat producers can use "natural"? It's marketing. It's smoke and mirrors, Melanie.

                                                Do you think it doesn't happen in SF? The obscenely higher profit margin on "organic" produce is an awfully alluring prospect. Buyer beware.

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  Silly, of course the managers should not be expected to enforce regs/laws that don't exist. I was talking about producer certification and certified organic, not "no spray" or "natural", which you seem to be confusing.

                                                  The scammers may have provided certificates, but a vigilant consumer or market manager would have noticed that the farm selling avocados that it does not grow does not have that crop listed on its certificate nor does it have acreage sufficient to grow the quantity of crops for sale. That's the point of the documentation. Buyer beware, certainly, but also understand what the document is and is not and know what to look for.

                                                  Market managers deal with cheats by kicking them out of the market or putting them on probation. That is, the ones who are more concerned about maintaining the integrity of their markets rather than maximizing stall fees. The financial consequences of that are more punishing than state fines.

                                                  In my own area, certain markets such as the ones in Berkeley run by the Ecology Center are known for being very strict. Others take all comers. Since you won't comment on this for the LA area, thank you to JudiAu for addressing it below.

                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                    The market managers can make or break a FM. The good ones do their homework, visit farms, ask around, get references, look up articles, etc. But the ultimate power of denying entry to posers and violaters is banning them from the market. Money (or lack of it) talks.

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                      Which farmers markets do you recommend?

                                                    2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                      >> Since you won't comment on this for the LA area, thank you to JudiAu for addressing it below.

                                                      Melanie, I assumed you read the LA Weekly article I linked to earlier, which directly addresses your question.

                                                      In a nutshell, the HFM management is well-intended but unable to fully police vendors that ensures customers of universal compliance.

                                                      Again, buyer beware.

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        Yes, but the article is nearly two years old. Hopefully the market managers have gotten better at whack-a-mole, or maybe not. Maybe someone has current info to share post-expose'.

                                                        In line with buyer beware, up here, certified organic producers display their state certificate (usually zip-tied to their tent posts) and often the logo of the auditor/certifier, e.g., CCOF, on their banners.
                                                        Is this the practice in LA markets and who are the certifiers/auditors in the region to look for?

                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                          I have visited two of the farms that I shop at, but I have never seen either of them post this certificate. Next time I go back to the HFM I'll take a closer look at all the vendor stands to see how many (if any) post it out in the open. Unless I'm blind or just that unobservant, I've never noticed it as general practice. One would think this would be an incredibly easy thing for market management to enforce-- ziptie your certificates to your tent. Perhaps one could use that as a sign of progress since 2011 (or lack thereof)

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                            From the article, sounds like it was not enforced in the past. That was a real disconnect for me, as I'm so accustomed to seeing the certificates (slipped into a plastic, rainproof cover) attached to the tent and blowing in the wind. I couldn't agree with you more that it should be easy enough to do. And I hope that you see some progress.

                                                            Admittedly, I'm not studying them everywhere, but I do often look at the certificate to get the name of the farm for those stands that don't have glossy displays. I'll often post about seasonal produce I find and need to ID the grower. Some farmers do look nervous when they see me reading it.

                                                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                            >>Yes, but the article is nearly two years old.

                                                            If by "nearly two years old" you mean one year and five months, yes you would be correct :)

                                                            (Published Nov 10 2011)

                                                            Mr Taster

                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                              I get the feeling this is like those hidden camera exposes the local news channels do on the automotive fix it places. They continue to find the same scams being inflicted on the public, year in and year out. Somehow the crooks manage to stay one step ahead of the authorities.

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                I was pleased to read that LA County's ag commissioner has stepped up enforcement/compliance at farmers markets. . . for now.


                                                                  1. re: indigirl

                                                                    And this morning's news of the introduction of AB1871 that would make it a misdemeanor to make false statements about the origin and quality of agricultural products.

                                                                    Last month at the Marina farmers market on the Monterey Peninsula (not in LA), I was flipping through the documentation zip-tied to Ken's Top Notch produce tent to check his producer's cert and organic certification. The owner came over to find the docs for me. He sells at Torrance FM on Tuesdays and Saturdays and said he's been having more people ask to see them. And he's totally fine with that, since he's well aware of the abuses. His Paige tangerines were especially great that day.

                                                  2. re: Mr Taster

                                                    and don't forget the palmer scandal:
                                                    she bought cases of commercial eggs, and repackaged them as organic
                                                    also commercial frozen chickens were thawed and butchered and repackaged as fresh organic.

                                                2. re: Mr Taster

                                                  I definitely plan on ingesting plenty of non-organic food down there. Just gotta ease into it, lest my delicate system go into shock ;)

                                                  1. re: indigirl

                                                    Nah, not your delicate system. Just your pocketbook. Organic produce at the HFM is comparable in price to the SF markets (the central ones at least, i hear there are cheaper). Concentrate on the best markets and you won't have to worry about organic integrity.

                                                    Dairy products are about the same although cheese is less diverse and less CA and US-centric. Pastured meat however is less diverse and much more expensive than SF and fish, my god, that is painful. Much more expensive and much harder to find.

                                                    One thing that is kind of fun is the difference in seasonality in SF and LA. There is at least three weeks, maybe four weeks difference between the two places.

                                                    1. re: JudiAU

                                                      So, which are the best markets for organic integrity? I take it Hollywood is one of them?

                                                      I am definitely looking forward to a shorter winter, produce-wise as well as weather-wise!

                                                      1. re: indigirl

                                                        Sigh. I lost my long post on farmer's market integrity and don't have time to write it again. In short, I trust good farmers more than market manager and good farmers clustered together the most. SM and HFM both fit the bill and it isn't really hard at all to get a sense of "farmers of integrity" (like Coleman at the SMFM which is not certified organic but which is awesome) from a "no spray" stand with a ludicrous selection of veg and fruit. I am sure there are more out there but I haven't been often enough to confirm.

                                                  2. re: Mr Taster

                                                    While I see the OP prefers organic, I never said anything about 99 Ranch Market carrying organic produce in my reply. It's just a lead for the OP. Fresh, yes... Organic, no.

                                                  1. Thanks all. We will resume ignoring westside, especially since we are traffic lightweights!

                                                    Wife, actually, in grad school.

                                                    We have 99 Ranch here too but I don't buy much from there because it's not organic. Is yours big enough to have organic stuff? &/or, what produce market(s) can be relied upon to have good organic?

                                                    Keep the replies coming! Still hoping to hear about midscale (I was gonna say upscale, but sounds misleading) Asian restaurants...

                                                    Edited to say: Downtown seems too urban, not green enough for me. I need my teeny patch of land to grow something on. Lemme know if I'm wrong...

                                                    31 Replies
                                                    1. re: indigirl

                                                      You're not going to find many Asian (i.e. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai), if any at all, markets with an organic selection of any kind.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        I agree with your assessment except for Japanese. I think there is a decent selection of organic produce at Japanese markets. At least at Mitsuwa Costa Mesa.

                                                        However, I recently saw jidori chicken at 99 Ranch on Magnolia in Fountain Valley. I was so shocked I had to try it. Can't recall if it was marked organic or not.


                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                          Its labelled "natural". Quite good.

                                                          1. re: ebethsdad

                                                            And here I was looking for artificial Jidori chicken ...

                                                          2. re: Porthos

                                                            Re organic produce

                                                            Are they Japanese variety organic produce? Or just regular run-of-the-mill organic produce that you could find at say Sprouts?

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              Japanese variety. Mitsuna, Japanese scallions, etc. Also run of the mill organic stuff.

                                                          3. re: ipsedixit

                                                            Chinese markets generally do not have a huge organic selection. Having said that, I've seen organic products at Ranch 99. For example, they just had a sale on organic Fuji apples (much to my surprise, I must confess). You can also get organic soy sauce, tofu made with non-GMO soybeans, and such. However, you will NOT find an organic-only section, and it is actually the first time I've ever seen organic produce at Ranch 99.

                                                            You can always go to Sprouts or Whole Foods for that type of grocery. Trader Joe's might have that as well. We also don't have anything like Berkeley Bowl.

                                                            As for growing conditions, you can grow almost anything here. LA County used to be one of the most prolific agricultural counties in the US before it became urbanized.

                                                            1. re: raytamsgv

                                                              Things like organic Fuji apples and what-not have been around in various Ranch 99 for a while now, off and on.

                                                              Those aren't really notable, since you can get them (like you say) at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Bristol Farms or even some Ralphs and Pavilions. That's probably true for things like organic soy sauce, etc.

                                                              The tofu is pretty unique, however. It would be different if Ranch 99 had like organic loufa, or organic bitter melon or opo squash.

                                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                                              I've noticed a trend towards organic in the larger Korean supermarkets, like Assi on 8th and Oxford. They've even got organic beef, which can be hard to find even in trendy foodie haunts.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                Nijiya carries a fair amount of organic produce/products. Their organic kinako is delicious.

                                                              2. re: indigirl

                                                                Eagle Rock, Silverlake and Highland Park have smaller, localish markets that have organic. South Pas and Pas have Whole Foods etc.

                                                                1. re: indigirl

                                                                  Echo Park, Glassell Park, Mt. Washington, Eagle Rock, Silverlake and much of Pasadena - you are going to be able to get a bit of land and grow stuff.

                                                                  So start thinking about what else you might like!

                                                                  1. re: happybaker

                                                                    I kinda liked this description of Eagle Rock on the Air BnB website. https://www.airbnb.com/locations/los-...

                                                                  2. re: indigirl

                                                                    Sorry to read that you're leaving us!

                                                                    I'll mention that the Nijiya markets I've been to in SF and San Diego have quite a bit of organic produce, grown on their own farm. Maybe someone who has been to the LA branches can comment on local selection.


                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                      It's only for 2 years! & I will be back & forth quite a bit. You won't even notice I'm gone :)

                                                                      1. re: indigirl

                                                                        I'll take that as a promise. :)

                                                                        Let me offer this link as a way of introducing you to the LA 'hounds.

                                                                        Now that you and "chandavkl" will be in the same place, California's Chinese restaurant commentary tilts on a new axis.

                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                          "Now that you and "chandavkl" will be in the same place, California's Chinese restaurant commentary tilts on a new axis."

                                                                          12,600 + Chinese restaurants split by two reviewers? No worries...we have it covered down here... ;-D>

                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                            You are too sweet, Melanie. I leave it to chandavki to cover the insides/contents of the restaurants. He needs no help from me! Sad truth is, I photograph the outsides of Chinese restaurants much more than I actually eat in them. [Insert rant about market insistence on "cheap Chinese" depressing the cuisine, precluding use of quality ingredients, &c. &c.]

                                                                            Maybe that will all change for me in LA... a girl can hope....

                                                                            1. re: indigirl

                                                                              Wow, someone who thoughtfully thinks about race, being "the other," and how context changes/displaces intrinsic meaning.

                                                                              You gonna hate LA unless you can embrace it in all of its fantastic vulgarity.... ;)

                                                                              1. re: ilysla

                                                                                interesting. having been to other places than l.a., i can tell you it's no more or less vulgar than anyplace else.

                                                                              2. re: indigirl

                                                                                The weird thing is that when I was a child, the Chinese restaurants were the ones that served the best produce, freshest fish, local pork, and chickens sacrificed the same day. Pressure to keep prices low has now backed "cheap Chinese" into a failing corner.

                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                  you can still get the uber fresh chickens from chinatown/626, but it's not that cheap...

                                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                                    True, freshly killed chickens are not cheap. The sad thing is that customers would accept nothing less, but that's not the case any more.

                                                                                    ETA: Where do you buy them? The ones in SF Chinatown are trucked in early morning from the Central Valley. Apparently none of the poultry houses have permits any more for on site slaughter.

                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                      Where do you buy them?


                                                                                      C.A.L. Poultry in Rosemead.

                                                                                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                    I know, me too!

                                                                                    (edited: this was in response to Melanie's childhood memories of Chinese restaurants.)

                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                      That's not true, either the first or last part.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                        Then I ate at different Chinese restaurants than you did.

                                                                            2. re: indigirl

                                                                              Indigirl: nobody loves the westside more than i (my handle indicated this), BUT
                                                                              if you value your sanity DON'T tie yourself into such a long distance commute.
                                                                              just DON'T

                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                Thanks for looking out for my sanity! Never fear. We settled in Alhambra :)

                                                                                I do miss the ocean though...

                                                                                1. re: indigirl

                                                                                  that's what weekend visits are for.. . .

                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                    Definitely, although the traffic can be daunting for those of us who are not used to it (yet!)

                                                                            3. Unfortunately there are no grocery stores like the Berkeley Bowl. If you want to live in an area similar to North Berkeley I'd suggest Silver Lake area.

                                                                              1. I like the Mar Vista Farmers' Market, but you're not going to find any down here that compare to Northern California. Hate to say it but its true. For Asian markets with quality ingredients Mitsuwa has already been mentioned. I also like the Galleria in Northridge (its across the street from REI so I usually hit both in the same trip). Its extremely clean and has excellent produce, seafood, and a huge selection of fresh noodles. Traffic will be a shock, as will summer heat. The good news is that tall mountains are a lot closer. Welcome.

                                                                                1. Addressing your "foodie lens" query is tough since a lot of your predilections don't have to do with food, but more of sourcing and maybe your idealized lifestyle - not a criticism at all, it's a really interesting challenge. Any Ralph's anywhere has a really nice organic produce selection at this point, and you can get a raised bed going anywhere.

                                                                                  Our friends from Berkeley who are in Pasadena (near south Lake) complain endlessly about how un-Berkeley it is, for a lot of different reasons, but basically that except for very small slivers of any area you're looking at, your priorities are probably going to be in the minority. If you're ok with this, fine, but you'll be going it alone. I've run into "urban homesteaders" up in the hills of El Sereno (Prius-driving, house-designing, veggie-growing, etc.) but they're sort of surrounded by people who are very different from you, and isolation in an unfamiliar city is no fun.

                                                                                  Ok, all that said, here's what I think:

                                                                                  Lincoln Hts/El Sereno/East L.A. - this is an area of very run-down Mexican antojito joints, a few sit-down places, bullet-proof Chinese takeouts, and not much other variety. Asking where they source their chicken will result in some very confused exchanges.

                                                                                  South of here is no where you're going to want to live, so let's go north. Alhambra/So. San Gabriel/Mont. Park are essentially Asian suburbs, with a dazzling varieity of authentic offerings from most regions - of China. A few scattered Mexican, Thai, and even some hold-out Anglo restaurants (Main St. Diner?). This "diversity" extends east along the 10 and 60 for miles. As for farmer's markets, it's just not part of the culture, but there are some little ones that'll do in a pinch.

                                                                                  Just north of here is South Pasadena and Pasadena, which are lot more diverse food-wise. Here you'll start to see restaurants that are at least trying to be creative and upscale, mainly b/c there are people in the neighborhoods who spend money on nice meals - just off the top of my head, a walk in and out of restaurants on Mission Rd. or Green St. wouldn't compare, say, the same distance walking down Huntington Dr. in El Sereno. There are completely different planets.

                                                                                  East of here the commute in will just get annoying.

                                                                                  To the west, Highland Park/Eagle Rock offer a mix of low-end taquerias but also some bold additions of people trying new things - walk down York or Figueroa and see for yourself. Can't say the farmers mkts are outstanding, but this is an area where there are plenty of people growing veggies in yards, chickens crowing, etc. Easy drive in to work too.

                                                                                  Echo Park/Silver Lake to the west is sort of like the above but with the addition of thousands of hipsters, vastly more dining options (Sunset Blvd., Vermont Ave.), and much higher rents. You're much closer to Thai town and "Little Armenia" here, so the authentic-ness of dining at just the local Thai cafe is much, much greater than one in Eagle Rock (does Highland Park have a Thai place? I'm not sure). You're also really close to the awesome/vast Hollywood farmer's market, maybe a quick bus ride or, I dunno, do you guys just go by pediCAAAAAB up there?

                                                                                  Hope this helps, and report back!

                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: cant talk...eating

                                                                                      Oh my gosh. I think you need to visit the Eagle Rock/Atwater/Glendale area more!

                                                                                      Go on Colorado BLvd. (by where it hits eagle rock blvd.) and you'll hit Four Cafe, Camilo's, and Brownstone Pizza. Go further down and you will hit Blue Hen, an organic, Vietnamese kitchen. http://www.eatatbluehen.com

                                                                                      York Blvd. has Scoops ice cream, Figeroa Produce (sp) and tons of places far too hip for little old me. Go to Highland Park and hit Goodgirl Dinette, with their spicy fries, tofu banh mi's and fresh soda's.

                                                                                      Atwater has a farmers market, a great vietnamese restaurant, Canele, breweries nearby and more - http://www.atwatervillagenow.com

                                                                                      And Glendale has great armenian, persian, and a fusion thai that makes me so happy (Sedthee.) And this is from a gal who ordered from Krau Thai in North Hollywood as often as I could. http://www.kruathaica.com

                                                                                      Plus, living in the northeast of LA, you can run downtown, or to chinatown, or Alhambra (yay Fosselman's!) or the SGV pretty darn easily.

                                                                                      So you can live as close to the earth as you want here, and you'll find plenty of support. But you can also easily play, from low to high end here, as well : )

                                                                                      1. re: happybaker

                                                                                        Blue Hen sounds exactly my speed!
                                                                                        Thanks for all the links... checking them out....

                                                                                        1. re: happybaker

                                                                                          Happybaker - too funny, last night I realized "argh! I forgot Glendale/Atwater!!". You're right, all of it ; )

                                                                                          And Indigirl, all I meant w/ the predilections remark was that sourcing and how you get the food seems - reading btwn the lines here - a key factor. As opposed to just ordering organic produce online and having it delivered; more about existing in a community than just getting fed. Ok, I'll stop now!

                                                                                          1. re: cant talk...eating

                                                                                            And speaking of Atwater Village I hope the OP doesn't forget to stop by Proof Bakery http://www.proofbakeryla.com/ while in the area for a croissant or chocolate croissant (among other treats).

                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                              As I was driving along this morning I thought...

                                                                                              'How about driving a few more miles (from the Westside no big deal for me) and drop by Proof before all those chocolate croissants are gone.'

                                                                                              OP...you will, I guarantee, love this little gem. Great coffee, excellent pastries and a community you'll relate to. Look no further.

                                                                                          2. re: happybaker

                                                                                            Figueroa Produce has sadly closed. I've been happy visiting Fresco community Market (down Ave. 60).

                                                                                            The thing is, if you're in Highland Park, the Pasadena Farmer's Market is maybe a 10/15 minute drive. Lots of things are close to each other.

                                                                                            Indigirl - you might also want to check out Altadena. There's a big urban farmsteading/foodie movement happening there, including some interesting stuff going on here: http://instituteofdomestictechnology....

                                                                                            1. re: Savour

                                                                                              Oh dear - that's sad to know! They really tried but clearly I didn't patronize them enough to be aware : |

                                                                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                I was a big fan of Fig produce myself, I always hit on my east side market haunts... We hear that they closely mainly because of a tenants dispute... the rents in the area are quickly raising...

                                                                                                Although I'm sad to see them close, the family did open a new Organics Market in Eagle Rock called Organix. Also, when I was doing my rounds, I would often hit Cookbook and Atwater Farm...


                                                                                                1. re: Dommy


                                                                                                  Thank you for this wonderful news! They were such nice folks.

                                                                                                  And actually, this is even closer to me, so, I can check it out soon. Huzzah!

                                                                                                  (Oh and yes, I can completely believe the rents are rising. This part of LA is evolving as we type!)

                                                                                                  1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                    I've driven past this several times and wondered what it is! Will have to check it out.

                                                                                                  2. re: happybaker

                                                                                                    They actually had enough business but the strip mall owner got greedy and raised their rent to a ridiculous amount. Organix is actually really good for Produce, bulk items and dairy (no meat). The owner was talking about opening a real butcher shop in highland park. I always loved Fig Produce's grassfed beef and they had good relationships with their farmer. I would love to see them do a full fledged butcher shop.

                                                                                                    1. re: MissBubbles

                                                                                                      Thanks for the extra info, Miss Bubbles! Can't wait to check out their bulk section : )

                                                                                                      1. re: MissBubbles

                                                                                                        That is wonderful news Miss Bubbles!! :)

                                                                                                  3. re: happybaker

                                                                                                    I know right? How about also Colorado Wine Co (food truck Fridays), Maxamillianos, Ba, and the soon to be Little Beast. Eagle Rock Brewing Co, The classic Italian bakery, Eagle Rock Juice Co., Caco Mexitessen, Dave's Sandwiches, Oinkster. Oh and farther down Colorado Little Flower Candy Co (great salads and sandwiches)

                                                                                                    BTW on a sad note Fig Produce closed. Their smaller store Organix in ER is still open.

                                                                                                  4. re: cant talk...eating

                                                                                                    This is awesome! Thank you so much! Although I am perplexed by the idea that any of my "predilections don't have to do with food"... perhaps therein lies the difference between Bay Area & SoCal ;)

                                                                                                    Definitely hoping to connect with some of the Prius-driving, chicken-raising homesteaders. I am too allergic to chicken feathers to raise them myself.

                                                                                                  5. I live south of Hollywood (Hancock Park), and my regular farmer's market was the Sunday Hollywood Farmer's Market which I think is comparable to the Wednesday Santa Monica market in size and scope.

                                                                                                    I buy virtually all my produce and herbs there. Lots of organic, local produce and generally good quality and prices. I don't buy my eggs from the market, but I believe a couple of stands offer them as well as raw milk, Santa Barbara seafood and some meat. The Hollywood market is shaped like a "+" with the north-south vertical being fresh foods and the horizontal east-west being more prepared foods.

                                                                                                    I'm not a gardener, but I do have some friends who grow their own vegetables in various neighborhoods in the city.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: sidwich

                                                                                                      Really appreciate the detail about the Hollywood market! Thanks so much. I'm looking forward to it :)

                                                                                                    2. I don't have anything substantive to add to the discussion, since I am an New England expat (just hitting a decade in SoCal) and don't venture too much out of my neck of the woods (the Westside).

                                                                                                      I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading this thread, not just for the descriptions of the food scenes of the various geographically and ethnographically diverse locales of Greater Los Angeles, but for the the consideration and respect for the OP's desires and priorities in responding to her inquiry with thoughtful opinions and recommendations.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: PeterCC

                                                                                                        Agreed! You all are awesome! Thank you & please keep it coming!

                                                                                                      2. As far as areas to live, what are you looking to spend on a house?

                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: jgilbert1000

                                                                                                          Probably in the $1800-2200 range, though we've been running craigslist searches between $1200-$2500, in the name of educating ourselves about the rental market :)

                                                                                                          1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                            I don't know if this is at all a possibility, but if it is at all an option, consider buying a place. Prices are way down and they are just starting to pop.

                                                                                                            1. re: jgilbert1000

                                                                                                              Someone else suggested that too. Probably a bit much for us, nerve-wise as well as money-wise. If we were bolder characters we might make the stretch :) Good idea though! Any particular neighborhoods you're thinking of?

                                                                                                              1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                although this is beyond the scope of chowhound, house prices are anything but down right now.

                                                                                                                the neighborhoods mentioned that might be amenable to you vary a bit. silver lake and los feliz are hella expensive. glendale is better, but not as groovy and certainly not cheap.
                                                                                                                mt. washington and highland park still almost reasonable but are rising. i'd say the same goes for eagle rock. atwater village is, as realtors say, "on fire" right now. houses for sale there are regularly receiving multiple offers.

                                                                                                                of course, i am ignorant of your financial situation.

                                                                                                                1. re: linus

                                                                                                                  And reporting from the Westside (even though I think we've managed to talk the OP out of considering it), it's a definite seller's market right now, with average "days on market" down to within 1-2 weeks. From my untrained eyes, inventory seems to be going fast.

                                                                                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                    Also the case down in the OC and confirmed by realtor friends.

                                                                                                                  2. re: linus

                                                                                                                    Yup - it's bidding wars on homes <$500K right now. I think the OP has a good feel as to what, where and how to do there time here.

                                                                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                      Yeah, I thought about it for about 15 minutes. Poked around zillow a bit & then beat a hasty retreat back to the carefree land of rent!

                                                                                                                      I think I'd rather chase food trucks (or swimming holes!) than work on home maintenance projects.

                                                                                                                      & yes, we have ruled out westside :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                        Buying is a bad idea regardless of market conditions if you are relocating "for a couple of years."

                                                                                                                        You will be hard pressed to make up the transaction costs of a real estate purchase given your short time frame.

                                                                                                          2. Via Groupon, here's a mostly organic market I did not know about in Pasadena...


                                                                                                            1. I don't think anybody has mentioned the South Pasadena Farmer's Market on Thursday afternoons. Lots of prepared foods, but a good selection of produce as well, a grass-fed beef guy, some eggs, and some organic produce. And right next door to Nicole's for wonderful cheeses.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: judybird

                                                                                                                Ah yes, cheese is very important! Thanks for that tip. (I already bookmarked the Cheese Store in Silver Lake.)

                                                                                                                1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                  "Ah yes, cheese is very important!"

                                                                                                                  Well, of course it's very important...after all it's the "Big Cheese" ;-D>

                                                                                                              2. Just a quick comment. I agree Echo Park and Silverlake are neighborhoods you might like. Culver City traffic to downtown is not terrible, and its reasonably central.

                                                                                                                Personally I find it harder to find great non-ethnic food in LA like the bay area but its mostly cause I hate driving and am back on a student budget.

                                                                                                                You guys would probably like Gjelina in Venice. I'm happy with hole in the wall asian food of unknown ingredients sources but for asian food that uses organic ingredients, check out Sawtelle Blvd in west LA. Some of the newer restaurants like Nong La (vietnamese) use organic ingredients. Plan Check (burgers) uses jidori chicken. Also Nijiya does carry organic produce and other items.
                                                                                                                I think south asian restaurants Starry Kitchen and Spice Table (downtown), Night+market (weho Thai) use organic ingredients at least for some of their dishes.

                                                                                                                25 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: silverlainy

                                                                                                                  Thanks, sliverlainy! Not sure how much we'll make it to the west side but at least we'll know where to go when we do.

                                                                                                                  It looks like we've landed in Alhambra, after all this talk about all those other neighborhoods. (No lease yet but we are in the process.) Nice house, close to school. Portal to Asianfoodlandia! Where to start?!

                                                                                                                  1. re: indigirl


                                                                                                                    You made the switch from trendy/hipster/expensive/Williamsburgy Silverlake to the humble, sincere (and affordable) mom and pop Asian joints of the San Gabriel Valley?

                                                                                                                    indigirl-- I'm impressed!! Now start learning a little Mandarin and you'll be well on your way!! :) I recommend borrowing the Pimsleur Mandarin courses from the LA Public Library.

                                                                                                                    Jonathan Gold is always a great starting point for Chinese food explorations (though he's been reviewing more and more fancy/trendy places since he moved to the LA Times, so sadly his reviews have become less relevant to me) But he was my gateway to the enormity and depth of the Los Angeles food world when I moved to LA in 1997.

                                                                                                                    Here's a great article which will help you eat across the vast geographic regions and cooking styles of China. Take out a map of China, point to a section, and Chances are that you will find a restaurant that specializes in food from that region.


                                                                                                                    You're just starting out, and I envy you! I wish I could rediscover the San Gabriel Valley again.

                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                      Funny, huh? First place we looked at in Los Feliz was rundown & dark. Then there was a very beautiful shoebox in Atwater. Alhambra house is at least 1100 sq ft & significantly cheaper & nicer than either of those. Plus 3 different fig trees! Retired Chinese couple next door.

                                                                                                                      Anyway, we are up to our ears in hipsters here, don't need to have more of the same there. But no Mandarin for me. Maybe, just maybe, I can work on getting my Cantonese speaking up to the same level as my comprehension, which is to say about like a 6 year old :)

                                                                                                                      Thanks for linky! I'm excited!

                                                                                                                      1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                        Alhambra has some beautiful areas. Check out some of the old homes on Hidalgo. I love that on its surface these San Gabriel Valley towns look like ordinary American suburbs, but just below the surface it's Chinese through-and-through. To newcomers, it's head-shaking in the most wonderful way.

                                                                                                                        Re: brusing up on Cantonese, you may also be interested to read this 2006 LA Times article. it's a nostalgic lament about the loss of China's more expressive language.


                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                        1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                          Indigirl -

                                                                                                                          In addition to the nearby lovely South Pas Farmers Market, I've heard that Alhambra has a nice FM too.

                                                                                                                          But admit it. Not just the square footage of the house, you're in Alhambra for Fosselman's -


                                                                                                                          Enjoy your new world!

                                                                                                                          1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                            Oh Fosselmans, joy of all that is joyful.

                                                                                                                            You can easily hit the Pasadena FM, too, if Saturday morning is more your bag.

                                                                                                                            Welcome to the SGV!

                                                                                                                            1. re: Savour

                                                                                                                              Savour -

                                                                                                                              I just took two folks who have been in the Glendale area for over 20 years to Fosselman's for their first time.

                                                                                                                              They went wild.

                                                                                                                              So nice to share and also to realize "I'm not nutty. It is that GOOD."

                                                                                                                        2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                          I find this deliciously ironic.

                                                                                                                          Best of luck to you, indigirl.

                                                                                                                        3. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                          Congrats on your new abode! I think there's a Farmer's Market on Main Street on Sunday that specializes in Asian fruits and veggies (I don't know if they're organic).

                                                                                                                          Most of the Chinese restaurants are not Westernized at all. It helps if you speak Chinese, but it's not required. For starters, take a car or bus and drive a few miles on Valley Blvd. from Atlantic Blvd east to Rosemead Blvd. There's nothing quite like that in the Bay Area.

                                                                                                                          1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                                            Well, there is Milpitas Square, which is analogous to our Focus Plaza (I heard they're owned by the same company). But as far as the sheer diversity of restaurants and Chinese suburban sprawl, you're right-- there's no equivalent in the Bay Area.


                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                              I never go to Milpitas anyway, so it's all good :)

                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                Cupertino Village is the other one and was my preference when I lived in Mountain View.

                                                                                                                              2. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                                                They are also pretty close to the Thursday South Pasadena FM that will have more of a selection of Organic produce, grass fed beef etc.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                    Yes, that's a great point. Alhambra is full-on Chinese but it's an easy, traffic-free 10 minute drive from the upscale whiteyness of Pasadena, so your food options are really wide open.

                                                                                                                                    Additionally, Pasadena has the Gold Line light rail, which can whisk you to Downtown LA automobile-free. Tons of dining options there, from upscale to downscale and every scale in-between.

                                                                                                                                    Great job!

                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                      Downtown is a great food place, but from Alhambra I would suggest driving straight there instead of Pasadena and then gold line. It seems a bit round a bout. I have never had much of an issue parking in downtown though. You just have to be ok walking a few blocks, no biggie.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MissBubbles

                                                                                                                                        Yeah, it is a little roundabout, but I'm just trying emphasize the options available in that area. If you're already in Pasadena and are feeling intrepid, downtown is a fast and cheap ride. Parking can be an issue downtown, especially during evenings when restaurants, clubs and events are full. Little Tokyo is often a pain to park in, but the Gold Line takes you right there.

                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                          Gotcha, I guess you could always jump on the gold line in South Pas as well as that's a lot closer than Pasadena proper. =)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: MissBubbles

                                                                                                                                            That's a great point... visit the S. Pas nighttime farmers market on Thursday, and head downtown with your bag of vegetables for a lamb and bleu cheese French dip, pickled egg and lemon meringue pie at Philippes. :)

                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                              Agreed! So funny that is my exact order at Philippes (plus coleslaw) IMHO lamb is the only way to go, carved off the bone in front of you.....mouth watering now

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                You shop a lot lighter at the farmers market than I do, or you're stronger (which is not saying much) ;) Even with my trusty Spanish grocery wheelie (carried back from Barcelona 8 years ago & still going strong!) I don't think I'd want to schlep my usual farmers mkt haul on public transit.

                                                                                                                                                I don't eat most of the meats being dipped at Phillippes. Is the turkey dip worth it?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                                  tell you the truth I have never tried it. I can't get past the lamb, though I have tried both the pork and the beef if they are out.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                                    I don't eat red meat anymore and I have to say - yes, the turkey dip is worth it. Not on it's own (that's a lot of pressure for a sandwich!) but it IS a good sandwich, with the hot mustard it's excellent, the cheap coffee is tasty and fun and their potato salad and cole slaw? Nice.

                                                                                                                                                    It's also just a way fun place to be, truly democratic and historic in a way much of Los Angeles is not.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                    oh wow. There is lots of amazing food to be had in SGV but I don't know about organic ingredients!

                                                                                                                                    I haven't been able to try it (was closed when we tried to go) but I think Omar is one of the few restaurants to serve Uyghur cuisine if you like lamb http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755769

                                                                                                                                    1. re: silverlainy

                                                                                                                                      There's Omar's and another one in Rowland Heights (in the shopping center across the street from where Class 302 is) but Omar's is better.

                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                1. Indigirl - I'd love an update on what you enjoy and where you are shopping these days.

                                                                                                                                  44 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: JudiAU

                                                                                                                                    Sooo.... we settled in Alhambra & this is how things have shaken out so far:

                                                                                                                                    Produce: from S. Pasadena farmers market & sometimes Alhambra farmers market, plus we get a weekly small CSA box. Honestly we are still trying to figure this out. I am holding fast to my organic-only farmers market shopping habit, so S. Pasadena market feels very small to me since there are only a handful of organic stands there. Have tried Hollywood a couple times but not early enough to beat traffic & score the best stuff before it sells out. If I can get into the habit of getting up early to go there, it would seem to solve many problems :)

                                                                                                                                    Other groceries: Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Grassroots, Trader Joe's, & I freely admit that I carry Berkeley Bowl items in my suitcase when I travel to & fro!

                                                                                                                                    Restaurants: Barely scratched the surface yet! Have been multiple times to Green Zone, Vege Paradise (omg the crispy shiitake mushrooms!), DTF, Fiore, Golden Deli, Four, & Sunny Blue in SM for omusubi.

                                                                                                                                    We have eaten a fair amount of snowy ice at Papa Walk ;)

                                                                                                                                    I tried Fosselman's once &, um, didn't like it (ducking). The texture was nice & creamy & rich but the flavors all tasted kind of fake &/or bland to me. Surprising since it seems so universally loved. What flavors should I be trying there?

                                                                                                                                    We found our favorite ice cream so far at Mother Moo.

                                                                                                                                    Last night I found a "cheese stick" cake thing I liked at JJ Bakery.

                                                                                                                                    Liked the croissant at Proof.

                                                                                                                                    As might be expected when moving to a new place, we have had quite a lot of "don't need to go back" experiments. Especially disappointing was some place (have blocked out the name) that purported to be local, sustainable, blahblah, started by some Chinese American doctor, I think?

                                                                                                                                    Also I have given up on Pasadena as a place to eat out, if I can help it.

                                                                                                                                    I'm the most excited about my veggie garden, which I finally planted about a month ago. Already harvesting kale :)

                                                                                                                                    Also our fig trees were insanely prolific all summer & into the fall, & now after severe pruning are already sporting teeny starter figs. I never ate so many figs in my life! Eating a lot of the neighbors' grapefruits currently. Looking forward to planting tomatoes & other summer things.

                                                                                                                                    Will post more as I think of things, but that's the overall picture. Thanks for asking, JudiAU.

                                                                                                                                    Edited to say:
                                                                                                                                    Also quite enchanted by the cassava tarts at Phoenix.

                                                                                                                                    & in case it's not obvious: I'm being rigid about organic produce & groceries because when we go out we're eating so much stuff that's not even close to organic.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the update. The West SGV is a fantastic area to grow your own food: long growing season and fertile soil.

                                                                                                                                      As you have already figured out, there are numerous Asian restaurants in your vicinity, including vegetarian ones. Try Thien Tam in El Monte. It's a Vietnamese vegetarian place. Most dishes are vegan, but they do have a couple of dishes with egg noodles. If you want freshly-made tofu, try VK Food Products in Rosemead.

                                                                                                                                      Both places are inexpensive, especially by Bay Area standards.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                                                        Yep. All throughout the SGV there is amazing soil and climate. It's why my parents started Rancho Gonzalez there...

                                                                                                                                        For Organic SGV restaurants, I actually REALLY like the Green Zone. Really good salads there... wish they were open closer to us...


                                                                                                                                        1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the tips! Will try Thien Tam & VK for sure :)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                            Just a little update to say we loved Thien Tam!

                                                                                                                                        2. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                          WOW! Thanks so much for the long reply! Glad you are settling okay, it always takes a while. I just traveled to the Bay Area for business and I always bring back my favorite items back when we go visit...

                                                                                                                                          I SO feel your pain about getting the Farmers Markets. I used to be able to get Mar Vista, but since moving near USC and even though we have a great mini market with locally grown items from CSU, it's been so hard having all the items I had been used to...

                                                                                                                                          One place to add to your rotation is Urban Radish in the Arts District. It's been my SAVING grace since it's so easy to get there via Free Way. It actually kinda reminds me of a mini berkley bowl. The closest thing we have anyway...



                                                                                                                                          1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                            A "mini Berkeley Bowl"?! Urban Radish here I come :)

                                                                                                                                            & yes, Green Zone is my happy place. We usually end up buying some produce on our way out of there too.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                              Organic food is really taking root all over Asia. So I think we are going to see a lot of more places like Green Zone in the future. All the times that I've gone, it's been full of Hermes bag carrying/Chanel Dressed Chic Grandmas and their families who are really looking for this stuff (as well as looking for the right taste, which is why the food here is quite good! :))


                                                                                                                                            2. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                              As a former Berkeley resident, I long gave up on trying to find something even remotely close to the Berkeley Bowl and I've been in LA for 12 years now. I work in Alhambra and will check out Urban Radish on the way home.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: granadafan

                                                                                                                                                Urban Radish opened up just late last year, so they are still growing and learning. They are TOTALLY open to feedback and suggestions.. So please feel free to talk to the folks there, they are all so friendly. Hope you guys enjoy it as I NEED it survive... LOL!

                                                                                                                                                As an L.A. native who has had to console many a transplant over my life (including my own husband!), home is HOME. It will never be the same, but that doesn't mean there isn't so much here to embrace and hope for. :)



                                                                                                                                                1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                                  Hey Dommy, Urban Radish looked absolutely great... until I started reading those Yelp comments about the prices they charge. Is it really that much more expensive even than Whole Foods?! I'm specifically referring to the guy who compares prices directly:

                                                                                                                                                  "A quart of Strauss Milk.. Urban Radish: $6.45, Whole Foods $5 bucks.
                                                                                                                                                  Organic Blood Oranges... UR: $3.50/lb, Whole Foods: $2
                                                                                                                                                  Organic Kale: UR: $2.50/ bunch (small size about the size of your feet), Ralph's full bunch: $1.49"

                                                                                                                                                  I'm all for organic and local, fresh and healthy, but as you know I'm dead set against FUB™* pricing... and a big component of the FUB™ phenomenon is overcharging people primarily based on a specific hipster-type demographic (I still don't understand quite why people are so cheerfully willing to put up with this).

                                                                                                                                                  I don't see you and P as hipsters, by the way. This is a broad observation.

                                                                                                                                                  Incidentally, I've visited Berkeley Bowl a couple of times (both locations). I don't remember the prices being that outrageous... or am I remembering incorrectly?

                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                  FUB™ definition:
                                                                                                                                                  * http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9122...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                    Generally yes, the prices at Urban Raddish are higher but the guys who run the place are NOT Hipsters... Instead its tied to:

                                                                                                                                                    1) Smaller Foot Print in a Valuable area. Check out Loft and property prices in the Arts District, it's higher than DTLA. Whole Foods has BIG negotion power when ever they come in. A small business like this has NONE.

                                                                                                                                                    2) They hire amazing staff, from the nationally renound cheesemonger to the grocery clerks from Homeboy (That is how I heard about Urban Radish and first started supporting them in their first shaky opening months)

                                                                                                                                                    3) It truly is a Mom and Pop business (Pops is even a little salty... LOL!). Whole Foods has a completely different MODEL. They have the profits from the prepared food (Serious, they make $$$$$ from that) and locations in more affluent areas to help them keep the cost of a quart of Straus milk down.

                                                                                                                                                    Now, will I go to Whole Foods when they open in DTLA. YEP. But will I continue to support Urban Radish because they have a wonderful staff and they actually listen to me when I ask them for something? Absolutely.

                                                                                                                                                    But that is my choice.


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                                      You've certainly stated your position well, and I respect your choices for supporting a small business trying to make it in LA.

                                                                                                                                                      I was unaware that the "Arts District" is more expensive than downtown LA. That's crazytalk. There seems to be little rational reason to LA real estate. It used to be that the artists moved into slums because they were poor artists who needed industrial sized space and so couldn't afford to live anywhere else... how is this paradigm reversal of charging sky high prices for slum adjacent property reasonable or sustainable in any way?!

                                                                                                                                                      (Incidentally, it seems to me that once an area is discovered/developed enough to get an official city designation as an "arts district", that the real starving artists now need to move to places like Paramount, Vernon or Lynwood for example.)

                                                                                                                                                      Was Handsome Coffee Roasters the first hipster business to open in this area? (It's the first one I heard about).

                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                        Hey now. What you call Slum. We call character. ;)

                                                                                                                                                        Believe me, the people who live in the arts district are WAY different than those who live in Bel Air. Would we have moved near USC if we were going to have many a kidlet to educate and were awakened by the slightest city noise? Nope. We moved because the neighborhood represented something we believed in (a transit oriented community) and we were willing to make certain trade offs in exchange for a home we TRULY could be proud of. (That being said, anyone thinking of moving the area, should SERIOUSLY talk to me about it). Kinda like the owners of Urban Radish.

                                                                                                                                                        In 10 years, Boyle Heights is going to be the Arts District. The migration of those who have been priced out of the area (like half of the baristas at Handsome) has already started... I don't think L.A. is ever going to become as bad as Manhattan in terms of real estate costs driving even middle class people out. But it's also big enough to support the evolution of neighborhoods that has yet to come... for good and bad.


                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                                          During a conversation at work about what are truly "Eastside" restaurants (like Guisados, La Serenata, etc.), a colleague who grew up among (but not part of) the gangs in City Terrace talked about the gentrification of false hipster-demarcated Eastside (Echo Park, Silverlake, etc.) and how City Terrace will NEVER gentrify, because one of the gangs will wind up setting off a car bomb if one too many pie-eyed hipsters, oblivious to the area's history, culture, and crime, tries to move in.

                                                                                                                                                          I don't think the same is true of Boyle Heights, but it does beg the question. Those are million dollar views of downtown LA atop City Terrace. Imagine how many developers would love to get their hands on those $300,000 properties in order to build $2,000,000 condos, and yet another area of LA gets thoroughly whitewashed.

                                                                                                                                                          I just wish there were some middle ground here, between the cheap prices of a bodega with products of questionable quality, and the extreme prices and obsessive quality of Urban Radish. Where's the reasonable middle ground in this slums-to-posh transition? Where's the $2 cup of coffee? Why did the rents go from burned out squatter shells to $3,000/month apartments and $7 quarts of milk? Where were the $800-$1,000 rents and $4/gallon milk? Did it ever exist?

                                                                                                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                            "...City Terrace will NEVER gentrify, because one of the gangs will wind up setting off a car bomb..."

                                                                                                                                                            The next "car bomb" set off by an LA Street gang will be the first one...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                              >> The next "car bomb" set off by an LA Street gang will be the first one...

                                                                                                                                                              By using the word "next" (your word, not mine), you're setting up a straw man by implying there have been several, in order to discredit an argument I never made.

                                                                                                                                                              What I did share was the opinion of someone who knows the area and the people of City Terrace intimately, and that was his opinion based on a whole lotta personal experience.

                                                                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                No. What that means is there has never been a car bomb used by an LA gang to this point in time and, if one is used because of "gentrification" (one of the most absolutely absurd thoughts I've ever read on this site - despite his intimate knowledge and "a whole lotta personal experience" that seems to have utterly failed him in this intance), it will be the first one ever.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                  Past results do not necessarily indicate future returns.

                                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                            Depends on your definition I'm sure but, Church and State and the former Royal Claytons were certainly there long before Handsome.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                              I would say Al's Bar was the first hipster business to open in the arts district (and that was a long, long time ago--80's) when the only people living there were actual artists. Then the Atomic Cafe transformed itself into a cool late nite hang and we eventually saw the opening of Gorky's. Unfortunately all are now gone……...

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Thornton

                                                                                                                                                                  I do too---nothing like a basement hole in the wall with cheep beer, pool and interesting people (and interesting bathroom grafitti). That was the hub of the hidden loft dweller social scene.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                                              Also, they're the only game in town (Arts District) at the moment. It'll be interesting to see how (if) they adapt if a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's moves into the hood.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                  I haven't been yet. Their opening time for lunch is a little late for me.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                    For LA, it's pretty good actually. Better than Vito's in WeHo, and everyone seems to love Vito's for that style of pie.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                The beauty of Berkeley Bowl is that a starving student can buy a $20 bag of groceries there & a price-is-no-object foodie can buy a $150 bag of groceries there, & everything in between... & everyone will be eating very well & happy about what they got.

                                                                                                                                                                No way am I paying $6.45 for a quart of Straus.

                                                                                                                                                                I will go investigate Urban Radish, anyway...

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: indigirl


                                                                                                                                                                  You've nailed it with statement about the inclusiveness of Berkeley Bowl. That's what's missing from the FUBs of Los Angeles. Very often they displace rank-and-file Angeleno customers with a much narrower demographic, and that always concerns me. I am especially concerned about what will happen when the new Clifton's remodel finishes. I dearly hope the clientele grows to include hipsters, rather than subsuming the customer base with hipsters.

                                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                    God forbid these people who risk their time (and plenty of it) and money (see previous comment in parentheses) to start a business should be able to make enough of a profit to actually be able to live in the LA area and save for their eventual retirement.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                      I think the folks who own Berkeley Bowl are doing just fine!

                                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                        Of course, nothing is perfect... the Bowl has some union-busting issues. Don't ask me for details; I admit that I'm not terribly well-informed about it, but I'm just aware that it's not all rainbows & unicorns over there.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                                                          In any business it hardly is. Even among Non-Profits. It's all a struggle to survive... and sometimes that breeds short cuts and malintent. That is why workers must ultimately also look out for their own best interests and customers must vote with their feet. That is true capitalism.


                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                                                            Here's a bit of (8 year old) insight on the labor dispute you mentioned.


                                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                              And here's more recent info, which looks more in line with what you were initially referring to:


                                                                                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                            3. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                                              Urban Radish is there for people who want to go Whole-Food-Shopping but live in/around DTLA (and the surrounding gentrified 'hoods) but who don't have a car and rely on zipcar for transportation of both themselves and their groceries.

                                                                                                                                                              I seriously cannot imagine driving there, say, from Hancock Park to shop.

                                                                                                                                                            4. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                                              I just moved back to San Marino from Northern California and am making tons of great discoveries from my 20 year absence!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GreekChorus

                                                                                                                                                                Anything outside of Chinese food? I don't recall there being much to draw me back to the SGV aside from that....

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the update. Will post more later but too alarmed by your mention of "vigorous fig pruning" which I have not done. And I was at Maccalls in Silverlake and saw that the lovely little prolific fig tree by the parking lot is has figs AND leaves and mine has none.

                                                                                                                                                                Also, why hasn't Sunny Blue expanded? That cramped hole is driving me crazy and it is TOO FAR. My kids LOVE that place.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                                                  Farmer's Market - you might want to check out Pasadena FM on Saturday morning at PHS/Victory Park. I haven't been to Alhambra, but it's significantly bigger than South Pas. A place you can actually shop at, rather than browse, though of course it comes nowhere near the size and variety of Hollywood (which is worth a trip, BTW, on a Sunday morning)

                                                                                                                                                                  I love Phoenix.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Savour

                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks! I haven't gone to the Pasadena one yet... sort of forgot about it :)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: indigirl

                                                                                                                                                                      And it has several vendors that now sell some organic foods.

                                                                                                                                                              3. Try farm fresh to you for weekly organic fruit/veg delivery at a good price...dynamite produce with great variety.


                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jessejames

                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, actually we have been doing that & rely upon it heavily!