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What is your MUST go to restaurant?

I'm visiting LA (from Canada) for two weeks with my family and was wondering what your suggestions are for the absolutely, must to go, cannot miss places are? We will be staying by universal studios for the first week and then hollywood area for the second week (but will have a car, so location isn't a huge problem). I've been doing my research, but there's so many restaurants in LA, that I'm starting to feel a little bit overwhelmed!

Thanks!!

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  1. We do tacos really well. Here are a few of my favorites that I take out of towners to:

    Guisados
    2100 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue OR 1261 W Sunset Blvd

    Mariscos Jalisco Truck (get the shrimp tacos)
    3040 E Olympic Blvd

    Tacos Leo Truck (get the al pastor)
    1515 S La Brea Ave

    3 Replies
    1. re: Tyus4pt8

      The problem with the Tacos Leo truck is the guy with the trompo (spit) for the al pastor is usually only there on the weekends (normally), but I have seen him on occasion during the week. I also have found the rest of the menu coming from this truck pretty weak (in my opinion). The Taco Leo truck is in the Union 76 station on the northwest corner of La Brea/Venice Blvd. There is a rival truck across the street at nights, so don't make that mistake. Overall, I think the El Chato truck which is located at the southwest corner of La Brea/Olympic is better overall, but they don't get going until 9pm (M-Sat). They shut down about 1am and around 3 am on
      Fri-Sat.

      1. re: Feed_me

        To the OP. If you are from another country you may not know this but the Taco Truck is a thing here. They used to be trucks that parked outside of work areas and sold mostly old junk food and some greasy Mexican food. Locals humorously refereed to them as the "roach coach".

        That all changed a few years ago and now these mobile food trucks are run by independent chefs serving fresh, unique twists on comfort style food. You should try them if you can track one down. They move around every day but there are some areas where they congregate for lunch hour.

        http://www.findlafoodtrucks.com/

        1. re: Feed_me

          al pastor from the el chato truck:

          al pastor comes off spit, into warmer. al pastor comes from warmer into taco.

          WTF? I didn't go back to el chato.

      2. Langer's deli. The best pastrami on rye on earth.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wienermobile

          That + 1. If you like Pastrami, Langer's is the best. Downtown LA, not the best area but worth the trip. Some people may say Canter's which is good, but not as much. Tacky was invented here.

        2. Wow, I lived in both those areas years ago. Both Universal and Hollywood dont have a lot that is not touristy, but there are a lot of great restaurants not too far from there. If you head up to Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood you will hit a few. La Cienega Blvd used to be called Restaurant Row.

          Can you be more specific?

          As previously noted, LA has a lot of great Mexican food if you are looking for cheap and tasty. Los Compadres in Long Beach the one on Anaheim blvd. is excellent and always busy.

          http://www.loscompadreslbc.com/index....

          If you are more of a steak person the best in town right now is called BLT Steak (bistro laurent tourondel) in West Hollywood. Pricy, but the best steak I have ever had.

          http://www.e2hospitality.com/blt-stea...

          For Pizza, I would pick Mozza on Highland Blvd. One of the owners is Nancy Silverton from La Brea Bakery which is famous for their bread. It's sort of Neapolitan style.

          http://www.osteriamozza.com/LA/home.cfm

          If you want an over the top American breakfast, and I mean like breakfast to the 3rd power, The Griddle Cafe in Hollywood is great. Giant French Toast, coffee press to your table, thick cut bacon in a hip hole in the wall. Some celebs incognito.
          http://www.thegriddlecafe.com/slidesh...

          I could care less because I lived there, but if you want to celebrity gawk, the best and most well know place to see famous actors is at the Ivy on Robertson blvd. Food is good but not spectacular. They basically go there to be photographed by paparazzi and then fain like they are tired of all the attention. Service is rude if you don't look like someone important in "the industry". Pricy.

          http://www.theivyrestaurants.com/

          For good seafood and a beach experience I would hit The Lobster in Santa Monica. Partially paying for the view. If people tell you Gladstone's, don't do the one in Universal, it is the same owners but food is not the same. The original one is in Malibu. Its more of a saw dust on the floor, have a drink in a retro beachy kind of place. Still very popular.

          Do they eat French Dip in Canada? I know, its not very French but it was invented here in LA. The place is called Philippe's in downtown LA. Not a great neighborhood but it is right across from the train station...which is an architectural land mark you should peak into if you are there. Cheap.

          LA has many many more, lost of great ethnic foods, Asian, Italian, French etc. We have a China Town (not as good as SF) a Little Tokyo, Little Saigon, Korea town and so on. No little Italy unfortunately, they integrated into the local culture 100 years ago, so some good places to eat but scattered.

          Happy Eating....and now I must plan a trip up there soon to get some "chores" done.

          7 Replies
          1. re: kjonyou

            respectfully disagree with any recommendation to eat any seafood at Gladstone's.
            imho, a place to be avoided for anything other than the view.

            1. re: westsidegal

              The cocktails and apps aren't that bad anymore. When's the last time you've been?

              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                about 9 months ago.
                horrid.
                the drinks that involved a mix were also horrid.
                stick to alcohol drinks that comes straight from the distiller's or winery's bottle.

              2. re: westsidegal

                I didnt say Glandstones was great, I said it was still popular....there is a difference. Its OK. Better if you go for the drinks.

                1. re: kjonyou

                  if you stick to drinks that come out of the distillers bottle and don't get drinks that rely on a mix, the drinks are definitely better than the food, imho

              3. re: kjonyou

                <The place is called Philippe's in downtown LA>

                Well, if you're recommending French Dips in LA, there's that long-standing competition for 'firsts and bests' and those who'll debate for hours about who the winner is.
                Cole's.
                With Varnish hidden in the back.

                1. re: latindancer

                  I still have yet to hit uo Varnish.

                  But that be still be a great choice.

              4. Wonderful Korean BBQ at Park's BBQ in Koreatown

                1. This really depends on what you and your family enjoy and are interested in - LA is massive - filled with high-end "can't miss places," low-end "can't miss places," Californian "can't miss places," Chinese/Korean/JapaneseThai/Mexican/Salvordean/Vietnamese/Badngladeshi "can't miss places," celebrity-hangout "can't miss places," Italian"can't miss places," etc.