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Huffpo: Why LA's Restaurants May Be Better Than Those In New York

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-sat...

Anybody have any issues? I'd tend to agree with most of it...

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  1. yea i have an issue with it. he needs to replace "May Be" with "Are"

    1. Love how Jitlada is the crutch used to illustrate how good Thai food is in LA.

      It's nothing new. It's always been consensus NYC takes high end. LA takes low end Asian and Mexican.

      The tough question is who takes mid-tier between LA, NYC, and SF.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Porthos

        I think LA does mid-tier better than NYC (Manhattan) and SF.

        And I think part of the reason is that LA is a car-driven culture, as opposed to a mass-transit, pedestrian oriented city.

        No matter where you live in SF, you can pretty easily get to Danko, House, Saison, etc. without too much of a hassle. Same with Manhattan. In LA? Not so much. The tales of woe by westsiders hedging their bets in going to SGV for dim sum pretty much sums it up. Can't really sustain a high-end restaurant with a limited radius of customer base to draw upon.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I dunno. Too tough to call for me.

          SF and NYC boast a lot of mid tier Italian places and farm to table places that I think beat out LA's versions. There are just too many to count. SF has some real winners in Cotogna, Commonwealth, SPQR, La Ciccia, AQ, Tartine Bakery, etc. LA has some in Gjelina, Sotto, Bestia, Red Medicin, etc. NYC has probably too many to name. Po, Lupa, Momofuku Ssam, Osteria Morini, Balthazar et al., Bar Boulud, bunch of those Brooklyn restaurants I haven't been to, etc.

          Too tough to call mid-tier in my book. Might be down to SF and NYC if push comes to shove.

          1. re: Porthos

            When I moved back to LA from NYC in 2005 NY beat LA on mid-tier stuff by a mile. Then LA discovered the gastropub. Now I think they're pretty even. NY and SF are just denser so it feels like there are more.

      2. Depending on what your criteria is, NYC maybe better/worse/same as LA. Just depends.

        I will say this, however. NYC fine dining has this Disneyland feel to it, as if the chefs are trying to impress for the sake of impressing the tourists. You rarely get the feeling that the upper-end, fine dining NYC establishments are cooking out of pure passion for food and/or culinary enjoyment.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit

          "I will say this, however. NYC fine dining has this Disneyland feel to it..."

          If there's even a subatomic particles worth of truth to that statement then what is the amusement park yardstick that we would need to measure the dining in Las Vegas? Maybe Fhloston Paradise from the Fifth Element?

        2. I am still new to living in LA, but have logged many moons in NY so this was an interesting read. Of course everyone has their own priorities. There is no right answer (does there even need to be?) but it's fun to consider the differences.

          As the author alludes to, I think many of the differences come right down to real estate.

          In my experience so far, dining in LA is more convenient than NYC. I know some people will say "BUT...TRAFFIC", but I mean the restaurant experience itself (I will rate navigating traffic and schlepping through hot urine soaked subways a wash, so to speak).

          The typical LA eatery has more space than in NYC, so you're much less likely to show up somewhere to find that it has 4 tables and your neighbor's water glass is closer to your elbows than your own. Some may not care, but I have had too many NYC food experiences compromised by eating in unpleasantly cramped quarters.

          Related, in LA you are less likely to leave a restaurant bathroom traumatized for life.

          For the same reason, as the author says, LA restaurants -- particularly smaller, modest ones -- are better able to keep prices down compared to NYC. I don't blame NYC eateries for charging what they have to charge, but I also don't want to pay $15 for fried chicken. In LA, you don't have to, unless you are physically incapable of eating outside of the trendiest neighborhoods.

          LA residents seem more willing, and perhaps able, to roam than New Yorkers. Sure, LA folk complain about traffic, but they still do it (as proven by existence of said traffic). It's been my experience that many NYC residents travel a very limited range from their home neighborhoods. They will say that "everything they need" is within a few blocks, but everything there is to explore actually isn't. I think they miss out on a lot in their own city.

          I agree with the author that there is an attitude difference about food. LA, as in many areas of life, is more open to new ideas and less beholden to narrow definitions of traditional preparations. And as a New Yorker, I admit that sometimes -- such as pizzas with chicken, figs, and bbq sauce -- I roll my eyes like you'd expect. But on balance, LA's permissive food culture (and, again, culture in general) is refreshing. New York indeed has its famously traditional foods nailed without peer, but sometimes you feel like 'enough already' - can we try something new? In LA, you can, every day.

          And let's not forget access to produce. This is actually huge. NYC has access to many great producers within a couple hours' radius, but they can't help the fact that for 7-8 months of the year all those farms are basically useless. It can be hard for a NY'er to appreciate the difference until experiencing produce in LA, which is amazing. In quality, in freshness, in variety -- in every way, a huge advantage and this translates to restaurant plates. Heck, even the usual factory farmed stuff seems better here -- probably because it doesn't have to add "5 days in transit" to its other shortcomings.

          Negatives of LA dining over NY? I avoid the ubiquitous valet services. Not going to pay someone to park my car. I can walk a few blocks, like a New Yorker. (Besides, it's so nice out!)

          Everyday Italian food should be better -- less mid-western and more Mediterranean. Like the climate.

          Also, we need an event to compete with the Nathan's July 4 contest. But with tacos, obviously.

          6 Replies
          1. re: thebordella

            Great post. Welcome to LA!

            Mr Taster

              1. re: thebordella

                Haha. Totally agree about the bathrooms.

                1. re: thebordella

                  Fascinating and wonderful post. Had to laugh about the bathrooms b/c I came back from a trip to Europe recently, and I was indeed scared for my life sometimes (and I imagine NYC public bathrooms are probably not that dissimilar to European ones)....

                  1. re: thebordella

                    love this. The lack of seriously good produce in NYC is a big deal. My bro-in-law returns to Cali every few months and practically gorges himself on avocados, peaches, etc. Though you can find these items in New York, he says the price tag just kills him.

                    I do love dining in NY, but that's probably b/c I only do it for a week at a time once or twice a year.

                    1. re: CLowe

                      "Though you can find these items in New York, he says the price tag just kills him."

                      I think you just described everything in NY except for the halal cart.

                  2. It seems what tips the scales for the writer is what also does it for me. Certainly not anything new. But I probably eat at home for 3 lunches and 3 dinners, eat "low-end" for 3 lunches and 3 dinners, and 1 mid-tier meal a week. I think I probably go to 1 blow-out high-end dinner every 2 months. So maybe Per Se and Saison offer something that I can't get at n/naka and Providence, but that barely affects me. Of course, more fortunate CHers may have different priorities.

                    1. As a fellow Hound once said, "New York is a great city for dining, but LA is a great city for eating."

                      1. I disagree with the Satran's following statement:

                        "On the low end, LA offers Chinese and Japanese food as good as New York's..."

                        Other than Masa NYC, I'm at odds with that statement.

                        P.S. I get to the Outer Boroughs a fair amount.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: revets2

                          You think LA's is better, or New York's?

                          1. re: Savour

                            Sorry. That was confusing. I think the SGV sports better breadth and depth when it comes to Sino chow.

                            1. re: revets2

                              I agree - I had to read that line of his three or four times. Does he really think there is any comparison? I think of NY Chinese food as a totally different animal. It reminds me a lot of the Americanized Chinese food my parents liked in the 70s, actually. Japanese food? The only decent Japanese food I've had in NY was INCREDIBLY expensive. The Korean food I tried was like a poor joke, retold by someone who had only heard about Korean food once.
                              I think essential to all of these cuisines is excellent produce, which I always found overpriced and in uncertain supply on the East Coast.
                              (This is my experience from living on the East Coast for 5 long years before I could move back to LA)

                        2. I will never understand the eternal fetish of comparing Los Angeles with New York. Most of the time these comparisons are written by transplants with little experience of the breadth or depth of either city.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ernie

                            It's a national pastime (comparing), and not just our nation. I find it a hallmark of insecurity much of the time, but it is interesting. It also tends to tell you more about the person doing the comparing than it does actual, usable information on any of the cities involved.

                          2. LOL at the thread title.

                            Baco Mercat? This is what LA is proud of? I think the "bacos" and "cocas" are sloppy and taste of cheap ingredients. I was shocked that Jonathan Gold put this place in his list of top 20 LA restaurants. I enjoy some of their vegetable dishes, but Gjelina easily outshines Baco Mercat in this area. Indeed, Gjelina is the only restaurant that I can think of that might make the thread title halfway sensible.

                            In Europe, many low-end and mid-range restaurants make high-quality food. In LA, it's almost always slop. Restaurants in LA get the press's highest marks if they manage to do something good--e.g., wow, the pasta is al dente! They used FRESH VEGETABLES!!!

                            I'll except the SGV, which has some truly outstanding restaurants.

                            1. Haven't read the article, but imho the premise is absurd.

                              1. Not mentioned is that, in NY or SF, you can have a cocktail, open a bottle of wine, maybe have a port or cognac after. Then get home safely and legally. This affects the total restaurant experience. I don't mind driving to a restaurant, but I can't imagine driving home from one.

                                1 Reply