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New Yorker Visiting LA

a
AquaAllegoria Jul 16, 2013 03:48 PM

While this is a bit of awhile away, I am still gathering ideas on where to eat while I'm in LA, Pasadena to be more specific. I'll be visiting friends with access to a car. Travel date is around first or second week of May 2014 for about 5 or 6 days.

I'm from New York City, in my mid 20s, and eat out frequently at somewhat trendy places, think Mission Chinese, Cafeteria, The Meatball Shop, WD-50, etc. My food preferences run the gamut, I don't discriminate against any cuisine and am open to trying anything at least once.

My budget will be around $60-$70 including tax and tip, with or without a cocktail. I'm interested in trying Animal , A-Frame, and Ink for sure as well as an authentic [or close to] Dim Sum place [with Asian women rolling the dim sum on carts]. Also, anything that is quintessential Los Angeles food that I can't get in NYC? Any other suggestions are welcomed and most definitely wanted and appreciated!

One more thing: any cocktail suggestions and/or bars would be great too.

Thanks in advance!

  1. Savour Jul 16, 2013 05:30 PM

    In Pasadena (I think maybe South Pas, actually) have a drink at 1886 at the Raymond. Great cocktail program, and quintessential California (quintessential Pasadena, actually). I'd also try Red Medicine in Beverly Hills for higher end/trendy dining, but I think where LA really excels is in authentic "ethnic" cuisines. Hit up Highland Park (near Pasadena) for Mexican (El Huarache Azteca - not fancy but good, and Oasis Ice Creams for house made frozen yogurt and raspados. Then go to Scoops for a different ice cream experience). Pasadena is close to the San Gabriel Valley, so you're good for dim sum. IMO the best places don't have carts, but Ocean Star in Monterey Park is a stalwart cart shop.

    I would also say that if NY is a Pizza town, and Chicago is a hot dog town (or vice versa, depending on who you talk to), LA is a burger town. Eat at Umami, probably, and also In n Out, to compare.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Savour
      a
      AquaAllegoria Jul 17, 2013 07:05 PM

      I've checked out the menu at Red Medicine. It was a little too pricey for me, the menu too I was eh on.

      I'm excited to try some dim sum in SGV. And I've heard about In n Out so I think that's something I'd try even though I don't do burgers normally. Umami is opening here in NYC on the 29th, so I'm not sure I'd go there as well. Thanks!

      1. re: AquaAllegoria
        Savour Jul 18, 2013 09:04 AM

        When we went to Red Medicine last year we spent about $100 for the two of us - you can skip the large format plates (which really serve about 4 people) and stick to the smaller plates. I just think it's some of the most interesting food in LA right now.

        I'd also eat at Pizzeria Mozza - it's nothing at all like NY pizza - it's its own thing, but it's also great.

    2. Servorg Jul 16, 2013 05:34 PM

      There have been some good recommendations on Racion http://racionrestaurant.com/ in Pasadena here on the LA Chowhound board. We haven't been but wanted to make sure you at least noted it since you were asking about that geographic locale.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Servorg
        l
        linus Jul 16, 2013 06:58 PM

        though i haven't been in a while, i don't know if racion will cut it when stood up against nyc tapas joints.

        1. re: linus
          Servorg Jul 16, 2013 07:55 PM

          I know that I enjoy measuring another city and the food they do, even if it's not up to par with what I find at home. Not everyone does of course. But who knows how the the OP thinks in that regard? It could be along my line of thinking, or not...but I'll let them decide.

          1. re: Servorg
            a
            AquaAllegoria Jul 17, 2013 07:36 PM

            I agree with Servorg. I judge the food of another city based on whether it's good or not for that particular place, not how it compares to NYC.

            Thanks for the recommendation on Racion. Though I feel like I could get tapas here anytime, I'd want to try something out of the box if I were to have tapas in CA. It seems pretty standard.

            1. re: AquaAllegoria
              l
              linus Jul 18, 2013 04:57 AM

              if you haven't been to a city, how can you judge a restaurant on whether it's good for that city?

              i like racion. my point was, since you can get better tapas in nyc, unless you have a yen for tapas, you might want to try something the l.a. area excels at instead.

              however, if you deeply love tapas, by all means, go there. it's a nice place. however, i feel you might possibly be disappointed.

      2. n
        nosh Jul 16, 2013 07:06 PM

        A long way from Pasadena, but quintessential SoCal is Gjelina, on Abbott Kinney in Venice, south of Santa Monica near the beach. Get a reservation as far in advance as possible, and ask for the back patio -- they'll tell you they can't guarantee that. A great place for dinner when you are taking in coastal attractions or even the Getty Museum.

        3 Replies
        1. re: nosh
          wienermobile Jul 16, 2013 08:40 PM

          Gjelina=California

          1. re: nosh
            a
            AquaAllegoria Jul 17, 2013 07:41 PM

            nosh, do you need a reservation as far in advance because it gets book or because of the patio?

            1. re: AquaAllegoria
              y
              yogachik Jul 18, 2013 10:24 AM

              Gjelina is well worth the drive, a reservation is necessary. You could walk in and do the community table, but there's usually a long wait

          2. ipsedixit Jul 16, 2013 07:22 PM

            You're in Pasadena, might as well head down south about 3-5 miles to the San Gabriel Valley (e.g. "SGV") and sample some Chinese food.

            Best in North America, outside of Vancouver and Toronto.

            1. Porthos Jul 16, 2013 09:13 PM

              You may be in luck if Chef Quenioux is doing a pop up while you're here. Currently he's doing them at his restaurant at Verical Wine Bistro in Pasadena. Creative like what Wylie Dufresne does but not too crazy like WD-50, more harmonious and tasty like his 71 Clinton days. 5 courses $48 and an amazing cheese cart with 40 types of cheese.

              http://www.bistrolq.com/lq-foodings

              2 Replies
              1. re: Porthos
                ipsedixit Jul 17, 2013 07:39 AM

                If you want to do a Dufresne analogy, it would be more like Alder than WD-50.

                1. re: Porthos
                  a
                  AquaAllegoria Jul 17, 2013 07:44 PM

                  That looks incredible! Thanks. I'll definitely keep this in mind.

                2. A5 KOBE Jul 17, 2013 09:00 AM

                  Must get Mexican food, a cuisine that is not so good in New York.

                  Tacos Leo
                  Guisados
                  Ricky's Fish Tacos
                  Tamales Lilianas

                  Also, breakfast burritos are pretty rare in New York. Not sure if you want to come all the way out here for one though, it is pretty basic.

                  And while you are in Pasadena, might as well head to Roma Deli for a sandwich. Maybe something you can take on a day trip or even smuggle back on the plane.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: A5 KOBE
                    a
                    AquaAllegoria Jul 17, 2013 03:08 PM

                    Mexican was definitely on my list! I've been to Mexico twice, but I suspect it wasn't really "authentic" as I was staying at a resort. I'll definitely have to look those up. Thanks!

                    The Mexican food in NYC is alright. it's very upscaled, re: Dos Caminos and Rosa Mexicana and you pay five arms and both legs.

                    1. re: AquaAllegoria
                      Porthos Jul 17, 2013 03:11 PM

                      There is decent Mexican food in Spanish Harlem. I had a go to spot 10 years ago. I'm told the Mexican population has only increased since.

                      1. re: Porthos
                        a
                        AquaAllegoria Jul 17, 2013 03:35 PM

                        I agree on that, it's just pretty far for me to get to nor do I want to travel all that way on my days off.

                  2. j
                    jgilbert1000 Jul 17, 2013 02:58 PM

                    Don't forget Old Town Pasadena. It is a several blocks long area of older buildings that were rehabbed and have some pretty trendy bars and restaurants with a pretty busy nightlife especially on weekends. The restaurants generally are not Chow Hound worthy, but nevertheless, might be fun to have a drink or meal and enjoy the scene.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: jgilbert1000
                      Savour Jul 17, 2013 03:28 PM

                      If you want to eat in Old Pasadena, I'd try Umami Burger or a/k/a bistro.

                      1. re: Savour
                        Servorg Jul 17, 2013 03:32 PM

                        Or, for something completely different, Slater's https://slaters5050.com/ has opened up a Pasadena location.

                        http://www.yelp.com/biz/slaters-50-50...

                        1. re: Savour
                          a
                          AquaAllegoria Jul 17, 2013 03:36 PM

                          Umami Burger is actually opening a location in New York City. Do you think it would be any different or the same as the one in Cali?

                        2. re: jgilbert1000
                          ipsedixit Jul 17, 2013 06:46 PM

                          I think one should actually forget Old Town.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            i
                            ilysla Jul 17, 2013 08:42 PM

                            +1.

                            1. re: ipsedixit
                              Savour Jul 18, 2013 09:02 AM

                              I agree, but if you were in Old Pasadena for other reasons, those would be the places I would suggest eating. Santorini isn't bad, either.

                              1. re: Savour
                                m
                                mc michael Jul 18, 2013 09:14 AM

                                Yes, it's and If... Then... thing.

                                1. re: mc michael
                                  A5 KOBE Jul 18, 2013 10:27 AM

                                  One thing I love in Old Town is the Stone Company Store. But foodwise, meh.

                          2. m
                            mc michael Jul 17, 2013 04:00 PM

                            Reading your post over, I see you are planning ahead. That's good, however, if we were to tell you what's trendy now, it wouldn't be by May 2014. Generally, you'll want to look in on what's good in SGV Chinese, what's happening in downtown LA (both restos and bars), new Mexican eateries/trucks/stands, sushi, Thai, burgers, etc. Some of the suggestions you get now will still be on point. Others will have declined, gone out of biz, etc. Maybe set up a spreadsheet now, then check back in say February.
                            If I were to throw out some suggestions now, they would include Rivera, Babita, Jitlada, Sushi K. Ike, Parks BBQ, Son of a Gun, Sea Harbour, Newport Tang Cang Seafood, Umami.
                            If you want to get into places with views and iconic spots, that's another discussion.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: mc michael
                              n
                              ns1 Jul 17, 2013 04:07 PM

                              I will dissent all day everyday regarding Jitlada

                              overpriced and overrated, with an outdated location and terrible service to boot.

                              I don't mind places charging high end prices, but they better back it up with the high end experience.

                              1. re: ns1
                                l
                                linus Jul 17, 2013 04:23 PM

                                this phrase "outdated location" confuses me.

                                1. re: linus
                                  n
                                  ns1 Jul 17, 2013 04:51 PM

                                  Super old furniture, sticky tables, christmas lights in July, etc. Tacky decor on the walls too.

                                  At least you get to look at Matt Groening doodles while waiting eons for your food, I guess.

                                  1. re: ns1
                                    m
                                    mc michael Jul 17, 2013 09:50 PM

                                    Have you checked the decor at Ruen Pair?

                                    1. re: mc michael
                                      n
                                      ns1 Jul 18, 2013 09:50 AM

                                      Yes. Not quite as tacky but equally outdated. However I dont feel ripped off after leaving ruen pair so it's not a big deal there lol

                                      1. re: ns1
                                        m
                                        mc michael Jul 18, 2013 03:32 PM

                                        Ruen Pair is definitely less expensive. But it does not have Southern Thai dishes like Jitlada.

                                        1. re: mc michael
                                          n
                                          ns1 Jul 18, 2013 05:26 PM

                                          yeah been to jitlada 3x never going back, don't care how many southern specialties they got.

                                          1. re: ns1
                                            m
                                            mc michael Jul 18, 2013 10:42 PM

                                            Won't have to wait behind you for a table. Thanks.

                                    2. re: ns1
                                      l
                                      linus Jul 18, 2013 04:58 AM

                                      that sounds like "outdated decor" to me. but no matter.

                                      since i've never had service issues at jitlada, i shan't argue with you about that, either.

                                      1. re: linus
                                        n
                                        ns1 Jul 18, 2013 09:50 AM

                                        Yes you are correct, but too late to edit now!

                                2. re: mc michael
                                  a
                                  AquaAllegoria Jul 17, 2013 07:47 PM

                                  I don't mean trendy by 'what the hottest place is right now', more like in general what do people like. I know the shelf life of a trendy restaurant can be short lived.

                                  I do like your suggestion about the spreadsheet. I'll check all the places you suggest. Thanks.

                                  1. re: AquaAllegoria
                                    m
                                    mc michael Jul 18, 2013 07:08 AM

                                    And you need to check the pastrami at Langer's and see how you think it compares to Katz's et al.

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