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New Yorker Visiting LA

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!

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  1. 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

      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

        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. 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

        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

          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

            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

              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. 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

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

            1. re: AquaAllegoria

              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. 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. 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

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

                1. re: Porthos

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