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Oct 10, 2013 10:58 AM

1 Day in LA...

I have (perhaps) 24 hours to experience LA cuisine for the first time in a few weeks. This time around Im not looking for high end dining. Im thinking more about ethnic and simple and as good as it gets (grungy dives are perfectly find if thats where you get the best stuff).

So first I'm looking for the best Oaxacan/mole experience possible. Would also like to know your favorite taco dive or Taqueria in the area in case we want to go that route instead (and theres the possibility of mexican for breakfast so where do I go for that?). And how about vintage LA Sichuan where I could get my spice fix but that wouldnt kill the wife? Any recommendations? If thats too specific then genuine well made REAL chinese food would do just fine. Not americanized of course.

So this day will be about a mexican dive, a chinese dive and a top notch brewery (did I mention that?) or brewpub where I can have a few local beers and digest lunch while contemplating dinner.

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  1. Rex, any particular area of LA that you'll be in?

    10 Replies
    1. re: JAB

      I'm actually going to let the cuisine guide me. This is a purely spontaneous "local" gastronomic adventure. There is some mild talk of the usual tourist silliness as a possibility (Hollywood, etc.) but I dont want that to shape our brief culinary exploration of the place with any other factor. So to answer your question Im willing to drive anywhere from Ventura to San Bernadino to San Clemente. In fact there was some initial talk of starting at or finding our way to San Marcos so we could sample some Lost Abbey brews. But I realize that may be a stretch in such a limited time.

      I should probably mention we will be coming from the East (Vegas) so if these places are found along the way rather then deep down on the coast then great but dont restrict yourself.

      1. re: Insidious Rex

        What day of the week? And how well do you tolerate traffic? Trying to cover multiple parts of metro LA (let alone all of LA county or even the multiple counties you've listed) is ambitious (and perhaps not possible) depending the answers to the questions above....

        My thinking is that, if you're driving from the east, you could have Chinese in the SGV (I'm not sure what reference to "vintage LA Sichuan" means, although I assume other posters do) and then go to a place in East LA for your Mexican/Oaxacan fix.

        I don't know much about breweries, alas....

        1. re: ilysla

          It will be a Saturday. Hopefully thats better then a weekday but Ive heard enough about LA traffic to scare me to death so...

          1. re: Insidious Rex

            Saturday can be much worse than a weekday.

            1. re: Porthos

              Indeed (traffic on the 10 from WLA anywhere eastbound is surprisingly horrific).

              But if Saturday's what you've got, then it is what it is.

              Here's a thread about Sichuan. I know you said you didn't want to kill your wife w/ spiciness, but perhaps the restaurants could modify the amount of hot oil or peppercorns in the dish?


              If you're up for any type of good Chinese food, you might like the people watching for late morning dim sum (just do a search), going to try Shanghai-style Chinese (J&J, which is my personal favorite), or trying central Chinese (JYTH).

              I do like Monte Alban and Juquila on the westside, but Rocio's might be closer? I've not been, but here's the website ( It might be easier to go to East LA? I recall reading that Moles La Tia ( was good, but I can't remember if the owner/chef had changed?

              Also agree w/ the recs for Langer's and Ricky's.

              1. re: ilysla

                So its now been moved to Friday. Not sure if thats better or makes a difference at all. And that likely means Ill be getting into town Thursday night.

                1. re: Insidious Rex

                  Hard to say what traffic might be like, depending on what part of town you're in. Friday nights can be really bad.

                  I'd say try to avoid morning rush hour (7-9-ish) and the evening rush (4-7-ish). I know that you're willing to drive wherever, but if this is your first time in LA and you're not particularly traffic-tolerant, I'd say stick w/ the recs that are geographically relatively close (and I know that might be hard to gauge if you're not familiar w/ LA), and you'll probably be just fine (and have a much better impression of our city!).

                  What part of town will you be in?

            2. re: Insidious Rex

              Avoid Thursdays at all cost...

              It's LA's version of Saturday night anywhere else in the country.

            3. re: ilysla

              oh and my references to "LA Mexican" or "LA Sichuan" comes from spending many years on the DC/Baltimore Chowhound board and seeing a constant parade of Southern California natives freshly relocated to the east coast and asking desperately for "mexican food like I used to eat in mid city" or "chinese food like I used to get in San Gabriel" etc. To which we DC natives say YOU CANT! But try this instead. This is what WE do here... Well Now I want to go to these places that these poor unfortunate souls cant match back east. Im tired of hearing about how good they are and that theres nothing like it in our area...

              1. re: Insidious Rex


                I have no idea what the DC food scene is like (my vague impression is that you do high-end new American very well?) but might be best to temper your expectations of our specialities since sometimes they can be quite different from the way they are in other parts of the country (which some new residents who are new to LA don't always like). Although, for the record, I actually do think the Mexican and Chinese food here is really, REALLY good and quite inexpensive....

        2. Langer's Deli Best Pastrami on earth. Open till 4pm Closed Sundays.

            1. re: wienermobile

              Absolutely Ricky's Fish Tacos. The perfect LA dive experience...because TRUCK! Whis is no longer in Chinatown. Back in Hollywood, on Virgil and Sunset Blvd., and better than ever. Also convenient to Hollywood/Vine and Hollywood/Highland, which you should go ahead and experience the silliness of.

            2. For Mexican breakfast, I would recommend Taqueria Los Anaya In Mid City for their chilaquiles. They have other breakfast stuff too, but I can only vouch for the chilaquiles.

              For mole, I can't speak from experience but I've heard that wherever Rocio Camacho is cooking is the place to be. She opened up a place called Rocio's moles de Los dioses, but I also know she moves around a lot. Someone around here knows more I'm sure.

              Personally, I like the moles at Monte Alban in west LA and Guelaguetza in K-town

              3 Replies
              1. re: Butter Fight

                The mole sauce is good at Monte Alban, but the meat tastes like they boiled it separately and then poured the sauce over the top. Basically you get a generic tasteless chicken breast, bathed in yummy mole. It's okay if you're stuck on the westside, but I wouldn't drive to get it.

                +1 for Guelaguetza.

                1. re: Bjartmarr

                  But the chicken soup, caldo do pollo, at Monte Alban is, in my pretty unsophisticated (on this particular topic) opinion, really, really good.

                2. re: Butter Fight

                  Glad to see Taqueria Los Anaya mentioned. Best mex breakfast in LA. The huevos rancheros are also bar far the best version in LA (or maybe anywhere).

                3. If you end up in the SGV for Chinese, which you should, check out a nearby place called The Stuffed Sandwich for your beer needs. A few other options for beer in nearby Pasadena are Slater's 50/50, Lucky Baldwin's, Haven & Stone has a place there as well.

                  You'll obviously kill more birds at a brewpub than a brewery and one of the best is Naja's Place in Redondo Beach should you find yourself in that area .

                  Talking about your beer options in San Diego would really open up a Pandora's Box and is for another Board.