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Eater's 38 essential LA restaurants. Thoughts?

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  1. I find Bay Cities' Godmother sandwich to be generous, filling, and perfectly comforting and tasty (although I wish the meats were of higher quality), and I enjoy visiting their store, but I would not place it on the list of essential LA restaurants. I'd recommend it as a fun market to visit, but would more heartily suggest 'the sandwich' from Pasadena's Roma Italian Deli and Grocery (http://www.yelp.com/biz/roma-italian-...), which feels more 'essential' to my taste.

    6 Replies
    1. re: cinefoodie

      yes - bay cities should be on eaters overrated la restaurants.

      im interested in trying petty cash tacos -- anyone been?

      1. re: jessejames

        It's OK. Just OK. I've had one pretty good meal, and one not so great meal. I think my favorite thing was the cheesy churros, but honestly, drive-thru fries from McDonalds would have the same satisfaction. Greasy, salty junk food. But yummy nonetheless. Tacos are good, but a bit overpriced. Potato taquitos were great one visit, and mealy and tasteless the next. Guacamole was fantastic, expensive but a very generous portion. Their redeeming quality for me? The house margarita. Excellent. The best. Seriously. I would for sure go back for a mediocre meal as long as I can have a few of those margaritas.

        1. re: jessejames

          Here are some questions to answer to determine whether you will enjoy eating at Petty Cash or not:

          Do you want to be surrounded by a crowd of movie biz airheads, and Beverly Hills bimbos who have never traveled East of La Brea in their lives, and therefore don't realize that Petty Cash not only didn't invent the "exotic" dish called "tacos", but that their $6 carnitas is bested in flavor by $1 versions served out of trucks all over the city?

          Do you enjoy eating such food in an extremely loud environment (have you ever been to a club in Hollywood around 1 am? It's pretty similar)?

          Are you ok being mostly ignored by service staff, who don't know anything about their own menu (not entirely their fault, the restaurant seems to have only bus boys, not actual waiters in a bid to be "more authentic")?

          Do you get off on "being seen", as opposed to eating well?

          If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may well have a great time at Petty Cash! Enjoy!

            1. re: ns1

              They make plenty of money from the airheads. They can afford to take some hate.

              It's a great business; anywhere that can get people to pay $60+ per person for tacos in the land of tacos must be. But it's a shit place to eat.

              It's probably not the worst place to get cocktails. That's about it.

        2. re: cinefoodie

          Agree. Good sandwich, but not stellar. The bread - freshly baked kicks up a decent, but standard sammie to the next level. Again, not stellar.

          I can live without it. It's not a sandwich I crave.

          I remember, in my youth, a meatball sub from someplace not far from Encino - with a veal bolognese sauce. THAT i crave, to this day. And that's decades ago. The Godmother? Not so much.

        3. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

          1. I like to send visitors to Border Grill in SM for food and margaritas. Usually fits the bill for good food that says "LA".

            1. the word essential is equivocal when it comes to expressing an individual opinion.

              1. I do love the squash blossoms at pizzeria mozza

                1. What the hell is with this list??

                  It genuinely pisses me off that people are seeing this list as the top 38 restaurants in Los Angeles.

                  Are all of the eater lists this disingenuous?

                  To put La Casita Mexicana as the #1 essential is... horrendous. It's an OK place that's been there for a while, not a restaurant serving the best of what LA has to offer in terms of Mexican/Latin cuisine. I've never met anyone who has had a spectacular meal there...

                  Having random chains like Sugarfish and Cafe Gratitude on the list is insulting to the entire LA dining scene, suggesting that we are little more than culinary neanderthals who are incapable of creating our own culinary institutions, and influence. I quite like Cafe Gratitude, but FFS they originated in SF! How can they be listed as one of the top 38 restaurants of LA?!

                  And forget about the absolute horror of putting a place entirely about flash, with almost no regard to food on the list like Petty Cash Taqueria (and Hinoki & The Bird)! It's downright OFFENSIVE.

                  My GOD! No wonder people think we're all about style over substance in LA!

                  It's a veritable miracle that a few of the places that actually make LA worth eating in are even on the list!

                  To not see a place like Alma on the list is so utterly unforgivable that it renders the entire list at best a bad joke.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: BacoMan

                    essential 38 =/= top 38

                    not defending the list, just saying there is a difference.

                    1. re: ns1

                      It's much worse... essential means "absolutely necessary".

                      How can chain restaurants that didn't even originate in LA be "absolutely necessary" to the LA dining scene!?

                      And how limiting, and insulting is it to suggest that restaurants that are style over substance are essential to LA's dining scene?? As if, by some immutable natural law, LA dining is incapable of being great??

                      It only becomes MORE infuriating if you make that distinction!

                      I want to punch someone right now it pisses me off so much! I feel personally insulted by those who made the list! (And everyone who is an upstanding citizen of taste, who favors substance over style, and lives in LA ought to be outraged, too)

                      1. re: BacoMan

                        Like I said. I'm not defending the list =P

                        1. re: ns1

                          A defense would be impossible I imagine.

                          1. re: BacoMan

                            Defending or attacking subjective taste is equally nonsensical...

                            1. re: Servorg

                              There's nothing subjective about that list. It's objectively idiotic.

                  2. Great. More lists. And not a very good one, at that.

                    I'd almost rather listen to a French automotive tire company's reviews of L.A. restaurants. Almost.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: J.L.

                      I would actually good $$$ to have kevin's stream of consciousness thoughts for each of these 38 restaurants.

                      Now, *that* would be a worthwhile list to read.

                      1. re: J.L.

                        Much rather read Michelin's opinion that Eaters - which I consider pretty much useless.

                        On the other hand, the Michelin Guide is very useful. I understand their point of view and can interpret it appropriately. They are consistent. And if they think a restaurant is great - it's usually pretty great.

                        1. re: foodiemahoodie

                          Michelin is great for Europe, but the same style of critique just never translated well for our fair metropolis, in my opinion.

                          1. re: J.L.

                            I was excited about it coming to L.A. and a little befuffled by some of the choices. Wondering if they'd actually dined in some of the restaurants. It seemed to me like they were trying - pretending - to be L.A. friendly.

                            But it came off a little like CNN. Neither here nor there. Still, all in all, when you're looking at who gets stars - that was fairly valid I felt. There weren't restaurants that truly deserved a star or two that didn't get it. To me, what they didn't do is have a "Bib Gourmand" - which L.A. would be rich in. Or have something new. But still, I find it much more useful than Zagat - which is fairly worthless. Gayot is pretty good. But Michelin is such an institution - the restaurants who revere it - seem to do well in their regard (and mine). They try to please and in doing so, become a specific kind of restaurant (which I enjoy immensely).

                      2. Also: love or hate the list, it did it's job which is to generate hits. It's like they do this on purpose or something. Ahem.

                        18 Replies
                        1. re: ns1

                          Lists sell.

                          And lists fit low attention spans.

                          Nuff said.

                          1. re: ns1

                            How would you gauge that exactly?

                            Eater is so huge that people would read the list basically no matter what they put.

                            The LA list is so bad that I actually would LIKE to believe it's just a nefarious marketing tactic...the alternative offers a much more grim reality to face.

                            But eater does lists for all major cities, and the others are not nearly so controversial. Look at my post on the SF board for example. Their eater list is much, much better than the joke of an LA list.

                            1. re: BacoMan

                              If you were to make a list of "essential" LA places what would it include and why?

                              1. re: Butter Fight

                                I would post it, but I'm pretty sure it would turn into a flame war.

                                1. re: BacoMan

                                  "I mean, who are da five greatest (restaurants) of all time?"

                                  (counts fingers)

                                  "Baco Mercat...Baco Mercat...Baco Mercat, Baco Mercat, Baco Mercat."

                                  Ok stupid Chappelle's Show reference aside, I'm just joking obviously - all in good fun. But I'm sure CH can come up w/ a better list - didn't we have a "best of" of over/under $25 restaurants list before?

                                  1. re: chrishei

                                    Well, yes, obviously people would quibble and go cry, but I feel there is a strong argument for Bäco Mercat to be on the list. The cuisine is simply unlike anything else outside of LA. The Bäco's are something unique to LA. They are essential to LA dining in an important way.

                                    They are not entirely peerless though. Other places that ought to be on the list and do similar "flavor bomb" cuisine at the higher level are Chego (Kogi really...having somewhat started the whole ordeal in a sense), and Starry Kitchen. I am not even that big a personal fan of Chego, but that is interesting food, done well that is integral to LA dining, and not really a thing outside of LA. Honestly, when I leave LA I can still get similar stuff to a lot of what makes LA great. Quick comparison: you go to SF, you can get great Italian, even if not the exact same as LA italian, but where would you go for a good Bäco?... You can't even look.

                                    That style of cuisine is something that LA genuinely, and uniquely offers the world. It's not the be-all-end-all of its dining scene by any means, but it's an important part of it.

                                    These boards are a strangely poor reflection of that though, as people here seem to have remarkably conservative tastes, and continually chastise that part of LA dining for being something they don't understand.

                                    There are other elements of LA dining that are just as essential, but to deny that sector smacks of a tired sort of conservatism that is depressing to experience in 2014.

                                    1. re: BacoMan

                                      Oki Dog is uniquely LA in which totally voids your argument. There might be one person in the entire city that thinks an Oki Dog is essential that can probably be found on yelp and writes for eaterla.

                                      1. re: A5 KOBE

                                        They're still in business aren't they?

                                        You are conflating essential though. There's essential in terms of keeping it what it has been, versus the best it has to offer (i.e. ought to be / can be).

                                        Oki Dog is essential in a sense. It's certainly more essential than Petty Cash or Hinoki & the Bird.

                                        But one could ask whether it reflects the essence of LA dining in a way that should be perpetuated. In a sense, it does. It's part of the same group as Kogi, Bäco, SK, etc... it's just doing a more street-level version of it.

                                        1. re: BacoMan

                                          Hell yes Oki Dog is LA - asian peoples serving hood peoples a pastrami/hotdog stuffed chili cheese burrito. Where else do you find that?

                                          1. re: ns1

                                            The description alone makes me want to pop a couple rolaids

                                            1. re: A5 KOBE

                                              +fries +orange whip to truly make it an la experience.

                                              1. re: ns1

                                                Plus a large diet coke. The carbonation in the soda helps to kill the after effects of the sacrosanct chili in addition to the intense tube steak dog meat.

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  They should have complimentary tours of the cities nicest latrines.

                              2. re: BacoMan

                                It's all subjective. And no one on Eater LA's staff is a legit critic from the journalistic standpoint anyways (which is why they're trying to hire actual, reputable ones during their current hiring frenzy). Just use Eater for breaking news. Don't lose sleep over their "picks" - you'll live longer, so you can eat more bacos :)

                                And lists do sell.

                                1. re: chrishei

                                  It is obvious that that is true from the list.

                                  I do use Eater just for current news. But it pisses me off that LA is represented like that on Eater. It's also sad to think of tourists coming and using the list as a reference to eating in LA.

                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                    Is generating hits at the expense of credibility a good idea?

                                    Not in the long run.

                                    1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                      As H.L. Mencken once wrote “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        The P. T. Barnum corollary is: There's a sucker born every minute.

                            2. Right or wrong, I see this as a digital list. I note that restaurants are added and dropped every three or four months. It's for folks with ADD.