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Visiting LA

New York hound here. I'm coming to LA for about 6 days, May 6-12. I'm considering my restaurant list while I visit and so far I've got Osteria Mozza, Ink, Animal, Maude, and Hinoki + Bird as my must go to places. Any other places in those price ranges that I should consider? I was also thinking about The Gorbals but they're opening one up here soon.

One more question, I'm looking for Dim Sum, with or without carts, just some really awesome tasting food, suggestions?

Thank you in advance!

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  1. For dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley (east of downtown, accessible during non-rush hours) this is a pretty comprehensive, current thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/967414

    1. bestia / chi spacca

      dim sum = elite / sea harbour, church key for american style dim sum (don't ask, just google)

      1. Based on your list, and considering the fact you're from NYC, I would keep only Animal and Ink from your original list.

        Others I would consider would be Alma, Alumette, Red Medicine and Chi SPACCA.

        For dim sum, opinions and preferences vary, but for carts your best bet are 888 or Ocean Star, for off-the-menu, I think the best bets are either Sea Harbour or Elite, but feel free to peruse the thread that "nosh" linked up above.

        Enjoy your visit.

        1. For Dim Sum I really like Sea Harbour in Rosemead (in the SGV) no carts. Great food. Always a wait on weekends but worth it.

          Other LA restaurants you might check out include Gjelina and Superba Snack Bar in Venice. Park's BBQ and the soon to open Pot in Koreatown. Tar & Roses and Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica. MB Post in Manhattan Beach. Son Of A Gun, a sea food version of Animal in West Hollywood and Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle for wonderful ramen. Welcome to LA.

          4 Replies
          1. re: wienermobile

            Thanks for the dim sum suggestions everyone! I've definitely looked into Sea Harbour and 888, it was on a list of the best dim sum places in LA. Thanks for the link!

            POT is definitely on my list, I'd want to check it out.

            1. re: AquaAllegoria

              Just went to POT. I don't really drink cocktails, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I had there, and my friend who is super into cocktails also liked it a lot.

              1. re: BacoMan

                Are they serving food yet? Did you try any?

                1. re: wienermobile

                  No, no food as far as I could tell.

                  It's a somewhat unusual place. Ultra-luxurious feel, but then you can hangout at tables and use free wi-fi and study (many people were doing this).

                  Actually, because of this, it rather felt like the kind of bar I might actually go to. You can easily have a conversation while enjoying the cocktails, quite pleasant.

                  They are not drawing that much of a crowd though, and cocktails take a LONG time to make. You should probably just order multiples at once if you care about that, because we were there for an hour and a half, and each had 2 cocktails. It took minimum of 20-30 minutes for them to make a cocktail. I'm not a cocktail person, so not sure if that is an average time to get a cocktail or not. But the Walnut and Hops were really pleasant.

                  The Long Islands (nice to see they aren't too pretentious to serve these, like Hinoki & The Bird), are very smokey with mescal and alovera "boba".

                  The Uni cocktail is a must-try, but somewhat intense to drink all yourself (though my friend loved his). The Mushroom is also quite intense, but again my friend loved it.

                  There seems to be something for everyone.

                  It would be nice to be able to get food that was just as creative there though.

          2. Do you have any interest in our Korean options? Even is you simply want to experience Korean BBQ at Parks http://parksbbq.com/ it would be a good adder to your list while out here. Also a side trip for Ricky's https://twitter.com/RickysFishTacos fish tacos or Tacos Punta Cabras http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8905... would be a memorable segue for a NY'er I think.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Servorg

              If you do decide on Korean food of some type, but you don't want to do BBQ then you might consider a place like Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun for spicy pork & kimchi bibimbap (for example).

              3185 W Olympic Blvd
              Los Angeles, CA 90006
              (213) 382-3815

              1. re: Servorg

                Re: Korean BBQ, we have a place in Queens that's heavily Korean BBQed, I've had some pretty fantastic food there, I'm not sure I'd want to do that while I'm in LA.

                Tacos are a must try. Thanks for that.

            2. Whatever you do avoid the Gorbals on both sides of the country.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Johnny L

                Har! +1 (sort of). Was there when a friend rented out the place for an engagement party. Food was... UNEVEN. Dessert was excellent, though. Cool location and space but can't say I'm at all tempted to go back.

                  1. re: Johnny L

                    unless you like swing dancing, in which case hit the gorbals late on thursday nights when they typically have a gypsy style band that a lot of the better lindy dancers in LA like to dance to.

                  2. Do NOT go to Hinoki & The Bird.

                    Skip Osteria Mozza, go to Bucato or Bestia instead. Or, heck, maybe even Superba Snack Bar for something you might not be able to get in NY.

                    OR if you want a meat-centric Italian dinner that is truly MIND-BLOWING, go to Chi Spacca.

                    I haven't been to Maude, but would also recommend trying Alma.

                    I'm also going to go ahead and make the cliched recommendation of Bäco Mercat. It's worth trying, since there's (I imagine) nothing else like it in NY. Unless you look at the menu and think you would just hate the style of cuisine.

                    You might also consider Orsa and Winston.

                    Really depends on what kind of dining experiences you would like to have in a certain sense.

                    I think you would have a mind-blowing 6 days with these as dinners:

                    Red Medicine
                    Chi Spacca
                    Bäco Mercat

                    Well, I suppose you need to make room for your dim sum, too though. As other's have said, Elite or Sea Harbor, your choice.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: BacoMan

                      My friend recently went to Baco Mercat and she loved it so I think I'll have to find room for that and eat strategically haha. I'll look into the others you mentioned. Great list. Thanks.

                      1. re: AquaAllegoria

                        So, hopefully you know what to expect going to Bäco. The food has lots of sauces, and fat is used liberally in many dishes. It is French technique, but nothing "frilly" about it.

                        Jonathan Gold said this about it last year, and it's a very good picture to keep in mind:

                        "Centeno's kitchens were where the local convergence of haute cuisine and pub food began, and his menu here reads almost like a graduate exam in culinary post-structuralism, mixing flavors and structures from Spain, France and western China; Mexico and Peru."

                        It's important to keep in mind that the flavors, particularly of the Bäcos, are intense; they fall into that category of LA cuisine that is somewhat idiosyncratic of "flavor bombs".

                        Personally, I feel Bäco Mercat is perhaps the most "LA" restaurant to eat in, in terms of cuisine, and makes a great place to go for an out of towner. I eat there more than any other restaurant in LA, and I think locals do as well, so it's not like a special occasion, but a place LA people really eat.

                        If you would like to do a Chow meetup to go, I would volunteer haha Only because some of the large format dishes are really something (the Saffron-Honey roasted whole chicken for example).

                        Otherwise, if you saddle up to the bar you can get a seat fairly easily. Get either the Original or Toron Bäco, the Baby Beet Salad, and some Chicken "ribs", a Duck Rillette Basteeya, or some Lab Riblets cooked in their own juices. Perhaps a cocktail made with their in-house crafted soda, or a craft beer (good wine, too if that's what you like).

                        You will be in heaven.

                        Words of caution: they've been hiring new staff recently, and the service has been off the past few times I've been.

                        It's always loud because it's almost always packed.

                        Dessert is not really their strongest suit. You might like it, but it's not the most special.

                        Centeno recently opened his fine dining place Orsa & Winston nearby, and consequently is less involved at Bäco.

                        Alternative tip: If you want to sample some interesting Tex-Mex, Bar Ama is his third place right by Bäco. If staying downtown, they might have the best rendition of chilaquiles in the vicinity.

                        1. re: BacoMan

                          It isn't loud b/c it is packed; it is loud b/c owners/deigners
                          choose materials that increase sound, believing that to
                          generate faux excitement is more worthy than presenting
                          a pleasant sound environment for customers.
                          LOUD restaurants are boycott worthy.

                          1. re: VenusCafe

                            Maybe that's true of some places.

                            I don't know, it sounds ridiculous. I've eaten at Bäco many times though, and rarely had difficulty talking to my dining partners, except for once or twice when the restaurant was completely packed.

                            I may have overstated the case though. I dined at Red Medicine the other night when it was full, and the crowd and music were not as loud as Bäco, yet I could barely hear anyone I was with, and had to yell the whole time.

                            So I guess in comparison I would say Bäco is not a loud restaurant in that sense, actually, I can't remember ever having to yell when dining there, despite there always being fairly loud music on (probably the only restaurant I've ever dined at that plays music I like that isn't jazz).

                            I originally just meant to say that if you are looking for a more "relaxed" atmosphere, Bäco doesn't necessarily offer it. Even that is false though, if you sit outside, it's pretty relaxed, and fairly quiet.

                    2. Agree that if you're coming from NYC you have to skip Osteria Mozza. It's a lesser version of Babbo.

                      Replace it with Bestia or Chi Spacca.

                      2nd Red Medicine.

                      For Dim Sum, if you're going to drive all the way to SGV go to board favorites Elite or Sea Harbour or my current favorite Shanghai Number 1 Seafood Village. 888 and others may even be a step down from Ping's Seafood in Chinatown.

                      Maude is a great call. I'm interested in trying it myself!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Porthos

                        I'm super excited to find out what the vegetable of the month will be at Maude for May!

                        1. re: AquaAllegoria

                          May is rhubarb:


                          Just made reservations for April. Tough res. Wouldn't take a party of 3. Had to do 530 mid week. Love me some spring peas though.

                            1. re: Porthos

                              Ditto I love rhubarb! Yeah I didn't think it'd be easy to get a reservation. I'm aiming for a week night or a Sunday. I wouldn't think about trying Friday or Saturday. And I'll definitely take whatever time I can get haha

                        2. You must do some Mexican. Much more essential than going to Animal or Ink imo.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: set0312

                            Yeah, true.

                            I vote for Chichen Itza, Taqueria Los Anaya, El Parian, Coni Seafood, or Corazon Y Miel! =

                            Maybe Mexicali Taco!

                            How would you choose??


                            It might even be worth trekking out to OC to try Taco Maria honestly!

                            1. re: BacoMan

                              I wanted to suggest Taco Maria but as the hound said they were going to LA I didn't. By the way do you know if Taco Maria has switched up their menu yet? I haven't heard any reports since I think the february menu.

                              I heart Chichen Itza and wholeheartedly suggest it. I prefer Coni to Corazon y Miel for Mexican spots somewhat outside central LA. I think the smoked marlin tacos at Coni are some of the best tacos in the city and the snook is such a unique and fun dish.

                              Have not yet been to Taqueria Los Anaya but it seems to have quite the fan base.

                              I like El Parian--definitely worth getting some goat stew to go or something.

                              Maybe I would suggest Guerrilla Tacos as something quite unique--definitely could not be done in New York type of meal.

                              1. re: set0312

                                My issue with suggesting Guerrilla Tacos as Mexican is that it doesn't seem to be very Mexican beyond the tortillas, and format of the food (tacos/burritos).

                                It seems a bit hard to directly compare Coni and Corazon y Miel. Opposite sides of LA, and kind of opposite things they are doing really. So how do you pick one over the other?

                                Los Anaya deserves its fan base, because they make comfort Mexican food better than anywhere else in the city. The best huevos rancheros ever I would say.

                                And Taco Maria. I am not sure. I think the menu has changed a little, but not entirely sure. I have still only been for lunch ashamedly. But the simple chicken mole tacos I had for lunch, and the huizontoles, were good enough for me to recommend it endlessly.

                                What about spots like Cacao (is it Mexican)? Or El Hurache Azteca? Or Tacos Leo?

                                It's very difficult to figure out what to recommend for Mexican here if you aren't going to go on some kind of bing.

                                What about the lamb, or the chorizo and pork at Gish Bac?

                                The Moles at Rocio's Moles los Dioses?

                                The Mole fries at Bizarra Capital? The Mole tater tots at Amor y Tacos?

                                Things are insane here...

                                1. re: BacoMan

                                  Cacao is good and Mexican enough but I'm not sure I would suggest it to a visitor who presumably can get to only one or two spots.

                                  El Huarache Azteca is superb. I put the super huarache very high on my list of favorite LA dishes--but it is in Highland Park. And Tacos Leo is Tacos Leo. Always so damn good--the type of place that makes the LA scene so special--that you can get such a good taco at 2am outside a gas station is absurd.

                                  One thing that could be fun is to stop at Corazon y Miel and La Casita Mexicana in the same night. That way you get the classic preparations of La Casita and the Animalesque preparations of Corazon.

                                  And yes I agree the ideal way to do Mexican in LA is to eat tons of it. Check out Rocios, Guisados, El Huarache, Leo, Cacao, hell even the mulitas at La Taquiza once upon a time merited an article by J Gold.

                                  But if a New Yorker was to do one Mexican meal in LA I think I would suggest Chichen Itza and order every single appetizer plus whatever the special is plus the cochinita pibil. Or perhaps Coni if said New Yorker is a fish lover.

                                  What would you pick? For your one Mexican spot in LA?

                                  1. re: set0312

                                    I would personally skip La Casita. Maybe I just went at the wrong time, but the food did not really blow me away like I thought it would. I have enjoyed my meals at Corzon y Miel FAR more.

                                    I personally also wouldn't bother with Guisados. Definitely not someone out of town. Better to make it to Colonia, or Bizarra Capital, where the same tacos are basically done at a higher level, and other options complement them as well.

                                    But in the end, weirdly enough, I would probably pick Chichen Itza as well as the single place to send an out of towner. It was the first Mexican place I ate at in LA, and it remains my favorite. Everything there is pretty much perfect to me, and the meal hardly costs anything.

                                    I think in his article about it J Gold wrote something like, "If this is Yucatecan cuisine, I need to move to the Yucatan."

                                    That's pretty much how you feel about the place when you go. It's quintessential, and essential LA. You are dining in an indoor market, that appears quite pedestrian, and yet you are being served dishes made with supreme dedication, and deft skill.

                                    There is hardly anything more delicious than the cochinita pibil and grilled habenero salsa with fried plantains there. I also have a love for their pollo asado. But everything is amazing there. The simple soap de lima is possibly the best soup in Los Angeles with its citrus zing, and spiced turkey tang.

                                    And all of the appetizers are delicate, beautiful creations, as you pointed out.

                                    The horchata and aqua de chaya are also my favorite renditions in the city.

                                    It's just an incredible place. I still put it in my personal top 10 places in LA, even after years of exploring everything else that LA has to offer.

                                    1. re: BacoMan

                                      Wow. Actually I'll be staying in Pasadena with a friend who has a car and I'll be with her the whole trip. Everyone has made Mexican food in LA sound amazing. I can't wait regardless of where I go.

                                      1. re: AquaAllegoria

                                        Oh, excellent.

                                        You know, you might want to go to Racion out there. I hesitated to recommend it before knowing your situation.

                                        It's pretty elevated spanish tapas and raciones.

                                        Good egg salad sandwich at Euro Pane Bakery out there you might want to sample. Also, some old-time milk shakes at Fair Oaks Pharmacy. And some uniquely Californian hot dogs at Dog Haus. Maybe nothing mind-blowing, but fun places that are fairly "California-esque" you might grab lunches at.

                                        Are you into coffee at all? Home Brew Bar is an interesting place for coffee out there. Though for espresso you may have to go to Lavender + Honey, or Intelligentsia.

                                        As far as Mexican goes...well, you really have to just dive into it. You'll be happy, as an NYC person, almost anywhere listed here I think.

                                        I would stick with my Chichen Itza recommendation if you can only go to one place. But I don't know what sounds good to you. If your friend is down, you can go on a Taco Crawl and try a bunch of different Mexican in a single day!

                                        1. re: BacoMan

                                          She is moderately close to El Huarache Azteca. That could be fun.

                                          1. re: set0312

                                            That could be the place to go, if convenience is taken as the primary factor for the Mexican venture.

                                        2. re: AquaAllegoria

                                          if you're in pasadena, might as well do the al pastor at la estrella, or do a late night run to the arturos taco truck at fair oaks & bellevue.

                            2. It sounds like you are well versed with LA. If you are close to Queens skip Korean. Han Mi Bach and Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong are both excellent in Queens. The only reasonto go Korean is if you wanted to try something very specific which LA Koreatown has covered in spades.

                              Besides Mexican and dim sum I'd add in something very California market driven farm to table blah blah. Consider Gjelina or Rustic Canyon.

                              1. Are you up for Vietnamese food? Little Saigon in Garden Grove is about a 50 minute drive south. It's probably the best Vietnamese food you can get outside of Vietnam.

                                1. PS - Sea Harbour is not only for dim sum, you can have a great dinner there too. Also, be aware the dim sum wait on weekends is 1-2 hours if you don't show up early.