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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the LA Chowhound community.

The Bistro that Launched a Thousand Corny Thread Titles

David Myers’ new restaurant, Comme Ça, already has generated tons of buzz on the boards. As a classic bistro/brasserie, it fills a niche in LA.

It has had a bit of a schizo personality in its initial days, though—Woolsey’s review begins: “Comme Ça has the best-smelling bathrooms in all of Los Angeles. The toilet chambers have a beautiful floral-citrus perfume pumped in, as well as soft, strange, almost fairy-tale music. The men’s and women’s toilets share a unisex wash area, where the beds of the sinks are lined with river rocks.”

But while loving attention has been paid to certain areas of Comme Ça, others seem like they were just slapped together; the bucketlike stainless-steel chairs at the tables by the bar and the white plastic gardenlike chairs were cited by several. And though dishes like the roasted bone marrow appetizer are meticulously thought out, the desserts are complete afterthoughts.

The best bet on the traditional menu is probably the steak frites—everyone loves the french fries, which have a meaty flavor that recalls the old McDonald’s fried-in-beef-tallow version (Julia Child’s favorite). French onion soup is just as it should be: a superb onion concentration with sweet undertones, along with rich strings of Gruyère.

The aforementioned beef marrow, served with oxtail jam, is gelatinous and creamy, and the rich oxtail jam is flavored with orange peel. Salmon with gnocchi parisienne is nicely seasoned and excellent, duck confit with red cabbage is very good, but the spätzle is kinda bland. Crispy skate grenobloise is also a standout.

The real star here could be the cheese bar, authentic to the point of putting off other diners with its stench.

Bouillabaisse has impeccably fresh whitefish, shrimp, and mussels but lacks depth of flavor; so does coq au vin. Sepia (cuttlefish) provençal is drowned in a sweet tomato sauce that’s more like a jam. Bouef bourguignon is oversalted.

Service is great, very attentive—if a little too enthusiastic. Everything on the menu, according to the servers, is the best in town.

The wine list doesn’t thrill anyone, and the bartending situation is a bit odd—there’s no cocktail list, but the resident “mixologist” will mix anything to meet your mood. Could be nice if you’re in the mood—or, if you’re not into the interactive thing, not.

The dessert list seems pretty much copied from Boule, for better or for worse.

Dinner for two runs about $150 with tax.

Comme Ça [Mid-City]
8479 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
323-782-1178

Board Links: Ça Va
Un Billet Doux pour Comme Ça
Comme Ca
Comme Ca Just Say Ahhhh…...

Chicago Pizza Shout-Out

Open five months, Banducci’s can be added to the relatively short list of Southern California restaurants that do deep-dish Chicago pizza right, says RSMBob.

It’s a small place (just one long family-style table and a side counter), but the menu is extensive: pizza with thin crust and thick crust, deep dish, Chicago-style deep dish, and stuffed crust. All the standard toppings are available, along with several specialty pizzas. There are other Chicago favorites, such as Italian beef, hot dogs, ribs, and even cheesecake.

Stuffed-crust pizza is a double-decker, with a second layer of dough atop the fillings and cheese. Sausage-stuffed has a great balance of crust, cheese, and sausage, with a moderately chunky sauce. The crust has a pretty thick rolled edge, with soft-pretzel flavor. Unlike many pretenders, it’s not a gloppy mess. In fact, it could use a teeny bit more sauce. Thin-crust pizza is good, but nothing special—for thin-crust Chicago pizza, you still want Casa Bianca, says epop.

Tony’s Little Italy is another reliable pizzeria for deep dish; the crust has the flavor and texture of a buttermilk biscuit crust, says GoodEatz. Note for next time: Skip the Hawaiian and get something traditional, like sausage, mushroom, and garlic. And make sure to go for stuffed-crust. Tony’s is mostly a to-go operation, though it has about eight tables; you order at the counter. It’s just a basic strip-mall joint but very clean, it serves beer and wine, and you get real silverware and melamine plates for your pizza.

The third restaurant in RSMBob’s top three SoCal deep-dish pizza places is quite a trek: Chicago Pasta House, about halfway between Pasadena and Palm Springs. It’s not quite Lou Malnati’s (the Chowhound favorite in Chicago), says Jack Flash, but it’s tasty, reasonably authentic, and much closer than Chicago.

Banducci’s Famous Chicago Pizza Co. [South Bay]
2706 Del Amo Boulevard, Lakewood
562-984-8000

Casa Bianca Pizza Pie [Eagle Rock]
1650 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-256-9617

Tony’s Little Italy Pizza [Orange County]
1808 N. Placentia Avenue Unit B, Placentia
714-528-2159

Chicago Pasta House [Inland Empire]
24667 Sunnymead Boulevard, Moreno Valley
951-924-5777

Board Links: Banducci’s Famous Chicago Style Pizza in Lakewood
Chicago Style Pizza?
Is there a ‘real’ Chicago pizza close to LA?

Tacu-Tacu and Saltado in the Valley

There’s an excellent new Peruvian spot in Tarzana called Lima, reports maggielyn.

In a former supper club tucked in the back of a shopping center, the restaurant is more upscale than many Peruvian joints. But don’t worry, it’s got your aji, your choclo, your Pisco Sours, and your chicha morada. The chef is from Lima, and the waitstaff seems to be made up largely of Peruvian students, who are ready and enthusiastic ambassadors of their globally influenced food.

Tallarines with beef, one of Peru’s typical Chinese hybrids, is like a really good tomato beef chow mein, says Galen, with very tender meat.

Seafood and steak are good bets, particularly the shrimp saltado—a stir-fry with french fries—and salmon in maracuyá (passion fruit) sauce. Tacu-tacu, an Afro-Peruvian dish of bean-and-rice fritters, is delish. There’s also Italian-Peruvian fusion in the form of spaghetti in a spicy cheese sauce that’s usually served over potatoes.

For dessert, there’s a lovely (and substantial) tres leches cake to finish off your meal.

Lima Peruvian Cuisine & Lounge [San Fernando Valley]
19540 Ventura Boulevard, Tarzana
818-758-3902

Board Link: New Peruvian in Tarzana

Spiny Lobsters Have Landed

Spiny lobster season has arrived, and the freshest and cheapest place to get ’em is Pearson’s Port in Newport Beach, for $16.99.

On price alone, 99 Ranch always saves the day: $14.99 at the Artesia branch, $15.99 in San Gabriel.

Fish King in Glendale gets spinies daily, though it steams them all in the morning. Call the night before if you want some put aside. They’re going for $22.59 a pound, averaging 1 1/4 pounds. Very sweet and yummy, says PurpleTeeth.

Same price and size goes for Quality Seafood at Redondo Pier, where they’re meaty and flavorful, says torty.

Santa Monica Seafood has the goods too, but no word on pricing.

Pearson’s Port [Orange County]
100 E. Coast Highway, Newport Beach
949-675-6771

99 Ranch Market [San Gabriel Valley]
17713 Pioneer Boulevard, Artesia
562-865-9899

99 Ranch Market [San Gabriel Valley]
140 W. Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel
626-307-8899

Fish King Seafood & Poultry Company [Eastside]
722 N. Glendale Avenue, Glendale
818-244-2161

Quality Seafood [South Bay]
130 S. International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach
310-372-6408

Santa Monica Seafood [Westside]
1205 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica
310-393-5244

Santa Monica Seafood [Orange County]
154 E. 17th Street, Costa Mesa
949-574-0274

Board Link: Spiny sightings?

For Indecisive Omnivores, There’s President Square Food Court

“Do you ever have that hankering for a Chinese meal, but for the life of you, you have no idea what it is exactly you’re craving?” asks pleasurepalate. If so, President Square Food Court is the place to go, with seven food stalls including a patisserie and a boba shop.

At Hsin Hsin Shau May Deli, the range of hot items is dizzying—a three-item combo comes with soup and rice. Tofu skin–wrapped pork is delicious, light and moist like a good meatball. Fried tofu, cooked in an onion and bell pepper broth, has a nice kick that suggests chile.

Black mushroom and bamboo noodle soup at Zilin Noodle House, cooked to order, is divine, with thick and meaty mushrooms and plenty of bamboo. Leek veggie box, on the other hand, is like a really firm omelet filled with leeks, glass noodles, tofu, and bean sprouts—but it’s greasy and has a strange aftertaste.

You can also pick up some yummy roast pork to go from Full House B.B.Q. Even if you take the long way home, the skin will still be crispy. “On my way out, I couldn’t resist going to Full House BBQ and after seeing that whole roasted pig hanging in the display with its deliciously crispy skin, I ordered some to take home. Even hours later, that skin was still crispy and how can you go wrong with roasted pork? Yum!”

President Square Food Court [San Gabriel Valley]
Near 99 Ranch Market
1220 S. Golden West Avenue, Arcadia

Board Link: REVIEW w/pics: President Square Food Court

’Tis the Season for Mexico’s National Dish

Superlative chile en nogada, a seasonal specialty, is back at Babita, and it’s as delicious as ever, report several hounds. Dommy says she grew up eating this in Mexico and has tried most versions in town, and Babita’s is the closest to the real thing: chile stuffed with ground meat, smothered in a creamy walnut sauce, and studded with pomegranate seeds. While you’re there, the sweet corn and cream of mushroom soups and the tender, flavorful beef cheeks are also worth ordering.

But Babita’s chile en nogada may not be for everyone—Mel Gee says, “This is one of the few dishes I dislike at Babita, because the stuffing is stewed meat, to which the chef-owner is partial, and it tends to be mushy. If you don’t mind the texture, fine, the flavor is good, but I much prefer the ground-meat approach at La Casita Mexicana, which serves Chiles en Nogada year-round. With the meal at La Casita you also get a delicious bowl of soup and excellent chips dripped with mole. (The recent creamy potato and poblano soup was so good that I took a large container home.) La Casita service ranges from very good to very good and charming. It’s a small place, popular with locals, so I always try to go at an off-hour—early or late.”

La Cabanita’s version threw CucumberBoy for a loop, with the sweet-savory pecan sauce and the whirlpool of flavors.

La Huasteca also does a delicious chile en nogada, says hpcat, and it seems to be available throughout the year.

Babita [San Gabriel Valley]
1823 S. San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel
626-288-7265

La Casita Mexicana [Southern LA]
4030 E. Gage Avenue, Bell
323-773-1898

La Cabanita [East San Fernando Valley]
3447 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale
818-957-2711

La Huasteca [Southern LA]
3150 E. Imperial Highway, Lynwood
310-537-8800

Board Links: Chile en Nogada back at Babita
Chilies en Nogada

Just Wingin’ It

LA may be a long way from upstate New York, but at the Slice—whose owners are from Syracuse—the Buffalo wings are fairly close to those at Buffalo, New York’s famed Anchor Bar, says handlertaper.

But pretty much every thread about chicken wings ends up as a tribute to Ye Rustic Inn. “Suicide extra crispy, accept no substitutes,” declares blackbookali.

Big Wangs makes some good wings—good for the taste buds, not so much for the arteries. Speaking of arteries, Big Wangs truly excels with tater tots, and its “heart-a-tot” is a huge order of them, covered in Alfredo sauce with bacon and parsley.

The extra-spicy Buffalo wings at Ribs USA may not be as hot as the suicide wings at Hoagies and Wings (though those are kind of soggy, says jimmyodonnell), but they’re the best Jwsel has had in LA, with great flavor. You can also get spicy fries, big thick ones coated in the same sauce. Everything else sucks, though.

The venerable Prince o’ Whales, which declares itself LA’s oldest sports bar, can also boast about its meaty, crisp, and moist wings, says Kris P Pata. They come in three levels of heat, but only the type who downs habaneros by the fistful should go beyond medium. This dive is immensely popular with local airline workers and also pro coaches: “The sight of then-NY Knicks coach Pat Riley struggling to maintain his coiffed ’do and the pressed dignity of his polo shirt while ingesting a basket of wings, was a treat for us Lakers fans who didn’t like the way he left LA.”

Chicken wings are a house specialty at Kyochon, a Korean fried-chicken joint, says bulavinaka. The slightly sweet batter is infused with the heady flavor of garlic, and the chicken, double-fried to order, is crisp and tasty, with all the flavors and juices sealed in. The spicy wings, brushed with a chile-infused glaze, are a hell of a lot like Buffalo wings.

For a minimalist Asian take on wings, Furaibo is also good, notes ladius. Crisp but not spicy, they’re just dusted with salt and pepper. Unlike Kyochon, Furaibo has booze, and plenty of it.

The Slice [Westside]
1622 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica
310-399-4060

Ye Rustic Inn [Los Feliz]
1831 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Angeles
323-662-5757

Big Wangs [Hollywood]
1562 N. Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-469-2449

Ribs USA [East San Fernando Valley]
2711 W. Olive Avenue, Burbank
818-841-8872

Prince o’ Whales [Westside]
335 Culver Boulevard, Playa del Rey
310-823-9826

Kyochon [Koreatown]
3833 W. Sixth Street, Los Angeles
213-739-9292

Kyochon [South Bay]
In Freshia Market
2515 Torrance Boulevard, Torrance
310-320-9299

Furaibo [West LA]
2068 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-444-1432

Furaibo [South Bay]
1741 W. Redondo Beach Boulevard, Gardena
310-329-9441

Furaibo [Inland of LA]
17859 Colima Road, City of Industry
626-964-4014

Board Link: Best Buffalo Wings in Los Angeles?

Who Needs the Beef?

When it comes to potato tacos, El Atacor #11 is considered the champ. Still, bigtums loves the ones at My Taco and thinks they’re even better.

On the weekends, El Huarache Azteca makes killer potato quesadillas, made to order outdoors, says gonzoeats. The quesadillas are deep-fried masa, stuffed with beautifully spiced potatoes. They’re actually less greasy than El Atacor’s. Try the rajas and squash blossom quesadillas while you’re at it.

Alegria can be annoying at times, but its potato tacos are consistently good, says DanaB. At lunch, a special of hard taco stuffed with potatoes, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes is just as good.

Loteria has good potato tacos as well as taquitos, which you don’t see every day, notes sherpa50.

El Gran Burrito has very tasty potato flautas, and Malo’s eggplant-and-potato tacos are not bad either, says DanaB.

El Atacor #11 [East LA]
2622 N. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles
323-441-8477

My Taco [Highland Park]
6300 York Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-256-2698

El Huarache Azteca [Highland Park]
5225 York Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-478-9572

Alegria on Sunset [Silver Lake]
3510 W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-913-1422

Loteria Grill [Mid-City]
6333 W. Third Street, Los Angeles
323-930-2211

El Gran Burrito [East Hollywood]
4716 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-665-8720

Malo [Silver Lake]
4326 W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-664-1011

Board Link: Potato Tacos, who has the best?

Double the Pleasure of Skaf’s Lebanese Grill

“When it comes to Lebanese, you may keep your Carousel, you may keep your Carnival, you may keep your Cedar House–my love lies with Skaf’s,” declares Das Ubergeek.

And now there’s twice as much to love.

A new Skaf’s has opened in Glendale, with all the same great food and some fancified additions. Oh, and it’s got décor. And parking!

Instead of order-at-the-counter, there’s table service, and the menu is a bit bigger. It includes hummus with beef and pine nuts, more salads, desserts beyond baklava … and frog’s legs.

This is one of the few places that will cook shish kebab to medium rare if you ask, and the portions are gigantic: A $9.95 shish kebab plate comes with a dish of the best hummus in the world, a deep bowl of cabbage salad, a big pile of rice, a tomato, two pitas, and two skewers of some very tasty steak.

Oh, and it’s still family-run—the patriarch is keeping the original location going, while his wife, son, and sister-in-law are in charge of the new place.

Skaf’s Grill [San Fernando Valley]
6008 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, North Hollywood
818-985-5701

Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine [Eastside]
367 N. Chevy Chase Drive, Glendale
818-551-5540

Board Link: Skaf’s Grill, now in double vision!

Bashan, Heir to Bistro Verdu

Bashan is a worthy successor to Bistro Verdu, say those who were among the first to try it. It’s still a small, cozy bistro but with dishes that compare to Lucques and Spago.

The menu is brief but well executed. Definitely get the heirloom tomato and burrata appetizer, advises Griller141. It’s bursting with tomato essence, and the glass of tomato water alongside is delicately flavored, like a fine cocktail.

Veal sweetbreads are deliciously rich, set off by parsley, capers, sun-dried tomato, and pepper relish.

And don’t pass up the ravioli filled with delicate, sweet corn; they win raves from tatertotsrock.

Halibut, with glazed beets and shredded fennel, is fresh and full-flavored; John Dory with Mexican shrimp and bacon is a winner.

You might think steak is too boring a choice, but it’s not. It’s deconstructed and laid out on a Maui onion purée.

Desserts are decent but not quite as exciting as the rest of the menu—panna cotta is one of the better bets.

The main issues seem to be the amount you get for the price—three corn ravioli cost $12, for example—and service when the place is busy.

Bashan [Eastside]
3459 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale
818-541-1532

Board Links: Bashan (Glendale) Guide
Canelé: Good food, shame about the service…