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Can you describe your cooking style in three words?

Non. Effing, Existent.

Survey of LA Hounds

Hey, thank YOU! Seriously, I want everyone to play. The answers so far have been very interesting and telling. I know it's informal/not very accurate etc. but if the thread keeps going I might start tallying the results.

Survey of LA Hounds

Was having this conversation last night (about TV, not food) and curious to see what people here think.

The questions:

1. LA restaurants everybody loves but you (either actively dislike or think is overrated.)

2. LA restaurants nobody loves (either actively derides or just doesn't know about) but you.

3. LA restaurants everybody loves that you also love.

4. LA restaurants everybody loves that you've never been to.

My answers:

1. Animal, Lazy Ox. To me they were each a little out of balance flavor-wise, like at both places I felt there was WAY too much of an emphasis on lime juice/vinegar/acid to balance their bolder (saltier/porkier/whatever) flavors, which I found made certain dishes taste sort of uniformly like citrus and salt and that was about it. I liked the idea of each place/each dish more than the actual food in my mouth (but give those chefs huge props for having the hottest joints in town and making the food THEY -- and hoards of others -- really enjoy.) I didn't dislike the restaurants, but also didn't like them enough to ever need to go back.
(My TV answer: Breaking Bad.)

2. Star Falafel, Sherman Oaks. Hole in the wall, amazing falafel and Israeli food. Think it's more under the radar than underrated.
(My TV answer: Amen, Check It Out With Dr. Steve Brule.)

3. Cut, Mezze. I have nothing to say about them that hasn't already been said, other than I agree.
(My TV answer: Mad Men, The Wire.)

4. Bottega Louie, Chego, Jar. Don't worry, they're on the list. Ink however is not. I had one of the most insane/beautiful/delicious/indulgent meals of my life at The Langham in 2010 and for some reason want to preserve the experience (crazy and irrational I know, but it's sort of like not wanting to re-read a book or re-watch a movie or watch the sequel.)
(My TV answer: Homeland.)

The rules:

Bring it, but try not to be TOO rough on people like me who don't love Animal (because really, isn't that punishment enough?) Joking aside, I'm actually more interested in where the subjective meets the objective (ie. what one might actually be wrong about if everyone thinks the opposite/what one insists they're right about if everyone thinks the opposite. Or if/when/how both can be true.)

You don't have to provide a TV answer; it's Chowhound, not TVhound. And speaking of which, since I'm less a Chowhound and more a Chowpup, if this topic's already been covered please let me know and link to the thread so I can read it. Thanks!

Visit to LA from NYC

Zelo looks GOOD.

Cornmeal crust is big in SF, no?


Visit to LA from NYC

Pizza, I actually really like that strip of Tujunga (yeah, not sure how to spell it either.) All I meant was it's not Silverlake or The Strip or Downtown. It's not a "scene" in other words, and arguably not the most exciting part of LA for an out of towner, though it does have a certain low-key charm and is one of the funkier stetches of the Valley. Now, the reason I suggested Caioti over those other places is as a NYer you can get Mario Batali food and Neapolitan pizza, but it might be interesting and worthwhile to get something here you can't get there -- namely good California-Style Pizza at the restaurant of the person who invented it (I'm not really interested in going back and forth about whether we agree it's "good" or not. I think it is, others may not, such is life.) That said, the OP may very well want to see how Silverton-influenced Batali food in LA is or how Sotto compares to Keste or how Langer's compares to Katz's, or may even just want awesome pizza regardless of if they can get it back home. I was just presenting the option that I personally would find most interesting and appealing, and the reasoning behind it, as I know you were as well. 

BTW, huge fan of all those places you listed and the OP would have a great meal at all of them.

PS -- Even though it's not Neapolitan and Nancy Silverton does the crust (and it's, you know, in LA), I still wouldn't classify Mozza as California-Style Pizza. I think of it more as "Chef" pizza the way Chris Bianco's pizza is, or Ed LaDou/Wolfgang's was before there was even such a thing as California-Style Pizza.

Fusion Burgers

You bet. Another thing is there's less of a focus on the actual taste/flavor profile umami, though it is naturally present in both the ingredients and combination/execution of ingredients in the menu items. This is neither a good nor a bad thing, just an observation that one of the objectives of the food isn't to deliver a specifically umami-centric punch or eating experience.

Fusion Burgers

They're actually right around the corner from me in Highland Park (next to but not Eagle Rock), and I like them a lot. Other than their rotating specials and signature burger the Mexican BBQ Burger (which I also recommend you try), very (and I do mean VERY) similar to Umami Burger, which is where these guys started. My gf and I have our conspiracy theories but best not to speculate as we want the place to stay open (though unlike Umami the patty is thicker and cooked more on the medium side -- if you want medium rare should probably specify that when ordering.)

PS -- While you're in the area be sure to visit Galco's on York & Ave 57.

Visit to LA from NYC

Hey Christine, I'm a native NYer (Manhattan & The Bronx) who's been living in LA for a few years now. All the recs you've gotten so far are great, from people who, trust me, definitely know what they're talking about. For what it's worth, I'll add my 2 cents...

1. Burgers. Yes, try both In N' Out and Umami. At In N' Out, I usually get a cheeseburger or double double (2 meat 2 cheese) Animal Style, medium rare, light lettuce (since sometimes it feels like they put half a freaking iceberg wedge on there and it gets weird.) I also get Animal Fries (grilled onions, melted cheese and special sauce.) You can customize your fries any way you want, just cheese, just onions, sauce on the side, etc. If you go with just plain fries, I'd recommend getting them Well Done, as they can be (although tasty) kind of pale and limp otherwise, which I actually prefer if I get anything on them. As for drinks, I like either their Vanilla Milkshake, or Chocolate Milkshake with no more than half a packet of salt I add to kick it up a few notches (don't ask them to do it for you, gets way too salty. Also, don't salt the Vanilla. Made that mistake before, not a good one.) As for Umami, I love it, but be warned, the burgers can be on the rare side of medium rare and a little mushy in texture. If that's not your jam, obviously don't get it well done, but you might want to ask for between medium rare and medium.

2. Pizza. Obviously in NY you have access to great (or if not great then at least your favorite) slice joint pizza and fancy (Neapolitan) pizza. What you might want to try is old-school California-Style Pizza (not CPK.) The place I like is called Caioti Pizza Cafe on Tijunga in Studio City (the Valley.) It's the restaurant of the late Ed LaDou, godfather of California-Style Pizza and the guy who did the original menu for CPK. Unlike CPK it's not a chain and doesn't taste or feel like corporate food. It's pretty 80's/90's, and not a very hip place in not a very hip area, but it's good food and as a NYer, an experience I always find interesting. Mozza's wonderful, definitely a better restaurant, but an experience you can easily have in NY.

3. Mexican. As I previously said, all the recs you've gotten so far are great. Here's some other, more taco oriented ideas. Cactus on Vine Street, any of the stalls at Grand Central Market on Broadway (Downtown LA -- don't forget to visit the Bradbury Building across the street), King Taco on Pico & Alvarado, El Super Taco on Santa Monica & Brockton in West LA (next to the already mentioned Monte Alban), and Cacao Mexicatessen in Eagle Rock (but only if you're in the area or Pasadena.)

4. Wildcard. Jitlada in Thai Town, Black Hogg in Silverlake, Scoops on Melrose.

Enjoy your trip, and happy eating!

LA Neighborhood of the Month (Sep 2012) - East LA/Boyle Heights

Of course; this is why we're all here. But don't take my word for it. If you see something purple next time (that's, you know, not grape soda), get some!

LA Neighborhood of the Month (Sep 2012) - East LA/Boyle Heights

Moronga, not moranga.

LA Neighborhood of the Month (Sep 2012) - East LA/Boyle Heights

Always double down on 11, bula. 11 and food.

Ok, here goes...

According to my internet research, the blood sausage dish is apparently called moranga, is cooked with onions and tomatoes, and made from sheep. I'd never had or even heard of it until yesterday. The dish itself was dark purple and wet. Thick but not gloppy, more the way a stew whose ingredients have congealed into an almost uniform viscosity would be, though there were still very tender chunks of meat throughout which hadn't broken down yet. It was also a little airy and residually bubbly.

The taste. Smoky, savory, salty, spicy. Like a cross between chorizo, feijoada (there were no beans but still), a dark mole that isn't sweet, and (a hint of) blood. The smell is earthy and funky, and that's a good thing. It was recommended I get it with nopales and salsa, though next time will get one straight up and one with fixings. Straight up (from the small unadorned bite I was able to manage) was meaty and intense. The fixings add a brightness and acidity that provide balance and create an entirely new dimension that was almost even octopus like (probably due to the brine of the pickled cactus and the soft texture of the meat itself.) They also help kick the spicy up a few notches, which is always a plus.

I don't know. The biggest thing is I scarfed it and immediately wanted more, and while waiting for my food wanted the entire tray and a very large spoon.

LA Neighborhood of the Month (Sep 2012) - East LA/Boyle Heights

>>The folks behind the counter are very friendly and helpful<<

Agreed. They were awesome. My family's also in the service/hospitality industry and they (the staff at LCP) hit all the right notes in a warm, habitual, easy manner.

PS -- SGV dim sum and THEN LCP?! Ok, now THAT'S a level I hope one day to reach.


LA Neighborhood of the Month (Sep 2012) - East LA/Boyle Heights

I plan on trying at least three places this month. Today I hit my first, Los Cinco Puntos (at Cesar Chavez and Lorena St.)

Ordered three enormous tacos on perhaps the freshest, most amazing tortillas I've ever eaten in my life (they make them right there -- thick, hot and just barely acidic.) The meats: trompa (pig snout), buche (pig stomach), and cuerito (fatty pig skin thing that's somehow different than chicharron -- almost translucent and lardo-ish.) All crazy delicious; I found them to be slightly better than Metro Balderas, and about equal in quality to Las Morelianas (though for me the tortilla/salsa/nopales trifecta puts LCP heads and tails above.) Anyway, like I said I ordered three but left with four, thanks to the older lady in line behind me who insisted I also get a blood sausage taco (not sure what this is called) after seeing me stare (drool?) at the bubbling vat of purple simmering away on the counter.

Yeah, she's officially my new best friend (get the blood sausage.) This place rules. They made my week (them, and a great old movie called The Outfit I watched last night on iTunes.)

PS -- A lot of people seemed to be getting meat by the pound, a bunch of tortillas, and the requisite fixings (salsa/nopales/etc.) to go. I wasn't there just yet, but hope one day to reach that level.

PS2 -- No seats. You eat in the parking lot/your car or take them to go if you think you can make it back in less than 15 minutes (for the freshness factor.)

Breakfast/Lunch within walking distance of Sunset & Vermont?

Sorry to hear about your friend. Sounds like you'll be needing your strength; let's get you fed!

I'd say if you wander north on either Vermont or Hillhurst, you'll be good to go. Here's some standbys:

Alcove (opens 6AM, 1929 Hillhurst)
Fred 62 (24hr, 1850 Vermont -- closest to hospital)
Home (opens 9AM, 1760 Hillhurst)
House of Pies (24hr, 1869 Vermont)
Little Dom's (opens 8AM, 2128 Hillhurst -- furthest from hospital)
Mustard Seed (opens 8AM, 1948 Hillhurst)

These are only the tip of the iceberg but should get you started. There's also some taco places worth checking out, a fresh fruit vendor on Vermont just north of Sunset, and a couple popular coffee chains on Vermont between Sunset & Hollywood should you require that sort of thing.

Good luck!

Late night spot near the Greek?



if you're feeling adventurous and in the mood for a field trip down Vermont, try Hodori.

Strip Mall Hidden Gems in the San Fernando Valley and West Side?

Also at Burbank & Hazeltine is the amazing Star Falafel.

I Had a Great Crabcake today at Veggie Grill

I developed a shellfish allergy around 10 years ago in my early 20's, and the last shellfish dish I think I ever ate (which sent me to the hospital unfortunately) was a very yummy crabcake sandwich. I never ate a ton of shellfish but always enjoyed it, at least enough to miss it. Since then I even avoid surimi and have to ask about types of fish sauce (anchovy or shrimp, or oyster sauce) and worry about cross contamination and all that other annoying crap. It's better than having a milk or cheese or nut/peanut or chocolate or gluten or soy allergy, but the slightest bummer nonetheless.

Cut to earlier today, when I try the veggie grill crabcake sandwich (I had it as a wrap) at the behest of a vegetarian friend and in complete ignorance of this thread. To my very pleasant surprise, it was awesome, and tasted/felt remarkably close to what I can recall a real (albeit mild) crabcake did, to the point that I almost got nervous and had to ask if there were any animal products in it (there aren't.) Granted it's been 10 years but it definitely lived up to my memories, as opposed to certain other analogues which sometimes bear little resemblance to chicken or whatever. Anyway, that and the cauliflower mash with gravy are the reasons I'll be going back (wasn't the biggest fan of the chocolate pudding -- too sweet, texture was weird -- and found the mac & cheese to taste/feel real but the way a mediocre version of real mac & cheese would.)

Los Angeles Neighborhood of the Month September - Voting


That said, for the sake of keeping things simple, can we say The 5 to the west, The 10 to the north, The 60 to the south, and The 710 to the east? (Street boundaries would be even better, but since I don't know the area -- why I'm voting for it btw -- I'll allow that it might be more helpful to establish a perimeter using freeways instead of streets. I don't know why that would be the case, but will accept it and have no problem if it is.)

LA area mainstays/popular spots

Here's the thing though, I don't think the food sucks at Porto's. I think it's good, but not good/unique/iconic enough to warrant a visit if you're from out of town. I don't like Pink's (not sure if they do a good version of something I don't like or an overrated/overpriced version of something I don't like) but I get why people want to go (to) there. Phillipe's and Roscoe's I think do do a good version of something I like that others may not, and are unique/iconic/whatever to LA/LA's food history/landscape.

LA area mainstays/popular spots

King Taco
Langer's Deli
Caioti Pizza Cafe
Kogi Truck
101 Coffee Shop
Grand Central Market

Except for maybe the pastrami at Langer's (get the #19, or just plain w/mustard if that's your bag), I don't know that any of these are "the best". I know they're all good for what they are, relatively inexpensive, places I frequent, and most importantly based on what I got from your post, somewhat unique or iconic (using this term very loosely) LA culinary experiences.

BTW, this probably won't and shouldn't matter to you, but off your list, I'd recommend Phillipe's and Roscoe's. I don't like hot dogs or lines, so that's why I'm not saying Pink's (it was fine the one time I went a few years ago, but not really my thing) and Porto's is good if say you're meeting your friend who works at a post house down the street or need to get your gf a birthday cake, but I'm always baffled why people from out of town are compelled to go there. Like my brother-in-law was in town last month and insisted on it. I mean it's good, I just don't get why it's so incredibly appealing. Anyway, they must be doing something right, more power to them...

Los Angeles Neighborhood of the Month - Nominations

KOREATOWN (food radius of Western to Vermont, 3rd to Pico)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD (food radius of Colfax to Vineland, Magnolia to Sherman Way)
MIRACLE MILE/3RD STREET (food radius of La Cienega to La Brea)
LOS FELIZ (food radius of Vermont to Hillhurst, Sunset to Los Feliz)

I have more but I'll stop.

Restaurant suggestions near Dodgers Stadium

Hey, thanks! Used to live in the neighborhood, walk to Dodger games, get the $13 bleacher seats (ah, youth...) so I know the food over there more or less. And yeah, only way Langer's would work based on your timeline would be to get there around 3:45/leave around 4:15 or do curbside at like 3:55 if they'll do it (I'm guessing you should probably do something else.) Anyway, you'll be fine, my recs are only the tip of the iceberg for Echo Park/Silverlake/Downtown.

(BTW, if you're willing to be a little further from the stadium, try India Sweets & Spices in Atwater or pretty much anywhere on Vermont or Hillhurst between Sunset & Los Feliz. Also Hollywood between Vermont & Sunset is a good food strip, as is Sunset between Hollywood & the stadium.)

Restaurant suggestions near Dodgers Stadium

Agree about Masa/Barragan's/Phillipe's

Tacos Arizas
Two Boots
Tomato Pie
Red Hill
Sam Woo
Grand Central Market
Astro Diner

The Most Wondrous Hummus in Los Angeles

That place is awesome!

(Killer food, saucy waitresses...)

Best hot sauce in LA

Huarache Azteca on York/Ave 53. I could eat gallons of the chipotle salsa. If you don't see it on the display, ask for it. I think it might be what you're talking about. From what I can tell, it's basically concentrated/stewed down chipotle peppers and oil. Very musky, very savory, less bright than deeply flavorful and spicy.

Looking for less mainstream, but awesome bars in LA

Pretty mainstream at this point, but Seven Grand is a cool spot, and right across the street from Bottega C.K.

Other spots (again, not sure if too mainstream but cool. Downtown LA spots at the top, marked with the word "Downtown"...)

Golden Gopher -- Downtown
Broadway Bar -- Downtown
The Down And Out -- Downtown
Casey's Irish Bar -- Downtown
Bar 107 -- Downtown
The York -- Highland Park
Verdugo Bar -- Glassell Park
Eagle Rock Brewery -- Glassell Park
The Bigfoot Lodge -- Atwater
HMS Bounty -- Koreatown
The Alibi Room (home of Kogi tacos) -- Culver City
The Brig -- Venice

Los Angeles Food Itinerary UPDATED

Ok, the thing about eating in Maui is you'll definitely want to go to --

I kid. Happy eating, don't forget the lipitor!

Los Angeles Food Itinerary UPDATED

I've never been to Frida's or the other place so I can't speak to the quality and allow that both could be awesome and exactly what you're looking for. That said, I do know that for Mexican food (a very broad term encompassing everything from family-owned old-school LA Mexican, hole in the wall taco trucks/stands, authentic regional cuisine restaurants, more "culturally accessible" casual places like Tacos Por Favor and Poquito Mas, and trendy Border/Loteria takes on various aspects of the cuisine) you're generally better off going somewhere East of Vine or West of the 405.

Los Angeles Food Itinerary UPDATED

@lhenry: Like I said, it just seems redundant to do both Tana's and Grill, esp same day. Tana's is more Italian but I assume you're going for an old-school Bev Hills showbiz vibe. Grill is more meat-centric/continental with an old-school Bev Hills/Wilshire Corridor industry vibe. The food is fine to good at both. Tasty, familiar, quality, if a bit boring.

@Servorg: I like El Cholo, esp the one in Ktown. It's more about the history/ambiance, but certain dishes are surprisingly yummy/satisfying. The food is obviously generic LA Mexican food along the lines of Barragan's and El Arco Iris, not more authentic regional Mexican in LA, either in a taco (El Pelon, Hurache Azteca, Cactus) or restaurant (Monte Alban) milieu. I liken it to average to good red sauce Italian in Manhattan, which is something I do feel should be experienced as part of LA's food history/scene/culture. Put another way, the authenticity has more to do with LA specifically than Mexico.

@Thor123: I actually prefer Cut out here and Luger's in NY, though whenever I drive past Billingsley's I find I want to go in there and check out the GILFs! (But I digress.) IMO, Pacific Dining Car has decent to pretty good food and as you put it is a "unique LA experience" (at least the downtown location), one which I personally find more interesting than The Ivy. Something that might be a happy medium is Lawry's (or on a far more casual level, Phillipe's.)

(See also Musso & Frank's, Smoke House Burbank, Spago, Chasen's)

Los Angeles Food Itinerary UPDATED

Tacos Por Favor?

Por favor don't go there. Try El Super Taco instead for AWESOME Westside tacos, or El Cholo if you want more of an old-school LA Mexican restaurant experience. And yeah, definitely Langer's over Nate 'n Al's. You can take the 110 to the 105 to the 405 to get to Long Beach, which might save you 405 headaches.

Also, The Grill and Dan Tana's seem redundant, though I do like the food at both. Are you an agent? If not, no reason to lunch at The Grill. Same with The Ivy, unless you're paying for paparazzi. While you're here, why not try Pacific Dining Car or Cut? Or Mezze or Caioti Pizza or Ink or WP24? Point is, there are way better options. In any case, please enjoy, and definitely keep us posted (I for one like living vicariously through people's food experiences, as I'm certain others here do as well...)

PS -- You might want to reverse the order on Day 2. Mozza (not Mozzo btw) has both killer pizza and other dishes as well.