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Downtown LA Dining


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This forum recommended awesome eats for my visit to Orange County last Spring. I leave Chicago in the first week of October for downtown LA for three days and four nights. I will be in the 300 S. Grand area. Will be restricted to one hour lunches but dinners should be open. Will try anything and everything but sashimi/sushi. Would love some recs in and around the area-favorite holes in the walls, ethnic, great cuisine, good cocktails, etc. It does not have to be trendy-just great food that e-gulleteers love. Fresh Sea Food is a plus but I love my red meat too. No dietary restrictions. I will be on an expense account-but love to eat cheap too. Anything goes!. Thanks!

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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Seafood -- The Water Grill

Patina at the new Gehry-designed Disney concert hall

Langer's for those hour lunches for (arguably) the best pastrami in the US (sorry they are not open at night).

And that's just downtown.

(Edited to appropriately brag about the pastrami.)

Edited by JFLinLA (log)
So long and thanks for all the fish.
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In addition to JFL's picks which are right, I'd say try AOC for it's delicious small plates and wines by the glass, 8022 W. Third St.; Guelaguetza on Olympic for Oaxacan; Philippe's, 1001 N. Alameda for a great french dip sandwich.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Hey, potentially Hollywood and I might be able to meet you for lunch as we both work in the downtown area. Assuming you aren't locked in for business lunches, we could do Langer's or Phillipes. Dinner is unlikely as the two of us go home to our families at night.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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You cannot go wrong by having a good hearty breakfast at The Original Pantry on the corner of Ninth and Figueroa in downtown LA. I prefer the cheese omlete (ask for it well set) and a side order of ham steak. Both plates will come with their own sides of fried potatoes and a great sourdough toast. The lines can be long, but it is worth the wait.

I second (third?) the suggestions of Langer's and Phillipe's. The pastrami at Langer's is without peer, and the barley soup is a killer as well. When you visit Phillipe's, go across the street to Union Station, the last of the great old railway terminals (built in 1939, I believe).

Olvera Street is a nice place to visit for a simple taco or gordita or sope, but avoid the high end restaurants there -- they are tourist traps. Go for the small stands -- authentic and inexpensive.

And no trip to LA is complete with a trip to Tommy's on the corner of Beverly and Rampart -- order your burgers only at the stand on the corner, not at the annex across the parking lot. Extra cheese and extra chili are yours for the asking. Don't wear your best suit.

Also, I understand that Fatburger has opened a 24 hour eatery near the campus of USC. Order a Double Fatbuger, charbroiled, with grilled onions, extra cheese and bacon, and two orders of fat fries. Dress it as you please, though I prefer heavy mayo, heavy lettuce and a bit of relish. No other hamburger you will ever eat so long as you live will make you forget it.......

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This forum recommended awesome eats for my visit to Orange County last Spring.  I leave Chicago in the first week of October for downtown LA for three days and four nights.  I will be  in the 300 S. Grand area.  Will be restricted to one hour lunches but dinners should be open.  Will try anything and everything but sashimi/sushi.  Would love some recs in and around the area-favorite holes in the walls,  ethnic, great cuisine, good cocktails, etc.  It does not have to be trendy-just great food that e-gulleteers love.  Fresh Sea Food is a plus but I love my red meat too.  No dietary restrictions. I will be on an expense account-but love to eat cheap too.  Anything goes!.  Thanks!

You guys need to give recommendations on LA's best strengths which are Asian cuisines and Mexican.

By the way, what were restaurants did you try in OC that you liked?

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Living in Chicago, I crave seafood when I am coastal. So while I was in OC, my favorite spot was a very informal fish "shack" in Newport Beach on an island or causeway. The kitchen is in full view, they only served wine and beer and I ate a few grilled lobster tails with drawn butter. Just the perfect place for a non-local dining solo. I went back twice! The other recs were more upscale and their good reputation was affirmed by my local colleagues. I will check my notes for the names of the other places. `I love all kinds of asian food (except raw fish) and Mexican is yummy too. Chicago has great Mex. food due to the large Mexican population and a comparison is always fun. I am tempted to rent a car to hit some spots outside of the downtown area but I may be holed up at night prepping for the next day's work. I really appreciate the input. Thanks!

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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Don't know how to edit prior post. The place was called the Crab Cooker. The other recs were Auberge, Sage and Five Crowns. I was in the Newport Beach area at the time.

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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I worked in downtown during my last year in SoCal. For lunch, do not miss Angelique on Spring Street -- the close at 4:30 so dinner is not an option there. Also recommend Phillipe's. Also, there is a grill in the center of the Music Center that is run by the Patina Group. When I worked there, the offerings were pretty good. I also would jaunt into little Tokyo. I know you won't do raw fish, but how about a bowl of noodles or tempura? All fabulous.

Take a look at the bus service -- you will be surprised how far around downtown you can get to and back in an hour.

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You might want to try Ciudad at 445 S. Figueroa. It is run by the "The Too Hot Tamales" (Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger) of Food Network fame. The food isn't out of this world, but it is sometimes interesting (Southwestern/Mexican/Central American/South American influenced). If the weather is nice, don't miss a Mojito or Pico Sour outside on their deck. Also, don't miss the dessert that is a Torta de Tres Leches.

Cicada at 617 S. Olive is one of the more beautiful rooms in Los Angeles. It is in an old art deco building called the Oviat (check out the Lalique doors when you walk in). Again, the food is not as good as the room. You might just want to stop by for appetizers and a cocktail.

A nice outdoor lunch is available on the patio downstairs at the MOCA museum at their restaurant Patinette at 250 S. Grand.

As recommended above, go to the Water Grill. It the seafood place to go Downtown and arguably one of the better restaurants in L.A.

All of these places are walking distance from where you are staying.

Edited by bvus (log)
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Here are some photos from the last Langer's visit.

I've only been once, but Water Grill was excellent.

Wish I could be of more help, but I don't spend a whole lot of time downtown. If you do go to Philippe's, you could walk down a few blocks to Olvera Street to Mr. Churro, which makes fresh churros all the time. I sometimes get them filled with cajeta.

I'm not sure how Thai or regional Chinese food is in Chicago, but we've got some good ones here if you have the chance to explore.

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all good suggestions. let me add a couple (based on almost 20 years working downtown?!):

on olvera street, the best place to eat is la luz del dia, but only if you get the carnitas with homemade tortillas and, if they have it, the nopalita salad.

in little tokyo, i really like suehiro for noodles and tokyo coffee shop food. really nice grilled mackeral with fixings. also, if it's hot, the soba noodles with everything are really good.

almost next door is mr. ramen, which has very good broth and the benefit of being made by (apparently) a japanese rastafarian.

for sushi: imai, next to the japanese american museum is very good. lately, i've been going to sushi gen a lot. very good, but a little pricey (and way crowded). i've also had good sushi at hama.

at the south end of little tokyo is mandarin deli, which seems to me to be sliding a bit. i think i'd go to the one in chinatown instead.

and also pho 99 in the same building.

and don't miss dim sum at empress pavilion. may not always be the absolute best (knowledgeable people differ), but it is always very good and it is downtown.

for mexican: la colima on sunset used to be pretty good (haven't eaten there in a couple of years, though). or, of course, the grand central market. i like the gorditas at annas. roast to go is also good.

man, i'm going to have to go in to the office more often.

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Yea Russ, excellent suggestions! A number of my favorite places are on your list.

If I can include two more...

DAIKOKUYA

327 E. First St.

LA 90012

323-626-1680

Recent fav over Mr. Ramen, I am currently addicted to their very intense pork flavored broth. The vibe is Tokyo hipster from the staff to the clientele.

( Think Lost in Translation.)

You can get a bowl of ramen with a side dish of fish and rice that's a great deal.

Highly recommended.

KOKEKOKKO

203 S. CENTRAL AVE.

LA 90012

213-687-0690

Yakitori restaurant just south of the corner of 2nd and Central.

All chicken all the time - when you walk in they will always ask if you know this is yakitori, not sushi bar. :smile:

You have a minimum order of 5 skewers - be sure to try the grilled chicken livers, or quail eggs.

You can also get a nice bowl of chasuke (broith with rice that's absolutley delicious). Order it with a cold beer, or better yet a Japanese Arnie Palmer - green tea mixed with lemon soujou.

Watch the chefs sweat with grace over the open grill and buy them a beer. It's a very cool scene.

Edited to add:

When you're through with dinner or just looking for drinks, swing by my husband's new bar

The Golden Gopher. Great drinks, beautiful room (if I'm allowed to say so myself :wink: )

and a rocking jukebox. Doors open at 4 pm, and there's even a liquor store (designed by yours truly) inside in case you need a bottle to go.

Golden Gopher Bar

417 W. Eighth St.

LA 90012

231-614-8001

Golden Gopher Bar

Enjoy your stay!

Edited by monkeymay (log)

We need to find courage, overcome

Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction

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Whenever I have to go to downtown L.A. for something at the convention center or similar location I always make a point of visiting, for at least one meal, Clifton's Cafeteria

I have been making at least a yearly pilgramage to Cliftons since I moved permanently to So.Cal. in 1959. I have never been disappointed and always walk out feeling much as I would have after dinner at my granny's.

It is not "trendy" but there are a lot of celebs who favor the place because they can have a quiet meal and not be bothered by anyone. It is also comfortable for a woman dining alone.

It is not your typical cafeteria, I think you willl be pleasantly surprised by how well they do what they do.....

The apple pie with vanilla sauce is wonderful and I am always torn between that and the pecan pie.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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My arbitration is not going so alas I am not going to LA (boo hoo). But I have printed out this thread and put it into my California folder for future reference. THANK YOU alll for the recs and invites to meet. I know I will get to meet you soon.

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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  • 9 months later...

I went to Water Grill a week ago Thurs. night, now under Executive Chef David LeFevre, protègé of Charlie Trotter.

Ever since LeFevre became the new Exec Chef, there were a couple of articles that featured him, including one written by Russ Parsons. But no review on Water Grill. I had a feeling that the LA Times food critic S. Irene Virbila was going to have a major review really soon. So off I went ...

That evening, I decided to begin with the White Chowder with Manila Clams, Weiser Farm Potatoes, Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon. Normally, I like my clam chowder pretty thick and creamy, what one typically finds in restaurants & diners. This clam chowder was served in a very flavorful broth, with bacon and finely-cut vegetables. The clams were in their shells. A tiny fork was provided to dig out the clams, as well a pewter bowl to discard the shells. I enjoyed that soup!

For the main course, I had the Slow Steamed Alaskan Halibut Steamed with White Wine, Coriander and Fennel Spiced Artichokes with Kalamata Olive Puree, accompanied with a glass of Brander Sauvignon Blanc. The Russ Parsons article was about this cooking technique which LeFevre demonstrated in the article. The halibut was indeed moist. It's amazing how a simple technique can produce such wonderful results.

The pistachio financier with cooked peaches was good, nothing spectacular. The yogurt sorbet had a nice tang to it.

The service was enjoyably interactive. Some servers may need more fluidity in answering questions than just memorizing menu descriptions. Mind you, the service I received was quite professional.

As I was departing, I saw David LeFevre walking around the restaurant, followed by a man with photography equipment. Then I thought to myself, Ah ha! The review on Water Grill is coming out next week. And it did. Here's the link to the review:

Water Grill's crucial moment / by S. Irene Virbila. The bottom line: Water Grill was given a 2½* rating (formerly a 3½* rating)

That was my first time at Water Grill. I never ate there under LeFevre's predecessor, Michael Cimarusti. Overall, I would recommend this place. It's definitely one of the best places in downtown LA.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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The "Downtown News" just published it's annual "best of" issue with a lot of recommendations of all kinds of food and drink in a variety of price ranges.

Read about it here.

Gelato in downtown LA? Who knew? Gotta go check it out.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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  • 5 months later...

Last Thursday night, I took my friend & his wife over to Ciudad in downtown LA. This is my third time there.

I'm beginning to really like the place. The open space, simple abstract drawings on the walls, soft colors ... they play well to this Nuevo Latino cuisine, developed by Feniger & Milliken, the "Two Hot Tamales."

Along with one baguette-sized bread were these seeded & spiced crackers, plate-sized crackers, broken into large pieces. A nice change ...

I ordered the spinach empanadas, followed by the gaucho steak. The steak was pretty good with the hidden jalapeno inside the steak. Yes, it was hot! Mind you, I still like the carnitas the best, which I ate during my first visit.

My friend & his wife had the tortilla soup & the lentil soup with pineapples, respectively, followed by the short ribs & the salmon. My friend's wife like the lentil/pineapple soup. Interesting combination, but it works.

We all had some tea. These were loose, organic teas. My friend had Earl Grey, I had Assam, his wife had Burrough's Brew, a dark tea with coconut.

We all enjoyed ourselves at Ciudad. My friend didn't get "freak out" at this "frou-frou" restaurant (He's learning the fine art of "CUHL-chah"). If I'm not mistakened, I think that was Susan Feniger going around greeting everyone at the tables. We had a wonderful conversation with her. She was very optimistic about the Downtown LA "renaissance" going on. Their bar has a strong scene in Downtown LA and there's plans to re-do the bar in 2006.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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I've been coming to LA weekly for a couple of months and staying in the 300 block downtown (the most dreadful Westin I have ever been in, but have since moved to the Omni which is super).

Noe in the Omni is great (but what's up with all the mini frappes and froths in little shot glasses?) and I do have to say the room service menu here is stunning, not the originality or variety but the execution is delicious. Last night I had the best tortilla soup I have ever had and being from Houston, I eat a lot of it. It didn't have all the gunk that people feel they have to garnish it with, the soup was bright and red and correctly thickened by cooked corn tortilla that had been pureed. They even gave me the recipe. I eat room service more often that I care to admit because of work hours, and the room service here is head and shoulders above any other room service in any hotel I have ever stayed at in the US.

Since I hate driving here and don't rent a car, I am only on foot or short cab rides. I have eaten a lot at Cuidad and Zucca. Almost every day I have take out from Organic to Go, specifically their dynamite soup and sandwiches. I crave their soup when I am not on the road. Zucca is good, loved their salute to pumpkin this fall. Cuidad is usually pretty good. I love the non-fried calamari dish sauteed with white beans and olives.

We had lunch today at Sai Sai. I had a New Years bento box there that was slighty too authentic for me, but it seemed like it was extremely well-done and the server couldn't have been nicer. I have never eaten so many things that I couldn't identify. I would try something and think, that must be bean curd and the server would say that it was fish paste. I will most certainly go back there and have my normal sashimi approach. I can't wait.

I am so happy to find this thread. I have always sensed that there are hole in the wall places that I can't detect and I know I am closer to little pockets of deliciousness but no concierge or clients who live far away could recommend anything.

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for sushi: imai, next to the japanese american museum is very good. lately, i've been going to sushi gen a lot. very good, but a little pricey (and way crowded). i've also had good sushi at hama.

russ, imai is no more. it's now another sushi bar. (i have no idea if the new place is any good.) for sushi downtown, i would recommend R23. good food and a great room. R23

edited to add:

oops! sorry, russ. i just noticed that your post was from 2004. i guess imai was still open.

Edited by arkestra (log)
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I heard good things about R23. Personally, I like Sushi Gen. Lunch is pretty affordable. Yes, it can be crowded. It seems like everyone knows about this place. :hmmm:

BTW, Sushi Gen is renovating. So, they're closed for lunch, but open for dinner only right now. Hopefully, by the end of the month, they'll re-open for lunch.

Noé is a really good place. As for the frappés, I figure that it's Robert Gadsby's little culinary fixation. One of my favorite dishes is the sea scallop appetizer on a bed of foie gras mushrooms. It's nice when a hotel partners with a professional chef and gives the chef the freedom to create his menu.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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