Friday, 3 September 2010

fooderati does LA

Just over five days in a foreign city doesn't exactly afford much time to check out everything the city has to offer, but with the help of a few in-the-know L.A friends and a few savvy Sydney-based foodies, here's how my week panned out (plus a few other recommendations)

Cheap Eats

In-N-Out Burger (various locations)

Made fresh to order and accompanied by a 'secret' menu that includes asking for your food 'animal style', 'double double' or 4x4, you may be somewhat intimidated upon initiation. Fortunately 'animal style' just means that your burger is served with a mustard-cooked beef patty, grilled onions and extra sauce. For the rest of the dirt, click here.

Canter's Deli
419 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036-1716
(323) 285-5659

West Hollywood stalwart since 1931, Canter's Deli is well and truly part of the well-worn furniture at this end of North Fairfax.  Family-owned and run for over three generations, if you're after the traditional west-coast Jewish deli experience, this isn't a bad place to start. From Matzo ball soup to bagels ever-which-way (try cheese with Jalapeno chillies), you can sit in or take-away...24 hours a day. Useful, if you happen to require a booze-fuelled snack at 4am.

Loteria Grill
6333 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3109
(323) 930-2211

Wedged in the maze of food stalls in this semi-covered farmer's market next to Uber mall The Grove, Loteria Grill is one of the best places to head if you're looking for an authentic Mexican experience. There's Mole Poblano (Chicken in Mole Poblano Served with Sesame Seeds, Finely Chopped Onion, and Queso Fresco), Carnitas en salsa Morita (In a Spicy Chile Morita Sauce Served with slices of Fresh Avocado and Finely Chopped Onion and Cilantro) but the pick of the bunch has to be the Shrimp Burrito served with spicy Spicy Morita Salsa and salsa verde. Wash it down with a hibiscus juice or freshly made lime-aid.


The Best Fish Taco In Ensenada
1650 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027-5532
(323) 466-5552

As the name implies, these guys really only do one thing (well, technically two)... and that's fish tacos and shrimp tacos. Perfecting the Baja-style taco stand vibe, there are range of house-made sauces that you can choose to accompany your bite-sized piece of seafood heaven...and why wouldn't you try a couple of combinations when each taco is $1-2 a pop? 

Umami Burger 
Various locations

Relatively new on the LA burger scene, Umami Burger - named after the fifth identified taste sense - this burger bar is a must-visit for burger lovers who want to try something a bit different. Try a pork and Stilton burger with blue cheese and port-caramelised onions, or grab a Kombu (not 'combo') meal with tempura onion rings or sweet potato fries and a wine or beer.

Don't miss

Baby Blues BBQ
7953 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90046-5111
(323) 656-1277

With Southern-belle celebrities like Reese Witherspoon on the list of fans for this ho-downing, thigh-slapping establishment, (she swanned past on the night we visited), Baby Blues is a celebration of the Southern-states of the USA and their love of smokey flavours, tender meat and a landslide of sides ranging from cornbread to creamed spinach and chili fries.

Turn up with an appetite, no qualms about using your fingers and a healthy appreciation for meat or this experience will be lost on you. Start with a mix of BBQ sliders like chicken wings, grilled shrimp and pulled pork on cornbread with cheese (called the 'Suicide King'). For mains, the baby back ribs are hard to pass up and are so tender that they're nothing you can't tackle with just your hands. Similarly the beef brisket and pulled pork are fall-apart tender, thanks to hours of slow, smokey barbecuing. Finger lickin' great.

435 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036-1716
(323) 782-9225

Run by arguably two of the hottest chefs in America right now, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (kind of like our version of Surry Hills' Bodega boys Ben Millgate and Elvis Abrahamowicz) opened Animal in 2008 to widespread acclaim and it's no wonder. The DIY degustation menu shows their admiration for St John icon Fergus Henderson in their winning ways with shredded pig's ears, 'buffalo-style' pig's tails, head cheese..well, every part of the pig really. More than that, there's a modern-American spike to the style, using Mexican-influenced ingredients and flavours like marrow bone with chimmichurri and caramelised onions, and soft egg with Texas caviar (black eyed beans and corn) Benton's bacon and buttermilk yoghurt. The kicker is the price: it's incredibly reasonable for the calibre you'll be hit with (around $60pp. including wine). Be sure to book in advance.

Eva Restaurant
7458 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2701
(323) 634-0700

Don't be freaked out by the giant suit of armour guarding the entrance, the people who run Eva are very nice, really. Newly-hitched friends booked out the restaurant for the brunch-after-the-night-before. Needless to say there were plenty of Bloody Marys and mimosas to ease the wedding-hangover pain. Known for their fresh, light Californian flavours and a reasonably-priced wine-list, it's a great venue to linger over lunch or grab an outside table and share a relaxed dinner with friends. 

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd,  
Venice, CA90291 33.9904277

Venice beach's Abbot Kinney Boulevard is worlds away from the entertainingly tacky boardwalk scene a few blocks over by the beach. Gjelina's chilled-out vibe may say 'Venice', (think salvaged wooden beams, cobbled brick floors and exposed light bulbs) but the food is relaxed-chic all the way. Neapolitan-style pizzas of zucchini flowers, cherry tomatoes, burrata and Parmesan, salad of sweet Dungeness crab with witlof and creamy horseradish and spicy lamb cutlets are all winners, but if you're a fan of the sweet stuff, the black-bottom banana cream pie is where it's at. A comprehensive collection of old-world and new-world wines wash it all down perfectly.

1802 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027-4213
(323) 662-1587

"It's where they shot Madonna's last Louis Vuitton ad campaign" say the shop girl managing a cute boutique down the street. It seems everywhere in LA is a film or ad set, but you really can see why Figaro made it onto LV's 'yes' list. A little piece of Paris in Los Feliz, it's all about wicker chairs, old-school French signage and a classic bistro menu. A glass of chilled rose served from a distressed glass carafe and a mango, (giant) shrimp and radicchio salad is the order of the day, as is an outside table if you want to take full advantage of the people watching in this chic part of town.

Test Kitchen
9575 W Pico Blvd, 
Los Angeles, CA 90035 
(310) 277 0133

A new chef, sommelier and mixologist every week might sound like shitty management, but with Test Kitchen, it's a formula and the brainchild of owners Bill Chait and Brian Saltsburg. Some of the best gastronomic hands and minds in the USA have graced the kitchen and bar here including most recently Michael Voltaggio, winner of the US version of Top Chef, cooking dinner for guests in 10 tracks.

The food is cutting edge and so are the drinks. Stopping by after an epic dinner at Animal, we were treated to a selection of this week's it-drinks including a Smoked Gibson (Broker's Gin, smoked vermouth, squid ink onion, Russian tea smoke), Porcini Sidecar (1991 Joy Armagnac, lemon, porcini orange liqueur) and other left-of centre cocktail creations. Book well in advance if you want to jam into this so-hot-right-now dining and drinking spot.

Also: Mozza, run by famed trio Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich. You can still spot Nancy in the kitchen on some days. Book the Osteria for classic Italian dining or the Pizzeria for more casual eats. 6602 Melrose Avenue, (323) 297-0100

Food Trucks - they're the biggest food trend in America right now and they're so popular that there's even a television program dedicated to them.

Koji BBQ

One of the most famous of the food truck generation, Koji specialises in Korean Mexican tacos to the starving masses who line up for their famous Spicy Pork Tacos, Kimchi Quesadillas and Short Rib Sliders. Born out of a late night snacking conundrum,  the concept is simple: restaurant-quality food, served at street prices, using fresh produce, crafted by chef Roy Choi and his dedicated mobile kitchen crew.

The Manila Machine

Fillipino food is globally becoming more popular with the masses and The Manila Machine is doing it's part to spread the word on the street. Serving their own take on Fillipino classics like adobo (meat or seafood marinated in a sauce of vinegar and garlic, browned in oil, and simmered in the marinade), lumpia (Fillipino spring rolls) and sisig (they do their version as spicy calamansi-marinated pork cheeks, onions, and chicharon).

Check out The Great Food Truck Race

Coffee: Intelligentsia
1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

They know what a flat white is and how to make one. If you've been to LA, you know how rare this is. Enough said.


The Dime
442 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036-1717
(323) 651-4421

Still a hipster hang, with well-regarded DJs and a hot clientele visiting on a regular basis, all you need do is pull up a table and watch the crowd roll in for an evening of entertaining crowd-watching, cheap drinks and kickin' music. Situated in suitably dischevelled North Fairfax in West Hollywood, it's a part of the world that at times seems painfully cool, but in reality, it's just good times.

High at the Erwin Hotel
1697 Pacific Avenue 
Venice Beach Los Angeles, CA 90291
(310) 452 1111

If you want to get high in Venice, it isn't hard. Getting a seat at High, on the other hand, depends on the time of day and day of the week. A rooftop bar with one of the best vistas of the beach and the crazies down on the boardwalk, sip cocktails from your lofty perch and contemplate how hard life is.

SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 247-0400

Molecular didn't leave the building, it just came here and got a bit cool for school.  Head to Bar Centro at The Bazaare in the SLS Hotel for chef Jose Andres' take on tapas and cocktails. Boasting some interesting experiments on mixology like margaritas with salt air,  or mojitos poured over cotton candy, it's worth visiting to try out something you're familiar with, presented in a way you've probably never experienced before.


West Hollywood:

The Grove for J.Crew, Banana Republic, Zara, Anthropology, Nordstrom
189 The Grove Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 900-8080

Hipsters, book heads, skaters, DJs and Jewish paraphernalia collectors:

436 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036-1717
(323) 782-9221

439 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036-1716, United States
(323) 655-6205

The Hundreds
7909 Rosewood Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90048, United States
(323) 230-7421

Turntable Lab
424 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036-1717, United States
(323) 782-0173

Melrose Avenue:
(chic boutique central)

View Larger Map

Creatures of Comfort
7971 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046-7118
(323) 655-7855

Marc by Marc Jacobs
8410 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90069-5306
(323) 653-0100

7974 Melrose Ave 
Los Angeles, CA 90046. 
(323) 650-5222 

619 North Croft Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90048-2103
(323) 297-041

Decades (high-end second hand designer clothes and shoes)

8214 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046-6812
(323) 655-1960


Kidrobot (collectible plastic toys of goodness)

7972 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046-7117
(323) 782-1411

Herve Leger by Max Azria (body con heaven)

8400 Melrose Ave, 
West Hollywood, CA 90069 

Also here: 
Fred Segal
Vanessa Bruno
Helmut Lang

East Hollywood

North Vermont Avenue, Hollywood Boulevard for eclectic boutiques selling vintage, new designer and cool home wares.

Venice Beach - Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Well dressed men should head to Jack Spade for well-cut shirts, cool leather accessories and other manly things.

Tortoise General Store is great for Japanese home wares, jewellery and kitchy knick knacks.

Head to Steven Allan for preppy basics like checked shirts and dresses, plus cool sunglasses and other accessories.