A New Yorker loving Los Angeles

As a self-baptized New Yorker, I have been living in Manhattan for the past eleven years, I curiously enjoyed Los Angeles. The different vibe of California made me want to move there - just don't tell anybody!


Days Inn

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Days Inn
3007 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404
1800/359-4827


We did not want to spend money on accommodations while we were in Los Angeles for a wedding, so we ended up in a seedy Days Inn on Santa Monica Boulevard.

It's just like any Days Inn: unimpressive building, horrific carpeting, and right smack on the main street. But we liked it for where it was, near the 3rd Street Promenade, for some convenient shopping and dining.

Room rates start at $79 a night and there's free parking right outside and in the basement. Check-in begins at 2pm rather than the usual 3pm time. The water pressure was really low but they do offer free continental breakfast in the lobby until 10am if you're into that kind of thing.

Sometimes, all you need is a place to sleep with clean sheets.

Days Inn
3007 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90404
1800/359-4827

Bravo Pizza

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Bravo Pizzeria
2400 Main St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
310/392-7466

A good place for a late-night slice of pizza after the bars on Santa Monica's Main Street close for the night is Bravo. Because this is a trendy part of town, this is also a good place late at night for sighting stars amongst all the wannabes.
Bravo Pizza Pizzeria & Deli
2400 Main Street
Los Angeles, California, 90405
310/392-7466

Stroh’s Gourmet

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Stroh's Gourmet
1239 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
310/450-5119

We woke up to a nice morning and all we wanted to do was have a leisurely brunch outdoors. We found Stroh's and it was perfect.

The inside is set up like a deli where you can buy imported cuts of prosciutto and sausages. They also offer different kinds of cheeses and you can select which fresh ingredients you want mixed in your own salad. There are about four small tables outside to enjoy your meal.

Stroh's Gourmet
1239 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90291
310/450-5119

Hurry Curry of Tokyo

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Hurry Curry of Tokyo
2131 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
310/473-1640

What happened to this place? Hurry Curry used to have a more simple, value-meal kind of flavor for the impoverished UCLA student set. We came back for July 4th weekend because they were one of the few businesses that were open.

With a new polished look, more trendy clientele, and attractive Twiggy-like wait staff, Hurry Curry has transformed itself into something that is decidedly more West L.A.

I found the tonkatsu to taste like something you can buy from an Asian grocery store and microwave. The miso tasted like it was from a packet.

Hurry Curry of Tokyo
2131 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90025
310/473-1640

Gaby's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Gaby's
10445 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
310/559-1808

It was such a beautiful day in Los Angeles that my friends and I decided to hang out in Venice Beach.

Gaby's was busy because it was lunch hour, but we were willing to wait to get one of the outdoor tables. We were waiting for a table for four when someone sat at the table the waitress was getting ready to clean up for us. She tried to tell him that we were already waiting for that particular table, but she was easily rebuffed when he told her that he'd already been sitting there and that his friends were on their way over. She did not argue and we waited 30 more minutes for a different table. She told us she could not do anything else about it.

This kind of service unacceptable in any New York City restaurant is commonplace in Los Angeles. I will experience more of this throughout my dining experiences in the city.

The food was excellent, however. We had Greek stuffed grape leaves, mixed green salad, lentils, and a chicken kebab sandwich. Maybe we were just ravenous after all that waiting.

Gaby's Mediterranean Restaurant & Cafe
10445 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90034
310/559-1808

Morangak

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Morangak
9651 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844
714/638-1177

Morangak is probably a bad restaurant to have Korean food in L.A., but I was craving it so much and we did not want to spend any more time driving around looking for parking.

On one side of the restaurant, is a more casual seating option - low-set tables on tatami mats so that you can sit on the floor and eat Korean style.

They only had one kind of Korean beer, Hite. They did not have sulontang, the bone marrow soup I was really hoping for. Their bulgogi was so-so and they did not have kalbi barbeque. Their bibimbap, however, was excellent and they came in these giant bowls as big as your bathroom sink.

My craving was satisfied.

Morangak Restaurant
9651 Garden Grove Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 92844
(714) 638-1177

The Farm at the Grove

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

The Farm at the Grove
189 The Grove Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323/525-1699

One of the best meals I've had in Los Angeles was at The Farm in the Grove mall.

We liked the fried chicken here and I loved my pasta with mixed vegetables. The zucchini was so tasty I felt like I was eating a dish with meat. They were big portions, so the three of us were able to pick on each other's food. We liked sitting out and watching the fountain show, even though eating at a restaurant in a shopping complex is something I am not used to.

I once again experienced the poor customer service Angelenos seem very used to. Our waiter showed up only two times, to take our order and to give us our bill. Bus boys delivered our meals and took our plates away. We did not hear a peep from our waiter asking us if our meals were okay or if we needed anything else that could have made our dining experience memorable. If you're dining at night, bring a light sweater as they could not turn on the heat lamp. I had to leave my beer unfinished because I was getting too cold while eating my dinner.
Grove the: The Farm of Beverly Hills
189 The Grove Dr
Los Angeles, California, 90036
323/525-1699

Tito's Tacos

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Tito's Tacos
11222 Washington Pl
Culver City, CA 90230
310/391-5780

I wanted some customer service in Los Angeles and I found it in the most unexpected place: Tito's Tacos on Washington and Sepulveda.

We drove by this place once in the morning and the line stretched around the block. We drove by a second time another afternoon and the line was as long. People never seem to have enough of Tito's Tacos. We joined the line and experienced a different kind of organized restaurant business: everything was structured and every employee worked like they belonged in a factory line. Every one took their time to get every order correct.

The Tito's Tacos Special is a must and so is the all-meat burrito. If you have room in your tummy, you should definitely get the chicken tamale and the chili con carne. My mouth is watering just trying to remember what they had on the menu.

Tito's Tacos
11222 Washington Pl
Los Angeles, California, 90230
310/391-5780

Echigo

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Echigo
12217 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
310/820-9787

You're at some street mall, but don't let the location fool you. Echigo is one of the best places to get sushi in Los Angeles and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. It's never busy here so you can always grab a seat at the bar, get the omakase, and receive the sushi chef's full attention. Other people may tell you that they have eaten at Echigo and the rice was too soggy, but we got lucky and had an awesome time. (See separate entry for Wabi-Sabi, another sushi restaurant review.)
Echigo
12217 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90025
310/820-9787

Wabi-Sabi

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Wabi-Sabi
1637 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
310/314-2229

Wabi-Sabi is not Nobu but it might as well be with the pretty crowd who regularly hang out on Abbot Kinney. There's plenty of sushi to eat but they also have other Asian fusion dishes you can spend money on. They have an outdoor patio perfect for larger parties and the heat lamps actually work (see separate entry for The Farm)!
Wabisabi Sushi & Asian Cuisine
1637 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90291
310/314-2229

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
wdch.laphil.com/home.cfm
The Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall is the new official home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The stainless steel exterior is impressive and it's a behemoth right on 1st Street. The hardwood-paneled auditorium protects the state-of-the-art acoustics.

If you've been to Bilbao, Spain, you will surely think of the Guggenheim, also one of Gehry's most famous works. Check out the mini site about the design and construction of the hall. They even have a photo gallery so you can see the construction of the building over the last three years.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California, 90012
(323) 850-2000

Shane

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Shane
2424 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405
310/396-4122

Why do night spots in Los Angeles close at 2am? Because there are places like Shane with predictable oh-so-LA people inside.

Shane is probably the restaurant and bar you would see in a TV show if Los Angeles had its own Sex and the City. There are a lot of beautiful people inside but you can only see that if you get past the long lines of hopefuls outside to listen to the live DJ's spinning techno a few nights a week. They say that their menu is Moroccan-inspired, but you wouldn't be able to tell with the egg roll and chicken adobo on their list.

Shane
2424 Main St
Los Angeles, California, 90405    
(310) 396-4122

Venice Beach

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Venice Beach

Right after lunch at Gaby's (see separate entry), we walked towards Venice Beach to enjoy the sun and watch the surfers get on the water. It was pretty windy and the beach was crowded. We did not feel like setting up our blankets and spending any more time there. We walked on the boardwalk instead and spent some time smelling the ocean breeze.

If there's one thing you can't easily do in New York City, it's the beach thing. I inhaled every scent.
Venice City Beach
1531 Ocean Front Walk
Los Angeles, California, 90291
(310) 399-2775

Farmers Market

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Farmers Market
3rd and Fairfax
Los Angeles, CA 90036
www.farmersmarketla.com

I've always liked visiting farmers markets wherever I am. One thing that New York City does not have is the freshest produce, perhaps because we are not as close to the farming industry as one is in California. You only need to go to the grocery store in Los Angeles and you will find the most colorful and delicious-looking vegetables.

There are a lot of small stores in the Fairfax Farmers Market. One of my favorites is All Spice where they sell every spice you can think of. Everything in there smells so good you just want to open up every bottle and take a sniff.

There are taco and pizza stands. Fresh fruits are also for sale, either whole or sliced. We were not the only ones hanging out in here; it seems the farmers market is too precious to just leave to the tourists.
Los Angeles Farmer's Market
6333 West Third St
Los Angeles, California, 90036
+1 323 933 9211

Union Station

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Union Station
800 N. Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Before there was LAX and the freeway, Union Station was the main transportation hub of Los Angeles. To me, there's something romantic about train stations. It's too bad that every Angeleno I know has never been inside. The building is Moorish-inspired and the inside is full of Art-Deco surprises. It's a great stop to see some of Los Angeles' history.
Union Station
810 North Alameda St
Los Angeles, California, 90012
No phone available

The Getty Musuem

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

The Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90049
310/440-7300
www.getty.edu/museum/

It's easy enough to get out of the Los Angeles smog and take in some art on top of a hill, even if you take only a few hours, to visit The Getty Museum.

Take the Getty Center Drive exit from the 405 and follow the signs. They are open everyday except Mondays. Their hours are 10am to 6pm and up to 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free but there is a $5 parking fee. There is a computer-operated tram ride from street-level parking. Visit the Web site for a list of their current exhibitions.

The Getty Center/J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Brentwood, Los Angeles, 90049
(310) 440-7300

Griffith's Observatory

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

Griffith's Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027
323/664-1191
www.griffithobs.org

The Griffith's Observatory has been going through extensive renovations since 2002 but you can still climb the stairs to the telescope and take in the smoggy view of Los Angeles. It is scheduled to re-open in mid-2005 (hopefully, with a better-looking Web site, too!).

The Observatory is a non-profit educational institution which provides information on astronomy and related sciences to the public. Although it is not a research institution per se, it carries out modest research projects from time to time.
Griffith Observatory
2800 Observatory Road (off North Vermont Ave)
Los Angeles, California, 90027
Recorded info: +1 32

The Hollywood Sign

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ext212 on September 12, 2004

It's sad that the most recognizable landmark in California is in need of repair and more attention. Unlike the yesteryears, the Hollywood Sign does not glow at night any more.

Built in 1923 with four more letters (it was Hollywoodland back then), it has gone through numerous repairs and editions, more famously "Hollyweed" to applaud the lax marijuana laws and "Holywood" during the pope's visit, both in the mid 70s.

We drove around Hollywood to check out the old-style houses and mansions and discovered that the best place to view the sign is from Beachwood Canyon Drive and Glen Holly.

The Hollywood Sign Trust is continually looking for donors to ensure the preservation of the landmark.
Hollywood Sign
6342 Mulholland Highway
Hollywood, California, 90068

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