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Trip Report: Los Angeles (focus on food) with pictures (April 2007)

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Mar 9th, 2009, 06:10 PM
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Trip Report: Los Angeles (focus on food) with pictures (April 2007)

I know that this trip report is almost two years late but we have been working on creating a travel website to chronicle our various trips and it is finally getting there. So, I have finally been able to type up all the notes I wrote when we went to L.A. I want to thank all of you for many, many great ideas about entertainment and food. We had a really fun trip. You can check out the entire trip report with pictures on our travel website: http://www.feetontheglobe.com/trips/losangeles2007
I know that the format of this report is a little unusual but hopefully it will make sense if you look at it with the pictures.
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See

Everything in L.A. is a bit overdone---the colors are too bright, the traffic is too much, the prices are too high. It is like the younger sister of Las Vegas or New York, trying intently to keep itself in the spotlight as the favorite but trying equally hard to pretend that it's not trying. Does that make any sense at all? Well, actually, it probably does if you've been to L.A. On our bus tour from Grauman's Chinese Theater, the bus driver kept trying to infuse importance and famousness to random nondescript locales. It almost made me want to tell the bus driver, "It's okay. Everything doesn't have to be famous."

But, despite all the pretentiousness and pretense, L.A. is fun. Purely fun. We had fun being silly tourists comparing our hands with those of Tom Hanks (bigger), driving through Mulholland Drive and gawking at the ridiculous mansions, and riding all the rides at Universal Studios (twice, of course). I was a lady of leisure as I had my nails done on Rodeo Drive and an admirer of the freakishness of the La Brea tar pits. Oh, and did I mention that we saw the cast of Entourage filming?
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Mar 9th, 2009, 06:11 PM
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Sorry, the link for the last part with pictures is here: http://www.feetontheglobe.com/trips/losangeles2007/See
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Mar 9th, 2009, 06:13 PM
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Eat - http://www.feetontheglobe.com/trips/losangeles2007/Eat

Original Pantry: A 70-year old restaurant, currently owned by the former mayor of LA. The line out the front door was intimidating when we got there but we were inside the restaurant within about 15 minutes. It's a little strange to be ushered into a little cafe by a giant bouncer, but the service is fast. Breakfast includes various combinations of bacon, sausages, eggs, french toast, pancakes, and potatoes. Lunch and dinner include homestyle sandwiches and entrees. But, oh, that food! My pancakes were fluffy and light and literally melted in my mouth and they gave Patrick an entire pig's worth of bacon. The portions are gigantic and we ate so much that we could barely breathe when we walked out. Total price: $22 for a fantastic breakfast. Recommended.

French Crepe: Mediocre creperie in the Hollywood shopping mall area.

Sabor a' Mexico. Delicious mexican food --- some of the best I have ever had. The restaurant was unassuming, in a tiny shop area attached to an auto service shop, but they had a long menu, and Patrick was sold the minute he saw the man grilling meat in front of the restaurant. Total cost: $30.00 for a feast. Incredible place, highly recommended. We only wished they served alcohol. What we ate:

* Queso fundido con hongos - Good gooey cheese with mushrooms, though it wasn't quite as warm and gooey as we would have liked.
* Quesadilla with squash blossoms --- My mouth waters remembering this quesadilla. A small homemade tortilla containing squash blossoms with Oaxaca cheese and a few jalapeno and onion bits was lightly fried so that there was no greasiness, but it was crispy and tender at the same time. Perfection.
* Tamale with poblano and cheese
* Black beans - Creamy and tasty.
* Tacos - Let me start with the really surprising part of this taco ---- $1 for one taco. Yes, I will repeat that: $1 per taco. And these were not Taco Bell tacos. Patrick got two pork tacos with spit fired pork surrounded by pineapple, and two carne asada tacos. He said that they were all excellent, but wished that he had ordered more of the pork.
* Bisteca with rice and beans
* Salsa - The restaurant has a great salsa bar and we tried all of them. Watch out for one fiery habanero salsa.

Gyu-Kaku: Japanese charcoal barbeque on Restaurant Row. This is an innovative idea, sort of a cross between a Japanese hibachi restaurant and a Korean barbeque. There is a small charcoal barbeque in the center of the table and the waiters bring out seasoned vegetable and meat to grill. Total cost: $80.00. Recommended. Unlike Sabor a' Mexico and Square One, not everything here was perfect, but the hands-on factor makes this a fun dining experience. If this place was in Atlanta, they would be printing money. What we ate:
* Bibimbap. This is not Japanese but rather a Korean melange of rice, vegetables, and sauce, cooked in a hot clay pot with an egg gently cooked on top. Good, but I've had better at Korean restaurants.
* Assorted vegetables. Delicious with a soy-based sauce.
* Shitake with ponzu dressing. Good but the dressing on the vegetables was better.
* Harami - Skirt steak marinated. Great.
* Rib-eye. Tough because it was a thin cut and the marinade did not tenderize the meat.
* Ahi tuna. The best meat in a miso marinade.
* Smores. What's not to like? It's smores. But, we thought the marshmallows were difficult to roast because there was no "fire" --- rather a charcoal steam.

Le Pain Quotidien: Lunch on Rodeo Drive. Beautiful bistro-style restaurant with fresh ingredients. I had a roasted yellow beet salad with a raspberry vinaigrette and good bread for $12.00. Not a must eat, but a good lunch stop.

Sprinkles: Cupcakes! Mmmm. Yummy coconut cupcakes in a really cute very girly shop.

Wolfgang Puck Restaurant: So, after all the hype, we thought it was okay. Not great, but not bad. The beet salad wasn't as good as the one at Le Pain Quotidien. The steak wasn't as good as the Harami at Gyu-Kaku. My vegetarian entree was just small samples of various vegetable side items and not particularly creative or thoughtful. Overall, for about $150, it wasn't worth it.

Square One: Highly recommended. This small cute restaurant churns out incredible breakfast dishes. We had:
* Brioche french toast with bourbon pecan syrup. Really good, rich french toast, without being too eggy and the bourbon added flavor but was not overpowering.
* Eggs benedict (sort of): Two perfectly poached eggs on buttery toasted brioche with crispy browned shitake mushrooms, melted tomatoes, and bright green spinach, smothered with a luscious hollandaise sauce. One of the best eggs benedict dishes I have ever had.
* Fruit: A composition of tropical and local fruits melded with mild honey and mint.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 06:14 PM
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Sleep

Let me start with the positives about the Wilshire Grand Plaza: We stayed there for free because Patrick's conference paid for it.

Okay, now on to the negatives: The hotel didn't even have a proper sign, just a cheap paper banner with the name Wilshire Grand Plaza printed on it. Check in took over twenty minutes even though we were the only ones in line because the front desk person kept on asking us unnecessary questions. The room was disgusting. And, I don't use that word lightly. I was afraid to take my socks off in the room because the carpet squelched, that is it made a wet squishing sound, every time I stepped on it. There were hairs, that is, many more than one hair, in the bathtub. When we woke up from sleeping on the lumpy bed with the smelly sheets, we found a paper underneath our door describing the terrible work conditions for the staff. The air conditioning didn't work so we opened up the window to the noisy street traffic on Wilshire. And, on the second morning, we received an unpleasant wake up call: the furious chants of maids and cooks from the hotel protesting their employment conditions.

Bottom line: don't sleep here.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 06:14 PM
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The link for the hotel is here: http://www.feetontheglobe.com/trips/...eles2007/Sleep
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Mar 9th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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You lost me at "the colors are too bright" and "the younger sister of Las Vegas or New York...."

I suggest you come back some time and focus on the non-Hollywood attractions.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 09:38 PM
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Do you mean Wilshire Plaza? Not aware of any hotel called Wilshire Grand Plaza. Anyways, the Wilshire Plaza definitely not grand enough to have that in its name.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 10:48 PM
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Yeah Jean, I agree. When you go on a tourist bus to see the stars, what do you expect?

There is lots more to LA than what the typical tourist WANTS to see. Check yk's recent excellent report.
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Mar 10th, 2009, 06:52 AM
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I know there's a lot more to L.A. than the typical tourist stuff. We've done other trips where we concentrate on those things when we're with friends, but this time, we wanted to be the typical tourist. And, I don't think that's wrong. I mean, most people come to L.A. to be "tourists" and it's fun. That's all I wanted to get across. I hope this report is helpful to those who want to come and see the typical tourist attractions.

Rkkwan, you're exactly right --- it is the Wilshire Plaza. I'll change that in our website.
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Mar 10th, 2009, 11:28 AM
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I'm not even going to bother to debate with you. Just to reiterate what Jean said, your lead-in comments don't lend your report much credibility.
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Mar 10th, 2009, 11:36 AM
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Funny, I wonder if this is the same akila who posted before her trip:

" I have been to L.A. once but the only thing I have seen is Universal Studios (it was a long time ago); my husband has never been."
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Mar 10th, 2009, 06:13 PM
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LA..."trying intently to keep itself in the spotlight as the favorite but trying equally hard to pretend that it's not trying."

I like your writing but I am not sure what that means pertaining to LA. Hollywood films and stars are all pretend.

I live here, clue me in. The Mexican restaurant sounds good, I will have to try it, I didn't even know about it until reading your post, thanks.
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Mar 11th, 2009, 11:55 AM
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mlgb, Let's just agree to disagree. Yes, my trip to L.A. posted here was my first trip. We've been back since (the trip posted here was almost two years ago).

SeaUrchin, I just checked to see if Sabor a Mexico is still open. Unfortunately, they've closed down. There are a bunch of Chowhounders who are obsessed with the place so you can probably find out whether it reopened on Chowhound: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/386033
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