Tuesday, June 28, 2011

what should pasty Minnesotans do in LA?

May 11

Dear ESB,

I have a close-knit group of high school friends from Minnesota. Over time we've all moved away from home and live in various parts of the country, but we still keep in contact and are involved in each other's lives. We get to see each other during holidays, but that's usually a hectic time filled with family obligations. Weddings are our best chance to party together, and now one of my dear friends is getting married in L.A.! All of us are super excited about our friend's wedding. Not only is he marrying a kick ass girl, but we will be meeting up in California instead of Minnesota, which will be a fun vacation for us pasty Northerns. We are planning to stay several days for the wedding and explore the city as much as possible.

I thought maybe you and your L.A. readers, as insiders and very cool people, could suggest fun and interesting things for us to do in L.A. Or restaurants. We love food, especially strange food. The wedding is in July.

On a related note, I'm also getting married this summer, and my FH and I are going to Coronado for our honeymoon. If people in the San Diego area have any suggestions, those would also be welcome as well.

Wannabe in LA


June 13

Make a reservation at Animal (ANY RESERVATION YOU CAN GET, trust me) and await further instructions.


July approaches!

Hokay. Rather than giving you an exhaustive list of my favorite spots in LA, I thought I'd narrow it down to five or so and let everyone else chime in.

I hope you made that reservation. Be sure to order the foie gras loco moco. It's the most expensive item on the menu, but I swear to you it's one of the most amazing things I've ever eaten. The bacon chocolate crunch bar is also killer. All of it is killer.

A James Beard Award-winning taco stand. You have to get the cochinita pibil torta (slow-roasted pork sandwich), which is the specialty of the house. I can't do tortas because of the whole gluten thing -- I get the tacos -- but H always orders at least two tortas for himself.

In-N-Out Burger
You know you have to visit In-N-Out while you're here, right? There are all kinds of secret ways to order that are not listed on the menu. I order my burgers "animal style" (with pickles and grilled onions), "protein style" (on a bun made of lettuce), "with mustard instead" (mustard instead of the special sauce).

Jumbo's Clown Room
This is a super fun place to have drinks in the early evening, when it's easy to get a table and the hipster pole dancers are the most skilful. Legend has it Courtney Love once danced at Jumbo's, and David Lynch used to come here to write. Bonus: It's just a few blocks away from Thai Patio, one of our perennial faves. The food is delish and there's usually an ambiguously gendered Thai person singing very sincere covers of 80's/90's hits.

Flore Vegan
LA it up for realz and go to Silver Lake for a vegan smoothie. (I mean, you did just eat all that meat.) The raw avocado & citrus smoothie from Flore is sooooo good. Bonus: You can stop into Reform School and the Mohawk General Store while you're in the neighborhood.

Polaroid by Raymond Molinar


  1. omg, i just went up to hollywood for my husband's birthday and we went to animal for his birthday. MAKE SURE YOU GET THE FLAT IRON STEAK! i wanted to bathe in the truffle parmesan fondue. and the tres leches slice of cake was sooo simple and yummy. and tell this lady to get at me, i'm from san diego, born and bred (still live here), and one of the hobbies my husband and i love to do is try new restaurants when we have $$$.

  2. All great suggestions and luckily for you they're mostly on the East side of LA which has much better traffic conditions than the West. I just hope the wedding is not the weekend of the dreaded 405 fwy shutdown- July 15-17! If so, add 2 hours in travel time to any destination.

  3. And also check out the Griffith Park Observatory! Free to wander around, plus amazing views of the city! If you're there for sunset and the nighttime, even better. Where is the wedding taking place/where are you staying? There are so many places all over LA, so maybe we can narrow down what's closer to you?

  4. ok. welp. i'm jealous.

    -pasty in wisconsin

  5. OK, I live on the East Side, so this list kind of reflects that, but here are some of my favorite LA restaurants:

    Hatfield's-French/Californian. Perfect for a special night out. Very chill vibe and not pretentious.

    WP24-Asian fusion. On the top of the Ritz Carlton downtown. Even if you don't want to pay the big bucks for the restaurant, go to the bar, which has AMAZING views of the city).

    Pizzeria Mozza-So amazing. I know you wouldn't think you'd come to LA for pizza, but this place is like no other pizza you've ever had. And get the Butterscotch Budino for dessert!!

    Canele-Really love this low-key French place in Atwater Village. Dinner is excellent, but so is brunch!! Fried chicken sandwich is sooo good.

    Wood Spoon-Super small Brazilian joint downtown. Get the Chicken Pot Pie!!

    Wurstkuche-German pub downtown with a bunch of different delicious sausages and excellent selection of beer. Great place to come with a large bridal party because of the long communal tables.

    OH! And things to do. You probably already know all about the major museums (LACMA, Getty, MOCA, etc.)...but if you're looking for something more offbeat, the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City is pretty amazing. I highly recommend it!

    Enjoy LA!! It's really an awesome place! :)

  6. New-ish restaurants Son of a Gun (seafood heavy) (get the lobster roll and the chicken sandwich!) and Red Medicine (Vietnamese fusion) are both awesome. And if you want some great simple sushi, Takumi in little Tokyo or Saito in Silverlake are both great. See a movie at revival houses Cinefamily or New Beverly or at an outdoor deal such as Hollywood Forever Cemetery (get there early and be prepared to make an event out of waiting in line) or the Outdoor Cinema Food Fest which is way more low key and they pair with food trucks.
    Get a fancy drink at the Edison downtown.
    Buy some cheap flowers and fabric at the flower markets/fabric district.
    Go to art galleries on La Cienega (start with Blum & Poe).
    Avoid the valley!

  7. Listen to ESB - go to Animal. It's my favorite restaurant on the planet. I'm not kidding. THE PLANET.
    Son of a Gun is their sister resto that's focused on seafood, but I've not been there, but someone else mentioned it.

    If you've got the spirit of adventure and LOVE Chinese food you can head out 20 minutes on the 10 freeway to the best Chinese outside of China. Not kidding.
    Two places that are dumpling heaven:
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/din-tai-fung-arcadia-3 (It's actually a chain but eff it, it's good)
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/dumpling-10053-el-monte (Th dumplings at this place are made with love) YUMMO!

    Since that area isn't the highlight of Los Angeles, make the trip out there worth your while by going to Maria's on your way to lunch and snagging some designer jeans for $70. It's so worth the drive not paying $200 for fucking denim.


    If you're Westside, the best sandwiches in town are at Bay Cities Deli. I prefer the Poorboy myself:

    Two of my favorite sushi places are Westside as well - if you like real sushi - not rolls and shit like that. if you like the rolls, go to Katsu-ya.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/echigo-los-angeles-2 - order the Omakasa. It's $$$ FYI

    Also pricey, but worth it

    If you're downtown, Hama is fab and cheap, but also, no rolls:

    I love Magnolia for late night drinks and snacks - and it's in the heart of Hollywood, so you're more likely to hit it than, say, El Monte
    There's apparently also one downtown, but I've not been to that one yet.

    If you're in the 'bu, go to The Reel Inn after an afternoon on the beach, get some beers and enjoy the end of the day. Sigh... I heart that place


    I could go on, but I have work to do. Have fun - don't get bummed by the traffic.

  8. Also, it should be explained that it's usually the dumpiest looking sushi joints that have the best sushi. And they're usually in strip malls. I don't know why this is the rule, but this seems to be the rule.

    And Lou is amazing too - and it's also in a strip mall. What's with me and strip malls??? It's not dumpy though. It just looks dumpy from the outside. If you're into good food and good wine, go to this place.


  9. @snarkycat dude, it's not you, it's LA. i was baffled by the whole strip mall thing when i moved here.

  10. ok, i live on Coronado... here are a few recommendations for hanging like a local..
    Mexican food: go to Miguel's. Just do it. I'm assuming you're staying near the Hotel Del Coronado (as that is where most hotels are) so just walk over. The food is delicious (and cheap!. RESIST the urge to go to Costa Azul. It's fancier but the food is crap.
    If you want to dine at the Hotel Del Coronado... go to the top deck. It's the best view in town - you can get burgers, salads,sanwiches, etc and a full bar menu for a fraction of the price. Don't go to the other hotel restaurants as they are over priced and the portions are tiny.
    Coronado Brewing Company - standard bar menu with all locally brewed beers. Always packed with locals/military people. Check it out.
    Anddd, my fav... McP's. It's a bar and has fire pits. Don't go for the food, go for the drinks and company.
    Also, rent bikes. It's the main mode of transportation for the island.
    And... take a ferry downtown for the night. The boat ride is gorgeous and drops you off right near the gaslamp district.
    And one more thing... go to Moo Time for ice cream. Soooo yummy!

  11. This is Wannabe in LA here. Thanks so much for all these suggestions! I'll try to get a reservation at Animal. Jumbo's Clown Room sounds amazing. All the food places sound delicious. I can't wait! Also, Anne thank you for all the Coronado suggestions - we are so excited for our honeymoon.

    If anyone ever needs restaurant, bar, museum or nightlife suggestions for the Minneapolis-St. Paul you can contact me!

  12. @Wannabe just wait til i finish coding PART TWO

  13. Oh I want to play! Korean BBQ is an experience not to be missed, in my humble opinion. If you can bear the lines Hae Jang Chon, is all you can eat (AYCE for the locals), and to die for. It's a long wait since the LATimes blew up my spot, but oh lordy. Make sure your whole party is there and ready to stand around checking iphones for a while. Also a great brew pub just opened up aroudn the corner called Beer Belly. Also grand, do Dim sum at Empress Pavilion in Chinatown, then head downtown for MOCA, little tokyo and more fun. Or Gingergrass for delicious vietnamese fusion in Silverlake. These are all very to medium affordable.

    Tar Pits. They're fun, the musuem is cheap and has a horrifying video that makes me laugh uncontrollably where a whole bunch of animals including a very cute pony get tar pitted.

    If you get out of the city headed East and North- go to the Huntington Botanical gardens or hike in the San Gabriels. If you head west, drive the canyons, and hit the farthest north beach you can find in malibu. Very pretty.

    Venice beach and the Santa Monica Pier Ferry are a love of mine. I love riding that damn ferry- you can see so much and the ocean is right below you and sometimes there are dolphins.

  14. I read "pasty minessotan in L.A." and automatically think: Is that you, Brenda Walsh?

  15. ESB - A Part Two??? I'm psyched!

    E - we plan on going to Venice beach one of the days. The ocean is very alluring to mid-westerners, so we want to get our fill.

  16. @BL I just put it up! The Venice boardwalk is terrif for people-watching + friendship-bracelet shopping, but the beach itself is pretty crappy. I roundly support M's recommendation that you beach in Malibu.

  17. Anonymous- love the 90210 comment. Classic.