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Monday, March 14, 2016

LOS ANGELES: Three Meals a Day, All Across L.A.

Here's the second chapter of our book, pick up your copy here: Golden State Eating, Nine Tales of California Food Destinations. Enjoy!

Our hometown of Los Angeles is a foodie’s paradise.  Thousands of restaurants of almost every variety and ethnic persuasion you can think of.  We often like to go out and explore the region, looking for new places to eat.
Eating is a huge part of a vacation for us and for most travelers.  One of the big questions we get from visitors to our city is, where should we eat? 

Watch the Video!
OK, we’re going to give you just a few places you should eat at.  In the video above, we give you a representative look at three of our favorite places to eat.  Two are in locations well known to most tourists, the third not so much but they’re all great places to eat.  As a bonus, none of them are what I’d call expensive.
To go along with the video, we’ll give you a few more places you should try in L.A. below…
BREAKFAST – Our video pick is Charlie’s, located in the west patio of the Original Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax.  It’s just east of downtown and on the southern edge of Hollywood.  The Farmer’s Market is a unique  and historical place all its own…see our previous report on it…but it also has its share of good places to eat.
Charlie’s is a counter where you can get different foods all day long and eat at one of the nearby open air tables.  It’s a great, relaxing way to start your day.  We like to get here before most of the market opens, around 8:30 in the morning, to start a day long adventure.
What I really like about Charlie’s is their French toast.  It’s not fancy…no cinnamon roll bread, challah, or any fancy bread.  Just egg bread, dipped in batter and cooked.  What Charlie’s does is after cooking, they put butter on it and melt it in thoroughly throughout the bread before serving it to you.  It takes a few minutes extra to get but, boy, is it good.

In addition to Charlie’s, we like to go to the Original Pancake House with locations in Redondo Beach and Orange County, Philippe’s serves a great breakfast, The Monrovian in Old Town Monrovia serves some of the best chicken fried steak and eggs you’ll have, and the Gaffey Street Diner in San Pedro had a large and delicious breakfast menu.
LUNCH – Speaking of Philippe’s, this is our pick on the video for lunch.  Turning 103 years old this year, Philippe’s is old school…and proud of it.  There is a bit of controversy in their claim, but they say they invented the French dip sandwich.  Legend has it that a policeman came in for a beef sandwich.  The carver at the counter accidentally dropped the bun in the beef drippings.  The cop was in a hurry and took the sandwich as is.  The next day, he brought in several of his friends and asked that they make them sandwiches the same way…thus, the French dip sandwich was born.
You can get your choice of meats…beef, lamb, pork, turkey…add cheese, if you like, and the sandwich on the dipped bread is served plain.  We ask for beef, with jack cheese, double-dipped (where they dip both sides of the bread).  At the table, you can add Philippe’s own hot mustard…sparingly…for quite a flavor kick to your sandwich.
The extensive menu also includes such items as pickled eggs, pig’s feet, and beets.  I like to get a slice of cheesecake with mine.  If you’d like a cup of coffee to go with it, it’s only 9 cents.  An entire meal here can be had for less than $10.
Did I say controversy?  Another downtown restaurant, Cole’s…about 10 blocks south at the corner of Main and 5th Streets…also claims to have invented the French dip sandwich.  Also started in 1908, this is more of a sit-down restaurant with waiter service and a full bar.  The dips here are more traditional with the meat sandwich served with a cup of au jus to dip it in.
We tried it recently, for the sake of fairness, and found the sandwich good but not quite as good as Philippe’s.  It’s also a few dollars more expensive.
Other places we like to visit for lunch include two of the area’s best pizza restaurants…Tony’s Little Italy in Placentia and Joey’s Red Devil in La Verne, the tiny Market Grill sandwich shop in Monrovia (great for a picnic), Zankou Chicken with locations across L.A., the Shaky Alibi for authentic Liege waffles in Hollywood, Carney’s and Skooby’s for hot dogs also in Hollywood.  For burgers, In ‘n Out is so good and such a Southern California icon that we have to recommend them for your burger fix while you’re in town.

DINNER – Picked for the video is one of two really great restaurants located at the fun and lively Redondo Beach Pier.  Usually, restaurants with great ocean views don’t go together with good food but there are at least two of them here.  For the video, we went with Kincaid’s on the pier who is known for some of the most succulent and juicy prime rib around.
What is also good here are their Southern dishes.  A heaping plate of chicken and waffles, better than Roscoe’s, is available for only $21.  That’s comparable with Roscoe’s prices too, if you consider that Roscoe’s charges extra for everything. 
The seafood étouffeé is, according to my wife, among the best she’s ever had.  The clam chowder is finished tableside, and there is a large list of wines available by the glass at normal prices, or by the bottle for $25 each.
This is all done with great service, right over the water, with incredible views.
The other restaurant here that didn’t make the video is Gambrinus, a Russian restaurant at the edge of the marina.  Service is a little slower here, it’s a hole in the wall, and not quite as fancy as Kincaid’s so it’s our video runner-up. 
The food and beer here is excellent.  The fish and chips is the only version I’ve ever found that I like.  The Russian raviolis, the pirozkis, and the ice cold Czech beer on tap are wonderful and the prices are very reasonable.  We’ll usually each get a dish and share, kind of like a Russian version of tapas.

Other great places for dinner in L.A. include a third great pizza place, Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock, that is only open for dinner, O’Malley’s Irish Pub in Seal Beach, Russo’s Italian restaurant in Naples (Long Beach), Aruffo’s Italian in Claremont, Carolina’s Italian restaurant in Garden Grove, Red Lion in Silverlake and the Phoenix Club in Anaheim for German food, Din Tai Fung for juicy pork dumplings in Arcadia, El Picoso in Azusa for tacos, and Rudy’s in Monrovia for sit-down Mexican with full bar.  An honorable mention goes here for La Paloma in La Verne strictly for their powerful and tasty margaritas in the bar.
There you have it, a selection of restaurants from our list of favorites.  True, this is only a sampling of the great variety of eateries we have in the area, but there are plenty here…all very good…for your next trip to Southern California
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved


  1. great list! will bookmark this when i get to visit my sister there :)

  2. Well LA boasts of many great cafe and restaurants but i liked your pick. On the other note here is a complete travel guide for Los Angeles.