Los Angeles, California. Home to Hollywood, swimmin' pools, and movie stars. But behind the glitz and glamour, lies a city bursting at the seams with good food (enough even to forgive it for unleashing California Pizza Kitchen on the world.) The huge amount and variety of fresh, local produce available, the sheer number of different ethnic cuisines, and the rising class of new chefs all mean that Los Angeles is a food lover's paradise. If you love to hit up your local farmer's market, try out all the latest food trucks, and track down the newest craft brewers while you're at home, then a visit to the city of Angels is just what you need for your next trip.
Given how close Los Angeles is to some of the most productive farmland on the West Coast of the US, it makes sense that there would be a lot of farmers markets in the area. There are markets of some sort every day of the week, with over 200 in total. No matter where you stay, you can almost bet that there will be a market close by during your visit.
On our last visit to LA, the first place we stopped was the Burbank farmers market. Even though it was technically late winter, there was a bounty of citrus, avocados, strawberries, asparagus...more than we could ever hope for in the summer in most other places. The award for the most eye catching name goes to the Bacon Avocado, which, sadly, tastes nothing like its namesake.
If you stay somewhere with a kitchen, like we did on our most recent visit, you owe it to yourself to hit up the farmers market and cook for yourself. I loved being able to enjoy the city as if I was living there; whipping up a fresh farmers market breakfast was one of my favorite memories.
Los Angeles has been blessed with large, diverse immigrant communities, and they all brought their best food with them. From its famous Mexican, Latin & Central American food, to lesser-known but spectacular Thai, you can enjoy almost any cuisine you desire. Speaking of Thai, both of us were completely blown away by Pa Ord Noodle in North Hollywood (see this blog post for tasty photos); where mild does NOT mean mild...it simply won't blow your head off immediately. But it doesn't just redefine the meaning of spicy; Kelly still talks about the crispy pork bits in the Boat Noodle.
These shrimp tacos from the Mariscos Jalisco food truck are a great example of how you can get superb Mexican for dirt cheap. Los Angeles started the food truck scene and still stands as a shining example of how to do food trucks right.
Were you aware that there is a rivalry between LA and New York City for the title of best Pastrami in the US? We weren't when we rolled into Moore's Deli for a post farmer's market lunch. The pastrami sandwich was unexpectedly good, filled with tender, sumptuous meat and tangy sauerkraut. And it's apparently not even the best in the city; Langer's holds that title for many aficionados. Best or not, be sure to search out some quality pastrami; it's worth the hunt.
Au Jus and Roast Beef...If the thought of those two combined make you drool, then you need to do yourself a favor and visit the original home of the French Dip sandwich, Phillipe's. Parking is difficult and you have to learn the etiquette, but it's all worth it. We can't wait to go back.
As if all of the above weren't good enough, Angelinos aren't resting on their laurels. New restaurants and ideas are showing up all the time. We were fortunate enough to try out one of the new-ish places, A-Frame, which is housed in a renovated vintage restaurant. I can't even pretend to keep up with everything that's going on, but you know who does? Local bloggers.
We couldn't complete a food-based tour of anywhere without searching out great local beer. Lucky for us, it wasn't hard, especially with our buddy and local food expert, Jackson, culinary editor for Tasteologie, leading the way. There are oodles of local breweries & brewpubs, plus an abundance of excellent bars that showcase local tastes. We enjoyed Golden Road Brewing, which had good beer and a surprise showing of the local subway roaring by. If you're looking for great local beer that isn't attached to a brewpub, we enjoyed trivia night at gastropub The York, which had a substantial selection and great fried chickpeas. If Belgians (and local equivalents) are your style, newcomer Little Bear is what you're looking for. The sours there were just awesome.