A couple weeks ago I jumped in the car with a coworker and cruised on over to a trade show of sorts we go to annually. If you have ever been to a trade show, you know by day three you just kind of would rather be sitting at your desk transcribing two hours worth of interview (which really takes 4–5 hours) while starring into a dead computer screen rather than having to smile and act like you care what one more stranger has to say to you for the next forty minutes. Or something.
So while this wasn’t one of those trips were I get to do tons of research and then spend my days frolicking through all the best touristy sites and hikes, I do hit the books (Yelp) on what I’m going to eat while I’m there. I mean, that’s really the most important thing anyway, the food. And even with four trips to LA in the last year, I could never, ever get to go to all the places I want to try in that big metropolis. So, with what free time we had, we ate. Here were five favorites:
Guisados– Tacos, tacos, tacos. So many kinds, all delicious, all braised (their unique claim to fame), some very hot (like, drink-a-gallon-of-water-just-to-put-out-this-mouth-fire hot). Delicious aqua frescas. Cute little lady pressing the homemade tortillas.
The Farm of Beverly Hills– This farmhouse-style, cozy restaurant brings local flair and that whole “farm to table” thing to LA Live. It’s a welcome option to the rest of the pub/grille options around. We ate dinner there last year and brunch there this year. Both were great and the coffee comes in a bowl-sized mug. Devon-approved.
Gelateria Uli– Right around the corner from Guisados, this cute little gelato shop in what seems like a possible up-and-coming ped mall called to me. They let me try every flavor before settling on one, which I then couldn’t finish because I was so full. Stand outs: something with rosemary, one with mascarpone (new obsession) and olive oil with lemon zest.
El Cholo– This has become a new traditional stop with some of our friends we meet up with at the show. El Cholo has been in Southern California since 1923 and I love the history of the place. This is one of those family-owned joints with their whole story printed on the back of the menu. Also, the only little house left standing in this area of downtown LA. Also, pint-sized, very strong margaritas and too-much-to-eat, delicious, sizzling fajitas.
The Original Pantry– Another tradition it seems we’ve started with this particular trip. Although, this isn’t news. I think if you say “downtown LA” in reference to anything, someone will ask if you’ve been to The Original Pantry. The greasy breakfast joint has been open and has never closed since 1924. NEVER. You can count how many times the floors have been refinished over by the register because the customers feet have worn it into the ground. The guy cooking hashbrowns flips them with a shovel because the line is always out the door and they turn customers over in about 15 minutes. The original menus on the wall have had new prices taped over them multiple times. But mostly, the food is great and the people are amazing.
Bonus: The most scenic In-N-Out I ever did see, because you can’t go to California without grabbing In-N-Out.