Chowhounds’ picks for the best things to eat in the world’s best food cities.
Doesn’t matter if it’s on a paper plate in a supermarket parking lot or on hand-thrown ceramic in a high-style dining room, Los Angeles Chowhounds love a good fish taco. If the pescado and tortilla are fresh and the salsa’s full of flavor, no drive is too long—especially for one of these eight 'hound favorites, listed in alphabetical order:
1. BEST FISH TACO IN ENSENADA
1650 North Hillhurst Avenue, Los Angeles
The $1.50 fish tacos and serve-yourself salsa counter at this thatch-roofed shack in Los Feliz draw crowds from all over. Radish relish, mango salsa, spicy guacamole, and pineapple salsa are just some of the options heaped high in large bowls over ice. Take your plate outside to dine on the comfy patio. READ MORE
Lamb chops travel well. The best-loved versions around New York, as chosen by Chowhounds, range across the globe in flavors, ingredients, and preparations. Garlic and rosemary, cumin and coconut, port and pine nuts, yogurt and curry spices—all play well with lamb and bring something memorable to the table. Here's a sampling of recent 'hound recommendations, listed alphabetically.
1. AI FIORI
In the Setai Fifth Avenue, 400 Fifth Avenue (between 36th and 37th streets), Manhattan
In this luxe Italian treatment, lamb chops are dressed to kill in a crépinette coat of foie gras–lamb forcemeat and a sheer sheath of caul fat. Then they're roasted, braised, and finished with a lustrous lamb-stock glaze.
80 Madison Avenue (between E. 28th and 29th streets), Manhattan
Alluring Lebanese flavors—including a blend of spices that features cardamom and nutmeg—and a deftly timed turn on a charcoal grill set these lamb chops apart from the rest of the flock. READ MORE
There’s a time and place for a pricey brunch, but for classic American breakfasts you can't top LA’s diners. The menus may be sticky with syrup, the vinyl banquettes ratty, but the food is great, the prices fair, and the air has the whiff of nostalgia. Here in alphabetical order are 10 places Chowhounds in the Los Angeles area like to go to start the day.
1. HARBOR HOUSE
16341 Pacific Coast Highway, Sunset Beach
This seaside diner with a spin-off in Dana Point never closes, and since 1939, surfers, South Bay locals, and travelers on the PCH have been showing up at all hours to order from the huge menu. Save room for a slice of pie or a piece of cake.
2. HUGE TREE PASTRY
423 North Atlantic Boulevard, Suite 106, Monterey Park
Neither as old or as well known as LA's iconic diners, Huge Tree is the place to go for Taiwanese breakfast staples like you tiao (fried donuts), sweet peanut rice milk, and baked sesame buns. A few dim sum items are available too, including fried turnip cake and xiao long bao. READ MORE
New Yorkers know their pastrami and aren't shy about telling you how to eat it: Add Russian dressing, a classic deli condiment. Forget Russian dressing; mustard's the only way to go. At Chowhound favorite Katz's (pictured), tip the counter guy a buck or two for a bigger, juicier portion. Tip Katz's counter guy or don't, you'll get the same meat either way. OK, so the 'hounds aren't in lockstep. But the back-and-forth is just part of a passionate, never-ending conversation that's also yielded the following pastrami recommendations, listed alphabetically.
1. DAVID'S BRISKET HOUSE
533 Nostrand Avenue (between Atlantic Avenue and Herkimer Street), Brooklyn
Enormous sandwiches of fatty, tender beef, mildly spiced yet full of flavor, are the ticket at this Bed-Stuy shop and its new Bay Ridge location. The namesake brisket rocks, too—get it with gravy.
2. JAY & LLOYD'S KOSHER DELI
2718 Avenue U (between E. 27th and 28th streets), Brooklyn
Moist, delicious pastrami (as well as homey, oniony kasha varnishkes, among other old-world comforts) has made this Sheepshead Bay deli a neighborhood institution. READ MORE
Tea leaf salad is a pungent, crunchy bite of Burma, where some consider it the national dish. Order a tea leaf salad and you get a platter of fermented tea leaves (they look like dark, oily pesto) and an array of accompaniments that can include garlic, dried shrimp, peanuts, seeds, sliced jalapeños, cherry tomatoes, and split peas, spritzed with lemon and tossed at the table. Sometimes the leaves are cut with cabbage or lettuce—Chowhounds disagree about whether this is heresy, but they do reach a consensus on the best places in the SF Bay Area to score tea leaf salad. Here, in alphabetical order, are the tea leaf salads Chowhounds are buzzing over.
1. BROTHER’S KITCHEN
3000 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland
The deep, earthy flavor of the tea leaf blend at this Oakland restaurant is "heavenly," says one Chowhound user. READ MORE
Famous for power lunches of sushi and plankton water, LA has gone all lusty at the table. From the memorable foie gras dinners before the California ban took hold, to a pastrami revival and regular nose-to-tail feasts at bistros, Angelenos can’t seem to get enough flesh (Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold calls it "transgressive eating"). Here—listed alphabetically, not by ranking—are six restaurants where Chowhounds enjoy LA's suddenly dominant meat cuisine, a diverse collection where the arts of curing, braising, and smoking are on full display. Leave your LDL worries at the door and mingle with the beautiful carnivores.
435 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles
Culinary school buddies Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo opened Animal five years ago and have won national attention for their meat-handling skills. Menu items rotate, but if bone marrow (pictured), chicken liver toasts, or oxtail poutine is available, go for any or all. Oh, and don't be afraid to order a salad or a vegetable dish, for the fiber. “They have as deft a hand with produce as they do with protein,” djquinnc says. READ MORE
The Cuban sandwich isn't quite an endangered species in New York, though the neighborhoods where it once flourished—from South Brooklyn to the Lower East Side—have changed almost beyond recognition. Yet plenty of folks in this town haven't forgotten how to layer slow-roasted pork with ham, Swiss, and pickles, season it with citrusy, garlicky mojo, and press it between two slices of light Cuban-style bread. Here's an alphabetical list of some of Chowhounds' best-loved Cubanos:
1. THE CANNIBAL
113 E. 29th Street (between Park and Lexington avenues), Manhattan
Roasted pig's head and top-shelf ingredients like Vermont ham and Gruyère fill this upmarket Cuban sandwich.
2. CIBAO RESTAURANT
72 Clinton Street (at Rivington Street), Manhattan
This homey Latin survivor, just down the block from molecular-gastronomy lab WD-50, turns out a fine budget Cubano (pictured)—with a lagniappe of crispy skin, if you like. READ MORE
Legend has it that Italy's Queen Margherita so admired the red, white, and green of her nation’s flag that pizzaiolos in Naples named their tomato, mozzarella, and basil-leaf pizzas after her. A properly made pizza margherita is one of Italy's proudest achievements, and the San Francisco Bay Area is one of three or four places in the world where it achieves a state of perfection. Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 margheritas Bay Area Chowhounds like to show off to their out-of-town friends.
1. CAFFE BAONECCI
516 Green Street, San Francisco
Roman-style pizza in an unpretentious setting. The pies are small, so plan to order one per person—at least.
2. DEL POPOLO
Mobile, check Twitter for location details
Order a margherita cooked in an Italian-made wood-fired oven behind the glass wall of the Del Popolo truck, then dig into a basil-heavy pie with a chewy crust (pictured). READ MORE
Bacon never gets old. Sure, it's gone over the top more times than even we thought possible, and been added to one too many dishes. But a lot of Chowhounds remain passionate, and countless user discussions are devoted to this meaty favorite. Behold these 10 tips from Chowhound's collective bacon wisdom:
1. MICROWAVE IT
This fastest way to cook bacon is recommended by many 'hounds. Save the fat to use later.
2. COOK IT SLOW
If you're cooking bacon on a stovetop, do it slowly, over low heat. READ MORE
Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai population outside of the motherland, so it’s not surprising that the city—especially in Thai Town—has a lion’s share of the authentic and the tasty. From boat noodles to khao soi to Chinese-influenced drunkard’s noodles, it’s all here. Here’s an alphabetical list of Thai kitchens talked up on Chowhound in recent months.
1. CRISPY PORK GANG & GRILL
5253 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
Naturally, crispy pork is the thing to get here, and you can have it in just about any Thai dish you can think of. But try it in prik king, pad ka prow, fried rice, fried papaya salad, or with preserved egg. READ MORE