OK, please don't get too mad at me. I have printed PAGES upon PAGES of excellent tips from so many of you, but when we finally got to LA things played out in such a way that we didn't do a fraction of the chowhoundly things we hoped to - some of that having to do with our schedule, some with the fact that we just had no clue about LA geography; so there was a lot of aimless driving and getting lost - but it was fun.
That said, we had SUCH a great time in LA. We'll be moving to Europe soon, and we have already sort of decided that if things don't pan out for us over there we'll seriously consider LA as our next move. ('Course, I'll have to learn how to drive. Hee hee.)
But, here's where we ate on the trip and what we thought of it all.
1. The lamest thing we did was eat twice at our hotel - the Standard in West Hollywood; blame the dreaded valet parking for this, too - once we parked we were too cheap to go out again just to grab a bite. But actually, the food was pretty good - I LOVED the Cuban sandwich, the tortilla soup, and especially! the really strong mojitos. The mojitos tasted about 10x better than they do at even very good bars in NYC and I finally figured out why - you just have fresher, better limes down there! Which is true of all produce. The poolside scene at the Standard was a hoot and certainly very different from anything you'd see in NYC; I kind of dreaded it but we ended up really liking the atmosphere there.
2. Best ambience award goes to the private dining room at the Getty. The Getty was one of the most amazing places I have been to in the US. Incredible! The architecture, the views, the setting. So beautiful, so futuristic. We were there one day from early afternoon until after sunset and it was just breathtaking. The food was overly precious and not really memorable but it didn't matter.
3. We ate at In-'n'-Out, hope this is the spelling. Well it was fine, what can I say, but I have no reference point really since I don't generally eat fast food, and it's been many years since my last fast-food burger. My consort liked their double-double.
4. We *had to* eat at the Wheel inn in Cabazon, given my mad love for Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Loved the dinosaurs and the inn's totally authentic interior, saucy lady servers, and the whole experience. The sandwiches were OK to good, the crumble and pie were unexceptional but who cares. Too bad the dinosaurs seem to have been co-opted by some annoying creationists, whose amusing display seemed to suggest that dinosaurs and humans... coexisted! Yeah, you know, when you heard stories as a kid about some prince fighting a dragon? That's right, the dragon was really a dinosaur.
5. Joshua Tree: We LOVED the 29 Palms Inn and their food. Their fresh-baked sourdough and morning sweet breads were excellent and we had two very good, satisfying, solid dinners there under the desert stars. The whole Joshua Tree experience was fantastic - hardly any fellow tourists, we saw plenty of wildlife, hiked, etc. An incredible, surreally beautiful place we hope to return to.
6. WHAT I MUST THANK YOU FOR FOREVER AND EVER. We drove to Wat Thai and stuffed ourselves silly with the most delicious fresh Thai food we've had in our lives (never been to Thailand). We ate a TON of everything plus took more to the hotel (gluttons), and it was just great. What a trip!!! (Oh yeah, we failed to find it on Saturday - hence the second Standard meal, we were way too hungry by the time we got back - but returned on Sunday and found it.) Our favorites were the kanom krok, both plain and with scallion, and I went crazy about the sticky rice with mango - it was also by a long shot the best ripest mango I'd ever had; go ahead and pity me. I also REALLY loved the grilled meat skewers - had pork, beef, chicken, & sausage. I think pork was my favorite but chicken was excellent too. Papaya salad was good, spicy. Larb was good. I could go on. It was just such a great experience overall.
I feel totally embarrassed not to have tried any Armenian or (especially) Mexican food on this trip but we will come back. I am hooked and will keep all those great tips and WILL return.
Thank you again, everyone!!!