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Pig's Pick

  LOS ANGELES

CULINARY EXPLORATION IN CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES = THE CITY OF TACOS

With nearly 4,000,000 people Los Angeles is America’s second largest city, and with such a large population comes dynamic diversity in culture, heritage, and cuisine. The city of angels is home to some of the best Korean, tacos, ramen, and Mexican food in the country. They boast ethnic cultural areas such as little Tokyo, Koreatown, Thai-town, China town, East LA (Latino), and Soul central the African American neighborhood.  In each ethnic neighborhood comes amazing little culinary storefronts that are putting out some of the most authentic ethnic cuisines to be found west of the Mississippi. But most of all to me LA is the king of street food, it is home to Kogi and Guerrilla which pump out fantastic high-quality tacos from little truck kitchens.  Los Angeles is always an adventure, one that I get excited every time I'm lucky enough to go, and with so many unique neighborhoods I  may never run out of places to explore.

The Pig

VIDEO: STREET TACOS - LOS ANGELES, CA

PIG'S PICKS

Where to eat street tacos, legit ramen, and explore secret bars in Los Angeles

HOWLIN' RAY'S

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT:  NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN

WHEN: You want the best chicken sandwich of your life, and you don't care how long you have to wait.

PRICE: $ - $$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

727 N Broadway #128

Los Angeles, CA 90012

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • The Sando - Medium heat

  • Shake fries

WHY: Located in the heart of LA's Chinatown is NOT where you would expect to find the best Nashville hot chicken you have ever had in your life, but you would be wrong. This little counter service store front has a line a couple hours long from the time it opens toll it closes at 4pm, and it is totally worth the wait. Mark my words, Howlin' Ray's will soon be a bucket list stop for hole in the wall foodies nation wide. 

DAIKOKUYA RAMEN

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT: JAPANESE NOODLES

WHEN: you're craving a hot bowl of ramen.

PRICE: $$ - $$$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

327 E 1st St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Tonkotsu ramen

  • Spicy miso ramen

  • Fried rice

WHY: Located in the heart of Little Tokyo, Daikokuya has been producing some of the best ramen in Los Angeles, a city known for bowls of rich flavorful broth and handmade noodles. If you love ramen, then make Daikokuya a destination, and get there early or expect to wait, there can be a 45 min line on Tuesday night.

OTUS THAI KITCHEN AND COFFEE

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT: TRADITIONAL THAI BREAKFAST

WHEN: You want an amazingly simple traditional Thai breakfast.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

1253 N La Brea Ave.

West Hollywood, CA 90038

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Kai-Kata

  • Moo Ping

  • Brioche French Toast

 

WHY: I've been searching the country for Asian breakfast, and Otus delivered. Simple elegance, I could eat this type of breakfast every day. This is worth a special trip to try.

HAM JI PARK

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT: AMAZING KOREAN RIBS

WHEN: You have a hankerin for Korean pork ribs. 

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

3407 W 6th St #101

Los Angeles, CA 90020

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Pork spare ribs

WHY: There is only one thing to get at this place, the other food may be great, but no reason to find out. Get the PORK SPARE RIBS. They were some of the best Korean food I had while in LA. The dark crispy caramelized pork with a soy glaze are amazing. The pieces are meaty and flavorful and extremely satisfying. I am beginning to plan my next trip to LA just thinking about them.

GUERRILLA TACOS

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT: FUSION STREET TACOS

WHEN: When you want to try the best street tacos in the country.

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

Location changes daily, check their website.

 

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Whatever is on the menu

  • Roasted sweet potato

 

WHY: Simply the best non-traditional tacos I have had from a truck or a brick and motor establishment. The menu changes daily to reflect what options the chef has available to him. The last trip I made to the truck they had a soft shell shrimp taco, yes you read that correctly a eat the whole thing soft shell shrimp, and it was off the charts good. 

JEON JU RESTAURANT

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT: KOREAN BIBIMBAP

WHEN: You are in the mood for Korean comfort food.

PRICE: $$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

2716 W Olympic Blvd #101

Los Angeles, CA 90006

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Dolsot Bibimbap

WHY: Bibimbap Dolsot, or what literally means "mixed rice in a stone bowl". I have had many, but nothing has come close to the screaming hot stone bowl dish that came out of the small Jeon Ju kitchen. This is a culinary experience I still think about.

WEBSITE: NA

KOGI TACO TRUCK

PIG SCORE: 4.0 / 4.0

WHAT: KOREAN FUSION TACOS

WHEN: You and a few buddies want some fusion street tacos.

PRICE: $ - $$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

Check their website as they do move daily

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Korean braised short rib taco

  • Sriracha crispy bar

WHY: considered by many to be the spark that ignited the upscale  food truck revolution. And years later it is still pumping out some of the best Korean fusion tacos available. Make sure to try the one that started it all and get the braised short rib tacos with kimchi slaw.

MYUNG IN DUMPLINGS

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT: BIG ASS KOREAN DUMPLINGS

WHEN: You're hankering for some dumplings. 

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

3109 W Olympic Blvd B

Los Angeles, CA 90006

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • King steamed dumplings

  • Fried dumpling

WHY: If you love dumplings, real good dumplings, then you need to go to Myung in Dumplings. Located in a little strip mall in the heart of K-Town. At Myung's they form all the dumplings daily by hand.This would be a weekly stop if I lived even 30 minutes away. Do yourself a favor and get the a few to try and share, but don't miss the steamed king dumplings. 

MOZZA PIZZERIA

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT:  CALIFORNIA PIZZA

WHEN: You want to experience California pizza.

PRICE: $$ - $$$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

641 N Highland Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90036

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Squash Blossoms pizza

  • PIzzette

WHY: There are tons of pizzerias in every city, especially LA. But Mozza has the best crust I have tried anywhere. It is baked in a wood burning oven like the Italian counterparts, but at a lower temperature and for a longer time. This baking process gives the crust more character and texture. 

BREAKROOM 86

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT: SECRET 80'S BAR

WHEN: You want to have a fun time at a cool retro bar.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

630 S Ardmore Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90010

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • It's a bar get your favorite drink

WHY: This is a real secret bar, with a coo 80's vibe, awesome live band karaoke, and cooler secret entrance. 

HOW TO GET IN: It's located inside the Line hotel. Go around the back of the hotel to the loading dock. Look for the line of people. Ask for a snack from the vending machine.

SOBAN

PIG SCORE: 3.9 / 4.0

WHAT: KOREAN UPSCALE

WHEN: You want some upscale Korean.

PRICE: $$ - $$$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

4001 W Olympic Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90019

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Gahl-bee-jeem

WHY: Gahl-Bee-Jeem is a special occasion Korean single pot slow braised beef short ribs in a sweet-savory marinade. At Soban they have an old world  traditional presentation; the server brings out the dish and skilfully chops up the meat for you table side, just like an old Korean grandmother would.

GOOD TIMES AT DAVEY WAYNE'S

PIG SCORE: 3.8 / 4.0

WHAT: A SECRET 70's BAR

WHEN: You want a drink in with a cool vibe.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

1611 N El Centro Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90028

WHAT TO ORDER: Ask about their special drink of the day.

WHY: This is like walking back into a Wisconsin 70's man-cave. Complete with beer can collection, TV counsel DJ stand, and a set of bowling pins. 

HOW TO GET IN: Look for an alley between the two buildings with a old garage sale looking area set up. Walk to the back and go for a beer in the fridge. Be prepared for a good time.

LEO'S TACO TRUCK

PIG SCORE: 3.75 / 4.0

WHAT: STREET AL PASTOR TACOS

WHEN: You only have a couple of bucks, and want authentic late night tacos.

PRICE:

PAYMENT: Cash only

 

MAP IT: 

1515 S La Brea Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90019

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Al Pastor taco

  • Carnitas

WHY: This taco truck has a permanent location in the parking lot of a gas station. They specialize in the Al Pastor, a taco named for the Mexican shepherds who would cook a whole leg and shave off a little at a time. The modern rendition is cooked on a spit with onion and pineapple for a spicy and sweet profile. Go here on a Saturday night and they have the spit on display and shave it as needed.

SIDE CAR DOUGHNUTS

PIG SCORE: 3.7 / 4.0

WHAT: DELICIOUS CIRCLES

WHEN: You want to enjoy the day a bit with a pastry.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

631 Wilshire Blvd.

Santa Monica, CA 90401

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Chocolate Budino

  • Apple Fritter

  • Red Velvet

WHY: They take flavor seriously, and don't cut corners. Everything is made  scratch, from hand crushing the toppings to baking the streusel. 

JITLADA RESTAURANT

PIG SCORE: 3.6 / 4.0

WHAT: THAI CURRIES

WHEN: A night with adventurous friends. 

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

5233 Sunset Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Carne Asada taco/flour tortilla

WHY: This is considered by many LA foodies to be the best Southern Thai in Thai town. Known for their curries and other regional Southern specials.

RICKY'S FISH TACOS

PIG SCORE: 3.6 / 4.0

WHAT: FISH STREET TACOS

WHEN: It's beautiful outside, and you want the iconic gold standard of fried fish tacos.

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

1400 N Virgil Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

 

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • The Baja fish taco

WHY: Think of fish tacos, you think of Los Angeles. Think of L.A. fish tacos, you think of Ricky's. The Ricky's Baja taco has been the gold standard in the country for years. The flaky white flesh of the fried white meat topped with your choice of homemade salsas.

LA FLOR DE YUCATAN  BAKERY

PIG SCORE: 3.5 / 4.0

WHAT:  MEXICAN TACOS

WHEN: You want a taste of Yucatan BBQ.

PRICE: $ - $$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

1800 S Hoover St.

Los Angeles, CA 90006

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Conchinita Pibil Taco

WHY: This unassuming little bodega in a Hispanic part of L.A. puts out the best Conchinita pibil taco I have had. Conchinita Pibil is a Yucatan region bbq pork street taco. There are very few places to sit here, but even if I had to eat standing on the street corner, this is a stop worth making. I was lucky enough to meet the little Mexican grandmother that makes these every day, and while our conversation was short; I don't speak spanish. I learned how to put them together by watching.

MEXICALI TACO & CO.

PIG SCORE: 3.5 / 4.0

WHAT: STREET TACOS

WHEN: With friends and want to grab a casual quick taco.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

702 N Figueroa St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Carne Asada taco/flour tortilla

WHY: First let me say, I always order corn tortilla, second let me say get the flour tortilla here. I'm not sure what magic that goes in it, but they put all other flour tortillas to shame. It comes as a simple carne asada taco with a grilled green onion, and a amazing topping bar for you to make it as you want.

GJELINA TAKE AWAY PIZZA

PIG SCORE: 3.5 / 4.0

WHAT: STREET PIZZA

WHEN: You're looking for serious pizza by the slice.

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

1427 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Venice, CA 90291

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Blanco

  • Gruyere

  • Four Onion

WHY: This is an upscale pizza counter serving white table cloth pizza. There is no place to really eat inside, so go outside and pull up a milk crate to enjoy your pizza pie.

HUNGRY JOE’S JAMACIAN KITCHEN

PIG SCORE: 3.4 / 4.0

WHAT: COUNTER SERVICE JAMACIAN

WHEN: You're in the mood for some good take out jerk chicken

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

1100 N La Brea Ave #100

Inglewood, CA 90302

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Jerk Chicken

  • Pine-Ginger (drink)

WHY: This is a little counter service takeout in west LA where all the resident Jamacians go for their Jerk chicken fix. The meat was super tender and flavorful, a true insight to what Island cuisine really is. 

CALIFORNIA DOUGHNUTS

PIG SCORE: 3.3 / 4.0

WHAT:  DOUGHNUTS WITH CHARACTER.

WHEN: You need a dozen doughnuts with flair.

PRICE: $ - $$

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

3540 W 3rd St.

Los Angeles, CA 90020

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • The Panda

  • Matcha green tea

  • Blueberry toast crunch

WHY: It's a retro 24 hour dounut stand, that sells funky new varietals as well as the classics. It's a nice LA standby with good coffee.

POLLO A LA BRASA WESTERN

PIG SCORE: 3.3 / 4.0

WHAT: PERUVIAN CHICKEN

WHEN: A quick dinner or lunch with a Latin twist.

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

764 S Western Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90005

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Chicken

WHY: They do a couple of things here, but the real and only reason is the Peruvian rotisserie chicken with the Aji Verde sauce. They have a giant rotisserie as the kitchen, and the chicken coming off it is juicy and flavorful. 

WEBSITE: NA

FOO-FOO TEI NOODLE HOUSE

PIG SCORE: 3.3 / 4.0

WHAT: JAPANESE RAMEN

WHEN: You're on the east side of the city and are looking for a nice bowl of ramen.

PRICE: $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

15018 Clark Ave.

Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Miso Ramen

  • Shrimp Wonton Ramen

WHY: In a city of great Ramen, this is another authentic location to quench your appetite for a bowl of the umami rich broth.

RANDY'S DOUGHNUTS

PIG SCORE: 3.2 / 4.0

WHAT: ICONIC DONUT SIGN

WHEN: You're by the airport and want a donut nut or a picture for your Instagram account. 

PRICE: $  

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: 

805 W Manchester Blvd.

Inglewood, CA 90301

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Glazed

  • Wheat and honey

WHY: Okay, the main reasons are, they are open 24 hours, close to the airport and have a AWESOME sign. 

BIBIGO

PIG SCORE: 3.2 / 4.0

WHAT: AMERICANIZED KOREAN FAST FOOD

WHEN: You want a little something ethnic but are in a rush. 

PRICE: $ - $$ 

PAYMENT: Credit/Cash

 

MAP IT: (multiple locations)

1125 Galleria Way.

Glendale, CA 91210

WHAT TO ORDER:

  • Bibimbap bowl

WHY: First let me repeat, I"M NOT A CHAIN FAN, but this is a small regional chain and they are introducing a lot of Americans to approcaable Korean food. The bowls are built to order and delicious. It surprised me that I liked it and is something I would eat again.

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