Upfront I'll tell you that we didn't go out to eat in LA as much as I had hoped. Spending time with friends, and days twittled away by the saltwater pool at The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood took precedent. But I did bring back some observations of the LA food culture.
1. Don't listen to what they tell you about healthy California cuisine. They have mastered the quick service and fast food burger joints. The Astro Burger sits across the street from Fat Burger and down the road from In n Out burger and Carl's Jr. Don't even try to get through the drive through at they burger joints. The best bet is to order at the counter where there's less people. At all hours of the day and evening there is a huge line of people outside of Pink's hotdog stand. I haven't seen anything like it except for at Coppelia, the nationalized ice cream stand in Havana.
2. Sushi restaurants are divided into a few categories. I was told that if you want sushi go to Koi, "for the scene," but if you want the best sushi, go to some place in a strip mall on the way to the airport. One LA actress friend offered to take us to Koi because she was placed on "the list" by her well connected manager. Apparently if you are not on this list there's now way you will get in. There is one sushi restaurant where "all of the people, including the chefs, look like comic book villains," according to one Manhattan transplant.
3. We saw a fancy Jaguar crashed into a decorative rock in the parking lot of The Farmer's Market on Fairfax, the first of several auto accidents we witnessed in one weekend. Though there were no farm stands to speak of, The Farmer's Market is an indoor/outdoor eatery filled with great food stands, and tourist shops. We enjoyed some quick tacos and horchata one afternoon as well as some dishes at Banana Leaf, a delightful Singaporean and Malaysian stand owned by a family of Ashkenazi Jews from Singapore.
4. Definitely take up someone's offer if they invite you over for drinks and appetizers, especially if they are a jam it up foodie like our friend Laurel. She had the best spread of nibbles I'd seen in a long while. We gorged on her California rose and marinated sardines with fresh radishes while enjoying the view of her citrus trees from the outland hills of Silverlake.
5. Savvy LA area residents are always on the go in their vehicles. Google Text service is a hip way to get information when you're on the move. Text 'Google' or 466453 to search for recipes for trips to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, or directions to Le Pain Quotidian or the location of that Relapse Records barbecue.