"Can't miss" food and relaxation options in Los Angeles
November 5, 2013 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I recently moved to the Los Angeles metropolitan area. I am looking for recommendations of your favorite low-key restaurants and food options as well as great "relaxation" spots.

By relaxation spots I'm seeking the stuff that means a great deal to you that you can't imagine not knowing about. (For example, one arguably would be missing out on a big part of the Austin experience if you didn't know about Barton Springs, Zilker Park, and various swimming holes. I want LA's version of this stuff ... Not limited to swimming, just stuff that is really essential, chill spots or things to do that you love in LA.)

With regard to food, I'm overwhelmed by all the options I see. What are your faves? I'm not interested in expensive restaurants or places with long waits or big scenes.

I'm living in the "South Bay" area, so the Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach areas are all easily accessible to me. But anywhere in LA is of interest to me.
posted by jayder to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (15 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
La Sirena in El Segundo
posted by Kruger5 at 7:54 AM on November 5, 2013

Santouka ramen in Mitsuwa Marketplace. Really, Mitsuwa in general for Japanese stuff.

I like taking visitors to Ft. MacArthur and the Korean Friendship Bell (they're next to each other) in San Pedro to walk around.

I haven't been to any of them yet, but there are a few breweries down by you. Monkish is ok, though not amazing. Smog City is pretty great. Strand is also pretty good. There might be more, those are just the ones I've tried on tap in bars in LA.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:26 AM on November 5, 2013

One of my fondest memories of the years I lived in southern California is an afternoon I spent with a friend at Naja's Place in Redondo beach. They had a very good selection of beer, and good basic pub food... but more than anything I remember the atmosphere; the whole front of the place is open to the boardwalk, so it's got a breezy indoor/outdoor thing going on and it was just incredibly pleasant to sip beer, talk, and watch the world go by.

That same friend and I also loved Ye Olde King's Head pub in Santa Monica. Very laid back, cozy atmosphere (whether sitting in the restaurant or in the bar area), excellent food (just about the best fish & chips I've ever had) and of course a good selection of British beer.

Speaking of beer - if you're a beer person, you should check out Yard House in Long Beach. (They have multiple locations now, but I believe that was the original.)
posted by usonian at 9:03 AM on November 5, 2013

My favorite breakfast place is Little Next Door on 3rd and Crescent Heights I think. Its French-run, and the bread and pastries are fantastic. I know its a bit of a trek for you, but I drive there from the valley on weekends. It gets busy after 10am, but if you're an early bird like me, its lovely and empty and relaxed before 10.

Relaxation spot - almost all the parks in the Santa Monica mountains are fantastic places to go. You feel like you aren't in the city anymore. These are not landscaped urban parks, but basically hiking trails through brush and trees. My personal favourite is Franklin Canyon, off Mulholland. Its a valley with a reservoir in the middle, lots of trees, and some easy hikes (around the reservoir) and some harder hikes (up the valley to the ridge).

Topanga State Park is HUGE and completely different - more open, huge views, bike trails. It merges with a bunch of other parks to take up a large part of the mountains between Topanga Cyn Blvd and the 405, Sunset Blvd and Encino/Tarzana. A great spot is to hike to the abandoned missile base in San Vicente Park.

Basically LA is surprisingly full of great wilderness areas, and its worth checking them out and finding one you love.
posted by Joh at 9:22 AM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Promenade area of downtown Long Beach: Beachwood BBQ, Michael's Pizzeria, Congregation Ale House
posted by Cuspidx at 9:29 AM on November 5, 2013

Life-long South Bay resident here, welcome!

Let's see, for a light breakfast lately I have been enjoying Cafe Bonaparte on the Hermosa Beach pier. Relaxing way to start the morning.

Our go-to take out dinner (and occaisional dine-in) is one the El Pollo Inka locations. Start with the rotisserie chicken if you aren't feeling adventurous.

For hiking we like to go to Trump's (do you have a dog? They have a dog beach there). I personally prefer Trump's over Terranea because I think Terranea is a little too hyped and certainly way overpriced if you choose to have drinks or a meal, but you should check it out regardless. Parking and hiking/beach access are free at Trump's. On a nice day, you will see Catalina laid out like a postcard in front of you.

We also like to hike at Lunada Bay. That's rough hiking though, no nicely paved trail like at Trumps.

If you're up on the hill check out Wayfarer's Chapel, it's just nice.

The holidays are coming up, and if you are into Christmas Lights you can check out Sleepy Hollow. You can drive or walk it. Be prepared for traffic if you choose to drive, but you can still see it all in an hour.

Read the Easy Reader faithfully every week to see what's going on (paper edition so you can see all the notices and ads). Torrance has a lot of activities too, you can read the Daily Breeze or stop by the main library from time to time and check out the flyers on the wall for notices of upcoming events.

If you like lectures or performances, El Camino College has good quality events. Also, The Distinguised Speaker Series at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.

I've covered a variety of things there. Memail me if you have any questions or if you're looking for something specific (do you like japanese food, korean bbq, or vietnamese pho? I could do a whole post on that alone).
posted by vignettist at 9:41 AM on November 5, 2013

I'm a bit north of you, but:

Captian Kidd's in Redondo Beach is one of our go-to seafood places.

Hiking around Griffith Park (Bee Rock in particular), hiking the Hollywood sign, and wandering through the old zoo are my group's relaxation spots.

If you venture a bit a little ways northeast into the San Gabriel Valley, you will find Asian food delights unavailable to the average Texan; to wit, dim sum at Ocean Star, the amazing beef roll at 101 Noodle Express, or hot pot at Boiling Point.
posted by bluejayway at 10:28 AM on November 5, 2013

If you make it up to Pasadena, my pick is Haven Gastropub.
posted by TheNegativeInfluence at 10:34 AM on November 5, 2013

Zankou chicken
posted by brujita at 2:37 PM on November 5, 2013

Go get an original french dip and enjoy the straw floors and historical decor at Philippes! Be sure to try the hot mustard! It's THE BEST!
posted by stenseng at 3:26 PM on November 5, 2013

I also came in to mention Philippe's. And: The Apple Pan on West Pico, the bars in the farmer's market at Third and Fairfax, and El Coyote on Beverly. It's been about 15 years since I lived in LA, but Google suggests those places have held on largely unchanged, and 'been around forever' is a substantial part of their charm. I was going to add Barney's Beanery but Wikipedia is calling it a "chain of gastropubs" now; tread with caution there.
posted by kmennie at 4:32 PM on November 5, 2013

Versailles in Manhattan Beach (cuban food)
Coni'Seafood in Inglewood (mexican seafood)
Shinsengumi Ramen in Gardena
posted by amapolaroja at 11:31 PM on November 5, 2013

Oh and Real Soda in Real Bottles in Gardena if you like to buy pure cane sugar, old fashioned sodas for wholesale prices.
posted by amapolaroja at 11:33 PM on November 5, 2013

Response by poster: Wow. I loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove these suggestions and am very excited to try them. These ideas are exactly the type of things I wanted to know about. Thanks to all who participated. I will be checking back so any latecomers ... please offer your faves too.
posted by jayder at 9:03 PM on November 8, 2013

I forgot an important one:

India's Tandoori in Manhattan Beach. It is next door to Versailles and they have a wonderful lunch buffet. On Sundays it is a champagne brunch buffet.
posted by amapolaroja at 1:59 PM on November 26, 2013

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