Question: I’m going to be spending a certain amount of time at the convention center next week, and I was wondering: Where do I go to eat? I am so, so over the Pantry.
Answer: I agree. If the cooking at the Pantry was ever any good, and reasonable minds disagree, it has certainly fared no better than the city of Los Angeles under the reign of its current owner, Richard Riordan. And the immediate neighborhood is far from a culinary epicenter at the moment. But El Parian, still the best of the city’s many, many Guadalajara-style birrierias, is a total Los Angeles experience — brimming bowls of spicy roast-kid soup served with thick, handmade tortillas and incendiary red salsa, only a two-minute drive from the convention center. Langer’s Delicatessen, a stubborn holdout in what has become a thoroughly Central American neighborhood around MacArthur Park, is home to the single best pastrami sandwich in the United States, only a five-minute subway ride away. And a block away is the solid Guatemalan cooking at Paseo Chapin. Guelaguetza is the original Oaxacan restaurant in California, and still the best place to taste the fabled seven moles of Oaxaca, plus giant tlayudas; leathery, delicious empanadas; and tamales steamed in banana leaves. And if you can find your way over to Sa Rit Gol, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best tabletop Korean barbecue in Los Angeles. Don’t miss the chile-red barbecued pork. El Parian, 1528 W. Pico Blvd.; Langer’s Delicatessen, 704 S. Alvarado St.; Paseo Chapin, 2220 W. Seventh St.; Guelaguetza, 3337 W. Eighth St.; Sa Rit Gol, 3198 W. Olympic Blvd.
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