Top 5 Places to Eat in L.A. if You Couldn't Make it to SXSW
Breakfast Taco at Bar Amá
While everyone from musicians and comedians to tech bloggers, indie filmmakers and anyone with frequent flier miles was traipsing around Austin last week for the annual South by Southwest, there's a good chance you were stuck at home, avoiding all social media. Otherwise, you would have been inundated with tweets, Vines, Tumblr posts and Instagrams showing the rest of the world just how awesome Austin can be. And, granted, there's a lot to love about the liberal city encased in a sea of South Texas personality, but can't we all find ways to enjoy ourselves right here in Los Angeles?
With that in mind, we've compiled a list of the five tasty things that people at South by Southwest are looking to eat in Austin, and our own seriously delicious Angeleno versions.
Handsome Coffee Roasters
After a night of hard drinking downtown, most SXSW'ers wake up jonesing for a pair of sunglasses and a cup of strong coffee. Most flock to Jo's on Congress, a quirky green shack that will pour you a strong cup in the morning, or ice your beverage if you happen to not roll out of bed until the sunny afternoon. More serious coffee hounds may head for Caffe Medici down the street instead for their powerful espresso and more relaxed setting. In L.A., Handsome Coffee Roasters downtown hits the hardcore spot, with any of Intelligentsia's locations not far behind. For everyone else, there's Paper or Plastik Cafe on Pico, or the funky G & B Coffee inside Sqirl on Virgil Avenue.
4. Asian-Inspired Street Food:
For late-night Asian-inspired dishes from a truck, Austinites undeniably head to one of the East Side King trucks peppered across the city. They're all run with flair and attention to detail by chef Paul Qui, Austin's hometown cooking hero and the recent winner of Top Chef: Texas. Each truck's daily fare is a little different, but you can always expect pork buns, a few deep-fried chicken options and some seriously flavorful rice. Back in Los Angeles, you couldn't throw a pile of kimchi without landing on an Asian fusion food truck. Kogi is still the clear front-runner, but other long-running gourmet loncheros include Don Chow Tacos and Komodo, which still operates a daily truck despite branching out to its own cafe a few years ago.
3. Boozy Movies:
OK, so Los Angeles doesn't really have anything quite as awesome as Alamo Drafthouse, although you can spring for the 21+ seats at ArcLight Cinemas. Still, there's something so satisfying about combining full meals and booze with first-run features, or the occasional throwback screening. Out west, we're partial to our late-night Cinespia screenings in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, thank you very much, and we'll bring in as much booze as we damn well please. Or, for something really cool, head down to the old Million Dollar Theater on Broadway for a Saturday night screening of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, which was actually filmed there. There will be DJs spinning before and after, plus a full bar complete with mixologists, which all sounds very SXSW.
Frito Pie at Bar Amá
2. Tex Mex:
Los Angeles gets the Mex part of the Tex-Mex equation -- we do Mexican food better than perhaps any other city in America, and probably a lot of cities in Mexico while we're at it. But slathering heaps of cheese and sour cream onto your bowl of chili con carne is an entirely Texas phenomenon. South-by goers tend to head to Trudy's, Chuy's or Maudie's for their sloppy, cheesy fix, but Los Angeles isn't much known for the stuff. Now, at least, we've got Bar Amá downtown. While it's not exactly street-cart fare, Josef Centeno's grandmother-inspired Tex-Mex eatery on Fourth Street serves up supremely puffy tacos, gooey green enchiladas and a $6 sausage-and-egg breakfast taco so big, you could share it with a friend and still leave some on the plate.
Austin has Franklin's, a South Texas institution that commands hours-long lines for its brisket and ribs. For any SXSW'er, it's a must-do pilgrimage of beef and pork, if only to cross it off the list while you're in town. Granted, Los Angeles doesn't quite have the same backyard BBQ culture that Texas owns, but we sure do happen to have a Lone Star State native who's pretty handy with a smoker himself. His name is Kevin Bludso, and he's been pulling out choice bits of meat from his Compton pit for years. Now that he's teamed up with the Golden State fellas and brought his 'cue north to La Brea at Bludso's Bar & Que, you can start to expect the same lines that Franklin's commands -- and you won't have to fly to Austin to eat some seriously great brisket.
5772 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Get the Squid Ink'd Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly food newsletter, which features top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips and a link to our print review.