It's easy to start nodding off when people drag out the old "New York vs. Los Angeles" debate; it's a tired one, and largely a comparison of Big Apples to orange groves, anyway. But after Bon Appetit listed its 20 most important restaurants in America and New York outshone L.A. by a factor of six, it got us wondering: Where do East Coast transplants like to eat when they're missing New York?
Die-hard New Yorkers may grumble forever at the idea of re-creating that perfect slice of pizza or ordering up a true Brooklyn bagel on the West Coast, but Los Angeles is doing a lot of great things with the foods that Gothamites have traditionally considered to be sacred territory. Here are 10 dishes that New Yorkers love to lament the loss of after moving to the City of Angels, from pizza to bagels to cheesecake, that Los Angeles is making fantastically well -- and often without regard to the way it's "supposed" to be made back east.
10. Black-and-white cookies at Bea's Bakery:
Bea's Bakery in Tarzana is the unquestioned L.A. queen of the Brooklyn favorite black & white cookie. Chewier than most, with a none-too-dry vanilla sponge cake base and rich chocolate half, this is the deli-style dessert that New Yorkers had largely given up on finding inside our city limits. Sure, the subway doesn't exactly offer stops in Tarzana, but any intrepid New Yorker can find his way down the 101 for this classic city delight if he's so inclined. Apparently Henry Winkler (aka the Fonz) is a big Bea's fan, and he's a born-and-bred Manhattanite! 18450 Clark St., Tarzana; 818-344-0100.
9. Clam chowder at Gladstone's:
While there is an abundance of fresh seafood to be found on both coasts, NY-ophiles tend to wax nostalgic about the rustic clam chowders of their youth. From thick, creamy Cape Cod versions to the thin, tomato-centric Manhattan iteration, there seems to be no solving an East Coaster's appetite for chowdah. Transplants may initially bristle at the deconstructed Providence version, porkified with lardo and Nueske's smoked bacon, but there's no denying the truth: It's a masterpiece. The SBE-backed Gladstone's in Malibu may not conjure images of the clam shacks around Rhode Island, but it offers a fine, tomato-based Manhattan chowder that teems with cod and salmon chunks. At least New Yorkers can find solace in the simple Friday chowder specials at Philippe's, while simultaneously enjoying one of L.A.'s most iconic sandwiches. Gladstone's, 17300 Pacific Coast Hwy., Los Angeles; 310-454-3474.
8. Eggs Benedict M Café de Chaya:
New Yorkers sure are partial to their Eggs Benedict, the Hollandaise-laced brunch dish that's so specific you have to capitalize the name. While presumed to have begun at the turn of the 20th century at the Waldorf Hotel, the Benedict has gone global as a symbol of New York hangover ingenuity. But make no mistake, Los Angeles is a bruncher's paradise. At any of the M Café de Chaya locations, you can order up a vegan version with steamed kale, tempeh bacon and a soy Hollandaise sauce that will make you forget all of those brunches gone by in Greenwich Village. The Mexican-inspired Mole Benedict at Larchmont Bungalow may be even better, topped with roasted pepper, pico de gallo, chipotle aioli and some mole-chicken sausage. 7119 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; 323-525-0588.