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Food & Drink Lists

Top 5 Places to Eat in L.A. if You Couldn't Make it to SXSW

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Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 9:00 AM
click to enlarge Breakfast Taco at Bar Amá - PAUL BARTUNEK
  • Paul Bartunek
  • 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.

click to enlarge Handsome Coffee Roasters - T. NGUYEN
  • T. Nguyen
  • Handsome Coffee Roasters

5. Coffee:

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.

click to enlarge Kogi BBQ Tacos - FLICKR/MYLASTBITE

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.

click to enlarge Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery - FLICKR/SCANI
  • Flickr/scani
  • Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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.

click to enlarge Frito Pie at Bar Amá - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • 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.

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