L.A. Restaurants

Labor Day Alternatives: 3 Great Restaurants That Feel Like a Vacation

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Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge Monzo's Mentai squid butter udon - FLICKR/STEVE
  • Flickr/Steve
  • Monzo's Mentai squid butter udon
Labor Day is around the corner, making it the last chance this season to take a proper vacation -- which in turn is maybe the best time to stay in town, given the less people and less traffic. It doesn't have to be extensive or too expensive, if you choose the city's food as your main mode of transportation. Maybe 90 minutes and $40 can mean a gastronomic staycation that'll reinforce how much L.A. has become a foodist's destination. Turn the page for three of the Weekly's favorite spots to take in the town's culinary scene from Downtown to the westside.

click to enlarge Monzo's Mentai squid butter udon - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Monzo's Mentai squid butter udon

3. Marugame Monzo in Downtown

Between the opening of Alma (recently named "Best New Restaurant" by Bon Appétit), Bestia and new stalls at Grand Central Market within the past year, Downtown has become a pretty sweet food destination. Try exploring this with a bowl of Sanuki-style housemade udon -- preferably off the menu's signature itameshi (a style of Japanese Italian) section -- at Marugame Monzo in the heart of Little Tokyo, just two blocks north from the Metro stop on Alameda. Watch as the noodles are pulled and then pulled some more, while you wait for an order of udon dressed in Mentai squid butter or baked au gratin. 329 E. 1st St., Los Angeles; (213) 346-9762.

See also: Top 5 Venice Beach Snack Shacks

click to enlarge Grilling ribeye at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Grilling ribeye at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong

2. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong in Koreatown

There is no dearth of Korean barbecue restaurants in, well, Koreatown. You'll probably hear arguments made for Park's BBQ, Soowon Galbi and Chosun Galbi among those considered best in town. None of them can replicate the happy chaos of Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong -- whether that's at the tabletop multi-compartment grill wherein you'll find a section dedicated to corn cheese (yes, that's corn plus cheese) or the group of eight squeezed at the round table next to you, taking icy soju shots with squeezes of fresh lemon juice. 3465 W. 6th St., Los Angeles; (213) 384-9678.

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