Sometimes the hardest things to find are those closest to you. In this week's No Reservations, Bourdain and the crew were in San Fransisco, eating all kinds of local specialties that you won't come across easily in Los Angeles. Sure, he also went to a great farmer's market, ate good-looking tacos from a truck in Oakland and had some very nice sushi. Yet while we have those in spades, it's the other stuff that may be a little less obvious.
Cioppino is an almost mythic San Fransisco dish, but we do okay down here too, with a large and casual version at Colori Kitchen. With prime rib in mind, Bourdain went to a place he called a “temple of old school meat”, and for that, you won't do much better than Lawry's. But what about that all-offal tasting at restaurant Incanto? Nobody carries such splendor on their menu full-time, but if you want to call ahead to Ford's Filling Station, they'd be happy to arrange something.
But while there's no place in town that serves stiff martinis alongside bacon/oyster omelets, you can, if inclined, make them pretty simply at home. Or you could head out to QQ Kitchen and try the Taiwanese version of an oyster omelet, which is an experience all its own. Continuing with the bacon theme, there was that deadly looking maple bacon latte, and while there's nothing exactly like that, we do have our fair share of bacon-infused goodness around here.
Yet sometimes it comes down to hunks of meat between pieces of bread. For a Cuban style torta, Bourdain consumed a depressingly humongous one, but you should get yours at Cook's Tortas, where it's better, if only because you won't hate yourself for eating it. Lastly, there were burgers, beer and chili fries, all eaten cheaply and without pretense, right by the bay. For that (minus the ocean view), go to the shop currently moonlighting as my favorite burger place in town: Hawkins House of Burgers. Yes, the setting is a bit uncouth and yes, it's in Watts. But where else can seven bucks and change net you an excellent cheeseburger, a gorgeous pile of chili cheese fries, and two tall cans of Olde English? Plus, for an added bonus, you can even buy bootleg DVDs from the guy outside for a dollar apiece (not that we endorse such behavior).
Colori Kitchen, 429 W 8th St, LA, (213) 622-5950., Lawry's the Prime Rib, 100 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, (310) 652-2827., Ford's Filling Station, 9531 Culver Blvd, Culver City, (310) 202-1470., QQ Kitchen, 9441 1/2 Las Tunas Dr, Temple City, (626) 292-1128., Cook's Tortas, 1944 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, (323) 278-3536., Hawkins House of Burgers, 11603 Slater Street, Watts, (323) 563-1129.