Winter’s brutal freeze likely didn’t have any of L.A.’s New England transplants longing for a visit back East, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t still daydreaming about sitting seaside with a wicked good cup of chowdah or an overstuffed lobstah roll.
Fortunately, L.A.’s East Coast food lovers don’t have to buy a plane ticket to get a taste of the Northeast.
Over the past few years, several New England-inspired restaurants have opened here. Sure, many of them skew heavily toward the bounty of the Atlantic Ocean, but there are plenty of variations – including non-seafood ones – to keep things interesting.
Tie on your bib. Here are nine L.A. spots where you can eat like a New Englander:
Inspired by his New England upbringing, chef Jason Travi brings to Littlefork the flavors of back east, with heavy accents from neighboring Montreal. Getthere early for Oyster Hour, which often features rare-for-the-West-Coast varieties from Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. Littlefork also piles one pound of tender lobster meat atop a buttery Parker House roll. Poutine may be a Montreal staple, but northern Vermonters will be plenty familiar with the cheese curd- and gravy-decked fries. And anyone who has toured New England’s fall foliage or gone apple picking in the region will be comforted by the mild tang and sweetness of their apple cider donuts at brunch. 1600 Wilcox Ave., Hollywood; (323)465-3675, littleforkla.com
Knuckle & Claw
Knuckle & Claw opened in March on a busy stretch of Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, after winning over lobster-roll fans at farmers markets on the Westside. The restaurant is the vision of Chloe Dahl and Nikki Booth, a place where a breezy, subway-tiled interior and sun-dappled patio evoke a lazy summer afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard (where Dahl — yes, the granddaughter of author Roald — spent much of her childhood). Booth and Dahl offer a refined version of the classic lobster roll, trusting the rich flavor of a quarter pound of freshly shipped Maine lobster claw meat to a splash of lemon-butter, a sprinkle of a secret spice blend and a restrained streak of mayo on a buttered and grilled Rockenwagner roll. For variety, try a trio of mini rolls, featuring a shrimp and blue crab version, paired with a cup of clam chowder. 3112 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 407-6142, knuckleandclaw.com/
The Lobsta Shack
Chances are you’ve seen the Red Sox’s familiar font and color on the Lobsta Truck rolling around town, but now you can sit down for a proper lobster feast at the Lobsta Shack, which recently opened on a stretch of Cesar Chavez Avenue near Chinatown. Though its interior resembles a modernized roadside shack of the Northeast — white shutters, booths and historic lighthouse illustrations — the Shack offers a more extensive menu. In addition to the split-top Maine lobster-loaded rolls (your choice of buttered like in Connecticut or mayo-ed like elsewhere) and cup of chowder or lobster bisque, you can now feast on a whole lobster dinner, pan-seared scallops, fried clam strips or a lobster pot pie. Round out the meal with Maine brewed sodas and blueberry pie. 701 W. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Chinatown, (323) 999-1797, lobstashack.com
Fishing With Dynamite
If you’re in need of a briny ocean breeze to complement your New England-inspired meal, head to the bustling, sun-soaked confines of David LeFevre’s refined Manhattan Beach shack. While the menu – both raw and cooked – draws upon oceans far and wide, you’ll find Welfleet oysters, littleneck clams, Atlantic lobster, clam chowder and beer-battered cod that evoke plenty of nostalgia for an East Coast harbor-side meal.. David’s mom’s Cape Cod squash rolls are fluffy, golden and served with rosemary butter —a rare treat and a nearly extinct Massachusetts tradition. 1148 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 893-6299
Connie and Ted’s
Chef Michael Cimarusti cemented his seafood pedigree with Providence, but at Connie & Ted’s he leans more heavily on New England fare, particularly the kind found in the waterfront shacks of Rhode Island where his grandparents – the namesakes of this West Hollywood venture – taught him about the bounty of the Atlantic. Lobster-trap light fixtures, buoy sculptures and a hulking lobster tank complement the restaurant’s soaring roof, which echoes the hull girders of a whaling ship. Here you can sample from the most extensive New England oyster selection in town and indulge in classics like New England and Rhode Island-style chowder, steamers and fried clams. Don’t skip some of the harder-to-find East Coast offerings, like the Portuguese fish stew, the stuffies (breaded and stuffed clams) or the signature New England desserts including the molasses-cornmeal combination of Indian pudding or the devil’s-food cookies with marshmallow filling, better known as Whoopie Pie. 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 848-2722, connieandteds.com
If you’re on the Westside and looking to find good company to watch a Sox, Pats, Bruins or Celtics game, Sonny McLean’s is your place. In addition to the throngs of New England fans, walls of Boston sports memorabilia and proper pints of Guinness, you’ll find far better eats from back East than you might expect in an Irish pub. Order a densely creamy chowder studded with littleneck clams, Ipswich full-bellied clams fried to a golden crisp or huge chunks of Maine lobster glazed with mayo and served atop a bun made by a former Bostonian. You may not be able to grab an Italian sausage from the hawkers out on Yawkey Way, but they do have Linguica sausage on a pretzel bun. Order one along with a pint and settle in for the game. (On the Eastside, head to Little Bar on La Brea for your Boston sports fix.) 2615 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 499-1811, sonnymcleans.com/
North End Pizza
There is something distinct about pizzas from Boston: a slightly sweeter sauce, a bit of char on a springier crust. All of this you’ll find at North End Pizzeria on West Olympic. Not to be confused with other locations with the same name around town, this is the original restaurant started by ex-Bostonians, which later expanded into a chain but now operates independently. Don’t expect a precise re-creation of Pizzeria Regina or Santarpio’s of East Boston, but you will find photographs of the Back Bay along with satisfying slices given occasional Cali twists and a solid “Boston linguine” loaded with Italian sausage. 11907 West Olympic Blvd. West LA; (310) 481-7103
Blue Plate Oysterette
For more freshly flown-in seafood from the Atlantic, consider Blue Plate Oysterette, with a small original location in Santa Monica and now a more spacious spot on W. 3rd Street. If you’re feeling decadent, order the seafood tower, replete with half of a Maine lobster, oysters and a variety of shellfish from waters near and far. Or dive into the crispy and plump fried Ipswich clams, their rich cherrystone clam- and bacon-loaded chowder or Spinney Creek steamers from Maine. They also have a fully-stuffed lobster roll with buttered split top, as well as a one-and-a-half-pound split Maine lobster, served with the New England summer staples of potatoes and corn. 8048 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove; (323) 656-5474; and 1355 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 576-3474; blueplatesantamonica.com/bpo
Cousins Maine Lobster
After a successful appearance on Shark Tank, these cousins have built a food truck empire dotting the country and will soon be opening their first brick and mortar in West Hollywood. In the meantime, you can catch the truck around town for their generously portioned Maine and Connecticut-style lobster rolls. Or skip the roll and order a 5-ounce lobster tail served in shell. And don’t forget the lobster ice cream. Various locations; (855) 855-4265