Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Top 10 Favorite LA Things

Do you remember when I lived in LA for 15 months? The place that I always claimed never to want to live was a pretty great place to live about 60% of the time. A perfect marriage it was not but it did right by me, so I will honor it in the only way I know how…

Honorable Mention: El Gran Burrito’s Pollo al Carbon

90% of the time my route home from work ended via Santa Monica Blvd. (YEP). And for the first 8 months of this trip I was always mystified by the smell of grilled chicken that El Gran Burrito was releasing onto the world. The fact that it took me so long to go there was one of the greater travesties of my life*. The chicken was - how do you say – super awesome, juicy, deeply smoky, complexly spiced, and generally perfect. Then they had a plethora of way-to-delicious salsas to add insult to injury (or I guess, to add compliment to healthfulness). From that first moment on, I did not go a full week with out returning. Did I mention it was stupid cheap? No? It was stupid cheap - $10 got you one full chicken, rice, beans, and tortillas.

10. Comedy Death Ray at UCB:

I always liked stand-up comedy but this weekly night at UCB made me truly appreciate it as an art form. The best single night was when Kyle Kinane** hosted and was unfairly good. This included a bit about a pizza menu that destroyed:

Starts at 4:40 minute mark.

9. The Wiltern

I saw A LOT of shows while living in Los Angeles because my job got me on a lot of lists. Though most of the shows were at the near by venues (Echo, Echoplex, Spaceland), it was when I had the opportunity to go to The Wiltern that I felt most lucky. It is absolutely stunning inside, with laughably good sound. I saw the following bands there - The National, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Cold War Kids, Wolfmother, Grizzly Bear, Lykki Li, Gaslight Anthem – and I could tell they all felt privileged to be in such a perfect space. The National show was my favorite show I saw in LA and the best marriage of band and venue I have ever experienced.

8. Intelligentsia

Their coffee was good, their mocha was great, yet the drinks were only a small part of why I went there. Yes it was a hipster meat market of sorts, but it very much became my “local coffee shop.” I did not feel like I really had a weekend if I did not spend at least one 4-hour period there writing this blog you are currently reading. Intelligentsia was my intellectual escape in a city some*** might argue is lacking in intellectualism.

7. Famous People

I saw a lot of famous people at Intelligentsia. Other than work it was my most frequent spot for celebrity seeing. The fact is it was really fun to see famous people of varying levels. I do not claim to know what I enjoyed about it and I am very aware that it makes me just as guilty of the whole LA starfucker mentality that I oft mocked. Hell, I may or may not have gone on a few dates with an actress who can definitely be pointed out in movies and television. From my first - seeing the dude who played Buster on Arrested Development at Trader Joe’s – to my last – seeing Jesse Tyler Furgeson from Modern Family two days in a row at Intelligentsia – I generally always felt excited. Sure it is shallow but that is what living in LA is kind of about.


San Gabriel Valley is a wondrous place. It is a Mecca of regional Asian cooking and Jesse Fox loves regional Asian cooking. Here is a list:

- Best pho I ever ate
- Best Szechwan meal
- First time I ate Hainese Chicken Rice
- First exposure to actual Shanghaisese food
- 2nd Best Dim Sum

I did not go out there enough but what I got out of the few times I did fundamentally changed me as an eater. Its existence is the single greatest defense for LA’s usually detestable sprawl. The argument is that due to the abundance of physical space, hyper-specific ethnic groups are able to create communities of their own. An immigrant from Shanghai does not have to open a joint that is 50% American Chinese and 50% bastardized Cantonese. The food was all great, annoyingly great - I miss it so.

5. Tiki Ti

- Smack in the middle of the Silverlake/Los Feliz border, Tiki Ti was my favorite bar in LA and is my favorite bar in the galaxy. Tiki Ti is a tiki bar that has 0 employees and is ran only by a father and his two sons. Open by the father’s father, Tiki Ti only serves tiki drinks – no beer, no wine, no jack & coke. Its not that I love tiki drinks, I just love the focus. Hangovers be damned, one goes there and they assuredly will order a hilariously strong drink with an oft-indiscernible mix of fruit juices. To add compliment to healthfulness, they made the best Bloody Mary in town. Save about 2 months, Tiki Ti was never particularly trendy or cool and filled mostly with locals. It is not that I am trying to prove how unscene I am, it is that I just enjoyed that the bar itself was the sole attraction. Who needs a bar where everyone knows your name when you can have a bar where everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) knows to scream “torro” when the bartender busts out the bull-headed stopper topped tequila bottle en route to top off the already hilariously strong drink with another 2 shots?

4. Silverlake

I will be the first to point out how painfully obvious my neighborhood choices appear to be: Williamsburg – Silverlake – (currently) the Mission. I am not oblivious to a certain h-word that very logically will be thrown my way considering this fact; however, I believe there is a lot more to these living decisions. The fact is these hip neighborhoods are packed with the things I like (read: bangs) and mostly lack the things I do not (read: bros). More than the other two, I cannot imagine not living in Silverlake. There are stereotypes about LA that may or may not be correct and I was not in the mood to spend my days finding them out. The SL, as the locals call it****, has a beautiful deficiency of industry types, clubs, shininess while featuring one of the metropolitan area’s few walkeable stretches. It was also very, very close to or housed 8 of the 11 places on this list. So maybe my future kids will make fun of their cliché father but sometimes as a young man you need to strap on some homemade jorts and embrace the times.

3. Weather

- Good weather is nice. The winter was like fall, the summer was like spring, and the fall and spring were like an uber-spring. I used to mock people for constantly pointing out how nice the weather was and then I was one of those people. More importantly, good weather begat good produce. I remembered my first farmer’s market there in the May of 2009 and being blown away by the fact that corn was already in season. CORN!!!! One can argue that the weather was the greatest inspiration to cook I had ever experienced. You know what, I will argue that because it is a fact.

2) Jitlada

Speaking of regional Asian cuisine, Jitlada wins my heart. Jitlada is a beast of a restaurant in Thai Town that serves exclusively Southern Thai food. I ate there a lot and I mean A LOT a lot – about 3 times a month. A lot of it was numbingly spicy; however, once you got accumulated the symphony of subtlety was irresistible. If I liked noise-rock bands like Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine I would be able to make a perfect analogy, either way its out there. I must have had 20 curries there, all completely different – all undoubtedly dynamic. And then there were the mussels, woof. I ordered them every single time I ate there and every time I was caught off guard by how much better it was than everything else ever. Since my move, I lose sleep due to my longing. For those who are unaware, I am not unique in my opinions – this is not a hidden gem. It is seemingly the most lauded Thai restaurant in the Country, literally decorating their walls with their good reviews. This does not necessarily matter, what matter is that I will go there every single time I am back in LA. I will build trips (secretly) around going to eat there. Did I mention I liked it a lot? I liked it a lot.


Despite knowing how trite of an ending this is, I still decided to keep this as #1. It was actually pretty easy because it is the truth. I miss this alluded group of people much more than I do food cooked by Asians*****. I moved to LA knowing 0 people and I left deeply caring for several. There really is not tons more to say about it – I was lucky to be able to be able to meet these people. Having friends is nice.

*I obviously have not had a life particularly rife with travesty.
**By far my favorite comedian working today.
****They do not call it that.
*****Dear Asians,

If you are reading this, please continue to cook me your delicious food.

With love,


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