L.A.’s Ultimate Foodie Tour

This is a guest post from HotelClub, offering deals on Downtown Los Angeles hotels.

Much like the metropolis of 18 million people, the food scene of Greater Los Angeles is tough to pin down. L.A. is defiantly stubborn in the face of pigeonhole analysis and the megacity’s collective food culture is equally obscure.

Los Angeles after all, is El Cholo, Fatburger and Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n’ Waffles. Los Angeles is Canter’s Deli in Fairfax and Patrick’s Roadhouse in Santa Monica. Los Angeles is Spago Beverly Hills and lunch with Hollywood power brokers at The Ivy and Mr. Chow. Wander away from Downtown Los Angeles and the city is a gumbo of ethnic ‘hoods like Chinatown, Tehrangeles, Koreatown, Little Armenia and Little Ethiopia.

A good, basic food tour of Los Angeles could involve some of these institutions and points of interest. In order to pique the palates of judicious gourmands however, one must, without fail, delve deeper into the city’s complex culinary psyche. These ten hot spots, as a collective, embody what L.A. food can be all about.

Kogi Korean BBQ Taco Truck

A wave of iconoclast food trucks have hit the reset button on urban America’s culinary landscape and led to a new, unlikely breed of star chefs. Obligatory Twitter feeds from these rogue pushers of artisanal sandwiches, gourmet ice cream and boutique pork belly buns divulge a cult-like coterie of ravenous followers. One of the most inventive vendors to emerge out of the scene is L.A.’s insanely addictive Kogi Korean BBQ Taco Truck. Co-founder Roy Choi, a Culinary Institute of America alum, won Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef” in 2009 – perhaps the most unambiguous sign that a new foodie era is upon us.

Kogi Korean BBQ Taco Truck
Photo credit arndog

In-N-Out Burger

Devotees of In-N-Out speak of the legendary burger joint with unabashed reverence. After more than sixty years, the regional chain remains private and happily devoid of the franchise tag. For a decadent but quintessential experience, consult the secret menu and order a “Double Meat”, “Animal Style”.

In-N-Out Burger
Photo credit LWY

Silom Market

Hollywood Boulevard’s Silom Market is a vital Thai Town hub and offers a wide range of niche treats, from taro chips to elusive desserts.

The Grilled Cheese Truck

Another mobile icon of gourmet goodness, the Grilled Cheese Truck has 20,000 Twitter followers (with a bullet) and hits L.A. streets with items like Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, rocket and fig jam on potato bread and heirloom tomato caprese melts.

The Grilled Cheese Truck
Photo credit ricardodiaz11

Sunday Hollywood Farmers’ Market on Ivar and Selma

The secret to the best farmers’ market in L.A. is to get there early, stock up and scout a choice picnic spot. From fresh local produce to a diverse array of ethnic foods, this is the place to be on Sundays.

Sweet Rose Creamery

Arguably the best gourmet ice cream in Los Angeles, Sweet Rose Creamery in Santa Monica does it up small batch, artisan style with organic eggs, organic milk and cream and homemade cones and sauces.

Santa Monica Pier
Photo credit wolfsavard

Urasawa

If you can afford one decadent, transformative, blow-out gourmet adventure in Los Angeles, make a pilgrimage to Urasawa. By all accounts the most expensive restaurant in the city, Urasawa’s omokase menu for two easily tops $1,000.00. The extraordinary price-tag rightfully includes hedonistic morsels of prime luxury items like foie gras (done shabu-shabu style no less), uni, abalone, succulent wagyu beef, matsutake mushrooms and plump toro tuna belly. While dinner at the Rodeo Drive address can run four hours and 45 courses long, the experience is sufficiently transcendent if you abandon all reason and a proclivity to fight pleasure. Translation: forget about the tab, disengage and taste.

Urasawa-san
photo credit casesimmons

Langer’s

The deli debate in L.A. is ceaseless. Who has the best nosh? The best matzo ball soup? As a tourist in L.A., all you need to know is this: go to 7th and Alvarado, kitty-corner to MacArthur Park, walk into Langer’s Delicatessen and order the #19. The pastrami Reuben could be the best deli sandwich in America.

Pastrami and Sauerkraut
Photo credit Ron Diggity

Umami Burger

Every superior fast-food burger needs a gourmet counterpoint. In L.A., the archetype of the former is In-N-Out. Umami however, the new high-end burger chain on the block, takes every permutation of the burger experience – bun, meat, accompaniments, condiments and drinks – to ridiculous levels.

Unami Burger
Photo credit yogma

Animal

The most impossible reservation in Los Angeles is a restaurant fed on the same trashy chic, wanton, over-the-top sensibility that drives two influential Montreal tables: Au Pied de Cochon and Joe Beef. Animal’s carnivore-centric menu evolves daily and is not for the faint of heart (a likely menu item).

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V Australia round-trip fares from Los Angeles to Ayers Rock/Uluru starting at $878 (+taxes)

US Traveler’s keen on exploring the real Outback of Australia have a reason to book a trip before July 30 – Australia’s Northern Territory and V Australia are offering round-trip fares starting at $878* from Los Angeles International Airport to one of the Territory’s most iconic sites, Ayers Rock (also known as Uluru). Five-day and eight-day packages are also being offered.

Travel must be booked by July 30, 2010 for travel dates between August 1-September 21, 2010. Additional dates are available at a higher cost.

The available packages are:

“All About the Rock” 5 days starting at $1,679*

* Round-trip International Economy Class Flight on V Australia to Ayers Rock in Australia’s Northern Territory
o Free stop over in Sydney

* 3 nights for the price of 2 at Ayers Rock Resort, Voyages Desert Gardens
o Half-day Tour of Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Center including: walk along the base of Uluru with Aboriginal legends, glass of wine, view of the changing colors of Uluru during sunset
o Travel to Kings Canyon including: climb on the rim for views over Watarrka National Park or walk along the boulder strewn canyon floor
o 1-hour camel ride with views of local flora and fauna, light breakfast of Billy Tea and baked beer bread

* Round-trip transfers between the airport and hotel

“Ayers Rock & Sydney” 8 days from $1,779*

* Round-trip International Economy Class Flight with V Australia to Ayers Rock in Australia’s Northern Territory and Sydney

* 3 nights at Ayers Rock Resort, Voyages The Lost Camel
o See the sunrise of the awe-inspiring spiritual landmark Uluru
o Enjoy a walk around the base of Uluru
o View Aboriginal rock paintings
o Learn about the people of the land at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Center
o Take in the Sounds of Silence in the Australia Desert under the stars of the Southern Skies
o Enjoy a gourmet Australian buffet barbecue of barramundi, kangaroo, emu, crocodile, and Australian salads and classic desserts paired with Australian Wine

* 3 nights in Sydney at a 3 Star Hotel
o See the highlights of Sydney on a half day tour including the Opera House, Sydney Harbor Bridge, The Rocks Area, Kings Cross, and world famous Bondi Beach

* 1 dinner

* Round-trip transfers between the airport and hotel

Ayers Rock, located off the beaten track in the Red Center of Australia’s Northern Territory, is a natural and cultural icon and one of the country’s most significant attractions.

Kings Canyon, located in Watarrka National Park, is an 885-foot deep chasm that offers a variety of treks for hikers of all levels and is an important conservation area with rock holes and gorges providing refuge for over 600 animal species. The red rock face of Kings Canyon soars over 330 feet above the treetops, creating a spectacular landscape.

The Red Center offers a variety of activities and experiences, from sleeping under a million-star sky, mustering cattle on cattle stations, and learning about the ancient traditions of Aboriginal culture.

*For both packages, guests have the option of upgrading to a 5 Star Hotel (the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney and Voyages Sails in the Desert) starting at an additional $350 per person. All prices are per person, based on double occupancy and economy class travel. Taxes, fees, and restrictions apply.

For more information about the round-trip fare and packages, visit www.vaustralia.com/ayersrock or call 866.415.4749. To book the “All About the Rock” package, use offer code: SO10142A. To book the “Ayers Rock & Sydney” package, use offer code: SO10143A.

About Australia’s Northern Territory:
Twice the size of California, Australia’s Northern Territory encompasses almost one sixth of the country’s total land mass. A vibrant destination, the Northern Territory is home to the legendary Outback with its diverse Aboriginal culture, incredible natural landscapes, and unique wildlife. From the awe-inspiring Red Centre icons of Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and Kings Canyon to the Top End’s adventure and wildlife destinations of Katherine Gorge and Kakadu National Park, Australia’s Northern Territory is a dramatic, beautiful cultural destination.

For more information on travel to Australia’s Northern Territory, visit www.australiasoutback.com.