Photo: Rin-rin Yu
You can move his Woody Allen collection from Manhattan
to Manhattan Beach, but you can never take the New
York out of the New Yorker. But give him a palm-tree
lined street, a pair of shorts he can wear all day even at the office, and soon
you’ll hardly recognize him. Your once cynical, over-stressed, straphanger has
traded his deli coffee and bagel in for an iced soy-wheatgrass chai and an
orange from the flowering tree outside his bedroom window.
Only some New Yorkers will admit the truth - we love L.A.
Living here is like being on perpetual vacation. The wool overcoats have gone
into permanent storage, we actually have yards (with avocado trees!), and we’ve
stopped walking but will drive to a beach or mountain to enjoy a nice hike.
However, despite the totally rad new lifestyle, we’ll always be New Yorkers. We
have gone from squeezing onto the 6 train to squeezing onto the I-10 every
morning, but we still attempt to read the New York Times (folded in fourths)
during the commute. We’ll mock people who wear Ugg boots with a miniskirt in
75-degree weather and fly 3,000 miles for a Yanks game in the Bronx
but never set foot in Dodger Stadium. Even at night with the sound of waves lapping
against the shore, we miss hearing the blaring horns of the city that never
sleeps. But even wandering around L.A.,
you can still have an ironically comforting Big Apple moment if you squint hard
enough through the bright sunshine.
Nosh on a bagel
Sure, they credit the water. Yet to this day, nobody has
figured out the chemistry that makes New York
bagels so doughy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and a perfect golden
brown. Enough New Yorkers have traveled west to attempt this challenge, but
none have succeeded. However, three places come close:
Brooklyn Bagel. Maybe it’s in the name, but
these bagels could probably fool any New Yorker if sold back East. And just
like in the big city, there’s no room to sit down so you’ll have to eat it stuck
in traffic. Lox, orange juice, hot coffee, and a variety of cream cheeses
complement the bagels. Bagel Nosh was
originally a franchise started in New York.
This last remaining shop is more Westchester County
village than midtown Manhattan with
its Formica tables and friendly service. You might even catch a hint of a New
York-Jewish accent to warm you right up before the coffee. For “haute” bagels
and deli food, bring your credit card to Barney
Greengrass. At this Beverly Hills’ extension of
Barney’s New York, you can buy a
three-piece suit and a lox sandwich. Though no one in New York
goes to Barneys for the bagels, people do here: Barneys imports them daily from
Grab a slice… or a
The thing with pizza is that no New Yorker can agree on what
constitutes good pizza. Some like a saltier sauce while others like the
cornmeal crust. Some die by DiFara’s while others swear by Grimaldi’s. But we
do agree on a few things: the slice must be large enough to fold in half,
require many napkins to soak off the grease, and have all those flavors melded
so perfectly together. Once in L.A.,
these debates seem silly since it is hard to find even a decent slice of
cheese. But there are a few places in L.A.
that actually know the NYC pizza lingo.
Mulberry Street doesn’t
end in lower Manhattan. It spreads
across Los Angeles, with two locations in Beverly
Hills and one in the Valley. Step out of Los
Angeles into Little Italy, and order up a slice from a
Yankee cap-wearing server at the counter. Copies of the New York Post are
available for those itching to catch up on any bridge-and-tunnel scandals. Paisanos Pizza & Pasta is a hit
among the surfer crowd of Hermosa Beach.
As the night action on the pier closes down, there’s actually a line out the
door of platinum blonds in tiny skirts and surfer guys with shells around their
necks who all seem to want to get their hands and faces greasy. Pay tribute to
the South Beach
dieters by ordering the pasta-topped pizza. Finally, Damiano’s serves up thin-crust slices all night, and its waitresses
are definitely not doe-eyed Hollywood starlets waiting
to be discovered. Driving everywhere has curbed the drinking for the most part
– hence the late night pizza runs; but every so often we still wake up with a
craving. Thankfully, this joint is open extremely late for L.A.,
a town that needs its sleep to stay beautiful.
Photo: Rin-rin Yu
Hit the delis
The New York
deli concept has never quite made it outside the tri-state area, but its food
did. Lacking are the people behind the counter barking for your order as soon
as you step through the door, the customers who grumble because you’re ordering
too slowly, and the piled-high sandwiches made in lightning speed. Since L.A.
moves at a much slower, almost glacial pace, you might as well allot some time
to sit down and enjoy the good food.
Greenblatts Delicatessen & Fine Wines is a New
York deli with a Californian twist – it carries
Californian wines in its shop. Opened in 1926 solely as a restaurant, the
kosher establishment offers the usual suspects of matzo ball soup, potato
knishes, and deli sandwiches. The shop also sells gift baskets and picnic items.
Greenblatts is often a native Californian’s first experience with deli food –
and a good example of what a New York
deli is all about. A close competitor is Canter’s
Deli on Fairfax. In 1931 the
Canter brothers moved their deli from New Jersey to the Sunshine
State. Since then, they’ve moved a
few more times, but no more than 20 miles within L.A.
The 24-hour diner seats 465, and has its share of celebrities fill those
tables: Marilyn Monroe, Dick Van Dyke, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sydney Poitier are
(or were) among their dedicated customers. Each week the deli sells an
astounding 4,900 pounds of pastrami, 1,500 gallons of chicken soup, and 4,000
knishes baked in their own kitchen. Next door is the Kibitz room, a cocktail
lounge and music venue for local bands.
Photo: Rin-rin Yu
In New York,
you didn’t count your calories because you could rely on bulky sweaters and
coats to hide the excess winter pounds. In L.A.,
the attitude is a little different. You’re extremely conscious of the fact that
rich, sugary, buttery desserts are hard to come by in image-conscious L.A.
Thankfully, carbohydrates are becoming fashionable again, and the paparazzi has
photographed waif-ish Hollywood stars eating them up. Some of their favorites: Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly
Hills, L.A.’s answer to
the cupcake craze. You saw Andy Samberg mack on Magnolia cupcakes on Saturday
Night Live, then many times over on the Internet, and suddenly the long lines
outside in the cold West Village didn’t seem so bleak anymore. Sprinkles serves
up those buttery rich cupcakes smothered in cream cheese frosting, just like
Magnolia’s. You can even skip the line by ordering ahead, and they’ll be ready
within 48 hours. Colorful cupcake trays are available for $35 to host your own
cupcake display at home. Try every flavor – from banana to red velvet to
pumpkin – as well as L.A.’s own
chai latte version.
And remember drowning a bad work day in a cup of cold hot
chocolate and a giant chocolate chip cookie at City Bakery? Well, the escape is right around the corner: its West
Coast branch just opened recently at the Brentwood Country Mart. This New
York institution with its pretzel croissants and
fancy salad bar has made its way from Union Square
to the Westside. Westside of Los Angeles,
that is. The Brentwood version has more stay-at-home moms and children flocking
to its counters than the typical New York
mover-and-shakers in business suits. The food, however, is the same – a much
needed sweet reminder of home.
Take a walk
If food isn’t satisfying the New York
crave, park the car and head towards Beverly Hills, where wealthier New Yorkers
recast themselves as Californians. Though the palm trees might not indicate
Westchester or Long Island, the New York
accent lingers through a couple generations. Sidewalk cafes and inexpensive
deli and pizza joints intermingle between the boutique shops and salons. A
little more east is the Miracle Mile/Fairfax area. Here, young New Yorkers
flock to the neighborhood for its trendy pace, affordable rents, and central
location within Los Angeles. Orthodox
Jews stroll the streets towards services, and parking is limited. The streets
are walkable, slightly dirtier, with tons of little shops lining the sidewalks
on Beverly Boulevard and Melrose.
The L.A. subway actually works and
is well worth it if you live nearby. The most western stop is at Wilshire and
If none of these satisfy the New York
urge, American Airlines flies nonstop to JFK from LAX, and Jetblue flies from Burbank
and Long Beach to JFK. Hop a redeye
and wake up in the big city, just in time for your New York Times, perfect
bagel and coffee.
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