Friday, April 18, 2008

Los Angeles Culinary Scene : an introduction

This is the city ... Los Angeles, California. Mind you, it’s been said that Los Angeles is not a city: it’s thirty-four suburbs put together. Either way, the Los Angeles area is huge! The island of Manhattan in New York City has a land area that covers 23 sq. miles, slightly more than the cities of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills combined. Contrastly, the city of Los Angeles covers an area of 469 sq. miles, and that doesn’t include the rest of the County of Los Angeles, whose land mass covers over 4000 sq. miles.

The County of Los Angeles has 88 incorporated cities. Here is a partial list of these cities within the County of Los Angeles:

AlhambraArcadiaAzusaBeverly HillsBurbankComptonCulver City

DuarteGardena Glendale Glendora Huntington ParkLancaster

Long BeachMonroviaMontebello Monterey Park • Palmdale Pasadena

RosemeadSan GabrielSanta MonicaSouth Pasadena Torrance

West Hollywood • Whittier

And here are some communities and geographical designations within the incorporated city of Los Angeles:

Atwater VillageBoyle Heights • Downtown Los Angeles • Eagle Rock •

East Los Angeles Echo Park Hancock ParkHighland ParkHollywood

Koreatown • Little Armenia • Little Tokyo • Los Feliz • Reseda • Silverlake •

South Central • Thai Town • Van Nuys Venice • West Los Angeles •

West Valley • Westwood

And I haven’t even include Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside County, and the other counties that make up the area known as Southern California. At this point, you’re wondering why I’m giving this geography lesson when this is supposed to be a food blog. Good question. Let me paint this scenario:

Someone from outside the LA area writes a post on a food discussion website and asks, “I’m coming to LA next week. Please recommend me a really great restaurant. Thanks!” And if you notice, people living in LA will probably ask that person some pointed geographical and travel questions, like “Where in LA will you be staying? Will you have a car? If so, how far do you want to travel? What time of the day will you be driving?”

Folks, the Los Angeles area is HUGE!! Geography plays a significant factor in deciding where to go to eat. I know people who live in Santa Monica who think that driving to Beverly Hills for dinner is too far, never mind driving to downtown LA or to San Gabriel Valley. We’re not New York (i.e., Manhattan) or even San Francisco, where many of the restaurants are close together, relatively speaking. Mind you, LA does have some wonderful local, neighborhood restaurants. It just depends what neighborhood you’re in.

I hope this introduction, albeit geographical, helps you to understand the vastness of the Los Angeles area and its culinary scene.