Los Angeles and New York City—the cultural epicenters of America’s opposing coasts—are nothing alike: In L.A., residents deal with long distance traffic, while New York natives face short distance road rage. L.A. inhabitants live amongst Hollywood execs, while New Yorkers share space with vermin of mixed species. And L.A.'s daily weather report calls for eternal sunshine; New York continually offers a grab-bag of meteorological horrendousness.
However, as a lifelong New Yorker who has spent lots of time in L.A., I can tell you that the two cities do share something other than an even number of my Jewish relatives: the guarantee of fantastic food. In fact, I've found that there are even a few select eateries in Los Angeles that never fail to provide the comforts of my east coast home. If you, too, are yearning for a little taste of the NYC when living in or visiting the City of Angels, here are the best places to recreate such an experience:
Bagel like a New Yorker
Yeastie Boys - Multiple Locations (West Hollywood, Silverlake, Downtown)
Purists argue that it's impossible to get a good bagel anywhere besides New York (some say it's the water), but Yeastie Boys founders Evan Fox and James Reamy know the secret is all in the technique. As they’ll tell you, bagels ain't bagels unless you boil them – a step which most L.A. bagel-makers hastily skip. The Boys hawk their toasty treats out of a mobile food truck that stops at local coffee shops (see website for schedule), paying homage to NYC with accouterments like lox and schmears. But this is LA, so they’ve got a few locally inspired toppings as wel, like Persian cucumbers and vegan sun-dried tomato spread.
Pizza Like a New Yorker
Village Pizzeria - 131 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004
The only comestible New Yorkers get touchier about than bagels is pizza. We almost impeached a mayor over it. And while L.A. has plenty of excellent West Coast and Italian-inspired pizza places (Mozza, for one), very few capture true "New Yawkness" in either vibe or slice. Village Pizzeria, however, manages to do so on both counts. For two decades, founder Steve Cohen—a native New Yorker—has been tossing daily-made dough made with fresh yeast, and topping it with homemade sausage, meatballs, and marinara sauce in a shop that looks like it came over from Brooklyn with the Dodgers.
Deli like a New Yorker (TIE)
Canter's Deli- 419 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Izzy's Deli- 1433 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Both of these Matzo Ball Soup-slinging joints are open 24 hours (a rarity in LA), but only Canter's provides live music in its adjacent Kibitz Room cocktail bar. Izzy's on the other hand, is set up more like a traditional diner—a larger menu and obligatory photos of its owner schmoozing with celebrities all over the walls. Try both spots, and return to whichever one feels more like Sunday dinner with Bubby.
Italian Steakhouse like a New Yorker
Pistola - 8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Walk into Pistola and you’ll feel like you stepped into a New York steakhouse of decades past–and not in a cheap Disneyland knockoff way. Chef Vic Casanova and partner Seth Glassman are legit New York transplants who prepare fantastic comfort food from a combination of freshly imported Italian ingredients and local (mostly organic) produce and meats. Sit in a giant booth like The Godfather and gorge yourself on Meatballs with Sunday Gravy, Charred Mediterranean Octopus, and Squid Ink Agnolotti. There’s no "gabagool" on the menu, but that doesn't mean you can't shout the word out every so often just for fun.
Market like a New Yorker
Grand Central Market- 317 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Not to be confused with the bazaar of the same name in New York's iconic train station, the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles might just have its east coast counterpart beat. L.A.'s 30,000 square-foot GCM has been in continuous operation since 1917, with an ever-growing list of vendors whipping up phenomenal goods. New York-inspired highlights include Wexler’s Deli (skip Canter's and Izzy's and come here if you're simply interested in the best pastrami sandwich money can buy), and Madcapra Falafel (opened by two Brooklyn falafel chefs who know that authentic sandwiches are not just served with lettuce and tomato, but cilantro, mint and pickles).
Bodega Like A New Yorker
Jackson Market- 4065 Jackson Ave, Culver City, CA 90232
Okay, so Jackson Market offers way more charm – and way less grime – than a New York bodega. But you'd be hard pressed to find a shop with higher quality deli fare and baked goods, a wider selection of cold soda and beer, and more aisles of chips, snacks, and dry goods under one roof in Los Angeles. Stepping into this quaint shop – now open for more than 80 years—is like being transported to a Brooklyn bodega owned and operated by a sweet, loving grandmother. Don't forget to enjoy your haul on the lovely back patio – one privilege that can't be had in the cramped landscape of New York City!