Trip Coach: December 4, 2007
Tony Pierce, editor of LAist.com (a blog covering local news, events, food, and entertainment), answered your questions on Los Angeles.
Milwaukee, Wis.: My two friends and I will be in L.A. the weekend of the Oscars. We are all college students, so we'll be on a tight budget. What can you recommend in terms of relatively cheap restaurants and sightseeing? None of us have been to L.A. before, so we definitely want to try to hit some of the "classic" spots.
Tony Pierce: Whaddup Milwaukee!
You are talking to the king of cheap eats. Most people don't know that LA has an excellent culture of hamburgers and tacos. And we're not talking that crap they serve in Oconomowoc. You've probably heard of In-N-Out Burgers, which has definately got its fanbase (and long lines), but throughout our fair city you will see Fatburgers, and Tommy's Burgers. Both of these are very different type of hamburgers. Fatburgers are probably the most expensive hamburgers you will come across, but still cheap when considering what dinner normally cost. And when was the last time you were asked if you'd like an egg on your burger? Meanwhile Tommy's Original *comes* with chili on top. But warning - beware of imitators like Tomy's and Tony's.
When you get sick of that, don't overlook LA's biggest secret cheap eat - our taco trucks. Yes, they might look like everyday "roach coaches", but for a dollar a taco (on average) you can get some of the most delectable soft tacos you've ever had. And it will be a dining experience that 99.9% of tourists here will never have. This is where the real Eastside and Hollywood locals eat after a night of clubbing, working, or just hanging out. If you're really letting your hair down, may I recommend the tounge taco - the Lengua. Me, I usually get three tacos, the asada (steak), the pastor (because of the carmalized onions), and a pollo (chicken) and dress it with some hot salsa.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: We will be spending Sunday Night and most of Monday January 13 & 14 at a hotel very near LAX. What can we do to pass the time near LAX?
Tony Pierce: OK most locals would laugh at this question and say RUN AWAY RUN AWAY. But they're missing out. Head northwest towards the ocean and the first thing you'll see is an In-N-Out burger right next to the airport. Please have one of these burgers. It's a California staple that will soon sweep the nation.
Then take Linocln blvd North (yes you will be driving - thats what we do here) to nearby Marina Del Rey, if you like boats and fancy condos, knock yourself out and walk around during the sunset. If you want something to actually do, keep going North and in a minute or two you will find yourself in Venice. Head toward Venice Beach and buy some cheap sunglasses. Venice Beach is the 2nd most visited spot by tourists next to Disney Land and the best part is it's Free. But yes, get away from that Airport.
New York, N.Y.: Pinkberry: Hot or not?
Tony Pierce: Pinkberry is hot. But so was the hula hoop in its day. It's yogurt. Big whoop. And it cost $5 for a good sized cup that can be split between two people. Eat one, laugh, and get back outside.
Seminole, Fla.: I am going to New Zealand in a few weeks and have an 11 hour layover in LA. What can I do during that time? I really don't want to rent a car. Is there public transportation?
Tony Pierce: I'd recommend renting a car and driving down Lincoln (north) to Venice and Santa Monica. Car culture in LA is like the jazz and creole food culture of New Orleans. Even if you got stuck in traffic, at least you can say, so THIS is what they're talking about.
If you really don't wanna rent a car, take a cab to Venice Beach ($25 each way - told ya to get a cab)and walk around at a leisurely pace. Yes there is public transportation. You can take Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus sorta from LAX but they don't make it easy. If by some miracle you can get on one they're super cheap (75 cents each way) and it will take you down Lincoln (if you get on the right one) and you can explore safe and clean Santa Monica. But I totally stand behind my tip to rent a car. And get the insurance.
Denver, Colo.: We will be in the Newport Beach area for New Year's eve. Do you have a suggestion for two adults and a 15 year old boy?
Tony Pierce: If the boy likes skateboarding, Google for "skate parks" in Newport Beach or surrounding communities. The OC is gorgeous, so sunsets, quaint shops, and beautiful houses to gawk at might interest you, but your boy is probably going to be bored stiff. Have him work the internet before you go and have him tell you what things might be of interest to him in nearby Irvine or Anaheim. But this would be a challenge even for me.