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A Politician’s Guide to LA Eating

It’s been nearly three years since I moved from LA, but every now and again, I’ll peruse the LA Times for interesting tidbits on the town I called home for four fun-filled years.

As many Angelenos may or may not know, LA’s 32nd district is holding a special election to fill the vacant seat formerly held by Hilda Solis, now our nation’s Labor Secretary. The top three candidates are Emanuel Pleitez, Judy Chu and Gil Cedillo. This weekend, the Times broke the news that Cedillo has spent more than $125,000 of campaign donor money on fun shopping trips, gourmet meals and travel.

Among the places Cedillo or his staff have spent dolla dolla bills, y’all:

$1203 at Patina

$5705 at the Standard

$380 at Border Grill

$233 at Sonora Cafe

$186 at KOI

$964 at Cicada

$7022 at Nordstrom

$3483 at Banana Republic

$450 at Crate & Barrel

$229 at Bar des Arts in São Paulo, Brazil

Even though I’m not voting in the special election and don’t know much about LA politics, this article was interesting to me in that boy, oh boy, did it make me nostalgic for the days when I didn’t have a full-time job and my only responsibility was 8 units worth of coursework. But I have to say, I think Gil could’ve done better than this. A few comments and some advice for anyone with some money to blow on good eats in LA (suspect politico or not!):

First, I wish I could’ve been one of the many SC students likely at the Standard the nights Cedillo went. That’s a lot of rum and cokes.

Second, my vote is for Ciudad over Border Grill. Great happy hour, shorter commute. Don’t miss their empanadas. After all, who wants to schlep all the way down the 10 to get to Border Grill? I did that commute junior year for an internship–it’s what prompted me to cook so much after work, as food was the only thing that could bring me down from my road rage (maybe that’s a good thing…that’s when I realized that culinary school might be an option!). Better yet, take the staff to Mandalay in Vegas. That way, you can have your fake beach and Two Hot Tamales…too.

Third. Dude, Gil. Sonora Cafe? It’s good…but it sure as hell isn’t El Cholo. And it doesn’t have Mauro! Next time, head to El Cholo, and be sure to bring a few of the USC students you met at the Standard–then, you can get half off entrees (Monday through Thursday only). Aside: In doing a quick search for linkage to Sonora Cafe, I found out it closed.

Fourth, everyone knows you only eat at KOI to see and be seen. You might as well have gone to the Ivy. As for Cicada, I never made it there, but Joe says it was “meh.” And I trust Joe’s palate.

Fifth, I hope you’ve signed up for a Banana Republic luxe card. That way, among many other benefits, you can get alterations for free! It’s the little things, right?

Sixth…Um, what the heck were you buying at Crate and Barrel? Dinnerware for the staff? A sweet new KitchenAid for your volunteers to whip up a batch of snickerdoodles? I’m confused by this one.

Seventh: About that bar in Brazil. Wowza, that’s a lot of caipirinhas. Saudade, Brasil.

Some other recommendations for Gil, or any aspiring politico:

I know you were probably tempted, but skip Roy’s (at Fig & 8th). I have a friend who worked at one. He says its the Disneyland of restaurants (this is a bad thing). You don’t want to eat at a place where the cooks feel beaten down and uninspired! Happy chefs make happy food.

Definitely stop by Water Grill (South Grand & 5th). The clam chowder will blow you away. As will their raw bar. One of the great restos in LA that doesn’t get near as much notice nationally as it should.

If you’re in the mood for an AWESOME juke box, Pacman video game tables and a night of shameless dancing, hit up the Golden Gopher. My best advice is to go earlier in the week, when fewer peple are there and you can actually get a seat.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hearing awesome things about the Kogi Truck. Now THERE’S a cheap way to feed your staff, show your social media prowess AND experience gastronomic fusion!

I can’t believe I’m giving this up, but don’t miss Zip Fusion, just off Skid Row. Great prices, great outdoor patio. I had my 21st birthday here. See:


Here’s another idea: My friends and I had this fun concept senior year called 10H-squared. The idea was that we’d hit up 10 happy hours on a Friday. Keep in mind this genius idea came to us second semester senior year, when the coursework load was small and the free time was aplenty. I can’t remember all 10 places now, but I do know that Nic + Stef’s, McCormick’s, Bonaventure Brewing Co., Ciudad and some Irish bar were all included. It was epic. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you politicos want to reach a younger demographic (those nights at the Standard are coming in handy!). A truncated version of this was called Cinco de Drinko, and took place in (obviously) early May, a few short weekends before graduation. We were so creative!

Oh man. Now I’m wishing I could go to LA for a week, and get all my friends to take time of work, just so we can relive that semester. 2006 will go down as one of the most fun years in VMAC + Cheese history. And VMAC + Cheese wasn’t even born in 2006!

[Brian, Steph, I know you’re reading this. You better comment on this post!]

6 Responses

  1. I think the Irish Bar in question was Caseys, which coincidentally is now owned by the same people as the Golden Gopher.

    You should come down to LA for some time, the downtown scene has changed so radically in just the last couple of years. 10H^2 would almost be too easy now with everything that’s opened up.

    • Caseys! That was it. Yeah, from the few brief times you’ve driven me through the Fig corridor, it’s obvious how much things have changed. I mean, a YardHouse AND a Lucky Strike within easy driving distance from campus. C’mon! Half the fun of 10H^2 was thinking of places!

      I so badly wanted Gil Cedillo to have spent some donor money in Long Beach…because we all know what I would’ve talked about then…

  2. I think that’s a post for a different day, a day when everyone has found some grace and civility.

  3. Come visit! there are so many new restaurants for you to try, and there is always lots of prosecco to drink.

    On a side note, I am thinking of coming back to SF in July with Andy!

    • Yes, I know, I need to get down to LA. Doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen in May, as I have multiple people coming into town here, and am spending Memorial Day weekend in ATX. Definitely sometime this summer though, I promise!

      When in July???? Would love to see you both! Any specific dates in mind? Joe and I will be out of town for a week that month for a wedding…

  4. Ohhhhh nostalgia for the good ol’ days. I kind of want to relive all those happy hours.

    And I DEFINITELY think you should get your (and Joe’s) butts down here for a visit and some good eatin’. Maybe we can do something exciting for Brent’s birthday in July and you can come down then?

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