Starring as your hometown

Los Angeles rivals New York City when it comes to transplants. And one thing all transplants share is a list of gripes about what was better about home. For New Yorkers it's bagels and pizza. For Austin, Texas, natives, BBQ. For Chicagoans, jazz. For Bostonians -- everything. But just scratch the surface and there's a little bit of everywhere in these United States of L.A. Read on and beat the homesick blues.


BBQ worth the accompanying arteriosclerosis

Flaunt Magazine music editor Trent Buckroyd was unable to locate good Tex-Mex-- "Californians just don't like that much cheese"-- but the native Texan found good "Tyler, Texas-style" barbecue at Dr. Hogly Wogly's in Van Nuys (8136 Sepulveda Blvd., [818] 780-6701), and smoked meats worthy of Austin's beloved Salt Lick at JnJ's Burger and BBQ (5754 W. Adams Blvd., [323] 933-7366).

Music venues so intimate

you can smell the, um, funk

Austin transplant Jenny Sperandeo cites the El Rey, Spaceland and the Troubadour as venues worthy of Austin's close-knit music scene but suggests McCabe's Guitar Shop (3101 Pico Blvd., [310] 828-4497), "if you really want to appreciate a singer-songwriter in an intimate setting like the Cactus Cafe."

Best places to get

on a horse or off a bull

Without so much as a dedicated country radio station, L.A. is no cowboy mecca. Approximate a Lone Star state of mind by hitting the horse trails at the Sunset Ranch Hollywood (3400 Beachwood Drive, [323] 469-5450). If it's mechanical bull riding you're after, take your pick of Saddle Ranch Chop House locations in West Hollywood (8371 Sunset Blvd., [323] 656-2007) and Universal CityWalk (1000 Universal Studios Blvd., [818] 760-9680] and Union Cattle Co. in Hermosa Beach (1301 Manhattan Ave., [310] 798-8227).


Get Your Red Sox On

It's genetically impossible for a Bostonian to be anything but a Sox fan. The base of operations for what's been dubbed "Red Sox Nation West" is Sonny McLean's (2615 Wilshire Blvd., [310] 449-1811) in Santa Monica. Ostensibly an Irish pub filled with Boston sports memorabilia, Sonny's hosted the World Series trophy after the allegedly cursed team finally won the 2004 championship, thus making the ultra-devoted fans of the once perennial losers insufferable. (We kid!) "I love Sonny McLean's," says "ER" star and Boston transplant Maura Tierney. "The Red Sox Foundation had a fundraiser where I bartended for one of the games. It was a blast."

For that special brand

of Bostonian arrogance

"Bostonians are certain their superiority is obvious enough that talking about it would be unnecessary," says Boston's Michael Brodeur. "But they're also completely afraid of each other. That's the biggest difference between us -- you guys actually talk to each other there." In L.A. such misanthropy can be found, oddly enough, at the Burbank karaoke den Dimples (3413 W. Olive Ave.), a place where Boston types can simultaneously have fun while ruthlessly mocking others.

It's Spucky to you

For a Boston-styled sub sandwich, Dave's Chillin-and-Grillin in Eagle Rock (2152 Colorado Blvd., [323] 490-0988) can't be beat. The handmade meatball spuckys are so popular they often sell out by the end of lunch hour. Boston-born owner Dave Evans won't hesitate to share the ways he obsesses over the quality of meat and bread he serves -- all in that unmistakable, vowel-enhancing accent.

For the all-powerful Boston clam chowder, Tierney digs Malibu Seafood. (25653 Pacific Coast Highway, [310] 456-3430).

Swanning around in a boat

While there is little that can match the Boston Public Garden's iconic Swan Boats for pure rite-of-spring kitsch, the paddle boats of Echo Park Lake (751 Echo Park Ave., [213] 847-3281) and MacArthur Park (2230 W. 6th St., [213] 368-7390) offer our city's no-less-charming take on self-powered watercraft. And they don't close for winter.


Cajun cooking? Good luck

Finding victuals as tasty as in the Big Easy? It ain't easy. "Most L.A. places pale in comparison to back home," says Eric Witmeyer, who moved to L.A. in 1987. For decent gumbo and beignets, he recommends the Gumbo Pot at the Farmer's Market (6333 W. 3rd St. No. 312, L.A.; [323] 933-0358). "For chicken, red beans and rice, go to Popeye's (at Melrose and Rossmore). I've had fried catfish with poached eggs -- we call it Egg St. Charles -- at Kokomo Cafe (6333 W. 3rd St. No. 120, [323] 933-0773). I've never seen that dish outside of New Orleans. If price is no object, the crab cakes at Ivy at the Shore (1535 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, [310] 393-3113) taste like crab cakes back home." For a heaping Po' Boy sandwich, head to Uncle Darrow's (2560 S. Lincoln Blvd., Marina Del Rey, [310] 306-4862) and try the "Zeek."

Where to celebrate Mardi Gras

"We eat King Cake every day from Jan. 6 until Mardi Gras day," says Witmeyer. "The Paris Bakery on Westwood (1448 Westwood Blvd., [310] 474-8888) -- which has French New Orleans-style desserts -- is one of the few places in L.A. that sells it." For shenanigans worthy of Bourbon Street, Miss Kitty's Parlour at the Dragonfly (6510 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, [323] 466-6111) throws its annual Mardi Gras party on Feb. 8.

Where to slow down and smell the chicory coffee

"The Huntington Library serves tea and the architecture and the gardens remind me of home," says Witmeyer, who's found a few other pockets of the relaxed N'Awlins vibe: Bohemian Los Feliz, with its ethnic mix and antiques stores; the outdoor cafes, architecture and small-town feel of Pasadena; and the old-world feel of Olvera Street in downtown L.A. "People don't realize it but the architecture in The French Quarter is mostly Spanish Colonial [New Orleans was a Spanish colony first]," says Witmeyer. "So I love Olvera Street's ornate Mission Church, with its statutes and red candles. New Orleans is a Catholic city and Mexican Catholicism is very similar to what we practice back home -- our All Saints' Day is their Dia De Los Muertos."


Good Italian, cop-approved

Chicago Italian is for working stiffs, not baby agents at lunch. Eastside Market and Deli (1013 Alpine St., [213] 250-2464) is often packed with cops from the police academy in Elysian Park chowing on sausage and peppers. For deep-dish lovers, Masa (1800 W. Sunset Blvd., [213] 989-1558) serves an authentic pie. Joe Mantegna's Taste Chicago (603 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, [818] 563-2800] hews so close to artery-clogging tradition, it's almost a food museum.

So long, Frank Lloyd Wright?

Not so fast. Pasadena's gorgeous Craftsman-style Gamble House (4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena, [626] 793-3334) will present a lecture and tour sure to please Fallingwater and Robie House fans: Discuss "Frank Lloyd Wright: The Southwest Legacy" on Friday, and on Saturday, tour Wright's La Miniatura, a rarely opened private home, "originally envisioned as a Mayan ruin set in a jungle ravine."

Jazz for insiders and outsiders

For experimental jazz and noise, there's no topping Chicago's Ken Vandermark, but as Kill Radio DJ and Northwestern grad Andrew Choate says, a few venues here flirt with the experimental, including Knitting Factory (7021 Hollywood Blvd., [323] 463-0204), Pehrspace (325 Glendale Blvd., [213] 483-7347] and Eagle Rock's Center for the Arts (2225 Colorado Blvd., [323] 226-1617). For the wine-and-strings crowd, Hollywood Bowl is a glammer version of Highland Park, Ill.'s Ravinia.

Bars that are almost dives

"People from Chicago tend to be very down-to-earth and they want to stick together," says Libertyville native and guitar hero Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Nightwatchman). "Those qualities can be hard to find in L.A." Get the Hollywood approximation of the Chicago dive at the tight-knit Coronet Pub (370 N. La Cienega, [310] 659-4583) or Joe Jost's (2803 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, [562] 439-5446], a family-owned pool hall. If only they sold Old Style, the illusion would be complete.

Where to be a proud Cubs fan

The upside of moving from Chicago to L.A.: better weather, teams that win. "I don't go out to sports bars because I don't want anyone to see me crying in public," Cubs fan Morello admits. For masochists, there's the Grand Avenue Sports Bar (506 S. Grand Ave. in the Biltmore Hotel, [213] 612-1205], which gets Midwest feeds.


High-fidelity Cuban food

You think Tony Montana went berserk at the end of "Scarface"? Casually mention to any Miami transplant that Cuban food and Mexican food are "pretty much the same thing, right?" There's a surprisingly deep list of Cuban restaurants here. For quick and easy, there's Versailles, which has five locations. Or line up for midnight sandwiches (ham, pork, pickles and cheese on sweet rolls) and great coffee at Porto's Bakery, in Glendale and Burbank. If you want authentic and ambitious, check out the fabulously decadent masitas de Puerco at El Colmao, a great old school spot (2328 W. Pico Blvd., [213] 386-6131), or try the arroz con pollo at Felix's Continental Cafe (36 Plaza Square, Orange, [714] 633-5842) which has outdoor tables right across from the postcard setting of the Old Towne plaza. For music and food, Havana Mania (975 E. Birch St., Brea, [714] 529-2233) has a pig roast on Tuesday nights.

A spring break state of mind

There's something about Florida that brings out boozy debauchery in young people (there's a reason the wet T-shirt contest was Fort Lauderdale's contribution to world culture). You can find that special magic here in town at Patrick Molloys (50 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, [310] 798-9762]. On "Coyote Wild" night (Thursdays) waitresses show a lot of skin and grind against each other. On Tight Wad Tuesdays, beers go for 2 bucks and tequila is two-for-one -- numbers that add up to a rough Wednesday morning. We called the manager's office at Molloy's on Monday to make sure the place still had these grand Florida traditions: "What, you mean getting trashed? Yeah, we got that."

Shvitz like you mean it

Floridians are like a tribe without a sweat lodge. They come to California and stubbornly wear shorts and tank tops at night; you see them walking on the piers here, stumbling and stunned like panicked alligators in a meat locker. To re-create the glorious feeling of 100% humidity, visit Beverly Hot Springs (308 N. Oxford Ave., [323] 734-7000).


Enough with the moaning about bagels and pizza

So maybe you have to dig a bit, but the good stuff exists. For dense, chewy, hearth-baked bagels, try Brooklyn Bagel Bakery (2217 Beverly Blvd., L.A., [213] 413-4114). Vito's Pizza (846 N. La Cienega Blvd., [310] 652-6859) and Village Pizzeria in Larchmont Village (131 N. Larchmont Blvd., [323] 465-5566) both offer top-drawer Brooklyn-style slices. As for deli food, lower your expectations: Filmmaker Rachel Zabar, whose family owns famed New York deli Zabar's, isn't impressed with L.A.'s efforts. "There are no decent Jewish delis. I've been to Jerry's and thought it was a joke."

Where to get lovingly abused

Dana Goodyear, who writes the New Yorker's "Postcard From Los Angeles" column, is nostalgic for Florent in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. She's found its cousin in Pasadena's Pie 'n Burger (913 E. California Blvd., [626] 795-1123): "The chalkboard offers olallieberry pie not boudin noir, but the waitresses are similarly fed up and saucy, the regulars just as bleary, and the food is homey and delicious."

Where to get out of your car and get lost in the crowd

Hit the metro and head downtown, which offers gritty streets, tall buildings, and (almost harried) pedestrians during the weekdays. (Stick around at night to experience New York without people.) For a Times Square-style jolt of neon and meanderthal tourists, head to the intersection of Hollywood and Highland.

Where to satisfy a late-night craving

"What I miss the most are Korean delis and the ability to leave your house at all hours to get anything," sighs Zabar. "The closest thing to that is Gelson's on Bronson and Franklin, which is open until midnight." And while L.A.'s list of late-night eateries is admittedly short, night-owls can flock to 24-hour Du-Pars in the Farmer's Market ([323] 933-8446), the Pacific Dining Car downtown ([213] 483-6000) and in Santa Monica ([310] 453-4000), or Pipers in Koreatown ([323] 785-7244).

Where to root-root-root for the home team

Almost 100 die-hard New York Giants fans converged on Rick's Tavern in Santa Monica (2907 Main St., [310] 392-2772) during their last game. Check the www for news of the next gathering or to find groups devoted to Yankees, Mets and other teams.




Footy and meat pies like mum's Aussies, Kiwis and Brits can cheer their favorite clubs and play darts while consuming enormous amounts of beer at the Cock 'n Bull (2947 Lincoln Blvd., [310] 399-9696) and King's Head (116 Santa Monica Blvd., [310] 451-1402).


A whiff of Australia "Driving through Elysian Park, with all its eucalyptus trees, always rekindles feelings of the landscape back home," says Aussie transplant Fiona Whitton.


A place in the Portuguese-style sun "My hometown, Lisbon, has many beautiful beaches that are a great part of our lives," say L.A. Phil Assistant Conductor Joana Carneiro. She points Iberians to Will Rogers State Beach (17700 PCH, [310] 305-9503) for a beautiful coast reminiscent of home.


Feel like a Parisian intellectual The deep wood hue, hushed tones and wide-ranging titles of the Pasadena Public Library (285 E. Walnut St., [626] 744-4066) "reminds me of my old library at the Sorbonne," says French immigrant Corinne Simon-Duneau.


Where Bulgarians can savor a bite of home Danube (1303 Westwood Blvd., [310] 473-2414).


A comforting plate of Pastel de Choclo Homesick Chileans go to Rincon Chileno (4354 Melrose Ave., [323] 666-6075).


What Argentine women want A little pampering at Nona's Beauty Salon (7548 Sepulveda Blvd., [818] 908-9288).


Getting African flavors right Pan-African Ngoma Restaurant (5358 Wilshire Blvd., [323] 934-1595) and family-owned Ethiopian Nyala (1076 S. Fairfax Ave., [323] 936-5918)


The pomp and smell of Romania Incense-laden services at the Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church (3315 Verdugo Road, [323] 255-8583) are conducted in the congregation's mother tongue.


Get yer Ong Choy! Stock up on Indonesian groceries at Seafood City (138 S. Vermont Ave., [213] 365-9100).


Seeing (and tasting) Hong Kong The austere hills, ridgeline paths and ocean views of the Santa Monica Mountains ([805] 370-2301) conjure Hong Kong, and Sam Woo Barbeque Shop (634 W. Garvey Ave., [626] 289-4858) captures the city's homey flavors.

For The Record Los Angeles Times Tuesday, January 29, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction Country music radio: An article in Thursday's Guide section about transplants to Los Angeles finding reminders of home said that L.A. does not have a country music radio station. In fact, Go Country 105 -- KKGO-FM (105.1) -- is an L.A. station dedicated to country music.
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