I really like the original L.A. taco trucks. They're really authentic. There's all these cool, fancy food trucks, but I mean, I'm in L.A., and you just can't get tacos like this in Baltimore.
Along with movie stars, you're in a town full of celebrity chefs. Have you gotten to know any of the others?
Michael Voltaggio is right down the street. He's from Frederick. He's got those two great restaurants, ink., and his lunch place, ink.sack. In the next month or two, he and I are planning to close off a huge section of Melrose and do a humongous crab feast. Crabs, corn and Maryland beer. We want to call it "Maryland on Melrose." We're just waiting for permission from the city.
That sounds like a fabulous event. Do you miss Maryland seafood?
We have this cool place in Koreatown called The Boiling Crab. It has, like, a two-hour wait. You get a giant plastic bag of steamed and boiled seafood — crawfish, mussels, clams and Dungeness crab. They have blue crab but, you know, I'm not going to get that. You get real messy; it's really, really good.
What do you miss most about Baltimore, food-wise?
The pit beef — Chaps.
What are some of your other favorite restaurants around town?
There's this really amazing place, Kings. OK, it's in Northridge, out in the Valley, totally not a chic area, like the Dundalk of L.A. A Korean family bought this old burger place and opened it as King's Burgers. But their son went to culinary school and went back to Korea and learned to make Korean sushi. And inside the burger place, he opened a sushi bar. This sushi is beautiful. I don't like uni [sea urchin roe], but this guy made me love uni. So you get this amazing sushi but you eat it in these vinyl booths with linoleum tabletops. When I bring people there and we pull into the parking lot of a burger joint, they say, "I thought you were taking me to a sushi bar." My favorite Mexican is El Flamin on Sunset [Boulevard]. You just can't get Mexican food like that in Baltimore. ink.sack has the best sandwich in town.
I know you grew up in a traditional Jewish family. Have you found any good delicatessens in Los Angeles?
Yes, there's an amazing Jewish deli downtown called Langer's — it's an L.A. staple. I was in Langer's one time and [Guns 'N Roses lead guitarist] Slash was in front of me. I sat at a booth near him and I was like, "Holy [expletive] — there's Slash eating matzo ball soup!"
You're also a musician. Have you gotten into the local music scene?
[Sighs.] I haven't been playing, I've been so busy. The Whisky [a Go Go] is a really neat place to see a band because it's so small. The Troubadour is really awesome — a great place to see a show as well.
L.A. is one of the most sprawling cities in the country. Where do you live?
In Santa Monica. We like to eat at Upper West. It's like L.A.'s version of [Baltimore's] Salt. On the weekends, we usually go to the beach or rent bikes to go up and down from Santa Monica to Venice Beach — its fun. [Venice Beach is where you find] all the freaks and every kind of person doing their thing — so many interesting people. Everyone is having a good time, riding their bikes, playing volleyball, basketball tournaments … some people are spray-painting graffiti. Nobody cares. There's just so much going on.
When friends from Baltimore come to visit, where do you take them?
Definitely to Venice Beach. And it's fun to go for a workout at Gold's — that's the gym where all the crazy huge dudes you see on the cover of muscle magazines work out. My friends say, "Wow, those are real people?"
Where do you recommend friends stay?
I love The London off of Sunset. And across from The Grove is Farmer's Daughter; it used to be a motel, then somebody made it nice.
Finish this sentence: "The thing I most love about LA is ..."