Saturday, May 2, 2009

Los Angeles, home of the best bagels and chili

Los Angeles has a lot to offer to its visitors and its residents. In particular it has a lot to offer in the way of food, not just any food, but really good food. From gourmet to fast food, the options are limitless.

But two places to get really good food in Los Angeles are the Original Tommy’s Hamburgers and Brooklyn Bagel.

Both are extremely different in their offerings, but both are essential to visit if you enjoy chili, burgers or bagels.

Tommy’s, founded by Tom Koulax in 1946, is a staple in Los Angeles.

“There’s nowhere else to get chili around here,” Wilton Mijngos, local said.

Mijngos said he has been a customer of Tommy’s original location on the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Rampart Boulevard for 20 years.

The original shack has a counter that runs along the side so that customers can eat their food. Eating standing up is the only option at Tommy's and it really adds to the whole experience.

“I’ve been coming here since I was young,” Mijngos said. “It comes natural to me.”

The original location in Los Angeles was originally just a shack on the corner of the street, but today it is a shack with a parking lot and one other serving station. Both offer walkup service to customers.

Part of the unique ambiance of the restaurant is the complete absence of tables, chairs, and an indoor eating area.

Customers form a line at the shack or at the other ordering station to order their chili dogs, chili burgers and other chili items, and they find a place at one of the counters that run along the shack and the building across the parking lot.

A chili boat with cheese, onions, pickles and a slice of tomato. Tommy's also offers chili dogs, chili cheese fries, chili tamales and breakfast.

Napkin holders are on the walls and there is plenty of elbow room needed for eating the deliciously messy Tommy’s fare.

Koulax’s mission for Tommy’s was not just about great food, but great service too.

“Back in the day he was all about serving the customer,” Robert Auerbach said. “It was a working man’s philosophy.”

Auerbach, the regional supervisor and Koulax’s stepson, said he grew up working at Tommy’s in North Hills and that Koulax gave him a chance to prove himself.

“I considered him dad,” Auerbach said.

“Dad used to bring home burgers every night,” Auerbach said. “We loved Tommy’s.”

Auerbach not only loves the food, but he said he loves working for Tommy’s as well. He has been with the company for 25 years.

Auerbach said that for years the only advertising that Tommy’s did was in a “little square” in the sports section in the “Los Angeles Times,” and that many of the customers learned of Tommy’s by word of mouth.

Even though times have changed, little has changed at Tommy’s.

“It’s very East Coast,” Auerbach said. “It’s real high quality.”

Auerbach said that recently after more than 40 years, the restaurant is back with Coca Cola and that it has added fountain drinks at the original location that previously only sold soda in cans.

The original location is open 24 hours. It does not matter what time you crave a chili burger, just head on over to Tommy's.

“We just rolled out Coca Cola back in the shack,” Auerbach said. “The customers voted to put Coca Cola back. We put a great value on our customers.

Tommy’s is a great place to not only get great chili, but great customer service.

Brooklyn Bagel is also the place to go to get great food and excellent customer service.

“I am an on-the-premises owner,” Richard Friedman, owner and son of the founder said. “I care about my customers.”

The bagel store that was started in 1953 by Friedman’s father Seymour Friedman is the best bagel store in Los Angeles.

Bagels are made on site at Brooklyn Bagel in Los Angeles. They are always fresh and delicious.

I am not the only one who thinks so. According to Friedman, Brooklyn Bagel was voted number one by “L.A. Magazine” in 2008, 1998, 1995, 1989 and 1983.

“We think it’s better that we use a malt recipe,” Friedman said.

Not only do they use a malt recipe, but when they make a flavored bagel such as onion, it is not just a plain bagel with a topping.

“We try to make it onion inside and out,” Freidman said.

He said that they actually put onion in the dough.

Friedman said that there are 25 varieties of bagel and that the most popular bagel is the water plain bagel.

There are also other flavors like cheese, sesame and cinnamon raisin.

There is nothing quite like a fresh cheese bagel from Brooklyn Bagel if you are a cheese lover.

For the best tasting and the freshest bagels in town, make sure to stop by Brooklyn Bagel in Los Angeles located at 2217 Beverly Blvd.

For more information about Tommy's Original Hamburgers, visit

Gas: About $5
Parking: Free
Food at Tommys: About $5
Bagels: About $3
Total amount spent: About $13