With the Los Angeles Rams set to square off with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, it’s time to examine the important factors that may dictate the championship game – as well as the even more important ones that will have no impact whatsoever on football.
This is the latter.
Like people everywhere, Los Angelenos and New Englanders both eat food. Both areas feature plenty of culinary diversity, as major metropolitan centers tend to do. But which Super Bowl club comes from the place with the better regional cuisine?
This post will determine how Los Angeles and New England staples stack up in seven categories. I aim to evaluate these foods not only with a New Yorker’s arrogant but unbiased judgment, but also with the discerning eye of a baseball writer who regularly covers the MLB postseason and as such frequently winds up spending some time in both places.
Iconic sandwich: French dip vs. Lobster roll
The French dip is undoubtedly Los Angeles’ most iconic sandwich, and it’s pretty good. It lacks for texture, especially if you mistakenly order it fully dipped in jus, but it is often served with especially delicious mustard.
Here’s the issue: Boston has iconic roast-beef sandwiches, too. And on top of that, New England boasts just a far, far better lobster-roll scene. (Lobster rolls are undoubtedly sandwiches and I will not engage you on the matter.) I don’t even eat lobster myself because it hasn’t agreed with me since I spent three summers working at a wholesale/retail lobster farm in the late 1990s. But this one seems like a layup.
Breakfast that shouldn’t really be breakfast: Chicken and waffles vs. Dunkin’ Donuts
This is going to be an issue across the board here: You can get chicken and waffles in New England, certainly, and you can obviously get doughnuts in Los Angeles (more on that in a bit), and it’s probably unfair to compare the Snoop Dogg-endorsed chicken and waffles from a destination place like Roscoe’s in Los Angeles with the cheap fast-food option found at practically every intersection in Massachusetts. But I’m doing it, and chicken and waffles are just way better than Dunkin’ Donuts.
Edge: Los Angeles and it’s not close.
Preferred soup: Ramen vs. Clam chowder
All cities have ramen options, but Los Angeles might have North America’s best ramen culture. I say “might” because I really don’t know for sure; I’d have to do a lot more research. But there was a really good ramen place across the street from the Los Angeles hotel I stayed in during the World Series, and it was open until 3 a.m. local time.
Boston has nothing to quite match that, as far as I know, but it does have a beloved cream-based seafood chowder that many people are way into. I’m not one of them, but I trust my dad as my proxy here.
Iconic dessert: Ubiquitous doughnuts vs. Boston creme pie
Los Angeles feels like the only city in the country that matches New England for doughnut-shop density, but it packs way, way more variety. And a bunch of really good Los Angeles doughnut places also stay open super late. You can go out in the middle of the night and get cookies-and-creme doughnuts that look like adorable pandas, with little Oreo ears. You should probably Instagram them, like everyone else.
Boston creme pie is just OK.
Edge: Los Angeles
Regional fast-food favorite: In-N-Out Burger vs. Papa Gino’s
Edge: Los Angeles.
Wild card: Bougie farm-to-table bowl-food places vs. Baked beans
In the words of one anonymous For The Win staffer, it sometimes feels like “people in L.A. are all on an extreme vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, fun-free something diet.” That’s a stereotype, for sure, but a) there sure are a lot of places to get quinoa and b) I’ve been to Venice Beach, and I know that abs are made in the kitchen, so I believe that many people in L.A. really are on extreme vegan gluten-free, sugar-free, fun-free something diets.
Baked beans, done right, are fabulous. I mean the super sweet type with hunks of pork in there. With apologies to the magical acai berry, I prefer my fruit musical.
Famous imported cuisine: Mexican vs. Italian
Again, this category is problematic for a variety of reasons — first and foremost among them that both Mexican food and Italian food are often incredible, and you can get incredible Mexican food and Italian food in both Los Angeles and New England. But if you’re going to Los Angeles, people will often say, “Oh, you’ve got to try the Mexican food,” and if you’re en route to Boston, many will recommend a trip to the North End for Italian. So I’m going with it.
I will not say a bad word about Italian food or Boston’s offerings therein, but my gut says it’s easier to find particularly good Italian food in places that aren’t Boston than it is to find particularly good Mexican food in places that aren’t Los Angeles. Southern California takes the rubber match here, meaning that the Rams will undoubtedly win the Super Bowl.
Edge: Los Angeles
Overall winner: LOS ANGELES, 4-3
Both Los Angeles and New England have beloved doughnut scenes.