new to (west) LA
I recently moved down to West LA (near Playa del Rey) from Berkeley for work. I knew of everything yummy in Berkeley, but now I'm lost here. Where are some good affordable eats as well as fancier places (in case the company's paying:))? What can I just not miss?
Thanks in advance!
Yes, El Abejeno is great.Its much more like a place from Norcal. Also The Burger at Fathers Office on Montana in SM is legit, but very expensive(13.00). Zankou Chicken is overrated, and sterile. A great place for Persian food at lunch is Shimashuri (or something like that) on Westwood Blvd. near Wilshire across from Ross. Expensive at night.
Awesome List!! My only immediate qualm is about Don Felix, I went there for the first time this weekend and was a bit upset at their liberal use of shredded faux cheese. I much perfer Taqueria Estilo Mexico, Tacomiendo and Carneceria Sanchez for my Taco fix in the neighborhood.
Okay, here's a list of cheap West LA joints that I prepared for a friend a few years ago (some may be out of date...I left for exurban exile two years ago). Heavy on the taco shops, and mostly centered around Mar Vista/Palms. Enjoy!
11222 Washington Place (Sepulveda), Mar Vista
Fantastically popular, old-style Mexican-American taco shop (strongly divided opinions on CH). Fantastic burritos (love the bean-and-cheese...tho’ it’s not on the menu...the meat burrito is stuffed with chile Colorado), refried beans and salsa; not-so-fantastic IMHO, deep-fried, hard-shell tacos. The refried beans, which comes with salsa and chips, is the best cheap lunch in town. Always packed, with lines out to the curb. Chaotic ordering system, but well worth it. Burritos $2.25 – $2.95. Beans $1.10.
39851⁄2 Sawtelle Blvd. (Washington Place), Mar Vista
Combo market, butcher shop and taqueria. Great variety of tacos, tortas, burritos and seafood. Somewhat inconsistent, but great carnitas tacos and incredible smothered burritos (burrito mojado – try the red (hot) sauce...absolutely addictive). Tacos $1.00, burritos $2.25 – $4.99.
Santa Monica Airport Farmer’s Market (near Centinela & National, Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Very good tamales in a number of varieties, including Chicken Mole Verde and Chicken Jalapeno (my favorite). Tamales $1.50.
4513 Inglewood Blvd. (Culver), Mar Vista
Cafeteria-style restaurant that has an extensive menu of antojitos as well as stews, soups and other “family-style” cooking. Good carnitas burritos. Open for breakfast. burritos $3.00 – $7.00.
10855 Venice Blvd. (Midvale) Palms
Clean, little restaurant that has excellent sauteed chicken breasts, good burrito mojado, and superb “house” chicken and red mole enchiladas (mis enchiladas). Very nicely plated entrees. Very clean and cozy café. Entrees ~$5.00.
2404 S. Barrington Ave. (Pico), West LA
Oaxacan-style taco shop that has its own butcher counter. Decent al pastor burritos. Open for breakfast.
California Mexican Grill
11106 Olympic (Sepulveda), West LA
Interesting little place that’s kinda halfway between a taqueria and El Pollo Loco. Specializes in grilled chicken fillings. Superb salsas. Open for breakfast.
4541 Centinela Blvd. (Washington & Culver), Mar Vista
also Inglewood & Culver, Mar Vista
This taco shop on Centinela and its parent market/take-out taqueria on Inglewood are touted by Jonathan Gold as the best and most authentic taqueria on the Westside. Much discussed on CH; search archives for recs. Great al pastor (chile-marinated) and carne asada (beef) tacos, and a smoky chipotle salsa. Also has burritos and tortas and everything else. I prefer the mother ship on Inglewood. Tacos $1.00 – $1.25, burritos $2.25 – $3.95.
4582 Inglewood Blvd. (Culver), Mar Vista
Good, well-hidden, little taqueria (part of a local chain, I believe). Excellent carnitas tacos and a very good egg-bean-and-cheese breakfast burrito. Also has burgers, burritos, etc. Tacos $0.99, breakfast burrito $1.69.
3306 Lincoln (Ozone), Santa Monica
Little taco stand that bills itself as a seafood place, but has excellent tacos and burritos. Highly touted on CH. Good pastor burritos and very unusual, yet good, chopped fish tacos. Tacos $1.00 – $1.25, burritos $2.50.
Top Valu – Parvis Café
4700 Inglewood (Culver & Braddock), Mar Vista
Grocery-store, Mexican deli with terrific burritos, mini-tacos and tamales. Quite good. Confusing ordering system. Pay first at the register, then take your receipt to the ordering station (or do it the other way ‘round). The carnitas burritos are huge and excellent. The deli often runs promotional specials that are great bargains (e.g., burritos $1.99, mini-tacos $0.50, etc.). The grocery store has an excellent selection of Mexican style meats, very inexpensive produce and a great selection of freshly-baked Mexican breads and pastries. Mini-tacos $0.50, burritos $2.45.
1922 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica (moving to Venice & Inglewood in Mar Vista)
Has a convenient take out window for tacos, burritos and such. Open for breakfast. Good carnitas, carne asada and pastor tacos. Also has burgers and fries just in case... Tacos $1.00.
12470 Venice Blvd.(Centinela), Mar Vista
A Westside institution for years, it recently moved from Santa Monica to Culver City. Combo Mexican-style “deli” and restaurant. Very popular for takeout items, like guacamole, tamales, enchiladas, and such. Also serves very good, if gringo-ized, huevos rancheros, tamales and such. Slightly more pricey (than the dirt-cheap Mexican-style taqueria), but still very affordable. Open for breakfast and lunch only.
2215 Westwood Blvd. (Olympic), West LA
Local, gringo-friendly mini-chain famous for its “healthy” grilled tacos and burritos. Good shrimp tacos and surprisingly good carnitas burritos. A little more pricey than the other tacos shops, but very nice. Tacos $2.00 – $3.00, burritos $3.25 – $5.95.
Tacos Por Favor
1408 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica
Fun taco shop/restaurant that features several semi-healthy items, all made to order. Quite good carnitas tacos and okay fish tacos. A little pricier, funkier and vegetarian-friendly than other taqueria (it is in Santa Monica after all), but pretty decent nevertheless. Open for breakfast. Tacos $1.70, burritos $2.75 – $5.50.
Gilbert’s El Indio
2526 Pico (Cloverfield), Santa Monica
Good, old-style, sit-down, chips-n-salsa, combo-plate, family restaurant. Open for breakfast thru dinner. Entrees $6.00 – $10.00.
11127 Palms Blvd. (Sawtelle), Palms
Westside branch of the legendary Oaxacan restaurant – the Koreatown location is reputed to be better, but this one’s close, so... Terrific mole tamale, clayudas and the best taquitos I’ve ever had. Open for breakfast.
El Saśon Oaxaqueño
12131 Washington Place (Grandview), Mar Vista
Excellent clayudas. Open for breakfast.
11619 Santa Monica Blvd. (Federal), West LA
11927 Santa Monica Blvd. (Brockton), West LA
10953 Venice Blvd. (Military), Palms
Valle de Oaxaca
3809 Grandview Blvd. (Venice), Mar Vista
Terrific little place that serves great, and very inexpensive, huarache and molotes (along with the usual Oaxacan goodies). Also make their own sorbets and ice creams from tropical fruits like mamey, cactus fruit and papaya. Huarache $2.80.
Aquí es Oaxaca
11614 Venice Blvd. (McLaughlin), Mar Vista
Market that sells all manner of Oaxacan meats, cheese, herbs and baked goods.
10925 Venice Blvd. (Greenfield), Palms
El Camaguey is basically a market with all kinds of Latin American produce, meats, breads and groceries, but an unobtrusive window by the butcher counter looks into a small kitchen that turns out huge, overstuffed, take-out boxes of Cuban food. Not the best, but a good value. They have pollo asado (roast chicken leg), lechon asado (roast pork), cola de res (oxtail), Cuban sandwiches, and others. These entrees come with huuuuuge helpings of black beans and rice, and fried yuca, sprinkled, like the rest of the food, with mojo de ajo, a sauce of sour orange juice with sautéed onions and garlic. The butcher counter has an excellent ham, El Paso ham, which would cost twice as much at Ralph’s or Vons. Cuban meals $4.50 - $5.00, El Paso ham ~$3.50/lb..
10319 Venice Blvd. (Motor), Palms
Extremely popular Cuban restaurant known for its roast chicken and unbelievably delicious roast pork (lechon asado). Like Tito’s, this one has its haters on CH. Entrees come with black beans, rice, fried plantains, fried yuca and a tangy garlic, citrus and onion sauce (mojo de ajo), and are large enough to feed a small army. Take out available. Entrees $7.00 – $12.00.
4361 Sepulveda Blvd. (just south of Culver), Culver City
Serves basically the same menu as Versailles, but is much less crowded. Good roast chicken and Cuban sandwiches.
10943 Venice Blvd. (Military & Greenfield), Palms
Cuban-style bakery that has good, inexpensive breads, sweet pastries and savory snacks. If you get there early in the morning (~7:00-ish), you can get their bolillos fresh from the oven – hot, crusty and tender...yum! (and only $0.20 each!!!). Their ground beef and chicken pastries, and stuffed potato balls are also very yummy and cheap. Bolillos 5/$1.00, snacks $0.50 - $0.75.
Coppelia’s Bakery & Restaurant
10829 Venice Blvd. (Greenfield & Veteran), Palms
Cuban-style bakery that also sells rotisserie chickens and beef and chicken empanadas. Roast chickens sell out early (usually before 4:00 p.m.). Has recently started selling quite good tacos and burritos. The carnitas is surprisingly tasty. Roast chickens $5.95, empanadas $1.00, tacos $1.25.
Cha Cha Chicken
1906 Ocean Ave. (Pico), Santa Monica
Jamaican take-out stand that has good, somewhat incendiary jerk chicken.
3811 Sawtelle Blvd. (Venice), Mar Vista
Little Argentine café that specializes in empanadas, of course.
10101 Venice Blvd. (Clarington), Palms
Veeerrry popular Thai restaurant (especially crowded, noisy and unpleasant on weekend evenings). Widely hated on CH, but it’s either this or drive to Thai Town...your choice. Americanized dishes (i.e. more sweet and spicy flavors, less salty and sour flavors). The best dishes include: Pad Thai noodles, Beef Panang and Mussaman curries, and chicken satay appetizers. Delivery and take out available. Entrees $6.00 – $10.00.
11611 Santa Monica Blvd. (Federal), West LA
Small (“cozy”) but very popular Vietnamese café with very good phô. Lunch specials $4.00 – $6.00, entrees $6.00 – $10.00.
104281⁄2 National (Motor), Palms
Indonesian café with excellent beef rendang (beef simmered in coconut milk, herbs and spices), and very good satay (grilled meat skewers) and gado gado (blanched veggie salad with peanut-coconut sauce). Affordable lunch specials. Lunch $5.00 – $7.00.
10450 National Blvd. (Motor), Palms
Superb mapo doufu (tastes Taiwan-style to me; a little different from some of the Sichuan places in SGV), and very good yuxiang qiezi (spicy eggplant). Has affordable lunch specials. Delivery and take out available. Lunch specials $4.00 – $6.00, entrees $6.00 – $10.00.
10974 Pico Blvd. (Veteran), West LA
Decent at dinner, not quite so decent at lunchtime.
Feast From the East
1949 Westwood Blvd., Westwood
Famed for its Chinese Chicken salads (and little else). They don’t do much – and what they do isn’t really Chinese (Chinese think uncooked lettuce is gross) – but they do it well, if you like that sort of thing. A bit pricey, but the salads are big... Chinese Chicken Salad $6.95.
2027 Sawtelle Blvd. (Olympic & La Grange), West LA
Little noodle shop that sells huge, yet inexpensive bowls of ramen soup, stir-fried noodles and gyoza. Has its haters on CH, but I’m not enough of a noodle snob to care. Ramen $5.00.
2130 Sawtelle Blvd. (Olympic & La Grange), West LA
Japanese market that has an extensive selection of packaged takeout lunches; good sushi and decent microwavable entrees (bento). Parking’s a pain.
11555 Olympic Blvd. (Colby), West LA
Generally favored over Asahi by the CH ramen snob coterie.
2130 Sawtelle Blvd. #200 (Olympic & La Grange), West LA
Local branch of a small, but worldwide chain owned by the Japanese food manufacturer that makes the Vermont House line of curry blocks (what Vermont has to do with curry, I’ll never know, but you can buy the blocks at almost any supermarket). Japanese curry is sweet, smooth, and bears as much resemblance to Indian curry as Papa John’s does to Neapolitan pizza al forno, but I likes it nonetheless. Excellent service. Entrees, $5.00 to $10.00.
2024 Sawtelle Blvd.(Olympic & La Grange), West LA
2064 Sawtelle Blvd. (Olympic & La Grange), West LA
10916 Pico Blvd. (Westwood), West LA
Fairly extensive lunch buffet with excellent vegetarian curries, roghan josh, and an interesting saffron-flavored rice pudding.
10871 Pico Blvd. (Westwood), West LA
Fairly limited number of items in the lunch buffet, but compensates with the richness of the dishes – they make good use of cream. Of particular note is the incredibly creamy and rich kheer.
1781 Westwood Blvd. (Santa Monica), Westwood
Fun, new branch of a popular restaurant in Artesia’s “Little India”, styled after the Northern Indian truck-stop cafes (or dhaba, simple shacks that are reputed to serve the best food), and so it’s unpretentious, inexpensive and fast-food style – pay first. It’s known for its Ludhiana Chicken (yogurt-marinated, grilled chicken), goat dishes (bakra), and Indian-style ice cream (kulfi). No buffet, but it has cheap lunch specials. Lunch specials $4.50 – $6.50, most entrees $4.00 – $7.00, kulfi $1.00.
2406 S. Barrington Ave. (Pico), West LA
Little, inexpensive take-out shop with a tandoor, that grills and cooks dishes to order. The tandoor-grilled items like the tandoori chicken, tikka masala (grilled chicken in a spicy sauce), and dahi (yogurt-marinated chicken) are quite good, as are the inexpensive lassis (yogurt drinks). Entrees $4.00 – $6.50, Lassi $1.50.
12021 Pico Blvd. (Bundy), West LA
Cal-Indian...the dishes here are lighter and more vibrantly-flavored than elsewhere. The décor is quite nice, but the prices are a bit higher. One specialty of the house is the Frankie, a sort of Indian burrito, and the Chicken Mahkni, a rich mild curry of tandoori chicken chunks in a buttery tomato sauce. No lunch buffet. Entrees $8.00 – $14.00.
10406 Venice Blvd. (Motor), Palms/Culver City
Pakistani restaurant that specializes in garlicky kebabs. Unusual but delicious chapli kebab and bihari kebab or the haleem (a sort of meatloaf); others will enjoy the tandoori chicken and the palak aloo (spinach and potatoes).
India’s Sweets & Spices
9409 Venice Blvd. (Overland), Palms/Culver City
Very inexpensive and convenient (i.e., fast service) vegetarian café/market. Decent veggie, lentil and bean curries and quite good samosa and pakora. Also has a selection of interesting Indian sweets, mostly long-simmered concoctions of milk, nuts and/or fruit. Curries ~$2.00, pakora/samosa $0.80.
Samosa House (fka Bharat Bazaar)
11510 Washington Blvd. (one block west of Sawtelle), Culver City
Indian market that has a tremendous selection of very reasonably-priced bulk spices, beans and lentils (great for food storage!). The proprietress (proprietrix?) also makes and sells pakora, samosa, vegetable curries and a fantastic mint-cilantro chutney.
2180 Westwood Blvd. Ste 1F (Olympic), Westwood
Little mini-mall shop that does great schwarma (grilled lamb slices) and falafel (deep-fried balls of chickpeas, onions and herbs). I believe it has recently changed hands and gone downhill.
716 Santa Monica Blvd. (Lincoln), Santa Monica
Moderately-priced Syrian restaurant with great appetizers and kebabs. Particularly noteworthy are the stuffed grape leaves, the creamy, mild hummus, kibbe, moutabal, and the very tender and garlicky chicken kebab served with a mind-blowingly creamy and garlic-lemony sauce (on the side). The lentil soup is also quite good. Appetizers and kebabs $3.00 – $6.00.
Sunnin Lebanese Café
17791⁄2 Westwood Blvd. (Santa Monica), Westwood
Lebanese Café that does great hummus and schwarma. Hummus is tangy with lemon juice and the schwarma is fragrant from spices.
2379 Westwood Blvd. (Pico), West LA
Great cakes, especially the chocolate fudge cake and the carrot cake. Worth every penny.
Bay Cities Importing
1517 Lincoln Blvd. (Broadway & Colorado), Santa Monica
Italian grocer and deli that serves awfully good Italian-style sub sandwiches. Packed at lunchtime. Sandwiches $5.00 - $7.00.
Sorrento Italian Market
5518 Sepulveda Blvd. (Sawtelle), Culver City
Italian grocer and deli counter that has a nice selection of meats, cheeses, salads, and hot and cold sandwiches. The hot sausage sandwich is yummy. Sandwiches $2.50 - $3.50.
926 Broxton Ave. (Le Conte & Weyburn), Westwood
Delicious and cheap muffins, brownies and cookies. Legendary value, despite the recent price change. Cookies 3/$1.00.
2918 Sawtelle Blvd. (National), West LA
Fantastic, fresh donuts. Try the glazed buttermilk bars. Yum. If you get them eeeaaarly in the morning (6-7 a.m.) when they’re freshly made and hot from the fryer, you’ll get a little preview of Paradise. Donuts $0.50 – $0.75.
The Bagel Factory
3004 Sepulveda Blvd. (National), West LA
Great, crispy-chewy bagels that come in dozens of flavors (I like the Black Russian – pumpernickel with raisins and onion). Bagels $0.70.
1403 2nd St. (Santa Monica), Santa Monica
English market/restaurant that has a number of inexpensive English meat and vegetable pies and such, from pork pies to Cornish pasties. Pretty good...for English food.
Great list. One other note about it the Saturday SM Airport Farmer's Market has moved back to its original location, a park at the Corner of Cloverfield and Pico. Yes, Bertha's is there along with alot of the regulars to the old market, but beware parking is a bit of a hassle.
I recommend Shanghai Red's for business lunches or dinners.
13813 Fiji Way
Marina Del Rey, CA
For more casual dining, go to Lares for tasty Mexican:
2909 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA
If you want somewhere in between (a neighborhood restaurant, but can also be used for a power lunch/dinner) and you want to go more inland, go to Il Pastaio:
400 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA
You can go to Rite Aid for ice cream down the block afterwards (I'm not joking). It's not the best ice cream ever, but it's good for a sugar rush.
And, speaking of ice cream, the best milkshake I have ever had (many friends from across the country agree) is here:
8585 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
Have you been to Lares since the fire? I went once and I was so disappointed that I'm disinclined to go ahead... probably go to Gilbert's El Indio, or Tia Juana.
Sapori in Fisherman's Village at MdR (same plaza as Shanghai Red's) is good for nice calm real Italian food. Not quite expense-account level but definitely not cheap eats.
Concur on the Shack -- there's one in Santa Monica, too, at 26th and Wilshire.
i had some good solid affordable standbys when i used to live in west LA. those closest to you include:
- cinco de mayo on washington and sepulveda for 24 hr burritos and tacos
- the place next to it for its pastrami sandwiches
- versailles on venice and motor ave for very good and hearty cuban food (get the roast pork and sangria)
- cafe brasil near versailles on venice for great grilled meats and a funky patio with personality
here's a couple more that are a little further but worth the drive up the 405:
- california chicken cafe on westwood between olympic and santa monica blvd for great rotisserie chicken and fantasic sides, a huge favorite in the neighborhood. make sure you try the minty salsa with your chicken; it's on the condiments counter.
- new japan on santa monica and sawtelle in the 7-11 plaza - just go and get their beef teriyaki for $7. ucla students lived on this stuff. and it was GOOD.
explore the area a bit and you'll see there are a lot of great, hidden and very affordable gems. =)
It should be said that Versailles is not the best Cuban in the city, but the Venice and Motor one is the best of their four or five outposts. The pork is the way to go -- the chicken tends to be overcooked, and the fish (esp. the halibut) is unspeakable.
Cafe Brasil has decent feijoada.
CCC is better than Koo Koo Roo, but not by much. New Japan is fine for what it is -- fast quasi-takeout teriyaki, but don't order the sushi or the soups, they're terrible.
re: Das Ubergeek
i tend to think CCC is way better than KKR, mainly greater quality of food due to high turnover - everything tends to be "fresher" and the place also gives off a "sense" of healthy californian fare vs those heavy sides sitting under heat lamps at KKR.
i definitely agree with you on versailles and cafe brasil. new japan is a old college hangout for me so i love it, although i have to admit their sushi and tempura were mediocre. but that beef teriyaki... oh...
There's a little neighborhood restaurant I like in Santa Monica called JiRaffe on 5th Street. Just about the best foie gras I've ever had last week, by the way. It's about $28 - $35 an entree, however.
And when you just have to have a chile relleno at 2 AM, there's a late night Mexican restaurant called La Cabana on Lincoln and Rose in Venice. They're open until 3 AM. No foie gras, there, however but you'll certainly see moi.
I should also give props to Whole Foods in Santa Monica. Great hot food bar, pizza guy, and prepared foods case.
Nook definitely. (We're goin tnite.)
J&J BBQ. low-fi shack with heavenly que. thanks Burger Boy.
Shoop's Delicatessen: The Clevelander Sandwich must be reckoned with.
Yabu - their dashi fish base broth is pitch perfect to my taste.
Bombay Cafe - new Indian cuisine for 15+ years.
Father's Office - it'll be hard, it won't be easy, but you'll have to do it.
I can second the recommendation for Taqueria Sanchez. As far as Dinah's, the apple oven pancake is the only thing worth ordering. I simply can't go there anymore. Their regular pancakes are awful, a fatal sin in a breakfast house. That along with the generally poor service has killed a long tradition of going to Dinahs.
I'd like to add to the rec's the little crepes shack at the top of the hill on lincoln east side of the street. I think the cross street is 96th but it's definitely closer to the MDR side of the hill than it is to manchester. Crepes is all they do and they do them well.
YOu need to go to Cafe Del Rey in Marina Del Rey
Cafe Del Rey has an ever changing menu, on the marina, great ambience-- seafood is phenomenal and sushi apps are decent. Also went there for brunch, it was affordable $28/pp, came with 3 courses, Mimosa/juice/coffee, and fresh baked muffins. I had ricotta fritters with citrus salad, eggs bene, and the meyer lemon tart.
Its on Admiralty way.
ayara thai cuisine in westchester for great, reasonably priced thai open til 10.
i second taqueria sanchez (the one on centinela) but be aware that they close at 7pm on the weekdays.
for california chinese (NOT authentic chinese, for which you need to go to the san gabriel valley) mao's kitchen in venice, no corkage, open late.
for sushi, irori in marina del rey.
26 Beach Restaurant 3100 Washington Brunch & Burgers & Exotic Pastas
Wacky Wok Abbott Kinney & Washington Strip mall Tea Smoked Duck
Tamaras Tamales Washington across from CostCo expensive, but good exotic tamales
Taqueria Sanchez Inglewood south of Culver Mexican to go
J&J Burgers & BBQ a few miles drive but worth it Adams 2 blocks east of Fairfax Do not confuse with J&R BBQ On LaCienega
Dinahs for Fried Chicken & Apple Pancakes on Sepulveda near Jefferson
Just got back from lunch at Schezwan Palace in Playa - the sweet and sour soup and Tangerine Chicken are very good and cheap.
1. Tamara's Tamales on Washington Blvd just east of Lincoln
2. If the company is paying, go to Joe's (Abbott Kinney) for lunch and pay heed to their lunch combo
3. Abbott's pizza (on Abbott Kinney)
4. There's an Indian restaurant on Pershing in Playa - forget name, but they have a good lunch buffet
I second all of these and also add a few...in no order...
1. C & O (one near the water and one on Washington)
2. Mao's Kitchen (on Venice and Pacific I think...get the crispy chicken salad and salt and pep seafood)
3. Baja Cantina
4. Irori (in the Marina shopping center with Koo Koo Roo and Jerry's)
5. Boa (upscale...get the company to pay)
I used to work on the westside for about 2 years, and I miss Mao's and Tamara's! I need to get back soon!
The Shack. Shack sports bar. Open air.
Claim to fame is the shackburger. Good burger with added hot link. Not to some folks liking but many of us crave it now and again.
Rinaldi's Deli in El Segundo. Really good sandwiches.
Harvy's on the corner of Motor and Palms. Good cheese pastrami. (Fried)
Pretrelli's Steakhouse GREAT Burger! I like their Ribeye but many disagree.
My small list of favorite reliable places... check out the Abbott Kinney neighborhood or Sawtelle corridor between Olympic and Santa Monica.
La Playita, on Lincoln north of Rose: good fresh seafood cocktails
La Oaxaquena taco truck, just south of there.
Terried Sake House, Santa Monica near Barrington: Japanese izakaya... yakitori and small dishes.
Simpang Asia, on National/Motor: best Indonesian rice plates in the area.
Yashima, Sawtelle/Olympic: Pretty good udon/soba noodles.
Ramenya, on Olympic west of Sawtelle: decent ramen for the westside. Also try Chabuya on Sawtelle.
Hide Sushi, on Sawtelle: No-frills, basic fresh sushi.
Jin Patisserie, dessert/tea shop on Abbott Kinney.
Nook Bistro, across the street from Terried. Good food, not too expensive. Smallish space.
Wakasan, on Westwood south of Santa Monica: prix-fixe izakaya.
Welcome from Berkeley! I used to live there for 15 years (mostly in the 70s) and still go to visit friends. Had one of the best dinners of my life in the Chez Panisse upstairs this July for my friend's birthday.
By the way, Playa del Rey isn't really considered West L.A.--you should probably say you live in the Marina del Rey area or Playa del Rey area. You could say you live on the Westside, but it's a big place. I'm not really good about the Marina--I do know Santa Monica and actual West L.A. There are lot of places in Venice, which is near you, that are good. You should really do a board search for cheap eats Marina and/or Venice. Playa del Rey is not a great food destination according to recent posts.
A place I do love in the real West L.A. (i.e., Santa Monica Blvd. just east of Barrington) is Nook Bistro.
I'm sure you'll get lots of posts, bearing in mind that you don't live in West L.A. proper.
You also might want to specify types of cuisine. Enjoy it here. It's not Berkeley but it grows on you after...10 years or so (LOL).
I live in the Venice area...Here are my picks to get you started in your new 'hood!
Joe's Restaunt& Primativo on Abbott Kinney in Venice
Akbar on Washington(just West of Lincoln).....good indian food Hinano's located at the end of Washington Blvd for an awesome burger.
Abbott's Pizza on Abbott Kinney
Torrilla Grill-great mexican & very reasonable
Tsjuji No Hana in Marina del Rey for good sushi!
Baby Blues BBQ on Lincoln, just between Venice & Rose.