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3 weeks in Santa Monica

I'll be spending 3 weeks in Santa Monica for business and am looking for recommendations. I'll be staying at the Best Western on Santa Monica Boulevard and I won't have a car, so please keep that in mind. Also, moderately priced places would be appreciated (it's a new job and I don't want to freak them out with the expenses just yet.


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  1. I would recommend Nook.

    It is east of the Best Western on Santa Monica Boulevard. It' sin West LA -- but not far -- a very short "Big Blue Bus" ride (5 mins? - 10 mins at most?).

    Nook is very well-reviewed on this board, so I don't need to rehash the menu. Here is a link to the Nook search:



    FWIW - From the Best Western on Santa Monica, you can also take the Blue bus west to the 3rd Street/4th Street/Downtown area very easily. In fact, a straight bus ride up Santa Monica is easier than finding parking in Santa Monica. There are tons of places to try once you've gotten off the bus at 4th and Santa Monica, places walking distance from right there.

    1. I second Nook. Fantastic food at completely reasonable prices!


      See my review from a while back:


      1. In addition to Nook, with so much time, you may want to try the following as well:

        Border Grill (better value for lunch than for dinner - try the conchinita pibil)
        Houston's (California burger)
        Josie's (very high end, but just go, sit at the bar and get a glass of red wine and the buffalo burger with foie gras and truffle fries - it'll be the best $35 dinner alone you ever ate)
        Father's Office (again, the burger)

        1. Hello.. Good recs so far. Another 'must' option is just a few blocks further east (then south) of Nook Bistro: Sawtelle blvd. will intersect Santa Monica blvd. Go south (right) onto Sawtelle, and within a few blocks you will come upon many affordable japanese options, from ramen shops to small-plate cafes to boba and creme puff joints to sushi. It's a good walk on foot, but safe and stimulating to the eye and palate. By the time you've reached the corner of Sawtelle blvd and Olympic blvd, you will have more choices than you'll possibly need. Enjoy...

          1 Reply
          1. re: silence9

            Orris and Blue Marlin are good on this street.

          2. if you are town during the 18-22 and 25-29 of sept, pellegrino is sponsoring their annual Dine Out event that offers pre-fixe lunches for $25 and dinner for $35 at participating restaurants. this will be an affordable way of trying some more expensive restaurants in the LA area (including a handful of places in santa monica).


            1. - Sham: bad name but really good middle eastern food. Avoid the salad, get the Arice sandwich, so good. 716 Santa Monica Blvd
              - La Playita: My favorite Mexican food in LA. (blue shack, no seating, too far to walk from your hotel) 3306 Lincoln Blvd
              - Bay Cities Italian Deli: Best sandwiches. 1517 Lincoln Blvd
              - Cora's Coffee Shop: Mid-priced, good food. 1802 Ocean Ave

              1. I used to live on 14th and Wilshire... you didn't specify, so forgive me if some of these are ethnic cuisines you don't like:

                Chandni Vegetarian Indian, 19th and Wilshire -- this is four blocks from your hotel.

                Nawab of India, 16th and Wilshire.

                Santa Monica Pizza Kitchen (for when you've got to have it) -- Wilshire bet. Euclid [13th] and 14th.

                Bistro Santa Monica (haven't been here in AGES) -- 23rd and Santa Monica

                Cafe Bizou -- Broadway bet. Cloverfield and 26th.

                Warszawa Polish Cuisine -- Lincoln [8th] and Santa Monica

                Monte Alban Oaxacan Cuisine -- Santa Monica and Brockton in West LA, 6 blocks east of Centinela

                There's a huge Whole Foods at 21st and Wilshire which can supply you with ingredients and pre-made foods.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  That's a pretty good list, to which I'll add if you turn north it's 2 blocks to Wilshire, turn right and 1 block more (north side) there is Noma - Sushi & Japanese for 33 years (they might deliver?)


                  2 Blocks east of that is O'Brien's if you want to hang out: Irish Food (?) but good Beer, Pool, Darts, & T.V. for sports.

                  O'Brien's (Irish Pub
                  )2226 Wilshire Blvd. (south side)
                  Santa Monica
                  (310) 829-5303

                  1 more block, opposite side you have a WWII diner, 1948 actually, for a greasy spoon fix and a Sweizg (spelling) Burger. Maybe Breakfast & Lunch only.

                  Snug Harbor
                  2323 Wilshire Blvd. - North side
                  S.M. (310) 828-2991

                  1 more block east, south side, and your at Wilshire Restaurant: trendy, organic, sceney, expensivish, great patio out back with 2nd bar:


                  Now your 6 1/2 blocks from home base, but wait are you an Eagles fan? Well 1/2 block farther is The Shack, which is Philly central, and a Burger joint with their signature burger having a hot link on top the patty.


                  The Shack
                  2518 Wilshire Blvd. - South Side
                  S.M. (310) 449-1171

                  100 feet farther east and your at the intersection of 26th & Wilshire & 8 blocks from home.

                  Within 1 & 1/2 blocks further East there is North-side:

                  Sonny McLeans Irish Pub - Where you go if a Rex Sox or Patriot Fan


                  Akbar - Indian - Some people like this place and some don't.



                  Drago - Scilian Italian - Expensive


                  Pacific Dining Car - American - Open 24 hrs. - Very Expensive


                  And if you made it this far, 9 & 1/2 blocks from home base, a cab ride home can't cost much $4.00 ?

                    1. re: JBC

                      I would second the rec for O'Brien's (3 blocks up, 2 over from where you are) if you like solid fresh salads, a better-than-average burger, and a good beer and wine selection. Oh yes, and your usual "oirish" fayre - corned beef, irish stew, etc. Pool table's been gone for some time. Nice atmosphere in the late afternoon for an after-work drink.

                      Can't vouch for Snug Harbor (since I last had breakfast there some 10 years ago), but not sure if the "zweibelburger" [onionburger] is still on the menu or just remains painted on the ancient window sign out front. Was (and probably still is) a simple greezy spoon diner.

                      Akbar (at 26th and Wilshire) has gotten some bash in this forum, but I always thought thier Tikka Chilean sea bass was quite good, when not overcooked.

                  1. Mama Voula’s is good greek food. under $15. bring your own beer/wine.
                    11923 Santa Monica Boulevard (@ Brockton)
                    West Los Angeles, CA

                    Cafe 50's last wednesday of each month (6pm-10pm) your dinner is free with the purchase of a drink BUT ONLY of you show up in old fashioned pajamas.

                    really cheap eats ~Zankou Chicken on Sepulveda and Santa
                    Monica and really close.

                    A little far maybe, but I just had a good curry chicken salad at Coral Tree Cafe in Brentwood. Also check out the sandwhich shop in the strip mall across the street(brown bag or something like that?) GOOD LUCK!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: allecat22

                      "Cafe 50's last wednesday of each month (6pm-10pm) your dinner is free with the purchase of a drink BUT ONLY of you show up in old fashioned pajamas."

                      ... and they have very liberal interpretations of what "old-fashioned" means and what "10pm" means... I tried it once and failed.

                    2. You could also take the Big Blue Bus #1 which goes down Santa Monica Blv.

                      at Santa Monica Blvd near Barrington (?) there are some good restos:

                      La Saigon (Vietnamese): small family run place with a homey, friendly feeling. Nearly all dishes are under $10.

                      Juqilla (Oaxacan): Man, I miss their chile rellenos! Good mole negro y rojo tambien.

                      Javan (Persian): I've heard good things about this place but have never been. There are a several Persian restos in the area.

                      On Wilshire near Bundy is my all time favorite pastry shop in the Westside:
                      Almandine: best coissants I've had. Peach danish is to die for. Beautiful cakes and tarts. Good place for brunch (under $10). It is run by the Japanese so you know it is more authentically French than French!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mielimato

                        just east of juquila (near santa monica and barrington) is a japanese place called "terried sake house". its easy to miss. i don't remember seeing a sign. they have great japanese street food: fried tofu steak with egg, baby squid steak, sweet potato tempura, yakitori, yakisoba, it's all good. a friend from japan said that its very similar to the bar/drinking food in tokyo.

                      2. Javan is a great choice for sampling Persian cuisine. I have to disagree with the rec for Cafe 50's. I haven't HAD to eat at one since my kids learned to drive. There is nothing there in the way of food that you'd miss!
                        Almandine? People rave but the atmosphere is so cold I have left.

                        We love the Nook, Mama Voulas is fine, Monte Juquilla is pretty good, Coral Tree is fine but not fabulous, Zankou- out of the way and probably not worth the trip.

                        I would probably try and get a car, at least for part of your stay. The bus system is fine to a point but some parts of Santa Monica (the city and the street) are a bit sketchy and you don't want to be walking or hanging at a bus stop alone at night. (especially if you're a woman)

                          1. For a cheap meal, check out Tacos Por Favor on Olympic, around 20th street. You'll be very happy.

                            1. You MUST go to Buon Giorno Cafe on Santa Monica between 14th and 15th, north side of the street. Little known, amazing food. Lunch to go is a flat $5 with a very extensive list from their regular menu (I've tried all the pastas - amazing), but average prices are about $8 -$10, anyway, and the Chicken Picatta is one of the best I've ever had.

                              Only open M-Sat until 3PM. Great for breakfast.
                              1431 Santa Monica Blvd

                              1. Thanks for all of your recommendations. Almost 2 weeks down, one more to go. So far, I've been to the following - Beacon (Culver City) TWICE, Nook, Sham, Bistro of Santa Monican, Kai-ten (?) on the Promenade and Trastavere (also on the Promenade).

                                Here are my thoughts:

                                Beacon and Nook are excellent. Definitely worth a return visit.

                                Bistro of Santa Monica and Trastavere are nothing special.

                                Kai-ten exceeded my expectations. The fish was very fresh and the sushi/roll preparations were interesting.

                                Sham was also very good and very traditional.

                                I have also eaten lunch at La Salsa, Network Cafe and Il Forno.

                                The plan for next week is to try Javan.

                                Thanks again and I'll check back to see if there any new recommendations.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: aunteejoy

                                  I would make an effort to try some of the local Mexican restaurants, even it it's just Gilbert's on Pico or Tacos Por Favor on Colorado or Juquila on Santa Monica ... some places like that.

                                2. Try Jiraffe -- the Monday night bistro menu is quite affordable for dinner. And the food is worth eating even if it weren't affordable.

                                  Its Santa Monica and 5th.


                                  The Monday bistro info is under events.