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Culver City updates, especially sushi, Thai or vegetarian?

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My daughter, a UCLA transfer student, just found her LA place to live, in Culver City (a compromise between what she wanted to spend and how far she was willing to drive to school. As it turns out, there is apparently pretty good bus service from her area to the campus)....

anyway, it will soon be time to start figuring out how to maximize my business trips to that lovely campus, so that I can combine them with dinners out. I'd like to impress her by knowing more about her new neighborhood than she does!

Here is the most recent thread I found:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

any more recent updates or suggestions? She loves Italian, sushi and Thai food, has been eating mostly seafood and vegetarian options lately (diary is fine), and doesn't drink . Looking for both places that suit a student budget and the occaisonal splurge in case I do manage to get down there on a per diem...and for the splurge cases, a good wine by the glass list would be appreciated (for Mom!). She isn't big on Mexican food, but I am...

Coffee Houses, markets, specialty food shops, especially for Middle Eastern ingredients, would also be appreciated...Thanks for any leads!

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  1. I'll start with a couple.

    Surfas for market/specialty food shop.

    BlueBird bakery for sandwiches, salads, and CUPCAKES.

    1. for vegetarian, inexpensive, indian food:
      Samosa House [formerly Bharat Bazaar] 11510 West Washington Blvd Culver City, CA

      1. It's a pretty good neighborhood for reasonable eats, though some places I like aren't liked by others here.

        There is a Cuban place on Sepulveda (El Rincon, I think) that has good chicken dishes and good Cuban sandwiches.

        Sorrento's Italian Market has a nice deli counter for meats and cheeses and has been in CC forever.

        Try Gaby's on Venice for Middle Eastern. I like it fine, though I think some here on the board don't dig it as much. I wouldn't drive 20 miles for it, but it's fine for a neighborhood spot.

        My kids love Villa Italian on Sepulveda. I'm sort of picky about the service and don't eat a lot of pasta, so I don't go there much, but others love it. The pizza is supposed to be good, too.

        The Metro on Washington Place has Serbian food and is otherwise a much better than an average diner diner.

        Speaking of diners, I eat in Ronnie's Diner on Culver more than I eat in any other restaurant and it isn't even close. Great, healthy diner fare and great breakfasts.

        Tito's Taco's gets a lot of play on this board. It's on Washington Place. It's sort of an LA tradition that some swear by and others don't get at all. Very inexpensive tacos.

        I'm running out of time here (kids aren't up) so I've got to stop. Let me just throw out Tanner's Coffee on Sepulveda for a good place to study. There is tons of great Mexican in the area, but she doesn't dig Mex, so I didn't mention any.

        Finally ... she's living in between UCLA and Loyola Marymount. She might like to check out Marina Del Rey on weekends for movies and other things. It's sort of the LMU hang out area and lots of college students are around.

        Tell her congratulations on getting into UCLA!!!

        Paul F (UCLA '85)
        (married to a Bruin, with two Bruin sister in laws and two Bruin brother in laws ... not to mention all the cousins ... welcome to the family)

        7 Replies
        1. re: PaulF

          YAY! Another UCLA family member reporting! :) And I moved to Culver City this fall and am loving it! :)

          That's a great list Paul! I have to add one more Italian rec, Giovanni's on Washington near overland is great! :)

          --Dommy!

          1. re: Dommy

            Hehe - go Bruins! Did y'all discover these places in college? I wasn't a Chowhound until I became Bruin alumni!

            Where were your faves at UCLA?

            1. re: chica

              howdy fellow bruins! :D

              i, like chica, did not discover CH until i graduated. at the same time, i began to develop better taste buds.....as can evidenced by the following quick list. my favorite places to eat back in school was falafel king, cowboy sushi and versailles............man have my tastes changed since college.

              1. re: chica

                Most of my faves are gone and the mods frown on nostalgia threads.

                But of the ones still in WW, I like Falafel King, Fatburger and Sepi's sub sandwiches.

              2. re: Dommy

                I simply ran out of time and neglected Giovanni's.

                It's a must if you like Italian, though a college student might find it a little pricy.

                We also haven't mentioned the many great Mexican places in the area because this new Bruin doesn't enjoy Mexican. But Tacomiendo, El Abajeno, Sanchez are all worth a trip and there are many more, too.

                BTW - I can walk to the original Tacomiendo, but have started going to the other one in WLA because it is right near the park where my kid has practice. It's just as good -- had two carnitas tacos last night.

                And -- and I didn't know this until my wife told me -- did you know that Tacomiendo has a pot of free beans to help yourself to alongside the salsa bar? Dang, now I have to go back ...

                1. re: PaulF

                  Yeah!! They got a mention in LAT yesterday for that pot (And BB/SH got a mention for their fried to order Samosas! Whee!! :)) ... they are TASTY too. Also, they got the free pot of beans at Taqueria Estilo Mexico. Again, REALLY tender and tasty! The only problem is at both places, they give you TINY condiment sized cups to fill with beans. Ask for another plate when ordering for the beans! YUM!! :)

                  1. re: Dommy

                    I have friends who call Taqueria Estilo Mexico "Dollar Taco" and they absolutely swear by it.

                    I've lived nearby for a few years now and oddly enough haven't gone in. Every time I think of it, I can't find a parking spot out front.

                    Incidently, the OP should consider Sakura on Centinela for Japanese. I've only been once and it only earned a shrug from me, but it's popular and some on this board have had some nice things to say. I'd call it "neighborhood" sushi as opposed to "destination" sushi ... but we're talking about a college student here.

            2. Natalee Thai is not too far from Culver City on Venice and is great Thai (you'll find more threads about that on Chowhound) - esp. the beef panang curry.

              On Culver in the cutesy downtown of Culver City is a casual, streetside cafe-type French place called Bistro de l'Hermitage - that's a must. It's next to or at least within a block or two of Ford's Filling Station I believe.

              1. Culver City Sushi (Best Deal) - $2.00 for 2 piece Nigiri, $3:00 rolls. Bad news I think lunch only M-F:

                California Sushi Academy

                http://www.sushi-academy.com

                Culver City Sushi - Read the creatively writen multi-pictured review:

                http://thedeliciouslife.blogspot.com/...

                Middle Eastern Market - If she is traveling by Bus with an unlimited, or multiple, use pass and going down Westwood Blvd., then she can stop off at:

                Jordan Market
                1449 Westwood Blvd. - 4 blocks south of Wilshire, westside
                (310) 478-1706

                1. Annapurna's on Venice Blvd. near Motor serves inexpensive yet excellent South Indian vegetarian food. There's a small Indian market in the same minimall.

                  --- Ravi

                  1. I love Tender Greens in Culver City for their incredible (Chez Panisse-like--I mention Chez P because you appear to be from the Bay Area.) fresh salads--an incredible seared ahi nicoise that was one of the best I've ever had at an amazing $9.00. It's cafeteria style with a nice outside sitting area. They also have sandwiches, steaks, burgers, but the emphasis is on the greens obviously.

                    1. For vegetarian I'd recommend Leaf Cuisine on Washington Blvd not too far west of the 405. I also like Beacon though a little more expensive and Dijonaise, both on the east end of Culver City near Helms Bakery bldg. Also like Giovanni's Trattoria for Italian on Venice and Clarington. The Conservatory coffee house on Washington, just east of Madison/Clarington is a good independent alternative to the chains, but has limited hours.

                      1. Sushi Zo on National. Much loved on this board, a (too) well-kept secret. Your daughter would be impressed by how astoundingly "inside" you were to know about this place.

                        1. Might want to check out Fassica, an Ethiopian place on Washington. The surrounding area is depressing, but the food is terrific and quite vegetarian-friendly. One caution: "spicy" is truly spicy.

                          1. First let me say GO BEARS! There's only one Cal, and it's in Berkeley!

                            As for food, lots of places in CC that will fit a student budget. Many are mentioned above, I'll add a few more. A good place to go is the Grand Casino Cafe on Main Street in Culver City. It's an Argentinian style bakery. They serve great empanadas (baked, not fried) as well as salads and sandwiches. Also an extensive pastry selection. It's really cheap too, the empanadas ar $1.75. Their empanadas lunch of 2 empanadas and a bowl of soup is $5! It's the best deal in town.

                            For salads and sandwiches, and lots of vegetarian selections, Cubby's on Hughes St. will fit a student's budget as well. Tell her not to go if she's on a tight schedule, they are notoriously slow.

                            For comfort food (not healthy at all!) is S&W Diner on Washington Blvd, Hughes is the cross street. Pancakes, hash, waffles, and huge omlettes for breakfast. Lunch is also typical diner food (the super grilled cheese with tomato and bacon is greasy goodness, as are the curly fries.) There are also a couple of Mexican dishes on the menu. I don't think they're open for dinner.

                            And of course...In-n-Out Burger on Venice near Cardiff. Every college kid's staple.

                            Good luck to your daughter!

                            1. Although I went to the best public university in the state (Cal '80) I am the daughter of two UCLA grads, so I have to help out a Bruin even though I won't root for your daughter's team unless it's playing USC.

                              For the last few months I've been working in Culver City and have been eating some lunches in the area. Most of them have been Mexican - Taqueria Sanchez, El Abenejo and Tacomiendo. But I have done Ayara Thai a couple of times - it's about 1/2 block east of Sepulveda and a block south of Manchester - real close to LAX. Giant parking lot in back that services all the businesses in the immediate area.

                              Go Veggie on Centinela south of the 90 freeway but north of Jefferson has a nice salad bar with some unusual offerings as well as freshly made sandwiches and juices and smoothies.

                              Good luck to your daughter at UCLA.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Debbie W

                                Not to worry, I feel exactly the same way you do on the Cal vs. Bruins vs. USC issue....

                                that aside, I'd like to thank ALL of you for the GREAT suggestions! Lots of ideas here to get me started (and thanks for the Mexican suggestions, I will use them even if J doesn't). Keep them coming!

                                I will report the back, so I have the feeling you all will be seeing more of me on this board in the months to come...;-)

                              2. Can't argue with what most have pointed out. Though I don't truly despise Tito's, I just can't wait in long lines for pretty good cal=mex tacos when some of the best authentic real-mex foods on the westside is just a few blocks away at Taqueria Sanchez.

                                I can second the recommendations for Rincon Criolla over Versailles for Cuban and I like Le Hermitage over Dijonaise for French. On the later, I can't really cite the reason except that I prefer quiet over loud and understated over slick.

                                One must-know that hasn't been mentioned is that there are a ton of indian places along Venice near Clarington but the must is India Sweets and Spices. An indian foods shop on Venice right at Main. They have a hot deli counter that beats anything else in the neighborhood. It's a real chowhounders place--a local treasure with a great price to taste ratio.

                                Oh yeah, Le Petit Casino on "Historic" main street is pretty good for morning pastry and coffee--especially if you're an elitist snob like me and try to stay out of the evil green place where smallest cup can't be called a small and the largest can't be called a large.

                                For your daughter, along with 3 the evil green places, four if you count the one in the supermarket, there are several coffeehouses here in C.C. the only one that's actually operating as a bohemian coffehouse is Synergy on Overland at Braddock. They have a nice room in the back where there's something going on almost every night. You know music, poetry, films etc. as well as activity clubs. My favorite giggle is the knitting club that's called "Stitch and Bitch."

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: KayZee

                                  actually, should have mentioned that she is definitely NOT a Starbucks person, so good to know about alternatives!

                                2. Irori is a great, medium price sushi restaurant in Marina del Rey (about 15 min. west of Culver City) but be warned part of the fun is that you take your shoes off and sit on the floor in a traditional japanese environment.

                                  Essentially it is good sushi with vegetarian options and great service!
                                  A fun and affordable restaurant!