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cheap ethnic eats near Venice?

Hi, we just moved to Venice, very close to the beach (walking distance to Abbot's pizza). We tried to drive to our favorite cheap Japanese noodle place the other evening (Yashima on Sawtelle and Olympic) and it took us almost one hour due to traffic. We love Guelaguetza on Pico and Sepulveda for Oaxacan, but now I am worried it is also going to be a long drive. Any ideas for good Japanese noodles or good Mexican food, closer to our area? Any ideas on good Chinese food? (please no Mao's Kitchen, I can't stand the place). We can't afford to spend a lot and we need a family friendly restaurant as we have a three year old kid. I don't know if there are Japanese restaurants in Santa Monica that are closer to us?.........

Thank you in advance!

First time Chowhound poster

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  1. There are a few, but what you really need are side streets intel. Have you tried coming down Rose then finding Palms?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Eat_Nopal

      Side streets intel! Good one!

      My thoughts exactly.

    2. Bay Cities Deli on Lincoln up in Santa Monica. Fantastic sandwiches, but their bargains are on the hot side. Can buy a meatball per kid and two per adult ($1.25 each) with sauce and some rolls and cheese and feed the gang for $3-4 each. Specials of lasagna, parmagiana, and potroast or meatloaf also very inexpensive.

      Tacos Por Favor, on Olympic at 14th. Tacos are close to $2 each, but they are generous and tasty. Great salsa roja from the salsa bar. Friendly place, fresh food.

      2 Replies
      1. re: nosh

        Tip: If you're buying any of the hot stuff, there's a separate line for that. Much faster than waiting for any of the deli sandwiches. Meatball sandwich is tasty.

        1. re: dynamike

          This is a GREAT tip! Get some meatballs - bread - mozz and off you go in no time at all for a totally affordable meal!

      2. I live in Venice and go to Guelaguetza at least once a week. It's a 10 minute drive tops if you drive up Venice blvd and then make a left on Sepulveda. If traffic's bad on Venice (only during rush hour) the you can always turn on one of the other streets like Walgrove or Beethoven and then make a right on Palms.

        For great Oaxacan food closer to home, there's La Oaxaquena truck that parks on Lincoln by Rose after 7pm. They have many (though not all) of the great things offered at Guelaguetza, including clayudas, memelas, tazajo, cesina etc.

        Cheap and tasty Indian food can be had at Taste of India on Washington at Abbot Kinney, and for family friendly Japanese that is fun and very reasonable priced there's always Musha on Wilshire at 4th.

        1. Bharat Bazaar on 11510 Washington has exceptionally good Indian take-out (the samosas are famously chep).

          Sakura at 4545 Centinela (Cross Street: Culver Blvd) is pretty good sushi and is big so rarely is there a wait.

          The argentine empanada place on Venice (Cross Street: Sawtelle?) is cheap, and great for kids--closes early so best for lunch or early dinner.

          Alejo's on Washington and Lincoln is great BYOB boisterous Italian food. Doesn't look like much from the outside but has a sincere following.

          Explore Lincoln. . .

          1. There was a recent thread about Missing Mar Vista...which is so very close to Venice...here is the link (I hope)...


            1. Totally agree with above posters about finding the side streets. Depending on where you are in Venice you can get to places east of Lincoln fairly quickly. Rush hour during the week can be difficult.

              There is a noodle place on Ocean Park and Barrington (I think those are the two streets) called Yokohama. I like their miso ramen just fine when I'm in the mood for noodles and in the area. About the same as Asahi. It's located in a strip mall that also is home to a very good, gourmet-ish Oaxacan place called Tlapazola Grill (there's also a Papa John's in the mall for reference).

              11 Replies
              1. re: NAspy

                There is also a Tlapazola Grill on Lincoln just south of Washington in Marina Del Rey.

                1. re: hrhboo

                  th new location looks like it's hurting for customers, definitely will have to support them.

                  1. re: kevin

                    I'm trying to support them, but the last two times I've tried to go they've been closed for private parties. I'll be sure to call ahead next time.

                  2. re: hrhboo

                    We went to Tlapazola Grill this weekend and although the food was ok we were disappointed it wasn't more "Mexican". None of the specials included even a hint of flare. We had one appetizer that had a variety of delicious sauces but we didn't see them again on any of the entres. The specials were so ordinary.

                  3. re: NAspy

                    Can you please enlighten me as to what Tlapazola Grill does right? I gave it a couple of tries, because I used to live 1/2 mile away. Its food & menu doesn't at all resemble Gourmet Oaxacan cuisine... to me it was like those mediocre mega resort hotel restaurants you get at places like Cancun & Ixtapa... some of the food sounds right... but they are catering to old school, plain Vanilla tourists that data back to the era of Jello Salads & Tuna Casseroles... and the flavoring reflects that market segment's desires.

                    Here is a sample of a quality, legitimate Gourmet Oaxacan place:


                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Seeing as that restaurant is in Oaxaca itself, I fail to see it's relevance to the thread. If such a restaurant exists in LA, please point us to it.

                      FYI, Tlapazola isn't supposed to be "gourmet" Oaxacan food, it is Oaxacan French fusion. The word "gourmet" isn't even mentioned on their website.

                      1. re: hrhboo

                        There is no Gourmet Oaxacan in L.A.... Los Danzantes in Oaxaca is a step up (in every respect) from most traditional Oaxacan places in Oaxaca; while Tlapazola is a step down (food wise) from Guelagetza & Monte Alban... so we are back to my initial query...

                        What have I missed there? Why do people like it? What is Gourmet about it?

                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                          Why does it have to be gourmet? It isn't gourmet, nor is it trying to be.

                          The seafood dishes are consistently excellent.

                          1. re: hrhboo

                            It doesn't have to be.... it was described as "Gourmet-ish" above... giving other 'hounds a wrong impression.

                            So which seafood dishes have been consistently excellent? And what did you like about them?

                      2. re: Eat_Nopal

                        I was in Oaxaca last summer and did not get to Los Danzantes, but I did try El Naranjo and Casa Oaxaca--they have two locations (incredible red snapper with caper sauce--the chef is superbly trained in France). I also was hoping Tlapazola Grill was like the good restaurants I went to in Oaxaca but have not been there. Based on what you say, I'll probably pass.

                      3. Thank you folks, for all your suggestions, especially for that link to the posting on Mar Vista dining places. Maybe we will be fine after all. We'll try other routes in order to get to Sawtelle and hope to try the other places listed on Chowhounds as well!

                        1. Versailles anyone. Lechon Asado ummmmmmm.

                          1. El Rincon Criollo in Culver City on Sepulveda is a nice alternative to Versailles for the Cuban fix. Good Cuban sandwiches, not nearly as noisy and friendly service.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mistertoast

                              Other than the Oxtails at Versailles... Rincon Criollo is pretty much as good... some dishes are even better.

                            2. Venture east on Washington. Once you pass Lincoln, you’ll have many options.

                              On the right, just past Costco is Sakura House, an estimable, if not soaring, yakitori place. Farther along, if you go straight where the Washingtons split, you’ll crash into the Outdoor Grill, which does a nice, if not really inexpensive, job on brisket & whose ribs are moist & flavorful.

                              Continuing on Blvd, Cora’s new place is on the left. Mainstream Mexican. There are many better around, but Cora’s has a nice old-fashioned Mex vibe. Still on left is another – in many ways better – Mex alternative, Mi Ranchito. Again, pretty mainstream dishes, but they do them all as though they care.

                              Just across Sepulveda on the right is Metro Diner, a bizarre & wildly uneven Serbian joint. Maybe soaring; maybe frustrating; but always an adventure. Adjacent is Markie D’s cheesesteak emporium. An excellent & very Philly version of this classic. Unfortunately, as of last visit, you had to bring your own Whiz.

                              Had you borne left on Place rather than ram into the Outdoor Grill, at the corner of Grandview & Place is El Sazon Oaxaqueno. In Senor Grub’s estimation, ESO is second only to Gueleguetza 8th St in the galaxy of LA’s Oaxacan restos. Yep, what few (a drawback) things they do, they do better than Gueleguetza Palms, in a comparable but less hectic, if Spartan, atmosphere.

                              Lastly, turn left on Sepulveda from Place & on left is Villa Italian where you can feast on an inexpensive & surprisingly good East Coast-style pizza in middle-school cafeteria atmosphere. Gloppy red-sauce pastas should be avoided unless, of course, you are in the mood for gloppy red-sauce pasta.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Mr Grub

                                Thank you, we'll try the El Sazon Oaxaqueno. We frequent the Gueleguetza on Palms when we do our shopping at Trader Joes. But it would be nice to find another good Oaxacan restaurant nearby.

                              2. I have heard good reports of the Chinese seafood place on Lincoln, a few blocks south of Venice.

                                1. The trouble with getting to Sawtelle is that it's near the 405. I work (and also live) one mile west of the San Diego Freeway and during a busy time it can take me ONE HOUR to get home. I don't think side streets are going to help here as they all back up until you hit the other side of Sepulveda Blvd. My advice would be to stay as West as possible until it's not peak driving time (whenever the heck THAT is).

                                  And to throw in my two cents, there's a not-bad Japanese place (eat in and take out) in the mini mall on Santa Monica Blvd. and Yale St. (near 28th St.) and also a cheap, kid friendly reliably edible Chinese place in that same mini mall called Dragon Palace.

                                  1. How 'bout Fresh in the Box?
                                    Good takeouts of sushi (brown rice too), clean teriyaki, salads. Nice combos, fairly inexpensive for what you get.

                                    Fresh in the BOX
                                    13354 Washington Blvd.
                                    Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                    In the same mini mall:

                                    *Tamara's Tamales (very good
                                    *Yakitori place
                                    *Kaya Sushi (korean-Japanese, across the side street)