Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Jan 26, 2007 07:02 AM

Santa Monica advice, please


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Sorry, guys, I somehow posted the heading before I added the question: I will be in Santa Monica next weekend with my wife and 11-year old son. We'll want to eat great food and would very much appreciate advice. We'd also very much like to find a place with genuine Mexican cuisine, probably for lunch. Thanks very much.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chip

      If you want to go somewhat high end, I've had two fantastic meals at Jiraffe recently.

      1. re: chip

        There are some excellent restaurants in Santa Monica. As suggested, Jiraffe is quite good. Also Melisse gets quite a lot of praise here and we like Josie La Balchs' "Josie" at 2424 Pico.

        For Mexican fare you have a pretty good selection of friendly family places to pick from. Lares as mentioned, Tia Juana, (exellent fresh house made tortillas and fantastic soft tacos de barbacoa) on Olympic just west of Barrington, Don Antonios on Pico just west of Barrington, (and next door to Talpa - another place that folks here seem to like). We are partial to Don Antonios as they have some of the best albondigas soup we have found and their soft tacos are also quite good and come with really creamy and delicious refried beans. Then there is also Gilbert's El Indio on Pico at about 23rd Street, (quite close to Lares). All these places are literally within 10 minutes, (at the most) of each other

        Enjoy your stay and the food.

        1. re: chip

          Hi... Please do your self a huge favor and consider widening your perimeter to include nearby West Lost Angeles. Less than five miles from ground-zero Santa Monica, you will find the japanese food corridor of eatieries along Sawtelle blvd (which runs north to south), between the bordering Olympic and Santa Monica blvds (which run east to west). Inexpensive ramen shops, small plate cafes, sushi and skewer joints, boba and dessert boutiques. Park near the corner of Sawtelle and Olympic, and just start walking north on Sawtelle for a few blocks. Lots of choices... Also, Nook Bistro is a swell place for lunch or dinner, hidden in a mini mall as you head back west toward Santa Monica, on Santa Monica blvd. Nook is still in west Los Angeles, but it's en route back to where you are staying. Good burger and frites. And speaking of burgers, check out The Counter, on Ocean Park blvd. in Santa Monica blvd., for crazy designer burgers, fries, and shakes which you build to order...

        2. I don't know where in SM you will be but Lares on Pico near Stewart is a good place. A couple of places near Third Street Promenaded are Border Grill and La Serenata de Garibaldi, both on 4th street. The latter two are less "hole in walls" and pricier than a typical Mexican joint. I am sure more suggestions will be forthcoming.


          1. If you want gooey Mexican food (cheese enchiladas, crispy beef tacos) then go to Gilberts. Keep in mind, they take cash only. No checks, No credit cards, but GREAT fast service. Border Grill is excellent as well for the more upscale Mexican food - definitly go for lunch vs. dinner for the price difference. Their Cochinita Pibil is divine (on the sweet side if you go for that kind of thing). To get great Italian, go to Il Fornaio. In the Santa Monica Place mall food court there's a cupcake place (pricey cupcakes, 3 bucks a piece but very moist and yummy).

            1. Monte Alban, a Oaxacan place on Santa Monica in West LA, beats every other Mexican restaurant mentioned so far on this board. Get their queso fundido, guacomole, tortas, molete, tazajo, molcajete, empanadas con huitlacoche, ceviche... just order the whole menu. I eat there once per week and have yet to be disappointed. A wonderful, wonderful restaurant at astonishingly low prices.

              For taco shack, I highly recommend La Playita, which is on Lincoln Ave, north of Rose. That is where Santa Monica and Venice meet. No tables or anything like that. Just really good Mexican food. I like the tacos, but the ceviche is the thing that I dream about.

              If you're at all interested in taco trucks -- and if you're not, then you should be -- check out the daytime taco truck on Rose, just east of Main St. Or check out the night-time taco truck on Lincoln, just south of Rose.

              Lares was good in the past, but even the loyalists have started to complain since their fire. Gilbert's and Don Antonio's are pretty Americanized, though still tasty.

              1. I forgot to mention Musha, which is a gem of a place in Santa Monica. It's conveniently located and unlike many of the things in that area, it has wonderful, different, exciting food. Japanese pub-style small plates. Really fantastic. Won't cost you more than $25-30 per person.