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Santa Monica/Westwood Restaurant Needed

My sister attends UCLA, I live in San Diego and our mom is coming to visit in LA. I need a good restaurant (mid-priced) with great food, fun ambiance and a good wine list. Any suggestions in the Santa Monica/Westwood area? Thanks!

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  1. type of food and budget (in $$pp) will help us narrow things down for ya.

    1. go to Nook Bistro...Santa Monica Blvd, corner of Barry .

      2 Replies
      1. re: coco puff

        Always a fine choice ... ironically, it's neither in Westwood or Santa Monica ... it's in between the two ... but, truly a fine choice for a someone to take their sister and their mom.

        1. re: PaulF

          I like the choice of Nook too, since you specify that you want a good wine list. Wine lists around here are often unpinspired and/or overpriced, but Nook is a nice choice.

          I haven't been, but Upstairs2 is a restaurant above a popular west LA wine store. It gets decent reviews on this board, and of course has great wine. It's on Cotner between Pico and Olympic, very close to UCLA.

      2. Best Chinese is Calif Wok.Seaview/Wilshire. Great food and wine - most reasonable.


        1. Of course THE LIGHTHOUSE (2nd and Arizona)has to be the greatest bargain in the world for $20 you can glutton out on every seafood item ever fished xcept lobster.Buffet style.


          2 Replies
            1. In Santa Monica, I adore Violet. Great atmosphere, fantastic food and very reasonably priced. Love love love it.

                1. Ditto on Violet. Palomino's near UCLA is also good. It is a little more expensive at dinner, but they have a great happy hour til 7 PM where you can order lots of appetizers and share, which is really fun.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Nicole

                    for a chain, palomino's is pretty good. if you are seated before 6pm, they have a "first seating" deal which is a 3 course prix fixe dinner with a soup or salad to start, your choice from at least 6 entrees, a dessert and a drink (non-alcoholic).

                    all this for under $20.

                  2. I also agree on Nook. Another place with good food on edge of Santa Monica and West L.A. is Literati II (Wilshire & Bundy). Another place not far away from UCLA that everybody always loves is Orris on Sawtelle--Japanese/French fusion small plates. Terrific food but they don't take reservations. Still if you go early you shouldn't have any trouble.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ThatPat

                      I second Literati ll. A great dining experince for the $$. My wife and I have never had a bad meal there. The only drawback for me is their pricey wine list so look into corkage.

                    2. I agree with Orris... LOVE LOVE LOVE it (but I've never been to the Nook.)

                      1. Wow... great response. Thank you! Any info on Beechwood? Has anyone been there?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: linnstewart

                          Beechwood is great fun. It get's very busy and crowded in the bar area but the restaurant is quieter. One of the best burgers ever, imo.

                        2. Not to point you toward a chain, but Houston's on 2nd and Wilshire has very nice atmosphere and good food for reasonable $. Easy access to walk around on 3rd street too. You'd need reservations on busy nights.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: karynb

                            There's one closer to UCLA at the Century City mall. It's actually not a bad option for that immediate neighborhood, especially if you're in the mood for either ribs or prime rib.

                            1. re: karynb

                              Since you are recommending Houston's, you should throw in Bandera at Wilsire & Barrington (open for dinner only). I think Bandera is the chain's best concept.

                            2. Wow. Lots of bad to mediocre recommendations here - be aware, and cross-reference your search on this board.

                              I do second Nook and Orris. Napa Valley Grill might be worth considering. Beechwood is really fun, but farther away and probably not quite what you're looking for.

                              1. You could try Ford's Filling Station in Culver City.

                                1. UCLA - Westwood area - Napa Valley Grille and Palominos are safe choices; good wine lists, competent food. I prefer NVG, but that's just me.

                                  OTOH, if you want a little nicer, try Tanino. Excellent Italian food, service, wine, in a beautiful setting.

                                  You could also try Bruschetta, on Westwood south of Wilshire, in the same block as the Bristol Farms.

                                  I also second the choice of Orris - excellent! Parking might be tricky, though. I haven't been to Nook, but I've heard it's good.

                                  Traffic is an issue during the dinner hour. Although UCLA and Santa Monica are close by as the crow flies, driving from one to the other (especially going W to E) is insane between 5 and 7 p.m. If you're starting out in Westwood, stay there. If you're starting out in Santa Monica, stay there.