Santa Monica in April
My husband and I will be in Santa Monica during the first week in April and would love some restaurant suggestions. We are adventurous eaters and need suggestions for all of our meals. Coincidentally it will be our first wedding anniversary while we are there so we are looking for a meal for that evening as well.
I still love to take out-of-town guests to Chinois on Main. The over-the-top decor and open kitchen complement the original Asian-California fusion. All dishes are served to share. The "small plate" starters are creative and tasty (I love the fried rock shrimp and the stir-fried minced lamb in radicchio cups) and mostly priced in the midteens. I'd share about three of them and a dessert and if you must order one of the large plates (upwards of $30) definitely go with the sliced filet in szechwan sauce. Yes, tables are close together and the place can get noisy, but it has a great vibe, the staff is professional and gracious, and I've always left feeling well-fed and nicely cared for.
Don't forget my favorite restaurant in Santa Monica, Michael's over on 3rd street just west of the Promenade. They helped define California Cuisine in the 80's (along with a new restaurant named Spago). The patio is one of the best dining areas in all of Los Angeles.
There's also Jiraffe on 4th.
I do also highly recommend Joe's over on Abbott Kinney.
Few recs above for casual easy places...
Amandine up on Wilshire toward Brentwood is great for breakfast/brunch/lunch and casual.
Melisse is high-end French on Wilshire at 11th.
You might decide one day to head out to Malibu... For great views, you've got Geoffrey's and of course Nobu for sushi.
You might also decide to head up to Beverly Hills either for the tasting menu at Spago or Urasawa.
Opinions vary but The Counter is on Ocean Park for burgers.
Avoid Sushi Roku... not great quality, high prices, scene... blech.
Tudor House on 2nd for British pastry and/or tea, or casual brunch/lunch.
Santa Monica/Venice is filled with great restaurants:
Whist at The Viceroy
La Serenata di Girabaldi
newly remodeled restaurant at Casa del Mar
Lobster (great view)
(the two listed above are good ideas for your anniversary, because of the views)
Father's Office (weekends only)