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Restaurants in Santa Monica

I recently moved to Santa Monica (around 10th and Santa Monica Blvd.) Everyone always tells me there are such great restaurants down there, but I haven't been able to fin any! The promenade is terrible, there are a few places on Main...am I missing something??

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  1. Welcome to the hood. There certainly is a high concentration of good restaurants in Santa Monica, as well as a wide variety:
    Melisse, Akwa, Capo, Giorgio, Valentino, Michaels, One Pico, Boa, The Hump, Chinois, The Lobster, The Ivy, Whist, Buffalo Club, Sushi King, Josie, Sushi Roku, Tengu, Casa del Mar, Ocean and Vine, Ocean Ave Seafood, La Serenata.

    Start with those.

    The Promenade DOES suck for restaurants, as do Main and Montana.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

      You're kidding right? All three locations: Promenade, Main and Montana have some pretty good places.

      Promenade: .

      1. The two crepe places are pretty good (one is on Arizona, the other is on Broadway).

      2. Houston's is a chain -- but some of their stuff is more than passable.

      3. Ye Olde Kings Head -- it is touristy and full of Brits -- but the food is damn good.

      4. Gelato place -- across from the movie theaters on Arizona. Not bad.

      5. Fred Segal -- very healthy lunch options.


      1. Sunday farmer's market.

      2. Chinois

      3. Chaya Venice

      4. Pizza place -- whose name I don't remember


      1. Babalu

      2. Blue Plate

      3. Italian ice place on 13th & Montana. Get the blood orange.

      4. Cafe Montana

      1. re: jhulla

        double exclamation marks on Musha! the owner is hilarious and the food is awesome! Good luck getting a table on Friday and Saturday nights though.

        1. re: jhulla

          Well, Chinois I like and it's on Main. Chaya is in Venice, technically.

          There's one crepe place on the Promenade, and I don't think it's all that great. It's open late, which is nice. Kings head is on 2nd and not 3rd. The Gelato place is like buying store gelato-- some company ships it from San Francisco. Fred Segal is on 5th. Houston's is on 2nd.

          And on Montana, I go to Father's Office, Cafe Montana all the time, but I think they are very mediocre. Babalu, Blue Plate-- very, very mediocre.

          Speaking of Montana, there's some new place opening called "Montana".

          1. re: jhulla

            I'd add the 17th Street Cafe to the discussion of restaurants on Montana, good, not great salads and sandwiches. Nice place for a lunch. I seem to remember that they made a pretty good cioppino as well.

          2. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

            Um... have we ever been to Main and/or Montana? Both are fabulous scenes for food and drinks.

            1. re: WORX4FUDE

              Where's fabulous for food on Main or Montana? Father's Office on Montana and Via Veneto on Main, but where else?

            1. What places have you tried on Main St. that you like?

              1. I would also say that you should go to Father's Office. Since you're local, it'll be easy for you to stop by when it isn't awfully crowded. And you get to partake in the ever popular Best Burger in LA debate.

                1 Reply
                1. re: SauceSupreme

                  Definitely stop by now that it's open on the weekends for lunch!

                2. It takes a while to discover the gems in Santa Monica. Here are some recommendations for a local for good local grub.

                  1. Bay Cities Deli (Broadway & Lincoln): This place will become your goto sandwich place. Go there. Immediately. They bake their bread fresh throughout the day. The sandwiches are delicious. And while you wait for your number to come up, peruse their amazing selection of European groceries. (And you can walk there.)

                  2. Blue Plate (Montana & 14th): A great lunch/brunch restaurant. Excellent healthy sandwiches, salads.

                  3. Babalu (Montana & 9th): Excellent fish specials. Americanized Caribbean food. Delish.

                  4. Cha Cha Cha (Pico & Ocean): Get the jerk chicken enchiladas with the fried plantains on the side.

                  5. Fritto Misto (Colorado & 6th?): Great neighborhood italian place. Food is good. Staff is friendly.

                  6. Ye Olde Kings Head (Santa Monica & Ocean): This touristy British Pub actually serves some damn good food.

                  7. Sunday Farmers Market (Main & Ocean Park): Grab yourself a plate of eggs or pancakes and some fresh squeezed oj and sit down in the grass along with a hundred other people. Sundays only.

                  Start with those.

                  You can then work up to Melisse, Josie's, Locanda Portofino, Jiraffe, etc.

                  1. Oh yeah -- almost forgot where I had dinner this evening.

                    The Counter (29th & Ocean Park): It is a burger joint. But man are they good. You get to order it exactly the way you want (you get a clipboard with a multiplechoice menu). Tonight I added mixed baby greens, spicy peppercinis, black bean and corn salsa and an apricot dressing.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jhulla

                      The Counter is DELICIOUS. SO far that's the best burger in LA for me!

                    2. Adding to the Babalu rec's -- great low-key friendly vibe -- had the best shrimp and grits of my existance here -- they also have great pies.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bite bite

                        I'd add Sam's by the Beach on West Channel Road.

                      2. Although we live in NY, whenever my husband is in Santa Monica, I tag along because I love it there.
                        During our last stay, we had a terrific breakfast at a small, outdoor spot almost right net door to the Le Merigot hotel. Does anyone know the name? It is escaping me right now. It was wonderful and delicious!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MRS

                          Probably Cora's Coffee Shoppe (a Bruce Marder enterprise).

                        2. Tacos Por Favor for authentic Mexican on 14th and Olympic. Head to the Sawtelle area for Many good asian places.

                          1. I wouldn't recommend Blue Plate, personally - but of the Montana Ave lists offered, one is left off: Le Marmiton. It's fantastic.

                            I would add Cafe Delfini, Via Veneto, Locanda Portofino, Brass Cap, Coras...

                            You won't find anything on the Promenade.

                            1. I really enjoy Border Grill on 4th between Broadway and Santa Monica for brunch and for happy hour. Decent specials for happy hour at Ocean Avenue as well.

                              1. Oh, I forgot about Pacific Dining Car!

                                1. I used to work in Santa Monica and the places I miss the most are:

                                  Bay Cities Italian Deli (can someone PLEASE messenger me a godmother and a pastrami)
                                  Jack n Jill's

                                  1. Promenade Area:
                                    Fritto Misto, Border Grille for Happy Hour (I've never been impressed with the dinners unless you are prepared to shell out at least $30 a plate), Ocean Ave Seafood (good for lunch, dinner, and happy hour), Jiraffe, Jinky's for lunch, Father's Office for beer and burger.

                                    Main Street / Abbot Kinney: Library Alehouse, Omelette Parlor for brunch, Joe's (best deals at lunch and brunch), Lilly's French Cafe

                                    Pico Corridor: Lares, Gilbert's El Indio

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: umeakai

                                      Jack 'n' Jills on Santa Monica Blvd. between 5th and 6th for great sandwichs and salads (try the blackened chicken wrap)

                                      1. re: umeakai

                                        The best recommendations for eats I've seen thus far are bay cities deli, and Lare's on Pico and 30th for the best Mexican in SM. I would also recommend Cha Cha Chicken for a lunch spot on pico and ocean, will second the burger and beer selection of father's office and think that Nagao on 26th and San Vicente (technically brentwood) is a solid sushi joint at reasonable prices which won't break the bank and has interesting rolls.

                                      2. Man, no love for The Galley here? Solid, if not adventurous food and a great atmosphere. Frito Misto for casual Italian. Locanda Portofino is good for more formal Italian without busting the budget like Capo or Drago. (Granted, if I could afford either of those two regularly I'd go to either over Portofino.) Are we all too high falutin' for a Kalua Pig bowl at Wahoo's?

                                        And there is no greater pleasure in life than a loaf of bread from Bay Cities within minutes of it coming out of the oven. Whenever the timing works out for me, life just seems so good.

                                        1. You don't say what you're looking for. High end? Adventurous? Haut Cuisine? Cheap Eats? It's pretty hard to answer.

                                          The Galley is a lot of fun - in the same vein is Chez Jay on Ocean across from the Loew's. Both are kinda funky retro but with good food done well. Think STEAKS and seafood.

                                          You might also try Warszawa on Lincoln - Polish cuisine, some really knock-out appetizers and pierogi! They have a happy hour in their backyard patio - I haven't tried it, but it seems like a good opportunity to get a drink (check out their martinis with polish vodka) and check out some smaller menu items without spending a lot.

                                          I just ate lunch at Jinky's again this week. Updated Coffee-shop casual. Good salad with a nice grilled chicken breast, you could tell everything was fresh. Jinky's is on Second between B'way and Santa Monica, I think.

                                          Cha Cha Chicken on PIco at Ocean is a hidden gem. Sit outside in the sunny enclosed patio and relax. Good caribbean chicken, and deliciouus agua frescas. Some people like Texate on Pico for Oaxacan food - I have had 2 good lunches there, but haven't been recently.

                                          For those who like organic food, the Urth Cafe on Main is popular.

                                          Border Grill is always good - a little noisy and touristy, but the quality of the food is always good. La Sereneta across the street is another good one to try - you can compare the 2, as they're both known for quality Mexican cuisine.

                                          If your budget is a little higher, try Michaels, The Lobster, or try Ocean Ave. Seafood. Or go to Giorgio Baldi on West Channel. Excellent, expensive, maybe you'll see some stars (we saw Larry David at The Lobster).

                                          Cora's Coffee Shoppe is good, but it's so small you have to wait for a table at lunchtime - go a little off-schedule and you can get seated quicker. They have great soups - a good bargain for a quality lunch.

                                          Promenade in general has a lot of chains and, IMHO dull places, but there are a few good places. I like Falafel King, myself, way back in one of the food courts. I also like the kebab place in Santa Monica Place - they make some good Persian stews that are perfect for lunch when you're on jury duty.

                                          Bay Cities Deli on Lincoln is awesome! Email in your order so you don't have to wait!

                                          2 places I've heard good things about that I haven't been to myself are Rustic Canyon and The Nook.

                                          And check out Tacos Por Favor on Olympic.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: gsw

                                            All great suggestions, thank you!
                                            I am of course already a lover of Bay Cities, Cha Cha Cha, and Father's office. Want to try Cora's and Warsawza.

                                            A couple of higher end places I've tried that just fell short have been:

                                            Le Botte

                                            Border Grille always looked like a chain tourist-trap, but I think now I'll give it a try!

                                            Thanks again!


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: aviweiz

                                              What about RUSTIC CANYON on Wilshire in Santa Monica? Well prepared food, interesting beer, etc. It is noisy though.

                                            2. When I find myself in SM around lunchtime, I usually head for Le Petit Cafe, 2842 Colorado. A little pricier than my usual $10-15 lunch, especially if I indulge and have a glass of wine, but it's really pleasant and the food's French with a California accent. Parking is a PITA - I always park across the street and walk at least a block, but that just helps the appetite...