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Nice restaurants in Marina del Rey/Playa/SM?

I am looking for recommendations for any kind of food type, high quality, price not an issue in the Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey or Santa Monica areas. Romantic would be a plus.

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  1. Melisse in Santa Monica
    Oceanfront in Venice

    Cafe Del Rey in MDR

    1. What's the restaurant at Shutter's? That might do it. Or the patio at Michael's. If you are passed the hump day of life, Pacific Dining Car in SM. Haven't been, but I've heard interesting things about the restaurant/bar at the Ritz Carlton MDR.

      4 Replies
      1. re: mc michael

        One Pico at Shutters has not been good lately. Michael's is better than it has been but not Great. PDR is pretty basic and the Downtown location continues to be superior.
        Melisse or Valentino is a far better choice.

        1. re: russkar

          Casa del Mar restaurant was just renovated.
          Whist at Viceroy (outside) is a romantic spot

          1. re: yogachik

            From a recent Times roundup: "Oceanfront, the restaurant at Casa del Mar hotel is closing. Catch opens in its place Thursday with a new look and a new seafood-focused menu by chef Michael Reardon, formerly executive chef at Napa's Tra Vigne. Catch, 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, (310) 581-7714." I think this is the Oceanfront russkar was referencing.

          2. re: russkar

            I agree with you that Valentinos is always a good choice, but they are playing with the menu too much to figure out this fad in carbs...
            Piero needs to settle back to what he was, and just stay the course...
            Even in the Venetian Luciano struggles i believe...
            He's the best, but needs to stick to his roots...he's such an amazing restauranteur...I remember watching the river of wine flow from his front door to the curb after the Northridge earthquake...so many priceless wines lost...that was his last year of a run of 11 for best winelist in the country....

        2. Jiraffe in Santa Monica for quality and expert preparation.

          Might stop in and take a look at a little tapas place on Culver in Playa del Rey called The Minotaure. Candlelight, quite good food, romantic space and sometimes Spanish guitar.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Cinnamon



            If too many people find out about Minotaure I won't be able to get my friday nite table order 4 excellent bottles and 10 yummy tapas with my family and friends listen to some beautiful music and make a night of it. :)

            3 times so far and not a single thing wrong.

            So don't go people, seriously. Stay away. Nothing to see here. :)


            1. re: mostlybored

              I have brought many different people, and everyone really enjoys it.

              And everyone LOVES the bread pudding

              1. re: Swoshmn

                LOL. Who KNEW bread pudding was a must-have before this place? (OK, lets just say that there are a lot of bad bread puddings out there... I'm sure someone has a mom who made amazing bread pudding sometime.)

          2. capo in santa monica. delicious! great fire grilled meats and a fantastic (but pricey) wine list.

            1. Chinois on Main: an oldie but a goodie (decor is a bit dated, but food is still great)

              If you are willing to add Venice to your locale list: Piccolo

              1. I like Joe's on Abbott Kinney. No, it's not in the areas specifically mentioned, but it is in that neighborhood there in Venice. Great food, though my bet for most romantic would still be the patio at Michael's in Santa Monica.

                1. In order by distance, I second Cafe del Rey, Joe's, Josie's, and Melisse.

                  1. I also agree with Josie and Joe's, but no one has mentioned Wilshire yet! The food is amazing and sitting on the outdoor patio is beautiful. www.wilshirerestaurant.com

                    1. I too recommend Cafe Del Rey, the original chef is long gone, but his food was sooooo goood, and still carries to this day.
                      Josies is awesome, Josiah is a great chef, and has some great creativity. Fun meal as the place fills up with the locals, whom are all very interesting walkers nearby, venice croonies, and Santa Monica artesian diehards...great place.
                      I would recommend Rockenwaggner's, it's a Austrian Guy...Hans, that really does some creative comfort food. I have always liked his food, and the place is always packed with some great people. He had another place in Santa Monica, but his wife took it in his "divorce"...she was good too, but he kept his namesake, and it's worth it.
                      Of course one of the best, for the past 25 years, Chinois on Main... a staple in pan asian cookery. You won't go wrong here, lasting through two very talented chefs, and having a great one now, it's the best chinese-french cooking i've ever had (even better than having Dim Sum/Dumplings Downtown at 2am after a dozen beers...), and theres a great bar that just got renovated, circle bar, across the street where you can engage in some cool conversation with some locals...
                      Good Luck!!!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: realdeal

                        If you are referring to the original Rockenwagner's on Main Street that has been gone for quite some time. That space is now 3 Square Cafe (or something like that).

                        1. re: tony michaels

                          Rockenwagner has indeed been gone for a while. Not sure what if anything is in that space now; 3 Square is his new cafe and bakery on Abbott Kinney.

                          1. re: cookie monster

                            Thanks for the correction. They kept the old phone number from the Main St. space.