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PHX hound visiting Santa Monica

my wife and i will be visiting santa monica for easter weekend and are looking for a few good recs. we are staying at the ocean lodge, located 1/2 block south of the pier, across the street from the loews hotel. we have a car and some friends in thai town, so we are definitely willing to travel for great food. although we will probably have a fair share of meals in the santa monica/venice area. as any hound would, i do have a specific chow agenda. however, due to my unfamiliarity with the area, i have not picked out any specific places yet. my three main chow goals are:

authentic thai from thai town
al pastor from a taqueria (mexican)
killer sushi (japanese)

and if there's time:

soon doo boo (korean)
pho (vietnamese)
doner kebab (turkish)
dim sum (chinatown)
kalua pork (hawaiian)

an easter brunch rec would be great too! i know i'm asking a lot here, but i do promise to come back with a full report. thanks, LA hounds. as you can probably tell, thai and mexican are my favorite cuisines, so LA is the perfect town for me!

btw, some non-food goals of the trip:

roller blading the santa monica path
the getty center
la brea tar pits

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  1. Viceroy, a block from your hotel, has a great brunch.

    Mexican - I recommend Tacos por Favor on Olympic and 14th

    1. Since it's Easter, many places will have set menus for their brunch. One of the few places I found last year which did not have a set menu (I'm not usually a fan of those - higher prices and less food choices) was the Getty Center. While it's not the best food in the world, I thought it was a lovely Easter brunch. That could killl two birds with one stone - Getty Center and brunch. Plus I got to cut in a very long line for the Getty tram because I had restaurant reservations.

      For sushi, my vote goes to Kiriko in West LA. It's also one of the few great sushi places that has a decent atmosphere.

      1 Reply
      1. re: CChow

        Ah, yes! Kiriko, perhaps the omakase lunch? Great value.

        http://www.kirikosushi.com/

      2. Hmm, Easter Brunch. A couple of ideas:

        For a lovely meal in a very pretty outdoor setting, in deeee-luxe Bel Air, you could go with the Restaurant at the Hotel Bel-Air:

        http://www.hotelbelair.com/hotelbelai...

        And yogachik's suggestion of the Viceroy would also be a good choice, for the setting if nothing else (I've not eaten there, so can't comment on the food, but it is quite the L.A. experience!).

        For more casual dining, with the opportunity to stroll thru an eclectic part of town not far from your hotel, one of the eateries on Abbot Kinney Blvd:

        Joe's
        Lilly's
        Axe

        You can search this site for more info on each venue, and to see if they will be doing anything special for Easter.

        BTW, I am loving your list of food to-dos. The only one that might prove difficult or disappointing would be the doner kebap. There is a Turkish food stand in the food court at the Westside Pavillion (near Westwood) that has some decent, cheap offerings, but...it's in a food court. You might want to consider seeking out some fab Persian food instead; L.A. has more to offer in that arena, and not too far from your hotel (Westwood Blvd area).

        Enjoy your visit...hope the weather is as gorgeous for your arrival as it is today in Santa Monica. :-)

        1. Ok, tackling the al pastor goal:

          How do you feel about taco trucks? Some of the best al pastor I've had has been from the great, wonderful, magical taco trucks of L.A.

          Scratch that: THE best al pastor I've had has come from the trucks. It makes for a fun L.A. adventure, too, taco-trolling the boulevards late at night. You can do your research here:

          http://tacohunt.blogspot.com/

          Plenty of brick-and-mortar taquerias are reviewed there as well.

          1. thanks for the many great suggestions, folks! brunch at getty is an interesting idea i hadn't considered. tacos por favor sounds awesome, as do the taco trucks. and yes, i have seen the tacohunt blog in my research. great pics and very thorough reviews.

            kiriko sounds good. how does that compare to hide sushi? which i also found on this board.

            and what about thai town? is there a consensus t-town fav on this board?

            Abbot Kinney Blvd does seem very cool. i'll add that to my list along with venice beach, of course.

            thanks again to yogachik, cchow and licketysplit for the great recs.

            9 Replies
            1. re: dongstadden

              Hide is about 1/2 to 2/3 the price of Kiriko. Hide is cash only no reservatios with a long wait during busy times. Quality is good especially for the price. Kiriko is also good quality with more upscale service/interior. For dim sum I would reccommend driving to the SGV instead of chinatown it's about 10-15 minutes further, but you may spend more time than that waiting in line anyway, so you might as well wait for the best. you will also be driving a for Korean, Thai and Vietnamese if you want the best that LA has to offer.

              1. re: Mateo R

                I'm not a big fan of Hide. At one time, years ago, it was a good-value option, but with increasing competition in that area, I feel it is no longer an exceptional deal. Granted, it's cheaper than Kiriko, but the quality of the sushi is commensurate; and the atmosphere is far inferior, and not conducive to savoring one's meal -- crowded, blah, formica environment.

              2. re: dongstadden

                imo, there is no comparing Kiriko (A+) to Hide (um, like B-C).
                Kiriko is the sushi-ya to go to on Sawtelle (and right next door is Yakitori-ya which I also highly recommend).

                I can also recommend two other sushi-ya on the westside: The Hump (Santa Monica Airport) and Mori (on Pico in WLA).

                Also, I have not yet eaten at Shima (on my to do list) on Abbott Kinney Blvd:

                Shima
                1432 Abbot Kinney Blvd
                Venice, CA
                (310) 314-0882
                6PM - 10:30 PM Tue-Sat
                Closed: Sun-Mon

                1. re: yinyangdi

                  Just thought I'd mention that Shima serves sushi on brown rice. Yoshi mills his own rice to get the right textures and tastes for this sushi specialty. It can get a little expensive, but as with most sushi places, - as mentioned above - price is often commensurate with quality.

                2. re: dongstadden

                  Favorites for thai town are: Ruen Pair, Yai and Wat Thai. If you do a search on any of these you should come up with lots of info. Have a great trip! I'm looking forward to your report back...

                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    does anybody know where i can find a menu for RuenPair, Yai, or any other Thai Town place? that would help me make my decision. thanks.

                      1. re: tony michaels

                        thanks for the link. ruen pair menu looks awesome! they have the bbq pork over rice dish (kow moo dang) that i like. sweet! and the noodle soups sound good too.

                  2. re: dongstadden

                    If you are willing to expand your Thai destination beyond Thai Town, you might want to consider the food vendors at the Thai temple (weekends).

                    http://www.watthaiusa.org/engmenu.html

                    You will see that it gets mixed reviews here on chowhound:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/328985

                    If your trip coincides with the Songkran celebrations, you could be in for a real treat.

                    P.S. Or, if you are here in time for the Blessing of the Animals festivities on Olvera Street...

                    http://www.olvera-street.com/html/ble...

                    ...you could use that as an extra excuse to swing by the Grand Central Market...

                    http://www.grandcentralsquare.com/

                    ...for all sorts of great chow!

                    (I'll calm down now. ;-)