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Chow rec's in Santa Monica - anything great near the pier?

Hello -
I'll be staying in Santa Monica for a conference in May - the hotel is supposedly a few blocks from the pier. I've never been to this area and am looking for any and all suggestions!

I would love to get rec's relatively close to the location of my hotel, particularly anything good within walking distance or a short-ish cab ride. (Although if it's worth traveling a farther distance, I'm listening...)

My tastes skew ethnic -- thai, indian, middle east, japanese. But again, if there's a great burger that I have to have, etc., I'm open to suggestions............

Any help is greatly appreciated!

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  1. Go to Musha in Santa Monica. Should be easily walkable from your hotel (which hotel are you actually staying at?). Here is a link to a recent discussion. You should look at the photos in Pei's report. They will make you hungry and reinforce your determination to get here.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/380055

    Musha Restaurant
    424 Wilshire Blvd
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    (310) 576-6330

    4 Replies
    1. re: tony michaels

      Excellent - thanks.

      We'll be at the Fairmont Miramar.

      *Edit - Musha looks to be only a short walk down the street from the hotel - will defnitely investigate further!

      1. re: tony michaels

        Thanks for rassling me up a few site hits in the last few days, tony!

        I love love love Musha Santa Monica. It's so fun, and I never leave there paying more than $25 a head (that's drinking lightly, so don't hold me do that if you go nuts with the sake).

        Highly recommend reservations, though.

        1. re: Pei

          I hope you don't mind. Your photos were so great in that report - it became an instant classic. If that wasn't food porn I have never seen it. ;-D

          1. re: tony michaels

            Flattery will get you everywhere. I don't mind at all. Thanks!

            Oh, and my note on Musha is always: stay away from the actual sushi items. They don't tend to be fresh, and the whole point of going there is to try something different from what you'd get at any sushi joint.

      2. There are at least a dozen hotels of varying quality within a few blocks of the Pier; out of curiosity, which one?

        Santa Monica has some really great places to eat-- some even chow-worthy. Some are truly great, but horrifically expensive, like Capo. Then again, a divey-looking place like Chez Jay serves surprisingly good grub, albeit a bit pricey. Ocean Ave. Seafood is a short walk away and has great seafood; I. Cugini (also on Ocean) is a sister restaurant that has wonderful Italian food. For superior breakfasts, Jinky's is on Second St. and can't be beat. Jiraffe is on Santa Monica at Fifth; expensive but superb.

        I know of several middle-of-the-pack eateries of the cuisines you mention; for example, Thai Dishes (one of a local chainlet) and The Gate of India are next door to each other on Santa Monica between Ocean and Second, and you can certainly eat well at either-- even if neither is the BEST in the region. Middle Eastern? For some reason, all I can think of is the fast-food Falafel King in the Mann Theatre food court on the Third Street Promenade; don't laugh, it's not half-bad. I'm not big on sushi (but I love Japanese "hot" food)-- there's a Sushi Roku on Ocean, and a new Japanese joint called Tengu just opened in the old Ivy on Ocean space, but I haven't eaten at either. I have tried the kaiten (conveyer belt sushi) joint on the Promenade (helpfully called Kaiten)-- pretty awful. Of course you could always take a quick cab (or longish walk) down to Chinois on Main to try well-established Asian fusion.

        These are off the top of my head-- I work in Santa Monica but live outside the area, so my focus is limited to the area around my office (coincidentally a few blocks from the Pier). Any locals want to take a shot at this?

        3 Replies
        1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

          Thanks a million! :)

          We'll be at the Fairmont Miramar.

          1. re: ericalee

            Staying at the Fairmont you have so many choices!

            Rustic Canyon on Wilshire at 11th
            Whist at The Viceroy
            Melisse on Wilshire at 11th
            Musha is always good
            Take a taxi to The Counter for a great burger or, better yet,
            Fathers Office for a burger (Montana and 11th)
            Locanda Portofino (Montana and 11th) for great italian

            And lots of great restaurants on Main and on Abbot Kinney - you can take the Tide Shuttle for 25cents (www.bigbluebus/tideshuttle) from the Promenade to Main Street

          2. re: rjw_lgb_ca

            Falafel King rocks. Also Sham on Santa Monica for more middle eastern.

          3. If you walk across Wilshire Blvd. and slightly to your left (like 1 block-ish), you'll be at the north end of "Third Street Promenade" - you can Google that... it's a several block long pedestrian mall of stores, street performers good and bad and restaurants. On the way there at the corner of 2nd St. is a Houston's and a CPK, and if you were to walk down 2nd, within a couple blocks there would be a very good everyday sushi place called Taka Sushi on your left. If you were to walk an additional block or so and cross 2nd street from Taka (toward the ocean), you'd be at a British pub called King's Head - which does those wonderful greasy English breakfasts, if you're into that. Across from it is a passable Indian, Gate of India.

            Now, let's say that instead of leaving your hotel and walking down second, you headed to Third Street Promenade (one street inland from 2nd). If from the hotel you crossed Wilshire and walked slightly to your left and then entered the Third Street Promenade pedestrian mall, one of the first restaurants you'd come to on your right after starting to walk south down that mall would be Monsoon.. a Thai fusion place. The food used to be better but it's still great at least for appetizers and definitely drinks - gorgeous (not fancy, just gorgeous) interior, nice bar and patio. I'd recommend a casual stop-in. At the far far end of the pedestrian mall (keep walking until you see a real mall directly ahead)... on your left is Broadway Deli, which I've always thought had good salads and breakfasts... just a bit of a New York vibe. There's a little crepes take-out right across from it but I haven't eaten there.

            Googling Third Street Promenade or searching Chowhound for it will turn up a bunch of comments and recs - it's well-known in L.A. and can be a good place to meander.

            My top two recs in that immediate area are Taka - I love their sushi - and Monsoon for appetizers/ambiance/drinks - whether alone or with someone.

            The other posters have given you an idea of perhaps fancier restaurants more culinarily reputed. The two I mentioned are great for stop-ins, I think.

            Enjoy the trip.

            1. Lots of good recs here.

              In addition to the Promenade, Main St. is a short cab or shopping-shuttle ride south of Pico, and there are lots of good strolling/shopping/dining options there.

              For more casual dining, try Cha Cha Chicken, at Ocean & Pico. For a great Italian sandwich, go to Bay Cities Deli on Lincoln at Santa Monica (?). For Oaxacan, try Texate on Pico, about 2 blocks east of Cha Cha Chicken.

              For Mexican food, you can try the Border Grill and La Serenata on 4th - boutique Mexican, but very good, or you can take a cab to Tacos Por Favor on Olympic at 14th; or you can head down Lincoln Blvd. to La Playita.

              1. Cora's on Ocean has a really good burger. The Penthouse at the Huntley is a great place to have a drink with awesome views.