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Apr 13, 2007 05:55 AM

2 days in Santa Monica, need lunch and dinner recommendations, please.

Hello LA! I will be in staying in Santa Monica (Lowes) for 2 days and I really would like some great recommendations for lunch and dinner. I will have a car, so I don't mind driving, actually, I really want to drive, especially on Highway 1! :)

So, can you tell me some of your favorites? We LOVE French, seafood, through in a steakhouse, Italian..maybe..we live in NJ and have PLENTY here as well as in Manhattan, but if you think it is worth a shot, we will go! Cost is not a factor, if the food is worth it, I have no problem paying. Here are some of my thoughts so far:

Moonshadows (I am not sure for lunch or dinner?)


ok...that is all where I am at. PLEASE help me!!

I was going to try Mario Batali's new places he opened up in LA, but my husband said we eat in Babbo, Lupa, and Otto so often, what will be the difference?

Thank you all!!

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  1. Melisse would be a very good choice as would La Cachette in Century City (not that much more of a drive from where you are) or even Josie (also in Santa Monica at 2424 Pico Blvd.).

    Are you sure you don't want to take advantage of LA's terrific offerings in the Asian food area? Very close to where you are staying is Musha, a Japanese small plates, bar food sort of place that is really excellent and unusual.

    Follow this link to a review by one of our regular posters here on the LA board, Pei. She links to her photos of Musha and if you can still stay away after looking at those you have a stronger constitution than I do.

    Enjoy your stay.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tony michaels

      Sorry I didn't notice your statement about not minding driving and especially if it's on PCH. Instead of Moonshadows you really ought to consider Geoffrey's for either lunch or dinner (just make sure you are there to catch the sunset). Their food is a bit better than Moonshadows, but they sit up on the cliff overlooking the ocean and it's a much nicer spot to dine. Plus it will give you a chance to drive up the coast a bit further.

      For a high end dinner out you should also give Providence serious consideration. They have a chef's tasting menu that folks on this board have raved about, (not to mention the fact that Providence was the LA hounds favorite in the non-Chowhound sanctioned annual poll for number one restaurant in LA for 2006). Another place that receives excellent reviews mostly is Grace. Both Providence and Grace are to the east of Santa Monica maybe a 45 +/- minute drive in traffic.

    2. Since my only experience at Moonshadows dates back to my high school days when bellbottoms were in and the extent of John Travolta's dialogue was, "What?" on Welcome Back Kotter, I couldn't give you an honest assessment on the food. However, if the weather is accommodating (which it usually is) the view is quite stunning - nothing but the Pacific Ocean with an occasional pod of dolphins cruising by. It is a wonder at night as well when the moon is hanging over the Pacific and its refelction gleams a silver streak across the ocean. If this kind of thing is important to you, you may want to check lunar charts to see what stage the moon is in during your anticipated visit. A later visit would increase your chances of having a visit from the moon. Moonshadows sits so close to the ocean that I have always wondered how it has weathered the tides and waves of our winter storms. Getting back to the subject of food, you might want to check any postings about their food. The draw for places like this along the coast is usually the view - the food may or may not be up to your liking.

      I agree with Tony Michaels on considering the cuisines of Asia. There are so many great offerings from the Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Japanese communities. If you'd like a nice sitdown dining experience where price is not really a consideration, the Japanese izakaya offerings is a wonderful and fun experience. Tony already mentioned Musha. Their knack for offering unique little dishes that are well-executed
      is documented by many here. Your dining experience will seem beyond what your tab at the end of the night should reflect. At the other end of the izakaya scale is Urasawa in Beverly Hills. This place will test most as to how much one is willing to push your Visa card on one meal, but those that have been (not me) have elevated Urasawa-san and his dishes to celestial status. His described methods, offerings, and sense of aesthetics are straight out of the best izakaya houses in Japan. Urasawa-san will save you the time and trouble it takes to get to these great places in Japan, but not the price of the plane ticket. You may find that you've spent near the equivalent.

      Through my readings of postings about sushi in New York, you may also want to try some of the local sushi places known for their omakase - Sasabune, Mori, Kiriko, and Sushi Zo get alot of praise here. For what you'd spend on a good sushi experience in Manhattan, you could probably spend the equivalent in LA and be blown away. When posters like Pei, Sauce Supreme, and epop give a place high marks, you should go... The four places mentioned are all within striking distance from Santa Monica, although Sushi Zo is near a tangle of streets that may be harder to find if you're not familiar with the area.

      Lots of great offerings from the Mexican community should be tried as well. Most are very casual in their settings, but the dishes offered can be quite complex and so well executed that you may wonder why you're getting away without paying a king's ransom for what you ate. The current buzz on the Westside is Sabor a Mexico. Dommy! who I consider to be one of the most well-versed and experienced LA Hounders (along with Tony), gives this place some of the highest marks I've seen on any Mexican eatery on the Westside.

      This may be a stretch, but you might want to also consider a wine-tasting trip up to the wine country just north of Santa Barbara or even Central California. Spring is the best time to hit these areas as the weather is perfect and the scenary is amazing. You can get to places like Los Olivos in just over two hours from where you're staying - and it's a nice drive along the coast and into the rolling hills studded with beautiful oak trees.

      In the past month, I've had four experiences where people have raved about the wine, the beauty, and the food from this coastal region. My two most recent conversations were with a gentleman who is from San Francisco and regularly visited Napa and Sonoma, and a couple from Delaware who just got back from the general Los Olivos area. Both conversations went something like this: "I never knew California could be this beautiful. The countryside out there is sooooo amazing. And the wine - there are so many great wines to choose from!" And this comes as well from a guy who is from San Francisco and says the scenary in north Santa Barbara/central Cal blows away Napa and Sonoma. Not to sound theistic but I consider the coastal region between Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz to be God's country - there's no other way to describe the alluring beauty of its landscapes.

      Have a great stay and I hope you enjoy your eats!

      1. I'd also recommend the drive up to Malibu to eat at Geoffrey's-the view is spectacular, and the food is pretty good, too.
        From your hotel, you could easily walk to Musha, which I really enjoyed and to JiRaffe, another solid choice in that area.

        1. I would suggest driving up PCH to Malibu Cyn. Rd. (just before the Pepperdine Univ. campus), then inland on Malibu Cyn. Rd. -- a terrific drive, by the way -- to Piuma Cyn. Rd. Turn right on Piuma and go about a mile to the Saddle Peak Lodge, which will be on your left and where you will have made a reservation. The menu is game-intensive (though of course not ALL game); try the elk tenderloin, which every time I've had it has been better than the best filet mignon. Or perhaps even better, if the weather is nice on a Sunday go there for brunch and sit outside on the patio. Southern California at its finest.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ozhead

            From your hotel you can drive within 5 minutes and be at some of LA's best restaurants! Good luck picking one:

            Whist, at The Viceroy is quite good.
            Melisse (definitely go)
            Chinois on Main
            Rustic Canyon on Wilshire at 11th (you should definitely check out California specific, organic and farm fresh cuisine while here)
            Abode (opening soon, if the preview is any hint, this place will be fantastic - chef trained with Alice Waters)
            Chez Jay (across the street from your hotel - a LA landmark steakhouse - often celebrity filled)
            The Penthouse at the top of the Huntley Hotel - great food, great view
            Have a drink at the new Montana Lounge - for a real feel of living in LA

            Lunch at Axe on Abbot Kinney

          2. My mouth is watering just thinking about the Elk Tenderloin at Saddle Peak Lodge. If you drive to Malibu, which isn't a far drive and is quite enjoyable (No. on Hwy 1 - PCH) you may want to try
            NOBU Malibu
            3835 Cross Creek Rd.
            Malibu, CA
            Here's what the Zagat Guide says about it
            Malibu residents say “domo arigato” to Nobu Matsuhisa for this “sublime” sushi spot that serves “mouthwatering” sushi and “inventive” “fusion” dishes to “beautiful people” and “celebrities” in a “laid-back” setting; the servers are “knowledgeable”, though at times they seem to have “their minds on their next auditions”, and while the “strip-mall location” “may not be TriBeCa”, most agree the experience is “worth the drive” – and, “hopefully, you can pay off your credit card over a few months

            For somewhere on the cheap, good, crowded side, you may want to try
            18763 PCH
            (Topanga Beach Dr.)
            Malibu, CA 90265
            Unbelievably fresh” and “fabulous” “down-home Thai cooking with a Topanga vibe” attracts “locals, tourists and the odd movie star” to this “rustic beach shack” on PCH in Malibu where the service is “prompt and friendly”; the exterior is a “bit suspicious looking” and the dining room “too crowded and small for comfort”, but if you “sit outside in the summer you’ll never want to leave.”

            3 Replies
            1. re: FDawson

              oooh..yum...thank you all for our tips!!! Everyplace sounds delicious!!

              1. re: Angelina

                You can pay each and everyone of us back by simply returning to this thread when you have completed your stay in LA and let us know where you ended up eating and how you liked it.

                1. re: tony michaels

                  ok...but I will be there the 2nd week of May. (I like to plan early.)

                  I hope you rememeber me when I post!! ha ha