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JiRaffe/The Lobster/Rustic Canyon - good choices?

My sister and I are taking my parents to Santa Monica (Shutters) for their 40th annivesary. We're from Chicago - so armed with Zagat's and this site, I just picked the above restaurants for two nice dinners and one casual dinner. I'd love any feedback/concerns/recommendations from this wonderful board - thank you! Also, any interesting recommendations for can't miss Santa Monica treasures?

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  1. I would go to Bay Cities for lunch one of the days.

    Rustic Canyon, unless you go on a very unpopular night, will be very loud. I know my parents at presumably a similar age wouldn't enjoy it.

    I don't imagine that you'll have a memorable meal at Jiraffe or Rustic Canyon either.
    I'd try Melisse, Valentino or Josie for your nice dinners and Nook for a casual dinner.

    1. Rustic Canyon is good but loud. I would recommend you just stop by there for a drink before or after dinner. Fantastic wine list (it's sort of a wine bar). Another good place for a drink is Casa Del Mar - across the street from Shutters - really nice view and super relaxing ambience and architecture.

      The Lobster has not the best but still great food, an unbeatable view, and great service. Should be memorable.

      1. I like JiRaffe's appetizers, and I like The Lobster's mains. /: Both are about the same in service, and have crowded tables where you can eat off your neighbor's plate.

        Of those two, I'd probably take my parents to Jiraffe.

        1. If you request an upstairs table at Jiraffe, I think you can avoid some of the space issues mentioned above. I agree with the Josie and Nook suggestions. Great ocean view at The Lobster, but I think the food is only okay. Parents might like Michael's in Santa Monica (assuming you have the budget).

          1. I ate at the Abode this weekend, which just opened across the street from the Lobster. It's a beautiful and quiet space. I liked my meal better than any recent meals I've had at Jiraffe, and it's certainly quieter. It's also pricier...Here's a link to their website which, sadly, doesn't have much info yet:


            here's a link to the chef's website too, which should give you some insight into the menu:


            Congrats to your folks!!

            1. If you're not locked into Sta. Monica (i.e., if you don't mind driving a little), I would recommend the Saddle Peak Lodge on Piuma Rd., off Malibu Cyn. Rd. in the Sta. Monica Mountains. This would involve driving up PCH to Malibu Cyn Rd. (just before Pepperdine Univ.), turning right, driving maybe 4 - 5 miles to Piuma, then about a mile on Piuma to the restaurant -- probably about 30 - 35 minutes from the California St. incline in Sta. Monica. The restaurant is unlike anything else in the LA area, and is a terrific destination -- not cheap, but worth the money both for the food and the service.

              1. I'd definitely do Josie for one of the "nice" dinners. My parents love it there (and so do I).

                1 Reply
                1. re: djdebs

                  This is a great recommendation. The food is excellent, amazing service, and it's quiet. You really couldn't go wrong taking your parents there for one of the nice dinners.

                2. I would do Capo instead of Rustic Canyon. You can literally walk there from Shutters.
                  Or Valentino which is further inland. Both are upscale Italian.

                  For a casual din, I would try La Serenata (Mexican), Joe's, or Chaya Venice.

                  1. I like Jiraffe but the ambience doesn't seem right anniversary dinner (small, pretty crowded space and pretty noisy). The Lobster is do-able -- food isn't amazing but the oceanside view compensates for that; I second previous recommendations to check out Josie, though.


                    1. I love Jiraffe and have taken my parents there for dinner. I've never had any noise issues, only the occassional wait for a table despite a reservation. Otherwise, the atmosphere is great and the food is always fantastic. Plus, I like the location because afterwards you can walk off that "full" feeling on the beach or Third Street Promenade.

                      1. I would skip all of those restaurants and venture into LA proper for a decent meal. I would go to any one of Suzanne Goin's restaurants...AOC or Lucques. Both have "CA formal" dining atmospheres. I like Lucques for lunch in their patio or Sunday supper. AOC anytime. You will not be disappointed. Another option would be Ortolon on W. 3rd Street. More formal. More like a NY restaurant in terms of service and atmosphere. For Italian try Angelini Osteria....consistently delish....for a more causal option, try Batali's new Pizza joint, Mozza. I like eating at the bar but if you're with your parents i'm sure you'll want a table. Reservations are a must at all places. Cheers.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: matador75

                          i would skip all of these, including goin's, and go for sushi or to melisse

                          1. re: epop

                            i wouldn't skip all...but you should definitely have sushi while in LA....try sasabune or this wonderful little place on the east side called saito sushi.

                        2. The Lobster is more for ambience than the food as a focus, if you ask me.

                          I'd consider Melisse and/or Josie in SM, but if you are in fact willing to travel inland a bit, perhaps La Cachette in Century City, or even Pane e Vino's patio one night. You might also as suggested look into Abode.

                          Violet and Nook are also really good area restaurants, more casual of course.

                          Definitely second the above rec for Bay Cities.

                          If you're looking for a dinner up in Brentwood, Pizzicotto is casual, while Vincenti and Divino are more pricey but also very good.

                          Don't know about *treasures* but The Counter and Father's Office are each touted for their respective burgers.

                          Have fun and Happy Anniversary to the folks!