vacation in Santa Monica suggestions good pizza
We are coming to Santa Monica, Laguna Beach, Venice Beach and catalina Island for vacation. Interested in finding GREAT NY style pizza, Seafood, chinese and sashimi. We are coming from New Mexico so don't need to eat mexican food that week! Any suggestions would be great!
I know you'll want to eat somewhere with an ocean view, so here goes:
I've been casing that joint for the last few weeks. Don't worry, I don't work for them--just planning a wedding. In any case, oceanside restaurants are often tourist traps, but Catch inside Hotel Casa Del Mar is truly delicious. It is expensive, but everything's expensive in Santa Monica so I feel like at least this is expensive and worth it.
Another good seafood place is Ocean Avenue Seafood during happy hour for daily oyster specials. The view isn't this stunning, but if you love oysters they're only $1.25 each.
My two favorite pizza spots are Mozza (Melrose/Highland, which is about 25 min east of Santa Monica) and Antica Pizzeria (in a mall-ish location in Marina Del Rey, so very close to Santa Monica). Mozza is a mad-house, so reservations are really tough to come by, but the food is great. Antica Pizzeria does not require reservations and they serve classic Neapolitan pizza. that said, pizza is better in NYC than in LA by a pretty long stretch.
If you want good chinese, you'll need to drive to the San Gabriel Valley, which is not a ridiculous proposition by any stretch, but it will require some planning. That said, I highly recommend it. You could get great dim sum at Ocean Star, or go to Din Tai Fung or Mei Long Village for shanghai-style steamed dumplings.
For good seafood, you've got a few options. I like Joe's on Abbot Kinney -- they know what they're doing with fish and everything else on the menu is really well executed, too. I also like Josie and Chaya Venice.
For sashimi - try Nagao or Katsuya
For pizza - in Malibu, there's D'Amores
Seafood - The Lobster
Chinese - not much great chinese in SM. Hu's in Palms is good.
For NY style pizza (and "true Buffalo" wings) try The Slice on Wilshire, not a restaurant, but a takeout joint with some plastic tables, and best to order a whole pie (I'd assert with extra cheese). For seafood in SM, Lobster and Ocean Ave Seafood are easy, as is Sushi Roku (which is pricey, trendy, and decent, but not the best) and Hama in Venice - if you want to venture to Sawtelle and Olympic, you'll have better sashimi luck at Hide, Sasabune, and Tenn. As others have noted, Chinese tough on westside - you can try VIP Harbor in West LA for dim sum, which is passable.
Other musts in SM: Cora's Coffee Shoppe for breakfast, Bay Cities Italian deli if you want some to go sandwiches for the drive of trip to Catalina.
I'm actually a former NYer and think your best bet for pizza in Santa Monica is Abbot's. Make sure to try at least one slice with olive pesto, ask for your slice/pie well done, and don't be deterred by the "bagel" crust. Another place a bit further east that I've read good things about but haven't yet tried is Vito's. Anyway, do a search for both and you'll get many results.
You should really go east to the SGV for Chinese, but two places I've found on the west side that I like are Chang's on San Vicente and Little Hong Kong Cafe on Sawtelle.
I'd have to agree with you re: Abbot's - although it's pricey. The Venice location might be a better bet because you can grab a slice and then walk Abbot Kinney.
For Chinese on the westside, I think everyone here has just about nailed it - you'll have to go pretty inland to find decent Chinese food in the greater Los Angeles area. Little Hong Kong Cafe is ok - the prices are good for their combinations, but the food is merely ok - the eggrolls always taste like they've been doused in a stick of butter and the food is quite greasy. The only Chinese that I'll consider going to out here is Hop Li (there are now two locations - Pico near Westside Pavilion and directly north on Santa Monica). Their service at times can be horrible, and if you don't have reservations the wait will be long, but their seafood is usually decent.
A word about Catalina. Food choices are plentiful and unfortunately the quality is generally poor.The places to avoid are too many to list (The Landing, The "fancy" Italian place (forgot the name-Portofino?), etc. The pizzeria is called Antonios and I find it to be awful (my fav pizza in LA is Vito's and Antica and in the So. Bay Valentino's-does anyone like Le Vecchia on Main St. in SM?) although have heard from others that it is good. One place I can recommend whole-heartedly is The Country Club (I know sounds pretentious but truly not). The restaurant is part of the golf club and has a nice bar and charming outdoor patio. The food in my mind is the best on the island. We had a lobster roll and an ahi tuna sandwich, sweet potato fries and salads-all excellent and worth the price at least by Catalina's overpriced standards. Drinks were excellent too. Good margarita and a terrific bloody mary. We quickly concluded that next trip we are bringing a cooler filled with provisions from the mainland (there is a Von's market but it is very poorly stocked-nothing fresh) and coooking our own meals.