Boston Chowhound in LA
I will be in Santa Monica in two weeks for a few days and would love a few recommendations-- any restaurants/hidden greats/culinary bookstores-- all would be great!
My current short list includes:
a shrimp taco place that's a fave in west hollywood (blanking on name right now)
the santa monica farmers market...
Not sure if this is chowhound approved, but I like Border Grill in SM for their tacos and everything else. It's the "Border Girl's" place.
Monte Alban, on Santa Monica Blvd. between Bundy and Barrington in West LA -- pretty much Santa Monica-adjacent and well worth the very short drive. I'm not sure how much Oaxacan food is available in Boston, but I'm willing to bet that Monte Alban's offerings are better than any Oaxacan in New England. And if you've never had Oaxacan food, you are in for a treat.
The traditional choice would be one of their moles (I particularly like the red, but the black, green and yellow are also dynamite), but I'd suggest the barbacoa de chivo -- a big chunk of tender, delicious goat served in a dense, red, not-too-spicy but incredibly flavorful broth, served with a side plate of chopped onions and cabbage to mix into the broth, a little bowl of green salsa to spice it up if you want to, and tortillas. Just a wonderful dish.
You could easily combine a trip to Lucques, AOC, Grace or Jar with a visit to the Cook's Library. All are excellent restaurants, well worth a visit, and, as requested, a culinary bookstore. If it were me, I'd go look at books, then head over to Lucques for a late lunch. (Suzanne Goin's BLTA is one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten, anywhere, ever.)
If you want something you'll never find in Boston, and are willing to drive (and possibly wait) a bit, two suggestions are Din Tai Fung, for amazing Shanghai (soup) dumplings, rice cakes, and steamed soups, and Tacos Baja Ensenda, for absolutely superb fish and shrimp tacos. Neither are anywhere near Santa Monica, but both are worth the drive.
Also, arguably the best pastrami sandwich in the country can be found at Langer's Deli, in a somewhat grubby section of central LA. I know you've got pastrami in Boston, but trust me, this is better. (See: http://chowhound.com/topics/show/60237 .)
Hope you enjoy your stay in Los Angeles.
Tacos Baja Ensenada
5385 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022
Din Tai Fung Restaurant
1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
8225 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048
8373 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048