Dinners in LA / Santa Monica
We will be staying in Santa Monica for 4 nights and would love some recommendations for dinner places. We are interested in having one or two very nice dinners (exciting, experimental food) and one or two lighter dinners (aka asian or good salads). We are staying at Shutters in Santa Monica, but will have a car and are not opposed to driving up to 30 mins for good food. Food quality is more important than price. Thanks for the help.
Don't need a car when some of the city's best restaurants are within walking distance.
Definitely go to Catch at the next door Casa del Mar
Definitely Abode - everyone here loves their tasting menu
Chinois is always very good (Puck's chinese restaurant)
Chaya is one of my favorites (Chaya Venice), an asian fusion brasserie
Via Venetto for amazing italian
And I love Whist, at Viceroy, but seem to be alone in this.
Also, Penthouse, if only for the view - have drinks and appetizers before heading over to Musha, which is a must.
Go to Father's Office for a burger, if you can squeeze it in somewhere, and walk over to the Lobster for a great view and drinks (but Catch has as good a view).
I second Via Veneto and Musha.
For Asian, high end experimental dinner, Urasawa for an omakase you'll never ever forget.
In SM, I like Jiraffe, Melisse, Josie, and Abode as well.
Try to get to Bay Cities Deli as well for a sandwich, or not necessarily a lighter dinner, but The Counter allows you to design your own burger.
You might also head down to Venice to Chaya as suggested or even 26 Beach, James' Beach, Rose Cafe, or Lilly's French Cafe.
For salad, Tender Greens in Culver City is good, but one of my favorite salads in the city, albeit very pricey, is at The Ivy... dang that grilled veggie salad and apple tarte tatin. One of my other favorite salad or healthy, lighter places is Newsroom Cafe (on Wilshire).
9523 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292
218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
Bay Cities Italian Deli
1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Lilly's French Cafe & Bar
1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
2901 Ocean Park Blvd Ste 102, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Rose Cafe & Market
220 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291
Newsroom the Espresso Cafe
530 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
113 N Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
For your nicer dinners I would absolutely recommend Josie and Wilshire (try to sit in the outdoor patio at Wilshire). You will not go wrong at either place!
Jiraffe is my favorite restaurant here in Santa Monica. Wilshire, Josie, and Melisse are also good. Joe's in Venice is another place I often take folks from out of town. Going there for lunch/brunch is very reasonable.
Musha is my favorite Japanese place, Before I moved here, Tengu in Westwood was a place my friends always took me - Asian-fushion plus sort of an LA experience with music playing in the background. There is a Tengu in Santa Monica now, though my experience there was not as good as the original. You might want to consider Nobu in Malibu as well for one of your nicer meals (combines the nice + exciting/experimental).