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Marina Del Rey & nearby faves?

Hello California- sunshine, beaches and hopefully some great food! My hubbie and I just moved into Marina Del Rey from Seattle and are looking foward to Cali cuisine. We eat most types of food, from high end to quick and cheap. Love sushi, "real italian", steakhouses, seafood... basically just really fresh, quality dining. We really liked the pacific northwest style- and I imagine California cuisine is similar- maybe better? So what does your wonderful city have to offer- "whats your must eat" list. We are here for 13 weeks and hope to enjoy the city as much as the restaurants! Also if anyone could point me in the direction of the best farmers market, fish counter, and grocery store it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks
PS we have no problem driving all over the city, just like some local haunts as well ;)

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    1. A few suggestions before you pore through the previous threads...

      3 Square for great breakfasts and pastries
      Pann's for all day fare
      Aunt Kizzy's for soul food
      Alejo's for Italian
      Cafe del Rey for finer dining
      Jer-Ne at the Ritz has a nice brunch as well as good tea time
      The Spot in Hermosa for healthy fare
      Chaya Venice
      26 Beach
      Lilly's French Cafe
      Rose Cafe
      Gaby's Mediterranean
      Come up to Bay Cities in SM

      Farmers' Markets are great in Santa Monica and the Sunday one up in Brentwood

      2 Replies
      1. re: Emme

        And a good local barbeque place, Baby Blues on Lincoln Blvd. just north of Washington Blvd.


        And for shrimp tacos and burritos try La Playita also on Lincoln just a bit north of Baby Blues.

        3306 Lincoln Blvd
        Santa Monica, CA 90405-5741
        Phone: (310) 452-0090

        1. re: Servorg

          The shrimp tacos and burritos at Taqueria Sanchez in Mar Vista/Culver City are great as well... Don't waste your time wondering if Sakura next to the TS on Centinela is worth the wait out front. But Angel Maid across the street has some very good pastries and cakes - go for the cream puffs in the box set.

      2. Grocery stores that are local to you are Gelson's in the Marina (which has Antica Pizzeria in the same mall) and if you are a member then go to Costco on Washington Blvd. just east of Lincoln Blvd.

        Also Trader Joe's
        3456 S Sepulveda Blvd
        Los Angeles, CA 90034
        Phone: (310) 836-2458
        Hours: 8:30 am - 9 pm

        For good Oaxacan food right in front of Trader Joe's is Guelaguetza on Palms Blvd. on the north side of the street just barely east of Sepulveda Blvd.

        1. Welcome to (hopefully) some mild weather and good eats... It's hard to keep something like this brief but here we go...

          Marina del Rey

          Cafe Del Rey in MdR usually has very good dishes - sitdown, nice dining room, lots of seafood options with a heavy influence from the Pacific Rim.

          26 Beach in MdR/Venice has quite a varied menu but does most things pretty good to darned good and with generous portions.

          Beechwood in MdR has a great contemporary look and good food to match - lots of classic American fare with some influences and dishes from different parts of the world (e.g., shishito peppers, buratta cheese and ribeye all under the same roof).

          Venice (along Abbot Kinney)

          French Market Cafe in Venice for breakfast or lunch. Like its namesake, the food is basically French cafe fare - it may not send you off dreaming that you're sipping lattes off the Left Bank, but lots of French expats do congregate here.

          Market Gourmet in Venice is a small but very well stocked market for the person who really likes great food.

          Shima in Venice for sushi and other Japanese fare. Brown rice sushi where the owner mills his own rice and makes his own tofu as well.

          Abbot's Pizza in Venice for great slices - they usually have at least a half dozen different pies on display or you can order a whole pie. Their salad on a pizza or salad on a slice is great as well and as long as good buttery avocados litter its top.

          Hal's Bar & Grill in Venice is a resto that has served Venice for alot of years with lots of good food, great drinks, and service to match. It's still a favorite for alot of the long-time local artists, architects, and other professionals. Their turkey burger is a very popular takeout item.

          Jin Patisserie in Venice is a little gold mine if you like fancy cakes, desserts, and chocolates. They are known for serving a somewhat eclectic Pacific Rim-influenced afternoon tea, but I personally think of them as a great little patisserie.

          Three Square Cafe and Bakery in Venice is Hans Rockenwagner's most recent reincarnation of his culinary talents. The bakery offers a fair amount of waist-expanding goodies, while the cafe offers three square meals that are solid in taste and proportions. Their pretzel rolls are great as burger buns for which they get alot of raves as well as their schnitzel, just to name a couple.

          Lilly's (more upscale French than French Market Cafe), Primativo (wines, tapas and other Spanish/Euro-Mediterranean dishes) and Joe's (probably one of the best and best deals in Venice that serves American/French with some Asian influence dishes) are all on the same block right next to each other. Any one of these will satisfy most people but to add to the mix is Axe which is another 1/2 block up - kinda minimalist in atmosphere and the food is very "Alice Waters meets Venice." Most folks really like this place as fresh ingredients (much of it locally sourced) and interesting but simple preparations are their strengthes.

          Farmers Markets

          Two come to mind right away. The Santa Monica FM located on Arizona and 3rd St on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the Hollywood FM on Sundays. Both locations have their strengthes, with the Wednesday Santa Monica FM being superior on great produce from all over Southern (even some from Central) California, particularly unusual and organic produce. If you like strawberries, a mainstay of this FM (on both days) is Harry's Berries. Organic in the real sense (they have a knit to pick with the recently enacted regulations) and truly delicious. Many of the chefs from the "better" restos around LA come early to this FM, especially on Wednesdays, to get the best produce (some say in So Cal).

          The Hollywood FM is a great experience as the produce is abundant but the added plus is the "other" stuff, mainly great food and crafts. Thai, Korean, Mexican, the Pupusa Lady, aebleskivers, Jamaican, Indian, Greek, pastries,... you get the picture - Hollywood's eclecticness is represented well here in both vendors and patrons.


          Surfas toward the east end of Culver City is probably the best known one-stop shopping experience in the general Westside for those pursuing gourmet and hard-to-find items. The floorspace is quite huge and somewhat industrial but you'd be hardpressed to find another single place around that offers even half of what Surfas has.

          Sabor a Mexico is a recent Chow-find by our beloved Dommie! (and a few others- forgive me for not mentioning your names). It's great Mexican food that reminds many of the "real" stuff from Mexico, particularly D.F. (Mexico City). I mention this place because it's a logical next stop after Surfas. The quirky location is only a few blocks from Surfas, the atmosphere is kinda strange, the ordering and serving system have some kinks to be worked out, but the end-result is fantastico.

          Downtown Culver City is a whole other category. Once a dying downtown area that was a virtual wasteland save a couple of unique shops and cafes, it's become a to-go location for good to great eateries at just about every level, all within three to four blocks of each other.

          San Gabriel Valley for the best Chinese cuisines outside of Asia. This should be a seperate category for Chowhound's "California" section. There are so so many places that one can eat great Chinese dishes at that would rate highly in just about any city in the world. If you crave dim sum, the choices are overwhelming. Shanghainese cuisine? Choose from a dozen that receive raves from so many folks. Taiwanese teahouses or breakfasts? Chinese Islamic? No sweat. And it goes on and on...

          Persian food is blessed by the fact that LA has a very large Persian community around the Westside. Most eateries are around Westwood with Shamshiri getting alot of love here.

          Korean cuisine in LA is probably second only to Korea. A very large portion of LA adjacent to the Mid-Wilshire area is known as Koreatown. I would venture to guess that you could easily spend a couple of week just here and only scratch the surface.

          Japanese food has three centers around LA: Downtown in Little Tokyo, West LA along Sawtelle, and in the South Bay around Torrance, Gardena, and Lomita. Again, spend a couple of weeks of just eating around these areas and you'll only scratch the surface.

          Mexican food is so abundant throughout So Cal that it's hard to narrow it down. Like Chinese cuisine in the San Gabriel Valley, just about every angle of Mexican cuisine is covered around here. Everyone has their own favorite taqueria or cemitas wagon, and Oaxacan cuisine is as common as sightings of Elvis.

          Thirteen weeks won't cover everything, but if you plan it out and eat out alot, you can have tons of great eating experiences around LA.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bulavinaka


            Also, these places are very near to MDR.

            Pann’s (Fried Chicken wings and waffles, pea soup, Chicken Fried steak, Hash and eggs, Burgers and shakes all in a Googie Dream)
            6710 La Tijera Blvd
            Los Angeles, CA
            (323) 776-3770
            Cross Street: La Cienega Boulevard

            California Chicken Café. IMO the best Chinese Chicken Salad in L.A. I order it without the pasta and with extra almonds. They also have a very good Chicken Caesar salad and a fresh fruit salad. The wraps are also great made with their Rotisserie chicken
            California Chicken Café
            424 Lincoln Boulevard(South of Rose, North of Venice Boulevard
            )Venice, CA 90291
            (310) 392-3500
            Open Mon thu Sat – Delivery Closed Sunday.
            California Chicken Cafe locations & menu

            Original Rinaldi's (Italian combo, Meat Ball sandwich, Hot Chicken sandwich or anything they make)
            323 Main St.
            El Segundo, CA 90245
            (310) 647-2860
            From N. Sepulveda Blvd go West on E. Grand to Main St.
            From W. Imperial Ave. Go South on Main
            Right across from the Fire Department

            Big Mike's Philly Steaks and Sub (Best Cheese steak in L.A., Get the 18" – Nuff Said!
            )507 Main St.
            El Segundo, CA 90245
            (310) 726-9638

            Culver City is very nearby also.

            Rutt’s Hawaiian Café (Breakfast / Lunch, I like the bacon FRIED RICE “Royale,” or Loco Moco, or Fried fish plates. Check da grinz on da link below)
            12114 Washington Blvd.,
            Los Angeles, CA 90066
            (310) 398-6326

            Check out this post for more about Culver City.

          2. for southern indian food (vegetarian), Samosa House on Washington Blvd just west of the 405.
            the food is EXCELLENT, but served from a steam table on styrofoam plates.
            i've brought food home from here, reheated it, and served it at a dinner party on china, and everyone at my dinner party RAVED about it.
            be sure to ask if they are serving any of their delicious mango/banana/pistachio soup when you go there. they generally serve a terrific version of curried jackfruit as well as many other wonderful offerings.

            1 Reply
            1. re: westsidegal

              Umm.. Samosa House food is actually North Indian. You are right about it being vegetarian though and yup, it is pretty tasty. I wish they hadn't started serving warmed whole wheat tortillas instead of the fresh, made-from-scratch "phulka rotis" they used to serve earlier. Regardless, it is a good deal.
              For South Indian vegetarian, there's Annapurna on Venice Blvd. near Motor.

            2. forgot to mention,
              for groceries, although by far not the closest to you,
              you need to try the Whole Foods Market on Sepulveda south of Rosecrans.
              imho it is better than any other food market in the area including other Whole Food markets.

              4 Replies
              1. re: westsidegal

                Great rec on that Whole Foods - it's NORTH of Rosecrans if you're speaking about their flagship store...

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Just don't want to lose a good Chowhound on her first run to the South Bay...

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      Great wholefoods. Much better than the west LA one. Thanks all!

              2. Too hard to come up with stuff all over So Cal, so I'll just stick to reasonably local places

                Nearby sushi: Irori (MDR); Sakura on Centinela (Mar Vista). It's been a while for me, but Irori has more of a traditional sushi feel & Sakura has a great local vibe to it.
                Nearby Italian: Alejo's; there are several in the area, but somehow I prefer the one in the strip mall next to the 7-11 on Lincoln across the street from Costco (they don't sell alcohol, but you can bring your own wine; atmosphere is just about nonexistent)
                Local Must try: Cafe del Rey
                Nearby Mexican: El Abajeno (Inglewood Blvd); sketchy neighborhood, but great mexican food. I like Paco's Tacos too; they make their tortillas in house. Tito's Tacos; open 24 hours, always a line, excellent tacos, not authentic in the least, great for late night greasy taco fix.
                Also, close by: check out Main Street in El Segundo (just south of LAX). you'd think you've landed in the midwest instead of los angeles. Just make sure to observe speed limits, though, the local ES police are sticklers about that. Chef Hannes is this really great little bistro. I think they have their famer's market on Thursday nights on Main Street.

                it looks like you've already been pointed to all the local grocery stores. As far as buying fresh fish goes, check out Santa Monica Seafood. Also, the local chinese supermarket chain 99 Ranch has very fresh & cheap fish. I think the closest 99 Ranch to MDR is in Gardena. SM Seafood is probably closer & will have better selection.

                1. Lots of Great recommendations here. We really like to buy fish and seafood at Santa Monica Seafood - a natural stop after lunch at Bay Cities, which should of course be after the Wed or Sat farmer's market.

                  1. I live in MDR and my go-to fave is 26 Beach - huge menu and while it's almost always busy, you can pretty much always get seated without a wait. They also to takeout and delivery. I wouldn't say it's a "must-eat" but you may just end up going there because it's easy and has such a big menu, it's a good reliable place for us locals. I feel the same way about Beechwood - great loungey atmosphere and great food, not really a "must" but you'll probably end up here at some point.

                    I'd say your must-eat list should include Chaya Venice for the Asian fusion cuisine, and also Beacon in Culver City if you are up for a short drive.

                    For Italian - On Main Street in Santa Monica/Venice is Via Veneto which is fantastic, definitely high-end. Almost right across the street from that is La Vecchia Cucina, which is more moderately priced but also excellent. Maybe also try Vito Restaurant in Santa Monica if you want an old-school feel.

                    I also wholeheartedly recommend Bay Cities Deli, the Santa Monica farmers market on Saturdays 9a-1p, and the Whole Foods in El Segundo. I have 3 grocery stores within 1 block of me, but I love to drive down to that Whole Foods when I can. Aside from being a great grocery store, they have a huge variety if great prepared foods. When you can't drive there, the Gelsons at Lincoln & Maxella is pretty great.

                    For great steak you'll have to drive - Mastro's (Beverly Hills), Cut (Beverly Hills), The Grill on the Alley (yep, Beverly Hills), and Arnie Morton's are all the best.

                    For great fresh seafood, casual outdoor picnic table atmosphere, drive up PCH to Malibu Seafood.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LisaStitch

                      La Vecchia is several blocks north of Via Veneto, on the opposite side of the street.

                      I'd like to throw in a rec for Antica Pizzeria, above Gelson's in the Marina. Don't be fooled by the location, the pizza is absolutely fantastic.

                    2. What a wealth of great info! My word- its nice to know a girl can rely on CH in any city! Thanks to all- and feel free to lay more on me :) Can't wait to get started. Super excited about the Santa Monica fish market- Ralphs seafood looked depressing! Was also very curious about Cafe Del Rey, glad to get some recs for it.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: jme1beachbum

                        Ok, so got to the Sushi place- Sakura. Couldn't find Irori (anyone have a landmark?). We enjoyed some salads, innovative rolls, and fresh pieces of fish. Also made it to SM seafood co, fish looks much better there- although the dungeness was frozen (hm- when is season?), the shrimp were very good, going back next week for Salmon. Antica pizza was great (thanks!) and going to Whole foods tomorrow on my day off. Cannot take Ralphs except for pantry stuff.

                        As a side note there is a great sausage place on the beach walk in Venice- good selection, great flavor!
                        Jody Maronis Sausage Kingdom
                        2011 Ocean Front Walk
                        Venice, CA 90291

                        Manhattan beach eatery- was excellent with really good mojitos-
                        Rock 'N Fish
                        120 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
                        Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

                        SO I ask for more from LA ... Tapas places you love and gourmet cheese (that you can taste and the employees are preferably friendly)?

                        1. re: jme1beachbum

                          Irori is in that shopping center (Villa Marina Marketplace) that includes Von's and Sav-On.

                          For tapas, closest to you is Primitivo. I think that it's gone slightly downhill, but it's a fun place with some good dishes. There are certainly better places in LA (A.O.C.), but none that are so close.

                          Closest places for gourmet cheeses are Market Gourmet and Stroh's Market, both on Abbot Kinney. Neither is as good as Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, but much closer. The Santa Monica Whole Foods also has a good cheese selection, although I've sometimes purchased stuff there that hasn't been properly stored. Santa Monica also will soon be getting an outpost of Monsieur Marcel and a cheese store run by the former cheese guy at Patina. Yay!

                          1. re: mollyomormon

                            Gelson's has a very good cheese selection too, as does the Bristol Farms in Westchester. Not as good as the Cheese Store, but very convenient for Marina-dwellers.

                            1. re: hrhboo

                              Heartily second the rec for Bristol Farm's cheese counter. Very helpful and knowledgeable employees and mounds of samples.

                            2. re: mollyomormon

                              Apparently Primitivo has gone further downhill. Primarily focused on wine bar now, although they were out of the one glass of wine I ordered. The cheese plate was presliced, ice cold, like it had been in the freezer. Really took away from the flavors. Waited 15 minutes to eat and still didn't enjoy it. The cold tapas we had was obviously made well in advance- we had a triple ceviche and didn't finish it. Yuck. Decided on Lamb Kebobs for hot tapas, 2 kabobs, great flavor and seasoning, cooked medium-well (wanted med-rare). Skipped dessert and got ice cream on the way home. Way to loud, people drinking wine bumping our chairs, decent waitstaff.
                              Will drive to downtown next time.

                        2. Aye carumba! No mention of the Beverage Warehouse? A huge warehouse that could be your one-stop shop for all things booze related. Decent supply of gourmet soda too. Kinda tricky to find.

                          Beverage Warehouse
                          4935 McConnell Ave #21, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                          Isn't Washington a state where they run a monopoly on the liquor and sell it only through state-run stores? Man, I hate that. Not in CA. Try going to Costco for some of the more name-brand liquor. It's not an earth-shattering selection, but it may satisfy a need or two.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: nakni

                            And of you choose to go to beverage warehouse, check out los angeles wine company in the same little center. All wine cases on the floor, nice staff and great prices. Lots of value finds less for less than $10 for everyday drinking up to the higher end as well. If you like wine you will like this place..

                          2. a lot of these have been suggested already, but i feel they need a hearty "I agree"..

                            Baby Blues BBQ on Lincoln.. LOVE their beer braised beef brisket sandwiches and sweet potatoes.

                            California Chicken Cafe .. or is it kitchen? I dont know.. it's a few doors down from Baby Blues. LOVE their roasted potatoes and chinese chicken wraps.

                            Beechwoods (though rather inconspicuous on Washington) has good sweet potato fries and a great place for drinks.. although rather crowded on a friday evening and weekends.

                            Brickhouse for some tasty diner food..

                            Rick's Tavern on Main Street.. good burger specials on tuesday and thursday.

                            a good place to wander is Main Street and Abbot Kinney in Venice. lots and lots of cafes and restaurants to tempt you.

                            another invaluable resource for finding my food is http://www.yelp.com/venice-ca.
                            lots and lots of user reviews of local businesses and food.

                            1. Great list of recommendations you have here.

                              Sakura — Good and definitely trendy if thats your thing. Not hardcore sushi but good.
                              Alejo's — I've only ever had take out from here but it's always been good, nice delivery guys too.
                              Aunt Kizzy's — Good food in an odd location. The service level varies greatly.

                              The Shack and Outlaws have good burgers and are across the street from each other on Culver and are both worth a try. The Shack has super friendly staff but I always feel like I'm waiting forever there. Have lunch and than take a walk on the beach!

                              1. The closest Farmers Market is the Venice one on Friday am 7-11 on Venice Blvd @ Ocean. It's a manageable (small) size with mostly organic produce and some local meat & seafood.

                                1. If you are still thinking tapas, my favorite is Cobras & Matadors on Beverly in W. Hollywood. Great food with a really nice dark , textured & fun atmosphere. You buy wine at their wine store next door and they will uncork it for you.

                                  1. I always recommend Antica Pizzeria for Italian. Very reasonably priced and delicious.

                                    Antica Pizzeria
                                    13455 Maxella Ave, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

                                    1. I'm sure the others have covered MDR area recs very well. I'll mention only one that I went to recently and was reminded of how good the food here is - Fioretto Trattoria www.tuscanycuisine.com Small seasonal menu, simple but oh-so-good food! I'll mention that my spouse is vegetarian and I am mostly so. Here are some of my favorite LA places that haven't been mentioned here:

                                      Santa Monica area -
                                      Jiraffe - holds a 3 course prix-fixe Bistro night every Monday with two choices each for the app and main courses. The a-la-carte menu on other days is great too. I love them for their abundant use of seasonal market fresh produce.
                                      Melisse - Seasonal 5 course vegetarian tasting menu, upscale place, huge cheese cart, great service
                                      El Cholo - a branch of a very old Mexican restaurant (from the 1920s?), awesome house margaritas on the rocks with salt
                                      Drago Ristorante - great quiet Italian place, unobtrusive elegant service. Enoteca Drago in Beverly Hills can be more yuppy and noisy. Similar and good food at both locations.

                                      Westwood - Jaipur http://www.jaipurcuisineofindia.com/. Good food, very warm service

                                      Mid-Wilshire/Miracle Mile area -
                                      A.O.C. - must try tapas place with tons of wines by the glass
                                      Joan's on Third - wonderful gourmet store/ bakery/ deli
                                      Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax - more of a collection of food stalls that are delightful to graze through, rather than a once-a-week produce-centric farmer's market. Our favorites - Loteria grill, the French crepes place, the doughnut guy, the ice-cream next to it, a Greek pizza place..
                                      Susina Bakery for a slice of tart, free samples of those expensive Italian cookies
                                      Surya - http://www.surya-india.com Very good food, extremely hospitable folks, slightly upscale. Highly recommend the kabuli naan.

                                      Hollywood/Studio City -
                                      Minibar - http://www.minibarlounge.com/ Another great tapas place. Noisy main room, but they do have a quiet room in the back. Must try - yucca bread.

                                      I could go on, but I should get back to work. :)