Boston Hound visiting Santa Monica for 2 Nights
Any recs for can't miss places in Santa Monica or close by, very flexible regarding type of cuisine so long as it is very good and a good value. TIA.
Low-budget, high-quality Mexican can be found at TACOS POR FAVOR on Olympic at 14th . . . very casual indoor seating, bottled beer no hard alcohol, good authentic baja-styled Mex menu with good specials often using seafood. In & out of here for $10 on your food plus whatever you spend on beer, this is counter-service only, not a destination for a group or date.
Mexican tip -- I'd steer clear of EL CHOLO at 11th & Wilshire, which is an overrated LA fixture, it's a Cuervo Gold margarita kind of place where your food will be lost beneath a pound of melted cheese . . . my opinion only.
Two very different suggestions within a couple blocks of each other . . . I wouldn't call either "can't-miss" but good local tips anyway.
CHA CHA CHICKEN is a beach-hut Carribean chicken stand with outdoor-only seating at Pico and Ocean Avenue, just a short block up from the beach near the Casa del Mar and Shutters hotels. Very good jerk chicken with different simple sides like seasoned rice & beans, plantains, etc. This is ultra-casual -- think of a Jamaican version of a hot-dog stand -- and it's very tasty and very reasonable at about $10/head.
North a few blocks at Ocean Avenue & Santa Monica Blvd is SUSHI ROKU, a high-priced sushi hot-spot with a stylish / popular bar. This is an LA-scene kind of place, picture a sushi bar inside a W Hotel, many sushi afficianodos will criticize the prices and the lack of simplicity / authenticity . . . but I admit that I like the food here very much and the bartenders pour a strong drink, maybe not a favorite for everybody but I have always enjoyed it. Expect to pay $75-100/head, or more if you keep it coming.
One more -- there is a Boston-friendly pub at 26th and Wilshire (was called Sonny McLean's, not sure if it still is) where you could watch Boston teams or throw darts, not sure if that's how you'd spend your visit but it's there for you.