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Quality dinner under $20 pp near 3rd St Prom

This is for dinner next Sunday evening for me and my parents -- no special occasion; I'm just dragging them with me (for fun!) to SM for some specific shopping errands on 4th Street. And then, dinner.

I scoured the boards for a few hours, and found that a persistent issue with 3rd Street Promenade restaurants is that they are not good (I even made the sad, awful folly last year of eating at Trastevere for the first and last time). But to balance that, there is a significant group of really really fantastic restaurants completely within walking distance (Jiraffe springs to mind as just one example).

I want to try to avoid BOTH categories. I don't want yucky food meant for tourists blinded by tourist excitement/fatigue. But I also saw Jiraffe's menu, with its prices, and decided that neither I nor my parents can handle the cost at this time. It's only temporary, but my parents and I are on a medium budget.

The only other issue is distance: we plan to park in a city garage and leave it there for the entire afternoon/evening. If we move the car out of the SM garage, we might as well just go home (to Torrance) for dinner. This means please, no suggestions on places that are just a short drive away from 3rd Street. Also, my elderly parents don't like walking a lot, so please, no suggestions for places that you honestly judge are more than just a quick walk away from the Promenade region. Although, they aren't weaklings, either, so if it's a healthy brief walk, OK...

So, to sum up: $20 per person ($30 absolute max), totally walkable from 3rd St, and not yucky tasting. A TINY bit of nice ambiance is preferred -- i.e., not a place that feels like the hole-in-the-wall Taiwanese restaurants we usually go to on the weekends in the SGV. And it does NOT have to be Italian, but please, no Asian (we're Chinese, and my parents equate Santa Monica with Western-style cuisine -- which in my opinion is spot-on, except for the multitudes of Japanese places, but they also live in Torrance -- so no Japanese, please).

Thanks so much, I love you all to death!
ButterMarblePopcorn

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  1. I'd suggest Fritto Misto, if that's within your brief walking distance...

    Also, Border Grill on 4th and Akwa (more expensive) on 5th...

    1. Fritto Misto has good food, good price, but not much ambiance.
      http://www.usmenuguide.com/frittomist...

      Bravo Cucina has decent food. It's right on the Promenade.
      http://www.bravocucinaeatlove.com/ind...

      Il Fornaio has the nicest ambiance of the three.
      http://www.ilfornaio.com/?page=140&am...

      1. Wow you guys are awesome for replying so quickly and succinctly! Thank you!

        In my previous perusal of the boards, I did notice Fritto Misto as a possibility -- though from the pics on their website I'd agree with FDB that the ambiance is a bit lacking. But beggars can't be choosers... I will definitely take a close look at the respective menus of your suggestions.

        Thank you again, Emme and fdb!

        5 Replies
        1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

          You're welcome. I also remember going to Gaucho Grill on the Promenade. Food was better than I expected and portions are generous. Althought the menu on their website doesn't show prices, I remember being pretty reasonable.

          Here's a link of all Third St. Promenade dining options for your perusal. Hope your parents enjoy SM.

          http://www.thirdstreetpromenade.com/b...

          1. re: fdb

            Thanks for the link! My first thought upon seeing it load was: this sure beats standing at the street corner staring up at the giant directory for ten minutes like a lost tourist in front of the entire world...

            p.s.: I'm already leaning heavily towards Bravo Cucina.

            1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

              You're funny....that's exactly what happened with us in Tokyo. Anyway, while you are there, check out George's Bistro, which stands side by side to Bravo. Menus are posted outside while hostesses stand in front of both places to lure you in.....you should be fine at either place.

            2. re: fdb

              I agree - just went to Gaucho Grill this week and was pleasantly surprised. $15 for Deshuesado al Ajo - a tasty 1/2 chicken with rice and veggies. The ambiance is nice enough and they have a full bar. Steaks looked good. Great if you're not worried about the 'B' in the window. Here's a link to their menu w/prices... http://www.gauchogrillbrea.com/menu.html

              1. re: samochows

                Hi samochows, thanks for the idea. Gaucho Grill definitely seems to fall into all the right categories! I'm leaving in about 2 hours from the writing of this message, so we'll see what happens. I'm now fully loaded with some awesome suggestions from all you guys... wish us luck, heheh!

            1. Chez Jay's? It certainly has the ambiance and the food is surprisingly good. Everybody thinks it is just a dive bar, but the sand dabs would make you think otherwise...

              1 Reply
              1. re: glutton

                If you are up for Vegan, Real Food Daily on SM Blvd. is great--and they serve wine!