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Quality dinner under $20 pp near 3rd St Prom

buttermarblepopcorn Nov 4, 2007 07:52 PM

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!

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  1. Emme RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 4, 2007 08:47 PM

    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. f
      fdb RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 4, 2007 09:36 PM

      Fritto Misto has good food, good price, but not much ambiance.

      Bravo Cucina has decent food. It's right on the Promenade.

      Il Fornaio has the nicest ambiance of the three.

      1. b
        buttermarblepopcorn RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 4, 2007 09:59 PM

        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
          fdb RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 4, 2007 10:43 PM

          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.


          1. re: fdb
            buttermarblepopcorn RE: fdb Nov 4, 2007 10:59 PM

            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
              fdb RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 4, 2007 11:53 PM

              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
              samochows RE: fdb Nov 9, 2007 11:29 AM

              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
                buttermarblepopcorn RE: samochows Nov 11, 2007 10:26 AM

                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!

          2. n
            NYCnowLA RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 5, 2007 05:24 AM


            1. g
              glutton RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 5, 2007 06:56 AM

              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
                michellemabelle RE: glutton Nov 11, 2007 09:39 AM

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

              2. w
                woofer RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 11, 2007 09:43 AM

                la serenata garibaldi is on 4th st.

                2 Replies
                1. re: woofer
                  yogachik RE: woofer Nov 13, 2007 07:35 AM

                  La Serenata Garibaldi is truly the only decent place near the Promenade in that price range. And, it's one of the best Mexican places in town.

                  Unless you want Thai Food. There's also the Robata Bar next to Sushi Roku, but it might be too expensive, and loud.

                  1. re: yogachik
                    whatsfordinner RE: yogachik Nov 13, 2007 10:33 AM

                    I know the poster didn't want Japanese, but in that price range we shouldn't forget Musha!

                2. d
                  Diana RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 12, 2007 12:24 PM

                  On Arizona and the Promenade is Laconade Del Lago (SP?) I liked it. Good Italian.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Diana
                    buttermarblepopcorn RE: Diana Nov 12, 2007 03:19 PM

                    Locanda del Lago is very expensive, not $20 per person -- I actually went there with two friends last year and it was, you know, okay, not bad, I guess. But quality arguments aside, it's pricier than what I wanted for last night.

                    1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                      glutton RE: buttermarblepopcorn Nov 13, 2007 04:48 AM

                      It's the poster child for the third street promenade -- inauthentic, high-priced, low-quality.

                      1. re: glutton
                        Diana RE: glutton Nov 13, 2007 06:52 AM

                        Gosh, I liked it, and I'm picky. My husband and I went and split an appetizer, soup, salad and each had a main. We got out for under $70.

                        The food was tasty, not superb, but tasty, and the service was amazing.

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