HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Visiting LA: where to eat

  • s

I'll be visiting LA Wednesday-Friday. On such short notice, for which I apologize, can anyone of you chowhounds suggest some place to grab a delicious dinner? Of course, one doesn't know where to begin, but something distinctly LA/Californian--something that we are not so well endowed with in the cold Northeast--would be what I am looking for. Authentic Mexican, for instance.

I am staying in Santa Monica on Ocean Ave.

Thanks in advance.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Try a database search on the main Chowhound page and you will not be dissapointed. There are plenty of wonderful places to eat right in and around the area you're staying in.
    Good luck and let us know what you've found.

    1. Though a couple of miles inland from SM, try Tlapazola Grill (Gateway & Barrington) for some great Oaxacan mole dishes. All of the meat dishes with mole are excellent, as are the chicken enchiladas. Great tortilla soup too!


      1. I think this is right. THere's a stand with very good Mexican food and some Oaxacan specialties as well on Pico near 3rd, acdg to public healthsite, El Taxate, 316 Pico. This is about 2 1/2 blocks east of Ocean and Pico.

        1. It's upscale and a little trendy, but I'd suggest the black pepper shrimp at Ivy at the Shore on Ocean Avenue. Stroll down 3rd Street Promenade and follow your nose. Maybe you'll find Benita's Fries for guess what? When you tire of Mexican, head down Ocean to an authentic dive, Chez Jay, for a martini and maybe some of the banana-potatoes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: michael

            Isn't Benita's closed???

            1. re: brian

              I think Bebe's (clothing store) stands where Benita's was. I hear it's been reloc'ed to Universal Citywalk. Great fries, but maybe not worth the drive and the parking fee.

          2. I know this is completely off what you asked for, but consider making reservations at the Getty's restaurant or even eating in their excellent cafeteria and, of course, checking out the grounds, the view and the art.

            1. Rae's on Pico is good.

              3 Replies
              1. re: PHIL

                Rae's is a terrible diner. It is very popular and much hyped by trendy types who don't really know good diner food. On the same block with Rae's, however, is one of L.A.'s best Mexican restaurants, Lares.

                If you want good diner food, try Piper's on Western Avenue in Hollywood.

                Link: http://manningeclectic.homestead.com/...

                1. re: B.J.

                  I don't think you can call it terrible. Just very, very mediocre. Please don't waste your limited time in L.A. eating here. On the other hand, if you are into photographing classic diners, it might be worth the visit.

                2. re: PHIL

                  I'm with BJ on Rae's. Don't know if I can support him on Lare's. A better diner experience would be the Cadillac Cafe on La Cienega.

                3. Most of the places recommended to you so far, are not actually what you asked for, except Guelaguetza, which is Oaxacan (great moles). I've never eaten in the one on the west side, the one downtown is inexpensive and wonderful.

                  In Santa Monica:

                  Border Grill -- Have you ever heard of the "Two Hot Tamales"? Female chefs, well known, Mexican style food. Some people love this place, I think it's only fair. Medium priced.

                  La Serenata di Garabaldi -- Mexican Seafood, I think this place is great (although I haven't eaten in the one in Santa Monica, but in Westwood). Medium priced.

                  Chinois on Main -- If you have money to burn, Wolfgang Puck's Chinese/Cal/Pacific (or whatever they call it), really really excellent, get a reservation before you come to town.

                  Cha Cha Chicken -- An old hamburger stand very close to the Santa Monica Pier, turned into Caribbean fast food, if that's what you're looking for, it's really good. Order at the window, eat on the patio.

                  If you drive --

                  Bombay Cafe in West L.A. -- Americanized, upscale Indian (I know, sounds horrid but it's not. It's great.)

                  Woo Lae Oak -- Korean There are two of these places. The one on La Cienega is Korean-French and more expensive (and the room is louder). I like the one on Western and Wilshire, upscale Korean BBQ

                  Wilshire BBQ House -- The cheaper version of Woo Lae Oak, still expensive for Korean BBQ (but a lovely room, and an outdoor patio with a waterfall in downtown is unheard of).

                  There are some other Korean places people swear by -- if you're interested, you should search. Some are cheap cheap cheap!


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sandra W.

                    About La Serenata's Santa Monica Location...
                    I have only eaten there once and was disapointed. It was ok but not as wonderful as the Pico/ Westside location, and the prices seem higher.
                    Also there is Monte Alban on Santa Monica Blvd which is great, more lowkey minimall kind of place with awesome moles and friendly , helpful servers/owners

                  2. Sometime ago, on T.V., the program visited Delicatessens that had the best Pastrami sanwiches in the U.S.. The rated a deli in New York as number One. Arts Deli. in L.A. was second best...I'm visiting LA this Saturday, Sept. 29 and would like to visit that spot for Lunch.....NEED THEIR ADDRESS.... HELP!!!!
                    The place supposedly has been around a long time. HELP !! Maybe Santa Monica...But in L.A. region

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Mike

                      Art's Delicatessen
                      12224 Ventura Blvd.
                      Studio City, Ca.


                      1. re: hana

                        hana: Thanks for the reply!!!!!
                        I had just sat down to phone the Chamber of Commerce for L.A. and I decided to check the message board...Bingo!
                        your message was there...thanks again.