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Santa Monica restaurants for Texas visitor

A friend of mine will be visiting from Texas the first weekend in May and I'd like to take her to some fun, moderately priced restaurants while we're in Santa Monica. I live in the Valley but we'll be getting a hotel on the beach in SM during the weekend.

Any suggestions for an afforable breakfast, lunch and dinner, perhaps one of them on the beach so we could walk? We're both mid-twenties on a budget so would love a hip dinner spot that won't cost too much over $35 per person. Please no Mexican, as she's from Texas and there's plenty of that around those parts. She's never been to LA so will be interested in the slightly touristy "LA" places but only if the food is great and the price is right.

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  1. Cha Cha Chicken, on the corner of Ocean and Pico, isn't bad for a lunch spot. It's about 2 blocks from the beach. http://www.chachachicken.com/ The food isn't fantastic, but it's in the right place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bjartmarr

      Back to the Beach for breakfast or lunch. Okay food but it is really nice eating a meal, literally, right on the beach.

      1. re: handlertaper

        Back on the Beach is closed - there's construction around it.

    2. Bay Cities Italian Deli on Lincoln for sandwiches (get the Godmother) to take to the beach.

      Father's Office for great burgers, fries, specials and beer. It's on Montana, which is a great street for shopping.

      Musha on Wilshire for delicious Japanese pub food.

      Lilly's, Primitivo or Hal's on Abbot Kinney, another great street for walking and shopping.

      1 Reply
      1. re: whatsfordinner

        Fair warning: don't go to Father's Office without reading the other threads on the place.

        I'm not a huge fan, but Fritto Misto has a pretty good reputation around here for being a good meal at an affordable price.

      2. Joe's Pizza on Broadway, 1/2 block from Ocean. Real deal authentic NY slice joint. Great food and cheap enough lunch. Not gonna get anything like that in Texas.

        I'd second Father's Office for gastropubbing. Great food and beer. Just a bit of a scrum to get a table.

        1. Take her for drinks to the penthouse at the Huntley Hotel on Second just north of Wilshire. The bar is on the top floor, and the view of the ocean is to die for. You won't regret it.

          If you're on a budget, just go for drinks. The bar food like the cheese plate or charcuterie plate is good, but its pricey. Go early enough in the evening to get a table by the window. or, if you're interested in the scene, stay later as it fills up.

          2 Replies
          1. re: gsw

            This is a great suggestion. Take her to drinks at the Penthouse and then head down the street to dinner at Musha. If you want drinks after, there's Renee's a block up the street on Wilshire. For an affordable breakfast/brunch on the beach, I think Figtree Cafe is a really good option. No one has mentioned Cora's yet, but that's another good choice well within your budget for breakfast and lunch.

            1. re: mollyomormon

              Definately - try Musha! excellent!

          2. For breakfast, and a sighting of celeb, particularly Patrick Dempsey, head to Montana. I've seen him multiple times at Blue Plate and Cafe Montana. If Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal float her boat, do an Italian espresso breakfast to start at Cafe Luxxe; the couple is there often.

            Up on Wilshire, Snug Harbor and Bread and Porridge are both good too.

            For dinners, you could head down to Main St; La Vecchia Cucina, World Cafe, Chinois,

            Grab tea at The Tudor House or fish'n'chips at Ye Olde King's.

            For a cute French cafe type lunch, try Le Marmiton on Montana.

            If you'll head dow to Venice, you could do dinner at Chaya.

            For reasonable Italian, there's Fritto Misto.

            For Cuban and/or banana cream pie, try Babalu

            Other options in that area would be Violet and Nook.

            More $$ but touristy and celeb likely plus tasty grilled veggie salad, crab cakes, and apple tatin at The Ivy.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Emme

              Yes to Jake Gyllenhaal, we are only human! Used to see him a lot in Brentwood, but no sighting lately. Cafe Luxxe looks like something we will have to check out.

              Great sugguestions!

              If it helps, I believe we are going to stay at Loew's in Santa Monica. What's the word on their Ocean & Vine restaurant. Pretty pricey? Is it worth it?

              1. re: atxlive

                Ocean and Vine is pretty good, but I wouldn't pay for it, and the one time I had dinner there the place was dead. The big circular fireplace in the middle of the restaurant might be a nice warm-up place to have a couple drinks before heading out, but even those are on the pricer side as well.

                I second the Father's Office suggestion. Just go for lunch on Saturday or Sunday and you won't have a problem finding a place to sit.

                I also love The Ivy but that is definitely above your desired budget. And btw if you go on the weekend, you won't see any celebs.

                The Bodega wine bar is also a good spot for drinking and eats. It's very hip/loud. A very happenin spot. Sort of walking distance. Nice wine selection, fun trendy crowd, and I loved the pizzas I've had there, but I must point out again that it is pretty loud in there.

                Might want to check out Rustic Canyon for lunch. They're pretty affordable then, and all their food is fantastic, and organic/sustainable/something like that, so very California-y. Nice wine selection too.

                1. re: atxlive

                  If you're staying at the Loews, try lunch or breakfast at Cora's Coffee Shoppe just south on Ocean. I love their BLT salad for lunch. It's a tiny place, with seating outside. My strategy is to go after the lunch rush, maybe 1:30 or 2.

                  You're also just a block from Cha Cha Chicken, which isomeone else mentioned, but I second the suggestion - its definately worth a visit. All the offerings are good there, but my favorite is the sandwich. I also like the jerk chicken enchiladas.