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Delicious but not crazy expensive restaurant near Santa Monica?

My mom will be visiting in May and every time I like to take her to a great restaurant that she hasn't been before. I'm looking for a place that isn't insanely expensive ($20-25 entrees okay) and has a nice range of menu items (chicken, fish, beef, etc). Good examples are Literati II and Jiraffe (she's been to both). We love desserts too, so a great dessert menu would also be a must. Anywhere on the west side would work - Santa Monica, Venice, West LA, Brentwood...any suggestions would be great!

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    1. re: mollyomormon

      No, but my first and only experience at Nook was horrible. We were basically ignored and ended up walking out.

      1. re: dinami

        I don't know how that could possibly have happened. Nook's service is top notch. They do take reservations only up to a point, and then take walk-ins. They are so much better and less expensive that Literati 2 that there is no comparison.

        1. re: nosh

          As nosh says, I really would consider giving them a second try. The service is generally very warm and the food is way better than Literati 2.

    2. Violet and Upstairs 2 are both lovely and inexpensive.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hrhboo

        Violet and Upstairs 2 are small-plates restaurants, the latter with a wine pairing focus. Violet has (had?) a $7 before 7 special where a selection of dishes had a reduced price at early seatings. Neither is expensive by quality SoCal standards, but unless you take advantage of specials or order very carefully they probably don't qualify as "inexpensive."

        1. re: nosh

          Violet has large plates too. I don't consider either of them expensive, specials or not. They both comfortably suit Dinami's budget.

      2. The Counter, Enterpise Fish Co, and El Cholo off the top of my head.

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        1 Reply
        1. re: LAFooder

          Personally, I'd pass on all three of these recs. I haven't been impressed with the burgers at The Counter. The Fathers Office burger is better (oh God, did I start another thread on the FO burger? That topic is tired.). The fish at Enterprise Fish Co. is pretty weak and sloppily prepared -- you can do much better. And it would be a shame to go to El Cholo when you're so close to Monte Alban, Guelaguetza, El Super Taco, and all the taco trucks.

          You might consider Beechwood in Marina del Rey, Musha in Santa Monica, Ford's Filling Station in Culver City, Akasha in Culver City, and Josie in Santa Monica.

        2. How about Chez Mimi? Lovely space and I think you could find choices within your price range.

          1. Josie and Joe's fit the bill!

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            Josie
            2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

            Joe's Restaurant
            1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

            1 Reply
            1. re: aching

              http://wilshirerestaurant.com/pages/m...

              dinner entrees in the mid to high 20s. The bar menu is cheaper and delicious from what I've had.

            2. Musha would be a new experience.

              Akasha in Culver City

              Fraiche in Culver City

              Lilly's French Cafe

              Pecorino or Palmeri for Italian in Brentwood

              Primitivo in Venice

              1 Reply
              1. re: Emme

                A great place (better for lunch as it's very casual) is:

                Fritto Misto
                601 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401
                (310) 458-2829

              2. Had a really wonderful meal at I Cugini last weekend. 7 for dinner on the patio. Everyone really enjoyed their dishes. Most had one of the fishes which is their specialty.