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Memorial Day Weekend! 5 women looking for some good eats on the Westside

I have four girlfriends coming from out of town (Chicago & DC) for Memorial Day weekend... We are going to Koi Saturday night, but looking for a low-key, less expensive dinner spot for Friday night.

I am hoping to come up with something near the beach (at the request of my guests), i.e. Venice, Santa Monica, but anywhere on the Westside will do. I was thinking something along the lines of Bodega (Broadway @ Lincoln)... small plates, reasonable wine list... but they don't take reservations on Fridays, and I don't want to take my chances with a table of 5. Doesn't have to be small plates, but something good for 5 people, not too pricey, and of course great food!

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. You could try Chaya Venice or Primitivo Wine Bar (not sure about their reservation policies).

    1. If you don't mind having Japanese two nights running, just a few blocks from the beach, Musha would be a great choice (different than Koi, Japanese "pub" food); James Beach puts you even closer (half a block) but I find Musha offers more fun, better food and more to do in the immediate vicinity afterwards; Hal's or 3 Square on Abbott Kinney are also decent options and you could go to the Other Room for drinks afterwards; going farther East, Nook and Violet come to mind. Not a fan of Primitivo, and Chaya, while good, is a bit pricey.

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      Nook Bistro
      11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9, Los Angeles, CA 90025

      Violet
      3221 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

      Musha
      424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

      James Beach
      60 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

      Hal's Bar & Grill
      1349 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

      2 Replies
      1. re: New Trial

        Just a helpful note, Nook does not take reservations though the food and crowd is relaxed but still young and fun.

        Musha has great innovative japanese food; I really enjoy going there. It's not the same vibe as Koi or Bodega (i.e. no World Music DJ in the background with lots of fashionable people and funky lighting). If that atmosphere is most important than I would go with Phurstluv's recs below.

        Also warning: Musha has these little coal grills and no proper ventilation = smoke smell in your hair and teary eyes.

        1. re: goldangl95

          Actually, Nook does take reservations but not for after 8pm.
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/516713

      2. try out santino's on lincoln and ozone. argentinean/italian tapas-style. great selection of beers, low cost bottles of wines and they have special events almost everyday. don't miss sundays, when they set up a grill out back and grill up extremely good eats. i also enjoy the charcuterie & fromage plates.

        btw, skip the empanadas and salads (except the tasty caprese), they are not so good.

        1. My girlfriends & I loved Bar Pinxto On Santa Monica & 2nd, but it's TINY. Other favorites include:
          BOA steakhouse on Ocean, or Wilshire on 25th. And if you really want to impress them, try Whist at the Viceroy. Request the patio, it's GORGEOUS. We had a pre-Valentine's meal there that was fab & I've been trying to get back ever since.

          Let me know if you need more suggestions!!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Phurstluv

            i would not consider BOA to be 'less expensive'

            1. re: westsidegal

              Maybe not. How about the Penthouse on 2nd in the huntley with a gorgeous view. Also, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar (on Santa Monica) is great and takes reservations, but you may need to be flexible with time.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                I like the Penthouse, Whist, and Wilshire but they are not inexpensive though.

            1. re: jaykayen

              iirc orris does not take reservations, one of the Ali B's requests.

              1. re: jaykayen

                I heard Violet was loud & not conducive to chatting, but I don't know firsthand. Also consider Brentwood, which has some good spots, like Toscana, Pecorino & West, in the Hotel Angeleno, again, cool atmosphere & great view.

              2. Did someone mention Upstairs2 yet?

                1 Reply
                1. re: citizenx

                  Good suggestion on Upstairs 2.

                2. I have reservations at both Hal's and Primitivo for now. How do these two compare to each other? Which one has better food... and which is better for a party of five?... we would probably prefer lively to formal.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Ali B

                    Hal's is excellent, and a chill place. Not very cheap, not too expensive but a nice room, and good atmosphere. Close to a couple of good bars, the other room, the brig, garter. Primitivo is a joke, has very average food, and overpriced tapas, don't waste your time. James' Beach is the worst restaurant food in the history of restaurants, so run away. You want a sixth?

                  2. Not in the Westside - actually closer to where your Saturday night spot is - but if you want great tapas, you might want to consider Tasca as well. I haven't been but a recent thread on Tasca was very positive.

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/517522

                    1. Wound up going to Hal's. I got the turkey burger, which was actually really good! It was a little too peppery... but good flavor overall. The only weird thing was that the waitress asked how I wanted my turkey burger cooked... I thought there was only one way to cook a turkey burger because it has to be cooked all the way through.... I just asked her to cook it however they recommend it. Am I mistaken on that? Anyway, the fries were good (I got a side of fries, but the turkey burger comes with salad, not fries). Side caesar salad was a little soggy, but I kinda like soggy caesar salad... it reminds me of a place I used to go to when I was a little kid, haha. I also tried the fava bean hummus... I needed to add salt, but it was pretty good. Hal's is a little loud, but it was perfect for our group. I would definitely go back.