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4th of July in Santa Monica

Hi everyone -
My boyfriend and I are thinking of spending this evening in Santa Monica.

What I want to do...and I hope this is possible....is to head down there in the early evening and eat at a reasonably priced bbq/burger/hot dog place. We don't need the best burger in Santa Monica or anything, but I'm looking for a nice beachy, relaxed atmosphere. I basically want a burger joint that is casual, but serves beer.

The second part of our night, I would like to find a nice bar with an outside patio with a view of fireworks. This place can be upscale or downscale, I'm not too particular on the price. If a view is impossible, somewhere on the beach would suffice.

Oh and we're not going to be driving, so if there are places like this close to each other, that is our preference. We're from Boston so we're not averse to walking a mile or two, though.

I appreciate any suggestions. I'm pretty overwhelmed in my attempt to find places on my own. Thanks!!

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  1. I don't believe Santa Monica is having fireworks this year. You may have to go south to some other beach community.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mnosyne

      Or eat up in the Palisades and catch the fireworks at Pali High afterwards.

      1. re: mnosyne

        I thought I heard that you could see the ones in Marina Del Ray from Santa Monica....is that wrong?

        1. re: mnosyne

          Marina Del Rey is having fireworks at 9 pm tonight and (if they are open) there are several restaurants/bars which will have views. For outdoors with a decent view of the fireworks, probably Tony P's or Shanghai Red's work best. For the burger/hot dog, again depending on what is actually open, there are some casual choices along Washington toward the Beach--several posters like Hinano's--or you could just stick with the so-so food at Tony P's or Shanghai Red's. Note that the Marina will be hard to get to much later than 6 due to street closures for the 4th.

        2. Well it's not a burger/hot dog joint, but if you want a laid back inexpensive beachy-type place with interesting food, check out Cha Cha Chicken. It's pretty close to the pier but a bit off the beaten path so it won't be mobbed with tourists. (Call first to check if they're open.)

          For the combo that you're looking for (inexpensive joint then bar on the beach), you may be better off heading further south towards Main St., towards Venice (the city not the street). You could grab a burger at Rick's or O'Brien's on Main St. and then turn down Rose towards the beach where there are quite a few places right on the beach. (Though I'm sure they'll be packed!) Also I'm not sure about seeing the fireworks from there.

          Cha Cha Chicken
          1906 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405

          5 Replies
          1. re: QualityMart

            Cha Cha Chicken sounds good. I'm not married to burgers/dogs, atmosphere is the most important. I think we're going to stay in the SM area because we are taking a bus from Westwood. We don't want to mess with driving tonight. Maybe there's a bus to Venice???

              1. re: avosom

                Since you said if you're ok with walking, you could walk from the promenade area down towards Cha Cha Chicken and then continue directly down the beach till you start hitting the beachside joints like The Waterfront. From 3rd street I think the walk to the first place on the beach would be about 30 minutes.

                If Cha Cha Chicken is closed then just head down Main and there should be a bunch of places that are open. (e.g., Ricks for burgers)

                (BTW, if you do this, when you walk back at night I recommend walking back up Main and not along the beach. All in all it's quite safe but there is definitely a seedy element on the beach especially at night.)

              2. re: QualityMart

                I concur. Cha Cha Chicken has a Great atmosphere. I think they even have a burger, though it may be limited to a turkey burger. I've never had it, though - recommend their chicken enchiladas and the mualto cubano sandwich strongly.

                I've only eaten lunch there, so I've never actually seen it happen, but I understand you can byob here - there's a liquor store a block away on Main.

                1. re: gsw

                  I just called and found out that Cha Cha Chicken is closing at 3pm today. So sad. It sounds really good.

              3. I think your best bet would be to grab burgers and beers at Hinano and then watch the Marina fireworks from the roof deck at the Whaler right across the street.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hrhboo

                  I was going to recommend Hinano too! But that would definitely require a bus to get down there. I'm pretty sure there is one, but could be a pain.

                2. L.A. does NOT make it easy for those using mass transit. There are a lot of options from Westwood, especially UCLA, and the coast. But I don't know of a single website or telephone # that gives you all of the schedules. There is the L.A. DOT and the L.A. Metro. But your best bets might be the "Big Blue Bus" from Santa Monica or the green buses from Culver City. And further complicating everything is the holiday schedule.

                  If I were doing it, I'd make my first leg out of Westwood and to the coast near the Santa Monica Promenade (Third Street). Most buses turn south either on Lincoln (8th) or further in. You could grab a transfer and maybe get some of L.A.'s best NY-style pizza by the slice at Joe's. Then ask the locals for the best way further south down the coast, either along Ocean or 4th-Main or Lincoln, and then you get off around Rose or Venice or Washington and enjoy the Venice boardwalk and beach scene on a nice late afternoon. Finally, at the foot of Washington, you are in a position to enjoy the Marina fireworks (Santa Monica is WAY too far away). At least that's how I would plan it, without a car and without specific information.

                  1. The Penthouse at the Huntley is open tonight.

                    Or, grab a burger anywhere on the Promenade and then just walk over to the Bluffs (Palisades Park), where you can view fireworks up and down the coast. Bel Air Bay Club is back to doing fireworks again, this year, you could eat in the Palisades and go to the beach (park on Temescal), or view them at Pali High.

                    Whaler is an excellent idea, too. Good luck getting there though.

                    1. Santa Monica's fireworks were last Saturday night. They are always early.

                      1. I think Santa Monica already did their fireworks display last weekend. This city tends to be idiosyncratic in some ways, and this is one. You might still be able to see the Marina del Rey fireworks display to the south, or possibly even the one in Pacific Palisades to the north. But this hinges on the coastal habit of low clouds crawling in around late afternoon/early evening at this time of year.

                        Another bummer about July 4th celebrations around the Westside of LA is the street closure situation. Any major streets around Playa del Rey and Marina del Rey will be start closing off around 1PM. The traffic will spill over to adjacent areas, which includes Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Culver City, and part of Westchester.

                        With all of that bearer-of-bad-news stuff said, it sounds like you want something relatively simple, something on or very near the beach, and then walk or bike over to your next destination. Waterfront Cafe which is located at the very northwest corner of Venice-proper seems to fit that bill for your first stop. Owned and operated by a very nice Swiss couple who have a particular fondness for good (mostly) German beer, and OK pub-like food (their "Swiss" menu is most serviceable), Waterfront Cafe is frequented by locals and tourists, many of which are from Europe. It's super casual, very easy to strike up conversations with others, and Happy Hour is half-off on their huge glasses of Erdinger Weizenbier. I don't know if today qualifies for their Happy Hour.

                        Within easy walking distance from Waterfront Cafe is Library Alehouse on Main Street in Santa Monica. You might enjoy Main Street in general, as it has lots of shops, restaurants, and some bars. If you start at Rose Avenue and Main and walk north from there, you'll get about 15 to 20 minutes of non-stop casual walking distance to cover, but my guess is you'll want to look into some of the shops and eateries along the way. I like Library Alehouse, well, because I like beer. Lots of great choices in bottles and on tap. Also, their menu is quite good, and the general atmosphere is warm with lots of wood and earthtones.

                        One additional caviat - I don't know what the 4th of July hours are for these two places or any of the other recs on your posting. I'd start early as the beach area around Santa Monica and Venice will be at its annual peak.