HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Santa Monica dinners

Greetings from a DC hound. My wife and I will be staying in Santa Monica for a few nights early January. Trying to decide on dinners, will definitely hit Fathers office once or twice for lunch as we're out and about. We have a rezzie at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar, which we've really enjoyed on previous visits. Ate at Jiraffe a few months ago; it was good but I can't say it was memorable. Can't really decide how "upscale" I want to go for other 3 dinners. Any recent experiences at Chinois? Other thoughts? I know this is a little vague for now but as always any suggestions are most appreciated. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't think Fathers Office is open for lunch. Try La Botte for Italian, which is close by. Wilshire for dinner is nice.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Adsvino

      I think they open for lunch on the weekend now.

      1. re: Servorg

        Confirmed -- they're open for lunch on weekends.

          1. re: Geoff

            I think only the Culver City location is open for lunch on Fridays.

            1. re: a_and_w

              you're absolutely right, sorry.

    2. Chinois is still very good. You might also consider Anisette [French Bistro], Josie [American with game options], Musha [Japanese pub food] and Riva [upscale Italian Cafe].

      2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

      424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

      Anisette Brasserie
      225 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

      312 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

      1 Reply
      1. re: New Trial

        Riva is now closed, Fraiche is there. (same owners, and very good).

      2. we like Bar Pintxo on Santa Monica just before Ocean for killer tapas, well chosen spanish only wine list with all price ranges, try the red from Majorca, or one of the killer Cavas.

        1 Reply
        1. for japanese sushi and cooked dishes i'd recommend shima on abbot kinney.
          (fwiw, i prefer their cooked dishes, but everything they served us last night was extremely good).

          4 Replies
          1. re: westsidegal

            shima over wabi sabi? haven't been to shima, but WS can be good if you order right...

            1. re: jdwdeville

              if the main criterion is food quality, absolutely chose shima over WS.

              1. re: westsidegal

                as it always is (well, along with wine/sake), i'll make it a priority!

                1. re: jdwdeville

                  How was Shima? After hearing about it for quite some time now ... I'm excited to try it. Is it still as good as ever?

                  Interesting blog post on Shima: http://www.cress-travel.com/2008/12/l...

          2. Let me make some suggestions for your other lunches: One of the best taquerias on the westside of L.A. is in Santa Monica on the S/E corner of Olympic at 14th -- Tacos Por Favor. Simple soft tacos are on the large side and just over $2 each, and the clear favorite on this board is their chorizo and cheese. I also like the al pastor, carnitas, and their crispy tacos and tostadas are good as well. I tried their milanese, offered only in a torta, recently and it was excellent. Gotta admit, one of my main reasons for going there is the salsa roja on their salsa bar -- best hot sauce on the westside.

            Bay Cities Deli is very popular, on the east side of Lincoln just north of Broadway and south of Santa Monica Blvd. Best known for its premium Italian coldcut sub sandwich called the Godmother -- be sure to add either the spicy or mild pepper spread and enjoy their phenomenal rolls, crusty and delicious. A real zoo at prime lunchtime. An underrated hot food section to the right with excellent meatball subs and daily hot specials. Closed Mondays.

            Burgers: The classic SoCal specialty is In'N'Out, but there aren't any in Santa Monica. There is one way south on Lincoln, another on Sepulveda right out of LAX, and if you are going to the Getty Museum or visiting the Hammer Museum or UCLA there is one in Westwood Village. For an original Tommy's chilicheeseburger, there is an authentic one on the S/W corner of Lincoln at Pico. For an upscale burger in Santa Monica and a beer, with outdoor seating if it is a warm day, try the Library Alehouse on Main Street.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nosh

              Much closer Inn & Out location: North side of Washington Blvd. just east of Lincoln in the Costco complex in Marina Del Rey.

            2. Melisse for haut cuisine. Carte Blanche tasting menu is quite an experience. $$$$
              Valentino (not quite Santa Monica, but close) for incredible wine list and serious Italian dining)
              La Botte also very good.
              Picollo (less formal La Botte and you can bring in wine)
              Gjelina - Venice, but in the area
              Catch - interesting sushi but not exactly sushi
              Mori Sushi - not sure if this is Santa Monica, but a simple casual Japanese restaurant (has a Michelin star too)
              Il Grano (bollito Wednesday nights - manly, meaty comfort food for a cold night.)
              Vicente Brentwood which is SanMo adjacent.
              Sam's at the Beach (fish is very fresh - he buys from the downtown Japanse fish markets before dawn)
              Riva - turning into one of my favs for lunch.
              Anisette - French Brasserie - get the Menu du Marche for a 22 buck taste of Bastide. Near Haut bargain.
              Chinois - can't go wrong there

              For a bargain - Rockewagner Bakery right off the Promenade serves a mini sandwich and a cup of soup for 5 bucks.

              3 Replies
              1. re: casualcat

                For ribs and great sides, Baby Blues on Lincoln in Venice.

                1. re: casualcat

                  although i eat at c&o fairly frequently, i wouldn't call their food 'great.'
                  they serve solid "neighborhood" italien food in huge portions at very reasonable prices.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    I ditto that. It wouldn't be a meal I'd go for if I only was staying in SM for a few days. Great brunch though...who wouldn't want free unlimited warm garlic knots?

                2. Definitely Anisette, and you could go there for any meal - breakfast, lunch or dinner, they're all equally great (although the breakfast staff is sometimes not great).

                  Chinois is consistently great.

                  Consider Via Veneto on Main Street and Chaya Venice across the street.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: yogachik

                    Would disagree on Anisette (at least for breakfast)...went based on a lot of praise from chowhounders...but was very disappointed. The croissants, in particular, were not very french at all (vacationed in Cote d'Azur/Nice, France) and no remote comparison! I swear I could have wrung out moisture from mine, there was so much butter -- tasted more like a croissant muffin, and not in the least bit subtle/artful or french. They were also out of the waffles (waffle-maker "not working"), omelette was ok (gourmet) but overpriced for what you get and not remarkable...hot chocolate was only so-so. Best part of the meal was the flavored butter and decor/nice restroom. Waiter was not familiar with the menu. Based on this meal and the lack of precision, would think twice about going for lunch/dinner.

                  2. Annisette is excellent, so is Rustic Canyon. RC is pretty loud. The restaurant at the Getty Museum is also quite good and the views are spectacular in day time. See some great art, then treat yourself to a delish food and wine lunch. For a fun Friday night, have a steak or small bites at West, another place with great views ... of the 405. Sounds weird to rec a view of the freeway, but at night it can be magic! The vibe on Friday is way better than on Saturday.

                    1. You should check out Joe's on Abbot Kinney. It's quaint, lovely and the food and staff are heavenly. For a super fine dining experience with a romantic view of the ocean try Catch at Casa del Mar. Go at sundown and for a beautiful sight.

                      1. Lunch or dinner at Monte Alban, on Santa Monica Blvd. between Bundy and Barrington -- west LA, but not far over the well-guarded border with Santa Monica. Terrific Oaxacan food (which might be hard to find in DC, I don't know), pleasant room, good service, low prices.

                        1. Annisette is a must!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          1. Over 20 replies and nobody says Capo? Wow.

                            It is especially nice there in the winter, with the fire and everything (not cheap, though). A much nicer meal than Rustic Canyon.

                            As for Chinois I have to vote no, unless you get at least two more people to go with you. The whole family style thing just isn't as much fun with just two people.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: JE33

                              i've had a terrific experience at chinois w/ 3 people.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Six of us had an amazing meal at Chinois last night. I had not been there for a couple of years. The food was better than I had remembered; beautifully presented, great service, great combination of flavors. The prices seemed very fair. I look forward to returning.

                            2. you also might consider Caffe Delfini, in SM Canyon...food is merely solid (grilled sea bass, various veal dishes, cioppino, bruscetta, etc), but the romantic/charm factor is wonderful...but i'm biased because i used to live walking distance, so it was a neighborhood dinner choice for me...curious if any hounds have been recently...

                              i agree that Bar Pintxo is a fun place, with good wines and snacks...

                              also, you might want to try Il Sogno in the Palisades nearby for a casual lunch (pureed soups, sandwiches,salads)...

                              1. Joe's on Abbott & Kinney is one of my favorites.

                                If you want casual and something different, Musha on Wilshire and 4th (or 5th?) has yummy Japanese Tapas at a reasonable price.

                                The Lobster on Ocean Avenue has a beautiful touristy view and it's one of the few restaurants with a few that actually has good food.

                                The Library Alehouse on Main Street is good for something totally casual. I wouldn't go there if you're looking for something strictly memorable, but it has a great beer selection and has good bar food.

                                AK Restaurant just opened up at the end of Abbott & Kinney and I loved it. There's patio seating as well.

                                Chinois is okay. I feel like there are better options for better price.