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Help Out a Chicago Hound Visiting Santa Monica

OK west siders--wife son and I are coming out and will be staying by Wilshire and Ocean but will have car and are willing to go all around westside to find great, reasonably priced (read non-chi-chi/fine dining, but willing to pay for really good quality) food: Here are some of the food goals for the trip:

1. great and preferably fun sushi/japanese place to belatedly celebrate wife's bday;
2. Great Dolsot Bibimbop's for lunch
3. fantastic mexican
4. good salad place/deli to pick up tasty items for hotel fridge
5. Best straighforward breakfast place;
6. one great thai and one great indian place
6. Anyplace else we just can't miss

I know a lot of requests so thanks in advance for your help! Also, does anyone know if my favorite hangout place when I use to live there about 20 yrs ago--The Terried sake House on santa monica blvd. is still around/decent?

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  1. As to 3: Monte Alban, on Santa Monica Blvd. between Barrington and Bundy in west LA, not far over the dividing line between Santa Monica and WLA. Terrific Oaxacan food, quite inexpensive. Completely fills the bill for "fantastic Mexican."

    As to 4: Bay Cities Deli, on Lincoln between Colorado and Santa Monica Blvd. -- pretty much walking distance from your hotel. Not for salads, but "tasty items for hotel fridge?" -- you betcha.

    Enjoy your stay!!

    1. Down on Lincoln for Mexican seafood is La Playita, it is a stand but good. Many on the board have been talking about Mariscos Chente, supposedly excellent Mariscos and Ceviche. Bay Cities has a great sandwich in the God Mother, I hear the veggie Po 'Boy is also a treat. 26 Beach down in Venice does Awesome Burgers, the best in LA, amazing entree salads, they will not fit in your hotel fridge unless it is big, they also do an amazing breakfast/brunch of outrageous french toasts, www.26beach.com . There is an Indian place across from 26 Beach, westsidegal help me here. I would go to Chez Jays in Santa Monica for a classic old school LA experience. There is a cute little place for Paninis and salads in Santa Monica called Amelia's, on Main. You should go under the Santa Monica Pier for a Hot Dog on a Stick and a Lemonade, original location. If you decide to travel a bit east, 20 miles, there are some amazing chinese, vietnamese and mexican. Let us know and we can reccomend.

      Chez Jay
      1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

      26 Beach
      3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

      Amelia's Espresso & Panini
      2645 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

      La Playita
      3306 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

      Hot Dog on a Stick
      1633 Ocean Front, Santa Monica, CA 90401

      Mariscos Chente
      4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

      Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
      1517 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

      1. I would try Akbar on Santa Monica for Indian food - was written up in Gourmet when it opened in Pasadena a few years back. The lamb vindaloo & frankie's are delicious!
        We have lots of great sushi places - Katsuya in Brentwood is quite a scene, tho maybe not the best sushi place, but great for people-watching. Or you can try the robata grill on wilshire (i think!).
        The best Thai IMHO is Jitlada, but that's in Hollywood, not the westside. But do look them up if you're sight-seeing in the area.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Phurstluv

          I have to strongly disagree with the Akbar rec for Indian. I live walking distance from the SM Blvd location but always order from Nawab or (if I'm in the mood solely for chicken tikka masala) All India Cafe. One place I'm still curious to try is Gates of India.

          1. re: a_and_w

            You're right - I meant All India Cafe, not Akbar! Thanks for the correction!

            1. re: Phurstluv

              I would skip both the above and go to Chandni myself, on 19th and Wilshire in Santa Monica.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Phurstluv, now the frankie reference makes sense!

                DUG, Chandni is the vegetarian place, right? I keep meaning to try but haven't. How is the saag/palak paneer? How processed are the greens? Do they fry their cheese?

                1. re: a_and_w

                  I don't think they fry their cheese, and I'm a sucker for palak paneer -- they had really excellent chana masala last time I went.

                  Yes, they're vegetarian.

          2. re: Phurstluv

            Is "...the robata grill on wilshire..." the place next to Amandine? If so it is permantly closed.

            1. re: sel

              Thank goodness. One very regrettable, forgettable dinner at that place (Z Robata?). Now that space seems to have a curse on it. That really bad, supposedly "gourmet Mexican" place came and went in a heartbeat and now the Z nodded off.

              1. re: Servorg

                Yes, that's the one. Never went, but yes that space seems to be cursed!

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  Although it was the "Bicycle Shop Cafe" or some such name for quite a while (they had the really pretty Koi pond in the back of the restaurant).

          3. Hi pouletbuffet,

            1. "great and preferably fun sushi/japanese place"
            * Musha (Non-Sushi) - is a great and rowdy/fun Japanese Izakaya (Japanese-style Pub) that has a good selection of Small Plates and good Beer / Sake. :)

            * Mori Sushi - Do a search on this board and you'll find lots of reports on the quality of Mori.

            * Sushi Zo - Another very good quality place in So Cal for Sushi.

            3. Mexican cuisine: I second ozhead's rec for Monte Alban, and Burger Boy's rec for Mariscos Chente. A great Sinaloan Mexican Seafood restaurant (down-to-earth, great food). :)

            Sushi Zo
            9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

            Monte Alban
            11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

            Mori Sushi
            11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

            1 Reply
            1. re: exilekiss

              my comments on exilekiss's suggestions:

              1) sushi zo is one of my favorite restaurants in the entire country. that said, they are geared to omakase as opposed to ordering piece by piece. absolutely get a reservation before going. this is not going to be a cheap restaurant--it takes me about $70-$100/pp before tip to get out of there and i never order expensive sake. still, i ADORE this place. the name of the game here is the taste of the fish--it is not a place for wild and crazy flavor combinations that mask the flavor of the fish. my new york friends agree with me about the TASTE OF THE FISH at sushi zo--they usually try to make a bee line from the airport to zo whenever they come into town.

              2) mori sushi is excellent and it's also more expensive than sushi zo. with mori, also absolutely get a reservation before going.

              you can't go wrong with either of these places.

            2. 1. musha is fun

              3. juquila is fantastic oxacan also la playita on lincoln

              4. bay cities or santa monica sefood

              5. jinky's or blue plate on montana

              1. Regarding #5, I recommend Rae's at 2901 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica.

                Since you lived here a while back, have you ever eaten French dip sandwiches at Cole's or Philippe's? If I were visiting LA, I'd go downtown for a beef dip. Let us know where you went and what you thought. Have a safe trip!

                1. 1. Musha in Santa Monica is a fun izakaya, but the one in Torrance is bigger, brighter and better (IMHO). And if you're willing to go down to the general Torrance/South Bay area, the options for Japanese really open up. Perennial dynamo poster exilekiss has found some serious gems and highlighted them with extensive concise reviews. Here's the most recent that I was impressed with:


                  3. Santa Monica is adjacent to or very close to many other Westside communities like Mar Vista. A somewhat recent Mexican cuisine sweetheart that was highlighted by poster streetgourmetla is Mariscos Chente. Across the street from them is a pretty decent taqueria, Taqueria Sanchez. A couple of doors south of Mariscos Chente is Angel Maid Bakery - just threw that one in just in case you're jonesing for some great cakes and desserts. If anything else, grab a box of their mini cream puffs (filled with more of a custard). You can pop it in your hotel fridge and it should keep for at least a full day. Here are some recent posts that should set you up for Mariscos Chente:


                  6. Emporium Thai in Westwood has been getting some praise on this board. This is great because as far as really good Thai cuisine goes, it's almost nonexistent unless you head over to the general Hollywood area - a major traffic pain in the arse.


                  6a. You're staying very close to a very well-reputed brasserie that opened up last year - Annisette. Anisette comes up a lot when posters ask questions like, " who has the best _____?" Croissants, pastries, basic French entrees, raw seafood plates, etc. Here's a post that will lay the groundwork for you:


                  Santa Monica has the best farmers market in the LA area. On saturdays but particularly wednesdays, the farmers market at Arizona and 3rd Street is worth a morning walk. I know you're staying at a hotel so your cooking a preparation abilities will be almost zero, but if you appreciate good food, I think you'll appreciate some great produce. Besides, this shouldn't stop you from getting some great citrus and avocados which can still be had right now. I think the hours are from 0830 or 0900 to 1400.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    I almost forgot - something very unique that has opened but not in the Westside is The Bazaar, located in the SLS Hotel, by Spanish restauranteur and star chef Jose Andres. It's probably one of the more unique dining experiences in LA that would be worth a visit from any part of greater LA.


                  2. Yes, Terried Sake House is still in business on Santa Monica Blvd. in W.L.A., but I think general opinion on this board is that Musha is better, and certainly closer to your hotel.

                    1) The most expensive and perhaps the greatest restaurant in all of SoCal is Urasawa, not far away in Beverly Hills. Some would compare it favorably to Masa's, now in NYC, and the prices are in the same ballparks. To call it sushi is to underestimate it. At a more reasonable and accessible level, there is Sushi Zo and Mori, and I read more enthusiastic and consistent raves about Zo, which is in W.L.A. down where National intersects with the 10 freeway just before Robertson and Venice Blvds. For Japanese fusion, mixed with French technique, many love the small plates at Orris, on Sawtelle, which has a variety of sushi, shabu shabu, izakawa, noodles, and other specialties in the stretch between Santa Monica Blvd. and Olympic. Orris is popular, does not take reservations, but a twosome should be able to get in pretty easily these days.

                    3) Monte Alban is indeed excellent Oaxacan, specializing in complex moles and sauces, and is in the minimall on the N/E corner of Santa Monica Blvd. at Brockton in W.L.A. It is caddycorner to El Super Taco, which makes excellent pressed tortas, and has a wonderful habanero salsa on its bar. For more standard, simple Mexican, I think by far the best on the westside is at Tacos Por Favor, in Santa Monica on the S/E corner of Olympic at 14th. The best salsa roja on the westside, and I've rarely had a poor dish there. Good, big soft tacos for about $2, nice crunchy tostadas with lots of fresh lettuce, a wonderful milanese torta, good burritos. As mentioned, down in Mar Vista on Centinela south of Washington are Mariscos Chente, a sitdown place with incredible fresh shrimp in amazing sauces (about $12), and across the street Taqueria Sanchez, which is best known for their succulent shrimp tacos, never overcooked or rubbery, at $1.75 last time I was there.

                    6) I tried Emporium Thai, on Westwood Blvd. about three blocks south of Wilshire, a couple of weeks ago, and met the manager, who is the brother of Jazz, who runs Jitlada. Very friendly, trying very hard. But the special curry I ordered which is their specialty was hot enough -- very spicy -- but the sauce was a thick, one-note, almost chalky mess, not pleasant at all. My favorite Thai on the westside is at Thai Boom, on the north side of Venice Blvd. at Midvale, between Overland and Sepulveda. Get the special shrimp in red curry butter, the eggplant, the pad see yu, or the yellow curry. Stick with chicken or shrimp or fish and avoid the beef, which can be tough.

                    5) There is no shortage of precious, expensive bakeries in and around Santa Monica, the newest being Huckleberry. But for the best croissant by far, head to Amandine on the north side of Wilshire a couple of blocks west of Bundy. Nice omelettes, a couple of quiches each day, a couple soups, sandwiches, and gorgeous baked goods, both breads and sweets.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nosh

                      I think the maple bacon scone at Huckleberry is a can't miss.

                      1. re: mollyomormon

                        Most anything at Huckleberry is great - also goes for Rustic Canyon their sister restaurant up the street.

                    2. Terried Sake is still there. It used to be on my weekly rotation, but the quality has slipped in recent years. Try Nanbankan on Santa Monica, just west of the 405 instead. Musha is fantastic, but different.

                      For very casual Mexican I'd recommend Tacos Por Favor on Olympic at 14th. I love the chorizo and cheese tacos.

                      Bay Cities Italian deli is great. Love the Godmother sandwich with the works and mild peppers.

                      Other recs:
                      Cora's on Ocean for breakfast and lunch
                      Anisette for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
                      Bar Pinxto for tapas.
                      I haven't tried it, but Fig in your hotel has gotten some good reviews.

                      1. I know you asked for Westside, but the reality is that due to high real estate prices, much of what you want just doesn't exist on the Westside.

                        #2: You're not going to get the authentic bibimbap experience (if you can even find any at all) on the Westside. You'll need to go to Koreatown. There's a food-court bibimbap place at the Farmer's Market on 3rd and Fairfax, but if you're going to drive all that way, you might as well go the extra distance to K-town.

                        #3: While Monte Alban gets many recommendations, and their mole sauce is fantastic, I've been totally underwhelmed by the meat they serve with it. If you are ever downtown during the day, stop by the Central Market on Hill between 3rd and 4th, buy some prepared mole there, ask them what to do with it, then take it back to Chicago and do what they tell you.

                        #4: Bay Cities, as others have said, of course.

                        #6: Santa Monica has acceptable Thai and Indian. For great Thai you're going to have to go to Thaitown. It's well worth the drive to go to Jitlada. For Indian, drive to Mayura (Kerala-style Indian in Culver City) or Makkah. While others like Akbar or Nawab, and their presentation and atmosphere is nice, I find them to be very precious with sort of a generic take on the food. You've had vindaloo and saag paneer before, right? Why come all the way to LA to have it yet again?

                        Wherever you go, be sure to read up on what to order beforehand. (If you come back and post that you didn't like the pad thai at Jitlada, I'll...well, I don't know what I'll do.)

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Bjartmarr

                          "While Monte Alban gets many recommendations, and their mole sauce is fantastic, I've been totally underwhelmed by the meat they serve with it."

                          My advice: finesse this issue by ordering barbacoa de chivo -- a big bowl of dense, red, spicy (but not hot) broth with a chunk of braised goat in it and a plate of onions and herbs on the side to mix into the soup. The goat is wonderful -- tender, delicious, not in the least gamy, just a fabulous dish.

                          1. re: Bjartmarr

                            Spot on comment about the meat at Monte Alban underwhelming. I prefer to consume the mole either as a dip for the chips or on the "tacos enchiladas" (make sure you order that type) with shredded chicken or cheese as a filling. This is also a place to consider for breakfast. I love the eggs with chorizo. One word of advice -- I always order a side of sliced avocado with just about everything I get at Monte Alban. Adds the perfect accent...

                            1. re: Bjartmarr

                              I really like Monte Alban, but I rarely get their mole. Instead I order a couple of molote's (potato croquettes filled with chorizo) and a goat taco, this is usually enough to fill me up and tastes great.

                              For indian, I second the recommendation for Mayura just make sure to order the south indian dishes as these are their specialty.

                              1. re: joshekg

                                the molcajetes there are also awesome!

                                1. re: mollyomormon

                                  And the higaditos, I think I'll have to make a visit this weekend now.

                            2. 6. Don't miss Anisette, Musha, Gjelina (on Abbot Kinney), Monte Alban, Bay Cities, Father's Office burger, Chinois.
                              Other ideas include Bar Pinxto, Riva, Katsuya Brentwood, AK, 3 Square, Chaya Venice.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: yogachik

                                Another great breakfast place that's local favorite--Blue Plate on Montana Ave.

                                And another sushi suggestion--The Hump. Good sushi, and the location is fun. It's by the SM Airport and you can watch small planes landing and taking off.

                                Blue Plate
                                1415 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                                the hump
                                3221 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                                1. re: fdb

                                  Yes, The Hump can be fun. It can also be surprisingly and unexpectedly expensive -- certain dishes can jack the price of your meal up out of sight. It is no fun to be asking the price of individual dishes, particularly if you are celebrating an occasion and indulging in wine or sake. So if you go, I would have some explicit discussions on the cost of omakase when making your reservations, and confirm when you get there. I still think you will be happier at Sushi Zo or Orris.

                                  1. re: nosh

                                    OP didn't mention the age of his son, and whether he will want to do the mandatory omakase at Sushi Zo. Zo is a great choice for sushi lovers but may not be suitable for kids.

                                    1. re: nosh

                                      nosh, is absolutely correct about the hump.
                                      i've now heard numerous stories of the bill at the hump coming out at over $400 per person--even more expensive than urasawa.

                                      personally, i'm in the minority, but i'm not a fan of orris, in part because i don't like standing and waiting for a table for 45 minutes because the restaurant doesn't take reservations.

                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                        FWIW, I have never had to wait longer than 10 minutes for a table at Orris, even at 7pm on a Saturday night.

                                        1. re: mollyomormon

                                          me too, never had to wait longer than 10mins. and i go pretty often...

                                2. 1. second musha, but if you happen toward Beverly Hills, I'll suggest Mako on Beverly Dr.; masu sushi on westwood has some good deals

                                  3. Monte Alban for Oaxacan; Gilbert's El Indio (esp for breakfast), Lares on Pico

                                  4. Bay Cities yes; good salads actually at Babalu on Montana or even stuff at whole foods (i know, i know)

                                  5. Bread and Porridge; Anisette; Jinky's; Caffe Luxxe on Montana for coffee/pastries - same at Via Dolce

                                  6. personally i'd trek over to the eastside to Jitlada Thai or over to NoHo to Krua Thai; Indian I'd go to Nawab on Wilshire or Chandni (both suggested above :)

                                  6. "can't miss" is tough, but things to consider... Primo's for doughnuts (Sawtelle/National), Shamshiri, Amandine if you want an almond or chocolate croissant; Nook Bistro for comforty food that son will likely enjoy much too; Via Dolce on Montana for some pastries/coffee/etc. Abbot's pizza; 3 Sqaure, AK, Gjelina,...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Emme

                                    Great recs for "can't miss" considerations. I think the places along Abbot Kinney Blvd would make for easy pickins and a decent stroll.

                                  2. Donuts.
                                    Primo's on Sawtelle and National.
                                    Without a doubt the best buttermilk donuts in the world housed in a little unpretentious bakery.

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: latindancer

                                      I just went this AM to Royal on Palms/Sepulveda to refresh my memory on how their donuts compare to Primo's. The folks there are truly grateful for patronizing their shop, the selection of donuts is wide, and location is convenient. After trying Royal's buttermilk bar and crumbcake donut, it was pretty standard in my eyes. The buttermilk bar tasted doughy and had a slightly rubbery texture. The crumbcake doughnut was good, but I could taste the oil, which is pretty standard for most donuts from most donuts shops, except Primo's. I still feel Primo's has nailed the process in creating great donuts. I will still occasionally stop by Royal, but as Primo's name is, they're First.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        Next time you're at Primos, bula see if Mr. Primo has made any buttermilk bars with chocolate on top. I find that those fly out of the donut case and impale themselves in my mouth like something Ripley tried to avoid in the first Alien movie (only a lot tastier than the flying Alien spawn I can almost certainly assure you!).

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Thanks for the great tip - I usually get there right at the crack of dawn but I've been getting lazy. I was going to stop by this AM but I thought I'd give Royal a shot since it'd been a while. And thanks for the warning on projectile donuts!

                                        2. re: bulavinaka

                                          I think it's that little crunch on the top of the buttermilk bar combined with that soft texture inside that does it for me....and on top of that it's quite a hefty donut for the price. I seem to be lucky if I get there in the early morning because it's still warm.
                                          Pair it with a nice cup of tea and I'm quite content.

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            Primo's buttermilk bar has some serious shoulders.

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              Mr. Primo got me again this morning with another chocolate topped buttermilk bar. I am powerless to resist.

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                You're too easy of a target if you've set up a tent on the sidewalk. :)

                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                  That wasn't a tent, that was my tee shirt (after a few years of Primo's visits and up close and personal donut encounters). ;-D>

                                              2. re: bulavinaka

                                                Yeah well apparently one has to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday in order to grab a few of these.
                                                They were all gone, wiped out, when I got myself to Primo's this morning.
                                                Looks like I'm going to have to give up sleep tomorrow morning.

                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                  Look, the last thing I'm going to do is diss Primo's -- they are an institution, some of their varieties are the best in their genres, nd they deserve the love and accolades. But I just have to reinforce how good it makes me feel each time I patronize Royal -- they are truly a family operation, very hardworking, and wonderfully gracious. Yes, some of their best items have that fried crunch and crispiness; I started out as loving their big cinnamon rolls, huge and seriously glazed, with a contrast between the crisp rim and softer middle. A different animal than Primo's more delicate, more baked and iced cinnamon roll. My gosh, with the Bagel Factory providing the base of the triangle between the three, that stretch is carb heaven.

                                                  1. re: nosh

                                                    Primo's does two types of cinnamon rolls. The smaller, round, flatter one that is light cream in color with white icing and the much larger, darker and more mountainous looking one, also with white icing, that is generally sitting out on the table a little to the immediate left of the cash register as you are paying.

                                                    Add: Here is a link to a photo of the larger cinnamon roll at the left of the photo with a bear claw to it's immediate right and the hugh croissant to the far right:


                                                    1. re: nosh

                                                      Okay so tomorrow morning I'll go to all three.

                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                        And if you ever make it to OC, tell me what you think of the chocolate buttermilk bars at Donuts & Bagels (not sure if it has a real name) at State College and Chapman, SW corner, near CSUF, because while I've never had Primo's, the ones from Ds&Bs are faaaaaaantastic -- and available all day and all night (it's 24x7).

                                                        (Note: the State College and Chapman in Fullerton, near CSUF -- not the State College and Chapman in Orange, which is near the Block at Orange.)

                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                          Did you make it "round" to all three? Can you still move to get to the computer to report (if you did)?

                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            Well I sincerely had good intentions of making the rounds but I knew, as you're eluding to, I'd make myself sick in doing so and possibly gain a few unwanted pounds.
                                                            I think I'll do it in stages. beginning tomorrow.
                                                            I'll get back though :).

                                            2. West LA is known as the Oaxacan corridor, so you should probably try Mexican at a Oaxacan place like Monte Alban or Juquila. I also would recommend some tacos with hand-made tortillas at Tacomiendo, which is probably my favorite all-around taqueria on the west side. You might also consider a cemita or torta at the Anjelica truck, which parks during the day at Venice and Motor in front of the Smart and Final.

                                              As others have mentioned, Bay Cities is the place to go for sandwiches and Italian food products. But I'm actually not a fan of their prepared foods and salads. Order on-line and pay with cash in the line by the hot-foods counter to avoid ridiculous waits during peak times. Another place to consider for take-home goodies is Amandine on Wilshire, arguably the best bakery on the west side. I especially love the buttery croissants (best enjoyed fresh) and the banana-chocolate danish. Amandine is also a great place to grab hot breakfast. Sit in back, preferably outside, for a more mellow experience.

                                              There is passable dolsot bibimbap at Tofu Ya on Sawtelle, though you really should head to K-Town for Korean. Sawtelle is also where you'll probably end up for Japanese/sushi. It's worth walking from Santa Monica Blvd to Olympic just to check out the scene. I recommend some Japanese curry at Hurry Curry, Sawtelle Kitchen, Blue Marlin, or Curry House. I prefer Hurry Curry, but each has its fans.

                                              In the mid-range category, I recommend Nook and Jiraffe. Both serve relatively simple, market-driven menus. Nook, in particular, is a kind of only-in-LA place. It's tucked away in the back corner of a nondescript strip mall with fast food Chinese and pizza places. Look for the orange arrow.

                                              PS: Persian food -- definitely a strength of the area. So much so that I would consider swapping this for Indian, which really isn't. Check out Attari sandwiches, another only-in-LA kind of place. It's hidden in a little courtyard off Westwood Blvd at Wilkins. I love the vegetarian sandwich (kind of an herb-omelette on bread) and the ash soup. I'm also a fan of Javan on Santa Monica Blvd. for sit-down dinner food like stews. The kashk-o-bademjan and the fesenjan are particular favorites.

                                              PPS: Check out the Santa Monica farmer's market until 1pm on Wednesdays (bigger) and Sundays (smaller) at 3rd and Arizona. The citrus, in particular, is spectacular right now. I've also never seen so many different types of avocado in my life.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: a_and_w

                                                Second Persian rather than Indian on the west side, though not really in Santa Monica -- more in Westwood (Westwood Blvd. between Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvd.) and then west down Santa Monica Blvd. Strong second to Javan, which is on Santa Monica Blvd. a few blocks west of the San Diego Freeway, on the south side of the street.

                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                  RE: the Santa Monica farmer's market -- it is on Wed's and Saturdays, not Sunday.

                                                  1. re: yogachik

                                                    D'oh -- thanks for the correction.

                                                2. You have to check out Bay Cities Deli on Lincoln. They are said to have the best sandwiches in all of L.A. Get the godmother. You could try Swingers for breakfast. It works.

                                                  1. #2 Jeon Ju in ktown drive is worth it

                                                    Jeonju Restaurants
                                                    2716 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                                    1. the "can't miss" #6:
                                                      orris, anisette, father's office

                                                      2006 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

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

                                                      Father's Office Bar
                                                      1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                      1. 3. Drive all the way to Hollywood and do the best Mexican in the city right now at Loteria Grill. It's on Hollywood Blvd. Bright, airy, colorful space and the food is outstanding! Parking over there is a hassle, and it is east of the 405, but worth it. The food press here is ga-ga over this restaurant, and my foodie group of 10 loved it when we visited it last month.

                                                        4. I'll 4th or 5th Bay Cities Italian Grocery and Deli on Lincoln Blvd. The line is always long, but the food is really just so good! I particularly like EVERYTHING I've ever eaten from there, including the amazing, made from scratch soups and the "feel your butt expand with every bite" Mac and Cheese. A sandwich named "The Godmother" is famous in town. And, they even bake their own bread. Also, TONS of tasty products in the grocery itself, including, like 7 different kinds of Pannetone. My last trip there I bought some duck fat in a carton that I'll use soon to roast some potatoes. Bay Cities is the best!

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: SugarFrosted

                                                          The OP is from Chicago. If he was seeking new, gourmet Mexican he has Frontera and Rick Bayless's other restaurants. If he is going to drive in that direction, hit Jitlada in Thaitown (Hollywood Blvd), get some Korean BBQ or other specialties in K-Town (Olympic), or further east and get the authentic regional Chinese that is not so easily found in Chicago.

                                                          1. re: nosh

                                                            Yes, Frontera puts places like Loteria to shame. I'm not sure people appreciate how strong the Mexican food scene is in Chicago.

                                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                                              A few months ago, when introducing a friend from Chicago to Loteria in the FM, she felt obliged to remind me Chicago is much more advanced when it comes to Mexican food and any other food for that matter, museums, shopping, history etc.
                                                              She was completely unimpressed with Loteria and The Farmer's Market and, to her, S Cal is nothing but a wasteland when it comes to anything culinary.
                                                              The self righteous attitude was rather laughable.

                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                Well, I can see why she wasn't impressed with Loteria and that Fairfax "farmer's" market, which is anything but, imo. But the notion that LA is a culinary wasteland is absurd! Where else did you take her?

                                                                PS: Did you take her to the SM farmer's market? If she sniffed at that she's crazy!

                                                          2. re: SugarFrosted

                                                            I do not know about the best but it is good. One problem, the had no mole at 1pm because the ran out the day before and had not made any yet! WTF! Come on, does McDOnalds run out of hamburger patties?

                                                          3. To visit L.A. and not have a popular LA style breakfast is as much a sin as visiting Chicago and not having a Chicago Dawg, Deep dish, or Italian Beef. Donuts, Chicken and Waffles, and Breakfast burritos are a good start to what breakfast in L.A is about. Since you said you are willing to go all around the Westside, I will restrict my reply to that small part of the LA Area. Good news, some good donuts and great chicken and waffles are nearby. Try calling every place before going because you might wish to have breakfast for lunch or dinner and you can do that -- just check each place ahead of time.

                                                            Donuts –Primo’s has been mentioned several times above and that is a good stop for those buttermilk bars and some special glazed donuts which are hard to find. Stan’s located in the center of Westwood Village would be more fun for your wife and son, not only for a big selection of outstanding donuts but also because the Village (near UCLA --show that to the boy) has many other places to places to eat, shops and a nice movie house.

                                                            Primo's Westdale Doughnuts (Glazed donut and the Buttermilk Bar)
                                                            2918 Sawtelle Blvd
                                                            Los Angeles, CA 90064
                                                            (310) 478-6930

                                                            Stan’s Donuts Try them all and get two Apple Fritters and two Peanut Butter Pockets
                                                            Westwood Village, California
                                                            10948 Weyburn Avenue
                                                            (310) 208-8660

                                                            Chicken and Waffles –. Roscoe’s and Pann’s. Try the Scoe’s Special at Roscoe’s -- 1/4 chicken and two waffles. Roscoes has maybe the best waffles anyplace. I think these waffles have a very slight amount of cinnamon and churros batter mixed in to enhance the taste and texture – That’s some good eatin. Pann’s has good waffles also but this is the place for the best fried chicken wings to go with those waffles. Pann’s has the best Googie ambiance in L.A. Both places serve chicken and waffles, as well as other breakfast selections, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

                                                            Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles – several locations.


                                                            Breakfast Burrito – Original Tommy’s is an L.A. institution and there is a recent post expressing appreciation for their burgers. While I do not agree that those burgers are great (Carney's on Sunset is the best for L.A. style chili dogs and great chili burgers) I do love their breakfast sandwiches and burritos.

                                                            Original Tommy's Hamburgers Best Breakfast Sandwich on a English muffin anyplace and these breakfast burritos are very good. Order them with everything or else you cannot say you had breakfast in L.A.
                                                            1900 Lincoln Blvd. Santa Monica
                                                            (310) 392.4820
                                                            Sun-Thur: Open 7:30AM-12AM / Fri-Sat: Open 7:30AM-3AM

                                                            Recent Tommy’s post http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/601157

                                                            I wish I could offer more Breakfast burritos for the Westside but since I live in the world capitol for burritos (The SGV) I never see a point in trying any burrito from the Westside and thereby passing up the chance to stop at the Googie dream that Pann’s is .I hope you do try some breakfast burritos while you are here. Below is a recent post with a very helpful reply by Servorg which links four other recent post on the subject – Breakfast burritos are serious food in L.A. Enjoy your time here.

                                                            Breakfast Burritos in L.A.

                                                            19 Replies
                                                            1. re: JeetJet

                                                              JJ, you'd make a great host for visiting hounds...

                                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                Thanks. I wish Chowhound would add a board section like that couch surfing thing where people can connect for a couch to sleep on while they visit a city, but have a hoist to show them the chow spots as well. If that happen I would spend six months in LA showing new friends where to eat and six months Chow-Hounding from someone’s couch someplace in the world. http://www.couchsurfing.com/

                                                                About my reply, I noticed that I forgot to mention a place on the Westside that I think visitors must stop. Therefore, to the OP, for a fast, low cost, fresh salads go to the California Chicken Cake. L.A. is the home of the Chinese Chicken Salad and IMO this place makes the best version. The wraps are great and the chicken is also. The fruit salad is outstanding. Stop here on the first or second day of your trip and you will return again before you leave. Maybe take something from here to eat on the jet ride home. Locations in Santa Monica and Westwood. Check out the menu and addresses in this link

                                                              2. re: JeetJet

                                                                No disrespect, Jeet, but the SGV is not the world capital for burritos. Chicago is much more of a burrito town than LA. I don't disagree with the breakfast burrito rec. But I would still urge visitors to try regional cuisines that are harder to find outside So Cal -- e.g., Oaxacan.

                                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                                  Dude, I think LA has much closer ties to the burrito than Chi-Town. Yes Frontera is good but LA has Babita, the place at Olvera Street, I can not think of the name, Gardens of Taxco all the way to Machaca at El Tepeyac and great stands like Alberto's. We have Oaxacan, Sinaloan, Zapateca, and Puebla, we have taco trucks and taco tables that would blow your mind. Bring it on Chi-Town.

                                                                  1. re: Burger Boy

                                                                    BB, I'm just talking about the burritos. No one from LA ever moves to Chicago (or SF) and asks where to find SGV burritos. Regional mexican food, yes, but not burritos. By contrast, lots of Chicago (and SF) transplants move to LA and wonder where the great burritos are. There are great burritos in LA, particularly if you like them wet, but they're not the city's strong suit imo. I just think a visitor from Chicago would be advised to stick with our amazing trucks and regional cuisine, which we both agree will blow the mind.

                                                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                                                      Mission burritos are a no authentic, albeit good, version of what a real burrito is. Try Alberto's or the greta chorizo burrito talked about last month in El Monte, I have gone 3 times, just forget the name. There are som many great places in and around LA. Boca del Rio in La Puente, try a Hollenbeck Burrito from El Tepeyac or one from Al & Bea's. The place on 3rd street by the 710 frwy that does 11 kinds of burritos. LA is the Burrito capitol of the world. I might just change my name and identity and become Burrito Boy!

                                                                      1. re: Burger Boy

                                                                        Chacon a son gout, my burrito loving friend! But you will never persuade me that LA is the burrito capital of the world.

                                                                        PS: I think Lupe's is the place on 3rd.

                                                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                                                          Lupe's, Thank You! I will give you your dog and beef dip along with your stuffed pizza, capicce!

                                                                          1. re: Burger Boy

                                                                            I thought california was the birthplace of burritos?? I know no one is mexico eats burritos

                                                                            1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                              I don't know the origins, but Mexican immigrants seem to love them here. I remember back in the 70s when I used to help my father gardening with his crew who were mostly from Michoacan. We'd break for lunch, I'd have my usual boring sandwiches and they'd break out the home made burritos wrapped in foil, along with the obligatory jalepenos. Like a lot of our food of immigrant origins, maybe it's peasant food, maybe it's blue collar or field worker food, but they seemed pretty comfortable with it.

                                                                              1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                The origin of the burrito, like all things, is disputed but I like the story about Juan Mendez and his food cart pulled by that little donkey – “Burrito” translates to “Little Donkey.”
                                                                                History of Juan and his donkey

                                                                                About my opinion of SGV being the burrito capitol – also disputed. The influence of the foods of the proud Chicano people (or maybe La Raza, Hispanic, or Latino – also disputed, but I use “Chicano” based upon my Chicano History studies at CSU, LA) in Los Angeles is far greater than in Chicago. On the one hand it may be related to demographics. The Chicano population in Los Angeles County is almost twice the total population of Chicago. The per-capita percentage of Chicano owned firms is more than double in L.A. (20% +), which demonstrates influence. The numbers of Chicanos in just the SGV are almost the same as Chicago but with the population of East LA nearby, the SGV has a far richer support for the Mexican food culture. On the other hand it could be related to proximity to the homeland of that “Little Donkey” which is just a short drive south while Mexico and Chicago are separated by the Midwest, the South and the entire nation of Texas which breads the “Tex-Mex” influence on all little donkeys migrating north. That brings me to the OP’s request for “fantastic Mexican” and my recommendation that he must have a breakfast burrito while in L.A. It would be great if he could have a chorizo and egg burrito with a little cilantro, onion and the green salsa (nothing more – no rice and no beans) form Taqueria LA Cabana but he indicated he will stay near the Westside only. Now that burrito would be a dream on a cold Chicago morn. Please, somebody please, inform the OP where on the Westside a breakfast burrito coming close to being that fantastic can be found.

                                                                                Taqueria LA Cabana (Tacos, burritos and tortas. I have enjoyed the Chorizo, Lengua, Carnitas, Pollo, Al Pastor, Cabeza and Tacos de Barbacoa (like a Hot Chili) fish and shrimp and a pretty good veggie burrito. They also offer Sesos (Brains), Buche, Jaiva, Tacos de Tripas (intestines) but I never got that initiated into the Chicano food culture).
                                                                                3402 Cogswell Rd
                                                                                El Monte, CA 91732
                                                                                (626) 448-9310

                                                                                1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                  That chorizo burrito is GOOD! I have had it 3 times in the last 2 months!

                                                                                  1. re: Burger Boy

                                                                                    Hey Burrito Boy (a name that has come to my mind many times while reading your burrito post). I have gone to Taqueria LA Cabana looking forward to that burrito and on two occasions they were sold out of the Chorizo. That guy told me they mnake it in small batches and .... "sorry." They always have the pastor, lengua and the chicken. Another thing I really like there, which they also are out of sometimes, is the Champurrado. A large cup of that with that Chorizo burrito would be a life saver on a cold Chicago morning, or on any morning, anyplace, for that matter.

                                                                                    1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                      Man, that chorizo would kick it tomorrow morning. There is a market down on Valley, just east of Cogswell a few blocks, I forget the name but i got some chorizo there that was real good and they also have a slasa bar where you buy salsa and avocado sauce. I found it, La Blanquita on Valley Blvd. , 1 block west of Garvey. They speak very little english, there I am asingk for dos libros de chorizo, pr favor...............LOL

                                                                                      1. re: Burger Boy

                                                                                        They don't speak much English at Taqueria LA Cabana either. I begin sounding like Brad Pitt in that movie "The Mexican."
                                                                                        "One -o egg-o and-o chorizo burrito with onion-os." Understand-o? And then I sometimes have to eat what he gives me with a big smile-o even thhough it might be missing something. I have not been in La Blanquita for years. I think I use to get carnita's there by the pound along with that salsa and make my own at home with just a green onion on the side -- good times.

                                                                                        1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                          Try Un burrito con huevos y queso if you want rice and beans say nothing else or if you want no rice and beans try sin arroz y frijoles. I barely get by but i usually get my food the way I like.

                                                                                          1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                            Why not learn the 5 - 10 Spanish words you need to order burritos the way you want them? Or if you don't want to go to the trouble of learning them, print them out on a piece of paper you can keep in your wallet, so you can take it out and point to what you want?

                                                                                            My opinion is that everybody in the US -- including the good folks at Taqueria La Cabana -- ought to speak English, or at least enough English to get along; at a restaurant, this would include enough English to take orders in English from those who don't speak Spanish. But that would be the ideal situation, and of course ideal situations seldom exist in the real world. So if they aren't going to accommodate you, and if you want your burrito a particular way, I suppose you need to accommodate them. The few words you'll need aren't that onerous. (By the way, I speak Spanish and so it's not an issue for me. Si quiero mi burrito con huevos y chorizo, y con cebollos pero sin arroz, lo puedo decir. Y salsa caliente, por favor.)

                                                                                            1. re: ozhead

                                                                                              Leaving aside your comment on the English thing (which is off-topic), just a correction -- salsa caliente means they bung it in the microwave. Salsa picante means it's spicy.

                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                “Like I was saying, "The origin of the burrito, like all things, is disputed….”

                                                                                                I am not sure about having to learn some Spanish to order my food. Even if I found the correct Spanish words to use I would then have to learn many more words to communicate with all the other authentic ethnic food makers in L.A. Maybe I could just adopt a Harpo Marx style and blow a horn or whistle to communicate my desires. The same number of honks could, depending on where I am eating, represent an order for Buritto, Phở, Xiǎolóngbāo or maybe Carnitas Taco, Pork Bánh mì or Char siu. Different whistle sounds would follow to indicate the condiments I want. I am sure, however, that some will dispute this idea demanding an environmental impact assessment on the possible noise pollution should all Angelenos began honking at lunch time.

                                                                                                Noise control

                                                                  2. Wow! Thanks to the LA hounds for all the generous suggestions. I will post a trip report to let you know where we ended up and how we fared.