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Reasonably priced Santa Monica options

My sister is in town for three weeks. She is staying near the pier in Santa Monica with her family (including toddler). I live in Miracle Mile and rarely get over to that side of town, sadly, so really don't know the area as well as I should. Any suggestions for non-tourist trap/reasonably priced places that they can go for lunches and/or dinners would be much appreciated.

They are in town from Paris and everyone (including the toddler) love all sorts of food. I think reasonable prices can generally be considered under $30/person. Mostly looking for good everyday type places as opposed to special/fine dining options.

Thanks for all the help in advance!

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  1. we really enjoyed a plate of caribbean food for lunch from Cha Cha Chicken on Ocean Ave @ Pico. For $10 there was a pile of jerk chicken wings, plaintains, rice and beans, and a bit of salad. The wings and plaintains were fresh-cooked to order. They also had some interesting looking vegetarian items, overall, a pretty varied menu if you like food seasoned in that style. It's very casual, you order from the window but there's plenty of seats and tables.

    1 Reply
    1. re: moto

      i second Cha Cha's. The jerk chicken enchilladas were deliciously tender. The sauce was very savory. Fried plantains were perfect...not too greasy and we had to order a second serving. Almost everything was under $9.

      This is a great BYOB and ideal for warm summer nights and a stroll on the santa monica beach afterwards. Patio seating w/ heaters too.

    2. Buddhas Belly ...great Asian food
      Three Squares ...on Abbott Kinney.... great breakfast lunch and dinner and bakery
      The Rose Cafe...great breakfast or lunch
      17th St. Cafe on Montana...
      Cafe Dana on Montana
      Tacos Por Favor
      Sushi King on Wilshire
      Kay and Daves across from Brentwood Country Mart on 26th st.
      All of the places I mentioned are fairly non-touristy...kid friendly ...really good reasonably priced food and casual.

        1. Well, $30pp gives them plenty of options.

          Poom Thai (best on Sunday and Monday nights)
          Monte Alban (short drive)
          El Super Taco (best tacos I've had on the Westside)
          Musha (fun Japanese small plates)
          Manchego (fun Spanish small plates)
          Bay Cities (for bread and sandwiches to-go)
          King's Head (Come to the US! Eat British food!)
          Fritto Misto
          Le Petite Cafe

          1. some kid friendly places:

            blue plate on montana
            jack & jill's
            cora's coffee shop

            1. You have gotten some great suggestions so far, may I just add some geographical input.
              Although the places mentioned on Montana are decent, food wise they are not worth going for unless you are already in the area , window shopping and observing the natives.
              In the area closest to the pier, Cha Cha, and a bit down on Arizona the Rockenwagner Cafe, are heads above the other tourist fare, avoid all the big restaurants on the promenade.
              Rustic Canyon nice for locally grown and family friendly, and can be in the price range if you order smartly.
              Though it is a little drive,Monte Alban is a must do, nothing like that in Paris, and for the price of 2 salads at any spot on Montana, a family of 4 can feast on fresh,carefully homemade food.

              1. A few things walkable from the pier, on Third Street Promenade:

                At the south end: Broadway Deli (they do a really good nicoise salad, and many other things):

                At the north end: Monsoon, gorgeous interior, pretty nice Asian and Asian-fusion.

                Just at the beachside of second street somewhere on the way from the pier: King's Head British pub, for hearty breakfasts and British food.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Cinnamon

                  I found Broadway Deli to be expensive for a deli - probably due to the rent. Bay Cities is way better, but mainly for take out.

                  I notice no one recommended Anisette, probably b/c your family's coming from Paris, and it's a little pricey, but if you go for brunch or in the middle of the day and forgo on the champagne, you can probably get by under $30 pp. And can try Bar Pinxto off hours- tiny but can find a seat or sit outside if not during the rush.

                  If looking for non-touristy places, best to stay off of the 3rd St. Promenade & Montana Avenue. Last time I went to Montana ave for lunch, it was dead with many storefronts for lease. But if they don't have transportation, and they're staying near the beach, they may not have much choice.

                  Can always try some of the more divey places like Chez Jay, or Jinky's.

                2. A few more I'd throw in there are Riva, decent pizzas and Italian fare, Huckleberry for deli fare with fantastic baked goods, and Jin Patisserie on Abbot Kinney in Venice if you feel like a light, refreshing afternoon tea. Also, Joe's on the same street.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: AquaW

                    These are the best suggestions of all, from AquaW.

                    I would add that they can walk to Sushi Roku's Robata Bar, Musha, Daba, Urth Cafe.

                    Don't forget Chaya Venice, either.

                    1. re: yogachik

                      would not bother with sushi roku, no matter what.

                  2. Any trip to Santa Monica has to include a trip to Bay Cities Deli. A real can't miss option and affordable. The Lobster is a nice option, too. It's right at the entrance to the pier. Kind of touristy, but very good. For pizza, try Riva. Really nice options and great taste. Another thing that should not be missed is the Farmers' Market on Arizona, near the promenade. It takes place on Wednesday. Best market in SoCal.