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Apr 27, 2009 09:54 PM

Ethnic Food in Santa Monica/ Venice

Any suggestions? I like Sham for greek/med and Musha for izakaya....other suggestions?

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  1. Monte Alban for Oaxcan (just barely out of SM in WLA) and Mariscos Chente (in Mar Vista / Marina Del Rey) for absolutely scintillating Sinaloan seafood.

    Monte Alban
    11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

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

    12 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      One other place that we keep meaning to get to but haven't yet (with some very good recent reports on their jerk chicken) is Port Royal Cafe in Santa Monica for Jamaican food

      Port Royal Cafe
      1412 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404

      1. re: Servorg

        Can't believe there's a restaurant that I know about that you haven't been to, Servorg!

        My DH used to work there, it's on Ocean, he says, and he's been several times. Can only recommend the jerk chicken, that's all he's ever ordered, but he does recommend it highly, and that's saying something - he knows his spicy food!

        Be warned it is like a Taco/Fish shack in that you get up to a counter to place your order, but sit outside in a covered patio area.

        1. re: Phurstluv

          "Be warned it is like a Taco/Fish shack in that you get up to a counter to place your order, but sit outside in a covered patio area"
          I eat there regularly, and sit in one of the two (indoor) rooms, and receive table service at both lunch and dinner.
          Very competent Jamaican-West Indian classics, and has escabeches of several things, a rarity in these parts.... be sure to ask for the "special" super hot homemade sauce if you think you can take it. expect to reassure them several times as to your heat tolerance.

          1. re: Phurstluv

            You are confusing Port Royal Cafe, which is on Broadway as advertised, With Cha Cha Chicken, which is also Jamaican/Carribean, on Ocean, and far more shack-ish. Port Royal is a small freestanding building.

            1. re: Cebca

              Thanks for clarifying, Cebca. I was thinking, when did Port Royal move to Ocean Blvd.? I didn't even think about mixing it up with Cha Cha Chicken. I like Cha Cha okay. Not great, but serviceable and fairly inexpensive. I look forward to trying Port Royal for the experience of getting to sample their Jerk chicken in all it's spicy glory.

              1. re: Servorg

                I like Cha Cha for the atmosphere, the BYOB, and unique flavors at great prices. I've never checked out Port Royal (but drive by it all the time and thing "i should go there . . ."). I look forward to trying it!

                1. re: Servorg

                  IMO, the jerk, while excellent, is really none too spicy. add a dab of that sauce, however, and lookout!

                2. re: Cebca

                  Sorry to both of you, I was going by my husband's rec, not having been there myself. And those were his words, re: you sit outside.

                  It's possible he's confusing Cha Cha Chicken & PRC, I don't know, but he did work at Ocean & Broadway for over 12 years. Will check with him and reprimand him for his mistake when he comes home tonight!!

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Okay, he admits it after some heavy interrogation!

                    He was thinking of Cha Cha Chicken, but does affirm he has been to both places and thinks the jerk is about the same at both.

            2. re: Servorg

              Was going to rec these as well. I'll add:

              Gilbert's El Indio - esp for a Mexican breakfast

              Lares on Pico for Mexican goodness

              if you must have Thai, the best on the westside IMO is Thai Boom in Venice

              Just a little bit east of SaMo on Santa Monica Blvd is Javan for Persian

              Cafe Dana for greek/mediterranean on Montana

              Quasi-Cuban at Babalu on Montana

              1. re: Emme

                Is Javan any good? I've always wondered about that place....

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  It is good. I like both Javan and Shamshiri.

                  Javan has good kabob, ash e-jo (sp... the soup), tahdig, and some interesting rice dishes.

            3. Agra for Indian... LOVE it...

              Agra Indian Kitchen
              2553 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

              3 Replies
              1. re: Dommy

                Yum, I have been meaning to check out Agra for ages and now I'm about to move right around the corner! Any ordering advice?

                1. re: mollyomormon

                  Their breads are amazing... as are any of the curry dishes. I also loved the Biryani. :) Mostly I find their flavors very true and sauces nicely balanced between heat and spice. They also aren't overy greasy... which is nice. :)


                  1. re: Dommy

                    what about Nawab in Santa Monica? i love the india buffet there....

                    Nawab of India
                    1621 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

              2. If you include Mar Vista, throw in Gallegos Mexican Deli, and the food court inside Mitsuwa. Both places are at/near the intersection of Venice and Centinela.

                If you include West LA, then just about all eateries along Sawtelle, from Santa Monica to Olympic. Too many to list (or maybe I shouldn't have popped the cork yet), but here's a few: Orris, Robata-ya, and Bar Hayama for Japanese, and Cafe Dahab for Middle East.

                Again, in West LA, Hop Woo on Olympic, just west of Sepulveda. IMHO, the best Chinese in the Westside. The chef's specials ring truest of ethnic eats.

                2006 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                Cafe Dahab
                1638 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                Gallegos Mexican Deli
                12470 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                Bar Hayama
                11300 Nebraska Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                Mitsuwa Marketplace
                3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA

                Hop Woo
                11110 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                Robata Ya
                2004 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                5 Replies
                1. re: bulavinaka

                  Love Gallegos Deli - awesome enchiladas. Heard mixed things re: Orris. Never been to Cafe Dahab, what do you like there? Asked Emme re: Javan, b/c haven't been there either, but hasn't responded yet and I'm always on the lookout for a good Middle Eastern place.

                  Scared to try Hop Woo, tho go by it all the time. Can't tell you why b/c the monitor gods will delete my post, again!

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Gallegos does great barbacoa - if you're into that, give it a whirl the next time you're in. Their tamales are great as well. They've served the Westside for (I think) over 60 years. That's a lot of time to perfect their recipes.

                    Orris is one of those places that some would refer to as "con-fusion" cuisine. I think most like it, but it does have detractors as well. The servings are on the small side (intentionally) for the most part, the room is smallish, and we've easily run up a bill that would feed twice as many people with four times the amount of food at far more basic eateries. But most go to Orris expecting exceptional and often times disparate ingredients prepared and presented with a great amount of care and imagination. With the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese culture did a 180 from self-isolation to embracing things from the outside world while still keeping a cultural toe-hold firmly on Japanese soil. Sure there are plenty of purists who hold fast to what is viewed as purely Japanese, but fusion has long been a part of Japan's cultural DNA, particularly when it comes to food. Orris is a classic example of this. The food there is Euro-Japanese with a strong emphasis on French, as the Okinawan chef/owner has a strong background in French cuisine. All I can say is it worked for us and I couldn't do it better myself.

                    Cafe Dahab does the MIddle Eastern dishes like falafal, shawerma, hummus, etc., along with some Egyptian dishes (we didn't try them), and hooka as well (didn't do that either). The skewered proteins are good (chicken was moist by skewered standards), as are the falafal and hummus (fair amount of garlic - I'm more than fine with that).

                    Hop Woo scary? We've never had any issues there, or are we eating on borrowed time? This is the only Chinese restaurant on the Westside where the vast majority of eaters are actually Chinese.

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      Thanks for fleshing it all out for me, thanks, really appreciate it.

                      I think I meant tamales when I recalled Gallegos, but have had their enchiladas too, and agree, they've been there long enough to perfect a thing or two.

                      Thanks for the detailed info on Orris - love the historical part - and sounds interesting and now feel I must put it on my "must do" list.

                      Thanks, as well for Cafe Dahab, good to know, esp. with the Egyptian dishes, as that is my descent, and will take my Dad or Uncle when they visit to see what they think as well. Can't find too many good Egyptian places out here, and they will truly appreciate a "blast from the past"!

                      Only reason I say Hop Woo is scary - again, prefaced by the fact I've never been, and DH probably wouldn't dare go near it - is b/c the rating. (Not going to mention it since the monitors kicked me off last time I did!). But knowing that true Chinese frequent the place gives me high hope, and maybe I will just have to try it on my own for lunch, while hubby's at work!!! What would you recommend ordering?

                      1. re: Phurstluv

                        I have a friend who is from Egypt. While I didn't go there with him, he didn't seem to hot on the Egyptian menu items when I asked him about it. And yes, it seems that Egyptian restaurants are one of those unicorns of the LA eatery scene. I don't want to get your/Dad's/Uncle's hopes up so please keep my friend's reluctance in mind. About the only thing I've had that I know is Egyptian is his late mother's mulkhiya with loads of moroheiya in it.

                        Personally, ratings don't bother me when it comes to Chinese food. Just my opinion, but a lot of things that have been going on in the Chinese culinary world for thousands of years don't translate well with the local health codes. But you have to go with what you are comfortable with. But if you do go, it is hard to go wrong with the basics like chow mein (the skinny deep-fried ones that have a nice toothy texture) or other noodles and fried rice (yang chow, salted fish) as well as most of their Chef's Specials. Also, their duck dishes, salted pepper shrimp, pork belly w/ pickled vegetables (order steamed rice to eat with it), their rice porridges, steamed live fish (rock cod - I don't care for talapia), house special lobster (corn starched/sauteed with garlic, green onions, chile), honey walnut shrimp (kinda Canto-American but good) and the combo bbq platters.

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          Got it. I'm sure they wouldn't go in thinking it'll be like the old country, that's for sure, but it's sometimes fun to hear them reminisce about the feasts my grandmother used to make for her brood of 12! My aunts still do the same, although we all live so very far apart and I don't get to experience the Egyptian hospitality often enough, like when we'd all get together for a shish kebab when I was little. Still nice to know of a place with Egyptian specialties on their menu.

                          And I totally know what you mean re: chinese places, and how much more experience they have with cooking & eating than probably any other culture. My DH is far more squeamish and unadventurous than I, that's why I'd probably end up there by myself or w/a GF, since he would rather stay away from those type of places! So thanks for letting me know what's good to order, otherwise I would be lame and order the spare ribs & egg rolls to be safe!!