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Jun 17, 2009 07:22 PM

Alabama Hound Needs Help With Map

Hi, I'm coming to visit you guys from the 26th of June to the 7th of July. I've never been to the area before. I'll be staying in Venice and then going to a wedding in the westlake/malibu area. My price range is cheap and I will not have access to a vehicle for most of the time. I don't know what buses are near there but am willing to take one to get to something worth it. I decided to map out most of the relevant suggestions on the board to see what great things would be near to me while I am there- it looks like not much. If you would please look over my map and see if you notice anything that is really bad that I might have made a mistake in adding- or if there is something I should add, or if there are any places that have closed. I am aware that there are duplicates and that there are things that are out of my price range already listed- I am in the process of cleaning that up. Thanks in advance for your help overall, but especially on suggestions for the previously mentioned areas- if there's anything fun going on such as street fairs or food related public events during that time please let me know. There are two pages of listings so you have to hop around between the pages to get the full spectrum of what is in the area, as the list is alphabetized. I wish google didn't limit the amount of items you can put on one map without paginating it, but that's for another discussion. Please feel free to link to this map as I will continue to update it, and take a look at the other cities I've mapped out in my profile if you plan on heading out of town.



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  1. Wow. So you have some not-cheap spots on there but I presume you have kind of looked into costs and have some handle on what's what with that.

    I think Ayara Thai would be out of your way, so would skip that if already planning to go to Jitlada.

    From Venice, if you go north to Main St. in Santa Monica, that's a long and largely walkable street, from about where Chaya Venice is up to and a bit beyond where Chinois on Main is. Chaya's pretty good, not a must-visit. I think I'd pick it over Chinois. Between the two there's also a nice little spot called Library Ale House that is great for lunch on the garden patio - I've had really good food there. Almost across the street and slightly off main is Enterprise Fish Co. I wouldn't make a special trip to go there but if you need another pretty garden patio to hang out at with a drink, or for appetizers (mussels in white wine and cream!), that's good. (I think their dinners are fine but nothing special. Appetizers like the mussels and also the popcorn shrimp I really like.

    Now, if you keep going north of Main St. - and if you're REALLY a walker you could walk this.. you can get to "Third Street Promenade" in Santa Monica. That is three or four blocks long on the nondriveable Third St. of shops and eateries and street performers, and also is a short distance from Santa Monica Pier and beach. It's where Anisette is.

    Anisette is good, is not cheap, but I'd go there for breakfast or something. I also think Monsoon, at the far end of this walkable area, is worth stopping in for a drink and early dinner - it's a big, beautiful-inside Indonesian sort of decor, nice lounge at night, fusiony Asian food (pretty good, not must-go) and really good boat drinks and vodka infusions.

    A few blocks off this promenade is a place that I would make a special visit to for a dinner out with someone - Jiraffe. Lamb and seafood stew are particularly good.

    I don't know the routes but there should be a bus going from some main area of Venice up Main and near Third, or at least close. Probably some sort of special or express bus.

    Unless you're an absolute kitchen nut, Surfas would also be out of the way and is basically just a store of interesting ingredients and pro cookware. A Mitsuwa would be interesting to go to if you haven't been to a huge Asian supermarket before, but if you're not cooking, it's just sightseeing and gazing at the different food and picking up snacks to go and lunch at the food court, which is not spectacular food but is OK.

    If you're going to be in Malibu any length of time, Taverna Tony is a Greek spot up there that's really good to go to dinner at with some people. But Malibu is out of the way unless you were planning to be there anyhow.

    If you end up taking a bus to the L.A. Metro "subway system" a couple things to keep in mind:
    The interface at the Website to navigate is pretty wonky. Look at the actual map and figure out what stops you want.
    It can be a really great way to get around to Chinatown and Thai Town and downtown. (Not sure - Koreatown too?)

    OK, so I mainly addressed Santa Monica, and others can comment on Venice - Hal's on Abbot Kinney is supposed to be tasty. But again, some of these are 'if you're there, that's fine' rather than 'if you go to L.A. you MUST go here.'

    4 Replies
    1. re: Cinnamon

      you should know, about the dinner prices at some of the restaurants mentioned:
      Chinois--NOT cheap--appetizers mid teens to mid twenties, entrees high $20's to $40's AND side dishes are extra $10's (i.e. their mushrooms are ~$15 in addition to the app and entree)
      Jiraffe--Really NOT cheap (appetizers in the teens most entrees in the $30's
      Chaya Venice--NOT cheap (appetiizers over $10, entrees $20 to $30's)
      Jitlada is sort of a wild card--some of their dishes are cheap, but if you start ordering whole fish, you can find yourself with a surprisingly high tab. if your budget is hard, stay aware of the prices of the items you order.
      Anisette=--appetizers in the teens entrees in the twenties.

      be aware that the sales tax will add 9.25% to your tab.

      1. re: westsidegal

        9.75% starting the 1st of July -- Measure R kicks in.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          shoot me now.
          or better, wait until the last possible moment, the last day of June.
          you'll find me at mariscos chente polishing off every last one of their langostinos.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Well, dinner at the Dal Rae will cost you an extra 10.75% on July 1st -- Pico Rivera has an additional 1% sales tax to fund police -- so take it as not as bad as it could be.

    2. Wow...I estimate you've got around 280 restaurants listed there? That's over 20 restaurants per're going to be very fat by the time you leave. ;)

      Unfortunately you're not going to find much that's cheap and exciting in Venice. Is there any chance you could borrow a bicycle while you're here? The 720 bus runs along Wilshire until midnight-ish, and there's plenty of chow within biking distance of Wilshire.

      Places that I would make sure to skip include:
      Anna's (don't they have mediocre Italian in Alabama?)
      Apple Pan (It's just a burger. Not that exciting unless you grew up eating them.)
      Baja Bud's (you have GOT to be kidding)
      Dinah's (They have Shoney's in Alabama)
      Golden City (there's MUCH better Chinese around)
      Poom Thai is worth it only if you're stuck in Santa Monica
      There's a lot more on there that's okay, but not fantastic.

      Here's where you should be sure not to miss:
      * Jitlada
      * One or two other regional or specialty or authentic Thai places. Northern/Issan (Bahn Thung or Spicy BBQ or Sri Siam (for the khao soi)), or Sapp for boat noodles or Ruen Pair for Thai-Chinese or even just go up to Thai Gulch on Sherman Way between Woodman and the 170.
      * Some sort of regional Mexican. You could even hit the Oaxacan taco truck on Lincoln and...Rose, I think? in the evening for a clayuda. Or spend some time on York in Highland Park (El Pique, El Huarache Azteca, My Taco for potato tacos) though that's harder to get to on the bus. In a pinch, hit Monte Alban (it's close).
      * Chinese. Find some recommendations for places in the San Gabriel Valley, take the bus over there, and just spend an entire day eating. Or two entire days.
      * Koreatown. It's easy to get to on the 720.

      There's plenty of other good chow out there, but the above are what LA does really, really well. And you can do all of the above on the cheap, or at least on the not-too-expensive.

      1. if you need a couple of reasonably-priced places that are in or are close to venice:

        1) for chinese-inspired california food (i.e. not authentic chinese, but tasty food nonetheless) in venice: MAO'S KITCHEN. no reservations and FREE corkage (i.e. you can bring your own booze in there and they'll give you a glass). they are open for both lunch and dinner.

        2) for japanese small plates (izakaya), go to MUSHA in santa monica on wilshire near 4th. they open at 6 for dinner and they do take reservations.

        another couple of options for relatively low-cost food that involves a little more travel :
        3) persian food in westwood--my favorite is shamshiri grill. they offer great lunch specials; their dinner prices are good AND include side dishes and rice and their dinner portions are HUGE.

        4) oaxacan mexican food in west LA; Monte Alban on santa monica blvd.

        1 Reply
        1. re: westsidegal

          2nd Shamshiri - best option for Persian in L.A. (get the lamb fesenjan, and rose ice cream) and not costly.

        2. Number 1 Big Blue (Santa Monica Bus) from Venice Beach East to Bundy (which becomes Centinela after you cross into LA from Santa Monica as you head south) on to the Number 14 Big Blue South to Culver Blvd. and walk two short blocks back north to Mariscos Chente (right on the southeast corner of Gilmore & Centinela) for the most delicious and unique Sinaloan and Nayarit Mexican seafood brought up from Mexico. Read through the reviews on the place link to get an idea of what is in store for you. Cheap for what it is ($11 for a shrimp dish that will rock your world).

          Add: I'm partial to the Camarones Pimiento or the Camarones a la Diabla, but you will have a lot of other great choices (and if you get a couple of friends to go with you then a pescado zaranadeado would be a great idea.

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

          2 Replies
          1. re: Servorg

            Good rec, SO.

            I would go out of my way to get to Jitlada, then you can always do the touristy thing around Hollywood.

            I don't think I'd go out of my way to the San Gabriel Valley, on public transportation. I would save my bus fare and hunt out places on the westside. Tho you need to go inland a little for cheaper eats.

            Tacos Por Favor on Olympic has excellent tacos and standard mexican fare.

            1. re: Phurstluv

              i agree with phurstluv,
              i would save the san gabriel valley for another trip for which you will have a car.

          2. I love googlemaps! One of my favorite izakaya places in WLA is Nanbankan. You can get outta there for about 25-30 for food only depending on your appetite and you can easily control the cost by ordering cheaper items.

            I see that you have La Isla Bonita on your map. I used to work across the street from it and that's the one thing I miss the most. I ate at most cheapish places around 4th & Rose and that truck was my favorite.

            The California Market with the ho dduk truck is at Western & 5th. The California Market you have the pointer on is a hispanic market.

            Here's my own map if you want to check it out. Since there are so many eateries in LA, I limited my map to places I've been to and would go back to, not any old place. I'm not saying I love them all but sometimes you just gotta eat... I'm an eastsider so not too many westside places.

            Nanban-Kan Restaurant
            11330 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

            5 Replies
            1. re: soniabegonia

              Thanks so much for mentioning Nanban-kan. I tried it the other night, solo, and they could not possibly have been more gracious about seating and service. Really convivial atmosphere, tasty and well-priced items. I will very definitely be back. I'm happy to know about this place and could see becoming a regular.

              I had chicken wings, shiso-wrapped pork and burdock/carrot salad, all were nice. What do you like there? This is the most recent thread I found mentioning it. There are more linked from that Chow-place link you posted above, but in prior years.

              I should mention that this place is a little hard to find - there is construction going on so they are by scaffolding on a corner with a sign saying open during construction.

                1. re: Cinnamon

                  I'm so glad you liked it. It's definitely hidden (and that construction's been going on for YEARS) which is part of the fun. I've been there solo at least twice and they are always nice. The salt & pepper haired Japanese waiter has been there forever and is so kind. I think I have a slight crush on him. : )

                  So the food: a *must* order for me every time I go is the gobo (burdock root) wrapped in bacon. They also have asparagus wrapped in bacon which I also like but I prefer the slightly fibrous texture and the earthy flavor of the gobo root. It actually stands up to the bacon. The gobo has a the slight sweetness and a briny character that play off the salty bacon very nicely.

                  I also like the steak (I think it's filet mignon) skewers which come with a light soy-based sauce, a bit reminiscent of teriyaki but not that sweet.

                  The lamb lollypops are very popular and I like them too but they've been inconsistent and sometimes quite small.

                  The scallop is really good too but expensive (around $8 i think) - and it is seriously 1 scallop, cut into slices and skewered.

                  Their mushroom medley is also nice - 3-4 kinds of mushrooms in a small skillet with butter.

                  I've also enjoyed the squid (small, served whole body sliced into rings and the little tentacles (the best part!)

                  I'm not an organ meat person but they have a variety of them and I actually tried the chicken kidneys once and they weren't bad.

                  Oh, almost forgot, definitely get the grilled rice balls (onirigi?). The special (I think) comes with bonito flakes and some kind of smoked fish.

                  Can you tell I love this place?!

                  1. re: soniabegonia

                    Yes - thank you for the recommendations - I'll try them all! And that was the waiter or seating host who is so wonderful at making people feel welcome. :)

                  2. re: Cinnamon

                    Nanbankan is on my regular rotation. I think it's a real gem. Takashi (sp?), the manager/host, is lovely and gracious. I adore the chicken wings, halibut with ponzu sauce, chicken livers, lamb chop, rice cake. I always order the asparagus wrapped in bacon, but now I'm thinking I have to try the burdock root.