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Everyday lunch for every day in Santa Monica

I work near the Santa Monica Promenade. When we meet clients we go to Riva and that works out just fine. But for the other 95% of my workdays, I need some places I can walk to to grab a takeout sandwich or salad, not break the bank ($6.50 range would be ideal), and come back with something edible. My sandwich today from Caffe Bellagio was practically inedible, I am tired of Wahoos, I am appalled to spend $12.00 for a make-it yourself salad from Whole Foods, and I think the sandwiches from Panera can just be applied as chunks of fat to my already jiggly parts. Any advice from the team?

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  1. i know a lot of hounds *love* the sandwiches at Bay Cities. it's on Lincoln between Broadway & Colorado, so that should be close enough for you.


    any particular reason you're opposed to brown-bagging it?

    Bay Cities Italian Deli
    1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

    8 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Ah, brown bagging it. I remember when. Now we don't even have enough food at home or time to make dinner, let alone lunch.....
      Bay Cities might be a little out of the geographic range for walking, I think and I don't want to have to start the clock running again on the Santa Monica parking lot....in other words, it is cheaper to eat where I can walk to. That also puts Tacos Por Favor out of the running.

      1. re: coffeebrownies

        You don't say where "near the Promenade" you work, but jeez, it can't be THAT far from Bay Cities. I mean, the Promenade is the section of 3d St. between Wilshire and Colorado. Bay Cities is on Lincoln, which would be 7-1/2th street if it had a number, between Santa Monica Bv. and Colorado. So it's at most -- what, 6 or 7 blocks? And you can place your order online and pick it up 45 minutes later (http://www.bcdeli.com/order.php) so you don't waste time waiting in line when you get there. Plus a brisk walk in that bracing sea air will whet your appetite, and then you can sit in the sun and scarf down your Godmother (with the works, of course).

        1. re: ozhead

          Well, google maps puts it at .7 miles and 13 minutes, each way, and while a mile and a half would help me walk it off, by the time I walk both ways and wait in line, I don't think I could give it the scarf down time it deserves. I am right off of Wilshire.

          1. re: coffeebrownies

            i really consider it to be within walking distance, but to each his/her own. maybe it's my NYC roots talking. we think everything is walkable ;)

            there are a few places around there - Jack 'n Jills, Jinky's, Interim Cafe...but they'll run you more than $6.50 for a sandwich or salad. in fact, most non-fast food places will.

            isn't there also a Baja Fresh at 7th & Wilshire? and what about Le Pain Quotidien on SM between 3rd & 4th?

            ETA: 2 more thoughts - Wokcano (5th between Bway & SM); Real Food Daily (SM @ 5th)

            1. re: coffeebrownies

              if you can't walk and can't brown bag and don't want to spend $7 - you're really out of options other than panera, whole foods, santa monica seafood, arbys?

              maybe good luck with a passing taco truck here or there? get a cupcake?

            2. re: ozhead

              fwiw, the whole process of getting food from bay cities on a weekday at lunch time was WAY too timie-consuming and out of the question when i worked in the neighborhood.
              we were expected to be working when not on lunch hour, not organizing our lunch-time forays.
              also, the pick-up time at bay cities was far from guaranteed.
              the crowds, the logistics, just too much for someone on a tight lunch break.

              i loved the food if someone else was in a position to do all the logistical work involved.

              1. re: westsidegal

                I was just about to say that, W-gal. It may not be far a walk for a NYer, but unless you fax your order in ahead of time, run down there to pick it up while still hot or fresh, then wait in the long lines to pay at lunchtime, then run back to work, you'd have no time to enjoy that Godmother sub your drooling over!!

                Forget about eating on the promenade it's all overpriced and not that good. Have you walked down to Cha Cha Chicken? My DH worked in that area for 12+ years, and never brown bagged it once. He also didn't always walk to lunch!! I don't know if they have stuff in your price range, I'm just focused on logistics right now. He used to go to the mall a lot, is it still closed due to construction? I think the food court was left open. Sorry to say it is such a touristy area that finding a place in that price range is difficult, at best.

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  i no longer work for that company, so the santa-monica-lunch-quest is no longer a challenge of mine.

        2. theres alot of places around there but not all fits the 6.50 range..my son works around there also and i meet him for lunch usually once a week or so and after awhile it all gets tiring..
          swingers is good but on the high side of prices (& cals)..bay cities is great but can be a long wait..i think you can order online...i know my son also hits the Pavillions across from bay cities for a sandwich.etc.the santa monica library on 6th and santa monica blvd..has a cafe inside and a real nice courtyard to eat it in. sometimes i will stop and bring something from another place and eat in the courtyard..I have never tried anything more than coffee but the menu looks good..around 6-7 range..salads and such..good luck

          802 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401

          1. Is Santa Monica at 15th too far? Buon Giorno has a $5 express lunch menu with a couple great salads, and their regular menu is very inexpensive with lots of great sandwiches and entrees. I eat there all the time (take out), always very happy.

            1. This may also be too far, but the take-out portions for the trio of prepared salads at Huckleberry are enormous enough that I make two meals out of it. It's between $12-13 and they're the type of salads the hold up well for a second day.

              1. Given your geographical range, not many options.

                Falafel King is at the mini food court behind McDonalds, although it's been a while since I ate there.
                Famima is not a sandwich place, but has reasonably-priced Japanese takeout.
                Too bad Richie Palmer closed down.
                The Wednesday Farmer's Market must have things you can nibble on.

                Just a suggestion: the best way to stay healthy is make your own lunch. 2-3 fruits a day, plus high fiber cereal, low fat yogurt, muffins. I like to eat bad, and this diet helps me do that on occasion.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ogawak

                  Falafel King ~ You can walk down the counter and load up your plate with 10+ options, pay by the pound, and get a nice sampling of some eastern Mediterranean food. With some practice you'll learn how much of _____ to take to keep it around $6.50; just do NOT get any of the gyro/shawarma (spelling?) meat as it turns nasty and grissly sitting there.

                  California Pizza Kitchen - 210 Wilshire Blvd. (310) 393-9335 ~ I used to get their chopped salad to-go for lunch all the time. Half chopped salad is $8.49, or you can possibly split a full one with a co-worker $11.99 / 2 = $5.99 p/p.

                2. hmm--didn't mean to sound like such an unhealthy whiner--and for those who questioned my healthy attitide, I actually run and walk every day and eat healthy brown bag breakfasts. I started this quest after thinking back nostalgically about a lunch spot in Toluca Lake, many years ago--then it was called the Juice Fountain, I think. It had mainly smoothies (before Jamba Juice,etc), amazing tuna fish sandwiches and carrot cake--and I think that was the entire menu. And, once a week I would grab one of their tuna sandwiches--always made by the owner. And if you didn't know about the tuna sandwiches, you probably would walk right by, and if you weren't in the mood for tuna, and maybe wanted a milkshake instead, you would walk across the street to Papoos. Back in Santa Monica after several years away, the entire neighborhood feels completely devoid of the surprising, the quirky, the obscure. Zucky's is a bank (but the sign still tantalizes). Was it a House of Pies across the street that is now Panera? I love Bay Cities--but is that the only authentic food experience left in downtown SM? Have the upscale rents completely sterilized the place? Alas, I will probably have to bake a loaf of bread, make a sandwich and repair to the Camera Obscura to remember how it used to be....

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: coffeebrownies

                    Speaking of really good tuna sandwiches, I really love them at Tudor House on 2nd at Santa Monica. They are a bit more than you wanted to spend at $8.50 or thereabouts, but there's just something about they way they make their tuna that keeps me coming back almost every week. They have yummy sausage rolls too.

                    Polly's Pies used to be where Panera is located now.

                    1. re: Juji

                      Oh, hey, now that you mention Tudor House, you can get one of their pies there (I'm partial to the chicken and mushroom, though the lamb and mint is good too when they have it) for $3.25 and take it back to the office to eat. You'll need a toaster oven, though; don't even try microwaving them. And it's not exactly healthy. But it is tasty.

                      There's also the Calbi truck, when it's around, on Arizona or Wilshire between 2nd and 4th.

                      Poom Thai on Lincoln has lunch specials, around $5-6 iirc, some of which are reasonably healthy. But you'd definitely need to drive to get there. And it goes without saying that the food is nothing like what you'd get in Hollywood.

                      1. re: Juji

                        And of course for dessert a quarter pound of allsorts from behind the counter---the freshest and cheapest around. I will definitely try their sandwiches and pies.

                        1. re: coffeebrownies

                          It can't be too far to Joe's on Broadway for you, can it? Plus, they deliver. Do you ever get delivery? Classic down on Pico might deliver to you (they are about 3 miles or so from the Promenade).


                      2. re: coffeebrownies

                        Have you tried Jinky's Cafe on 2nd & Broadway?

                      3. Shawarma sandwich from Sham. I think it's around $5 or $6.

                        Sham Restaurant
                        716 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401