Need mid-range recommendations for first-time trip (staying in WeHo & Santa Monica)
My husband and I are DC hounds visiting Southern California for the first time in mid-September. Would like chow recommendations for breakfast and dinner (we usually skip lunch). We will be staying at Le Montrose Hotel in West Hollywood for 3 nights, then Fairmont Santa Monica for 2 nights so ideally restaurants that are walking distance from those hotels. We are interested in American, French, Italian, continental, and seafood. Not as interested in ethnic as we already have great ethnic cuisine in the DC area. We don’t need to slum, but don’t need to go to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant either. I’d say limit of $20 for a dinner entrée. Breakfast needs to include eggs as my husband disdains "continental breakfast". Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
I live in West Hollywood in the same Norma Triangle neighborhood where the Montrose is located. For breakfast/brunch, I would suggest La Conversation on Doheny which does excellent egg dishes. Dan Tana on Santa Monica is old school Italian and very much an industry hangout. If you like hanging out with Euro-trash types driving Lamborghinis, there are a number of cafes near Sunset Plaza which are moderately priced such as Cafe Med and Le Clafoutis, although that's a bit of longer walk.
Most of the places in easy walking distance from your hotel are either going to be rather pricey (Palm, Gordon Ramsay) or night-clubby (Eleven, Abbey, Ketchup) or both. There are also a lot of places that provide a bite to eat for people going to the straight or gay bars on Sunset and Santa Monica, respectively, and that leave much to be desired from a culinary standpoint.
fwiw, this doesn't help your search,
imho, LA is most lacking in good 'mid-range' restaurants.
we have a great supply of unbelievably terrrific ethnic low-end restaurants and a good number of very nice, high end, fine-dining restaurants.
the middle range that you requested is the most difficult to fill.
also, the areas in which you are interested are high rent areas.
Yatai and Amarone are both really great choices given your West Hollywood location and cost parameters.
On the lower end (money-wise, not flavor-wise) Vito's and Pinches Tacos should be considered.
Luques is not too far and relatively easy to sit at the bar and not spend too much over your budget.
For Santa Monica - just had dinner at Rustic Canyon and it was excellent, but might be a little pricey for the budget.
WeHo - Tender Greens close by on Santa Monica blvd. and Yatai a little farther East on Sunset are easily within the budget. I eat at both places regularly; consistent, good vibe, good prices, good food. Watch out for the Sunset Plaza restaurants - tourist trap, just saying (sorry, but I count Tony's as Sunset Plaza material). For breakfast I would do Jinky's or the Griddle (the Griddle can be very busy and it's probably 1.5 miles walk, but the portions are crazy - 2 people can split) . Duke's I haven't been to in years, but it was okay back then. Mel's is well, it's Mel's. For yogurt - the Yogurt Stop on SM. For Pizza - Joe's on Sunset or a longer walk, we have Vito's on La Cienega. The Abbey IS a very nice atmosphere, but the drinks are underwhelming for the prices they charge. Everybody else in town is doing 2 for 1 or happy hour. There's also Bossa Nova across from the Abbey. Mexico down SM blvd. has decent drinks and a few nice things on the menu even if the place is weird beyond words. I had a good meal at Amarone, but the service wasn't as good.
This post has some good suggestions: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/648161
In West Hollywood...
- Italian: Amarone is a great reco, also consider Vivoli
- American/breakfast: Hugo's, The Griddle, Caffe Primo
I would also strongly suggest Tony's Steakhouse. All steaks are $25 and come with 2 side dishes plus potatoes. And they have $5 martini's!
I think a limit of $20/entree is not going to be possible. Nevertheless, here are what I think are the best values (i.e. good food that is not over-priced), in no particular order, within a 1-mile radius of your Santa Monica hotel:
Annisette Brasserie (good food, authentic-styled brasserie)
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar (good cooking across the board, great burger)
Musha (good Japanese tapas, inexpensive)
Riva (solid, innovative Italian w/ stylish decor)
Emme & Wolfgang have good suggestions, and I like all of their options. However, Huckleberry (at least on the weekends) is a crowded nightmare until after 2 p.m.
Near the Fairmount Santa Monica: The Penthouse at the Huntley is fantastic for cocktails at happy hour. I also like Copa d'Oro's hour. Fritto Misto is a good choice for a casual lunch, and I also recommend Rustic Canyon for lovely California style dinner.
Depends how far you're willing to walk... I think walking for WeHo is going to be harder than SaMo.
Near the Fairmont:
Bay Cities Deli
Tudor House for tea/goodies
Ye Olde King's Head
Ocean Ave Seafood
Jinky's for breakfast
Bar Pinxto for tapas
Musha - Japanese - I know you said no ethnic but it's close and good
Near Le Montrose: (you will have to walk...)
Duke's Coffee Shop
The Abbey (primarily gay bar but really fun atmosphere and good drinks and snack/lunch/light meal eats or pastries)