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Good lunch places in Santa Monica?

I work in the Watergarden office complex on the corner of Cloverfield and Colorado in Santa Monica. My co-workers and I tend to eat out nearly every day, but we've fallen into a rut. I'm looking for recommendations of other good places in the area that we could try out for lunch. For reference, here's a list of our usual places:

Curry House, Pot 'n Pan Thai, Houston's (a bit pricey, but awesome), gr/eats (adorable little place), Cha Cha Chicken, Echigo, Taka Sushi (best lunch specials ever), Akbar (the free naan and condiments are great), Greek Cuisine Stop'n Cafe, Jinky's, Bay Cities Deli, Fritto Misto (I'm not a fan -- everything is oily and bland), El Cholo (Not a fan of this place either -- inauthentic and too heavy), Sham (sort-of ok, but often too oily and bland), Zankou chicken, Darya, Swingers.


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  1. How about the Border grill?

    1. Have you and your coworkers tried Nook or Monte Alban for lunch?

      Also, there's a cafe with the same owners as Nook, I believe, at Bergamot Station. They have a delicious mint lemonade and good iced tea, salads and sandwiches. They have specials that change daily and there is outdoor seating. Plus, you can look in some of the art galleries while you're there.


      1 Reply
      1. re: alliebear

        Thanks! Actually, that's one of our regular places too. Slipped my mind. Yeah, we're all very fond of the seating and the specials. One of my co-workers calls it our "most civilized" lunch spot. ^_^

      2. not sure how far you're willing to drive, and you've certainly sampled a lot...

        on montana, babalu, cafe dana, le marmiton, montana cafe, grateful bread
        riva in santa monica
        monte alban in west la (10 min drive)
        nawab of india
        tacos por favor, tacomiendo
        border grill
        fred segal cafe - good salads and people watching ;)
        cora's coffee shop
        the counter
        don't know if you've done il forno's power lunches

        8 Replies
        1. re: Emme

          Le Marmiton and Grateful Bread are no longer in business

            1. re: Emme

              Le Marmiton closed about 8 months ago. Before Christmas, anyway.

          1. re: Emme

            Umami Burger is opening an outpost where the Fred Segal Cafe surrently is located!

            1. re: mollyomormon

              Oooh! Do you know when? It'd be a helluva lot easier for me to get a burger fix than their current location.

              1. re: baloney

                Sadly, I don't. I was there on Saturday and saw the sign in the window, confirming this squidink story:

                p.s. i'm excited too! always room for more good lunch spots in the area.

                1. re: mollyomormon

                  I read November is when the SM Umami is opening.

                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    Thanks for the link! I'll be interested to see this "green fried chicken".

            2. there is also huckleberry on wilshire
              santa monica seafood also on the same block
              r&d on montana (same owners as houstons)
              blue plate oysterette on ocean ave.
              pinxtos on santa monica
              sawtelle kitchen

              1. How about Lemon Moon? www.lemonmoon.com

                Or a bit further east, maybe Restaurant 2117? http://www.restaurant2117.com/

                2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  second lemon moon for several reasons:
                  1) you can actually get in and out of the place in a reasonable amount of time
                  2) food is good and reasonably priced
                  3) normally they have adequate seating
                  4) one doesn't have to go through a rigamarole of ordering by fax in advance in order to get in and out in time. doing this sort of faxing/meal-planning at work was simply not acceptable in my office.
                  5) validated adequate parking
                  6) i've never seen the kitchen get slammed (once, at the counter, they were working on a to-go order of 45 build-to-suit burgers. needless to say they were slammed.)

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Yeah, Lemon Moon's online ordering works surprisingly well.

                2. http://www.cynthiasonthecorner.com/ and 17th Street Cafe http://seventeenthstreetcafe.com/ - both on Montana in SM and close to one another + R + D Kitchen http://www.hillstone.com/#/restaurant... (an offshoot of Houston's/Bandera) right there with the other two places mentioned above.

                  Cynthia's On The Corner
                  1518 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                  1 Reply
                  1. Try the commissary at the MTV building across Cloverfield to the east. Pretty good food and you can walk.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: TomSwift

                      This actually just closed down last week. Sad to see it go, it was a good option and had a decent chicken caeser wrap. I work in the same area and besides the many places already listed, I'll add California Chicken Cafe and the many trucks that have been making their way to our area either in front of MTV or on Pennsylvania. I second Lemon Moon, Tacos Por Favor and Bergamot Cafe.

                      1. re: Juji

                        What a shame. I was there just a month ago and read their newspapers while I ate.

                    2. The Counter is pretty good. Awesome burgers. Tacos Por Favor is pretty good, too. Low end SoCal style Mexican. Can't really go wrong there. There's a little cafe at Bergamot Station that is pretty good, too. Read a good review the other day. Not sure of the name, though, but it's right in your neighborhood.

                      1. Gilberts on Pico is your call. There is also a small French place on Colorado a couple of blocks east of 26th Street. I can never remember the name.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: JE33

                          It's called Le Petit.

                          I like Gilbert's a lot too, although I usually only make it there for dinner. Be forewarned not to expect authentic Mexican food. Instead, I think it's Americanized Mexican food at it's best. It's the stuff I grew up on and like comfort food to me. Definitely less greasy than El Cholo and not overpriced like El Cholo is. If you're looking for authentic, go to Monte Alban as Emme recommended.

                          OP doesn't mention whether he/she has tried Mrs. Winston's in the Watergarden itself, but I'm a fan.

                          1. re: mollyomormon

                            Yeah, Mrs. Winston's is definitely a good spot. Both it and City Kitchen are fallbacks for us. They're nice, but we go there so often during really tough crunch times when we can't escape the office that we get sick of them.

                            1. re: bbcoby

                              Understand. I have one in my building and as much as I like it, I do get tired of it.

                            2. re: mollyomormon

                              forgot about Gilbert's El Indio!

                              And Lares on Pico.

                          2. Tacos por favor is the best lunch in the area.