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NYC to Santa Monica - Now i have to find some good food!

  • j

Just moved from NYC to Santa Monica and looking for some good restaurant recommendations. Living in Santa Monica Canyons and looking for recommendations for both quality dinners, brunch spots and good places for mid-week take out / to go. Any help greatly appreciated!

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  1. Here's a great place to start: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/673604 | RESULTS: Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants 2009: The Top 25 [Post #1 of 2]

    1. I'm from NYC too. I live in Silver Lake but I have lots of friends in Santa Monica and eat there all the time. Here are my favorite places.

      Buddha's Belly (amazing Asian fusion cuisine)
      Barney's Beanery (just all around great food)
      Cafe Crepe (like being in Paris)
      El Cholo (one of the best Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles)
      Border Grill (fancy Mexican)
      Urth Caffe (yummy, healthy food. and it's really spelled that way!!)
      Sushi Roku (nobody else seems to like it on this site, but it's my favorite sushi restaurant in the country, and everybody else loves it.)

      Stay away from any place that serves "raw food." I so wanted to like it but I just don't. It's weird because I like raw foods. I mean, I eat salads and fruits and all kinds of things raw. But somehow these restaurants I'm talking about turn raw food into something strange and yucky.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sillygoosedown

        Have to disagree on Barney's Beanery and El Cholo (haven't been to Cafe Crepe or Buddha's Belly). My SM favorites (I'm sure I'm forgetting something!):
        Bay Cities (Godfather)
        Tacos Por Favor (chorizo and cheese tacos)
        Father's Office
        Via Veneto
        Gjelina (it's in Venice but close enough!)
        Bar Pinxto

        1. re: whatsfordinner

          concur on barney's and el cholo (unless it's green corn tamale season, and even then i go to the el cholo on western)

          agree with gjelina, via veneto, musha, and bay cities, as well as amandine and anisette for brunch below.

          assuming since you live here, you have a car :) i'll throw in some places that are a few minute drive to neighboring brentwood, venice and west LA.

          also for breakfast, try snug harbor or bread and porridge, as well as Omelette Parlor down on Main St.

          like ji-raffe.

          for oaxacan, i think it's worth the few minute drive to west la to Monte Alban.

          for a Mexican breakfast, head to Gilbert's El Indio on Pico.

          for yam fries and banana cream pie, try Babalu on Montana.

          for custard tarts and british imports, Tudor House on 2nd street.

          for fish'n'chips, Ye Olde King's Head.

          for breakfast, brunch, lunch and such, 3 square in Venice

          for a healthy breakfast option, Firehouse in Venice, Jinky's on 2nd, and A Votre Sante in Brentwood (they have healthy lunch and dinner too).

          for Polish, Warszawa on Lincoln

      2. Here is a recent thread that should be of help finding good chow in the SM and immediate surrounding area: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/687404

        1. Here's a few more that may or may have been on other lists, but are definitely within a comfortable radius of Santa Monica Canyon:

          Caffe Delifini
          Chinois on Main
          Fritto Misto
          Le Paine Du Jour
          Rustic Canyon
          Whist at the Viceroy

          10 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka

            Good list! I forgot to add Joe's pizza.

              1. re: whatsfordinner

                Joe's Pizza is worthy but remarkably overrated. While I agree that it may have the best thin crust in LA, the rest of the pizza is generally flavorless and forgettable. It's basically the exact same average (no better) slice the OP could have just had in NYC - which to many Angelinos makes it the holy grail of pizzas.

                1. re: Arthur

                  Gotta agree with you there, Arthur. It's decent pizza, but nothing spectacular, especially coming from NY.

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Joe's really Blows. I had such high hopes (tho' Joe's in NYC is hardly a destination spot). The look and the smell are close but that crust really sucks. First bite, is barely passable, then, by bite two, you've got a piece of cardboard in your hand with about as much flavor as a pizza delivery box. You want a NY slice, Vito's on La Cienega is all there is.

                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                      Agree, it's not great at all. Good thing I didn't waste $ on a whole pie, just a slice. Must be the water.

                      1. re: Ciao Bob

                        A Joe's slice really needs a greasy topping like pepperoni to give it the proper flavor and moisture. I love Vito's but wish they would cook the crust more consistently. Often it's either undercooked and limp or overcooked like a cracker. I also have to mention La Bottega Marino in WLA for NY-style pizza, but they are pies only.

                        The thing about the water is myth and a copout imo. There are places in LA like Lamonica's that claim to ship their dough from NYC, but their pizza is no better or worse than the rest. The real issue is the lack of skilled pizzaiolos and sufficiently hot ovens. Also, Californians have a warped notion of how well done pizza crust should be, and will return a properly charred crust as "burnt." It's a bit like the problem in Asian restaurants where customers return food that's "too spicy."

                        1. re: a_and_w

                          Good point about playing to the audience. Hadn't thought about that.
                          Fortunately, I have not noted the Vito's problems that you have. I find it quite consistent.
                          I would love, Love, LOVE a reliable brick-oven pizzeria that properly chars a crust. Casa Bianco in Eagle Rock does it great but the lines and the distance.

                          1. re: Ciao Bob

                            We really like Casa Bianca too when we live in Pasadena and could go early enough to avoid the line.

                2. re: bulavinaka

                  I grew up in the Canyon, still live there and I love all of your suggestions bulanaka. And Caffe Delfini is right in the Canyon and gets lots of neighborhood people AND has good food. Huckleberry is soooo good for breakfast and lunch as well as take out.

                  1. Jinky's. Tasty breakfast and lunch, low-key.
                    Urth Caffe. California organic. Good for breakfast/brunch. Nice setting. Probably not the favorite of all Chowhounds, but it's a landmark in SM.
                    Tudor House. Delicious pot pies and tasty British pastries.
                    Le Pain du Jour. The best croissants in Los Angeles. Good baguettes and other pastries.
                    Bay Cities Deli. Excellent deli takeout. Good overall gourmet store. Try the frozen pizzas, especially the truffle one.
                    Huckleberry. In the Dean and Deluca genre.
                    Santa Monica Seafood. Good for oysters and a small selection of prepared foods. Even better for fish to cook at home.
                    The Yard. Pretty good gastropub.
                    Ye Olde King's Head. Good for chips and a pint. If you like to drink beer and watch "football" on weekend mornings, this is your place.

                    Every place below also offers delivery.
                    Real Food Daily. Inventive, wholesome vegan. Not a fake meat place. High quality and heathy across the board.
                    Joe's Pizza. Solid NY style pizza.
                    Abbot's Pizza Company. Good gourmet-ish pizza. I think the wild mushroom is best.
                    Sham. Middle Eastern. Quality is a little variable, but the good stuff is quite good and the prices are always low. My favorite things are the salads and the mujadara.
                    Thai Dishes. Decent Thai (probably the best around).
                    Akbar. Inventive, refined Indian. Somewhat hit and miss.
                    Taj Palace. A new restaurant in Pacific Palisades. My favorite Indian restaurant that delivers to SM.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: aventinus

                      Friend, Taj Palace is not new. I've lived in the Palisades for 7 years going on 8, and it's been here the whole time. Decent Indian, mostly a takeout place, but the service is wonderful, since it's mainly empty most nights. PS - you're lucky they deliver to SM!!

                      Agree with most recs, tho, better fish & chips are to be had up the coast, way up, at Malibu Seafood, on PCH. Mainly a fish market / shack across from the beach, but really good. Ye Olde King's Head is more of a fave for ex-Brits and bar / dart hounds. My husband used to work nearby, and we've had many a tourney & pint there ;)).

                      And even tho people trash them, Barney's is good for hangover food, and El Cholo does have decent tamales, and excellent margaritas.

                      1. re: Phurstluv

                        I don't like the fish at Ye Olde King's Head; I only like the chips. But I live less than a block away so I like to drink there and play darts. Thanks for the recommendation of Malibu Seafood!! El Cholo is fine. Honestly...I've never been to Barney's Beanery and I wouldn't eat there if you paid me. LOL

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          Hi Phurstluv,

                          Thanks for the rec on Malibu Seafood for Fish & Chips. Would you say it's your fav Fish & Chips place in So Cal? :) Thanks.

                          1. re: exilekiss

                            I guess I would, although I don't order it regularly at other places. I just know that their fish is pristinely fresh, and the batter is light enough, but not as light as say tempura and not greasy. Other places mentioned on other threads (YOKH, Patrick's) don't hold a candle.

                      2. We agree with most everything said so far, but no one mentioned Sauce on Hampton (at Rose) which has become our favorite. Lots of variety (BLD), Unusual ideas, but not wierd, very fresh and tasty, and great values. They're very small, so they do a lot of take-out.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Bruce Kerr

                          Sauce was mentioned / listed as part of the thread that I linked up top.

                        2. I cannot agree with the recommendation of the Godmother especially to someone from NYC. The bread is great but it stops there. The meats are cut too thick. Lettuce is meant to add texture to a sandwich ( especially iceberg). Shredding it may save some food costs but otherwise completely defeats the purpose. Lastly, why do they use a mayonnaise type shmear on a primarily pork based sandwich. A little basic olive oil, oregano and would serve this sandwich much better.

                          I will however highly recommend their meatball sandwich. The bread, sauce and meatball all work great together. An added bonus is you can order it from the hot section of the deli avoiding at least a 15 minute wait.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sauce3922

                            Umm--all the East Coast subs I ever eat are made with shredded lettuce. The lettuce captures the vinegar and oil.

                            1. re: sauce3922

                              Ugh, I hate leaf lettuce on my subs. And no one is forcing you to add mayo -- oil and oregano are both options.