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My parents have offered to watch the kids -- are there any great date night restaurants on the west side (santa monica, westwood, etc.)?

Hi there. We're visiting my parents in Thousand Oaks this week, and they have graciously offered to watch our kids so that my wife and I can have a nice dinner out. The trouble is, we don't know the area very well and TO is pretty desolate when it comes to restaurants.

If you had a single night where you and your wife could relax, have great food, and enjoy the atmosphere, where would you go? We are looking for places that are nice but not stuffy, and would prefer newish, interesting food rather than, say, French classics.

I know that's a pretty vague description but we are open to anything and desperate for suggestions. Because of location, we are looking for places in Santa Monica, Westwood, or points North / West of there.

Thanks!

-Sho

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  1. A couple that pop into mind are Gjelina (on Abbot Kinney) and Wilshire.

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    Wilshire Restaurant
    2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404

    Gjelina
    1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

    5 Replies
    1. re: mdpilam

      second the WILSHIRE recommendation.

      although i adore the food at gjelina, must say that i have not found the restaurant to be relaxing at all. tables much too close to each other. noise level high. once when i was there with a party of three our tiny table was in a doorway between the patio and the main room. all that said, the food has been terrific.

      1. re: westsidegal

        Third the Wilshire rec. Reserve for the patio, which is pretty and romantic, and you have a great date night! There's also a piano bar next door, Angel's, where you could stop for a drink afterwards if you were up for it.

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        Wilshire Restaurant
        2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404

        1. re: mollyomormon

          4th the Wilshire recommendation and agree on Gjelina, love the food, but it is a bit loud unless you're on the patio

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          Wilshire Restaurant
          2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404

          Gjelina
          1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

          1. re: budlit

            For sure Wilshire.

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            Wilshire Restaurant
            2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404

        2. re: westsidegal

          +3 on Gjelena being super loud. The food is great (so's the coffee) but the acoustics leave a lot to be desired. You might think being wedged into one of the corners would give you some relief but the noise actually gets concentrated there. And the place feels like asses & elbows when they're at 90%+ capacity.

      2. Gjelina is a shared table restaurant, and EXTREMELY loud, you're best off making a reservation, and seeing if you can get a table on your own. I met a first date there last fall and we walked in, sat down, got up and walked out because we couldn't hear ourselves think, much less talk. We wound up going down to a quiet coffee house down the street, not very elegant, but we had a nice long conversation.

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        Gjelina
        1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

        1. Thanks for the rec's so far! Curious that Wilshire had three votes + a few for Gjelina but no other ideas. Is Wilshire just the "go-to" place in that area for this kind of thing, or are there others?

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          Wilshire Restaurant
          2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404

          Gjelina
          1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

          7 Replies
          1. re: skuwamoto

            Wilshire has one of the loveliest patios in the city, and the food is really good. Other nice options include Nook, Rustic Canyon, Il Moro (patio), I also agree with Fig (although "stuffier), and love The Tasting Kitchen.

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            Wilshire Restaurant
            2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404

            Il Moro Restaurant
            11400 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

              1. re: westsidegal

                I'm sorry you had just a bad experience there Westside Gal. I know it's not in your local neighborhood, but I hope if/when you try it again you have better food. Nook is very close to my home - so I end up there frequently and generally eat very good food.

                1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                  that fish should have been thrown out.
                  it was made worse by the fact that my date had also ordered the fish.
                  we both sat there moving the food around on our plates, no one eating anything.

                  i don't plan to return.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    seriously, you've posted about this incident tons of times.

                    frankly, i don't like nook either - but some people seem to (to each his own).

                    but i don't understand why you didn't just send the food back, get a refund, leave and go to your one of your other favorites.

                    1. re: nachosaurus

                      because it was a first date.
                      my date had selected the restaurant on the basis of a recommendation by his son.
                      if i had behaved as you suggested, i would have insulted the date and, by extension, the son.
                      that said, the date, who after the first taste also didn't eat another bite of that fish, and moved it around on his plate for the rest of the dinner just as i did, was pretty embarrassed.

                      there is no reason that i can't repeat my dislike of this place if others can repeat their recommendation of it.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        I can totally understand. And you being a a very discerning pescatarian, I would have to think that you will never forget this one. Going back for the pork belly or flatiron steak isn't an option either. :)

          2. I like Westside Tavern, but be warned they do not take reservations ( but I've never had to wait too long) Really good food.
            http://www.westsidetavernla.com/

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            Westside Tavern
            10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

            1. for all your criteria, i do think Wilshire is your best bet, but I'll also throw the Tasting Kitchen and FIG into the mix:

              http://www.thetastingkitchen.com/
              http://figsantamonica.com/

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              Wilshire Restaurant
              2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404