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Apr 13, 2010 11:15 PM

Heading to Santa Monica Tomorrow, Don't Get There Often, These Recs?...

I'm heading out to Santa Monica tomorrow. I don't get there often.

From what I've read here, I should try Bite Bar & Bakery & Thyme Cafe & Market...

Any specifics (what to order, etc.) are welcomed!


P.S. What is excellent at the Farmer's Market right now?

Thyme Cafe & Market
1630 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Bite Bar & Bakery
3221 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

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  1. I wouldn't worry if you end up missing Thyme. It's not all that. Are you looking to graze? Or are you looking for one place to have a full meal? There is excellent Oaxacan food just outside the eastern Santa Monica border at Monte Alban. Nice Mexican-American food at Gilbert's El Indio on Pico Blvd. and just a few minutes away is an entire line up of Japanese food on the Little Tokyo stretch of Sawtelle Blvd. (not to mention Primo's donuts just south of that area also on Sawtelle where they have been helping make Angelino's into the shape of donuts for over 50 years).

    Monte Alban
    11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

    2918 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

    Gilbert's El Indio
    2526 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

    44 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      I do need to go to Monte Alban (didn't they have a fire?)

      What I was looking for was food to take home...ala Joan's on Third or Clementine.

      Monte Alban
      11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

      1. re: Funwithfood

        Ah, food to take home. Now I get it. One place that you might check out would be the take out counter at Tavern in Brentwood. They usually have some very interesting and tasty preparations ready to go.

        I believe that Monte Alban is back in business (IIRC).

        ADD: Here is a link to Tavern's "take away" menu from their "Larder"

        11648 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

        1. re: Servorg

          Have you ever been to Bay Cities? Another stop I would recommend if you have the time.

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

          1. re: Servorg

            I've been to Bay Cities--LOVE their meatballs and their fresh pasta in the back fridge (the best I've had, and so inexpensive!)

            I'll check out Tavern, thanks!

            1. re: Funwithfood

              Tavern won't be so inexpensive, unfortunately, but it's still a good place with lots of interesting choices. You should stop by the SM Wednesday Farmer's Market too. I feel certain you'll find some things you'll want to buy (I just don't have any specific recommendations for you). Ask some of the vendors. They will steer you to interesting and good eats.

              1. re: Funwithfood

                P.S. Would I take Wilshire up from Santa Monica and make a left on San Vicente to get to Tavern?

                1. re: Funwithfood

                  You could do that or the back way is to take Montana (a nice, relaxing street to drive on) and then make a right on SV and Tavern will be on your right.

            2. re: Servorg

              Though I love the food & decor, unless I was living large, I would never think to get takeout from there, seems that it would be uber-pricey. But maybe they are the ultimate takeout.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                The whole Larder section of Tavern that's very much geared towards take-out. I think the prices are pretty much in line with somewhere like Joan's on Third (which isn't to say inexpensive ;)).


                1. re: mollyomormon

                  And since the OP had already talked about the possibility of visiting Thyme on Ocean Park, which is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, I didn't feel that suggesting Tavern's Larder for take out was completely out of the ballpark.

                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    Oh, I know, MollyO, I've seen it. And yes, Joan's is Expensive, I wouldn't be a regular there either.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Large soups for $10--great price IMO.

              2. re: Funwithfood

                I would absolutely go to Huckleberry and get stuff from the prepared salads case to take home if I were you.

                1. re: mollyomormon

                  Huckleberry - very Houndly advice... ;-D>

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Thanks. always a compliment coming from you :)

                    As far as what's great at the farmers' market right now, when I was there on Saturday, I got some gorgeous purple sprouting broccoli, the asparagus is great right now, and Harry's Berries has their strawberries out. I'm not sure if the Rancho Lavina walnut stand is there on wednesdays, but if they are, the chipotle cocoa walnuts they sell there are on my short list of favorite things in the world right now.

                    1. re: mollyomormon

                      Thanks so much for the great recs! Due to time constraints we could only stop at one place.

                      We went to Huckleberry. It was very crowded when we got there at 2pm--they definitely need to expand! The baked goods look fab--have yet to taste them (except for the maple bacon biscuit, yum).

                      The grilled cheese sandwich was great. They messed up our order, which was annoying--esp since they could care less...even seemed annoyed at us!

                      Too bad they don't sell soups, etc. in refigerator cases like Joan's on Third--would have loved to taken home a few and enjoyed them at home--sans the chaos (and lack of A/C...even on a cool day).

                      They will be fantastic...but need to work out the kinks IMHO.

                      I'm bummed I couldn't try the other recs, but will next time!

                      1. re: Funwithfood

                        I've only been a couple times (Huckleberry), but I've felt the service was subpar each time.

                        1. re: mdpilam

                          >>It was so open and airy, the tables are WELL spaces apart. This is why I loved the Vibe so much more than huckleberry, it was so much more calm and less cramped.<<

                          - Dommy! on Bite Bar and Bakery

                          I personally can't stand eating at Huckleberry. It's far too crowded, the tables are far too cramped, the wait staff is almost constantly in a "controlled chaos" situation, and I've found that the staff often doubles as dart boards for some of the customers' surly attitudes.

                          Seating arrangements at Huckleberry seem to be a product of someone saying, "Hmmm - we can make it fit - let's wedge a couple more tables in here." It's like airlines deciding to remove more heads on their jets to make room for more passenger seats. This is the house that Yogi Berra got his sayings from.

                          Their baked yummies, salads and their breads are very good to excellent, so grab&go is pretty much all I do there now. And after placing my order, I go stand outside to wait. Finding a place to stand inside is futile.

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            Hi bulavinaka,

                            Ah, but the Bacon Maple Biscuit makes it all worth it! (^_~) Your description of it alone probably added to the crowding there. :)

                            I agree about the crowding. I usually force my guests to wake up earlier and we arrive earlier to beat the crowds. But if I showed up late? I'd do what you're saying (to go :).

                            1. re: exilekiss

                              Exilekiss is right that if you show up early, say 9am pretty much any morning of the week, then it's great. Otherwise, I find it way too loud and stressful to eat there. They actually have a phone pick-up area where there's never any line in the event you know what you want and call it in ahead of time. This also helps avoid the temptation of purchasing 10 pastries while you wait in the line staring at all the gorgeous pastries ;).

                              1. re: mollyomormon

                                Hi mollyo, in my book, ek is always right, as are you. :) The love child of an ek/mollyo union would cause ripples felt throughout the culinary universe. This Chow Pup's bloodlines would have no equal. The Thomas Kellers and Hiroyuki Urasawas would seek counsel. Nazi chefs would bow in tears for their past transgressions. Bad food would be replaced with great. Servers' behavior and service would always be exemplary toward their guests. Diners would be kind to their servers (implying TIPs would always exceed 20%), even when ordering out. Beer, wine and cocktails would be of good merit and reasonable. Iced tea would not be a contentious issue(see current running thread). And parking would always be ample and free. These things would be our world, but as the saying goes, I digress.

                                >>They actually have a phone pick-up area where there's never any line in the event you know what you want and call it in ahead of time. This also helps avoid the temptation of purchasing 10 pastries while you wait in the line staring at all the gorgeous pastries ;).<<

                                I appreciate the tip, but,

                                1) In most events, I never know what I want. I'm the person who stands in his closet wondering what to wear when presented with the choices of three white t-shirts and three pairs of khaki shorts. Can you imagine me ordering ahead let alone standing in line trying to decide what to get from the dozens of choices and my turn coming up? :)

                                2) I'm probably that guy in front of you wearing three t-shirts and three pairs of shorts ordering at least 10 pastries when I only came in for a ciabatta and a couple of salads to go. I will say this - I don't mind at all standing in line and oogling at their goods on the counter - it is so bountiful and tempting. A sultan perusing his harem has nothing on me. :)

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  ahahahahahahaha! i have to tell you, this comment made my day. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as the amazing exilekiss is quite the honor :). Let's all just make a deal that if any of us are elected supreme ruler of the universe, all the things you mentioned will immediately go into effect.

                                  Yes, I completely understand not knowing what you want in advance and deciding while in line. Part of the fun of eating out is perusing the menu anyway, right?? And there are a lot worse ways to spend a few minutes drooling over Huckleberry's pastries.

                                  That said, when I know I'm in the mood for the trio of prepared salads (my favs are the tuna salad, roasted butternut squash/cauliflower/sunchokes, and the curried chickpeas) and my weekly boule of their insanely good rustic bread, it's really nice to just be able to call it in and ride my bike over to grab it.

                                  1. re: mollyomormon

                                    >>To even be mentioned in the same sentence as the amazing exilekiss is quite the honor :).<<

                                    And your sincere humility is always refreshing. And that is partly why my most honored mollyo and exilekiss are spoken of in the same breath.

                                    I've enjoyed the roasted butternut squash salad and the curried chickpeas, but strangely I've missed out on the tuna salad. I will put this on my list of things to try. Thanks!

                                    1. re: mollyomormon

                                      Hi mollyomormon,

                                      What? No Maple Bacon Biscuit?? :)

                                      1. re: exilekiss

                                        Maple Bacon biscuits are only for special occasions ;). For regular days, I'm a whole wheat fruit bar kind of girl. It's obviously healthy because it has whole wheat AND fruit in it, right??

                                        1. re: mollyomormon

                                          *Of course* that Whole Wheat Fruit Bar is totally healthy. (^_~) I still need to try it (I keep getting distracted with other items from Chef Zoe. :)

                                    2. re: bulavinaka

                                      They should name this offspring "Meatball."

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        Hi bulavinaka,

                                        ie ie sonna koto nai desu! (^_^;; You give me too much credit.

                                        That being said, have you discovered any new Huckleberry treats worth trying? :) I haven't been back for ~2 months. Thanks.

                                        1. re: exilekiss

                                          Hi exilekiss,

                                          Sonna koto wa honto desuyo! I might be heading there today or tomorrow. Will report back if I'm successful. I've been really impressed with their breads lately. You could throw a dart and pick a winner. And as great as their breads are, they tend to keep longer than other artisan breads that I've tried. Also, these things aren't new, but I really like just about anything with berries here. Their crostatas and tarts are excellent and just look so appealing; that salted caramel square; their donuts are actually nice as well - no stale oil taste and just perfectly made.

                                      2. re: mollyomormon

                                        Second your thought on the stress of eating at Huckleberry - loud, hard chairs, cold food. Not great..

                                      3. re: exilekiss

                                        Thanks, ek. At this point, I'll stand in line for the goods and make my order, but that's it. I usually go on the weekends, and I've found that it gets pretty crowded even if I get there within 30 minutes of them opening.

                                        I wish they'd push their open time to 7AM. I'm an early bird, and I could get my breakfast, grab my goods to go (I know, What A P-I-G!) and be outta there by 8AM. Based on what I see at other popular places that serve breakfast and/or baked goods, I think they'd benefit from this by spreading out their customer load. Again - it's such a small space with too many tables with an overflow crowd. Heck, even if they just opened their bake counter/coffee at 7AM, I could see this working as well.

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            That's not fair - you don't sleep. :)

                                      4. re: bulavinaka

                                        It is only a take out spot for me, I think I would agree, I wouldn't like eating there much.

                                1. re: mollyomormon

                                  Huckleberry, Huckleberry, Huckleberry! The cauliflower salad is AMAZING. I also tried the duck hash recently, and it rocked my world. Also, I know I'm in the minority on this, but my morning bun was better than the one I had last Christmas at Tartine in SF. The Huckleberry bun is smaller with more concentrated flavor, though the price is higher.

                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                    Duck hash? Wow - I may have to be the first in line this weekend...

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      Dude, it's truly outstanding. I just wished they served it all day long.

                                      1. re: a_and_w

                                        Thanks for the mega-tip as always...

                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                          At least they serve it every weekend for brunch. I must admit, I don't eat eggs(as eggs) but even I enjoyed the duck hash with the fried eggs!

                                        2. re: bulavinaka

                                          I still need to try that! They also serve duck confit hash at the Mercantile for brunch. Yum. Maybe I need to do a non-traditional hash crawl...

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              maybe once exilekiss has mended from the burger crawl!

                                              1. re: mollyomormon

                                                Nothing like a good plate or 10 of great hash to purge that burger from the pores. I think he needs a nudge from you to get over it... :)

                                2. BTW, had Huckleberry's caramel bars with sea salt today--deeeelish!!

                                  1. In Santa Monica I'd be sure to stop at Better Life Cuisine for some organic raw vegan cinnamon rolls to go ~ They're famously awesome! ~
                                    Peruse the wall shelves in the dining area for items to stock your own shelves at home.
                                    The faux egg salad is "eggcellence".
                                    The cucumber smiles with tomatoes under cashew cream is delish!
                                    All their pies (we tried all 5 last week) are stellar.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: SusanaTheConqueress

                                      Hmmm, ugh...can anyone second "raw vegan cinnamon rolls"?

                                      1. re: Funwithfood

                                        If you're vegan, you will like them. My sister is vegan and she loves them. But I am not vegan and find them odd and strange! Urth Cafe for brunch foods is nice (though not unique... there are Urth Cafes elsewhere in the city too). Anisette Brasserie is good (but on the expensive side). Musha for Japanese is great!

                                        424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                        Anisette Brasserie
                                        225 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                        1. re: Ginger9

                                          Perhaps great "vegan cinnamon rolls" requires a new thread then? :)

                                      2. re: SusanaTheConqueress

                                        Interesting. I'll give it a shot. New things are good things (though "raw" things are usually awful things). Thanks for the recommendation.