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Santa Monica on a budget?

Hello,

I'm going to be in Santa Monica for a day and I was wondering if anyone had any recs nearby so my friend doesn't have to trek. I am visiting a friend who is not a foodie (but down to eat) and he'll be on a poor grad student budget

Since I'm coming from Manhattan I would love some good Mexican. (Last time in LA I got taken to a really disappointing Americanized place)
I'm open to any other cuisines too - esp anything that's not as good in NY.
(would love affordable sushi if its yasuda-quality, otherwise I'll pass)

In past visits I've had Roscoe's, Kogi, k-town, lots of chinese food in SGV so these I can skip on these.

Thanks!

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  1. For good Mexican, I highly recommend Tlapazola Grill on Venice Blvd at Abbot Kinney, in Venice (and there is another location in W. LA), both are very close to SM.
    www.tlapazolagrill.com

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    Tlapazola Grill
    636 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

    2 Replies
    1. re: Alex250

      I personally feel like Tlapazola isn't worth the price. However, they do make a killer margarita.

      1. re: a_and_w

        I agree it's not worth the price. The food and service were really disappointing when I went. I admit I have only tried it once for an early lunch. But the food was bland.

    2. I like Lemonade on Abbot Kinney, or Bay Cities Deli.
      http://www.lemonadela.com/images/menu...

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

      1. Monte Alban is very good Oaxacan food and not too expensive.
        Tacomiendo is very inexpensive and good as well.
        Neither are "Americanized." Neither have full alcohol license (beer and Wine at MA; nada at Tacomiendo

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        Monte Alban
        11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

        Tacomiendo
        11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ciao Bob

          Monte Alban is Excellent Oaxacan food, and is extremely reasonable. Just thought I'd add a little emphasis there, since I just got back from lunch there today.

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          Monte Alban
          11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

          1. re: Ciao Bob

            Strongly second both of these recs, especially Tacomiendo. Try the soft taco combo plate at the latter.

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            Tacomiendo
            11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

          2. tacos por favor will hit the spot.. i've yet to pay more than $10 and have left beyond full each and every time.

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            Tacos Por Favor
            1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

            7 Replies
            1. re: wilafur

              Very true. The tacos al pastor are great, and tho I order three, I can hardly eat them all. The red salsa is to die for.

              1. re: wilafur

                I have yet to understand the attraction of TPF. El Super Taco is my go-to place when I'm craving tacos and stuck on the westside. But both are fast food.

                I'd go to Monte Alban for the black or coloradito mole if I were you. I mean, you haven't seen your friend in a while, you probably want to sit down and talk for a while, right?

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                Monte Alban
                11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                1. re: Bjartmarr

                  and i cannot understand some folks' infatuation with EST. every time i have been to EST they have served me gristly carne asada in my tacos and/or burritos.

                  1. re: wilafur

                    I agree. I really tried to like EST's tacos/burritos since I don't live far, but kept being underwhelmed. I do however love their habanero salsa. The thing to order at EST is their tortas; I like them.

                    TPF is solid for the westside (and has a wider menu than Tacomiendo, but on average I think Tacomiendo is better).

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                    Tacomiendo
                    11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                    1. re: wilafur

                      Wilafur, have you tried the al pastor? I really enjoy the al pastor torta, but agree the rest of EST is more miss than hit.

                      1. re: a_and_w

                        have not had the al pastor, i'll give it a whirl the next time i have a taco or burrito craving. thanks for the heads up.

                  2. re: wilafur

                    Second Tacos Por Favor as well, though I think Tacomiendo is a small step above them.

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                    Tacomiendo
                    11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                    Tacos Por Favor
                    1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

                  3. Thanks for all of the suggestions, I can't wait for some good tacos :)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: silverlainy

                      I would head straight to Tacos Por Favor, as others suggestion above. Yum

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                      Tacos Por Favor
                      1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

                    2. dunno if you are open to falafal, or to a VERY casual falafal stand, but if you are,
                      i'd go to HUNGRY POCKET which is on pico across the street from santa monica college.
                      their falafal sandwiches are GOOD GOOD GOOD.
                      and, irrc, are ~$4 or so. i believe that wednesday afternoons they have an AYCE deal on these sandwiches for under $10.

                      1. echoing some others....

                        Lares on Pico
                        Gilbert's El Indio
                        Tacomiendo
                        Tacos Por Favor
                        Monte Alban

                        ...too bad Sergio left Mariscos Chente!

                        and fun and reasonably priced, good izakaya at Musha.

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                        Monte Alban
                        11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                        Musha
                        424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                        Tacomiendo
                        11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                        Tacos Por Favor
                        1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

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

                        Mariscos Chente
                        4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                        1. Musha at Wilshire and 5th for good Japanese food and not too expensive. The owner also has restaurants in Tokyo and this place has been written up by the New York Times.

                          -----
                          Musha
                          424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ginger9

                            i LOVE LOVE LOVE musha, but
                            never get out of there for less than $35/pp all in even though i rarely have ANY beverage.
                            normally the number is $40 all in drinking tap water.

                          2. Plaza Olvera's only about a 20 min drive ~ Stroll & chat / have the guacamole (avacodos, garlic, salt & lime juice) with a margarita al fresco under the twinkling lights, then, snag the best taquitos at another /or the burrritos at another - all recs are on Chowhound - and, wrap it up with a shared sampling of Mr. Churro, said to be the best in town.

                            If staying in Santa Monica, I'd be at Better Life Cuisine - also on Chowhound - we were just there, last week. The raw organic vegan cinnamon rolls are killer yummerific! We also had the faux egg salad + the cucumbers & tomatoes under cashew cream + a flight of all pies (There were 5 that day) ~ Their spirulina cake, like red velvet cake, some say, is also "don't miss it" good. Be sure to drink the "enhanced water", it's good - and free. The "Rainbow" was the juice of choice at our table & everyone raved over it, wanting more, more more. We also did the wheat grass shots, to start, while we waited to be served - listening to the pan flute & other live music being performed at the bar. Can't miss at Better Life Cuisine. The owners are Latino & may be on site to make you something "Mexican", if you request it of them. Very generous & kind souls :-)
                            Whatever you ultimately decide, please post a follow-up for us to learn from - and ENJOY!
                            <3

                            1. Thanks again everyone for the suggestions. I'll definitely have to try these the next time I go to LA cause this trip was a fail. I met up with a (different) friend who shot down Monte Alban for Don Antonio's because it was on the Hills or some crap like that. Really mediocre food, at least what I ordered...the fajitas looked better. Super long wait for a table, then menus, food, etc.

                              At least my other friend took me to some late night tacos (el Taurino's) that was decent. I tried the al pastor, barbacoa, lengua, and cabeza, and I think the cabeza was my favorite but it was hard to identify some of them.