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Apr 24, 2010 07:35 PM

NY'er looking for Westside feedback (Business dinner, date night, Mexican...)

I'm coming into town (Santa Monica area) tomorrow from NYC for business, but as any self-respecting Chowhound would do, I'm spending endless hours just figuring out where I want to go for food. (thorough research on this board, triangulating against yelp....and I'm exhausted already just thinking 2nd,3rd thoughts).

I could use some help in figuring out some great choices! Open to all cuisines so long as they're delicious. And I'll cut out Chinese/Japanese food since I grew up in the SGV and know what I can get there.

The roster right now, along with what I'm looking for.

1. Fun, business dinner for young 30 year old's in Santa Monica/Venice area. (under $60/head)

Options: Mozza, Rustic Canyon, Animal? Chaya Venice, Moonshadow.
Tried the Wilshre the last time around - and that worked!

2. Sunday dinner on the Westside with date. Ambience would be great, but food/experience more unique to LA is a must :). No specific thoughts on budget.

Options: Bazaar, Animal, Gjelina, Father's Office?

3. Sunday brunch place with friend in Santa Monica.
Options: Father's Office. Monte Alban. Anything with a view?

4. Mexican taco truck convenient to Santa Monica
Running out of steam here. Any recs?

5. Delicious lunch takeout near the Griffiths Observatory?

Will report back. Thanks in advance

Chaya Venice
110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291

Monte Alban
11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Father's Office Bar
1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

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

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  1. for the sunday brunch, i'd leave santa monica and go to Cafe del Rey in the marina.
    the prix fix brunch is 3 courses, cooked-to-order, $35/pp, and includes sparkly or mimosas.
    the food is better than solid.
    the valet parking is tip only (no base fee)
    every table has a view of the boats in the marina
    the waitstaff is terrific.
    the price/quality ratio is better than terrific

    the website is:

    2 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      Westsidegal's rec would work for options 1-3 - maybe not as strong in the unique category on #2 if you have places like Animal or The Bazaar in mind, but still a very strong in just about every category. They do a fair amount of careful sourcing for their ingredients, particularly their seafood. The focus roles into just about everything they do.

      And it seems that you're leaning toward wanting a view as well since you've included Moonshadow. This is a "head-cocker" for most Hounds when we see it listed with the other places listed. While not known for Chow-worthiness, it is an incredible view of the ocean on a moonlit night. Not trying to slam this place, but to give you a reference point, this is THE place that ALL high school couples swooned about back in my day of Dogtown, disco pants and designer jeans. I'm sure the food is acceptable, but if you're weighing in all the other desirable components of a great meal experience, then you might consider Moonshadow as place to start or end with drinks.

      1. re: westsidegal

        I second the comment on Moonshadows. If you're looking for a view, try The Lobster or event the Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel.

      2. FYI- Father's Office is a dumpy bar with a great beer selection and surly servers. Not a brunch place, if you're serious about food consider WSG's rec for the marina - it's great food, decent prices and a lovely view to boot.

        Mozza, & Animal are not on the West side they are more like mid-city area.

        Gjelina in Venice has wonderful food but not the best ambiance, loud and uber-trendy. Perhaps consider Whist at the Viceroy on Pico and Ocean. Best patio in the city, great food.

        1. For both (1) and (2), Gjelina would be a great option. Animal would also be a great choice. (Unique experience to LA could be had at Mariscos Chente... a little divey but..)

          For Sunday Brunch, how fancy do you want to go? Or, are you really just looking for good hole-in-the-wall... or unimportant? Monte Alban is great... so is Cafe del Rey as WSG recommends. Also, like Anisette's brunch in SaMo. Or maybe you want to drive up to Malibu Seafood for seafood with a view...

          Taco Truck - La Oaaquena at Rose and Lincoln in Venice.

          For takeout, The Oaks Gourmet, Il Capriccio, Home, or Alcove would all the good choices.

          Monte Alban
          11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

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

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

          Oaks Gourmet
          1915 N Bronson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068

          2 Replies
          1. re: Emme

            Hi Emme,

            Your recs are always spot-on and reliable. I was wondering if you've tried Little Next Door on 3rd Street for either dine-in or take-out? For me coming from the Westside, this would be an easy detour on the way to Griffith Park. Thanks...

            1. re: bulavinaka

              Little Next Door is pretty good for brunch and lunch... I don't go often because I consider it overpriced for what it is... but I honestly haven't had a bad meal there.

          2. For a taco truck near Santa Monica, options are limited, but my new favorite truck (on the Westside) is Rueben's Tacos. They are parked on Santa Monica & Westgate from 8pm-3am(?). Very good al pastor (from a spit) and asada, and their chorizo is pretty good too. Both salsa verde and roja are flavorful and a little spicy. $1 per taco, and they are good sized for dollar tacos. They also do tortas, burritos, quesadillas, and I think clayudas. Very friendly people too.

            7 Replies
            1. re: mdpilam

              If the OP has never tried a Cemitas Poblanas-style sandwich, it would rank high on things to try from a traditional Mexican cuisine truck as well. The Cemitas Poblanas truck parked on Venice Blvd in front of the Smart & Final in Palms is a Chow favorite. They do tacos, burritos - those are a cinch. They even do tortas. But most go for their cemitas. I think their hours there are still 11Am-4PM.

              Smart & Final
              10113 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

              1. re: bulavinaka

                I hate to say it, but I think the cemitas have slipped at the Anjelica Truck -- the buns are overtoasted and the distribution of condiments seems off. (I can also hear Eric Eto's voice whispering in my head that great cemitas can be found in NYC lol.) I'd go for tacos, but be sure to ask to avocado. Another option in Santa Monica proper would be the La Isla Bonita truck on Rose. Still, if I were going for taqueria fare, I'd be sure to hit Tacomiendo, which is my favorite Mexican place on the westside.

                11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                1. re: a_and_w

                  Thanks for the heads-up. Just FYI on La Isla Bonita - it seems their hours at the Rose location has become more erratic. I've found them MIA lately more often than not.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    Shoot... I wonder if the new-wave trucks have something to do with this. Competition is supposed to improve product, but maybe some of the old-school trucks have suffered and are cutting corners as a result.

                    I should add that the Angelica truck's tacos are still my favorite truck tacos on the westside.

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      I've infrequently been to La Isla Bonita over the past couple of years, but drive by often. I don't know their specific hours, but they've definitely been more MIA over the past year than in the past.

                      I'm sure the economy in general has hurt the old-school trucks as well. Most of Angelica's customers are still Latino. The state of our economy over the past couple of years has been extremely hard the Latino community. I hit up Angelica about once a month and have definitely noticed a decline in customers ordering food. Particularly at night on Inglewood Blvd, the groups of young guys loading up on a quick meal before hitting the bars are pretty sparse now.

                      I had Angelica's tacos for the first time a few months back. Buche, carnitas and pollo - they are very good...

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Angelica's carnitas are the bomb! What, out of curiosity, was the pollo like? Was it grilled or stewed? Marinated at all?

              2. re: mdpilam

                Wow...sounds promising! I just wish they were there a little earlier...

              3. 1. Of the choices you mentioned, only Rustic Canyon and Chaya are in Santa Monica/Venice (Moonshadows is close in Malibu but not that great). Instead, consider Fig, Fraiche and Tasting Kitchen on Abbott Kinney.

                2. Consider adding Jiraffe, Josie, and Tavern to the list. Wilshire, where you went for the business dinner last time, is also great for dates.

                3. For a view, your choices are more limited--Cafe Del Rey is the best of the bunch foodwise but the Lobster and the Penthouse at the Huntley have more spectacular views.

                5. Several good takeout choices en route to Griffith (depending on your route). Joan's on Third, the Little Next Door and Mozza 2 Go ( right next to Mozza on Melrose) come to mind.

                Little Door
                8164 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

                Jiraffe Restaurant
                502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

                The Lobster
                1602 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                Cafe Del Rey
                4451 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

                Joan's On Third
                8436 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                The Penthouse
                1111 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                FIG Restaurant Santa Monica
                101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA

                11648 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

                641 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                Fraiche Santa Monica
                312 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403