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May 26, 2010 01:59 PM

Dinners in Santa Monica

I am coming to Santa Monica next month and need one or two dinner options. Here are the details, which make for some unusual parameters.

1) Our party includes an 8 and 12 year old who are very good in restaurants as long as there's something on the menu for them to eat (not necessarily a kids menu, though).
2) Price isn't an object on one of the two nights.
3) One of the nights is Sunday.
4) We won't have a car, so we need to be able to get there easily from the JW Marriott hotel.

If those conditions are met, I'll be OK, but additionally, Id love a warm and casual environment, maybe some LA flair, and favorite cuisines are seafood and Italian. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. Which Marriott are you staying in? That will be helpful to rec restaurants that are nearby, since you won't have a car.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Phurstluv

      Sorry, the Le Merigot - JW Marriott at 1740 Ocean Avenue. I didn't realize there was more than one JW.

      1. re: jaschultze

        Okay, that makes it simpler!

        Across the street is La Cachette Bistro. Haven't been personally, but seems to get good reviews here.

        Catch, as wienermobile mentions is also very good, had a good sushi & crudo menu, if you're interested.

        Across the street, down about two blocks, past the Pier is I Cugini, a very good Italian seafood place. Nice patio. Decent lasagne bolognese. You may want to check out the Ivy, next door for a lunch or brunch type meal, very Californian. And on the corner of Colorado & Ocean is Il Fornaio, a more casual Italian, they have decent thin crust pizzas, though can be a bit loud.

        Ivy At the Shore
        1535 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

        I Cugini
        1501 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

        Il Fornaio
        1551 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401

    2. Just a block up from your hotel at The Casa Del Mar hotel is Catch. Good food and very close to you.

      1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405

      13 Replies
      1. re: wienermobile

        If you want to walk a little farther on Main Street try Le Grande Orange. Much more casual.

        1. re: wienermobile

          Le Grande Orange looks best to me so far -- plenty of things the kids would recognize and like -- and the menu at I Cugini also seems fine for them, too. I forgot to mention that I will be the *only* adult, which makes menus like Catch's and La Cachette Bistro a little more ambitious (unless they have a kids menu).

          Is there any love for The Lobster? That's what a friend who lives locally recommended for my "price-isn't-a-concern" night.

          1. re: jaschultze

            I don't love the Lobster. If seafood is what you want try Blue Plate Oysterette for casual or Ocean Ave Seafood a little more fancy.

            Ocean Avenue Seafood
            1401 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            1. re: wienermobile

              Oh, it's so good, BPO, and this is coming from a New Englander. And they do have a kid's menu.

              The Lobster's okay, but tourist central. But the kids should love the Pier, just don't eat there, stick with Coffee Bean and save up for I Cugini or BPO or Il Fornaio.

              And LGO is decent go for breakfast, if you can. I think they are a little pricey for what you get.

            2. re: jaschultze

              Ditto The Lobster... but I'd second Ivy at the Shore, and I Cugini too (though it does make me think business lunch, depending on the time of day.)

              If not Catch, maybe one of the neighboring hotel restaurants? I'm a fan Coast at Shutters for the beachy ambiance – the menu even has a side of mac & cheese.

              And I love Whist at the Viceroy for brunch. What do people think of it for dinner?

              1. re: joe_is_hungry

                Whist is awesome, for lunch or dinner. Recently took my MIL there for her farewell lunch, service, food, wine, everything was wonderful. Decent sized portions and not the hotel sticker shock you would normally expect. I prefer it over any other hotel resto in that area.

              2. re: jaschultze

                If your kids eat seafood, then I am not sure what you are worried about. All I would eat at Le Grande Orange--at least pm are the vegetarian tacos. Do you want to spend lots of money on one night? Or is that you are okay not sticking to a budget one night?

                1. re: apple7blue

                  That we are OK not sticking to a budget one night. The more I think about this, the more I want to go casual and walking distance -- the kids and I will have been on a plane all day! That said, I'll also want to have a glass of wine and not feel too rushed.

                  1. re: jaschultze

                    Yeah as I mentioned below, il fornaio would be good. So where did you go?

                    1. re: apple7blue

                      We went to La Cachette Bistro the first night, which was a great choice in that it was directly across from the hotel and had a nice atmosphere. I was a little underwhelmed by the bouillabaise, but perhaps my expectations were too high.
                      We also squeezed in a visit to Il Fornaio a couple nights later and I was very disappointed. It was mostly empty and the food was nothing special. I wished we'd have picked somewhere else, actually, but my kids were so tired it probably wouldn't have mattered.

                      1. re: jaschultze

                        Sorry about that . . . What was your overall judgement on where you went? Disappointed, okay, generally good? Hopefully you had a good food holiday overall despite the down notes . . .

              3. re: wienermobile

                Le Grande Orange might be a little bit of a walk although it would be great with kids since they eat free during certain hours everyday of the week. Second La Cachette - right across the street and also great food.

                You also have Ocean Avenue seafood up the street on the Ocean for seafood. Not a lover of the Lobster but haven't been there for several years.

                If you want a burger - and see what many call one the best burgers in town (haven't been myself yet though) there is Umami Burger at Fred Segal.

                Boa on Ocean on Sunday nights has a great deal (steak though) as the entire wine list is 50%. Also I believe Jiraffe on Santa Monica and 5th has a great deal on Monday nights - 3 course prix fix menu for $38. They post the menu on their website. Also, I think they have specials on the house wines.

                Good luck!

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

                Fred Segal
                500 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                La Cachette
                Little Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067

                Umami Burger
                850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                1. re: gordo26

                  LGO is a short walk 3-4 blocks from the mariott.

            3. If you guys like burgers, Umami is on 5th between Broadway and Colorado (in Fred Segal). Excellent burgers (I recommend the Hatch).

              Fred Segal
              500 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401

              8 Replies
                1. re: wienermobile

                  Unfortunately, I don't really have burger lovers in my group.

                  What do you think of Il Fornaio? Normally I would shy away because of the multiple locations, but maybe that's small-minded of me. . .

                  1. re: jaschultze

                    To be honest I think there are much better places in the neighborhood than II Fornaino.

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      Take a look at Anisette. Really good and close to you.

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

                    2. re: jaschultze

                      They are seriously really good. Definitely get the rustichella--I know that I could literally eat a meal just of that. The Cappellacci di Zucca is also great. They do have a kids menu, and I have ordered off it--togo, but you have kids with you so you could order food off it for the restaurant. (It's cheaper and still great food.)

                      1. re: apple7blue

                        What is the "they" you referring to, apple7blue?

                        1. re: jaschultze

                          He was replying to your question about il Fornaio and recommending them in response.

                2. Not far from your hotel on Wednesday and Saturday mornings on Arizona Street is The Santa Monica Farmers Markets, it's a real treat just to take a walk threw it for all kinds of treats. Worth a trip. 8:30 am to 1 pm.

                  Santa Monica Farmers' Market (Arizona and 2nd
                  )Arizona Ave Santa Monica CA, Arizona Ave Santa Monica, CA

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: wienermobile

                    I'm not sure - is it must that it be walking distance? Or a short cab ride? Because a short cab ride can take you to Melisse or Valentino. Which are stellar restaurants and in a class way above other than have been mentioned here.

                    If it is walking distance - then Capo is probably the best (and clearly the most expensive - they have very good food, but for those prices I'd go to Melisse).

                    1. re: foodiemahoodie

                      When my kids were that age, they loved The Ivy. You are not far from Ivy at the Shore. Portions are large and just about everything can be shared.

                      1. re: maudies5

                        call me a pig, but to me, the ivy portions are single-serving size--not large enough to share.

                        (maybe that's why magdelena, the owner of mc mar vista calls me 'the american woman who eats a lot.")

                      2. re: foodiemahoodie

                        And at Capo's prices, I would not be feeding my kids there.

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          If you are responding to me "foodiemahoodie", I never suggested Capo. FWIW, I think their prices are completely insane. I was recommending Ivy at the Shore, as portions are huge, kids love the food and it is close to where the OP is staying. Capo's prices are an insult to my intelligence.

                          1. re: maudies5

                            Wasn't reponding to you, but we are on the same page about Capo's prices. I've had some great meals there, but not in a long time largely because of the prices.

                      3. re: wienermobile

                        Yeah you can literally feed your kids on that, I have fed myself just tasting stuff there--Santa Monica Farmer's Market.

                      4. I am going to go by the assumption kids like desserts or at the least ice cream and that they like pizza and pasta. Also that less than three quarters of a mile is walking distance. I am not sure about price--because that depends on how much you eat and what you consider expensive and moderate. So take a look at the menu which is online. They are open Sunday night. The restaurant is Italian, and they do have seafood. The place is warm and casual--they have altered their menu for myself and one other regular, James Cameron. You know the director of Avatar? Is that LA flair? Locando del Lago has an extensive menu and they have seasonal dishes also. They don't specifically have a kids menu as far as I know, but I am basically a kid and I like their food. Plus you might see James Cameron there, I am pretty sure kids would be excited to see the director of Avatar.

                        Lago Restaurants
                        231 Arizona Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401