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Restaurants at the new Santa Monica Place

Another thread on a semi-different topic became a thread about the new restaurants opening this week at Santa Monica Place. I'd love to have an easy to search thread on just these restaurants, and so am starting this. The list of places set to open (and more will be opening in time) are here:


Soft openings begin 8/2. Those who go this week, please let us know what you liked! I'm looking forward to Zengo and Xino and Sonoma, found here:


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  1. Thanks for posting, Yogachik, I'm also curious about these restaurants. They seem to be small chef-driven chains from the San Francisco and Denver areas. Interesting that there will be a Pizza Antica from SF, not to be confused with our own Antica Pizzeria. I'm really hoping the dim sum at Xino will be decent enough, since getting decent Chinese is such a challenge here in the Westside.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Ogawak

      I'll be attending the food tasting event this evening and will report back.

      1. re: Ogawak

        I don't recall a single post on the Bay Area board regarding Xino's sibling restaurant up north in the years that it's been open, so I would expect very little.

        1. re: Chandavkl

          I will go to the SGV for my regular fix of Chinese food/dim sum/dumplings, but I hope there will be something decent nearby, since I live a 1/2 mile away. JR's used to be that place.

          And, Maudies5, thanks in advance for your report.

          1. re: Ogawak

            Thanks. We decided not to attend. No report. Sorry.

            1. re: maudies5

              I can report only this so far, the restaurants are enormous. Vegas size. Will they be able to fill them? I've not seen anything so cavernous in this area before. Sonoma Wines has amazing views, good wine selections by the glass.

        2. re: Ogawak

          Is it going to be the same pizza as Pizza Antica in SF? Anyone try the pizza in SF? I didn't get to try any of the locations when I was there. They looked good though.

          1. re: apple7blue

            Just got back from the Place, had lunch at Pizza Antica. Yes, it's the same as the group of Antica's in the SF area.

            Overall ambience. The food court and the Sonoma Wine Bar have the best views of the ocean.

            I originally did want to try Xino, but found the prices off-putting. The dim sum was not priced like what you would normally find. They were categorized as appetizers and priced between 12-15. We're talking more expensive than Yank Sing (SF) prices and I wasn't expecting Yank Sing quality. I wish it were Yank Sing.

            We ended up at Pizza Antica. We had fennel sausage, Portobello and red onion pizza with a chopped salad. The pizza ingredients were delicious but the crust lacked crispiness. A decent and reasonably priced meal.

            Maybe we'll try La Sandia next.

              1. re: apple7blue

                Their website menu includes prices.

                1. re: Servorg

                  I was thinking it might be San Francisco prices

                  1. re: apple7blue

                    So that would make the LA pizzas less expensive then?

                    1. re: Servorg

                      I would hope, but from what Ogawak reported it seems the opposite is true if the website is up to date.

                2. re: apple7blue

                  The smalls (14") ran $10-12 and the larges (don't know the size) ran $20.
                  Service was good, tho we got there early. By 12:30 all the restaurants (including food court) had long waits.

                  1. re: Ogawak

                    It's one restaurant I haven't tried - the line is always too long!

                3. re: Ogawak

                  Did not eat at the Place today (Friday), but checked the prices for Xino. From 11-4 they have dim sum with prices just a little higher than what you would find in Chinatown/SGV. The menu I checked earlier must have been a dinner menu even tho it was the early lunch hour last Saturday. If anyone tries their dim sum before I do, please report.

            1. I tried many of them. My front runner is La Sandia. Their guacamole alone (and drink prices) win, plus it's a gorgeous room. Others have better views, but this one I will revisit. I look forward to other reviews.

              1 Reply
              1. re: yogachik

                I had an amazing Mojito at La Sandia yesterday. Super fresh ingredients and agree a gorgeous room/bar.

                We went to Zenga - and it was very good, plus great views, super nice staff. Will post details later along with some pics.

              2. I'm really happy that Charlie Kabob is returning. As someone who cooks Persian food at home, I really shouldn't be that excited over fast food, but for the price, quality, and speed, it can't be beat.

                Haven't eaten at the mall yet. I took my Bulldog with me and that limited us to places with outside seating and everything was packed anyway. It's going to be great to have these new choices within walking distance.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Azizeh

                  Went to a pre-opening event which was held outside on the dining terrace at XINO on Thursday. Served huge shrimp dumplings, chicken/shrimp dumplings, mushroom dumplings and chicken on lettuce leaf. All were tastey and served in a beautiful setting overlooking the Promande. Inside, the restaurant is "crisp" and modern with clean lines. Looking forward to going back and ordering off the menu. Also, had a few "pretty" drinks which were very good as well.

                2. Slightly off topic, but does anyone happen to remember the name of the pizza place that was in the SM Place food court before the recent remodeling? I really used to enjoy their double layered slices, but don't think they are back in the new SM Place. I recall talking to one of the workers there who told me they had a 2nd location, but I neither remember where that might have been or the name of the place. If you entered the food court from the Broadway entrance to the mall, this place was the 2nd or 3rd food stall from the entrance, on the left hand side. Any help appreciated.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: HastaLaPasta

                    Was it the chain Sbarro's? I seem to remember them having something that looked like two pizzas stacked topping-side to topping-side that you could order by the slice. I think there's usually a location in most mall food courts - Westside Pavilion I think and maybe Bev Center?

                    1. re: TracyS

                      Correct, it was Sbarro.
                      And yes, it's a chain.
                      And they're all over the map:

                      1. re: TracyS

                        Thanks for trying to help but I'm 99% sure that it wasn't Sbarro - I've seen Sbarro in plenty of malls and though they have similar types of food, the food at this place was much better. Also, when I talked to one of the guys who worked there, he mentioned there were onlyone or two other locations - Sbarro must have a dozen, at least.

                        1. re: HastaLaPasta

                          Was it Round Table Pizza? I did a google search and came upon this message board thread where somebody mentions it in relation to the "old" SMP.


                          It's mentioned in the fourth post.

                          1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                            No, I'm sure it wasn't Round Table either, but thanks for trying to help.

                            1. re: HastaLaPasta

                              Could you be talking about Stefanos? They are going into the new Santa Monica Place and are on 4th street by the AMC Theaters.

                              1. re: wienermobile

                                Afraid not, but thanks for trying to help. Stefanos has been there for a long time next to AMC and isn't the same folks as the place that was in the food court.

                                1. re: HastaLaPasta

                                  Pasta, I can confirm it was NOT a chain. I remember that clearly -- but I don't happen to remember what the place was called...

                                  1. re: October

                                    I know what you are talking about but don't remember the name also. Just to confirm that it's not a figment of your imagination . . .

                    2. I tried Pizza Antica on opening night, initially thinking it was related to Antica Pizzeria in Marina del Rey until we saw that it was totally different. It was rough in spots, but think they could pick up after the staff and kitchen hit their stride.

                      I liked that they had half carafes of wine which yielded about 2.5 glasses each and allowed for trying a bunch.

                      We started with the antipasti which was a haphazardly-plated mix of what seemed like canned corn, beans, pickled onions, roasted peppers, and fingerling potato 'coins'. It came with a rubbery housemade mozzarella which was surprisingly melted on the heated plate which is never how I expect to see antipasti. The plate came with only two very small crostini, but the server was kind enough to bring us two more when we asked (and found out they were out of bread).

                      The pizzas themselves were a much bigger improvement. Large pizzas are oblong ovals with 8 pieces and small pizzas are 4 pieces. For two couples, we ordered one large Spicy Fennel Sausage, Portabello Mushroom, and Roasted Onion pizza and one small Three Cheeses, Shaved Broccoli, Caramelized Onion, and Pancetta pizza which was just the right amount. Both pizzas had a nice slightly charred and bubbled crust, and the fennel sausage pizza was full of flavor. The cheese pizza was also good but seemed in need of some herbs, spices, or other seasonings next to the other.

                      We opted to head onto the promenade for gelato afterwards so didn't try dessert, but I would probably return in future after they have a chance to work out their kinks, and definitely if they introduced some kind of a happy hour (their outdoor patio is located within earshot of the main food court patio where live music plays, without it being deafening or swarming with people).

                      1. Just went to Xino on Monday and it was an overall good experience. We had the Spicy Beef Chow Fun (not spicy, not even mild) that was good, the noodles were nice, not slick with oil like I tend to find on some but alas not new territory. The Cowboy (?) Tenderloin dish which was the best dish we had there, juicy pieces of beef, nice balance of flavors. The Szechuan Chicken which was also good but was lacking some kick. But they are still new so hopefully with a little tweaking they'll find their legs. The service was all over the place but once again, just a few days old so lots of room to grow.

                        Side note - the views from Sonoma Wine Bar is completely awesome! Worth a stop for a glass of wine or two. Date spot for sure. Over all the food area is definitely better than the old.

                        Chow Fun
                        686 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                        1. We went to La Sandia, got three starters (tamale, skirt steak flatbread, and the empanada) and the carnitas. We thought the empanada was the best of the three - chorizo is always good - but split on whether the tamale or the huarache was the next best, I suppose it would depend on what you are in the mood for. The carnitas were good, but we were pretty full by then. The back area for dining is really nice with the open air seating. Richard Sandoval was eating dinner with others at the table next to us, and saw they got the guacamole (it is in a large mortar), the shrimp entree, the salmon entree, and a couple of desserts. Stuff to try for next time! Service had a few kinks, but the staff really went out of their way to recover from the blips. If you want spicy, there is a habanero salsa and also a habanero paste which you can ask for.

                          We did stop in at the Sonoma wine bar - the ocean view is very nice. If you want a table around sunset though, reserve in advance. The free views from the food court seating area are also nice too.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: thranduil

                            Ate at La Sandia for lunch today and it was very busy (about a 45 minute wait) but I had reservations from open table, so no wait at all.. Service was friendly but on the slow side. Had the El Pastor tacos, and they were good but sweet with chunks of pineapple in it. The guacamole made at the table was very good and a great mild smokey salsa is served with it. Price range at lunch is $10-15 per dish. They also have a very nice patio but no ocean view. Can't wait for the market to open early in 2011.

                            1. re: thranduil

                              We ate at La Sandia a few days ago for a late lunch. I was sooo excited to try it after reading the menu and having a difficult time choosing what to order! We ordered the mushroom huaraches to start, carnitas, and fish tacos. While nothing tasted bad, nothing was really delicious either. The best part of the restaurant was the salsa that came with the chips. Very tasty! :)

                              1. re: junglekitte

                                I agree with everything you've said about La Sandia.
                                Zengo is much better.
                                The beef short rib udon noodles with shiitake,
                                asparagus, cilantro and hoisin broth was very good as was
                                the scallops al mojo de ajo with bacon-corn-edamame salsa
                                and roasted garlic soy.

                            2. Being out of town for a few weeks caused us to miss the openings of the Dining Deck, but I checked it out at lunchtime yesterday.

                              Wandered down to Sonoma Wine Garden - which is a great setup with a small bar, large patio and terrace with the ocean views.

                              Menu was interesting and reasonably priced. Had the white wine bites - two crostini with smoked salmon pate, very good - for $2. Loved the Nectarine - Burrata salad with brentwood sweet corn and mint, it went very well with the house pinot grigio. Did not get a look at the wine list, but it promises to be interesting. Looking forward to some early dinners there, so excited to have a decent place close to home to relax, sip wines & enjoy small plates and the view.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                So I went to Ugo in Culver City, and I know they will have one at Santa Monica Place or do? I ordered a pizza, which was disappointing. So I hope their other menu items are better, because they will be more directly competing with other pizzas here. I'll review further in another thread.

                                1. re: apple7blue

                                  Yes, they do have an Ugo on the second level, I believe.

                                  1. re: Phurstluv

                                    It is a very small cafe in the central circle on the first level. I do not think they serve pizza at this location just gelato, panini, pastries and specialty blended drinks.

                              2. Here's my brief review of our dinner last night at Sonoma Wine Garden:


                                Would definitely go again.