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First time visitor, staying in Santa Monica

Hi all,

I'm visiting LA for the first time tomorrow and looking for some suggestions.

1) Casual places for breakfast, lunch, and late night drinks and bites in walking distance of the Sea Shore Motel (Main St at Ocean Park Blvd). Looking for places I can sit at the bar or feel comfortable at a small table by myself. Take out or food trucks are good too. For drinks, a selection of Cali microbrews on tap is a plus.

2) Comfortable coffeeshops or other places with WiFi where I can get some work done. Great coffee (not drip) and real espresso pulls a plus.

3) Ideas for nicer dinners anywhere around town. I'm especially interested in types of cuisines and preparations that are hard to find or not as good on the East Coast -- I'm visiting from Philadelphia and NYC restaurants are accessible to me.

I don't want anything super high-end, but besides that price is not really a concern. However, appropriate quality for the money is always appreciated and I'm not really interested in places that put style over substance.

Thanks!

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  1. Every Tuesday night on Main Street and Ocean Park behind the California Heritage Museum is food truck night from 5:30 to 10pm. The trucks change weekly. Here is a list of truck that will be there on Oct 19th
    Coolhaus
    Kabob N' Roll
    KO Taco
    No Jodas Cuban Kitchen
    Papas Tapas
    Phamish
    Slammin Sliders
    TNB BBQ
    Uncle Lau's
    Vesuvio
    http://laist.com/2010/09/21/food_truc...

    1. Check out:
      Amelia's on Main.
      Intelligentsia on Abbott Kinney.
      Funnel Mill on Broadway.

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      Funnel Mill
      930 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA

      4 Replies
      1. re: sushigirlie

        Thanks. I know Intelligentsia is supposed to be legit, but do any of these spots have great roasts, ground to order cups, proper espresso pulls, real cappuccinos? Hard to get a read from the Yelp reviews because an awful lot of attention is put on food and flavored/soy drinks, not the actual coffee.

        "Their Indonesian Kopi Luwak coffee beans are diverse, rich, and flavorful. I absolutely enjoyed the use of Milan beans as the baseline flavor for my Soy Dark Chocolate Mocha and Soy Vanilla Latte. " (review on Funnel Mill)

        Give me a break!

        1. re: barryg

          Head to Caffe Luxxe on Montana Avenue for the espresso you seek.

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          Caffe Luxxe
          925 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

          1. re: barryg

            I would go to Funnel Mill more for tea rather than coffee. I think that's where they really shine.

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            Funnel Mill
            930 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA

            1. re: mollyomormon

              I think Funnel MIll shines as a place to work.

              Intelligentsia is more than legit. It's coffee is arguably the best in LA.

              Amelia's shines for a casual lunch (esp. sandwiches). And it serves Intelligentsia coffee (though I've never tried it there).

        2. Across the street from your motel is the Basement Tavern. Great place to get a drink or a beer. For a large selection of beers, walk up to The Yard on Broadway at 2nd. It's also a great place to sit at the bar and have dinner, CJ from Top Chef is the chef there and the menu is fantastic.

          For free wifi, walk over to Peets Coffee, where you can get individual french press. It's about a 2 minute walk from Sea Shore.

          Also go sit at the bar at Chinois on Main and have dinner. It's still one of LA's best restaurants. Another idea is to wander down to Chaya Venice, it has a real LA atmosphere, great (consistent) food, and you'll meet all the locals (especially at happy hour).

          For food you won't find anywhere else, head to Abbot Kinney and sit at Gjelina's community table. You'll love it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: yogachik

            +1 for Chinois and Gjelina. Sitting at the counter looking into the kitchen at Chinois is immensely entertaining for a solo diner, and the smaller dishes are the highlight of the menu anyway. Gjelina is my favorite L.A. restaurant of the moment -- find a neighbor to share a pizza with, and be sure to order the butterscoch pot au creme for dessert.

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

            1. re: nosh

              Is Chinois really that great? We went for lunch last week to try it out with their DineLA menu and were SERIOUSLY underwhelmed.

              While I don't expect a restaurant necessarily to have the most complex or inventive dishes for something like DineLA, I do expect the dishes they present to be well prepared -- especially at a Puck restaurant. And from apps to desserts, the best thing we could find to say about our dishes is that some were mediocre.

              This was doubly disappointing because we've had fantastic meals at Spago and Cut, including a wonderful lunch last DineLA at Spago.

          2. I think you can walk to Cora's Coffee Shop (not sure if there's wifi. There's a Coffee Bean not too far away that does I believe have wifi. You could also hoof it to Chez Jay which is sort of Santa Monica's version of the bar in Star Wars.

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            Chez Jay
            1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            Cora's Coffee Shop
            1802 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            1 Reply
            1. re: mc michael

              For solo nice dinner, i recommend the communal high tables at Gjelina on Abbot Kinney in Venice. Great for pizza or amazing small plates and quintessential L.A. Also, sitting around the fire pit at Bar Hayama on Sawtelle could be nice.

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              Bar Hayama
              11300 Nebraska Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025

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

            2. Thanks for the amazing advice, all. Keep it coming and I will let you know how it goes! I'm aiming to hit Gjelina Sunday night if my dinner companions buy into it. The menu look fantastic.

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