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Good dinner rec in Santa Monica/Venice/even Brentwood area?

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Ok, so here is the deal. I'm a Boston hound and posted previously about looking for places to eat near my Santa Monica hotel (Sheraton Delfina) and got some great recs, so thanks.

Now....my good friend lives over near Silver Lake, but works in Hollywood. We're trying to figure out what to do for dinner tonight. Friday night. He thinks if I try to make it over toward him, I'll get stuck in nightmare traffic on the 10, heading east to meet him.

So, now we're trying to figure out where we could go that might be a little bit closer to me. Last night we went to James Beach in Venice which was pretty good. I liked the vibe there too. Ideally I'd like a spot with some energy, just a relaxed, casual place with good, fresh, local food. We can stay here --Santa Monica, travel to Venice or somewhere else not to far from there, even Brentwood. But he doesn't spend ALOT of time on this side of the city so doesn't have a ton of recs.

Thoughts? Caveat: not looking for anything too fancy and/or expensive. That being said we had an amazing meal at Pizzeria Mozza (or was it osteria mozza?) Whichever one is the more "casual" spot --small place and we actually sat at the bar. That is totally my type of restaurant. Great food, passionate people working and cooking there, busting with people and just a fun night out. Anything similar somewhere not too far from here? Sorry to be so general, but I think we're up for most types of food, probably not Indian or Chinese/Japanese but Italian, Californian, even Thai or just good local "american comfort" all would be great.

Thanks in advance, appreciate any help you can offer in the next two hours :)

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James Beach
60 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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  1. Sounds like a place such as Tavern up in Brentwood would be a good choice.

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    Tavern
    11648 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

    3 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Try and get a table in the bar at Tavern. You will then have the option from ordering from the Bar menu and/or the dining room menu. Great bar vibe. If no tables available, eat at bar. Fun! Burgers and fries are great. Lots of good appetizers.

      1. re: maudies5

        Hmm. Like how this place looks, but the dinner menu looked a bit heavy and kind of pricey. Like the idea of sitting at the bar, and would like it even more if I hadn't had an in n out burger at lunch ;)
        Can you think of any spots similar to this with more of an italian slant? Thinking I might be up for pasta tonight. Going to check out the pomodoro site now.

        1. re: twentyoystahs

          Bar Toscana
          Toscana (same place, but not in the bar)

          Love Pecorino, nice low key atmosphere, much quieter than Toscana.

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          Pecorino Restaurant
          11604 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

          Toscana Restaurant
          11633 San Vicente Blvd Ste 100, Los Angeles, CA 90049

    2. www.pomodorowestwood.com

      1. I love Gjelina in Venice. Great California cuisine. Really good pizzas. My favorite pizza is their Caramelized Fennel, Confit Tomato, Green Onion, Mozzarella & Spicy Fennel Salami. Casual but very busy. Nice patio. They server till midnight every night. Save room for dessert and try the Butterscotch Pot de Crème with Salted Caramel & Crème Fraiche.
        http://www.gjelina.com/

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

        5 Replies
        1. re: wienermobile

          So many choices!!!!

          Gjelina
          Chaya Venice
          3110 Main
          Primitivo
          Penthouse at the Huntley
          Bar Pintxo
          The Wilshire (and then go to Angel's afterward)

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          Chaya Venice
          110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291

          Bar Pintxo
          109 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

          Primitivo
          1025 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

          1. re: yogachik

            Penthouse at the Huntley sucks except for the view

            1. re: prainer

              that has not been my experience at the Penthouse.
              i've only gone there once, but the food was excellent and the service was exceptional.
              ymmv

              1. re: prainer

                Totally agree. I regularly have business dinners there and the food is overpriced and mediocre.

            2. re: wienermobile

              At Gjelina, be prepared to wait in line for a table on a busy Friday night, or eat at the communal table, if the other AK hipsters haven't beat you to it.

            3. The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney. Redefining California cuisine via Oregon...

              http://www.thetastingkitchen.com/

              1. Yes, Tavern is expensive!

                I second the Primitivo recommendation - good food!

                Houston's (now Hillstone) in Santa Monica is a chain, but fits what you're looking for too... energy, relaxed, casual, good fresh food. Westside Tavern (no relation to Tavern) is also similar to Hillstone and also fits the bill.

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                Westside Tavern
                10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                2 Replies
                1. re: Ginger9

                  i've been to WestsideTavern a number of times and I have never had anything really good there, the prices were exceptionally high for what was served, and the service has been poor to fair.

                  that said, my take on the place is the minority opinion on this board.

                  re: houstons, i often go to the one in manhattan beach and like the place. The price/quality/quantity ratios have been good, the service has been good, and the free corkage they offer rings my bell.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    I think Ginger was talking about the Tavern on San Vicente in Brentwood rather than Westside Tavern at the Westfield Mall on Pico.