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Lunch Santa Monica or vicinity --- Outdoor Seating a Must

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I know there are a number of posts here about lunch in Santa Monica, but I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction.

We're flying in from Buffalo and driving out to Palm Springs and wanted to stop somewhere for lunch. I was thinking Santa Monica was convenient. Looking for somewhere casual with outdoor seating. I'm very familar with LA, lived here for 3 months.

I was thinking of going somewhere on Abbott Kinney -- I looked at Gjelina or Joe's (I have been to Joe's a number of times). Although, Gjelina has gotten mixed reviews on these boards.

Huckleberry also appealed to me, but it's hard for me to tell what their outdoor seating situation is.

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  1. Joe's would be good, as would Gjelina. You might take a look at the Buffalo Club. They have a really nice patio out back.

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    Buffalo Club
    1520 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404

    Joe's
    1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291

    1. Huckleberry has a few two tops on the sidewalk on busy Wilshire, that's it. Doubt you can reserve them, either, and I always see a line when I drive by them.

      Abbott Kinney is Venice. Gjelina is really good, but very popular and hard to get into. I went by at lunchtime about two months ago and there was a line out the door.

      In that same area is Primitivo, which has a nice patio and is open for lunch. Decent food, large portions, IIRC.

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      Primitivo
      1025 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

      1. Charming little French place on Main St. in Santa Monica called Madame Chou Chou. Good food.
        Lovely French couple runs it. Very nice patio in the back.
        Joe's is also very good.

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        Main St Cafe
        450 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245

        Madame Chou Chou
        2518 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

        1. other options that come to mind:
          26 Beach
          Wilshire
          Gaby's Mediterranean
          Coast at Shutters
          Lilly's Cafe
          Babalu
          Urth Caffe

          i guess it also depends on your budget and the type of food you want.

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          26 Beach
          3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

          Wilshire Restaurant
          2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404

          Urth Caffe
          2327 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

          Lilly's French Cafe & Bar
          1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

          Babalu
          1002 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

          Coast
          One Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

          4 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            you should check out whist at the viceroy hotel. they have a great lunch menu and a lot of patio seating.

            1. re: goodeats

              I personally love the patio at Whist & have had nothing but good food & wine there.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                Do they still serve fried artichokes? Man, those things were good!

                1. re: aching

                  Have not seen those, but they are in season, so one could hope!

          2. I suggest Zengo or Sonoma Wine Garden on the rooftop of Santa Monica Place. I've had good (not great) food at those places and it should be easy for you to get a nice table with a view. I would rule out Huckleberry, and neither Gjelina nor Joe's comes to mind when I think casual with outdoor seating.

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            Zengo
            395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            Sonoma Wine Garden
            395 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            Gjelina
            1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

            1. I can't think of anything at all "mixed" about Gjelina's reviews 'round here: the food gets near-unanimously high marks; difficulty getting in gets near-unanimously low marks.

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              Gjelina
              1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ciao Bob

                Gjelina is fabulous, and very close to LAX.

                Another outdoor idea is the patio at Ocean and Vine at the Loews. Overlooks the beach and The Pier.

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                Ocean and Vine
                1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401

                1. re: yogachik

                  A another big yes to both Gjelina and Blue Plate Oysterette. Just know both are very busy and they don't take reservations at Blue Plate

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                  Gjelina
                  1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

              2. Blue Plate Oysterette has outdoor seating, good food and an ocean view.

                2 Replies
                1. re: maudies5

                  Agreed on Blue Plate Oysterette, good seafood, outdoor seating, ocean view.

                  1. re: Robert Thornton

                    Love Blue Plate for the fried clams, lobster mac & cheese and nice white wines. Note that parking can be hard, and getting there on the early side is better, I've found. They open at 11:30. Sitting outside there can be chilly if the wind is coming off the ocean.

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                    Blue Plate
                    1415 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                2. Because you don't say if this is a mid week or weekend lunch I'll just say that one of the most beautiful patios in the greater Los Angeles area can be found at Michael's in Santa Monica. Lunch only Monday through Friday.

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                  Michael's Restaurant
                  1147 3rd St., Santa Monica, CA 90403