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Best Local Type Chains in Burbank/Santa Monica/Oxnard/Ventura Areas?

We're flying into Burbank airport, using Southern California as starting point for driving up the PCH. Our flight is scheduled to arrive around 1 p.m., and we'd love to have a nice lunch. We're also looking for a place for dinner.

Here's the catch - with airline schedules being what they are, I have no idea when we will arrive. If it's late, we'll just stay in Burbank. If we arrive on time, we might drive to Santa Monica, then head up Highway 1. If we arrive somewhat late, we might drive to Oxnard or Ventura and spend the first night. In other words, I don't have any idea where we will be for dinner!

Here's the question: are there any good (great) reliable chain type places in Southern California, where I could plug it into my GPS and be taken to a decent meal - regardless of my general So Cal location?

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  1. Houston's in Santa Monica. If you need something either very late, or very early, the Pacific Dining Car (also in Santa Monica) is open 24/7 and the Hillstone Group (Houston's, Bandera) also has R+D Kitchen on Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. One very nice thing, (among others) about Hillstone Group restaurants is that they are "corkage" free if you want to take a bottle of wine for dinner.

    Houston's Restaurant
    202 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

    Pacific Dining Car
    2700 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

    R+D Kitchen
    1323 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      +1 for Houston's. The Santa Monica location of Houston's is now called Hillstone (after it's parent company) same food same menu. Just a name change.

    2. Burbank has branches of Morton's and of Poquito Mas.

      Poquito Mas
      2635 W Olive Ave, Burbank, CA 91505

      Morton's the Steakhouse-Burbank
      3400 West Olive Avenue, Burbank, CA 91505

      1. Another good chain is our area is Roy's for Hawaiian fusion. Many locations in LA area.

        Also the Charthouse on PCH in Malibu and Marina del Ray.

        Roy's Restaurant
        641 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101

        Chart House Restaurant - Malibu
        18412 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

        Chart House Restaurant - Marina del Rey
        13950 Panay Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292

        1. Any suggestions about casual type places?

          I recently asked the same question for a trip to the Vancouver area and the recommendations were places called White Spot, Earls, and Cactus Club. They were a step above fast food, but with lots and lots of locations. I think I was able to find a White Spot within 5 miles of anyplace in Vancouver. It a Vancouver go-to standard when you need relatively quick and good food.

          10 Replies
            1. re: mc michael

              I have to laugh at this a bit. This is the antithesis of what we are usually being asked for here. I'm at a bit of a loss to recommend something that is everywhere, but still chowish. What springs to mind is Taco Bell and McDonalds and Carl's or even 7 Eleven. But I wouldn't send my worst enemy to any of them for a good meal.

              1. re: Servorg

                How about these local chains: Mendocino Farms, Veggie Grill or Umami Burger? Locations all over LA.

                and of course In 'n Out Burger.

                Veggie Grill
                720 S Allied Way, El Segundo, CA 90245

                Umami Burger
                12159 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                Mendocino Farms
                4724 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292

                1. re: wienermobile

                  I guess. More so, now that I think about it would be In 'n Out http://www.in-n-out.com/ or possibly the Counter.

                  The Counter
                  4786 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

                  1. re: Servorg

                    +1 on the Counter

                    Not as good, but also a local burger chain is Tommy's, famous for their chili burgers.

                    Not sure where OP is coming from but may not have experienced CPK, California Pizza Kitchen, they have decent salads and pasta in addition to the pizza they sell in the markets.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      ooh, Tommy's is a good idea! but CPK is in 30+ states and 12 countries(!) so i'd skip it.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Wasn't sure how far the CPK empire had spread, seems like the ingredients for a lot of their food is right here, so I doubt it would be the same experience elsewhere, but you never know!!

                  2. re: Servorg

                    I think Poquito Mas is a cut above the chains you mention, but I do agree with you and appreciate the irony of the inquiry. For example, although not by hand, they do make tortillas fresh on the spot. And their ahi tacos are decent. Zankoo quality varies but I have had pretty good luck ordering their chicken wrap with the white chicken kabob meat. Takes 10-15 minutes but it's worth it. Costs just a little more than the regular wrap.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      I know this in not the normal post. But, we can't always have the absolute best and are occasionally in situations where we can't drive long distances to get good food. My challenge is I'll have no idea what part of Southern California I'll be in and what time I'll be there. I know that many areas do have local type chains that do good food - not the national chains you mentioned, because I can get those right here. In-and-Out sounds like a good option. I've heard of In-and-Out before and never experienced it. Also, some of eating is for the "experience", and not necessarily the food. Hope this all makes sense!

                2. I always like Joe's Crab Shack - there is one in Ventura. Fun place with delicioud seafood. http://joescrabshack.com/default.aspx
                  Definitely try In-N-Out. In Vancouver, go to Banana Leaf - fantastic!! http://www.bananaleaf-vancouver.com/

                  1. Santa Monica is awash in restaurants. You won't need a GPS to find one--simply drive down Wilshire Blvd--every third storefront is a restaurant for 3 miles. Wilshire Blvd. ends at Ocean and a right turn and then a left on the California Incline will get you to PCH (Route 1). SImilarly, on PCH in Malibu there are some ok restaurants, taco stands, thai places, etc. Also some high end places you could find with a couple of Chowhound searches. There are essentially no other commercial roads in Malibu besides PCH, so again, if you arm yourself with some addresses, you won't get lost finding them. As you go north on PCH, the restaurants thin out to zero (chains or one-offs) and you will have to travel for 45 minutes or so to Oxnard and route 101 before you can find much more in the way of food (except for one biker bar right before Port Hueneme).
                    I can tell you that there are a couple of In N Outs on the 101 on your way north to Ventura--notably one close to the outlets near Camarillo. At Telephone Road in Ventura there is a mall to your right that has a bunch of little fast foodish chains, too. Not memorable--but where my Ventura colleagues would eat lunch.

                    Burbank is an easy airport to maneuver, and you will probably be out of LA before rush hour, so it will be a lot easier than you are contemplating.

                    1. I'm not so clear as to why you want chain restaurants. Is it because you're more comfortable with them? Is it because you're afraid the GPS won't cover independently owned places? Wouldn't the point of going to a new place be to experience the local food?
                      That being said, Poquito Mas is decent and Umami Burger is certainly worth a try.

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

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: JeMange

                        I guess I'm not doing a good job of explaining why I'm looking for a chain type restaurant. Typically, that's not what I want or the general type of food I'm looking for.

                        In the best situation, I'd be asking you all (or searching) to find the best places to eat in Southern California. If my time schedule was a bit different, I'd plan everything around making a trip to that special restaurant I've picked out. However, on this trip, our timing will not be perfect, meaning I'm not sure where I'll be in the general area of Southern Cal. Part of it is flying from the east coast....I'm not sure exactly how hungry will we be or what type food we will want. I've flown from east to west before and wanted a light lunch, other times been ready for a nice relaxed dinner. I'm just not sure. Also, we might be tired from the full day of flying - I don't want to drive 1 hour to get to a special place. If we get in BUR early enough, we have to make one stop (at a store I want to visit), then we plan to head on up toward to PCH. If we get in late, we plan to spend the night in BUR and head off the next morning. In other words, I don't know where I'll be - thus, the vague title of the post (Burbank, Santa Monica, Oxnard, Ventura)

                        This is a time where I'm making some compromise. However, I was looking to get help so I didn't just pull into some random restaurant OR just find anything on my GPS and go there OR just decide to eat at McDonalds. I was hoping to find something that might be unique to Southern California.

                        To some of the more specific suggestions:
                        CPK - I first ate in a CPK in LA, I think in Beverly Center. It might have been 20 years ago. We now have a local CPK, so that's no longer unique to me.
                        Banana Leaf in Vancouver - We eat there all the time! That's a great example of a small chain. I think they started on Denman and now have 4 locations in the city. It's a great go-to type of place.
                        Joe's Crab Shack - I'm pretty sure that's a national chain.

                        1. re: wintersummer

                          Given your further explanation I would suggest that Umami should go to the head of your list. But really, if you give the folks here sufficient time, they can come up with a variety of suggestions that will include non chain places in each of the locations where you will be, that should cover any time/eating eventuality you find yourself in.

                          1. re: wintersummer

                            Yes, Joe's Crab Shack is a national chain - but it is still delicious! and fun!

                            1. re: wintersummer

                              Okay, if you're looking for a "local" chain in Ventura County, I would suggest either Bandits BBQ (Thousand Oaks, Camarillo), or Toppers Pizza (locations countywide). Wood Ranch BBQ is another good SoCal chain.

                              1. re: asimen

                                Or Yolanda's for Mexican. Or Brents Deli (Westlake, Northridge).

                          2. There is a Daily Grill across from Burbank airport. Not a local chain anymore, but it started here--an imitation of the Grill on the Alley in BH.