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Santa Monica - Good grub recommendations

Hello Chowhounders,

I am a food blogger headed to sunny Santa Monica in 9 days for a blogging conference (IFBC). There will be lots of food at the conference, but I want the freedom to check out good spots that the locals recommend during our down time.

We will be staying near the Santa Monica Pier, so anything within a 20-30 minute walk would be great. I'd even hop in a cab for great food.

We love everything, so hit us with your best shot!

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  1. Here is a link a few months old but it might be a good starting point. Welcome to LA:

    1. Bay Cities is a great Italian Market and Deli. I won't be the only one in this thread recommending their Godmother sandwich, which is just a truly excellent Italian sub, but I'd recommend any sandwich from them or a nice loaf of bread. They are truly fantastic. Order online, it gets hectic in there.

      Wurstkuche is very good for Sausages and Belgian food.

      The whole foods on Lincoln near Rose is HUGE, so if you like shopping at WF, this is the mother of them all.

      I would skip the Indian and Mexican in the area. I'd also skip the places on the Venice boardwalk but YMMV.

      Abbot's Pizza co. is good and there's rumors of other good pizza in the area, I haven't tried them however. Gjelina is a nice restaurant. If you specify something you're after in particular, people can definitely help you out.

      800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

      1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

      3 Replies
      1. re: BrewNChow

        I agree with everything BrewNChow posted except that i've never tried Wurstkuche but i hear it's good. Joe's pizza is really good in Santa Monica. Also, hit up the Wed or Sat Farmers Market!

        800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

        1. re: Clyde

          +1 for Wurstkuche Venice. Great sausages. Love their Rattlesnake & Rabbit with Jalapeño Peppers.

          625 Lincoln Blvd.
          Venice, Ca.

          1. re: wienermobile

            Definitely Wurstkuche, don't forget the beers!

            800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

      2. My two favorite places to eat in Santa Monica are Warsawa and Le Petit Café, the second one being definitely a cab ride. Warsawa (1414 Lincoln) offers Polish food of the more aristocratic sort; Le Petit Café is more of a bistro, owned by an Alsatian (not the canine variety!). Aside from those, there are the recs on the suggested earlier thread; I generally don't think of SM as a foodie destination except for the places I mentioned. One off-the-wall suggestion, if you're around the Civic Center: there's a bowling alley across Pico from there that has (or possibly had) a remarkably good coffee-and-sandwich shop, run by a good and somewhat inventive cook. I was last in it three years ago, though, so it may or may not still be as I remember it.

        Enjoy your visit!

        Le Petit Cafe
        2842 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90404

        1. I really like the great farm to table cuisine at Fig.
          Stella Rosa Pizzeria on Main St.
          and Gjelina, a little farther south in Venice.

          also don't miss the wonderful Santa Monica Farmers market on Wednesdays on Arizona and 2nd Streets.

          Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market
          2nd St and Arizona Ave, Santa Monica, CA

          1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

          100 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

          Stella Rossa Pizza Bar
          2000 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

          2 Replies
          1. re: wienermobile

            i enthusiastically second ALL of wiernermobile's recommendations

            if you go to Fig (which is located inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel) at dinnertime, i recommend that you sit at the bar in front of the charcuterie station, and let Eric, the charcuterie guy, assemble a tour for you of his stuff (especially his cheeses).

            even when you're sitting in front of Eric, you can still order everything else off the regular menu--you won't be limited to charcuterie.

            1. re: wienermobile

              if you go to Stella Rossa, be aware that they open for dinner at 5pm monday through Saturday.
              their hours are more like those of a bar than those of a restaurant.

            2. where do you live?
              would like to try to think of stuff that may be different from what you eat every day. . . .

              2 Replies
              1. re: westsidegal

                Be sure to check out Huckleberry for breakfast and Rustic Canyon for dinner, owned by Josh and Zoe. Two of the best restaurants in S.M.

                1. re: maudies5

                  +1 for Rustic Canyon. Their fried cauliflower is amazingly good.

                  Rustic Canyon Wine Bar
                  1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

              2. I am from Victoria, BC (Canada), so we are used to lots of West Coast fare (seafood, fusion, Asian, etc.). We are adventurous gastronomes so we pretty much enjoy ever culinary delight. I'd say we don't eat a lot of meat, but we will if there is an out of this wordl BBQ joint to try or charcuterie (I'll be looking out for Fig!).

                I will be making a list of all of your recs and checking them out before we go. I have NEVER (really) been to a WF, so I will definitely make that a stop and I already penned in the farmer's market!


                1. Also, anywhere for amazing cocktails?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: guiltykitchen

                    Hungry Cat in Santa Monica Canyon has amazing cocktails and great seafood.

                    The Hungry Cat
                    100 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402

                    1. re: maudies5

                      i tried the cocktails at the other Hungry Cat and they were WAY too sweet to my palate.
                      i'm not much of a fan of simple syrup with my booze. . . .

                      i know i'm in the minority on this call.

                    2. re: guiltykitchen

                      Tasting Kitchen in Venice is great for cocktails. Their food is excellent as well.

                      I would also recommend Musha in Santa Monica for Japanese pub food.

                      424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                      Tasting Kitchen
                      1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291

                    3. Here are some recs for food experiences in the Westside (not just Santa Monica):

                      1. Hot Truck Tuesday Evenings at the Victorian on Main Street Santa Monica - A changing group of gourmet hot trucks. Some run out of food after 9 pm, and lines get longer and longer as the evening goes on.

                      2. Musha Japansese fusion tapas on Wilshire Blvd

                      3. Bay Cities Deli - Italian Sub Sandwiches (Godmother recommended) on Lincoln Blvd.

                      4. Umami Burger in the trendy Fred Segal clothing shopping complex on 5th St.

                      5. Bar Pinxto Spanish Tapas

                      6. Back on the Beach for Breakfast on the Ocean Sand. OK Breakfast. Eat ont eh sand and Santa Monica bike path. Rent bicycles or rollerblades nearby.

                      Cab ride away. Grab a bunch of your fellow food bloggers and try these places. Rent a car or share a taxi.

                      7. Chego on Overland Blvd in Culver City is Roy Choi's (Of Kogi BBQ fame) Casual approach on Korean Fusion ricebowls. Two blocks south is from Scoops Unique ice cream concoctions. Two East is Simpang Asia, an Indonisian Cafe where you can try shaved ice deserts and indonesian dessert pastiries in addition to Indonesian street foods.

                      8. Mexican restaurants popular on the Westside are Tacos Por Favor(check hours if going at night) on Olympic in Santa Monica and Monte Alban Oaxacan food on Santa Monica Blvd in West LA. Monte Alban is known for it's Moles, Chicken Soup, adn clayuda (Mexican Pizza) and fresh juices.

                      9. Baby Blues BBQ on Lincoln is a Memphis Syle BBQ place with funky music playing. Recommend the Giant Beef Rib (Prime rib on the Bone) and collard greens.

                      10. "LIttle Teheran" is Westwood Blvd in Westwood with Persian shops, ice cream and many restaurants. My recommendation is Javan on Santa Monica Blvd W of the main concentration. Favorite dishes are Ash Joe barley/lentil/red bean soup, Fezenjahn walnut/pomegrananate chicken stew and beef or chicken koubideh(ground meat on skewers).

                      11. Lemonade gourmet salad bar (also seafood, stews and soups) in Venice on Abott Kinney. Abbott Kinney Blvd may merit stroll.

                      12. "Little Osaka" Japanese area on Sawtelle Ave N of Olympic. Places to go Hurry Curry (Japanese Curry on nooodles/rice), Yuu Japanese tapas/sushi, Orris Asian fusion tapas, Volcano boba milkd tea, slushes and shaved ice, ToFo Ya Korean hot tofu and other dishes, Sawtelle Kitchen for 1/2 price appetizers, desserts, wines/beers during Happy hour (which seems to be all night weekdays). Great area to walk around.

                      13. Waterloo & City high quality Tapas. Tehy call themselves English Pub food, but it is much better. Across the Street is another Roy Choi restaurant "A Frame" that has strong flavored Asian fusion adventure foods. Two blocks away is a bar Alibi which serves the Korean Tacos and Korean Breakfast burrito Roy Choi made famous on his hot truck.

                      14, Versailles Cuban Food on Venice Blvd in Culver City. There are several locations, but this is the closest, the original and the best. Order the combination chicken/roast pork.

                      15. Ethnic areas that really need a car to get to ... but for food bloggers from out fo town are worth making the effor to go to are Koreatown and Del Mar Square in San Gabriel.

                      BARS to try:
                      16. Casa Del Mar 5 star hotel bar with the night time view of the Santa Monica Pier.

                      17. Shangri La Pool Bar with the beautiful people. Upstairs can get breezy this time of year. They also have a downstairs pool areas.

                      18. High Bar at the Hotel Erwin in Venice has a narrow bar on the roof with couches facing outward. Great to watch the sun set on the Ocean, but can get chilly this time of year.

                      19. Zengo Asian/Latin fusion restaurant at the 4th Floor of Santa Monica Place Mall has a $35 all you can eat/drink Sunday brunch where you just keep ordering off their menu. Great fun for a group of young foodies.

                      These should keep you busy.


                      Monte Alban
                      11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                      Baby Blues BBQ
                      444 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                      Fred Segal
                      500 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                      424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                      Casa Del Mar
                      1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                      Simpang Asia
                      10433 National Blvd 2, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                      Sawtelle Kitchen
                      2024 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                      Hurry Curry
                      37 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                      Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

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

                      Back on the Beach
                      445 Palisades Beach Rd, Santa Monica, CA

                      Del Mar Cafe
                      712 S Del Mar Ave, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                      Main Street Cafe
                      12939 Main St, Garden Grove, CA 92840

                      3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                      395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: altstarr

                        zengo also serves an excellent margarita which is also available as a happy hour special.

                        1. re: altstarr

                          This is a fascinating list that I, personally, would call (with apologies to altstarr) extensive-but-very-hit-or-miss. There are quite a few excellent, and quite few mediocre-to-bad, suggestions. For the OP, the latter includes Zengo, Versailles [blech], most trucks, and Baby Blues....these places will not make your blogging-bell ring at all.

                          On the other hand these items are highly worthy of your attention and likely to gain your affection:

                          2. Musha

                          7. Simpang Asia

                          8. Monte Alban (also look up Tacomiendo) but not Tacos por Favor

                          10. The Persian Corridor

                          12. Sawtelle has alot of goodness (Robataya and Nanbankan)

                          15. Go the San Gabriel and K-Town if you can, for sure.

                          Have fun.

                          Monte Alban
                          11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                          424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                          4502 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

                          Simpang Asia
                          10433 National Blvd 2, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                          395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                        2. I second the Gjelina recommendation. It's such a great place. And GuiltyKitchen, I'm going to IFBC too - hope to meet you!

                          1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cathyeats

                            re: gjelina
                            be aware that they are often jammed at the 'normal" meal hours and that they only offer an abbreviated menu from 3pm to 5:30pm and after 10pm.
                            i normally try to time my visits to be there at 2pm, after the normal lunch crowd has thinned out but before they go to the abbreviated menu.
                            i'm told that going in at exactly 5:30 pm, when they switch to the regular dinner menu, is also a good way to go.

                          2. If you get the chance def try the food trucks in the area, a great experience.
                            Also, urth cafe is one of the best spanish lattes ever! & yummy fruit tart.
                            The lobster is amazing food. Great view at sunset
                            True food in the new mall on promenade( across from nordstroms) great! Along with the places at the top.

                            1. Ye Olde King's Head is a cool English pub not far from the Pier. Standard British food - good fish & chips, bangers & mash etc. It's also a great place to watch Euro soccer. The English and Spanish games draw a big crowd.

                              Ye Olde King's Head
                              116 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401