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From LAX to Santa Monica - Where's the best place to eat?

We'll be traveling in August landing at LAX around lunch time. I want us to drive up the coast towards Santa Monica and take in the sights. I know we'll be hungry after our flight and thought we could grab a bite of lunch along the way. We like all types of food but my better half doesn't care for seafood so we can leave those suggestions off.

We're open to something different like a food truck that I've been reading about or really anything. The two main things for us it that it be casual and that it be good. Price range it's that important - that doesn't mean I'm looking to spend $45 for a hamburger and fries - but if it comes highly recommended we would consider it.

Thanks for your help.

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  1. August? You really plan ahead!

    Anyway, I recommend Gjelina.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sushigirlie

      +1 Gjelina in Venice California. Make a reservation but I don't think they're taking them for August just yet.
      Food trucks can be found every Tuesday night at Ocean Park Blvd and Main St behind the museum in Santa Monica, you'll find many good trucks there and they change weekly.
      For a great casual sandwich try Bay Cities Italian Deli and their tasty Godmother with genoa salami, mortadella coppacola, ham, prosciutto, provolone on fresh hot Italian bread.

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      Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
      1517 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

      Gjelina
      1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

    2. For a nice lunch in a pleasant place I like to recommend Le Petit Cafe in Santa Monica, my main reason for planning any SM visit to coincide with midday. Not cheap but reasonable, swell owners (Alsatian, I believe) and pleasant staff. They have good takes on bistro food, and good American as well. Last time I had a very good burger and fries; I'd been hoping for some more of their duck confit, but it was off the menu, and I realized I'd never tried'em on plain American. Good salads, starters, wines by the glass. I usually spend $20-$25, and it's always worth it.

      1. FYI, casual and affordable are going to cost a little bit more depending on where you're coming from. I moved here and had a bit of sticker shock when it came to restaurants in the Santa Monica/Venice area. You can add a good 20% on your bill for the westside premium.

        And most restaurants are pretty casual....most places you can walk in with a sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers and they would serve you.

        My recos:
        $ (<$10 per person)
        La isla Bonita - Mexican Taco Truck in Venice - great ceviche, tacos, tortas and burritos
        http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-isla-bonit...

        In and Out Burger - on Washington Ave in Venice - classic California chain. Look up the "secret menu"

        Abbot's Pizza Kitchen on Abbot Kinney in Venice - salad pizza - fresh salad on a pizza crust. So californian and cheap. good walking neighborhood - same street as Gjelina
        http://www.abbotspizzaco.com/

        $$ (10 - 20 per person
        )Gjelina Take Away. Food is great, but you miss on the ambiance of the restaurant and potential celebrity sighting if you're into that kind of thing. http://www.gjelina.com/Menus/gta.pdf

        Alibi Room if you want to try the famous Kogi korean tacos in a modern bar setting. In Culver City a little bit out of the way from LAX/Santa Monica path, but worth it.
        http://www.alibiroomla.com/home.php

        Father's Office - great burgers & belgian beers. Good gastropub - has salads and good apps. No reservations & a little cramped. Santa Monica on Montana Ave.
        http://www.fathersoffice.com/

        $$$ (you could get lunch for $20-30
        )Gjelina - I like this place as well. But you definitely need reservations. In Venice on Abbot Kinney. Very popular restaurant - small plates, thin crust pizzas.

        Milo & Olive - new restaurant on Wilshire - small restaurant with excellent thin crust pizzas better than Gjelina IMHO and good seasonal salads, pasta dishes.
        http://www.miloandolive.com/

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        Father's Office
        1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

        Alibi Room
        12236 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

        Gjelina
        1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

        Milo and Olive
        2723 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

        3 Replies
        1. re: toffifay

          I don't think Father's Office in San Mo is open for lunch.

          1. re: foodiemahoodie

            Lunch only on weekends at Santa Monica Fathers Office

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            Father's Office
            1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

          2. I think what you would like is "Sauce on Hampton" . One block off Main @ Rose (Venice/Santa Monica area). A true locals favorite with BLD menu (on the web) served all day long which gives you a great variety of outstanding food.

            1. i agree with the Gjelina recommendation. usually it costs me about $20 BEFORE beverage, tax and tip for lunch there.
              (if you arrive around 2:30pm, or so, it is usually pretty easy to get a couple of spots at the communal table(s). ) at 3pm they switch to an abbreviated menu of pizza and charcuterie until 5:30 when they start serving from their dinner menu.
              also, have you ever taken this drive before? the drive "up the coast" is actually about a block east of the coast and all you will see from your car are buildings until you are almost in santa monica. if you plan to get out of your car, and walk a bit, there will be much more to see.

              2 Replies
              1. re: westsidegal

                Gjelina is excellent -- a great example of modern California cuisine -- but they don't take reservations for lunch.

                1. re: nosh

                  Yes they do. I have a reservation for this friday afternoon.