Culinary Tour in Santa Monica area
I work for a large coffee company in Product Development and will be going on a Culinary Tour in the Santa Moinca area on Friday and am looking for new and unique places to eat and drink. We are not looking for formal seating or too upscale. We are looking for cafes, bakeries, ice cream shops, fun lunch spots, etc... Since we are based out of LA, we have been to the usual places that always come up in searches. Where are the hidden gems? We will probably go to 4-8 places depending on the extent and uniqueness of the menu items. Let's see the suggestions!
From what you describe I would send you to Bay Cities Italian Deli, Wurstküche Venice, Sunny Blue for their Homemade Omusubi on Main Street, Milo and Olive and their wonderful pizzas and sweets, Sweet Rose Creamery for ice cream and the Saturday Santa Monica Farmers Market on Arizona and 3rd Street.
Bay Cities Italian Deli
1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Sweet Rose Creamery
225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049
sunny blue cafe
2728 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Milo and Olive
2723 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Other places that might work for you is Lemonade Venice and their wonderful choice of dozens of salads (and you can try as many as you'd like at this cafeteria style cafe), Abbot's Pizza and their bagel crust & Gjelina to Go all on Abbot Kinney just a few blocks apart.
Abbot's Pizza Co
1407 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
great suggestions. I found Lemonade on my last culinary tour and love it and go back all the time! Abbot's Pizza is my favorite and i have been going there ever since i moved to the marina. They have great topping options and excellent bagel crust. Gjelina's menu looks interesting and I will definitley go there on my own, but that is a little out of the rhelm of what I am looking for. It is a little too upscale for us. Honestly we are looking for ideas to incorporate into our coffee shops. As of now, i definitley plan on going to funnel mill and sweet rose creamery to give you an idea of the direction of where we are going so far, but need a great place like Lemonade for lunch.
Amandine might be worth a look as well. Their formula is high-quality Japanese-style French patisserie/cafe at reasonable prices. While they might have fallen out of favor with some hounds due to places like Huckleberry and Milo & Olive (they also have great pastries but totally different styles), I am still drawn back to them time and again. All three places mentioned are on Wilshire, and are about five-10 minutes from each other.
Something to learn from Huckleberry (IMHO) is seating and noise. I love the edibles there, but the seating is awful and the noise is worse. I never eat there any more, and I'd go there more often to grab stuff to go, but the elbow-to-asses environment and the decibel issue kill my will. Milo & Olive is similar, but not nearly as bad. The expansive open kitchen and relatively small dining area seems to reduce the issue.
Another interesting thing about Milo & Olive is how they start out doing breakfast and selling baked goods to doing really good pizzas/pastas/salads in the PM. Gjelina To Go (GTA) is similar in daliy timeline, but they are strictly to go (or grab a milk crate and eat outside).
One thing that now seems to be de rigueur in a successful eatery formula is the oven - the wood-fired oven. The results are amazing in the right hands.
Have you been to Amelia's on Main, across from the Heritage Museum?
Amelia's is run by a husband/wife team and their son. It's a small space with very personal customer service....perhaps 8 small tables at the most. They serve wonderful espresso, pastries and delicious breakfast sandwiches and panini.
For what you seem to be looking for I think you'd like it.