Looking for suggestions...Santa Monica
My girlfriends and I are heading to California from Canada to enjoy a quick spring getaway. We arrive on a Friday and looking for three things:
1)a nice place for dinner,
2)some suggestions for cocktails
3) live music. Blues, Jazz or somethng not too heavy
I have about driven myself crazy looking at different restaurants. The concierge at the hotel recommended for restaurants Ocean Avenue Seafood, BOA and Sushi Roku. For some reason I am not convinced that this is the taste of california we are looking for.
Appreciate any suggestions..Thanks
Gjelina for dinner. It is on Abbott Kinney in Venice, just south of Santa Monica. You will need a reservation -- ask for the back patio. California cuisine, much of it from the woodburning oven. Share a pizza to start -- I like the lamb sausage. Veggies -- broccolini, asparagus, cauliflower -- from that oven. Gnocchi, the simpler the better. A wonderful small pork belly over polenta with greens. Mostly smaller plates to share. Save room for the butterscotch pot de creme for dessert.
For more affordable places (for lunches maybe), Tender Greens in Santa Monica and Lemonade in Venice are light and healthy and (imo) very "California". Umami Burger, less light and healthy, but good burgers.
Killer Shrimp in Marina Del Rey is a favorite of ours (if you're staying through a Monday, their signature Killer Shrimp and Bread dish is only $10 in the bar area on Mondays, and it's not eating at the bar, but rather a whole section of tables with TVs tuned to sports), very casual, and they have some fun cocktails too.
I really like Joe's Restaurant in Venice for dinner but I haven't been in a while.
Oh, since the hotel mentioned Sushi Roku, for inexpensive-but-still-decent sushi in Santa Monica: Ninjin or Sushi King. I haven't tried Sugarfish in SM; it's more expensive,but some people swear by it. If you venture out of SM, there's a ton of good affordable sushi restaurants like Hide, Irori, Masu. Less affordable but of commensurate quality (from what I've read--I've not tried all of these places...yet) are Shunji, Hiko, Sasabune, Zo, Mori.
My favorite cocktails and also love the food: The Tasting Kitchen.
Other favorite dinner spots: Fig (walking distance from the three restaurants you mentioned--in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, if that's where you're staying), Gjelina.
Tasting Kitchen is on Abott Kinney - down the street from Gjelina - and that's one of the more happening areas in the city. Rustic Canyon on Wilshire - nothing muchgoing on there. Food is comparable however. Tasting Kitchen more upscale.
If you want to do a serious splurge - Melisse is L.A.'s premier fine dining restaurant. Get the "10" or the carte blanche menu. Pricey yes (but a bargain compared to, say, Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas). There's a lot of good choices listed here (and a few not so good). Here's a pretty comprehensive list.
The Hungry Cat
Sam's at the Beach
I imagine you are staying at Delfina. Fig is not very celebratory, although it is very good. I highly recommend Tasting Kitchen or even Chaya Venice, or maybe Chinois, for a fun night out. Since you're near Pico, head to Main Street or Abbot Kinney.
Not a lot of live blues or jazz around here, sorry. Harvelle's is your only choice for that.
Second Hungry Cat- especially the cocktails. If they still have the kumquat martini....ohhhh god it's amazing....the place is very Cali!! I also love the Tasting Kitchen in Venice- great cocktails as well as wine, but make a rez NOW!!! Also check out Oscars on Rose in Venice...I love the ambiance, especially with these warm nights we've been having...
With Gjelina booked, I'll throw in a rec for Chinois on Main. Wolfgang Puck's original fusion restaurant, with very bold flavors. Dishes served to share. Can be a bit loud and boisterous, but the fun atmosphere is intensified by the 80s over-the-top decoration. Almost all of the dishes accompanied by mini-salads of little lettuces and herbs with very delicious sauces. I love just about anything from their deep-fryer. Order more of the smaller, starter dishes and share perhaps one of the larger plates -- the sliced grilled beef tenderloin in Szechwan sauce and the whole fried catfish in ponzu are alltime winners. Excellent service. Often neglected for all the newcomers, but was my SoCal favorite and still an excellent choice.
A late update maybe, but we liked Fig so much we went twice. Particularly for the figgy pudding. So delicious. Love the atmosphere and the food was fab.
You might enjoy the new jazz club in Venice. Free admission after midnight ($10 before); and best of all, no drink minimum:
This would be a quick cab ride from your hotel. And if you decide to dine somewhere on Abbot Kinney beforehand, you will be quite close to the club.
You could also take the Big Blue Bus #3, that goes right by your hotel on Pico, but the club location isn't the loveliest part of town after dark.
(Oops, saw the datestamp on this after the fact...but maybe this will help a future reader.)