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Kid Friendly breakfast and lunch in Santa Monica?

celeste Aug 6, 2012 02:36 PM

We'll be in Santa Monica at the Shore Hotel from Thursday-Sunday with our 3 year old twins. The hotel has no restaurant so we'll be under pressure to find decent food soon after they wake up on Friday!

I'm looking for recommendations for casual (but good!) breakfast and lunch options in the area. (My kids are well behaved but I don't want to be going high end with them.) Also a casual but good dinner spot for Friday that isn't a chain?? Extra points for actually healthy food. So far in looking through the boards I see Huckleberry and Swingers mentioned for breakfast. Rustic Canyon for dinner? Or Gjelina?

Also, any great coffee in Santa Monica?

And finally, for bonus points, we actually might be up in Topanga Canyon at dinnertime on Friday instead of Santa Monica (wedding rehearsal). Anything good for dinner there with kids??

Many thanks in advance for any thoughts!

  1. Servorg Aug 6, 2012 02:57 PM

    Breakfast at Cora's (maybe a 5 minute walk from your hotel) http://www.corascoffee.com/ Good coffee and breakfast less than a mile from your hotel on Mains St. at Urth Cafe http://www.urthcaffe.com/ Another excellent coffee place is Funnel Mill - also less than a mile from your hotel http://www.funnelmill.com/

    4 Replies
    1. re: Servorg
      Dirtywextraolives Aug 7, 2012 03:53 PM

      I can just imagine the hipsters look on their faces when she arrives w. two 3 year olds at Urth. There's not much there that my kids would eat, maybe hers will eat there....

      1. re: Dirtywextraolives
        Servorg Aug 7, 2012 04:00 PM

        "There's not much there that my kids would eat, maybe hers will eat there...."

        Come now. I've seen plenty of families in there at breakfast time. And if your kids won't eat fruit bowls, or granola or eggs or pastries or omelets or waffles, etc. then I'm going to have to wonder what the heck they will eat for breakfast?

        1. re: Servorg
          Dirtywextraolives Aug 7, 2012 06:52 PM

          Guess we missed those offerings. I recall stopping in at lunchtime, anyway, not breakfast. My ten y.o. was not impressed.

        2. re: Dirtywextraolives
          PeterCC Aug 7, 2012 04:05 PM

          My older daughter loves the tomato soup there and the caprese sandwich. Though, as you implied below, I find places where it's difficult to find seating like Huckleberry and Urth to definitely be... troubling for kids with lack of patience, a.k.a., most kids. :-)

      2. n
        nosh Aug 6, 2012 03:07 PM

        Celeste, assuming you'll have a car:

        For that dinner near Topanga Canyon -- where the Pacific Coast Highway meets Topanga Canyon , just south and on the inland side of the coast, is the Reel Inn. Casual seafood. Order at the counter sort of place. Good selection of simply grilled seafood -- I forget if they have fried items as well.

        For lunch in Santa Monica -- Bay Cities Deli, on Lincoln (8th) south of Santa Monica Blvd. north of Olympic, east side of street. Known for their outstanding Italian rolls and their Godmother sandwich, an assortment of Italian cold cuts. Fairly long lines at lunch, but prepared Godmothers (with the works) can be grabbed from a basket on the counter or behind the cashiers. I actually like the hot side better (to the right, closer to the entrance) which rarely has any line -- meatball subs, lasagna, mac'n'cheese for the kids, some daily specials. A SoCal favorite, closed Mondays.

        If you find yourself on the Santa Monica pier, foot of Colorado at Ocean, Pier Burgers does some simple burgers and fries. The reason I mention it is they have frozen custard, and make a mean "concrete" with various flavorings and mix-ins. A "concrete" is a thicker shake, without any milk, so thick it can supposedly be held upside-down. I won't pay $8 pier parking to get one, but when dropped off one day I really enjoyed mine, and the burger was good, too.

        Gjelina is my favorite restaurant in the area these days. If you go right when they open for lunch, or early afternoon (after 2, but before they limit the menu for late-afternoon) the kids should be no problem. My favorite pizza (yes, I've had Mozza, Stella Rossa, and I live close to 800 Degrees) with a very thin crust charred from the woodburning oven. Good, often garlicky, veggies, interesting salads, small plates, all served to share. Save room for the butterscotch pot de creme, an awesome dessert. On Abbott Kinney not far from Venice Beach.

        You have Tartine, so I'm not sure if Huckleberry will compare. To be honest, it is a bit precious for me -- lines, hassle securing a table, prices. My favorite bakery for a light breakfast is just east in W.L.A. (Brentwood) -- Amandine, on the north side of Wilshire the second block west of Bundy -- street parking or a small lot in the back. Omelettes are ok, but their french toast (thick-cut brioche, optional toppings) and quiche are excellent. My favorite croissant in town. All of their cream or berry pies/tarts/whatevers are great. The extra five minutes drive further than Huckleberry you'll more than make up getting served and fed. Closed Mondays.

        6 Replies
        1. re: nosh
          PeterCC Aug 6, 2012 03:18 PM

          +1 for Bay Cities and Amandine.

          For Bay Cities, celeste, if you're going to go during the very busy lunch hour and you kinda know what you want, go to http://www.bcdeli.com/order.html and you can submit an online order for sandwiches, salads, etc. Also, when they're busy, they usually open a cash-only line which goes much faster than the regular register that takes credit cards (Visa/MC only--no American Express or Discover).

          1. re: PeterCC
            nosh Aug 6, 2012 03:28 PM

            Even if you end up waiting in the cold sandwich line, you will still be served faster than if you sat, ordered and were served at a sit-down restaurant. Bay Cities Deli is bustling -- lot of people-watching, various counters, aisles of imports, attendants behind the counters, general cacophony -- to entertain the kids. There are tables in front (preferred for the shade) and on the parking lot side to eat there if you like.

          2. re: nosh
            ilysla Aug 6, 2012 09:21 PM

            Interesting. I literally live a block away from Amandine, and I'd rather get into the car to drive to Huckleberry (almost) anyday. Maybe it's b/c I prefer savory (and thus find Amandine's omelettes to be high-quality but boring). Amandine's croissants are wonderful, though. Can't comment about the pastries there.

            While Amandine seems to have significantly fewer people on a Sunday morning (in absolute terms) and the wait time to simply place an order at Huckleberry is MUCH, much longer, I actually find Huckleberry to be a less stressful experience (for 2 adults, at least).

            I think Bru's Waffles might be a good idea. The wait can be long, but it cafe is relatively spacious, has a pretty extensive menu, and is casual but tasty....

            1. re: ilysla
              Dirtywextraolives Aug 7, 2012 03:55 PM

              Less stressful, while waiting for a table to open up w 2 three year olds.... Hmmmm.....

              1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                ilysla Aug 7, 2012 10:52 PM

                Well, note that I put in the caveat of "for 2 adults, at least." Adults generally wait in line better than do children and probably mind noise a little less.... ;)

                Not sure how having 2 young kids in tow would change things. I definitely see people at Huckleberry w/ children (even strollers, although I don't think I'd go to either Huckleberry *or* Amandine, if I had to use a stroller....). It's easier to get in/out at Amandine (and they have large communal tables in the back, right near their parking area). Huckleberry is a near mad-house in terms of the sheer number of people and the ambient noise, but everybody there seems pretty relaxed and calm (customers, not the servers).

                Amandine is more relaxed in some ways (less noise, less bustle of the servers), but it very much feels to me like a bakery that has a few tables thrown in up front. And the area in the rear part of the cafe (not the outdoor patio part I mentioned above) isn't very pleasant. Huckleberry seems to have a better-sorted seating area (and one of the managers actually assists w/ finding tables and keeping traffic flowing smoothly), although it still isn't great, mind you, b/c the tables are VERY close together). And one bite of the food (for me) instantly makes me feel like the wait was worth it. =)

                And all of this, mind you, applies only to Sundays (the only time I've been to either place). Perhaps (and most likely) both places are significantly less crowded and busy on Friday....

                Never eaten at the Brentwood Country Market, but I agree w/ the posters who recommend it. There's been a TON of families there the few times I've been, and the casual courtyard (w/ mulitple food options and what appears an exceedingly wealthy clientele, if you like to people watch) would probably work well for you....

                1. re: ilysla
                  Dirtywextraolives Aug 8, 2012 08:02 AM

                  Right, you did.

          3. PeterCC Aug 6, 2012 03:29 PM

            Farmshop (http://www.farmshopla.com/) in the Brentwood Country Mart has good breakfasts/brunches/lunches (haven't had dinner, but I assume good dinners too), and the kids (and you) might like Sweet Rose Creamery for ice cream after the meal.

            Milo and Olive is owned by the same people as Huckleberry (as is Sweet Rose Creamery) and is pretty good food. However, both Huckleberry and Milo and Olive are difficult to get seating at, so that may be an issue with small kids with short patience (I have a 10 y.o. and a 6 y.o.).

            FIG at the Fairmont Miramar, just up the street from where you're staying, has a happy-hour-type promotion "FIG at Five" where nearly everything is 50% off when ordered between 5 PM and 6 PM. The promotion is Tuesday-Saturday. Excellent food!

            A chain, but a local one, since you mentioned healthy, is Tender Greens on the 3rd Street Promenade, very close to where you're staying. Affordable, healthy food, that can fill a lunch or dinner slot in a pinch.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PeterCC
              wienermobile Aug 6, 2012 08:00 PM

              Also good Breakfast at Fig.

              1. re: wienermobile
                maudies5 Aug 6, 2012 08:30 PM

                Take the kiddies to breakfast at Shutters. They will love looking at the surf and the sand while waiting for their breakfast. Afterwards, a nice walk on the beach.

            2. wienermobile Aug 6, 2012 06:43 PM

              Not a bad breakfast at the Omelet Parlor on Main St. And the bonus is they open at 6am daily. It's a long walk but it is walkable.

              1. y
                yogachik Aug 6, 2012 07:17 PM

                Within a five minute walk you have many breakfast options. Jinky's, Le Pain Quotidian, Cora's, Jack and Jill's. Great coffee can be found on Montana Avenue at Luxxe Caffe - and if you're on Montana, have breakfast at Blue Plate which is a neighborhood favorite, or at Babalu. If you head to Main Street, go to Omelet Parlor or Urth Cafe (although it's not the most comfortable place).

                For lunch, I doubt kids will like Farm Shop, but they will love the Country Mart (if you plan to drive), it's heaven for kids - get the chicken basket at Reddi Chick. Go to any restaurant on the roof of Santa Monica Place for lunch, or to Loteria Grill on the Promenade. If on Montana, try Bricola Pizza.

                I don't think Gjelina is a good choice for 3 year olds. It's not comfortable, it's very loud, and the flavors might not suit them. Dinner options in the area are Cora's, Hillstone (a small chain, but very, very, good), Blue Plate Oysterette, M Cafe, Chaya Venice, Umami Burger (a good lunch option).

                Topanga, head to Reel Inn at the highway.

                4 Replies
                1. re: yogachik
                  PeterCC Aug 6, 2012 07:23 PM

                  My kids like Farmshop, especially the pastries. But definitely between Reddi Chick, Barney's Burger, Frida Taqueria, and the market selection at Farmshop, Brentwood Country Mart will probably have something for everyone. And there's a Caffe Luxxe at BCM too!

                  1. re: PeterCC
                    maudies5 Aug 6, 2012 07:46 PM

                    I agree 100% with PeterCC. My 2 & 4 year old grandsons love Farmshop and they also love the Larder at Tavern. Nice to be able to pick up items in the Farmshop and take their pastries and juice outdoors and then go on the kiddie rides. Mom & Dad have lots of choices at the Brentwood Country Mart. Everyone loves Sweet Rose Creamery afterwards.

                    1. re: maudies5
                      yogachik Aug 6, 2012 10:38 PM

                      I agree that Farm Shop pastries do appeal to little kids, but that room, and the often slow service, would be tiresome to all (I find that room to be the least inviting room of any restaurant in the area). Farm shop to go, and eaten in the courtyard, is a great idea.

                      1. re: yogachik
                        Dirtywextraolives Aug 7, 2012 03:56 PM

                        Agree w you on the room. Not very inviting at all

                2. celeste Aug 14, 2012 09:50 AM

                  Thanks so much everyone for the considered suggestions! They helped me greatly navigate our eats in Santa Monica.

                  We tried Cora's Coffee Shop for breakfast the first day, Urth the second day (primarily for coffee reasons), and back to Cora's for the third day. I really enjoyed the food at Cora's and the intimate little ambiance under the arbor vines. Perfect scrambled eggs and overall the quality of breakfast food was high. (I also appreciated seeing rigatoni with white truffle meat sauce pass me by on the way to another table at 8am! That's serious!) The coffee.... meh. Urth had good coffee of course, and I like their yogurt parfait, but the breakfast food is so-so. However, at 8am there was plenty of seating and it was a nice mellow place to go at that time with the kids and the grandparents. (I noticed the valet parking stand as we left. I found that quite funny and an indicator of perhaps how the scene at Urth changes as the day progresses?) We opted to go back to Cora's for our last breakfast.

                  For dinner, we were indeed up in Topanga Friday night and stopped into Reel Inn. THANK YOU to all who suggested it! It was absolutely, absolutely perfect for our needs. I had a great piece of fish, a decent enough glass of wine, and picnic benches and rock floor for the 3 year olds to keep themselves busy while we relaxed. Really, really fantastic perfect casual spot to spend a Friday night dinner with kids.

                  Lunches ended up being whatever I could get to go quickest as everyone wanted to keep hanging at the pool. That ended up being True Food Kitchen a block from the hotel. Very healthy, great options for kids.

                  My husband is quite sad he didn't get to try Umami burger, but oh well. It wasn't in the cards this time. Thanks again to everyone for all the pointers.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: celeste
                    Servorg Aug 14, 2012 09:53 AM

                    Thanks for the detailed report...that's the life blood of CH, no doubt and so rare as to rate a big thumbs up from the board for your kindness in doing so. Next time, Umami!

                    1. re: Servorg
                      veee Aug 5, 2013 09:00 PM

                      Are there high-chairs available in the outdoor area at the Brentwood Country Mart?

                      1. re: veee
                        Servorg Aug 6, 2013 03:56 AM

                        I don't recall seeing any, but that doesn't mean anything since we are long, long, long past the time when we needed one, (our "kid" is now 25 - where did the time go?).

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