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Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

We are flying into LAX, landing at 11am (Friday) and driving to Santa Barbara via the PCH. I am trying to pick a place to stop for lunch closer rather than farther on our journey as we will be on east coast time. I was thinking PCH highway for the beachiness--Neptune's Net or Malibu Seafood...but the porta potties and table sharking at the former are off putting. Perhaps Malibu Seafood is equally charmless? So then I started looking at things in the Santa Monica area. We are not looking for a multi course meal or a production, just something delicious to kick off five days in Southern California. After perusing CH, things that are appealing: Michael's (patio--love the idea of being somewhat outside, looks covered), Gjelina, Blue Plate Oysterette. Would love to hear an opinion? Do I stick with the seafood shack--the idea is appealing if the food is worth it. Or do we try something in town? How would you start the weekend?

[In SB we are eating at Julienne, Bouchon, Olio y Limone, then we are trying Manhattan Beach Post while in MB.]

Thanks so much for any guidance you can offer.

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  1. A little farther up the coast for something completely unique: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859545 or something much more traditional can be found at the Sunset Restaurant across the street from Zuma beach http://www.thesunsetrestaurant.com/

    I also see from your prior interactions here on Chowhound that you do something that is both rare, and very much appreciated; report back. We all look forward to reading about where you end up and what you ate (along with your impressions of the ambiance, service and whatever else you find to be of interest).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      I will definitely report back. Thanks so much for the suggestion of Sunset Restaurant, I will check it out.

      1. re: cathleenmarie

        I concur on Sunset. It isn't *great* but it is good and fun.

    2. I'm a fan of Malibu Seafood. Yes, you're eating at picnic tables but that's half the fun. They do have real restroom facilities.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jack Flash

        I was about to say, don't write off Malibu Seafood. They may be 'downscale' cuisine but they are good at what they do! The fish & chips with a mini loaf of warm La Brea bread is so good! A big plus is that you can bring your own wine and stemware or for me craft beer with appropriate glassware. The cars in the lot range from Bentleys to old surfer vans, there are local resident entertainment industry A listers and everybody else. If the parking lot is full just park on PCH and enjoy the scenery on the short walk back to Malibu Seafood.
        Only stopped at Neptune's Net once, interesting bikes parked out front but the fish & chips were subpar.......

      2. Reel Inn is along the lines of Neptune's Net - has a lot of character. Funky vibe.

        But by comparison - Michael's is whole 'nuther world - that's one of the best restaurants in L.A. with a vast culinary history (many chefs started there and went on to dining glory).

        A cross combo of funky and serious food is Cora's.

        Venice and Santa Monica has lot to offer in restaurants. But if you're shooting for Malibu - not so good. Savory is quite good, but not open for lunch. The best non-funky restaurants in Malibu would the restaurant at the Malibu Beach Inn. Upscale place. And Geoffrey's - which has a very european feel. And the places at the Malibu Country Mart where you will rub elbows with the locals - Tra Di Noy (Italian, not bad at all). Taverna (Greek food - some people swear by it, I'm a tough critic, so you'll only get passable grades from me - but if you're jonesing for Greek food - by all means put this high on your list). Mr. Chow is opening there soon too. Food isn't authentic Chinese by any means, but a very cool place to visit. (hey, it's mentioned in a Steely Dan song).

        2 Replies
        1. re: foodiemahoodie

          Thanks for the recommendations...will check these places out as well. I did realize my Malibu and non-Malibu selections were in different realms. Hmmm, could that be the indecision? We will be stopping for lunch on the way to SB and on the way back into town. Might have to try two places along the coast...!

          1. re: cathleenmarie

            I have to respectfully disagree with Reel Inn. It's scary terrible

        2. if you decide on gjelina, my recommendation would be to either:
          1) get reservations
          or
          2) plan on arriving after 1:45pm but get your order in before 3pm when the menu changes to the "late afternoon" menu that only has pizza and charcuterie items.

          5 Replies
          1. re: westsidegal

            Thanks, that makes the decision easy. We are a party of two. They only take reservations for lunch for parties of five or more.

            1. re: cathleenmarie

              I always love eating at Cholada Thai. It's in the casual blue house just north of the Reel Inn on PCH. I've never ordered anything I didn't like, and the "golden bags" appetizer is a personal favorite. Photo of them attached!

               
              1. re: CLowe

                Looks tasty. Reminds me of the crawfish sacks at New Orleans Jazz Fest. Thanks for the recommendation.

                1. re: CLowe

                  Clowe, have you been there recently? I used to go all the time, but the last couple of times were not so good. I thought maybe they changed hands. I haven't been there in a few months.

                  1. re: budlit

                    Oh, that'd be terrible if it's gone down hill. No, it's been about 6 months since I went and that's when that photo was taken. If I make it there soon I'll report back. *fingers crossed*

            2. There is a delightful restaurant called the Sidecar Cafe in Ventura,on East Main St. just off of the 101. The owner/chef uses mainly local ingredients. I summered in Ventura, ate there several times
              and was never disappointed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pizzafreak

                The Sidecar Café looks intriguing. Wish they were open on Monday...would definitely have checked them out on the way back into town.

              2. there's always gjelina take away. you could get a sandwich and a pizza to go. eat it while driving up the coast.

                in santa monica, bay cities would be a good place to get food for the drive as well.

                up much further in camarillo, there's a divey place called h.c. seafood that does live crabs and shellfish. kind of a hole but good place for eats.

                1. I'd have an apple and drive to Santa Barbara to La Supa Rica. Thats just me, but I love that place.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: laliz

                    Hoping to try Supa Rica one day for lunch while we are in SB.

                    1. re: cathleenmarie

                      FYI La Super Rica is closed on Wednesdays and is cash only.
                      622 N Milpas St
                      Santa Barbara, CA 93103

                      Also consider Brent's Deli in Westlake Village (off the 101), one of the best deli's in LA.
                      http://www.brentsdeli.com

                  2. The verdict--I am thinking we are going to stop at Malibu Seafood on the way to SB...and over the course of the weekend figure out where to go on the way back. I love all of the suggestions. Wish we had more time.

                    1. As much as I hate to admit it the pastrami at Umamicatessian was fantastic. I went in there with my nose in the air. Luckily, the sandwich had a flaw (oh, just the way you like it said Daphne). The bread was nice-ish but completely blow away by the excellence of the Bea's/langers bread.