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Mar 7, 2013 09:49 AM

Mom Friendly Moderate in West LA and Santa Monica

Hello all,

I'm moving from Glendale to West Los Angeles. I'll be living at SMB and Sawtelle, or a hop, skip, and jump from the West LA library--depending on your frame of reference.

Mom's coming to help me unpack. While I'll be at work during the day, she and I would like to explore my new neighborhood at night. What I'm looking for:

Moderately priced
Civilized noise levels
Seating that's appropiate for someone in their 70s
In my new area!

I love a place in a mini-mall, and if I can get some kind of wine in my glass, that's great too! (Did I mention mom is staying with me, too? Yes. I might need wine with dinner.)

She loves food, but has never really loved sushi. I'm allergic to shellfish, so I think that's out for this trip.

Places I'm thinking about--Il Grano for a nicer dinner, and how about Darya? I really like Tsujita, but I can't see making mom mill around and wait for 30+ minutes.

I've heard great things about Milo and Olive--how about their seating and noise level? I don't want to take her someplace where she's sitting on picnic bench (hi, new Bludso's!).

I know she wants to check out the SM Wednesday farmers market while I'm at work. Any and all restaurant, dishes, and parking suggestions welcomed!

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  1. M Street on Main in S M - you wont be able to walk but it's quiet if you go early and they have a varied menu. Milo and Olive is tiny and doesn't take reservations. Again, if you go at an off hour you should be okay. The tables are communal - not aure what your mom would think. The cafe downstairs at Shutters is much less expensive than One Pico and it's pretty and has good food.
    Closer to home - La Bottega is decent - not fantastic but good. Their soup is delicious and the feel is authentic, neighborhood Italian. Most of the places on Sawtelle are Asian. Plan Check gets very loud. The two pizza cafes on Sawtelle are both good. Lemon Moon at Bundy and Olympic has good breakfast. It gets very crowded at lunch. Clementine close to Century City is good for lunch. Il Moro is within walking distance. The food is decent and it's quiet. They have a nice patio. 26 Beach in Marina del Rey is one of my relative's favorites. Great, varied menu and quiet and pleasant. Try to enjoy the visit!

    4 Replies
    1. re: flowergirl

      Question: is your mom just helping you to unpack, or is she living w/ you? More of an administrative/logistical question. Why? Well, if she's living w/ you and doesn't mind exploring on her own, she could go to Tsujita during a relative "off" hour and possibly not have to wait 30 min. My understanding is that the Tsukemen isn't served during dinner, and the dinner menu looked quite expensive when I perused it a few months ago.

      There can be a wait a Ramen Jinya, but access issues shouldn't be problem, otherwise.

      Plan Check is fine if you sit outside. It seemed almost unbearably noisy inside.

      Curry House is very "corporate" in terms of food quality, but it's convenient, moderately priced, and easily accessible for an older person.

      Tofu-Ya is decent and inexpensive.... I think I'd find it more appealing if I were in my early 20's...

      It's been yrs since I went to Darya (can't recall much about the food). For persian, I like Javan just down the street (and closer to where you live).

      Siam Chan is decent for hole-in-the-wall, inexpensive Thai-Chinese. Better to eat there or to get delivery; to-go will result in a 40 min wait (same as delivery).

      Monte Alban or Juquila are great for Oaxacan. The seats at Monte Alban are VERY hard, though. Fortunately, the food travels well as to-go. =) Other poster here also recently mentioned a fish taco place in Santa Monica. If you do a search, I'm sure you'll find it.

      Never been to Il Grano. I agree w/ the La Bottega rec. My partner and I are regulars there, and we think it's pretty tasty (we like the carbonara and the Linguini Bottega; the buffalo mozzarella salad is also great when heirloom tomatos are in season. The crostini is also quite good. And there's lots of older people there. =)

      Amandine has lovely croissants, french toast, and sandwiches. Very crowded, though. I'd skip the similar (and vastly inferior) Literati.

      I love Milo and Olive, but there can be a very long wait, the seats can be quite firm, and there can be access issues if you're mother has difficulty walking. Try going during an "off" hr. Huckleberry (by the same owners) is fantastic, but you really need to go during a weekday lunch, otherwise the wait might be too long.

      If you're willing to trek out to Ocean Park, my friend and I had a very satisfactory meal at Native foods (vegan).

      Respectfully disagree w/ the Il Moro rec. Lovely ambiance, quiet, nicely upscale. Food quality, however, is too low for the price. If they still do their happy hr (free bar apps w/ the purchase of a drink), that might be fun although (although I still thought the apps weren't that tasty, even though they were complimentary!).

      Only been to the SM farmer's market once. Can you take the Big Blue Bus down there? There's a quite a few public parking structures in the area, although I can't remember where they're located.... =(

      There's a WLA farmer's market (can't remember the days but I'm sure you can find it online) that's much closer to you.

      There's also the Brentwood farmer's market on Sunday (which is the one I go to b/c it's w/i walking distance).

      1. re: ilysla

        "There's a WLA farmer's market (can't remember the days but I'm sure you can find it online) that's much closer to you."

        Maybe a 3 minute walk west? Can't get closer than that unless it's unfolding in your living room...

        1. re: Servorg

          For sushi on Sawtelle higher end Kiriko and for less expensive (cash only) Hide. Don't overlook the new okonomiyaki place, Gottsui (also good yakisoba) and we like Hurry Curry of Tokyo for their chicken cutlet curry...

      2. re: flowergirl

        I haven't been in a while, but what about Sprazzo on Westwood Blvd for a neighborhood Italian?

        I think La Bruschetta, also on Westwood Blvd., is rather overlooked as a slightly higher-end place. (It's not as good as Il Grano, and I also agree that Il Moro is overpriced for what you get.) You also can usually get a discount certificate for La Bruschetta from

        If mom likes slightly kitschy, The Talpa on Pico, near Barrington, has surprisingly good Americanized Mexican. I love their chile rellenos and the asada taco. Friends swear by their enchiladas. The Talpa has been there since the 60s and is a good, inexpensive hole-in-the-wall.

        If you want to try Indonesian, Ramayani on Westwood Blvd. is good. The fried chicken is particularly good.

        Across the street is Sunnin, which is one of the top Lebanese restaurants in the city. If mom is a Curb Your Enthusiasm fan, she might recognize it as the location of the "Palestinian Chicken" restaurant.

      3. I used to live in that area and here are a few of my favorites within walking distance:

        Nook Bistro (mini mall where you can have a glass of wine, hidden in the corner)
        11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9
        Los Angeles, CA 90025

        Sasaya (excellent Japanese izakaya, not sushi)
        11613 Santa Monica Blvd
        Los Angeles, CA 90025
        (310) 477-4404

        Nanbankan (Japanese grilled skewers, right across the street from the library)
        11330 Santa Monica Blvd
        Los Angeles, CA 90189

        Bandera (part of the group that owns Houstons)
        11700 Wilshire Blvd
        Los Angeles, CA 90025
        (310) 477-3524

        Tsujita only serves ramen at lunch and if you go alone (like I do sometimes), there is no wait at all even between 12-1 because you can get a seat at the noodle bar. She can also try the other options next to Tsujita such as NongLa (vietnamese), ROC Kitchen (chinese), Seoul Sausage (korean sausages), and I highly recommend Blockheads Shavery for dessert. I've been it Il Grano twice and found the food to be mediocre and overpriced.

        1 Reply
        1. re: yizhang

          +1 for Nook Bistro. Hidden in the back corner of the minimall on the S/E corner of Santa Monica Blvd. at Barry, a block east of Barrington. These days only open for dinner, I believe. Really civilized place, good service, not too loud. The two-tops along the wall are very close together, if you don't mind meeting your neighbors. If not, ask if you can sit elsewhere and you'd have more privacy at a corner of the large communal table or alongside eachother at the bar. Their long-braised meat has alternated over the years from a shortrib to a potroast but very good, a fine burger, I've enjoyed the chicken paillard. (Note, westsidegal got a bad piece of fish years ago...) Excellent mac'n'cheese that can be shared as a starter.

          For me, very consistent -- I've taken company there when I don't want the expense and time for a more upscale place.

          Here is the current menu:

          Prices very reasonable for the quality and portions. I'm a bit disappointed they've turned the braised meat dish into a pasta sauce, but there are a lot of other choices.

        2. Thank you everyone for the recommendations!

          Mom will be staying with me for a week. She's been to LA before, but has not spent much time this far west.

          I'll report our wanderings.

          1. You're a stone's throw away from the Sawtelle/Olympic corridor, do take an evening to stroll around and check out the various eateries and shops. Mostly Japanese/Asian centric but there are places like Tapenade which will definitely put some wine in your glass. Kiriko, although predominately sushi, has an underrated kitchen and sometimes offers european/south american influenced cooked dishes - a decent wine list as well. There's some good coffee shops in the area as well - Balconi, Tomo, that are very much worth checking out. Don't know if you have a car but Venice/Abbot Kinney area is also a great place to check out.

            1 Reply
            1. re: prawn

              No only will Tapenade put wine in your glass, but it will also treat you to some of the finest cooking on the entire West Side, without any pretenses.
              Just superb food, inlcuding their stunning lamb shank, and bacon-wrapped dates that put those from elsewhere to shame.
     for the menu, which to these tastebuds has me wanting nearly everything on the menu.
              Went last night, cannot wait to return.
              Entrees in the low 20s/high teens, yet everything seems to be focused on sharing, ala tapas style, but their portions are much larger than most of the usual small bites places.
              In the Olympic collection, NW corner Olympic & Sawtelle.

            2. I live a few blocks due west of you. For not cutting edge or awe-inspiring, but still enjoyable Italian food in an old school, very friendly, sedate and attractive environment, we regularly walk to Guido's. It really is old school, but enjoys a loyal following - probably more from the way you are treated and the old fashioned atmosphere than for the food. It's not creative, but it's pretty solid. We generally don't venture much past a bowl of stracciatella and maybe a salad or some mussels or a simple pasta. The bartender, Bill, is terrific and there are some pretty decent wines available.