Quick visit 3/28-31 no reservations
We will be staying in Santa Monica for three nights with our teens who are sophisticated eaters. We dont know LA at all and have no reservations. Our vague plans are to go to the Getty Center and UCLA.
We love sushi and Japanese food in general, mexican food and everything else that is good. Dining could be high end but it doesnt have to be.
I have yearned to try Urasawa for years after reading posts but I havent called to see if we could get in on short notice. All suggestions would be appreciated.
In Santa Monica you could give Mercado a whirl for pretty fair Mexican food: http://www.mercadosantamonica.com/ Very close to both the Getty and UCLA is "Little Osaka" which is the nickname for the stretch of Sawtelle between Santa Monica Blvd. on the N end and Olympic on the S. Tsujita http://tsujita-la.com/ for some very outstanding ramen for lunch and some pretty good Japanese food at dinner (but no ramen). Kiriko http://www.kirikosushi.com/ for sushi with other cooked items and close by (but not on Sawtelle) is Mori Sushi http://www.morisushi.net/ for much more traditional "straight up" sushi. You can get some good okono-miyaki at Gottsui http://gottsui-usa.com/ on Sawtelle, and if you want less expensive sushi try Hide http://www.hidesushi.com/ (Hide is CASH ONLY so be aware). Over by UCLA is Fundamental LA http://www.fundamental-la.com/ and some good Persian food at Shamshiri Grill http://shamshiri.com/
And at the southern end of that Sawtelle strip of Japanese places sits Tapenade in the Olympic Collection mini-mall on the NW corner of Olympic. Ate there last night, and without question had the best lamb shank, terrific bacon-wrapped dates(way better than AOC, for example), lamb crisps(like lamb tacos with a flakey shell), among other things. It is a menu where you really want to try everything, but cannot decide which one(s) for tonight. Plausible prices, quite casual and plenty of available seats, to my astonishment.
Chef Ressul formerly sous chef at L'Orangerie, and Pebble Beach.
Can't wait to return from sherman oaks!
for non-sushi choices:
would go to FIG restaurant for one dinner.
it is located in the Santa Monica Miramar Hotel.
Milo and Olive
communal seating only so try to go sometime OTHER than peak normal mealtimes; they serve three meals a day
Honestly, with this economy, I'll bet you could get Urasawa if you called today. Other places for sushi include Mori (the sushi itself exceeds Urasawa IMO) and Shunji (about 30-40% the cost of Urasawa) which is also a treat.
Red Medicine and Sotto are also 2 of LA's best IMO.
i love the food at gjelina, but, for the most part, i will only go there during non-peak hours (i.e. 2:15pm for lunch, 5:30pm or 9:30pm for dinner). i don't like waiting even with a reservation, nor do i like to wait standing with my back against a wall so that the servers can get by.)
also, know that at gjelina, after ten pm at night they only serve from an abbreviated menu of charcuterie. same story between lunch and dinner. i forget what time normal lunch service stops (2:30 or 3pm?) and normal dinner service doesn't start until 5:30 or so.
I got a 7pm Friday res only 2 weeks in advance. No wait when I got there. Without a res, I get there by 6 and can usually grab 2 seats at the communal table. Once they even offered me a table if I promised to give it up in 2 hours.
I agree, try to go earlier. That smashed peas and burrata on bruschetta is amazing right now.
I will add a couple of "not so high end" dining that will appeal to your visiting teens:
In-N-Out Hamburger because it is so California and
800 degrees Pizzeriafor the novelty of standing in line to customize your own Pizza in a few minutes.
Both are in the UCLA area.
We had a great trip! Too short but we were able to try some of the places you nice people suggested. We headed over to Fig for our first dinner in Santa Monica. We were very tired and didnt want to travel far as we had driven all the way on route 1 from Monterey that day. Fig was very good, we enjoyed the vegetables and charcuterie and dishes. The free valet parking at the Fairmount was a nice surprise. The chocolate peanut butter dessert was very nice.
Eating highlights were our dinners at Mori and at Gjelina.
Mori was hands down the best fish we have ever had and we have eaten a lot of sushi at some very good places. I really appreciated their sushi rice as well. No one told us when and when not to use soy sauce but sadly we were unable to get a sushi bar reservation. I loved how the sushi chef's freshly ground the wasabi from the root onto the sushi as they made it. Wow! We enjoyed the cooked dishes and the homemade tofu as well.
We could not get a reservation at Gjelina and when I called the staff was not helpful to explain whether or how they handled walk ins. We almost skipped this place due to their lack of niceness on the phone but we found ourselves in Venice at 5pm on Saturday. We decided to take our chances. After some persistence which is its own story we were seated at the communal table and we are so glad we were. Everything was fantastic. The vegetables, the homemade pasta, the pizza, the desserts just wow! Our server was very helpful and very nice which was a big contrast to the woman who was guarding the door at the hostess station.
I just dont get the love of In N Out Burger. It is likely because I do not like or eat fast food at all, ever, period. I found the burger to be greasy and heart burn inducing, the shakes absolutely horrible in consistency, and over-sweetness, not even sure it started as a dairy product and the fries, meh. The only good thing was the big pieces of fresh lettuce, the big slice of onion and tomato.
We did enjoy Urth Cafe in Santa Monica. Good bread, lots of fresh veggies and fruit served with breakfast, good salad with the lunch/dinner menu and they served late night which was handy for a very late dinner one night.
Not the right board but I will mention that directly off the plane in SF we had lunch at the Slanted Door. It was fantastic and a great intro to the trip.