NY foodies going on last minute trip to LA...overwhelmed with food choices
Sorry if I'm all over the place with this. We are staying in Santa Monica-willing to travel for dinner- would like to stay in the Santa Monica area during the day. Looking for dinner recommendations price is not a factor. We really enjoy Napa style cuisine (does that make sense?). Super fine dining is not really our thing because of my picky protein palate (chicken, beef, pork no seafood). I would also love lite meal recs for lunch in the Santa Monica area maybe a mexican/taco spot type place? If you feel there is a "must go/can't miss" spot in Santa Monica for anything (dessert/bakery/snack/food/cocktail) please let me know. My vacation is all about the food! Thank you Thank you
Check out Gjelina or if you're on the run try Gjelina Take Away next door, both in Venice. Great farm to table cuisine and small plates. Great pizzas too. FYI there will be a wait for a table at most times.
Also in the area you might like:
Tar & Roses
Superba Snack Bar
Milo & Olive
& Huckleberry for snack or lunch
and Tinga for tacos.
For excellent versions of Mexican pan dulce, La Monarca on Wilshire in Santa Monica is a quick easy stop. It's a nice alternative to more conventional coffee houses as well. Their lattes are good - their coconut latte goes well with their breads.
Sonoma Wine Garden in the Santa Monica Place mall has the best view and serves decent California cuisine. Zengo, in the same complex, has a killer brunch at a decent price and is Asian-Latin fusion.
Michael's on third street at the north end of the Promenade, was one of the chefs who started California cuisine. The patio there is very nice.
Jiraffe is a very nice spot with California cuisine. I also concur with those who rec'd FIG in the Fairmont Sheraton, Tar & Roses, & Gjelina.... Most places in Santa Monica take advantage of the terrific farmers markets and local farms to create their menus.
I'm a New Yorker that's lived in Santa Monica for 15 years. Here's my list for you:
Mexican: Mercado, Border Grill, or Loteria
Napa Style: Rustic Canyon, Michael's or FIG
Can't miss burgers: Father's Office
Can't miss view for brunch: Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel
All are an easy walk (for New Yorkers) from downtown Santa Monica.
Charles, I take it you liked Red Medicine then? :)
To the OP, I agree, Red Medicine is something LA does that can best the other big cities. If you like protein, get the large format pork belly or beef brisket. It's not Napa style cuisine by which I guess you mean cal-med/cal-French.
Gjelina is a good choice for that as is Rustic Canyon.
If you're really into food you should try the tsukemen at Tsujita on Sawtelle.
I would also go to Sotto for the blistered gems salad, excellent pastas, and an unbelievably delicious Neapolitan margherita pizza with fresh buffalo mozzarella drizzled with high quality olive oil.