Santa Monica [CA] recs?

Will be in Santa Monica next week for a work thing but have a couple of lunches/dinners on my own. Staying at the Huntley Hotel (which looks very nice), near the beach and what Google Maps tells me is downtown Santa Monica. I haven’t found much actionable intel here on Santa Monica. Anything you’d recommend? I know LA has all kinds of wonderful food but I probably won’t have the inclination to travel very far. Since I currently reside in mid-coast Maine, not looking for fish and chips (which is mostly what I have found here for Santa Monica) but would love good sushi, street/food truck tacos, or regional Chinese, none of which I can get here. Thanks.


Hope U have some fun

I’ve been wanting to hit up the new Shunji (sushi) location old spot was awesome. It ain’t cheap. Make a reservation for the sushi bar with shunji San if u can.

Szechuan Impression is nearby and we really enjoy that.

New dim sum place called Lotus I hear good things. near your hotel. Also near there is the yagul cafe a oaxacan spot where you can get a nice horchata with cactus fruit in it. Ive been wanting to check out some of the other stuff on the menu which looks good, prob stuff you can’t get in maine. i usually get oaxacan food in cheaper/different locations but this is a spot owned by a daughter and a mom and is promising. It’s next to lobster and beer, a spot you don’t need to visit! Maybe some other folks have some other good oaxacan spots in santa monica area.

Teddys Red Tacos nearby are birria with consommé can be a good change from ordinary.

Not super unusual but Pier Burger has good burgers and frozen custard for when you hit up the Santa Monica pier.

For old school Cali Mexican I adore Gilbert’s el Indio and in particular the Fernando’s burrito which has a relleno beans avocado and is smothered in sauce and cheese.

For a bunch of fun Japanese stuff like ramen etx Sawtelle Blvd between Olympic and Santa Monica is good priced and is worth it. Tsujita (original) has nice ramen and addictive spicy fermented? mustard greens condiment.

I’ll think of some more.

Places to avoid include third street promenade restaurants, Danny Trejo’s tacos, blue plate tacos, el cholo, most of the spots immediately near your hotel.


I strongly second the Sawtelle rec. So many goodies there. We lived in Mar Vista - neighbor to Santa Monica - for many years. I don’t miss the fancy places. I miss the hole in the wall spots. If you’re down for a fantastic sandwich, go to Bay Cities Italian Deli in SM on Lincoln. The Godmother is the famous sandwich, but they’re all good. The parking lot is always hectic, except when the place is closed. It’s also a market with a ton of goodies you could bring home.

Oh, and if you’re there on a Wed and can get away, the SM farmers market on the promenade is epic. Great option for b’fast/lunch and browsing. SM has a number of parking garages if the street parking is too limited.

Street food/truck. First Fridays at Abbot Kinney (near SM) - depending on your timing too. About 100 food trucks gather in the evening. Very fun. If the timing doesn’t work, or that sounds overwhelming, see if you can find the Kogi truck (Korean/Mex fusion) which is one of the o.g. trucks in LA. They have 3 of them, and they take different parts of town.


I’ve always loved Furaibo. Japanese bar food. Nothing fancy but tebasaki (fried chicken wings) to die for. At the high end, Cassia. Still probably my favorite restaurant in SoCal.

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Same on Furaibo and Sawtelle.

The katsu curry at menya tigre up the street a bit is also really craveworthy and a lot of other good stuff around there. The Nijiya market has all sort of fun japanese foods and items too., probably some produce you can’t get in Maine to check out and prepared and other stuff like sauces, chips, candies.

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Yamakase, Uzumaki and Sasabune for sushi/Japanese (to be honest, Santa Monica is not the greatest epicenter of Sushi in SoCal).

No real regional Chinese in Santa Monica to speak of, and nothing I would recommend. You could settle for Little Fatty (for Taiwanese), Dan Modern Chinese (for dumplings/XLB made for the Bluebottle coffee crowd) and the SGV offshoot of Sichuan Impression (for Sichuan, duh :wink:).

Enjoy your stay and visit, let us know if you have other requests.

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I am 100% sure it beats mid-coast Maine supermarket sushi though. :rofl:

Really appreciate all the recommendations, keep them coming!!

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Many years since my last visit to Santa Monica, but two places I greatly enjoyed appear to still be alive and kicking- Ivy at the Shore, and Chinois on Main. Neither is particularly au courant, I suppose. However the food was better than decent and the people watching off the charts. Ivy is connected with the Beverly Hills instance made famous in LA Story. I was seated near a former 6 million dollar man last time I was there.

I’d love to hear from Onions who have recent knowledge about both places.

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The things you are particularly interested in are not the things in which Santa Monica excels, unfortunately.

These are roughly in order of increasing distance from your hotel.

The Penthouse at the Huntley actually had a very nice brunch the one time I went, and you can’t beat the views.

I love Colapasta. I haven’t been to Uovo since earlier in the pandemic, but it was also very good. Sidecar donuts are quite tasty. I’ve also liked Papi’s Tacos the few times I’ve tried it (it is very heavy and greasy, though). Agree w/ the Yagul rec.

Melisse/Citrin supposedly has a nice Happy Hour. I also liked Fia the one time I went (the people watching was priceless and likely quite different from what you would find in Maine). Milo and Olive is great for Californian cuisine (but mildly pricey, quite crowded, and kind of pricey). Huckleberry is good for breakfast/lunch (some owners as Milo and Olive and also pretty pricey).

I liked Kappen Osen the 2 times I’ve been. Not exactly known as a sushi place, but they do have it there (and it was pretty good, but I am not a sushi connoisseur). Cassia is across the street and is (very) upscale SE Asian. I have not been in several yrs, but I’ve heard others (incl @Fattydumplin!) say that they enjoyed it.

I’ve read 1 or 2 good reviews of Cobi’s (SE Asian, I think) but have not been myself.

My good friend’s favorite Indian place it Chandni (which I thought was better than okay, but I am not Indian). Santa Monica (shockingly) has a Himalayan restaurant (Tara’s Himalayan). Go across the street for dessert at Sweet Rose Creamery (more priceless people-watching).

Outside of Santa Monica proper… The one taco truck I go to most freq is Ruben’s (on Santa Monica Blvd. near Westgate). Not life changing, but certainly respectable. The truck is also relatively close to Monte Alban (Oaxacan).

Gjusta is the most expensive deli you’ll ever go to, but it’s VERY good. And, again, great people watching.

Agree w/ Sichuan Impression and Sawtelle. There’s also Din Tai Fung (upscale Shanghai food through a corporate Taiwanese lens) at the Century City mall. Meizhou Dongpo is also at that same mall.

I have not heard particularly good things about Lotus.


Do you still wear Z Caverici pants and Members Only jackets? If so, then get yee there stat.

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Ha ha ha! Speaking only for myself, I can’t help it if I’m oldish! :rofl::joy: LOVED my one experience at Chinois on Main, but haven’t been recently. It was simply outstanding. Have heard good things about Huckleberry, haven’t been, but do have their cookbook.

Wait, I totally forgot! There might be good sushi a block away from your hotel!!!

I have not been, but I did read at least one favorable review.

BTW, the reason you keep seeing fish and chips is b/c Ye Olde King’s Head is a Santa Monica institution and prob has the best FnC in LA County…

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Sure, and I am sure it is really good, but that is one thing I for sure do not lack in Maine!

even mediocre it’s got a big menu, a happy hour and is close to the Huntley. Obviously we have tons of way better and cheaper options in greater LA, but compared to Maine and if she’s limiting herself to that area, this could scratch an ez itch. Don’t know another dim sum place near there apart from palace somewhat east from there by barrington and that place sucks

Lotus Dim Sum Menu QR code.pdf - Google Drive

@GretchenS - I’m near there a lot haven’t tried it, i’m curious.

im sure the scholars here will differ!

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If you want a good ethnic breakfast, try Lokl Haus for the Mediterranean inspired smashed eggs on toast with labne and mhammara. :yum:


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Well, you’ll note that I didn’t say you should try it. :slight_smile: But just wanted to explain why it pops up so much in a search on food in Santa Monica.

Do yo have good pastrami in Maine? Wexler’s isn’t super far away, and I think it’s quite good (but the pastrami is very smoky, which is not to everyone’s taste).

Do you have time to drive out to Beverly Hills? Capital Seafood is supposed to have pretty good dim sum (I haven’t had it in many yrs), but, depending on how long you’ll be in town and how much free you’ll have, it is a considerable distance (but still closer than, say, the San Gabriel Valley).

Should also mention the Sichuan Impression, while delicious, has family sized portions (so not easy to eat as a solo diner).

Izakaya Hero (on the other side of the 405) is really delicious, but, again, large format for some of the dishes (skewers are obvious only 1-2 skewers an order but can be quite filling). Tasty Noodle (Chinese) on Sawtelle is pretty good, but it’s very, VERY heavy. I really like Mogu Mogu around the corner (on Olympic).

Westwood (not to be confused with Westwood Village, which is further north) has a ton of Persian eateries and is nicknamed “Tehrangeles”. I really like Pink Orchid Bakery. I used to love Javan on Santa Monica Blvd. (a bit closer to your hotel than is Westwood), but I have not been since the change in ownership.

Clark Street Bakery in Brentwood is also worth a visit (and, again, the people watching is great).

Also, not sure what food prices are like in Maine, but, even at casual eateries here, the price can be very high (esp over the past yr for obvious macro reasons). Just as an FYI.

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It’s so-so. Last time I was there the skin on the har gow was a mess. I haven’t been back. The shrimp and chive dumplings are pretty great. They stop serving dim sum early afternoon (like a lot of places).

I’ve been wanting to check it out - friends of mine are regulars and love it. It’s right in that same pocket of Santa Monica. What do u like there?

My brother loves this spot. I’m not sure it’s for me.

If your go-to sushi is grocery, then I’ll rec that our regular sushi spot - it was well priced enough for a weekly visit - is on Sawtelle. It’s called Hide. (hee-day). I haven’t been in a long time, and can’t vouch for it currently. But yelpers appear to like it.


Hide Sushi, that’s a good spot for our kids, and we take them there from time to time. Very limited menu. Mediocre quality if you ask me but reasonable prices and nice folks. Cash only. I wouldn’t make that a destination for a visitor or fill up there on sawtelle.

We last lived in LA in 2005, and when we did, we ate at Hide alot and were perfectly happy with it. Perhaps we were sushi novices then, and our palettes have refined. But OP says she gets her sushi from the grocery. So maybe she doesn’t need a $250 omikase in BH that seat 8 per night? And if she’s on Sawtelle anyway, trying a little of this and that, I think it would be a good hop.

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