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Where to Eat in Santa Monica
Yoga teachers, surf instructors, real estate moguls, and beach-loving celebrities call Santa Monica and its neighboring cities home.
In Santa Monica, Wilshire Boulevard and Montana Avenue are pedestrian-friendly streets where locals walk to upscale haunts like Andrew's Cheese store (728 Montana Ave. 310/393-3308) or Vanilla Bake Shop (512 Wilshire Blvd. 310/458-6644).
Closer to the beaches, try 4th Street, Broadway, and Main Street for bars, fast-casual chains, and shopping at the Third Street Promenade. Stop for a late afternoon nosh at Blue Plate Oysterette (1355 Ocean Ave. 310/576-3474) or La Monarca Bakery (1300 Wilshire Blvd. 310/451-1114) for fruit-filled sweet taquito. On Wednesday mornings there's the Santa Monica Farmers' Market (Arizona and Main Sts. 310/458-8712).
Venice Beach from Main Street to Abbot Kinney is home to gelato stores, vintage shops, coffeehouses, and a few notable dinner spots like Chaya Venice (110 Navy St. 310/396–1179), just above Main Street. For breakfast, try the très chic 3 Squares Café and Bakery (1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd. 310/399–6504) known for its delicious pretzel bread.
Pastry chef Zoe Nathan sent foodies into a frenzy when she opened her bakery Huckleberry (1014 Wilshire Blvd. 310/451–2311). The café has found itself instantly beloved by Angelenos who make the trek, wait in line, and hope to snag a spot at the communal table. Breakfast offerings include fried egg sandwiches and maple-bacon biscuits. The lunch menu features turkey meatball sandwiches and seasonal salads.
Inside L.A.'s Food Scene
As editor of dineLA, a program created by the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote the city's diverse food community, Carrie Kommers is tapped in to the beating heart—and stomach—of Los Angeles. Here, she shares a few tips with Fodor's readers.
Q: How does dineLA stay on top of dining trends in the Los Angeles area?
A: I'd say that about 75% of what makes dineLA work is the relationship building. I love talking to journalists, chefs, owners, event producers—so many amazing people contribute to L.A.'s food culture and it's crucial to be directly in conversation with them.
Q: What is the best way for visitors to discover the world of food here in Los Angeles?
A: Thankfully, now we are seeing a boom in local culinary tours. Melting Pot Tours (www.meltingpottours.com) really paved the way with their wonderful farmers' market tours and then came Six Taste (www.sixtaste.com) and Foody Field Trips (www.foodyfieldtrips.com). They're great primers for visitors and locals. I did Six Taste's San Gabriel dim sum walking tour and went home knowing that I could never have found those little places on my own. It would have taken me weeks of research and even then I would have had trouble knowing what to order—or how to pronounce it.
Q: When you have guests in town, what are some of your favorite spots to take friends and family in Santa Monica?
A: Santa Monica is a really interesting mix of locals and tourists. It's a fairly concentrated area with loads of really good restaurants and a ton of variety and it's nice because you can stay on foot the whole time if you want to, which is unusual in L.A. For burgers I like Chez Jay (1657 Ocean Ave. 310/395–1741). For oysters and a glass of rosé I go to Santa Monica Seafood Café (1000 Wilshire Blvd. 310/393–5244).
Q: What do you think would surprise people the most about food and dining in Los Angeles?
A: Probably how indulgent the menus currently are. I think there are aspects to the "rabbit food and salad" stereotype that still persist about L.A., but I try to explain to people that pork belly, fried chicken, and burgers have taken over. I think it might also surprise people simply to know how much variety there is here. You just can't possibly begin to take it all in.
To rub elbows with Angelenos in their natural habitats, try one of these spots:
Locals from Venice Beach and Santa Monica come to Library Ale House (2911 Main St. 310/314-4855) for the craftsman beer and affordable comfort food. It's a boisterous scene during peak hours with regulars noshing on fish tacos and tipping back pints.
The casual restaurant and gourmet market La Grande Orange (2000 Main St. 310/396–9145) offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a relaxed, neighborhood setting—it's a perfect spot for sipping a margarita and nibbling on shrimp ceviche.
Sunday mornings at the seasonal bistro Fig (Fairmont Miramar, 101 Wilshire Blvd. 310/319-3111) are known around town thanks to its "Kegs and Eggs" special. A weekly brunch that costs $37 for an egg dish of your choice and all you can drink pints of draft beer.
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