Santa monica

Bareburger

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  This New York transplant is still finding its footing here in LA. Known for 'exotic' burgers and healthy options, it is not quite as good as its' NYC siblings. Half a chubby thumb up 

Must Eat: Onion rings 

Highs: Bison burgers! 

Lows: Not worth the $ when there are better burger options closeby  

Belcampo

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 Best negroni in LA. Locally grown everything, Belcampo is a great addition to the West LA food scene. 1 1/2 chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Chicken wings 

Highs: Great portions, tasty food and awesome cocktails in a great dining room

Lows: Stick with meat and chicken    

Blue Plate Oysterette

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Hands down the best lobster roll in all of LA... although with Knuckle and Claw closing there isn't much competition. But eating a lobster roll while looking at the ocean is amazing. Two chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Lobster roll and Mac and Cheese 

Highs: Lobster by the ocean 

Lows: Can be a tight squeeze and its not worth eating anything besides the lobster roll  

BOA

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What is better than a perfectly shaken dry martini and a dry aged steak on a plate? Nothing. BOA is one of the better steakhouses in all of LA, but expect to pay steakhouse prices. Two chubby thumbs up 

Must Eat: Dry aged sirloin with red wine sauce 

High: No frills here, just a steak on a plate 

Lows: Can be a bit pretentious at times     

Bruxie

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A quick chicken and waffle place? On paper it sounds good, and in real life its pretty good...not great. But if you are among the crowds of tourists on the promenade and want to have a deep fried piece of chicken on a waffle bun this is where to go. Half a chubby thumb up 

Must Eat: Chicken waffle sandwich Highs: I mean its chicken and waffles 

Lows: It's on the promenade  

Capo

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Is it hard to find quality Italian food on the west coast? It can be- Capo is a meat heavy Italian spot right in Santa Monica. Can be pricey but also worth it. One chubby thumb up. Perfect for special occasions 

Must Eat: Jidori chicken parm 

Highs: Solid Italian on the West Side 

Lows: Can get pricey quick  

Cassia

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  Perhaps the most hyped restaurant opening in Santa Monica history- Cassia is very good. Dining room can be loud but there are great seats at the grill in the back and the raw bar. Creative dishes with explosive flavors come out of this kitchen. Two chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Chickpea Naan 

Highs: Everything is so uniquely made and delicious  

Lows: Loud dining room, can be a tough reservation to snag. Avoid the cold prawns 

Cava

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Finding Greek-type food anywhere in LA is a difficult task.  Cava (yes the chain) does its best impression of Greek food with this Mediterranean spot. 

Must Eat:  Chicken on Mini Pitas

High:  Plenty of food for a good price, plus tzatziki!

Lows:  It's not really Greek food, stop lying to us all! 

Cora's Coffee Shoppe

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  Any place that has a burrata omelette is a must try. Cora's (where you can also get some pasta from Capo) is a great breakfast/lunch spot on Ocean. One chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Poached eggs on bruschetta 

Highs: Biscotti and burrata omelette, plus outdoor seating 

Lows: Being associated with Capo you run into some pretty expensive eggs     old prawns

Courtyard Kitchen

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  Courtyard dining, decent breakfast plates but there are plenty of other breakfast restaurants within 3 miles to waste your time here. Half a chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Tale of Green eggs 

Highs: You get to eat outside

 Lows: Not the best burrito and omelettes are very meh 

The Curious Palate

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  If you find yourself at the Santa Monica Place mall and starving, don't eat here... starve instead. Two chubby thumbs way down. 

Must Eat: Somewhere else 

Highs: Zero 

Lows: Everthing     

Del Frisco's Grille

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  Do I really need to review a Del Frisco's? Just the same as any other DFG, good spot for happy hour and some solid burgers and steaks. But with so many non- nationwide options around why waste your time 

Must Eat: Lamb burger 

Highs: You know you are getting quality ingredients and food 

Lows: There is zero personality   

Dogtown Coffee

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  This coffee shop that also pushes out great breakfast burritos is a must in Santa Monica. Not only is the burrito tasty but it is HUGE. Great coffee also. One chubby thumb up 

Must Eat: Breakfast burrito 

Highs: Perfectly pressed burrito in a SoCal environment 

Lows: The burrito can and will make you fat  

Father's Office

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  Considered one of LA's best burgers- only go if you like blue cheese. Juicy, perfectly cooked burgers come out of this tiny kitchen, but it is well worth the wait. Fries also are fantastic. One and a half chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Blue cheese burger, fries 

Highs: Great beer selection 

Lows: Can't do any make your own burgers here, its their way or the highway   

Giorgio Baldi

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  Longtime resident of the west side, Giorgio Baldi is a fairly expensive restaurant that in my opinion just isn't worth it. Decent veal, average lobster, one chubby thumb up. 

Must Eat: Veal Milenese  

Highs: LA historical value

 Lows: Overcooked veal and overpriced everything  

Herringbone

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  This San Diego export finally made it's way to LA. Avoid brunch at all costs. Dinner here is fantastic though- also have great happy hour oyster deals. One chubby thumb up. 

Must Eat: Local ceviche 

Highs: Fresh fish and great happy hour 

Lows: Good lord do not come here for brunch.   

Hillstone

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  Hillstone- I mean what can one say about another chain restaurant? Great food but I would suggest going to Bandaras under the same umbrella, for the same food. One chubby thumb up  

Must Eat: Spicy Tuna 'Osaka Style'

Highs: Good atmosphere, good food. 

Lows: Presentation can be a little sloppy

Huckleberry

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  Huckleberry is on every blog's list of best breakfasts in Los Angles. It's very good but is it worth that title? Nah- that being said baked goods and egg sandwiches are great, but call me old fashioned but I don't need creme fraiche on my eggs. One chubby thumb up 

Must Eat: Baked goods and egg sandwich 

Highs: Baked goods 

Lows: It's breakfast, get over yourself  

Joe's Pizza

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  Drunk and hungry in Santa Monica? Joe's pizza is one of the few places open to eat that's not McDonald's late night. Plus it is one of the only pizza spots that I have found here that sell garlic knots. Half a chubby thumb up. 

Must Eat: Regular slice and garlic knot 

Highs: Open late by LA standards 

Lows: Sober its ok pizza, drunk its pretty damn good  

Mainland Poke

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  The newest Poke place to hit Santa Monica, Mainland Poke is a great competitor to Sweetfin. I mean, they have kelp noodles here! One chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Three scoop poke bowl 

Highs: Kelp noodles, great yuzu dressing 

Lows: They need to figure out a way to make it look like its not scoops of tuna ice cream  

Meat On Ocean

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The newest restaurant from King's restaurant group (responsible for Water Grill) does not disappoint.  Although an impersonal dining room- the quality of the meat make up for that.  1.5 chubby thumbs up.


Must Eat:  Holstein porterhouse 

Highs:  Ocean views, high ceilings, solid steaks

Lows:  However nice th dining room looks it doesn't have that sexy steakhouse feel

Mare

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  How in the world are there two Mare locations? Honestly, if you can explain it to me please do because this restaurant needs to stop. With entrees being haphazardly thrown on plates with no care at all this gets two chubby thumbs down. 

Must Eat: N/A 

Highs: Zip Zero 

Lows: If I had to pick its remotely healthy 

*(Note- Melrose and Santa Monica locations have closed but one opened in Siverlake)  

Margo's

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  Taking over the old Ox & Son, this meat heavy menu on Montana is good, not great. Half a chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Pork chop 

Highs: Comfortable dining room, friendly staff 

Lows: Straight up ugly decor  

The Misfit

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  Want to get that NYC trendy restaurant vibe in LA? Look no further than The Misfit. Great for a group or happy hour. 1.25 chubby thumbs up

Must Eat: French dip nik niks 

Highs: Basil Gimlet, nik niks, overall vibe and FREE COOKIES 

Lows: Gets crowded FAST

Obica

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  Yet another Obcia Mozzerella Bar has opened, this time in Santa Monica. Just like every other Obica location, you'll get pretty good food at a good price. Also they deliver. 1/2 chubby thumb up. 

Must Eat: Prosciutto and burrata  

Highs: Good priced decent food and fast delivery 

Lows: You also can find Obica in malls

One Pico

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  Have some people in town you want to impress? Take them to One Pico. Eating essentially ON the beach at one of the top beachside hotels in California. 3/4 chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Shrimp cocktail

 Highs: Location location location 

Lows: It is in a hotel so expect hotel prices  

Plan Check

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 I don't care what LA Magazine has to say, this is the best 'upscale' burger in all of Los Angeles. I mean it has ketchup leather. Curious what that is? Go eat one of these juicy bad boys and tell me I'm wrong. 2 greasy chubby thumbs way up 

Must Eat: PCB with bacon 

Highs: This burger is amazing, sweet potato fries also a must eat and don't forget the cocktail menu 

Lows: None, don't sleep on the fried chicken sandwich either!


Rustic Canyon

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  A wine-o's dream come true. Extensive list of fantastic wines with fresh Californian cuisine. Great place for a small group to order shared plates. One and a half chubby thumbs up 

Must Eat: Fresh ricotta and baked bread

 Highs: Very fresh, very creative Californian dishes with a wine list to match

Lows: Pacing of the dishes could be better, very unassuming exterior and decor could use some work 

Sugarfish

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 Best. Sushi. Anywhere. Sugarfish is worth the hype, if you are in LA just for a day you should eat here twice. 2 chubby thumbs way up. 

Must Eat: Trust me menu 

Highs: Amazing price, outstanding quality 

Lows: No reservations, long wait time if you want to eat at a normal hour    

Sushi Roku

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  Why go to Sushi Roku when Sugarfish exists? Well, if you want a crunchy tuna roll or something more exotic. Katana roll is a must have, but is it worth that $20 just for some tuna? Meh, maybe one visit is enough. 1 chubby thumb up

Must Eat: Katana roll 

Highs: Great happy hour deals and creative rolls 

Lows: $20+ tuna rolls  

Sweetfin Poke

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  One of the better Poke places in LA- Sweetfin gives you great choices to create that perfect poke bowls. Macadamia nuts, wasabi peas and tuna. 1 chubby thumb up 

Must Eat: Spicy tuna poke bowl 

Highs: Great design, awesome cucumber water, popcorn also underrated 

Lows: Massive lines at lunchtime  

Swingers

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  Nothing is more East Coast than a true diner. As a transplant to LA, I was happy to find a place where I can wake up hungover Sunday morning and find a normal breakfast. Is it great? No not really, but its pretty good. 3/4 chubby thumbs up. 

Must Eat: Egg sandwich 

Highs: It's a diner! 

Lows: It's an ok diner!  

True Food Kitchen

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  All of the True Food Kitchen locations are the same. Pretty decent 'mall' food that claims to be supremely healthy. Avoid the pizzas. 1 chubby thumb up 

Must Eat: Turkey burger 

Highs: Healthy options, great for large groups 

Lows: Not terribly inventive cuisine    

Umami Burger

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  Santa Monica is currently being overrun with 'fancy' burger joints, and although you probably have had Umami burger elsewhere, you cannot pass up a truffle burger. 3/4chubby thumbs up 

Must Eat: Truffle burger 

Highs: Truffle burger, new location is nice and spacious 

Lows: Can be overwhelming when you just want a normal burger

Urth

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Could this be the most overrated restaurant in all of Los Angeles?  Over priced, over hyped and frankly not that good.  Look at how thick that prosciutto is!!  2 chubby thumbs down.

Must Eat:  Grilled chicken pesto salad

Highs: It's "healthy"

Lows: It's not good 

Wexler's Deli

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  Whether you hit Wexler's in Santa Monica or in Grand Central Market, you are in store for some great smoked meats and pastrami. Coming from a NY-er the bagels are pretty good too.  

Must Eat: The OG or the LA Bird 

Highs: Smoked fish and great sandwiches

Lows: A dozen bagels is $20

W 4th and Jane

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Want to make a New Yorker feel like they're back home?  Head to this NY bar named after one of the most beautiful corners in NYC.  Fantastic wings and great beer selection.  1 chubby thumbs up

Must Eat:  Hot wings

Highs:  Solid pub food with a great beer menu

Lows:  Get's crowded fast, service can be a bit slow