Let’s Eat: Los Angeles West Side Beach Dining
From sushi to birthday dinner to cheeseburgers
This isn’t a fine dining guide or even a best of. This is the awesome food, the okay food, and also the unexpected food adventures of my summer sojourn in LA’s west side.
Go here for omakase sushi
11275 National Blvd, Los Angeles
Rules: no cell phones, you have to eat the rice, you can’t have the next plate until you finish the one in front of you. Yep, there are rules! When the sushi is this good, who cares? This is Japanese style sushi. Not the place to go if you’re looking for a Dynamite Roll.
Like so much awesome food in LA, it’s in an ugly corner strip mall. The sushi here is incredible. The Chef is an artist, it’s beyond fresh — if you’re a serious sushi lover, go here.
Go here for an incredible grass fed burger + fries
1701 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica
When I think of burgers in LA, I’m not imagining a Tiki inspired Hawaiian surfer themed joint in a little strip mall (again with the strip mall!). But when my friends insisted this is the place for a crazy good burger, I rolled up to the counter and ordered a half pound grass fed burger on a Hawaiian bun. Minus the Hawaiian stuff, because I just don’t do fruit (pineapple) on burgers.
Holy crap. This was one of the most amazing burgers I’ve ever had. Juicy, flavorful, somehow…clean tasting (can one even say that about a burger dripping juice down one’s arm?). I’ll definitely be coming back here.
Go here for the LA beach town dive bar experience
Washington Blvd at Venice Pier
Los Angeles beach towns used to have lots of dive bars just like this one, but they’re all but gone now, replaced by Cold Stone and craft beer and wood fired pizza joints. I heard this was a biker bar, and there’s a bouncer parked right outside the door, but I really didn’t get that vibe inside, not at lunchtime at least.
There are the requisite billiards tables, TVs tuned to sports and the lighting is very dim, so you can escape the always bright and cheery California sunshine (it does get too much at times). The food is unremarkable, but my friend ordered a burger with chili, cheese and hot link, which was over the top. How do you even get that in your mouth? I enjoyed watching him try. Burgers come with a small bag of chips, reminiscent of a grammar school cafeteria.
Service is friendly. I’d definitely go for beer and billiards.
Go here for beer and brats
3817 Grand View Blvd, Los Angeles (Mar Vista)
Do you ever get overwhelmed at Farmers’ Markets? The Mar Vista Sunday Farmers Market is sprawling and by the time I was done picking up gorgeous tiny strawberries, artisan goat cheese and vegan chocolates, I realized there was nothing I wanted to eat from any of the prepared food stalls. My friend and I picked up plenty of delicious food to take home and cook with, but we were both hungry and in the mood to sit down, relax and eat something substantial. Luckily, right next door to the open air market is a cool German sausage house and beer garden.
As you can imagine, they have an impressive beer menu. I’m a huge fan of traditional brats and sauerkraut, so I ordered that and demolished it. I then eyed my friend’s plate, and when I tried her cheese stuffed brats, I made a mental note to order these the next time. And there will be a next time!
Lunetta All Day
Go here for delish all day breakfast
2420 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica
A beautiful, very popular (read: jam packed) all day brekkie spot, Lunetta All Day also serves up gorgeous sandwiches on fluffy brioche and yummy salads. There’s lovely garden patio seating in the back, but God only knows how long the wait list will be. I love the decor inside, but don’t go here for convo because it is loud. They’ve nailed their pancakes, but haven’t quite figured out the acoustics.
We enjoyed the Niçoise, a delicious fluffy pancake to share, a daily fish special served with succotash…everything was good, including the iced matcha latte…though I’d say the breakfast and sandwiches are the best here. Next time I’d stick to those.
Go here on Thursday evenings for food trucks and live music by the beach
In the parking lot of Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey
If you’re in the area, don’t miss food truck Thursdays — where you’ll find a rotating selection of food trucks serving lobster rolls, Indonesian fusion, ice cream, bibimbap, BBQ and more. There’s live music, and it’s a very family friendly vibe with mostly locals out enjoying the neighborhood with their kids and dogs.
Go here for the lavish atmosphere and great service
People who don’t celebrate birthdays are lame. And they’re missing out! There are places you probably wouldn’t just go to any old day that are perfect for Birthday Dinner, and Ruth Chris is just such a place. As soon as I walked in there, it felt like a date restaurant. Birthdays are so much better than dates, so I was pleased as punch. And since it was my friend’s birthday, too, double pleased.
So you might expect a big meat expo here, but my faves were the lobster mac cheese and the seafood tower. I had a ribeye, but I don’t even remember it. What I do remember is trying to eat everything on the seafood tower without appearing to eat everything on the seafood tower. After all, it was for the table to share!
Go here to satisfy all your carnivore cravings
425 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey
So, what’s the picture of the fries about? The fries are amazing. I always order the fries at this place, but the picture is there because none of my meat pics turned out! This place is about the meat, and even though they’ve got awesome sides, veggies, chopped salad and so forth, who cares? The meat is so amazing here, it’s served by itself without sides or adornment (read: distractions). The meat. I dream of it.
Galician grass fed wet aged rib eye. I do not even know what “wet aged” means, but I don’t care. It’s so delicious. The tomahawk ribeye is a beast, melt in your mouth delicious with a giant bone to take home for the dog (just kidding, I would fight off a dog to have this yummy bone to gnaw on when no one was looking). If they’ve got duck on the menu, definitely order it. It’s crusted with toasted whole brown mustard and coriander seeds, and tastes even better the next day, standing at the fridge eating right out of the takeout box.
Sides are great, as mentioned. Desserts, too. I had the strawberry yuzu triffle, which was good but a bit too creamy. The peanut butter chocolate crepe layer cake with ice cream was the bomb. If it’s early you can try a walk in, but a reservation will make your life easier.
Go here for burgers by the beach
Venice Pier: Washington Blvd at Pacific
Burgers. Full stop. Their burgers are absolutely delicious and I love their skinny fries. There’s a lot on their menu and you might be tempted to go off piste. Just stick with a burger and you’ll always be happy.
Go here for the Japanese food court experience
3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles
Mistuwa reminds me of a place I used to go when I lived in Silicon Valley. A large Japanese supermarket with an attached food court, with fast, inexpensive Japanese dishes ranging from noodles to chicken katsu curry.
I love the display cases with the fake food facsimiles of each dish…so real! I popped in here to pick up some Japanese groceries and had to stop for a fast katsu and rice, ordered from one of the vendors and eaten in the cafeteria style dining hall.
Jay Bee’s House of Fine Bar-B-Q
Go here for zero fuss BBQ
15911 Avalon Blvd, Gardena
A kinda famous dive BBQ shack, rising up out of the pavement in the middle of nowhere (or at least, no where you’d be expecting to eat). The menu is short and to the point. Today we’re eating rib tips, pulled pork sandwiches, definitely a side of baked beans. I break out my camera and the ladies in the kitchen behind the counter get crazy, waving their arms and letting me know there are No Pictures Allowed! Okay. So, you get your order and take it to one of the red metal picnic tables in the shade. You’re gonna need napkins, and probably a nap.