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Robata Bar

WHY A funky, fun, after-work hangout for ginger-lychee mojitos, sake and very share-able robata skewers. WHAT This easy-to-miss space next to parent restaurant Sushi Roku features authentic robata (Japanese grilled meats and veggies), chicken cartilage (for the brave) and a good-enough raw bar with interesting combos—try the wasabi bloody Mary oyster shooter. 1401 Ocean Ave., […]

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Valentino

EatLA-360

WHY For the newish Vin Bar, a more casual and affordable spot situated rather awkwardly within the restaurant. WHAT This groundbreaking Italian restaurant has impeccable silver and service, the atmosphere exudes self-satisfied wealth, and the kitchen is accomplished, turning out such delicacies as truffle-topped risotto, agnolotti with braised Sonoma lamb, and a garlic-rubbed veal chop […]

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Whist

EatLA-361

WHY An only-in-L.A. combo: creative Cal-Mediterranean dishes meet Justin Timberlake—worthy poolside dining. WHAT Mega-style meets better-than-the-norm hotel dining at this too-hip-for-most beach hotel. You can dine out on the green patio, in your own private tent or in the glam dining room; while it’s more romantic at night, it’s pricier, too, so we like coming […]

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Mélisse

EatLA-357

WHY The seasonally inspired and hard-to-resist four-course tasting menu; at $105 without wine, it’s a serious indulgence, but one you’re not likely to forget. Believe it or not, it’s worth the extra $30 for the roast chicken, which is not like any roast chicken you’ve ever had. Beautiful vegetarian tasting menu, too. WHAT Mélisse is […]

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Capo

WHY A Bruce Marder gem worth finding amid the posh Ocean Avenue hotels. WHAT The luxuriously simple, farm-fresh fare served in this tiny, romantic Italian restaurant is worth a special-occasion splurge. Meats are a specialty, so resist the handmade pastas and dive into the steaks and chops, grilled in the wood-burning fireplace in the corner […]

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El Texate

EatLA-239

WHY Cheap and tasty moles, goat tacos, and chicken soup with rice and avocado. WHAT To understand why Southern California is such a great place to live, head to El Texate in Santa Monica. Here you are, just a few blocks from the Pacific, eating a Oaxacan meal for less than $12, and it tastes […]

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Izzy’s Deli

WHY Good, honest food served 24 hours a day—and valet parking is free during the day! WHAT An essential place to know about if you find yourself hungry on the westside at 3 a.m. Even at the more conventional dining hours, Izzy’s serves reliable matzo ball soup, pastrami sandwiches, bagels ‘n lox, brisket and all […]

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Bread & Porridge

WHY Omelets made with a variety of interesting sausages; goat cheese salad; tender brisket. WHAT High-backed wooden booths, chalkboard menus and retro tile make for a setting of Rockwellian charm, just the place to wallow in the comfort of eggs, sausages, pancakes, fashionable salads and hearty entrées. Locals come for an early supper with a […]

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Back on the Beach Café

WHY Tables on the sand, smack in the middle of Santa Monica Beach. WHAT This longtime on-the-sand café is now part of the public Annenberg Beach Club next door. The straightforward fare is pretty much the same—nothing amazing, but that omelet, breakfast quesadilla or burger tastes so much better when the sun is sparkling on […]

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Groundwork

WHY For house-roasted organic coffee, properly robust, to take home by the pound or order in a cup. WHAT Don’t expect to hang out in this miniature storefront—it’s a place to buy good whole beans to take home or a tasty brewed cup or latte to take with you. 2908 Main St., Santa Monica, 310.392.9243, […]

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