Food. Is. Love.
Santa Monica, CA — If you have lived a Life, traveled the World, benefited from wonderful Parents, worked with a Chef-Sister, planted a Garden, then you know, you absolutely know this one very important Lesson About Life: Food is Love.
I have eaten Fish Tacos in Baja with a girl from Chile, Gallo Pinto in Cuzco with a bunch of Mormons from Salt Lake City, Crepes in Paris all by my lonesome, Moussaka in Corfu with a bunch of rowdy Canadians, Hibiscus Margaritas in Costa Rica with a dude from Brooklyn, Mussels in Brussels, Gelato in Rome, Omelet in Montreal, Fondue in Zurich, Bangers & Mash in Oxford, but nothing beats Poached Eggs & Salt-Risen Toast made by my Mom or Biscuits & Gravy served piping hot by my sister in Kentucky.
A great meal shared with new or old friends. Love.
I love to travel, and I love to eat. Not necessarily in that order. And always, it’s the People who make the food who, literally, make the food experience. My search for that perfect Fish Taco continues…
If I make you Blueberry Pancakes for Breakfast or Shrimp & Grits for Supper, you should know that I love you. In all matters related to Love, Food is a major Tell.
Whether it’s that Morning Latte hand-crafted for you by your favorite Barista, or that Breakfast Burrito at your local Tacqueria, or that sublime Cheese Board served to you at your favorite Tennis Bar, Love comes in all culinary shapes and sizes…and cocktails.
Here’s a few places in my neighborhood, Santa Monica’s Ocean Park, where I regularly find some Love:
- Peets Coffee. Many days, I start my day here, and there’s one reason why: Marvin, my favorite Barista who greets me by name, knows my drink, and makes me feel welcome. Marvin does this with all the morning regulars who up early to check the surf, hit the pool or to head to work. He makes the coffee taste even better.
- Holy Guacamole. If you have been jonesing for a tasty Breakfast Burrito after your morning surf session, then this hole-in-the-wall, shotgun Tacqueria is for you, Friend. Ask for the Salsa Verde with extra lime.
- Brick+Mortar. At night, this is a sports bar filled with Singles looking to mingle, but during the afternoon, it’s a low-key local haunt with the warmest, friendliest bartenders who will gladly change the channel on the bigscreen TV so you can watch the latest Tennis tournament playing that week. Must-Eat: The Burger. The Mushroom Pizza. The Cheese Board.
- The Galley. Santa Monica’s oldest restaurant where it’s always 2 AM no matter what time of day you visit…that’s the ambience in this shipwreck/bar/restaurant. It’s the Cheers bar of Main Street, and locals abound. In fact, it’s the people who make this place great. Must-Eat: Fish Tacos. Fish & Chips. Galley Dog. Shrimp Scampi atop Angie’s Pasta. Tortilla Soup.
- Grain Whiskey Bar. Hands-down, my favorite Bourbon Bar on the Westside, this hidden gem is tucked away within Playa Provisions, a restaurant at the beach in Playa del Rey. Must Try: The Ginger Highball. Uber there and back, please.
- Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream. You are really lucky if you have a Scoop Shop a block from your house. Get a Pint and split it with two of your favorite flavors. My current combo of choice: Chocolate Peanut Buttery Swirl and Strawberry. And, don’t miss out on Free Cone Day as it only happens once a year, and it’s delightful seeing all your friends and neighbors wait in line to eat ice cream. Hard to distinguish adults from the children which is lovely to witness.
- Santa Monica Farmers Market. On Sundays, the market sets up on Main Street across from ZJ’s, my favorite surf shop, so I frequently kill two birds with one stone, or um, one beach cruiser bike ride. Must Sample Everything. Especially, the Falafels. Or the Quesadillas from Carbon Grill. I love the Cheese Guy. The Honey Guy. The Pesto Gals. The Asparagus & Artichoke Booth. Listen to market director Laura Avery with the Market Report on KCRW’s Good Food program (Saturdays at 11 AM). Here’s the link: http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/good-food
- Sunnin Lebanese Café. What’s great for supper after a strenuous Yoga class? Why, a big plate of grilled Chicken Kebabs with sides of Foutoush Salad and Hummus. Yum.
- M Street Kitchen. Locals love this bistro close to the beach because on Mondays after 7 PM, the tacos are $2 each. Yes. Great spot to see friends, share some Guac & Chips, and enjoy the terrace where surfers pass by on their bikes to and fro the beach. For breakfast, the Huevos Rancheros and Choc Chip Pancakes are totally on point.
- Manchego. If I really really like you, I will share a Charcuterie & Cheese Board and some delicious Spanish Tapas with you at this cozy bistro on Main Street. Sangria and good conversation never tasted so good. Reservations are a must on the weekends.
- Three Twins Ice Cream. After a lovely meal at Manchego, there’s nothing better than a stroll down Main Street and a stop at this shotgun ice cream parlor that serves freshly made Horchata Ice Cream. One Scoop is all ya need, Amigo.
- Twilight Summer Concert Series on Santa Monica Beach at the Santa Monica Pier with Musical Performances curated by local radio station extraordinaire KCRW 89.9 FM where Evenings Become Eclectic. Bring a picnic, settle in a comfy spot on the beach and enjoy the sand, surf, sounds and fellowship under the stars and the lights of Pacific Park’s rollercoaster and ferris wheel. Just lovely. Many Main Street restaurants offer picnic specials. Complimentary bike valet, too. Love it. (Photo by Sandy Adomaitis)
- Ashland Hill is really into Gin, and so am I as it turns out. Social Hour starts at 3 pm weekdays, and I suggest you drop in for a specialty Gin & Tonic from their extensive drink menu. Fun and refreshing.