LA’s Westside invokes a lot of passion in Angelenos. Some will tell you it’s boring, others will never leave its confines - the specifics of which are largely up for debate. Your friend maintains that it’s everything west of the 405, your life coach claims that it’s anywhere between West Hollywood and when your soul hits the spiritual ocean. There’s no official answer, but there are plenty of great new restaurants in the area (which we’re defining as stretching from the beach to the eastern border of Beverly Hills). So we’ve made a new kind of Hit List, just for this part of town.
Use this Hit List when you’re with that person who doesn’t leave Santa Monica (except to maybe go to Brentwood), but you refuse to go to the terrible Italian place down the street for the fifth time in a row, or if you live in another part of town and want to see what’s new on the Westside.
The Westside, and Brentwood in particular, has a somewhat unfair reputation for being a part of town where not that much happens. But even if that’s not really true, the opening of Jon & Vinny’s Brentwood has overshadowed celebrity real estate deals to become the thing everyone in the neighborhood is talking about. The menu of Italian-American pasta, pizzas, and salads is exactly the same as the one at the Fairfax original (which is a good thing). The big difference at this location is that you’re more likely to catch a studio head eating the meatballs here.
Tumbi is one of our favorite spots for a casual dinner near The Promenade. The bright space is devoid of the screaming tourists that tend to dominate the area, instead giving way to a crowd mostly comprised of locals there to drink wine, eat good Indian food, and unwind after a long day. The menu is full of interesting dishes like patiala chicken and an apricot toothfish masala we think about regularly.
Most Westside rooftop spots involve people that spend more time getting the perfect not-candid candid than actually eating, which is why we get excited when one opens up that doesn’t make us sad inside. Margot is a rooftop restaurant with particularly interesting views (you can watch the trains at Culver Junction) and food you’ll want to eat. They serve an Italian-ish menu involving lots of pasta and seafood, and while it’s a bit pricey, the food is very solid. We recommend going for drinks (they have great cocktails) and some small plates around sunset, that way, you can watch the sun go down while you eat agnolotti.
Massilia is a laid-back date night spot in Santa Monica that feels way too calm for being just a block from the Promenade. It’s the kind of place where you’re treated like a regular, even if it’s your first time there. You can sample a few kinds of wine, and if they like you, they’ll pour your table some free cordials at the end of the meal. The menu is a little all over the place, but you won’t be disappointed with anything you order. We especially like the crunchy greens salad, the tagliatelle with morels, and the couscous with lamb.
Teddy’s Red Tacos started in a truck by the train tracks in South Park, and now, they’ve opened by the boardwalk in Venice. Even though it’s a pretty generic looking storefront on Windward, Teddy’s is a fantastic and exciting place for lunch or a quick dinner. They only have one kind of meat, beef birria, which is tender, stewed red beef, served all different ways. We usually get the deluxe platter that includes one of everything they serve, but we wouldn’t blame you if you went all in on the vampiros, which are cheesy tacos that you should order lots of, because they are very hard to stop eating.
Sichuan Impression is the newest location of the seminal SGV restaurant and it’s already our favorite place to eat Chinese food on the Westside. This is bold, intensely-flavored stuff, so it’s ideal to order a bunch of things to share with a big group. You’ll be able to bring as many friends as you need to help you finish everything, because the massive second story space has enough room for however many people you roll in with. The tea-rubbed ribs need to hit the table at some point, and if you feel like really cranking up the heat, try the mapo tofu and boiled whitefish.
If you’ve been to Night + Market in Weho or Silver Lake, then you know the drill at the newest location in Venice. Expect a menu that mixes classic Thai food, lesser-known regional dishes, and not-at-all-traditional things like peking duck pizza and a legendary fried chicken sandwich, plus the general feeling that the whole place could turn into a party at any moment. Having said that, this is Venice, so earlier in the night things are more family-friendly. By 8pm though, the kids are asleep at the table, while their parents are ordering a second bottle off the excellent natural wine list.
Roberta’s is a place that people who have strong opinions on pizza crust texture obsess about, and for good reason. The pizzas at this spot in Culver City by way of Brooklyn are fantastic - with thin, chewy crust that isjust the right amount of charred, and interesting toppings that never have too much going on. There’s a big menu that includes entrees and a bunch of pastas, but the best thing to do is skip over all that, order a few pizzas (you shouldn’t skip the Bee Sting) and a bottle of wine. Enjoy it all on the big patio out front.
When you’re on Sawtelle and want dip ramen, there are a whole bunch of pretty good options. But if you’re looking for something new, check out Menya Musashi. It’s a tsukemen spot with absolutely fantastic, thick, gravy-like broth for your noodles. They also have excellent toppings - order it nitin ichiryu style - basically, with everything on it, so you get a soft-boiled egg, pork belly, and thin, tender pork katsu.
For a neighborhood with a major movie studio in it, Culver City doesn’t exactly have a ton of restaurants where you can have a dinner meeting and still feel like you have a heartbeat. Simonette, inside the Palihotel just behind downtown, is in no way a snooze, but is client-friendly enough that your boss won’t get that weird uptight look on his face the minute you walk in. The classic French bistro food (oysters, moules frites, a nice piece of fish) won’t exactly blow anyone’s minds, but the indoor-outdoor space is beautiful, and the bar is lively enough to be your office’s new after-work drinks spot.