Ellen's Restaurants

L.A. Is My Beat - The Restaurants of Los Angeles as I experience them

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Grills of Santa Monica

My office moved from Century City to Santa Monica just over two years ago. Our company is located at the east end of the City in a large office 'campus.' The restaurant selection 'on-campus' is limited. We have a food court consisting of 3 fair fast food places, Tully's Coffee and The Daily Grill. In the office complex across the street there are a few more fast food places, Mrs. Winston's salad bar and Cafe Bizou. A block or so away there are more fast food places: La Salsa, Quizno's, Roll & Sushi, Starbucks.
Needless to say, we get rather tired of fast-food and the hustle and bustle of these types of places. Once in awhile, we just want to go back to our roots and eat at a down-home, one-of-a-kind grill! Individuality is not dead in Santa Monica. You can still find family-run restaurants and cafes.

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One place we really like is the Sunset Grill on Ocean Park Blvd. & 17th Street (1701 Ocean Park Blvd, 310/450-7546). There is a small parking lot in the mini-mall where Sunset Grill is located, a few outside tables and about 10 tables inside. There's a beautiful display of freshly made salads. You can order sandwiches, burgers, lasagna, homemade soup and even some entrees. They carry divine baked goods too. They also serve breakfast. The other day I went for lunch with two of my co-workers. We each had salad combos. Christina had the pesto pasta and tuna-salad stuffed avocado; Renee had a tuna sandwich and the roasted eggplant with pine nuts; I had the salmon-salad stuffed avocado and a marvelous salad with mango, avocado and tomato. The service is friendly and fast. Each salad plate is served with delicious piece of sourdough bread which I suspect is from the Normandy Bakery in Mid-City L.A. The clientele here are office workers from the nearby business park, moms with kids in strollers and ladies who lunch. Lunch typically costs from $8-$12.

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Christina's Lunch

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Renee's Lunch

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Ellen's Lunch

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Sunset Grill - Counter
Big Jo's (1955 Broadway, 310/828.3191) is another grill here in Santa Monica. The initial Big Jo probably sold the place years ago, but the original menu is still intact with the addition of a few Asian dishes. You can get the gooiest and most delicious Philly cheese steak sandwich here. I'm not an aficionado of cheese steaks, but I like the hart-clogging version they serve at Big Jo's.

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Big Jo's
There are no tables inside this greasy spoon, just some picnic tables in a garage-like area, or you can eat in your car in the ample parking lot. When my NEW CAR was delivered last month, Mr. Larry and I ordered cheese steaks here and tailgated for lunch. It was such a beachy-Santa Monica thing to do. The clientele here seems to be workers from nearby offices and small factory-type businesses and people in a hurry. Lunch generally costs from $3-$6.
Today, my office-mate, Aileen and I went to the Tulip Cafe (1319 Colorado Ave., 310/394-1537) for lunch. We've been driving by this place for two years.

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Today, we finally ventured inside to find a very nice, vintage little coffee shop. The menu is standard: Burgers, sandwiches, some Mexican and Asian dishes. They do have daily specials 5 days of the week that look good. Tulip also serves breakfast. Aileen had the fish and chips. I tried the avocado, bacon burger. Both were tasty.

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Aileen's Fish, Chips & Coleslaw

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Ellen's Avocado Bacon Burger

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Tulip Cafe Counter

The service was good. There were decorations up for Halloween. The place was filled with workers from the offices and small factories nearby. The cost of lunch will run you anywhere from $4-$8. We will definitely go back to try some of the specials.

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At 9:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


How do you find these places? They all seem so remote? Do you just drive around the area?


At 9:17 AM , Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Hi Ginny,

Yes, I do drive around the neighborhood where my office is located. I also like to see how many service vehicles are parked outside a place. To me, this represents good food at good value, if the working public frequents the restaurant!

Ellen B.,


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