There are times when one has to make a mad rush through Los Angeles’s restaurants in just a day. Whether it’s a long layover or a quick work trip or friends visiting from town who need to get a glimpse of the city’s unparalleled dining scene, this guide is here to help. Eater already published a 24-hour guide on how to eat through LA’s Eastside, so this trail is to inspire anyone staying around Venice, Santa Monica, and greater West LA. In essence, it’s a rough look at an amoeba of a city that defies clear geological boundaries. So without further adieu, a handy itinerary for eating through Los Angeles’s Westside in a single day.
8 a.m. Breakfast at Great White in Venice for dine-in or Lily’s Malibu for grab-and-go
Dine on-site: You want to not be able to buy into Australian all-day cafe Great White’s charm. Its prices loom on the menu page like a shark’s fin jutting from the surface of shallow water, but once you’re past the initial sticker shock, and the drinks are ordered, and small plates comprising the most ideal oceanside breakfast spread arrive, its appeal is undeniable — and irresistible. The breakfast burrito is an easy handheld option for weekend revelers looking to grab breakfast on the go, but those dining at Great White’s picnic tables on the patio might want to go for something plated, like the Great White brekkie with its swirl of eggs, goat cheese, roasted Sungold tomatoes, and requisite greenery in the form of market arugula and avocado. The banana bread with a melty pat of whipped honeycomb butter is a not-too-big, not-too-little sweet accompaniment, or forgo the savory altogether with the all-day spot’s glinty, sapphire-hued blue algae smoothie bowl, pocked with sliced fruits and granola.
Grab to-go: Tucked into a shopping center also home to Pavilions, coffee and ice cream shop Le Cafe de la Plage Malibu, and high-end smoothie chain Sun Life Organics, Lily’s Malibu slings some of the best — and bulkiest — breakfast burritos you can find along the Pacific Coast Highway, maybe even in Los Angeles. The combination of its molten refried beans and cheese with perfectly scrambled eggs (nary a brown spot in sight) and the protein of your choice is so quintessential that it almost feels sacrilegious to add more to the mix (you might still decide to thread in slices of avocado or its griddled peppers to customize your own). The pièce de résistance to any burrito or taco order is Lily’s signature green salsa, which adds heat and acid with flecks of habanero and a limey finish.
9 a.m. Coffee at Little Lunch or Menotti’s in Venice
Dine on-site: Little Lunch, a corner coffee shop (and another Venice cafe with a strong Australian influence), offers morning staples (lattes like the Honey Nut Cheerios-esque Best Mate or turmeric-dusted Gold Coaster; muffins; mini-donuts; and even breakfast burritos beamed over from Great White up the street) with the added perk of its adjacent patio that has parking, white-painted benches, and small tabletops for a languid coffee hour spent alone or with friends.
Grab to-go: The most beloved coffee in Venice is undoubtedly Menotti’s, which has been serving coffees from its Windward Avenue location since 2014. The formerly secret, now laid-apparent menu by its ordering counter has some of the best drinks you can go for: the vegan Spanish latte, with its blend of sweetened condensed coconut and oak milks; the Bee’s Knees, sweetened by honey and lavender; and the Cafe Rico, served with an orange peel to scent the rim of the cup. Grab your coffee and enjoy the spoils at the Venice Beach Skatepark, just a few hundred feet away.
10 a.m. Grab gifts and goods at Gjusta Grocer
Don’t want to deal with Gjusta’s weekend lines or prefer to just grab the bread to go? After a coffee and skatepark jaunt, head back over to Windward Circle to Gjusta Grocer, the market outpost of the Sunset Avenue original that carries grab-and-go sandwiches, bread loaves, salads, and a corner store selection that dreams are made of: artisanal pastas and sauces, antipasti provisions, and fridges full of delicate meats and cheeses that can make for one hell of a picnic platter (or an equally Instagrammable spread at home). Plus, it’s the perfect place to stock up on edible gifts for out-of-towners who want to bring something special home.
12 p.m. Sit-down lunch at Crudo e Nudo in Santa Monica or Bay Cities for grab-and-go
Dine on-site: Crudo e Nudo’s casual understatedness is part of what makes it stand out on a strip of Main Street heavy-hitters that includes Pasjoli, Little Prince, and now the Josiah Citrin-owned Augie’s on Main. The menu, in its basest form, is high-quality seafood done exceptionally well, which is part of why the restaurant’s business model is succeeding one year into its opening. Here, you might choose to do the chef’s crudo trio, which offers an omakase-like progression of delicate crudos from chef/co-owner Brian Bornemann. The oysters are never a bad idea, nor are its vegan Caesar salad or shoyu- and sesame-oil spiked tuna tartare toasts served on thick slabs of Gjusta bread. The neighborhood restaurant vibe is apparent in its hypersharable menu: the neighborly thing to do when you order the caviar nachos (piled with ikura, pickled onion, creme fraiche, and Calabrian chile) is to share with the person who came with you (or the ones at the table next to you).
Grab to-go: Bay Cities is an iconic Italian deli and market that has fashioned itself into a hallmark of Westside dining, one Godmother sandwich at a time. While that sandwich, with its folkloric stack of Genoa salami, mortadella, capicola, ham, prosciutto, and provolone bedded in “the works,” is the seminal choice, other sandwiches here will satisfy, like the simpler Little Dom Lorenzo and serrano ham-laden Spaniard, all served on the deli’s signature chewy Italian hero roll. The sides, which you can have served to order at the deli counter or, even better, just toss into your basket (you will inevitably need a basket) from the bounty in its grab-and-go stands range from antipasto salad and chilled pesto fusilli to a Calabrian chile-flecked caprese. The hot counter offers warming dishes like sausage and peppers and chicken parmigiana, so that even when the sun isn’t out, there’s something worth stopping for.
2 p.m. Snacks at Sunny Blue (savory) or Sweet Rose Creamery (sweet)
Savory snack: Credit should be given to Main Street stalwart Sunny Blue: not only has it been a mainstay on the now-bustling Santa Monica street since 2010 (before it experienced a recent growth spurt), it also claims to be the first omusubi restaurant in the U.S. It specializes in made-to-order rice balls that enclose savory fillings like lightly spiced housemade curries, albacore tuna dotted with crunchy cucumber and dressed with spicy mayo, tender eggplant spiked with chili miso, and the must-order sweet-and-tart Japanese pickled plum paste (ume) with fresh shiso leaves, in lightly seasoned rice. Once rolled, each umusubi is served loosely wrapped in a single sheet of nori — making them perfectly portable for a walk around the neighborhood or to the Pacific (which happens to be just steps away). 2828 Main Street, Santa Monica.
Sweet snack: If a mid-afternoon snack craving leans a little sweeter, head to Sweet Rose Creamery, which has been churning small-batch ice cream using organic Clover Sonoma dairy for more than a decade. Everything’s made in-house, from the intoxicating-smelling, made-fresh-daily waffle cones to toppings like vegan cookie dough. Ice cream flavors rotate monthly and stay pretty classic, and dairy-free options, like bursting-with-fruit sorbets and a coffee flavor made with Caffe Luxxe, are shockingly creamy. Should there be any fear of dropping a cone whilst taking a stroll, opt for a sundae. A favorite is the Campfire, a s’more-inspired sundae featuring scoops of salted caramel ice cream cloaked in a chocolate hard shell, then topped with torched marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs. Even on foggy beachside days, it’s an instant taste memory of summertime. 2726 Main Street, Santa Monica.
3 p.m. Cheese break at Lady & Larder
Despite being compact, this jewel box of a shop known for its Instagram-worthy cheese and snack platters is something of a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for cheese lovers. Stop by to pick up a “picnic box” filled with the likes of beautifully layered cheese and charcuterie; fresh fruit from the Santa Monica, Venice, or Mar Vista farmers’ markets; crudites and hummus; or even vegan cheese and fruit. Or let one of the extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff guide you through the cheese case filled entirely with American producers, including California favorites like Pennyroyal Farm, Stepladder Creamery, and Andante Creamery. Have some cheese cut to order, then grab a fresh-baked baguette from Clark Street or a sourdough loaf from Bub & Grandma’s, and all the cheese accouterments and snacks you could possibly imagine, ranging from honey to tinned fish to chocolate to jams to salt to Lady & Larder’s own line of crackers. And yes, there’s lots of natural wine to choose from, as well. (Pro tip: Arriving between noon and 3 p.m. means being able to order from the “secret lunch menu,” which includes sandwiches like the Hot Girl Salami.) 828 Pico Boulevard, Unit 2, Santa Monica.
6 p.m. Cocktails at Fia Steak (festive bubbles) or Nostalgia (playful)
Festive bubbles: Fia Steak is one of the most decadent openings on the westside in recent years: picture a dining room outfitted with exposed brick, a dramatic stained glass window, and classic red-leather banquettes with modular seating that can be adjusted for boisterous parties of up to 24 to dine on the most decadent ingredients (truffles, caviar, and, of course, steak). The move here is to sidle up to the restaurant’s marble Carrera bar, with an open view of the restaurant’s Santa Maria grills working large-format prime bone-in ribeyes and the like, and kick your evening off with a bump of caviar (either Kaluga, Royal Kaluga, or Royal Ossetra) and a glass of Champagne. While still relatively pricey for a pre-dinner drink, it’s like experiencing the life of a Santa Monica tech bro without the staggering dinner bill. 2458 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica.
Playful cocktails: With its light-wood paneling and camel-colored leather couches, Nostalgia has the feel of hanging out in a basement — a cool one, at that — back in one’s teenage years. Outdoor picnic tables, as well as 1980s board games like Connect 4 and Battleship, lend to a casual vibe. But make no mistake, the laid-back surroundings don’t reflect in the bar’s superior cocktails, which include playful drinks like the Breakfast Club, a clarified milk punch made with organic Cinnamon Toast Crunch and spiked with rum and vodka. There are nonalcoholic options, too, like the refreshing Strawiri Cooler, a take on the juices in those classic laminated-foil Capri Sun pouches, made with Seedlip, strawberry, and kiwi. There’s the option of adding CBD to any of the booze-free cocktails — a more refined throwback to smoking weed in someone’s basement growing up. 1326 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica.
8 p.m. Dinner in Sawtelle Japantown
The choose-your-own-adventure dinner path is best held in Sawtelle Japantown, where, within a dense, neon stretch of restaurants, shops, art galleries, and cafes, some of the best food the Westside has to offer resides. You can get bubbling cauldrons of soondubu at Seoul Tofu, which sits on the edge of complex that also houses cult-favorite Tatsu Ramen, barbecue stalwart Manpuku Yakiniku Grill, and Filipino spot Spoon & Pork, among others. Further down, spicy tantan ramen is ripe for taking at Killer Noodle, although Tsujita and Tsujita Annex offer a tsukemen buoyed by its storied broth and noodles for those who prefer to dip. Marugame Udon is the spot for chewy, bouncy udon and flaky tempura, but you can also head across the street for Japanese-inflected Mexican dishes at Hermanito, an outdoor paradise bathed in pink light serving tacos, ceviches, and a queso that will evoke movie theater nacho nostalgia.
11 p.m. Late-night snacks at Accomplice
Accomplice has the one-two punch of having some of the best, most inventive cocktails in the entire city as well as a late-night menu from its adjoining sister Taiwanese restaurant, chef David Kuo’s Little Fatty. From 10 p.m. to midnight Thursdays through Sunday, sidle up to the no-nonsense mirrored bar for cheeseburgers with soy-pickled cucumbers and “Formosa” thousand island dressing; a spicy fried chicken sandwich topped with shiso green goddess and sesame slaw; crisp french fries served with shiso ranch for dipping, and the real star of the show: Kuo’s chicken wings. Double-fried so they’re shatteringly crisp and tossed in a heavy coating or orange sauce and chili crisp, then topped off with a sprinkling of orange zest, these juicy little numbers have a heat that builds after a few sticky bites. Just be forewarned that these wings require a veritable stack of napkins; hands may need a serious cleanup before sipping a nightcap like the Calling Card (bourbon, apricot, cardamom, and amaro) or a keep-the-party-going cocktail like the Nitro Espresso Martini. 3813 Grand View Boulevard, Los Angeles.
1 a.m. Tacos at Tamix
Tamix has multiple locations, including another spot in Palms on the corner of Venice and Sepulveda. At the Westside outpost, order up some of LA’s best tacos al pastor, a local specialty that takes heavily marinated pork and cooks it on a spit. They’re topped with a slice of pineapple for a sweet bite. Make sure to dress each taco gently with salsa, onions, and cilantro (or pico de gallo), because tacos should never be naked. 3801 South Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles.