Archive for 'Santa Monica'

Speaking Truth to Powah: Why L.A. Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About Dunkin’ Donuts

People of Los Angeles! At the risk of having my honorary Boston citizenship revoked (I lived there from 1994-2003), I have a warning for you all. Each and every one of you. Some of you. A handful of you. The few of you who might be super excited about the long awaited arrival of our very first Dunkin Donuts. You might want to curb your enthusiasm, just a tad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m kind of excited to have Dunkin Donuts in Los Angeles, and in 2003 when I first moved here from Boston I would have actually killed for it. But it’s not 2003 anymore. And unless you are from the east coast, and know exactly what it is you’re getting excited for, you’re going to want to lower your expectations before heading over to the DD opening in Santa Monica on Tuesday.

So why exactly are people getting excited and why should you not be one of those people? I ask and answer all those questions, after the jump.

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Hummus Bar Express is Now Open (and Dominating Lunch) on the Promenade

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Back in August, when word broke that Hummus Bar & Grill in Tarzana was opening an “express” location on the 3rd Street Promenade, I wondered just how excited Santa Monica should really be.  After all, there was no guarantee that some of the best parts of the original (the fresh baked laffa, the all you can eat salads, the french fries in the sandwiches) would be making the journey down the 405.  Well, last month Hummus Bar Express opened on 3rd between Arizona and Santa Monica and the answer is a resounding very excited.  Santa Monica should be absolutely pickled tink. (See what I did there? Because, you know, there are a lot of pickles in Israeli food… and people say “tickled pink”, so I just took the first letter of… oh nevermind.)

As expected, there is no all you can eat salad option.  But there is enough of the original in this express location to immediately make this one of if not THE best lunch option on or around the Promenade.

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How Excited Should Santa Monica Be For Hummus Bar Express?

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I don’t know how you feel, but hearing that a place called “Hummus Bar Express” is coming soon to the 3rd Street Promenade does not cause me to automatically celebrate.  We are talking about the Promenade after all, home to such wonderful Mediterranean cuisine as Falafel King.  And Greek Cuisine Stop N Cafe.  I’m not saying the Promenade couldn’t use an excellent Middle Eastern option (only a crazy person would say that!) but I do question what kind of Middle Eastern options the Promenade attracts.  Of course once you add the words “from Tarzana” to the end of the Hummus Bar Express, that changes everything. Tarzana?  That’s in the Valley.  And the Valley has pretty awesome Middle Eastern food.  Santa Monica could sure use some of that.

The question is, how excited should we be for Hummus Bar Express?  Well that depends on how much of the original Hummus Bar & Grill is going to make it down the 405?  They did call it “Express”, which means not everything is going to make the trip.  But here’s what we should be hoping for…

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Shaka Shack is Surprisingly Good (And their Veggie Burger is Downright Great)

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I don’t know if it’s because I moved here from New York, but I had to do a double take the first time I read about Shaka Shack- a new burger joint that just opened on Ocean Park Blvd. in Santa Monica.  Change one letter and you’ve got, arguably, the most popular burger place in New York City.  A chain that has not only expanded to Miami, Washington DC and Dubai, but was also big enough to get one star in the New York Times yesterday. What were these Shaka Shack people thinking!?  Could this be west coast payback for the overt In N Out Burger rip off that opened in Manhattan two years ago?  And how did they expect to get away with this? At least McDowell’s was owned by a guy with the last name McDowell.

The answer?  Shaka Shack is nothing like the Shake Shack.  It’s a tiki bar’esque, surfer themed hangout, with a beach bum owner who could argue that he had never heard of the New York chain and you just might believe them (even though his ex wife used to work for Wolfgang Puck and they appeared  on the NBC show Chopping block together).

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A Cheap Lunch Attempt at Navigating Milo & Olive

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As much I love Huckleberry and consider it hands down the best brunch and baked goods on the westside, I can’t in good conscience call it a Midtown Lunch.  Even the few things that clock in at under $10 (like their excellent $9.50 egg sandwich) aren’t exactly a stellar value.  But when I heard that the owners of Huckleberry and Rustic Canyon were opening Milo & Olive, a new bakery/restaurant specializing in pizza and small plates, I got kind of excited.  Especially when I heard that it had very few seats and planned on doing a ton of take out business.

A lot of take out?  That sounds like it could be right up my alley.  Could this be the cheapskate, lunchtime version of Huckleberry I’ve always dreamed about?  Only one way to find out…

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Second Curious Palate Location Gets a Menu Makeover

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On the surface Curious Palate (on Venice Blvd in Mar Vista) isn’t a typical Midtown Lunch’ing spot. Everything is a dollar or two more than it should be, and if my NY self caught my L.A. self eating quinoa a good kick to the balls would be in order. But some of their sandwiches are pretty awesome, and kind of worth the splurge if you’re in the area- like their miso short rib wrap, and the Thai chicken satay sandwich. And if you like nuts and dried fruit in your chicken salad, their chicken salad is pretty awesome as well.

So when I saw that they were opening a second Curious Palate inside the new “Market” at Santa Monica Place, and it was going to have an expanded menu from the Venice location, I was intrigued. I’m a fan of the SaMo place food court, but even I crave a “quality” (read: more expensive) lunch every once in awhile.

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Bru’s Wiffle Brings Waffle Sliders to the Westside

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If you’ve been reading Midtown Lunch for awhile then you probably have figured out that I don’t necessarily love the standard sandwich as much as the average luncher.  For me to get excited about a sandwich it’s got to have the greatest meatloaf of all time in it, be stuffed with mozzarella sticks and onion rings, topped with string beans, and/or Pueblan string cheese. Give me a something I can work with here.  In other words, when presented with the choice between the greatest turkey sandwich of all time, and just decent Chinese food- I’m going to go Chinese.

Unless of course that sandwich uses waffles as its bread!  So when I read on Unemployed Eater that Bru’s Wiffle in Santa Monica was doing a special waffle breakfast sandwich, I was intrigued and ready to subscribe to their newsletter.

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