Palisades News’ Best Westside Dishes of 2021

By Sam Catanzaro

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime in-between, the Westside has no shortage of world-class food to satisfy cravings. From a perfect breakfast burrito to melt-in-your-mouth sashimi, here are some best dishes the area has to offer.

Best Breakfast Burrito: Cerveteca

Located on Venice Boulevard in Culver City, Cerveteca’s breakfast burrito is arguably one of LA’s best breakfast burritos. While the $12 price tag isn’t cheap, it’s also not unreasonable for the area and is worth every penny. While I opt for the bacon (as opposed to chorizo), both are excellent when complimented by the crunchy tots, a perfect amount of eggs and black beans, dipped into their spicy creamy sauce. Cervetca – 9418 Venice Blvd, Culver City cervetecaculvercity.com.

Best Coffee: Kyoto Cold Brew – Demitasse

Located on 3rd Street, just north of Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, Demitasse takes all their coffee seriously. Their Kyoto drip cold brew, however, stands out and is one of the best cold brews out there, made by slowly dripping water through coffee grounds over a number of hours. The result is a strong, sweet and ultra-caffeinated beverage that can be either served over ice or enjoyed chilled and neat. Demitasse – 1149 3rd St, Santa Monica cafedemitasse.com.

Best Bagel: Pop’s Bagels

While no bagel in Los Angeles will satisfy a New Yorker, Pop’s Bagels may come close. While some of the bagel sandwiches are a bit pricey, keep the order simple with just veggies and cream cheese and let the quality of the bagel speak for itself. Pop’s Bagels – 1928 San Vicente Blvd, Brentwood and 9300 Culver Blvd, Culver City, popsbagelsla.com.  

Best Sandwich: Al’s Hot Chicken – The Nash Sandwich

Thick, juicy, crispy, spicy. These adjectives describe Al’s Hot Chicken’s Nash Sandwich accurately. Words, however, don’t do this sandwich justice. That is something only taste buds can do. Al’s Hot Chicken – 10821 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, alshotchicken.com

Best pizza: Prime Pizza – Cheese Pizza

Prime Pizza’s expansion to the Westside this year was surrounded by anticipation after Dave Portnoy described it as the “number 1 pizza in LA“. Prime Pizza lived up the hype, churning out no-frills, NY-style pies and slices that consistently hit the spot. While the classic cheese is the best, the square pies are also delicious, especially the “Grandma” and “Sicilian” options. Prime Pizza – 12219 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, primepizza.la. 

Best Burger: Tripp Burgers

If you’re looking for a gourmet burger, go to Father’s Office. If you’re looking for a classic burger, go to The Apple Pan. If you’re looking for a smash burger served alongside a kale salad, go to The Window at American Beauty. If you’re looking for a stellar (albeit pricey) smash burger and just that, go to Tripp Burgers, a Palms-area pop-up. Each 2.75oz patty–a fresh-ground blend of USDA Prime Chuck, Top Sirloin and a small amount of bacon–is smashed on the griddle. The taste is nothing fancy, just pure burger goodness. The bacon in the meat blend is undiscernible taste-wise but gives the patty its crisp thanks to grease. The sweet onions add a hint of flavor but act more as a textural component, allowing the burger-ness to stand out. Tripp Burgers – 3458 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles. trippburgers.com.

Best Pasta: La Puglia – San Giuannid

The San Giuannid pasta at La Puglia in Santa Monica is a testament to simplicity. Spaghetti Alla Chitarra tossed with a wood-fired tomato-based sauce containing just capers and oregano topped with Pecorino and bread crumbs. And for those averse to capers, the other pasta dishes are just as good. La Puglia – 1621 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, lapuglia.us

Best Tacos: El Primo Tacos – Al Pastor

All the tacos at El Primo Tacos, a street vendor in Venice, are top-notch but the Al Pastor steals the show. Straight from the rotisserie to the grill and then into a tortilla, these tacos are incredibly juicy and flavorful. Oh, and they also cost $1 each, but remember to bring cash and don’t forget to load up at the salsa station. El Primo Tacos – 845 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, instagram.com/elprimotacosla

Best Noodles: Little Fatty – XO Fatty Noodles

Comfort food comes in all shapes and sizes, including in the form of fatty noodles that are dangerously easy to eat from the aptly-named Little Fatty in Mar Vista. Rolled chow fun, XO sauce, bean sprouts, garlic chives and roasted garlic come together in this dish. The noodles, similar in shape and size to a cheese puff, are texturally somewhere between a bao and soba. Like cheese puffs, bao and soba, these noodles are the epitome of comfort food. Little Fatty, 3809 Grand View Boulevard, Mar Vista. littlefattyla.com. 

Best Happy Hour: The Misfit

With half-off drinks Monday through Saturday from 4-7, the Misfit does not mess around when it comes to cocktails. While all the drinks a crafted to perfection, some standouts include their sidecar and whiskey sour. And don’t forget about the food: the fries and Brussels sprouts are both top-notch. The Misfit – 225 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, themisfitbar.com.

Best Sushi: Bluefin Tuna Platter – Soko

Tucked into the lobby of a Santa Monica hotel, Sushi Chef Masa Shimakawa’s Soko offers one of Los Angeles’ best omakase experiences. The centerpiece at Soko is the bluefin tuna platter. With the lean akamai meat, medium fatty chu-toro and extra-fatty-melt-in-your-mouth o-toro alongside a torotaku roll, this dish showcases the versatility of bluefin tuna. Also incredible at Soko is the steamed monkfish liver served with cucumbers and seaweed. Soko – 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, fairmont-miramar.com/dine/soko-sushi

Best Date Night Spot: Prix Fixe at Citrin

The sister restaurant to Josiah Citrin’s acclaimed Melisse, Citrin’s menu is full of eclectic dishes that are sure to impress. The $145 tasting menu offers a world-class culinary experience, highlighted by the Crudo of wild Japanese fish, lobster bolognese and Snake River Farms sirloin and short rib plate. Citrin – 1104 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, citrinandmelisse.com

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