When I go out for lunch, one of the many things that I look for is a restaurant with a great patio. If you’re lucky enough to live in an ocean-side city like Santa Monica you have to take advantage of the great weather and sunshine. Recently, I had the pleasure of dining at Wilshire Restaurant. While it’s not near the beach, it does have an attractive, spacious patio.
One can eat quite healthy food at Wilshire, like I see the owner eating when he is there. But he’s a cardiologist so he has to keep up his healthy image. I’m a middle-aged (or more), overweight writer so I get to eat the good stuff, and there is a lot of good stuff on the menu, even though they no longer have a “name” chef.
If you can get the hamburger cooked rare enough it’s good; much better, to my taste, than the turkey burger. But the slow-braised short ribs are even better. I don’t usually eat Mexican food outside of Mexican restaurants, but the crab-stuffed enchiladas and the filet mignon steak tacos are really good — although $25 for tacos is not very competitive.
But I would guess that the most popular dishes on the menu are the salads. This is where the restaurant really shines at lunch. The lobster Cobb, Chinese chicken and chopped salads are all excellent. Again, they are not at bargain prices; the lobster Cobb is $26, the Chinese chicken $15, and the chopped with chicken $20. The portions are more than adequate.
There’s a full bar, 22 beers to choose from and plenty of wines by the glass, also not priced competitively, but where can you find that?
Price is not usually such an issue for me. I mention it here because the cost seems to be a big issue in the reviews online.
Speaking of reviews, pretty much everyone likes the Wilshire bar and the cocktails. At night it can be quite a scene, so I am told. As always there are some complaints about the service. Welcome to the restaurant business. But prices are the main complaint I read about. I don’t really agree. For this level of atmosphere, location and quality of the food, I find Wilshire to be a welcoming destination worthy of an occasional visit. But you better get a seat on the patio.
Soon to come
Those who were upset that Ocean Avenue Seafood closed will be happy to know that restaurateur Sam King has pumped a considerable amount of money renovating the space and has now opened a new seafood-inspired spot called Water Grill. It’s his second location. The other is in Downtown Los Angeles.
The Santa Monica location is beautiful, and really busy. There’s a nice seafood bar and lots of other interesting seating arrangements, not just regular tables.
I don’t review restaurants until I’ve been there three to six times, so I’m not ready to review it yet, but the first time I went I was really impressed with the quality and the prices, and I had a terrific assorted seafood platter for $40, which I loved. The clam chowder, not thickened with potato and flavored with real clams, was a treat. Stay tuned.
If you go
2454 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, Calif.
1401 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica, Calif.
Merv Hecht, the food and wine critic for the Santa Monica Daily Press, is a wine buyer and consultant to a number of national and international food and wine companies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.