R+D is part of a restaurant chain (Hillstone), but you wouldn’t know it from the crowd here. Everyone waiting for a spot is either attempting to be, is currently, or was formerly famous. Maybe because of that fact, it’s also always busy, so don’t expect to get seated within 45 minutes, even at off-peak hours (when you’ll have to compete for a table with every senior living north of Montana). Still, there’s plenty to do while you wait: you can watch divorcees flirt aggressively, drink cocktails, and try to figure out which TV show you know that guy from. But the wait isn’t just worth it to people watch - the casual American food at R+D is consistently good, and they serve one of the best burgers on the Westside. The service is also super fast, so this is where you let that “friend” who’s trying to get ahold of your industry contacts buy you dinner.
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Santa Monica’s Via Veneto has the kind of classic, upscale Italian food that New Yorkers claim you can’t find in LA.
Blue Plate Taco
Blue Plate Taco is a rowdy, but solid option for tacos in downtown Santa Monica.
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Birdies is a downtown fried chicken sandwich and donut shop and open 24/7 on the weekends. You’re welcome.
Hinano Cafe is a Venice icon and the kind of place you go into for one drink and walk out plastered and maybe with a lower-back henna tattoo.
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