by Mar Yvette - 482 Reviews - 150 List
If you thought Pico Boulevard, specifically the stretch in Santa Monica between 24th Street and 34th Street, offered little more than pricey Italian mainstay Valentino, a cramped Trader Joe's and nondescript storefronts, it's time to rethink this street. Here's a handful of new and old Pico Boulevard businesses in Santa Monica that are worth the visit.
Updated: July 06, 2010
At the east end of this stretch on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica comes this happening gastropubby restaurant that is luring in a diverse crowd with its solid fare (try the ahi tuna crispy tacos on plantain or the surprisingly un-boring pan-roasted chicken), crafty brews (even though many are overpriced) and boisterous but friendly scene (if there's a big game, be forewarned that this place gets loud).
You'd never know it from the outside, but this cute, unassuming and affordable cafe and bakery is bursting with goodness that'll do your body a whole lot better than some mass-produced mess from the golden arches down the street. Savory bites include crab panini and veggie croquettes, there's plenty of beer and wine, and seasonal sweets range from pistachio halvah bars to blueberry corn streusel coffee cakes.
Hidden right near 31st Street in Santa Monica is where you'll find this retro-cool salon that keeps prices pretty reasonable, especially compared with the chi-chi salons on Santa Monica's more polished streets. Women's haircuts (including blow-out and styling) average $65 while highlights start at $80. Better still, happy hour happens Tuesday-Friday from 3pm to 6pm with complimentary cocktails as well as 15% off for first-time clients.
Forget Amoeba. You haven't seen a show unless you've been sandwiched in the humble back room of this acoustic music store and repair shop on Pico that's been around since your grandpa was going to concerts. Aside from the killer acoustic sets (everyone from Jeff Buckley to Ween has played here), you'll find a large selection of stringed instruments as well as lessons and workshops on ukulele, Klezmer, dulcimer, even toddler rock classes.
Foodies love this chef-owned restaurant that's been a pillar for locally sourced, organic, progressive American cuisine. It might be in a sketchy(ish) part of Santa Monica, but this is still fine dining. If $16 starter salads scare you, try the three-course $45 prix-fixe menu offered Sunday through Thursday evenings. The menu changes weekly, but chances are it will be delicious.