Ippudo is a Japanese ramen chain, and their NYC locations have pretty insane wait times. The Santa Monica one is significantly calmer, and they serve good, casual Japanese comfort food, with absolutely top-notch service. It’s known as a ramen spot, but our favorite dishes are the small plates. The karaage and shishitos are both solid, and the best are the buns - the vegetarian ones come with a deep-fried eggplant patty, and the pork belly is tender but not too fatty. Add in a bottle of sake - served in a fancy wooden box filled with ice - and this makes for a great date spot.
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The Santa Monica location doesn’t have the magic of the original Ktown location, but El Cholo is still fun and serving solid old-school Mexican food.
Mondo Taco in Santa Monica is a small, order at the counter taco spot serving non-traditional tacos.
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Anzu is a tiny window just off Sawtelle where you should be going for excellent Japanese fried chicken.
Oseyo Shabu Shabu
Part of Oseyo Shabu Shabu’s charm is that it’s always crowded - in addition to the Pasadena spot’s high-quality meats and seafood, of course.
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Sawtelle’s Tsujita does the best tsukemen-style ramen this side of the Pacific and some of the best overall ramen in Los Angeles.
Santa Monica’s HiHo Cheeseburger is home to the best classic burger in Los Angeles.
Marugame Udon is a casual, cafeteria-style spot to get your weekly (daily?) noodle fix on Sawtelle.
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