Go local!

Originally founded in 1920 by John "Barney" Anthony in Berkeley, California, Barney's has five locations throughout the Southland. Originally a celebrity hangout (think Clara Bow, Clark Gable and Judy Garland), by the 1960's BB became a home for musicians like Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. In later days movies, and tv shows have used Barney's as back drops for filming. But we just went to eat there. We started off with some Fried Dill Pickles served with Ranch dressing.  These were some of the tastiest, crispiest fried pickles I have had; and I've had a lot! The portion is generous and plenty for two; though I could have eaten the whole basket by myself! For lunch we enjoyed the Ultimate Burger with applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onion, tomato, arugula, blue cheese, Barney's sauce (Thousand Island), all served on a buttermilk bun with a combo of onion rings and shoestring fries. The bruger was juicy and well-cooked. We also had the Classic Club on toasted buttermilk bread with turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce, and Barney's sauce. Sweet potato fries on the side were a great addition. This was a huge sandwich and yummy as well. Enjoy the great selection of homemade "famous" chili, pizzas, and breakfast too. Come hungry to Barney's; you'll leave stuffed! Barney's Beanery 1351 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica (310) 656-5777.

Recommended Dishes: Classic Club, Ultimate Burger, Fried Pickles

Though Rush Street is well known as a gastropub and more of a night time hangout for drinks and bar food, we were pleasantly surprised by the brunch last Sunday. With it's Chi-town vibe, inspired by Chicago's famous Rush Street, this multi-level restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy lunch, dinner, Happy Hour, and Sunday Brunch. Sports lovers will enjoy watching over a dozen wide screen television and sitting at a gorgeous 36-foot molded concrete bar. For brunch we enjoyed the Breakfast Burrito ($13.50) scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, tater tots, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, avocado, and sour cream. Two eggs any way you want ($12) comes with sausage, bacon, multi-grain toast, and tater tots or roasted potatoes. The tater tots alone are worth coming to Rush Street. They're crispy and light and highly addictive! Coffee is rich and full-bodied and I think I had about four cups! We are planning to visit Rush Street again for Happy Hour some time very soon! Rush Street 9546 Culver Blvd. Culver City. (310) 837-9546. Hours: Monday-Wednesday-11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 a.m. Saturday 10:30 a.m.-1:30 a.m. Sunday 10:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

Recommended Brunch Items: Breakfast Burrito, Hearty Breakfasts.  

"Your Friendly Neighborhood Hangout." That's what the sign says. And that's what it is. But make a reservation on Friday or Saturday night, or you'll wait. I'm not saying that's not friendly, but I don't usually associate the word "hangout" with the word "wait." Anyway, moving on, four of us did wait just a few minutes and enjoyed some refreshing Salomon Undoff Hochterrassen Gruner Veltliner.($12) I'm only mentioning the name because there are a few varieties of this wine. Wine enthusiasts will enjoy the peppery arugula and fresh lemon acidity of this Austrian citrus infused white table wine. I know I did!  We started with some yummy Orange Zest infused warm olives. ($8). Served in a white wine sauce and the flavor was perfect. For dinner my I had the best $16 Lobster Roll! Huge chunks of sweet, fresh lobster meat are topped with three buttery slices of black truffle. The bread is soft and bursting at the seams with lobster. Warning: Do not share this dish; you will want to devour it in its entirety! I seriously could have eaten two. My husband loved the Seared Skirt Steak ($20) which was very tender and juicy and perfectly cooked. For dessert we had the Sea Salt and Caramel Fudge Brownie ($8) and a mini glass of milk which was the perfect ending! So if you feel like "hanging"in Venice, make a reservation and stop by The Anchor; you'll be glad you did. The Anchor 235 Main Street, Venice. (310) 664-9696. Hours: Tuesday-Thursday: 3:00-11:00 p.m. Friday: 3:00-12:00 a.m. Saturday 11 am-12-am Saturday 11am-11pm

Recommended Dishes: Lobster Roll, Warm Olives, Skirt Steak, Brownies. 



How cool is it to be served flights of beer on a skateboard, no less, while you're people-watching on the Venice Boardwalk? Well, welcome to the Venice Ale House! Featuring over 30 craft beers and some pretty fine California wines, this palce will definitely be calling my name all summer! Cocktails are fresh and light and perfect to sip while pondering life and watching the sunset. Food is all locally grown, organic, and sustainable. So come on down to =V= (as the locals write it) and enjoy some yummy food and drink! From the All Day Menu we love the Corn on the Cob ala Mexicana ($6). Two small ears of sweet corn are roasted in lemon, cayenne, sea salt, and queso fresco. They are savory and spicy and a must-order! The Vegan Chop Salad ($ 14) is a beautiful, brightly colorful bowl of carrots, beets, quinoa, roasted red peppers, garbanzos, cucumber, avacado, and sunflower sprouts. Add grilled wild salmon for $7, and there you have a beautiful meal. Burgers served on artisan sesame buns (skip the bun if you're observing Passover as the burger's great without it!), especially the Grass fed and finished California Beef Burger ($12) is well-seasoned and juicy. The tomato, onion, butter lettuce, and garlic aioli are pretty tasty too. Add some cheese (bleu, aged raw cheddar, feta, goat-$1) and enjoy it with Rosemary russet potatoes and a market salad greens. So have some fun in the sun and get yourself down to the boardwalk! Venice Ale House 2 Rose Avenue, Venice. (310) 314-8253. Hours: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Daily  Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.


Recommended Dishes: Grass Fed Burger, Vegan Salad, Corn.

Red Room is a cool little wine bar in Encino. The food is good, the music is even better, but I take issue with the outside patio being part of the parking lot. The fire pit is really pretty and the decor is clean and simple. But that parking lot. The location is in a strip mall right on the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Encino Avenue with limited parking. But that's not all folks. I have honestly, never seen more smokers in my life gathered in one location. And what's even better? They all smoke, you guessed it, in the parking lot. Gross on so many levels. Service is a bit slow too but servers are really nice, so I'm still a bit up in the air about it. So let's talk about the food...and drink. We love the "bubbles,"  so try a 6 oz. bottle of Tattinger Prestige Blanc ($19) from France or some Villa Sandi Prosecco ($8) from Italy. For a light-bodied white, we love Hall Sauvignon Blanc ($5/2.5 oz/$11/6 oz.) from the good old Napa Valley. If you crave a full bodied white, the Eric Kent Chardonnay ($10) will please you for sure. Red wine lovers will go crazy for the full-bodied Caymus Special Select Cabernet.($85/ bottle only) A helpul hint: If there are two ** next to the wine, there is a two glass minimum. Beer is available in 6 oz. pours, but we like a pint of the Eraser Rough Draft ($12). Flatbreads are truly wonderful. The Lamb Sausage ($12) is our favorite. Smoked mozzarella, roasted peppers, and Moroccan olives are layered on top of crispy dough. This dish was excellent. From the Dine LA menu ($25), we enjoyed Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Caramilized Onions and Free-Range Jdori Chicken Breast with roasted fingerling potatoes. For entrees, one of us had the Scottish Salmon ($18) served with asparagus, quinoa tabouleh, and cucumber raita. Salmon was moist and tender. Side dishes were nothing special. Risotto ($16) with prosciutto, balck garlic, and goat cheese was well-liked by all. For desseret we enjoyed the chocolate budino which came with Dine LA, and the Tiramisu ($7). Both were just okay. My verdict is still out on the Red Room. The Red Room Food and Wine Bar 17499 Ventura Blvd. Encino. (818) 386-0278. Closed Mondays.


Recommended Dishes: Flatbreads, Scottish Salmon. 

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