1319 Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Santa Monica Pier and 3rd Street Promenade are nice little spots to show a visitor new to California. The view from the Pier's giant ferris wheel is not to be missed, and the people watching there is also quite fun. However, the food nearby leaves a little something to be desired, composed mainly of overpriced limp chicken fingers and hamburgers with thin and tough patties. There are of course nearby sit down restaurants (Bubba Gump's is one right on the Pier), but they tend to be loud, over-crowded, and difficult to get into.
So a visit to the pier can be conveniently paired with a visit to the bustling Promenade. In search of a quiet place that was not too expensive, my party and I came upon Bravo Cucina, where we were greeted with an excellent lunch deal - $9.95 for either a cup of the perpetually vegan soup, or the most delicious, fresh-tasting side salad I've ever had, followed by either the panini or the pasta of the day.
I ordered the pasta of the day, which was a tasty chicken and eggplant pasta with a light but creamy tomato sauce. In conjunction with the large salad of mixed greens, I was more than full. One of my friends ordered the meatball panini, which had moist meatballs but a marinara sauce that was unfortunately a tad too sweet. However, in the larger scheme of things, our meal at Bravo Cucina was a success - and a much better experience than I usually have trying a new restaurant I have heard nothing about.
Splurge on beer or wine with your panini or pasta (there are several nice Italian beers available bottled, and an extensive wine list as well) and sit outside to quietly enjoy people-watching.