Catch

 Hotel Casa Del Mar • 1910 Ocean Way Santa Monica, CA 90405 • (310) 581-7714http://www.bytheblueseasantamonica.com/restaurants-catch.html

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Catch is quite the…well, catch. Easily the best restaurant of the Pico-Ocean Hotel Trifecta (Casa Del Mar, Shutters & The Viceroy). One, Coast and Whist simply don’t hold a candle.

For lunch I strongly suggest the lobster BLT. Now obviously it’s pretty hard to screw up lobster and bacon on a bun, but there are nuances that differentiate goodness from greatness. The lobster is moist and tender. The bacon crisp. And the avocado creamy. All met with the sweet airiness of the brioche and you’ve got the makings for a super sammy. Creamy and crunchy. Savory and sweet.

For dinner you will be surprised to hear that the sushi is pretty on point. Granted in LA you can almost get great sushi at a gas station, so perhaps it’s not that surprising. The rest of the menu isn’t half bad either, offering up things from land and sea like a delicious grilled octopus and a watermelon, feta salad that’s more refreshing than meeting a waiter in LA who isn’t also an actor.

3 teeth

Cha Cha Chicken

1906 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90405(310) 581-1684chachachicken.com

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Perched in the middle of a Bermuda Triangle made from posh Santa Monica hotels like Shutters, Casa del Mar and The Viceroy sits a bit of an odd bird. A chicken to be precise. Named Cha Cha. Which is technically Cuban by origin, but they serve pan-Caribbean fare, including jerk chicken. And it’s served up with such islandy vibe you almost feel like you’re on an island. The weather obviously helps a lot with this, especially because it’s only outdoor seating, similar to Cora’s down the block.

But what makes Cha Cha so odd is that it almost looks like a shack. Not unlike Chez Jay’s, also down the block. But Chez at least has the excuse of having been the first establishment on Ocean Avenue, so one might consider it grandfather in. Whereas Cha Cha came along much later, only about 15 years ago. But whatever works, right?

And it definitely works. As a fun, affordable departure from the more refined eating destinations that are abound in Santa Monica and Venice. Among the pan-Caribbean offerings, you’ll find a few Mexican influences that find their way into their “pan” as well. For example the jerk chicken enchiladas. Call it Jamexican. Served with a spicy-sweet pineapple habanero sauce. Get it with beans and rice, along with some fried plantains and you’ll be dancing the cha-cha. Mostly because in LA Caribbean eats are hard to come by. But by East Coast standards Cha Cha is just So So. The flavors get a little mushy and the jerk could stand a little more Cha, if you catch my drift.

3 teeth

The Ultimate Eggs Benny

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Of all the meal times, I think breakfast/brunch is probably my favorite. And of all the breakfast options I would have to say that Eggs Benny is probably right at the very tippy top. Sure I eat other breakfast foods more often, but that’s only because I don’t want to die. But if I could, I’d eat Eggs Benny at least 3 or 4 times a week. But enough about me. Let’s get down to brass tax. Here are the best Benny’s I’ve ever had:

Coast – Santa Monica, CA

This is a traditional Eggs Benny. No twists. Just perfectly done. Eggs are always nice and runny. Hollandaise isn’t too overbearing. And the consistency of preparation is remarkable. I mean, I’ve been getting this Eggs Benny for over 20 years and not once have they ever dropped the ball. That’s pretty impressive.

Joseph Leonard – New York, NY

It’s actually a Salmon Benny, but wow is it something special. For starters, they skip the Hollandaise and use a scallion crème fraiche, which is so much lighter, yet every bit as decadent somehow. Even the scone beneath the salmon and egg was a nice surprise, bringing a complexity of texture to the dish, while still letting the smokiness of the salmon shine. Not to mention the perfectly cooked eggs- oh yeah, them.

Boon Fly Café – Napa, CA

While the two above are truly sensational, this last one is perhaps my favorite of the lot. Mainly because I am a heat seeker, so anything with a little kick to it usually wins my heart. And this Benny definitely won every little piece of my heart now baby. The heat I speak of comes from their jalapeno Hollandaise, which is drizzled over the wonderfully poached eggs, which sit atop thick country ham so fresh I could swear I heard pig squeals as I bit into it. And then all of it rests on a homemade country bread foundation. But to truly put its awesomeness into context, it’s been 4 years since I ate there and I still dream about it.