R+D Kitchen – New Montana Avenue Hot Spot
The R+D Kitchen opened at 1323 Montana Avenue across the street from American Cinematheque’s Aero Theater in July, 2008. With a full service bar and ample dinner seating, R+D has become a popular hangout for both singles and families. It just may be Santa Monica’s loudest eatery. Weather permitting, the windows fronting Montana retract during business hours, and on crowded evenings the place roars. One R+D employee describes the menu as “upscale American,” and all items are a la carte. Sides run $3-$7, sandwiches and salads run about $15, and dinner entrees run about $15-$30.
Gilbert’s El Indio – A Family Affair
Gilbert and Carmen Rodriguez founded Gilbert’s El Indio restaurant 35 years ago, and the place is still cooking at 2526 Pico Boulevard. In an era when Tex-Mex has often been hijacked by trendy fish tacos and goofy name burritos, Gilbert’s still serves classic cheese enchiladas, killer chile rellenos, and arguably Santa Monica’s best hard shell beef tacos. Gilbert’s margaritas, both blended and on the rocks, are legendary. The friendly atmosphere rivals the food. Thousands of Gilbert’s patrons have posted their photos on the walls. Many are personal friends of the family, which includes Gilbert and Carmen’s nine children, all graduates of Santa Monica High School, all living within five miles of the restaurant, and many of whom work at El Indio.