HiHo Cheeseburger

Don't judge a book by its cover. Time has proven this to me in the past, and this time was no exception. I've read so many articles talking about the HiHo Cheeseburger, but upon first glance, the burger looked like any other ordinary burger with shredded lettuce. Since I was given the opportunity to try it out, I hopped onto it and got myself over to Santa Monica! 

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Upon meeting the guys who run the place, I was impressed (yet slightly skeptical) after learning about the background. They were searching for years to find the right farm to source their meat, and they happened to chance upon this New Zealand farm with 100% grass fed, grass finished wagyu beef. The beef is 100% free of antibiotics and hormones, and they had a previous location in Santa Barbara county in Ojai. The owners decided to keep the burger classic and simple with a white bun, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles. A burger is $6.95 a la carte or it can come with hand cut fries or a side salad.

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My friend and I got one of each combo, and it was a great decision! The fries still had the potato skin on and were nicely fried, and the side salad was light and easy to eat. Now on to the main star of the show, the burger. Upon first bite, my friend and I were pleasantly surprised at the taste of the meat. The HiHo cheeseburger comes with two patties and two cheeses, and it was the perfect amount as it provided an all around great meat taste and quality. The burger tasted like the classic All American burger you've been dreaming of but never had, and the beef was so flavorful and was textured very well. With the simplicity of the side toppings and ingredients, it couldn't have been made better. It was obvious that the meat had substantial quality!

For dessert, we got the key lime and the banana cream pie; another two American classics! Although I recommend trying both as they were very light yet flavorful, my personal favorite was the key lime. It was the perfect finish to the meal as the pie wasn't too heavy but provided a nice, sweet touch to the end of the meal.

Overall, I was very impressed at what HiHo Cheeseburger had to offer! Pictures definitely do not do the burger justice, and it is obvious that the quality shines through. Come here expecting delicious food and a leave with a happy stomach!

Mondo Taco

2200 Colorado Ave

Santa Monica, CA 90404

Mondo Taco used to be located in mid LA, but they moved to a newer and bigger location in Santa Monica! Today, they are featuring 34 unique and modern tacos that you can order, and these tacos are divided into three categories: crawl, grow, and swim. Crawl consists of the meats, grow includes the vegetarian tacos, and of course swim is the seafood! Since everything looked amazing, we decided to order a large variety to share amongst the four of us. Ask for their three spicy sauces- they have the ghost pepper sauce which will burn your tongue if you're into that. I really enjoyed the other two as they really spiced up the tacos! 

We also got guac, salsa, and chips as well as agua frescas to drink! The guac was so good we actually ordered another one.. and we finished both. They offer pineapple and watermelon agua frescas which was super refreshing.Since we ordered a lot, I am only going to highlight my favorites. 

Tokyo Shrimp- Tempura Shrimp, Avocado, Spicy Mayo- tempura + taco + avocado all in one!? This was my favorite of everything we tried! 

Crispy Fish- Blackened Shrimp, Onions, Garlic Mayo- I love crispy fish tacos, and this was no exception. Simple yet bomb!

Bayou Fish- Grilled Cajun Fish, Jambalaya, Cajun Aioli- they are really killing it with the fishes- another fantastic combo to try. 

Viet Yum- Grilled Shrimp, Cabbage, Lime, Chili Sesame oil- this was very fusion tasting, and I liked how they created their vietnamese style taco. Love the crunchy texture that the cabbage added!

Yo Adrian- Rib Eye, peppers, onions, mushrooms, provolone- I love a good philly cheese steak, and that in a taco was extremely appealing to me. My friends didnt like it as it was melted provolone in a taco, but I loved it! So this may be based more on preference.

We also got the blueberry panna cotta which was surprisingly delicious! We were extremely full but managed to finish all of it as we could not stop taking bites. 

Although the tacos are pricer, you do pay for tacos you can't get anywhere else! The service also surpassed my expectations- I was extremely impressed when I got up to refill my drink and the guy offered to do it for me. Mind you- this is an order at the counter and take a number type of restaurant. Overall, this restaurant deserves a five stars based on originality, taste, service, and presentation. My friends and I had different tastes so we did like some more than others, but we generally liked all of the tacos. Definitely try out the different tacos and figure out what you like!

Art's Table

1002 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Why have I never heard of this restaurant before!? Art's Table is located in Santa Monica near the shopping area, and there is a nice outdoor and indoor seating area which is perfect for brunch! My friends and I decided to sit outside as we had a dog, and the friendly server came over immediately to explain our specials and give us his recommendations. Since we had a party of four, we decided to order five recommended dishes to share as everything on the menu looked scrumptious! 

I would also recommend ordering their mixed cocktails as they were all very tasty- our group could not decide which we liked better! 

Cocktails for the table!

Cocktails for the table!

Breakfast chimichanga special with carnitas, crispy tortilla, pico de gallo, Gruyere, easy over egg, guacamole, creme fraiche- this dish blew all of our minds! We literally killed this dish in seconds, and the combination of everything was AMAZING. Imagine the perfect bite of tender succulent meat, crispy tortilla, runny yolk, guac, cream fraiche, and pico de gallo- party in your mouth! This is a MUST ORDER if they have it as it is only served as a special! 

Grandma D'Alessio's Hash with braised short rib, cherry peppers, scrambled eggs, potato hash- this was Chef Mark's grandma's recipe from when he was a kid, and the short rib was so tender and flavorful! I personally really liked the presentation as everything was stacked nicely. It does seem to need a spicy sauce of some sort as I thought ketchup did not pair as well, but it was delicious nonetheless! 

Lobster Benedict, arugula, poached eggs, crostini, black garlic, potatoes- they are so generous with their lobster, I was impressed at how much was included! Egg was perfectly poached, and the black garlic really added a kick to the eggs Benedict. This was my favorite (besides the chimichanga of course) as they do it right here! 

Whole wheat French toast almond and hazelnut crusted, whole wheat bread, greek yogurt orange cream, maple butter- I somehow missed the word whole wheat (not a fan of whole what), so this dish was okay for me. Super healthy though if you're into that! 

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Johnny cakes (side order) cornmeal pancakes, Vermont maple butter, mixed berries, maple syrup- now this was divine!!! The cornmeal provided a fantastic texture to the overall pancakes, and with the sauces and fruit, it was bomb! Definitely recommend this if you're looking for something sweet. 

Kale salad with almonds, roasted squash, manchego, lemon- not a big fan of kale but the salad was so refreshing and light! It was way better than I expected. My friend is super healthy and she LOVED this dish- took it home to eat it later! 

For dessert, we split the key lime pie and the mixed berry crumble. Both were fantastic- the crumble was stuffed with fruit and very warm and it was a nice complement to the cold ice cream. The key lime pie was also delectable- the crust was my favorite and I could not stop picking at it! 

My friends and I were raving about this brunch for hours after- it was that delicious. Plates were super artsy which really fit in line with the name of the restaurant, and plating was on point! Chef Mark did a fantastic job designing the menu and the dishes, and I can see why this spot gets super busy! So glad I discovered this restaurant- I need to try their dinner menu next!

Ashland Hill

2807 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405

What a cute little spot in Santa Monica! Ashland Hill is more of a casual brunch spot- you order at the counter and bring your number to find a table to sit at. There are beautiful strung lights in the back as well as a canopy covering all of the tables so you won't be basking in the heat. They do serve alcohol here- beer, wine, champagne, and sangria. After ordering, my friends and I grabbed a table, and the food came out within minutes. 

Ashland Benedict with smoked salmon, poached eggs,avocado, roasted tomato & garlic, smoked paprika hollandaise, and roasted tomatoes- seriously love the hollandaise on the Benedict- it had so much more of a kick than a regular hollandaise! I love how they incorporated avocado in the benedict; the combination of everything was delicious! 

Cinnamon toast brunch, French toast with cream cheese orange marmalade, cinnamon butter, apricot raisin compote, maple syrup- another fantastic dish. The French toast had cream cheese in the middle which added a nice creamy texture to the toast, and I loved the cinnamon butter! 

Main St hash with 2 eggs, lamb & pork potato hash, 2 eggs, tomato, and grilled ciabatta with chimichurri- the lamb flavor wasn't overwhelming (typically I don't like lamb) when mixed with the pork, and it was a nice light dish I enjoyed. The ciabatta adds a nice touch. 

Avocado and roasted tomato toast, goat cheese, lime, Thai chili, pickled pearl onion- this was my favorite dish from here! This is not your typical avocado toast; the roasted tomato and goat cheese added really rich and creamy flavors to the bite. Topped with the chili and onion, this is a must order! Each comes with four mini pieces- perfect for sharing.

Leo's loco moco with pork sausage, kimchi rice, and sunny side up egg- we all killed this dish within minutes as it was so good! The kimchi was super flavorful and the pork was delicious. This is the perfect entree for one who is not looking to eat too much! 

We also got a side of fries and chicken apple sausage which was yummy, as well as a cast iron blonde Browne which was SO GOOD. The salted caramel brownie had chocolate chips and ice cream on top, and this was the perfect dessert as you get a combination of hot and cold, soft and crispy, and just goodness all around! 

My friends and I had an amazing time here; brunch was fantastic, the decor was cute, and there was great hospitality at this restaurant. It was totally worth the drive out to Santa Monica for us, we'll be back!

Sweetfin Poke

829 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401

This may be my new favorite poke place! Came in after hanging out in LA and there was a short line. After waiting for a bit, someone took my order (like In-N-Out style where there is a person in line who takes your oder for you) and I paid for my meal which was around $14. 

I got the Spicy Yuzu Salmon bowl as recommended by the cashier with bamboo rice, and it was AMAZING. You can add additional toppings for free, and I recommend the crispy garlic, crispy onions, and cucumbers. The fish was marinated perfectly and I loved the contrast of the tanginess of the yuzu. The fish was fresh and cut perfectly, and there was a good amount of food in the bowl. The rice was also very unique and tasty, and I was so impressed with the overall taste of the bowl. So glad I got the large size! 

Too bad this poke spot is too far from me, but it is a good thing as I will save money! Can't wait until I get my hands on this again.... Hopefully it will be soon!