The Real Housewife of Santa Monica
Leaving Oz

Archive of ‘Restaurants’ category

Leaving Oz

After 20 years in the Castro, my dad decided to leave for a flatter, easier life. St. Allison met me in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago to help get the show on the road. I guess she and my brother knew if I went alone many hours would be spent looking through old pictures and packing broken frames, plastic tape rolls with 1/4 cm of tape left on them and a lonely thumbtack.

The first morning there we did a lot of stuff like this:
I love that shade of pink. That was his dining room and I never got tired of looking up out the window seeing the pink interior wall against the white exterior wall and deep blue sky.

We also gave away all kinds of things on Craig’s List. I totally recommend that versus the dump as it involves nothing more than hauling junk to the curb and then posting pix with descriptions to the free section of Craig’s List. Saves things from the landfill too.

That said, I think we could’ve sold this rug my dad bought a million years ago in Portugal:

I got so many emails about this rug. But we didn’t dare tarry. Alli and I just couldn’t stop ourselves from hurling things down the staircases and out the door!

By Friday afternoon we were in pretty good shape so Allie and I took a walk down Castro.

I hadn’t been there in a while. These were new:

As usual I got sentimental and felt something wet well up in the corners of my eyes thinking I still haven’t had a drink at the Twin Peaks bar (aka The Glass Coffin) and things of that nature.

When I later lamented to my sister in law about never having seen a movie at the Castro Theater my dad quickly reminded me that we had. I already forget what we saw despite this conversation occurring last week.

The Castro is a beautiful, magical neighborhood! I was in my mid 20′s when my dad moved there and every visit was exciting not only due to being in a city but also because of the soft light, view of the bay bridge from his living room, hills and coffee. Yes, the coffee was GOOD. The coffee was STRONG. I was drinking double lattes with every meal because I lived in Naples, FL where the coffee and cuisine was nothing to write about particularly if you have trouble getting over the “e” at the end of “Grill” in 50% of the restaurant’s names. Olde Naples Grille and Buena Vista Grille. There is nothing quaint about a peach colored strip mall on the side of US 41, no matter how many “e’s” you tag on the end of a name.

That night my dad took us to Alice’s for dinner. No matter what you order at Alice’s, it comes smothered in the same brown sauce.

Shortly after reading this fortune I got a job casting (non-violent) criminals for a documentary series. These things never lie.

The next day Ali and I felt we were in good shape so we took a long walk down Mission Street to the Embarcadero. We explored many precious shops inside.

That night my dad had reservations at Zuni Cafe. I hadn’t been here in over 15 years because of 2223 (now closed.)

I couldn’t help but feel sentimental and a bit sad walking there that night.

Something magical about the lighting and the hills, the people etc.

We had a wonderful dinner at Zuni! We ordered:

  • chicken for two roasted in the brick oven; warm bread salad with scallions, garlic, dried currants, and pine nuts
  • wild arugula salad
  • frisee salad
  • oysters

Waiting for our chicken at Zuni Cafe

Chicken must be ordered 1 hour ahead.

Chicken almost here!

Dad post gins/pre rose at Zuni

In packing we found this coaster Andrew made as a child.

Andrew ended up leaning towards the sciences and away from the arts

On Sunday we were doing so well we decided to take a drive down the coast, one last time.

Mini Road trip CA coast


Of course we had to eat first!

Finally we had to admit we were done and leave.

View of Castro from the apartment

View from Dad's apartment. It used to be possible to see the Bay Bridge until all the development.

One last look.

Good bye, Castro! Thank you for the memories.

Shaka Shack

This cute little burger place opened up in Sunset Park last year.

It’s diagonally across from Bob’s Market.

One day Maddie and I rode over there on my bike after school so she could get a bite.

We sat at a surfboard and M played with the vintage Mr. Potato Head.

We love the polynesian decor and shellacked surfboard tables!


You order here at the counter.

Ask this young lady about the specials.

Oh wow!

It just occurred to me that you might be wondering what kind of burgers/food are served? Great question! It’s a Polynesian themed burger shack.

Check out the menu!

I tried the Hana slaw which was delicious!

M had a plain grass-fed burger with ketchup & pickles only. She will always eschew toppings in favor of letting the ingredients stand on their own. (I.e. she’s increasingly picky.)

She loved it!

Besides burgers, they have Portabella mushroom, veggie (rice, black bean & corn), salmon, chicken & turkey burgers. I am mostly vegetarian these days and will definitely try the veggie burger next time.

The friendliness of the women who run Shaka Shack makes you want to stay there all day. This is what I love about small neighborhood businesses and what separates them from chain restaurants.

Also, they have these:

Definitely check Shaka Shack out next time you’re in the area! You can also run across the street to check out Baby Daze Boutique. Lookit what I just found there last week?

Shaka Shack
1701 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405

M 11:30a-6p
T-Sa 11:30a-8p

Z Garden

**UPDATE: Z Garden does indeed have high chairs!**

This place opened up a year or so ago across Pico from Virginia Park. When I saw the sign, “Healthy Mediterranean Food” I thought, “Yeah, RIGHT!” b/c that building had housed cheap & UNhealthy Mexican food before that. Some buildings seem to doom whichever restaurants inhabit them.

G took the girls there last July when I was out of town. He claimed it good. I thought, “Yeah RIGHT!” since G doesn’t have taste buds.

Finally I tried it out last week after a Clover Park day with my friend and her kids. SO good! I forgot to take pix so I went back again last weekend.

G ordered extra pita & humus.

Extra humus & pita

I got the falafel pita sandwich.

Hey, that was MY salad!!

G & the girls shared the salmon entree.

Doesn’t that look yummy?

Click HERE for the menu if you’re interested.

There is indoor & outdoor seating. I don’t think they have high chairs but maybe they’d get them if you asked?? The owner is super friendly!

Z Garden
2350 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405

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