Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #2 in an ongoing series – Santa Monica Place

Been meaning to write another of these posts in a while.  I had a good time this past weekend at L.A. Live, and thought to write about that, but decided instead to write about Santa Monica Place/Third Street Promenade first.  MKnoll on the BMW Forums had a quick post on things she does in Santa Monica, which inspired me to go with what I would recommend in that area for #2 in this series.  As a quick refresher, #1 was at the Helms Bakery District for breakfast at La Dijonaise

The EV Chargers that I use in Santa Monica are in the lot corner Broadway and 4th Street (Santa Monica City Lot 7).  It is in the ground level onramp toward the second level. There are four Chargepoint Network Coulomb chargers and One Clipper Creek J1772 charger. These Chargepoint chargers (at the time of my visit) are the older ones that do GFCI trip at times and it may take several attempts before the charge process takes. The Clipper Creek works great, but, as a good EV citizen, I only use those if all the Chargepoints are taken since all BMW ActiveE drivers are provided at least one Chargepoint RFID card to use, and I’m sure not all EV drivers have those.

The parking at the Santa Monica Place lots are Free for 2 hours 8 am to 6pm ($1 ea additional 30 minutes; $9 maximum daily) and $5 flat rate after 6pm.  Zengo provides free valet parking, but that defeats the purpose of great food by public chargers.

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I figure #2 should be a place for brunch… namely Zengo.  This place has a highly rated brunch and though I’ve been there for brunch, I prefer the dinner service.  Additionally, next door to Zengo is it’s sister restaurant La Sandia, I’ve only had dinner at La Sandia and I was not as fond of the food there.

As I like to leave the better option last, I will cover La Sandia quickly here.  Basically, the food was interesting, but I felt that it was somewhat overpriced and really a better bar experience than food experience.

The Kiwi Margarita was very good –


As was the Mango Margarita


This was the Guacamole Sampler that we tried… And yes, they had the edible insect on it on purpose (I ate these, the better half skipped on it)


I went with the Chili Relleno, which was top-notch, but I felt that it was a bit over-priced.


And the better half decided to go with the Carnitas Tacos. Again, tasty, just over-priced.


More La Sandia pictures.

All the photos that I have included in this article will be from dinner service that I had there earlier in the month.

So, brunch at Zengo is very popular aside from great food also provides unlimited drinks in its weekend brunches.  The fine print on the menu states – that the unlimited brunch has a 2 hour time limit per table, the entire table must participate in it, it includes unlimited small plates & brunch cocktails- bloody mary / bacon bloody mary / mango mimosa / traditional mimosa / sake sangria / lychee bellini for $35 per guest.  Thus if you like the things listed, it makes for a great deal.

When we went for brunch, we opted A La Carte as not everyone in the party would have made full use of the brunch deal.  However, I do intend to take them up on that deal one of these days.

As I previously mentioned, I actually prefer the dinner at Zengo. The servers are very good at explaining that Zengo translates to Give and Take in English, I boil down Zengo’s dining experience as Latin-Asian Tapas.  Their menu is split between smaller and larger plates and the mainstays stick around in the dinner menu and every month and a half to two months, they add a special “tasting kitchen” menu inspired by one Asian location and another Latin location, such as Hanoi and Havana (April 9 – June 30, 2012) or the previous menu of Shanghai and Sao Paulo.

On our third trip to Zengo, we had some dishes that stayed with us from the previous trip and we felt compelled to order again, and the Peking Duck-Daikon Tacos stood out from our previous experiences, and it was, once again, excellent.


Here is the Peking Duck-Daikon Taco ready to eat on my plate:


and another one


We decided on pairing our dinner with a Malbec that we found to be light in tannins, smooth, and very good with meat and duck.


We decided to go to the Pork Belly Steamed Buns next. I was expecting Char Shiu Bao, but got this instead:



And it was wonderful.

One thing that through us off was the next course, which I did not expect to be in a soup/broth form was from this Hanoi and Havana test kitchen menu of Morcillas.  I had no indigation that it was in a soup/broth format and was my least favorite in the meal, but it was still very well executed.


We ended our mains with the Wok Fried Rice and it was excellent. It’s a main on it’s own, though normally a side in many Asian restaurants.


We did get dessert, but did not quite make the photo gallery.  If you want to see more Zengo pictures just head over to my flickr gallery.

After a fun dinner like we had that evening, and since the parking is paid for the rest of the evening, a nice stroll down 3rd Street Promenade or some shopping at Santa Monica Place is quite easy to do from this location.  Additionally, the Santa Monica Pier is also very close and navigable at this point.

For this particular evening, we opted to go to a nearby AMC Theater to catch the Avengers again.  It made for a great date night with the better half.

After dinner and a movie, we got back onto our fully-charged ActiveE to head home.