Border Grill Review and LA/OC Restaurant Week

Last Sunday, my BFF Stacey and I traveled for an adults-only day trip to Santa Monica, which is in LA County. I rarely go to LA and always complain that it seems like we are driving to a different state. Stacey is a total foodie and was in charge of lunch. She picked a great restaurant and even offered to do a review for my blog. She’s rad like that. After reading her review, I laughed. Because her writing is so much like mine. You can tell when you have been friends with someone for awhile, because even their writing sounds like yours. Stacey used to have a blog, but then she got busy and now ignores it. She is sometimes on Twitter but she really only uses it to stalk/harass me and for Conan O’Brien, Daniel Tosh and her local school district’s political drama.

Stacey’s Review of Border Grill:

So, when Julie told me we were going to a 1pm showing of Ovo by Cirque Du Soleil in Santa Monica for a matinee 1pm showing, the foodie in me was jumping up and down. The excitement was then squashed when I remembered that the BFF was not an exciting eater (BOOOOOO!!!). So I made it my mission to find awesome food, while not scarring Julie for life. I scarred her with my driving, but that’s a whole other story! While I was checking sigalert on Sunday morning before my drive up there, I noticed a little banner on my iPhone for LA’s Restaurant week! Holla!

I narrowed it down to 2 restaurants for lunch and then texted Julie to see if she would prefer Mexican from 2 former Top Chef Masters or Traditional American/California at an oceanfront hotel. I got the very scared response from her of “Mexican???” So, I made a reservation at Border Grill in Santa Monica, which was in walking distance to Ovo. The price fixed, three-course menu was $16. The full menu for restaurant week is here. We started with our own bottle of reverse osmosis water, a trio of salsa and chips.

Chips and Salsa at Border Grill

I decided on a Plantain Empanada and Green Corn Tamale for my appetizer. The empanada was really only shaped like an empanada as it obviously didn’t taste like any traditional empanada I had before. It was sweet and delicious; I just wish it were a tiny bit crispier. The tamale however, was perfection! It was also sweet, but not overwhelmingly and I loved the whole kernels of corn in the tamale. You don’t get to see a picture of the unwrapped tamale, because I forgot to take a picture and inhaled it! Yum!

Tamale from Border Grill

My second course was also a tough decision because I love a good enchilada. I decided to be brave and try a Chile Relleno Burger. No regrets here. Just awesomeness. When this behemoth arrived at my table I stared for a while trying to strategize a consumption method. I was also kind of intimidated by the actual food. Chile Relleno, good. Burger, good. But would Chile Relleno + Burger = good? Answer = YES!!! Although my burger was slightly overcooked, I decided to think of it more as a cheeseburger, with chile. Seriously, the cheese was perfect, and while this picture doesn’t do it justice, it wasn’t too cheesy, as the cheese wasn’t a melty, pully, stringy cheese. The chile added a great flavor, bite and texture to the burger. It came with fries, which were fine, but the catsup/ketchup (what’s with having 2 spellings for one word anyways) was home made and great.

chile relleno burger at border grill

For dessert Julie and I shared a trio of cookies and Dulce de Leche ice cream. The ice cream was perfection. The coconut cookie and the chocolate had great flavor (and I’m not a coconut fan), but I prefer my cookies a little doughy/chewy and these were more on the crispy side. The chocolate had a mild espresso flavor, which was great for me. The cinnamon cookie was great; it reminded me of a really small cookie you’d get a Panaderia (you don’t by panda’s there, it’s a Latin bakery friends).

Trio of Cookies at Border Grill

My husband and I used to use part of our tax return money to frequent as many restaurants as possible during OC Restaurant week. Restaurant week offers price fixed menu’s, typically of at least 3 courses. The price fixed menu is usually about half the price of what you would typically pay. I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone for this, especially considering that you aren’t investing a lot of money in a single dish. The restaurants typically prepare something that they can do to perfection and you may find out about something you didn’t know you liked.

You can find more info on LA’s restaurant week at The website is great and breaks it down by city, price, lunch/dinner, type of cuisine. It’s a great resource. For us Orange County people, Newport Beach is currently featuring their restaurant week this week (now thru Jan 29, 2012) and the remainder of OC will have restaurant week next month (2/26/2012 – 3/3/2012). I can not say enough good things about 370 Common in Laguna Beach, so check them out or use OC restaurant week as an excuse to try them out.

Sugar Caddy at Border Grill

P.S. I have to add in a little humor to our lunch.  I ordered an ice tea to drink with my lunch. The waitress brought out a cute little tray with sugars on it. I saw regular sugar cubes and Splenda on the tray, but I did not know what the brown stuff was. If you know my humor, and me in real life, you will understand my response. I asked Stacey, “What is that brown stuff, heroin?” She laughed and replied, “organic brown sugar”. I am not a foodie, obviously. And you are probably wondering what I had for lunch? Tortilla Soup, it was good.

P.P.S. This wasn’t a sponsored or paid for lunch. Well maybe for Stacey, because I paid. But she drove, it was the least I could do. Although I barely survived the drive with her crazy driving.


next time you go up to LA take me!!! I want to go on a BIG WHEEL photowalk with you.


Yum! This food looks great, especially the desserts. Thanks for the review. (I wouldn't have known the brown blocks were sugar either. :))