Although Bay Cities is more of a Deli than a Restaurant, I think it deserves a place on this list. The crowds at this place are intense and for good reason. Do yourself a favor and order online ahead of time to avoid the lines. Make sure to try the Godmother on the Italian Roll (Genoa Salami, Mortadella, Coppacola, Ham, Prosciutto, Provolone, and the most delicious Italian dressing) and order yourself a large. Who are you kidding.
Sham is one of my new neighborhood favorites, as it's walking distance from our apartment in Santa Monica. They serve Mediterranean/Syrian food that will leave you wanting more. The Kabobs, Shawarma, and homemade pita bread will melt in your mouth. They also do not charge a corkage fee, so bring your own wine and enjoy a flavorful laid-back dinner for a reasonable price. But don't make the mistake of planning to go on a Monday because they're closed. I learned this the hard way.
If you're in the mood to eat a lot of meat, Baby Blues is your friend. Their Southern style Barbecue is the best around. All entrees come with 2 "fixins" and corn bread, which leads to a very large meal. Go with a group and order the "Feed Bags" so you can taste everything. My favorites Platters are the Memphis Ribs, Baby Back Ribs, Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, and the Grilled Shrimp. The best "Fixins" are the Mac & Cheese, Collard Greens, Blues on the Cob, and Sauteed Okra. When we leave here, we're usually so full and our pants fit a bit tighter. My favorite kind of place!
While El Tarasco is certainly not known for the ambiance, it's infamous for good Mexican food. The best thing on the menu is the Burrito Super Deluxe with Carnitas. You'll love it so much that you'll finish it and then feel like you're going to vomit. It's awesome.
images via Flickr