Their website is craptacular and looks like it hasn’t been updated since last June, but the Panini Cafe in Marina Del Rey is a damn good place to have lunch. I’ve eaten there probably two dozen times since my company moved into our current building several years ago. I’d go there more often but there just aren’t many places within walking distance of my office and I don’t want to spoil Panini’s by going there every other day.
Except for Uncle Darrow’s (best Cajun food in LA) and Benny’s BBQ (best BBQ in LA) there are only fast food chains near me. We usually rotate between Soup Plantation, Rubio’s, Del Taco (barf!), Quizno’s, and Panda Express. We’ll splurge and go to Chin Chin if it’s someone’s birthday lunch but nobody wants to be spending $15 on lunch on a regular basis.
It’s odd for me to say that I love Panini’s since I’ve only ever had one thing on their menu. That’s right: In 4+ years I’ve never adventured beyond the first thing I ordered. But the Angel Hair Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Turkey Sausage special with a Caesar’s side salad is just tremendous. It’s too much food for one person for lunch, but I can’t help myself. It’s delicious.
Panini’s is great. The staff is always friendly and the prices are not outrageous (for LA) for lunch. On one memorable afternoon the girl behind the counter gave me a free slice of to-die-for chocolate cake. For some reason it always makes me happy that you get a real glass for your drink. There’s a big dispenser of help-yourself ice water that will surely hit the spot. They have beer but no hard liquor, although they’ll make you one of those faux-Asian-vodka Bloody Marys if you ask. (I’m only there at lunch during a workday so I haven’t exactly gone there to drink.)
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