395 Santa Monica Place
Suite 308
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Santa Monica Place garage – 1st 2 hours free, $1 each additional 30 min.; $5 Flat, if entered after 6pmDays: Monday-SaturdayTimes: 4-7pm (M-F), 11pm-2am (F-S)Drink Deals: $3 Beers, $5 Wine, Well Drinks, & Specialty Cocktails
Food Deals: $5 Nibbles

I had been wanting to check out the restaurants at the new & improved Santa Monica Place mall since food blogs were all abuzz about the food court. While I love Cinnabon & The Great Steak & Potato, my interest was piqued at a mall that would be housing new places for people to get their drink on. Xino ended up being my first visit to the food court when I went on a scout with The Minty to prep for her upcoming Sexy Singles Valentine Soiree. The party is coming up just before Valentine’s Day so those on the hunt have a chance to meet a match.

Ever the early bird, I arrived before The Minty and took a seat at the front bar. There were 3 different people working on computers and two people meeting, but no bartender. I suspect the people at the bar were staff members. I sat there for a few moments before I asked the hostess if anyone was working the front bar. She told me that only the bar on the patio was open. I’m not quite sure why she or anyone else didn’t tell me this in the first place since when I arrived I told her that I was meeting someone and would wait at the bar and clearly saw me walk to the indoor bar, opposite the patio bar. Who sits at a bar without a drink? Not I.

The entire restaurant is decorated in deep reds, dark furniture, and pretty damn spacious. The indoor tables were fairly empty around 5:30pm, but that doesn’t really seem to matter because there was plenty of business taking place on the equally large patio. It appeared that people were there for dinner rather than happy hour. Given the funk music and great size & view of the patio, I would love to see more of a mingling happy hour crowd, but it was evident that this is a place that you stick with who you came with, at a table. The Minty & I sat at the bar, but didn’t make any friends, aside from the staff, or notice any mingling near us.
A perfect patio for mingling.

For drinks, I had the Lychee Martini, which is always a tasty drink I would order more often if an immersed lycee didn’t remind me of brains. Never the less, I liked it and apparently so does everyone else at Xino because I witnessed many more of those made. I sampled Minty’s Sino Tai, their version of a Mai Tai, which is less sweet and more refreshing. For a future visit, I would love to try the Mulan, a gin cocktail with St. Germaine liquor, rosewater, lemon, & basil syrup. At $5 each, it’s very affordable to try all 5 specialty cocktails, but my liver needs to live to see more happy hours.
Lychee Martini

For food, we split 3 “nibbles” at $5 a piece: Chicken Lettuce Cups, Seafood Spinach Dumplings, & Wild Mushroom Dumplings. All of the nibbles were good, but the Seafood Spinach Dumplings were my favorite because they were made with a hearty amount of shrimp and spinach. I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about the Wild Mushroom Dumplings, but they exceeded my expectations because the mushrooms tasted so fresh. My only complaint is that I was still hungry afterwards. Usually that amount of food split between two people would be enough for me, but it wasn’t. I guess that’s why they call them nibbles. To me, a nibble implies little bites, but I must say the size of the food was pretty generous. It just didn’t fill me up for some reason.

Seafood Spinach Dumplings

Chicken Lettuce Cups & Wild Mushroom Dumplings

Next time, I return to Xino (and there will be a next time), I would spring for a full meal and maybe an appetizer to share.
Rating: 3.5 Martinis

Xino on Urbanspoon

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