Santa Monica is great for the beach and boardwalk, but there is definitely more to do. I pretty much end up trying sushi every city I visit. and on my last trip to the Los Angeles area my aunt took me out to the Crazy Fish. It was a low key place with a long sushi bar and several tables. It definitely seems like a place where the staff would learn your name and all the locals went. The menu was simple, but unbelievably tasty. I thought the fish was pretty high quality and very well priced. In fact, I don't think I have ever eaten as many rolls for such a low cost in the Sacramento area.
After dinner we headed over to Angel's Piano Bar, which is the perfect place to go for an old-fashioned drink and some live piano or jazz music. This place never charges a cover and is a nice mix of bar and small tables for their small eats menu. It is a place to come for the music and conversation; not a place you worry about going to impress people. We happened to be there on the night that Dessy Dilauro was performing. She has a great mix of style and it was pretty cool to randomly pick a place to go and to sit 6 feet from a live performance
I love stumbling upon new and fun places, and this time around I didn't hit any duds. Next time you're in a different city, make sure to explore it, as a local for a recommndation, and don't just stick to a premade plan you had; it can be more fun that way. :-)