Santa Monica Restaurants
507 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
This is the kind of slightly elevated, but not too stuffy neighborhood spot that’s been missing in this little corner of Santa Monica. The bar is just as great for catching up with a pal over a craft cocktail as it is for dining solo, while the dining room can easily accommodate groups large and small (we like to grab a table with views of the open kitchen). The menu is rife with approachable, hearty dishes—handmade pastas, veggie-packed quinoa bowls, steak frites—that make both celebratory occasions and weeknights when you don’t feel like cooking extra-special. The recently introduced Sunday Italian Suppers get you a three-course meal and dessert for $45.
Blue Plate (Closed)
1415 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
The emphasis here is on healthy comfort food, which means that it hits all the bases for kids—there's chicken tenders, there's grilled cheese, there's quesadillas, pasta, and turkey hot dogs. There's even a pint-sized protein plate if your little one only eats cucumbers and cheese.
1814 Berkeley St., Santa Monica
Santa Monica’s Bondi Harvest brings breakfast and lunch in Sydney to LA.
2518 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
Situated on a somewhat random chunk of Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, Cadet has gone largely undiscovered, which is particularly beneficial come weekend brunch: When most other places on the West Side have lines out the door and wait times that creep into dinner hour, you're likely to get a table right away and a French-inflected meal that easily outshines its neighbors, courtesy of Chef Kris Tominaga. In the back, you'll find a cozy, roof-less courtyard with a lounge area and a comfortable communal table situation that's well-suited for baby and bridal showers in daytime and loud-ish birthday parties or chill work gatherings at night.
1314 7th St., Santa Monica
Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb are basically the First Family of West L.A.’s food scene. There’s Rustic Canyon, which started it all, and Huckleberry Café, and Milo & Olive, and Sweet Rose Creamery, and now, Cassia, which they opened in partnership with another great culinary couple, Bryant Ng (R.I.P. Spice Table) and Kim Luu-Ng. With three stretch bars, a stunning Art Deco dining room, and buckets of natural light, it’s by far one of the biggest and most beautiful spaces in Santa Monica, and the Southeast Asian-inflected food is some of the best we’ve ever tasted. The airy space, not to mention the convenient location, make it a no-brainer for small parties and events as well—call ahead to reserve the separate private dining room which can comfortable seat up to 20 people .
Chinois on Main
2709 Main St., Santa Monica
This place has been around since the '80s, but in the intervening years, it's lost none of its appeal. As a pioneer in the Asian-fusion space (one of Wolfgang Puck's first restaurants), Chinois—which marries French and Chinese cuisine—totally revolutionized the L.A. food scene. Now, the food feels wonderfully familiar in a space that looks straight out of Ruthless People. The curried oysters, duck pancakes, and spicy miso black cod are classics. A trip here always brings a real sense of nostalgia, as this was one of the first foodie destinations in California. The excellent service and family-style servings make it perfect for a group (and there's a private room to accommodate, too).
12217 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica
This is as low-profile as it goes for strip mall sushi, which says a lot. It's always quiet (besides the elevator jazz in the background that lends a shred of ambiance) and there's never a wait to get a table. Whether you're ordering off the menu or opting for the set omakase at the bar, it's nicely affordable, too, which doesn't translate to lower grade fish. Photo: Benyeh2
1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
Order the Office Burger, complete with bacon, caramelized onions, gruyere, and blue cheese (no substitutions allowed), with a side of sweet potato fries, and one of an encyclopedia's worth of craft beers. There's another location in Culver City.
101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
Located inside the Fairmont hotel (the same property as the popular, young-crowd bar The Bungalow), FIG is helmed by Chef Yousef Ghalaini, and the Mediterranean menu draws on dishes he made growing up with his grandfather in Lebanon. Highlights come from the restaurant's wood-burning oven/grill: roasted veggies, wood-smoked clams with thyme and pepper relish, whole fish and, if meat is your thing, serious steaks. The beautiful indoor-outdoor space centers around the bar (cocktails are worth sampling here), and spills onto a patio overlooking the Fairmont's pool.
1610 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
A major player in the mini restaurant scene that's developing on Montana, Forma is the kind of place that's equally appropriate for a low-key after work bite, or a big night out. While all of the Italian classics are represented, there are some surprises on the menu, too, like a great cheeseburger and a gluten-free spaghetti that's pretty great.
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