From casual beach bites to upscale dining experiences, Santa Monica offers a delicious array of culinary delights that cater to various tastes and budgets.
I'd like to share with you some of the best restaurants that have captured my heart (and taste buds) over the years in the hopes that they'll do the same for you.
Tar & Roses
Tar & Roses offers one of the best dining experiences around.
I remember my first time visiting this moodily lit, buzzy spot with seasonal American small and large plates and an ample wine and beer list.
The dishes are designed for sharing, which allowed my friends and me to try several different options.
We started with the oxtail dumplings, which were absolutely delicious and had us hooked instantly.
For our entrees, we tried the black cod and duck breast - both were cooked to perfection.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, and Tar & Roses didn't disappoint.
We shared their honey ice cream with strawberries on a pastry, which was the perfect sweet ending to our meal.
One of the best things about living in this area is having access to some truly amazing food, and SaMo Pizza is no exception.
As a frequent customer, I can attest to the incredible service and top-notch quality of their menu items.
Their veggie pizza is to die for, and their pesto chicken sandwich never fails to hit the spot.
I never feel heavy or sluggish after indulging in their delicious creations, which speaks to the authenticity and care put into each dish.
They even offer a fantastic deal where you can get a free drink if you buy an extra slice of pizza - perfect for those days when you're extra hungry or want to share with a friend.
SaMo Pizza is not only a great spot for grabbing a quick bite, but it's also perfect for parties and gatherings.
Plus, they've been known to throw in a little dessert as a bonus from time to time.
I'm always on the lookout for authentic Italian food, and I finally stumbled upon the perfect spot - Colapasta Restaurant.
This rustic Italian trattoria specializes in house-made pasta and has a casual, beachy vibe that I adore.
It felt like I was stepping into a cozy family gathering.
The food at Colapasta is simply divine.
I tried their fresh lasagna, and it was, hands down, the best I've ever had in the area.
I could tell the pasta was freshly made, and the flavors were just like what I'd expect from an authentic Italian meal.
The wine selection was great too, and I found the perfect pairing for my meal.
The presentation of the dishes was on point, with adorable garnishes and well-executed plating.
But what really stood out to me was the reasonable pricing.
A complete meal, including soup, salad, entrees, and dessert, came out to be around $80 + tax and tip.
The Curious Palate
One of my favorite spots in Santa Monica has to be The Curious Palate.
This cozy restaurant offers incredible locally sourced American meals, and their craft beer and kombucha on tap selection is simply unbeatable.
With a relaxing patio to enjoy the wonderful SoCal weather, it's the perfect spot to catch up with friends or unwind after a long day.
My go-to choices here have to be the BLT and Bahn Mi, both of which never disappoint.
Their homemade dishes truly make a difference, and every meal feels like a five-star experience.
Don't let its somewhat hidden location fool you.
Lobster & Beer Santa Monica
As a seafood fanatic, I am always on the hunt for the best seafood spots in town.
That's why I was thrilled to discover Lobster & Beer Santa Monica a while ago, and it's safe to say that it has become one of my favorite places to dine in the area.
The cozy and casual atmosphere, combined with attentive service, makes it a perfect spot for a laid-back meal with friends or family.
The name Lobster & Beer alone had me intrigued, but it's the delicious menu that ensures I keep coming back.
Among my favorite dishes are the Connecticut Roll, which has plenty of lobster and is served on great bread, and the seafood bowls.
The Upper West
One of my favorite go-to spots in the neighborhood is The Upper West.
This loftlike hot spot has a lovely patio and offers happy hours, making it a perfect place to unwind after a long day.
The New American grub and market-driven cocktails served here never disappoint.
The last time I visited, I had the ahi tuna, which was simply fantastic.
The dish came with little crispy rice cubes topped with perfectly seasoned tuna.
I also tried their blue cheese chips, which were quite decadent.
The combination of crispy chips and creamy blue cheese made for a delightful texture surprise with each bite.
In addition to the ahi tuna, I ordered the cauliflower with a creamy hummus sauce which was incredibly flavorful.
KazuNori: The Original Hand Roll Bar
Living nearby, I have had the pleasure of visiting KazuNori: The Original Hand Roll Bar several times.
The stylish restaurant has an industrial vibe to it and is known for its delicious Japanese seafood rolls.
I appreciate the simplicity of the menu, which focuses on quality ingredients and fresh flavors.
During my most recent visit, I tried a 6-roll combo along with the specials, which included a fantastic uni handroll.
The toro, scallop, and yellowtail were also standouts.
The lobster and crab rolls were good and seemed to have a hint of mayo.
Every time I dine here, I feel refreshed and satisfied with my meal.
The restaurant prides itself on freshness, so I would recommend dining in rather than ordering to-go.
The atmosphere is always welcoming, even when the line is long.
Bruno's Italian Restaurant
I absolutely love going to Bruno's Italian Restaurant in Santa Monica whenever I'm in the mood for some authentic Italian cuisine.
The modest setting with red checkered tablecloths really adds a touch of charm to this cozy spot.
The service here is always excellent, and the portion sizes are quite generous.
My go-to dish at Bruno's is their spaghetti with meat sauce, but I also highly recommend their handmade pizzas and lasagna.
Their red sauce is simply unbelievable, and I can't get enough of it!
My partner usually orders eggplant parmesan, which is equally as delicious.
Oh, and you must try their Caesar salad, it's always so fresh and flavorful.
Aside from the mouth-watering food, one of the best things about Bruno's is its location.
It's close to many cool attractions, like the Santa Monica Pier, making it easy to plan an enjoyable evening out.
I absolutely love going to Sol Agave in Santa Monica.
This stylish, upmarket restaurant & bar offers creative takes on Mexican classics, and every time I visit, I'm blown away by the taste and quality of the food.
The ambiance of the place is fantastic - it's perfect for everything from a casual lunch with friends to a romantic dinner date.
Their happy hour menu is a fantastic option with good prices, and I really enjoy sitting in the indoor/outdoor patio area, which is filled with natural light.
One of my favorite dishes is their mole, which is unlike anything I've ever tasted before.
It's so good, in fact, that I often find myself craving it and heading back to Sol Agave just to get more.
And let me tell you, their drinks are also top-notch - well-crafted and the perfect complement to their delicious food.
Oh, what a night!
I recently had the pleasure of dining at Solidarity, and I must say, the experience was nothing short of amazing.
As someone who has a deep love for Polish cuisine, I've always been on the lookout for authentic Polish food joints in LA, and Solidarity truly delivered the goods.
I was absolutely thrilled about the outdoor lounge, which added a touch of charm to the place.
The food was simply divine.
I decided to go for the sampler option, which allowed me to taste a variety of Polish delicacies.
It was as if I was transported to Poland itself, with the rich flavors and hearty dishes.
The schnitzel, in particular, was a true standout.
And, of course, the Polish beers they serve were the icing on the cake.
Paired with the delicious food, it was a match made in heaven.
I've had the pleasure of dining at Fritto Misto on numerous occasions.
It's become one of my favorite spots for a relaxed Italian meal with friends and family.
The garlic shrimp pasta has become my go-to dish, and I've never been disappointed with the generous portion of shrimp they serve.
One feature that sets Fritto Misto apart from other Italian eateries is their create-your-own pasta plates, which I personally find to be an exciting way to explore flavors.
They also offer a good selection of vegetarian options, catering to various dietary preferences.
I've been meaning to try their lobster ravioli next, as I've heard good things!
The atmosphere at Fritto Misto has always been welcoming and laid back, perfect for a casual night out.
I recently found out that my mom has an allergy to both eggs and wheat, which has made finding delicious food a bit challenging for her.
I was delighted to discover that Fritto Misto allows you to modify your pasta and offers egg and wheat-free options.
I plan to bring my mom here soon to enjoy a meal together.
Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar
I have dined Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar in Santa Monica several times.
This stylish, modern Italian restaurant with a cheese bar and cocktails is always a treat to visit.
One of the things I enjoy the most about Forma is the cozy ambiance created by the low ceilings.
It's such a rare feature in today's high-ceiling restaurants and makes it easy for my friends and me to have conversations without raising our voices.
I'm a cheese lover, so their cheese-focused menu is perfect for me.
The cheese board is always a fun choice, and the pastas prepared in the cheese wheel are a must-try.
My personal favorite is the cacio e pepe, which has the perfect balance of pepperiness and saltiness from the Parmesan.
I also highly recommend the mushroom pasta as it's incredibly creamy and rich.
One thing to note is that Forma is on the pricier side, but the quality of the food and the generous portions make it worth it.
Another bonus is the availability of indoor and outdoor seating, which is great for accommodating different preferences and weather conditions.
I can confidently say that Sweetgreen is definitely one of my favorite go-to spots for a healthy and delicious meal.
As someone who loves raw salads, I was beyond thrilled when I first visited this place and discovered the wide variety of fresh ingredients and seasonings they offer.
I usually order the Guacamole Greens or the Kale Caesar Salad, and I can't get enough of their amazing flavors!
What I love most about Sweetgreen is how transparent they are with their ingredients, making it easy for those with dietary restrictions like gluten intolerance to enjoy their salads without any worries.
I feel so fortunate to have Pasjoli as my go-to spot for special occasions and date nights.
The seasonal and luxe Parisian bistro fare served in this chic setting never fails to impress me and my guests.
The first time I visited Pasjoli, I was immediately blown away by the incredible dining experience.
The service was top-notch, and the ambiance set the perfect mood for a romantic evening.
My partner and I started our meal with some delightful appetizers and cocktails - all of which were absolutely delicious.
For our main courses, we each opted for a fish dish, and I must say, the halibut was truly exceptional.
Cooked to perfection and buttery in texture, it left us wanting more.
The crab appetizer is another must-try dish, with a generous portion size that does not disappoint.
And, of course, don't even think about skipping dessert - it's totally worth it!
What stood out to me even more was the above-average service and attention to detail.
To top it all off, the service charge is included in the price, which is a pleasant surprise - although, after such a fantastic experience, I was more than happy to leave an additional tip.
Chinois On Main
Chinois On Main has always been one of my favorite spots in Santa Monica for a special dinner.
This iconic eatery by Wolfgang Puck offers exceptional Asian-French fusion cuisine that never fails to impress.
The restaurant itself is situated in a perfect location, right in the heart of Santa Monica, which makes it an ideal spot for both locals and visitors alike.
Although the decor may seem a bit outdated, it definitely adds a vintage charm to the experience.
I must say that the Shanghai lobster and the catfish are two of the most incredible dishes on their menu.
The flavors are perfectly balanced, and the presentation is always on point.
And of course, you can't forget about the dessert options.
The Craftsman Bar and Kitchen
One of my favorite places to hang out with friends in Santa Monica is The Craftsman Bar and Kitchen.
The rustic-chic setting by the sea, combined with the wide selection of microbrews and delicious gastropub plates, never disappoints.
Whether it's a weekend night out or an after-work catch-up, this place always has a great atmosphere.
The music at The Craftsman is always a hit – they play old-school throwback music videos on the screens, which adds to the fun and casual vibe.
Plus, they have couches to chill at and shuffleboard to keep us entertained.
I also appreciate that they have a variety of drink options, including mocktails, so there's something for everyone.
Stout Burgers and Beers
One of the places I often frequent for a good burger is Stout Burgers and Beers.
It's a cozy gastropub that offers creative burgers paired with a wide selection of microbrews.
The copper bar inside always makes quite an impression on me and my friends, and we love the laid-back atmosphere of the place.
In terms of food, I have tried a couple of their burgers, and I must say that the Stout Burger and the Truffle Shuffle Burger are absolutely delicious.
One thing I really appreciate about Stout Burgers and Beers is its location.
It's situated right by the Santa Monica beach, so it's perfect for grabbing a quick bite after a day out in the sun.
Plus, it's close to the promenade, making it an ideal spot for people-watching while enjoying a cold beer.
Speaking of beer, they offer a variety of options, and you can even ask for samples if you're not sure what to choose.
I once tried a kombucha beer they had in a can, and it was surprisingly delicious.
If you're looking for an incredible dining experience in the heart of LA, I can't recommend Papille Gustative enough.
As someone who's tried countless restaurants in the area, this rustic-chic outfit stands out with its amazing food, atmosphere, and superb service.
One of my favorite things to do is enjoy their delicious brunch on the terrace.
Their menu offers a variety of innovative lunch and dinner options that cater to every taste.
When I first visited Papille Gustative, I was blown away by the freshness of their ingredients, which are sourced locally.
A must-try for latte lovers is their lavender with a vanilla latte, which I can't help but order every time I visit.
On Sundays, they also host live jazz performances that I can't wait to return for.
La Purepecha Cocina Mexicana
The other day, I was craving some authentic Mexican food, so I decided to visit La Purepecha Cocina Mexicana here in Santa Monica.
The restaurant is known for its delicious, quick eats like tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and tamales, all served in a cozy, casual setting.
As soon as I entered, I was greeted by the mouth-watering aroma of freshly cooked Mexican cuisine.
I decided to try their Steak Chilaquiles Plate, which was recommended to me by a friend.
The flavors were amazing, but the steak was a little tough for my liking.
Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the dish and appreciated the traditional preparation of the dish with the egg mixed throughout the plate.
I must admit, the wait time for the food was longer than I expected, but it was definitely worth it when I finally got to taste their scrumptious shrimp tacos.
If you're planning to visit, I would suggest calling ahead to minimize the wait time.
Cobi's South East Asian Delights
I have always been a fan of South East Asian cuisine, so when I heard of Cobi's, I just had to see what all the hype was about.
In the past month alone, I visited this charming spot twice, and I can't wait to go back again!
My first visit was a dinner with friends, where we shared a variety of dishes, including the dumplings and dry-aged kanpachi.
Everything was incredibly fresh and flavorful, even down to the herbs they used.
The butter chicken curry and jasmine rice were a big hit among us, offering a comforting and filling dish that was hard to resist.
On my second visit, I went with my partner for a more intimate night out.
The pink and roses decor made for a cozy and romantic atmosphere, perfect for our date night.
We decided to go with the family-style option and enjoyed the curry puffs, Nasi Goreng, and beef short ribs in tamarind sauce.
The ribs were so tender and juicy, while the Roti was a delightful addition that I could've eaten all by myself.
One thing you must not skip at Cobi's is their dessert offerings.
The vanilla soft serve with caramel and brownies is a decadent treat that melts in your mouth, while the vegan coconut shaved ice with dragon fruit offers a refreshing end to the meal.
Aside from the fantastic food, the service at Cobi's is always warm and inviting.
Cobi's has definitely earned a spot on my go-to list for South East Asian cuisine in the area.
Mon Roll House Sushi
I recently visited Mon Roll House Sushi with a couple of friends.
Though the place is small and cozy, we were lucky to grab a table.
The dining area is modern and comfortable and a perfect spot for a quick sushi bite.
Tthe sushi rolls were highly satisfying, and the blossom roll was delicious.
One thing I particularly appreciated was the fast and friendly service.
As a bonus, I found the prices to be quite affordable.
My friends and I also tried their Thai tea, which was quite refreshing.
Lunetta At Night
I absolutely love going to Lunetta At Night whenever I have the chance.
It has become my go-to spot for celebrating special occasions or just a nice night out with friends and family.
I must say, their gnocchi and Jidori chicken are truly outstanding, and the beet salad with a layer of creamy goat cheese has become a personal favorite of mine.
The cocktails at Lunetta are unique and strong, making it a perfect place to wind down after a long day.
The outdoor seating options are quite pleasant, with shaded areas for those who prefer not to sit directly in the sun.
And to top it all off, they have a parking lot with plenty of spaces, which is a huge plus for a local like me.
Recently, I attended a family event at Lunetta, and I was incredibly impressed with how well everything was organized.
From the delicious food to the DJ and dancing in the All Day room and OG patio, it was a night to remember.
Life in Santa Monica has been an incredible culinary journey, and I am grateful to have experienced the diverse and exquisite food scene in this vibrant city.
Each restaurant mentioned has its own unique charm and personality, offering delightful dishes that satisfy every type of craving.
From the delectable sashimi at KazuNori: The Original Hand Roll Bar to the flavorful Italian cuisine at Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar, the choices are endless, and I cannot wait to see what new gems will emerge in the future.