Santa Monica: Restaurant guide

Santa Monica Restaurant Guide.png

Since moving to Santa Monica, I’ve had a few visitors and people ask me what’s good to eat. There are lots of great places and I haven’t come close to trying all of them, but I do have some favorites that I want to share with you. I though it would be helpful to break it down into neighborhoods or types of meals.

Los Angeles is know for being a car city. It does help to have a car, of course, but if you’re in Santa Monica, sometimes it helps to just pick a neighborhood and stay there for a little while. Walk around if you can. Just be sure to read all the street signs and not get a parking ticket.

Do you have an idea of where you want to go or what you want to eat? Great. Let’s get started.

Within walking distance of the beach

Cha Cha Chicken
This is a middle of the road place that everyone can agree upon. If you’re with a group, especially one that includes children, this is a great option because it has an outdoor patio and healthy menu options, all for a reasonable price.

El Texate
El Texate
The mole platter is amazing. Convince a friend to share it with you and you’ll be happy you did. Or if you’re not up for that, anything else on the menu is good, honestly. It may be more pricey than you’re expecting for Mexican food, but this isn’t a chain restaurant.

Hot Dog on a Stick
Hot Dog on a Stick
For cheap eats near the sand, hot dog on a stick is the place to go. I mean, there are places on the pier too but I’m going to go ahead and admit that I’m a terrible local and haven’t been to any of those. Fun fact: This Hot Dog on a Stick was disguised as the hot dog stand Donte’s Inferno in the Gilmore Girls episode “Here Comes the Son.”


Near 3rd Street Promenade

Shop House
This is a build-your-own bowl place in a similar vein as Chipotle, except this is Southeast Asian food and way better. The pork and chicken meatballs are my favorite. Located in the middle of the promenade across from Lush and Anthropologie.

Burger Lounge
Like most of these Santa Monica joints, it’s focused on making meals with local produce. Handcrafted burgers, salads, milkshakes and more. Lavender lemonade, craft sodas, and local beer. Walk up, order, then sit down. Thanks to my aunt Grace for first introducing me to this place in another beach city.

Umami Burger
Just a few streets up from the shops. Handcrafted burgers , craft beer and sides. Sit down restaurant. Similar to Burger Lounge, but I still go to both because of their unique offerings. Must try the truffle fries.


Great for takeout or a quick bite

Tacos Por Favor
I have an undying love for this place and recommend it to people. It’s definitely not the best fast food type taco place I’ve ever been to, but it seems to be the best one in Santa Monica.

Thai Vegan
I get delivery from this place sometimes, but it’s also nice to go in person. Very nicely decorated. Fresh and authentic Thai food. Fresh juice bar too. Close-ish to the beach and right across from Urth Cafe, if you’re into that.

Grey Block Pizza
This has got to be the best pizza I’ve had anywhere ever. I’ve never been to New York or Chicago, so I can’t compare to those states with their big reputations. My favorite pizzas at Grey Block: The Original Salad Pizza and The Picante Pollo.


The perfect brunch spot

Huckleberry Cafe
There’s usually a long line but for good reason. The pastry case is like heaven. Personally, I’ve only been here for brunch but it is open until 5 pm.

Brus Wiffle
For one, the name is fun to say and reminds me of a photo I once saw on the internet of a dog making waffles. Great variety of waffles, other choices too, and Illy coffee in the mix. My pick: the festive chicken and waffle, which comes with mango, pico de gallo, and mango sauce.

Santa Monica Farmer's Market
Santa Monica Farmer’s Market
Santa Monica is so serious about farm fresh produce that it hosts farmer’s markets four days a week. The Wednesday Farmer’s Market is known for being the go-to shopping spot for chefs to pick up goods for their restaurants. That being said, I still haven’t gone. I usually go to the Saturday Farmer’s Market at Virginia Avenue Park. I can vouch that there are multiple food vendors and they’re all great. I can count on coffee, fresh juice, baked goods, and one or two savory breakfast vendors.



Sweet Rose Creamery
Sweet Rose Creamery
Great ice cream. Great people. I work here. You should try the Fresh Mint Chip and Salted Caramel. There are five Sweet Rose locations. The one at 826 Pico is only a mile from the pier.

Sidecar Doughnuts
Sidecar Doughnuts and Coffee
These doughnuts man! You must try them. For their coffee selection, Sidecar has partnered with Stumptown. It’s also got homemade pop and other unique drinks.

Cookie Good
Cookie Good
Great to give as a gift. A lot of the cookies are based on desserts, candies, or cereals. My favorite is the Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chunk. Try some of the flavored milk.

La Monarca Bakery
La Monarca Bakery
This could also go under brunch. Delicious Mexican pastries, coffee drinks and egg dishes. I loved the quiche chorizo. It has lunch and dinner offerings too (salads, tortas, molettas) but I haven’t tried those yet. Friendly staff.

You may notice I didn’t include a short list of bars or other nightlife spots. I haven’t been to many. When I do want to get a drink, I like to go to El Texate. It has the best margaritas (and other mixed drinks) that I’ve ever had.

There are still plenty of places in Santa Monica, Venice, Los Angeles and the surrounding area that I need to try. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. Let me know if you visit any of these places by tweeting me @ecobrien22.

All photos are from my Instagram.

I would love to hear what you have to say. Leave me a comment and I'll try to write back soon.

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