In a saturated foodie market like Los Angeles, it can be hard to decipher what the best restaurants in Santa Monica truly are.
That’s why I’m here to step in. From Michelin-stars to time-honored corner diners, there is no doubt that there is stellar food in Santa Monica. Whether it's burgers, fresh seafood, authentic Italian, or unique fusion restaurants, there’s something for everyone. So, we’ve put together a collection of the best restaurants in Santa Monica for you to indulge in. After a beautiful day exploring the best beaches of Los Angeles, you might need a great burger. Or, if you've found all the fun things to do in Santa Monica, you might be ready to be blown away by a world renowned restaurant. So, sit down and get ready to dig into some of the best dishes on the west coast.
1. Tar and Roses
This hip date night spot makes every list of the best restaurants in Santa Monica. Centered around an incredible wood-burning oven, chef Andrew Kirschner lets his talent shine at his first restaurant. After cultivating a love for travel, fresh produce, local meats, and bold flavors, Tar and Roses was born.
Start your meal off here with choices from the extensive charcuterie offerings that each come with a dried cherry mostarda and seasonal pickles. I have a soft spot for potatoes, so I would recommend trying out the corn & mascarpone gnocchi. If you’re hoping for a more bold adventure, order the bone marrow with red onion marmalade, sea salt, and sourdough. This will definitely tempt your palate and keep you wanting more. For vegetarians, there is an quality vegetable menu that you can mix and match. If you get a few, you can easily call it a main course. For a dinner from the sea, indulge in the shellfish pot, full of scallops, clams, mussels, shrimp, maitake, and curry. Hoping for a dinner from land instead? Dig into the dry aged ribeye for two for twenty-four ounces of heaven. This will be paired alongside an arugula & parmesan salad.
While all of these dishes will be well curated for your dining delight, I would urge you to plan your meal here ahead of time. With a weeks notice, you can order a three-course dinner of wood-fired goat, Singaporean chili crab, or standing rib back, among others. This feast is an incredibly unique opportunity only found at number one spot on our list of best restaurants in Santa Monica.
2. Belcampo Meat Co.
Belcampo Meat Co. is not just one of the best restaurants in Santa Monica. It is, in fact, one of the best in America. Having around eight locations in the greater Los Angeles area, you know they’re doing something right. Co-founder Anya Fernald tells the story of how food affects both body and soul through the creation of Belcampo. They have founded their own 25,000 acre supply chain in Mount Shasta, also known as their farm. So, as you take each bite, you will know exactly where it was born, raised, and cared for.
Through this incredible care given to the raising of the animals, your food will be packed with more natural vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3s than any other meal you’ve had. Additionally, with in-house butchers, you can be assured that no part of the animal has gone to waste. With the years of experience of the butchers here, you know you will be getting exceptional cuts of meat.
Now that we have the why behind Belcampo discussed, let’s get to the what. From brunch to dinner, and hand-crafted happy hours, Belcampo is good at any time of day. From their Tallow Wrapped NY Strip to a 100-day dry aged burger, you will be blown away. Of course, there are endless steaks and other cuts of meat to try as well. Regardless of what to try, you will walk away knowing without a doubt how Belcampo made it as one of the best restaurants in Santa Monica. Finally, if you’re needing more than just a dining experience, check out Belcampo’s Meat Camps. They will give you a hands-on experience on where true food comes from.
Having learned the intricacies of fine French cooking after moving there right after high school, chef Josiah Citrin brings his own flavor to the best restaurants in Santa Monica. If you dine solely off of the caviar and truffles menu, we won’t blame you. This Michelin starred masterpiece knows exactly what it is doing. You will have the choice of dining with four, seven, or ten courses throughout the evening alongside a world-renowned wine list. Options range from a twenty-one day aged liberty duck to a Spot Prawn with summer pole seans, scallions, ginger, and nasturtium. While you will be spotting a pretty penny to come here, Mélisse has consistently been voted a top one-hundred restaurant in the world, so this will be well worth the experience.
4. Ingo's Tasty Diner
Ingo’s Tasty Diner of Santa Monica brings our list of the best restaurants in Santa Monica to a whole new level of cool. Housed in a building once graced by the Rolling Stones, Ingo’s doesn’t take its legacy lightly. The well-curated playlist at this chic diner will always be tantalizing your ears. If you make it on a Sunday morning for brunch, you will have the joys of live jazz to accompany your meal. Oh, speaking of Sunday and Mondays, that’s wholesale wine day. That means you can buy a bottle of wine at Ingo’s wholesale price plus five dollars. If that isn’t enough to get you in the door, then I’m not sure you should read on. But alas, let’s talk about the food!
From the BBQ Baby Back Ribs to the famous crispy brussel sprouts with a goat cheese dipping sauce, Ingo’s has thought out each piece of their menu. Raising up delectable dishes from fresh ingredients and well-sourced farms, you won’t feel greasy when you leave this diner. Even Dottie’s Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes will have you asking for more. To pair with your meal, you can try out the myriad of specialty, handcrafted cocktails that adorn their menu. So, from the drinks to the darling diner atmosphere, Ingo’s Tasty Diner happily made our list of the best restaurants in Santa Monica.
5. HiHo Cheeseburger
From the team that brought you Sugarfish come to HiHo Cheeseburger. The 100% Wagyu beef patties are what makes this place stand above competitors. What is Wagyu beef? Well, it is the spectacular beef that only comes from cows who have eaten only grass their whole lives. So, sourcing from First Light, a collective of sixty-one farmers who all are passionate about their Wagyu, you will be blown away by the juiciness and flavor of HiHo’s burgers.
Oh, did I mention how well priced this place is as well? For a half-pound patty, known as a triple, it is only 9.25. The price doesn’t go up if you make it a “HiHo” burger by adding onion jam, lettuce, housemade pickles, and having it mustard grilled. With fries, pies, and shakes on the side, HiHo Cheeseburger is both exceptional and affordable. That’s near impossible to find in the business of Santa Monica. So, pack up the kids and bring them over to experience the most affordable option on our list of the best restaurants in Santa Monica.
Brunch: the reason why baby boomers say millennials can’t afford rent. Just because we like our avocado toast doesn’t mean we have to be broke, friends. But, between the locally roasted coffee and farm-to-table breakfast atmosphere here, Huckleberry might be worth spending some of your food budget at. With the options hovering around the fifteen dollar mark, it won’t break the bank either. From their huevos rancheros to Dad’s pancakes slathered in real maple syrup, this is a local’s favorite. That being said, it will be quite busy, so get here early.
Owners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan met at Rustic Canyon across the street and pioneered Huckleberry as a local, artisan bakery and café for the community of foodies to gather around. They have been quite successful. Since 2009, Huckleberry has easily been known as one of the best restaurants in Santa Monica.
We wouldn’t do the Los Angeles food scene justice without applauding Michael’s with a spot as one of the best restaurants in Santa Monica. With chef Miles Thompson at the stove, you can expect a market-driven menu with highly seasonal offerings. This mindset also trickles over into their happy hour, with their well-curated wine list coming in at eight dollars a glass. In addition, their dinner entrees will leave you wanting more. Favorites include the potatoes dusted with bonito flakes and furikake aioli and the hamachi collar paired with baba ganoush. For dessert, I would highly recommend the hazelnut chocolate ganache for your dining pleasure. But, whatever it is you choose at Michael’s, you can rest assured it has been thought out and prepared to perfection.
From the Michelin stars of Melisse to the jazz at Ingo’s, Santa Monica has some exceptional food awaiting you.
While it can be hard to sift through the saturated food scene of West LA, we hope this list of the best restaurants in Santa Monica gives you a solid starting point. Do you know of an up and coming restaurant you think should have made the list? Let us know! We’re always searching out more spot to get our foodie on!
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