Dining out is one of the most popular & enjoyable activities. After all, there's nothing quite like indulging in a mouthwatering, delicious meal.
Luckily, Santa Monica has a great selection of restaurants to satisfy any appetite.
We've handpicked 5 dining establishments that we are confident you'll love.
Blue Plate Taco
The restaurant is an open, airy seaside dream which will remind you of being at a spot along the Mexican coast. Fresh and light beachside Mexican cuisine, using organic and sustainably farmed ingredients . Delicious tacos, cold cold beer and fantastic friendly service! The prices are relatively decent and the customer service here is great! The ambiance is very beachy/vacation-like. Although the tables inside are really small (bar-stool style) and really close so if you'd like to sit outside it might be more spacious. It is located in front of and is part of the newly refurbished Shore Hotel, steps away from the Santa Monica Pier and next to the venerable Ivy at the Shore. Tim Clarke designed it, as at her other places, and has done a smashing job, with its hanging woven-basket chandelier, open kitchen, glass walls, and chairs of saddle-leather. In these days of ever-larger restaurants with massive menus, it is delightful to find a small, exquisitely executed eatery, which pays great attention to every detail, offering imaginative, delicious food. Blue Plate Taco is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Blue Plate Taco (1515 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, (310) 458-2985. http://www.blueplatetaco.com/
Water Grill Santa Monica
Apart from the view, the best reason to come to Water Grill in Santa Monica is the raw bar. There's a fantastic selection of oysters, and the iced shellfish platters both here and downtown are one of L.A.'s great treats. The smallest (dubbed "the Grand") is one of the few things on the menu that could be described as a bargain: For $39, you get four oysters, two cherrystone clams, two Peruvian scallops, six shrimp, six mussels, half a lobster and a smattering of periwinkles that you pry from their shells with tiny plastic picks. It's enough to satisfy two people easily, an affordable indulgence. Water Grill's greatest strength, the quality of its product, is evident here: sweet, tender lobster meat; fat, briny oysters; mussels and shrimp that pop with freshness. That freshness carries over to the rest of the menu, where you can order just about any type of fish or shellfish, prepared simply or as a composed dish. Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 394-5569, watergrill.com.
The original location of Sang Yoon's gastropub (some say L.A.'s original gastropub) is still as strict in its policies as it is fun to partake in them. You must be 21 to enter, you must order at the bar and then fight for one of only about 70 seats, you may not request substitutions. The website even proclaims that "dessert items including birthday cakes are not permitted." But give in to Yoon's fussy way of doing things and you'll be rewarded with one of the best beer selections anywhere, one of the best burgers in the country and a creative, affordable menu that is as generous as the rules of the place are strict. 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 736-2224, fathersoffice.com.
Milo & Olive
In the over four years since it opened, Milo & Olive has become many things to many people: the hub of Zoe Nathan's small but brilliant baking empire; the place to get arguably (arguably! Calm down) the best pizza on the Westside; a restaurant where you can run into friends and wandering chefs at the bar or the handful of communal tables. Any of these is reason enough to head over to the restaurant Nathan and husband Josh Loeb named after their kid (that would be Milo). Another reason, along with the latte with house-made almond milk, which goes pretty damn well with Nathan's chocolate chip cookies: the two giant pizza ovens that are the focal point of the open kitchen, the literal hearth warming the whole house. 2723 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 453-6776, miloandolive.com.
Santa Monica Yacht Club
Add chef Andrew Kirschner to the short list of purveyors of West Coast–style seafood. If anything, his restaurant, the Santa Monica Yacht Club (known also as SMYC), is even more Californian than the Hungry Cat. There are no lobster rolls here; instead, there is lobster on toast. With burrata, of course. There's a midcentury nautical vibe to SMYC. And there is a lot that it borrows from Asia, borrows from Mexico, borrows from South America. Yet it all shares a common theme of colorful, bold flavor, an aesthetic that is certainly Kirschner's but also Southern California's. It's breezy and fun and, yes, almost too fashionable, but this chef in this town can get away with overt trendiness. It's a style of seafood restaurant we, as a region, can be proud to call our own. 620 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 587-3330, eatsmyc.com.