After nearly two decades of service, the iconic JiRaffe closed in Santa Monica back in 2014, leaving a great corner restaurant void just waiting to be filled. Enter Eric Greenspan and the team at Midcourse Hospitality Group, who plan to bring casual flair and refined rustic dining to the heart of Santa Monica.
The first go-round for Maré, Eric Greenspan’s hidden back patio gem on Melrose, has been a complete success. The all-outdoor restaurant helped kick off a boom of such places around Los Angeles, including at places like Salazar in Frogtown, and quickly became a neighborhood favorite with a queue of diners waiting to get in every weekend. Now the Maré team is hoping to expand that success out to Santa Monica.
They’ve certainly got the space to make it work, as this new Westside Maré takes over the famous JiRaffe corner, just steps from another recent arrival in Wexler’s Deli. It’s yet another revitalization for that part of Santa Monica, with the Midcourse Hospitality Group (Greenspan, Jim Hustead, James Moon, and Nick Erven) brightening up the nearly two decade old restaurant with lots of candles, some greenery, and an open layout that makes the room soar.
Spread across two floors, the new Maré retains much the same jovial atmosphere as the Melrose original, while not needing to rely on the open air for all that ambiance. Instead, the warm room is brightened up further by lively music and those tall windows that wrap the corner, making Maré feel relaxed and charming in equal measure. There’s still paper on the tables, you’ll still be making a delightful mess with the food, it’s just not outside under some summer umbrellas.
The menu is also a near-replica of the first iteration, though it’s been expanded and refined some to suit the new neighborhood. There’s a broader wine list, a few more shareable dishes, and some other slight alterations meant to make the whole dining experience more conducive to their new space, but ultimately this is the same neighborhood gem with the same laid-back feel as before — with prices that don’t go above $25. The full menu can be found here.
Maré Santa Monica soft opened last night and will be moving forward with nightly dinner service from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. most evenings, expanding to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night. They’ll add lunch service in the coming weeks as well, with a proposed start time of 11 a.m. most days, and 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Maré Santa Monica
502 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA