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A platter of seafood with tortilla chips spread around.
Baja seafood platter
Anne Fishbein

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Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger Are Cooking in Santa Monica Once Again

Socalo opens with a slew of Mexican delights

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Today is the day for Socalo, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s long-awaited Westside restaurant. The modern casual Mexican spot is meant as a next chapter following the closure of Border Grill Santa Monica way back in 2016.

The new Socalo is simultaneously much the same for Feniger and Milliken, and in many ways very different. The pair have long had a fascination with keeping up with Mexican food trends both in Mexico proper and in Los Angeles; their Downtown restaurant Ciudad predated the arrival of Staples Center and that neighborhood’s overall rebirth, and the duo continues to operate Border Grill locations both in California and Nevada. The first Border Grill opened in Hollywood in 1985.

With Socalo, the plan is to start with breakfast and lunch (the restaurant is inside the Gateway Hotel, after all). That means everything from simple savory morning granola and egg dishes to casual “Mexican pub” fare like vampiros, jackfruit tacos, drinks, and more.

Two vampiros, one with steak, sit on a bright white plate.
Steak and vegetarian vampiros
Anne Fishbein

The evening menu, overseen by executive chef Giovanni Lopez, will move into full service and include a raw bar, large-format seafood dishes, lamb birria, and more. Juan Martinez oversees the cocktail program at the restaurant, which seats 99 inside with communal tables and booths alike.

Socalo opens today, keeping hours, when fully operational, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

A teal wooden booth with tall ceilings at a new restaurant.
Right down the middle
Luke Gibson
Communal seats look out towards a patio at a new restaurant.
Communal seating
Luke Gibson
A warm patio and glowing restaurant interior.
Socalo at night
Luke Gibson


1920 Santa Monica Boulevard, , CA 90404 (310) 451-1655 Visit Website

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