The former Dhaba, owned by Manhar and Margaret Patel for an incredible 50 years, reopened as an updated Southeast Asian street food restaurant on October 7 along Main Street Santa Monica called Cobi’s. Cobi Marsh of Cobi’s Curries and Lance Mueller, previously at E.P. and L.P. and Eveleigh are running the show. The older Patels had an impressive run serving South Asian favorites like tandoori chicken tikka and plenty of vegetable-oriented Indian fare but closed temporarily due to the pandemic. Now there’s fully updated decor with mismatched furniture, charming floral wallpaper, and antique grandma-style plates.
Mueller, who has Polynesian roots and hails from New Zealand and Australia, brings the Southeast Asian mentality he helped execute at E.P. and L.P. (which has since veered to a more American menu) and had been doing at Cobi’s Curries on West Third Street (which has since closed). Cobi’s at Dhaba is a rebirth for the popular Southeast Asian restaurant, which had gained some traction prior to the pandemic, with a menu inspired by Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, as well as some nods to the space’s former life as Dhaba.
Highlights include a dry-aged grilled branzino with yellow curry and mint, beef short rib with chili and tamarind dressing, jungle curry, butter chicken, and gado gado. A raw bar features kanpachi with finger lime, green chili, and coconut dressing while bluefin tuna sprinkles on citrus with prawn crisps. Snack on grilled prawns with ginger and yellow bean sauce or green papaya salad before hitting larger dishes like devil chicken curry, which has legit spice from ghost pepper vinegar. A grilled gai yang chicken will feel plucked right out of a Thai street cart. There’s also a fun omakase for $55 person that just lets the kitchen decide what you’ll eat that night. And there’s a $50 wine pairing to go along with that. For dessert, there’s a Thai tea pudding with boba pearls, a vanilla salted caramel sundae, and shaved ice to help finish the meal.
The wine situation sticks to the au courant natural and funky perspective, with a skin contact sauvignon blanc from Scholium Project called La Severita di Bruto. Pét nat rosé is a 2020 Languedoc that blends grenache and mourvèdre while a Schaller Chablis should pair nicely with the spiceful, acidic street food dishes. Most of the bottles range from $55 to $80, making this a solid place for natural wine fans. And anyone taking wine to-go will get a 40 percent discount from the menu price, a handy thing for takeout orders.
The indoor-outdoor space has 78 seats with a lush, covered patio that will feel like someone’s backyard. Inside it’s more of the same — bright, green, modern shabby charm that befits this part of Main Street Santa Monica. Cobi’s is open Sunday to Wednesday, 5 to 10 p.m. and Thursday to Sunday until 11 p.m. Book tables here on Resy.