If the success of Santa Monica’s Crudo e Nudo — which recently expanded to NYC — Silver Lake’s Ceviche Project and the newly opened Causita, are any indication, a case could be made that Angelenos still can’t get enough ultra-fresh, raw, or simply cured fish — sushi or otherwise. Savida, which opened at 1303 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica in late June, joins the ranks of these popular seafood spots with its menu of tuna tacos, crudos, ceviche, and more.
Israel-born chef Dan Smulovitz first opened Savida with just eight seats in the Israeli town of Old Akko back in 2013. There, he served a daily-changing menu of whatever fish was caught that day cooked over an open flame, eventually growing the restaurant to around 80 seats. After relocating to Los Angeles in 2021 and securing the location for the new Savida at the former home of Sushi Sho, Smulovitz had to make some changes to the menu. “It wasn’t necessarily my intention to open a raw seafood bar, but we don’t have a hood. At least I don’t smell like fire and oil — my wife is happier,” Smulovitz jokes.
At the minimalist 34-seat restaurant, done in wood tones and neutral grays, guests can dine at light-wood high tops, at an oyster bar with a view of the kitchen, at a window counter looking out on the street, or patio seating right on Montana. “I’ve loved this street for a long time; it reminds me of streets in Tel Aviv,” Smulovitz says.
Smulovitz, who sources fish locally whenever possible, puts out dishes that incorporate Latin American and Japanese flavors from the restaurant’s compact kitchen. Selections range from flounder ceviche with aji amarillo and red onion; slices of hamachi topped with cilantro, mint, dill, and crispy shallots and dressed with a blend of tomato, soy, and yuzu kosho; a vegetable-and-fruit gazpacho topped with balsamic whipped cream; and a tostada that layers octopus, harissa, preserved lemon, kalamata olives, and tzatziki on a crisp corn tortilla.
There’s also a lobster roll slider dressed with creme fraiche, coconut cream, lemongrass, celery, and crispy shallots, a platter of raw oysters, as well as a few simple salads like shrimp over frisee with asparagus and a truffle vinaigrette, or a tomato and nectarine salad with arugula and burrata.
A license to serve beer, wine, and cocktails is in the works, but at the moment beverage options include Topo Chico, blueberry soda, and celery soda.
Savida is open for lunch Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., and additionally for dinner Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 6 to 9 p.m. Expanded hours are expected soon.