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A Silicon Valley Brunch Spot Delivers Quiet Luxury and ‘Millionaire’s Bacon’ to Santa Monica

Sweet Maple opens its first Southern California location today along Ocean Avenue

Sweet Maple’s dining room in Santa Monica.
| Sweet Maple

Beloved Bay Area brunch restaurant Sweet Maple is opening its first Los Angeles location today, December 8 in an opulent space in Santa Monica. Though options for brunch and dessert in Los Angeles are seemingly endless, the distinct appeal of Sweet Maple comes from its Asian-inspired dishes and its popular (and trademarked) Millionaire’s Bacon — a thick, sweet, and slightly spicy candied slab of pork.

Sweet Maple’s prior locations in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Cupertino have garnered a cult following for concoctions like the Pimped Up Ramyun — a deconstructed Shin Ramyun mixture with fried egg, sauteed vegetables, a slice of the thick bacon — as well as the Tornado Galbi Omurice, a silky, twisted omelet dolloped over galbi fried rice.

Hoyul Steven Choi, the owner of the Sweet Maple franchise and a Bay Area restaurateur, always envisioned an appetite for Sweet Maple’s offerings in Southern California. “LA is somewhere that we’ve been wanting to expand to for a long time,” he said. “Compared to San Francisco, restaurants in LA are generally bigger and glitzier, and I think diners in this area generally expect more. But we’re ready and excited for this next chapter.”

Sweet Maple takes over the former Joan’s on Third Santa Monica location on Ocean Avenue in a space that features high ceilings, polished table decor, shimmering chandeliers, and Korean plateware. Choi’s wife Jiyeon, who designed the interior, said, “With every location we open, we try to match the essence of the neighborhood. Our Bay Area locations are a bit more simple, but with Santa Monica’s proximity to the beach, we knew we wanted to convey airiness and brightness. We didn’t want to do something so high-end, but we still wanted it to bring approachable luxury to the brunch experience.”

Breakfast dishes with bacon, eggs, and potatoes.
Breakfast plates with Millionaire’s Bacon, cookie, and drink at Sweet Maple
A small stack of dressed pancakes.
A stack of pancakes with powdered sugar and blueberries.

Sweet Maple’s interpretations of pancakes, waffles, french toast, and eggs put the traditional brunch dishes on their head. Soufflegg Skillets feature a soft, fluffy egg reminiscent of gyeran-jjim, while the waffles are made with croissant dough, essentially Sweet Maple’s version of the trendy croffle that’s popular in South Korean cafes.

“We saw this expansion as an opportunity to push the envelope with what we’re serving. We’ve been working on new dishes that I think the community in LA will be drawn to,” says Choi. The Short Ribs Pot is a spin on galbi-jjim, braised beef short ribs, though Choi reckons that this interpretation is pretty untraditional, with a milder sauce and toppings like a poached egg and sauteed kimchi. And though the Marnier french toast isn’t new to the menu, the Santa Monica version is more citrus-forward, made with a thicker creme brulee crust and extra fluffy milk bread from a local bakery.

The menu also leans more heavily into lunch options, with a heftier lineup of burgers, sandwiches, and salads. The Jam Juicy Lucy Burger taps into a sweet-salty flavor combo with the housemade bacon jam, while the crab sandwich features garlicky Dungeness crab and a medley of apple, celery, onion, arugula, and frisee.

Exclusive to this Sweet Maple location are select drinks from U Dessert Story, a Bay Area dessert spot that Choi is also a part-owner of. According to Choi, diners in Santa Monica may soon see some of U Dessert Story’s colorful, decorated sweets make their way onto the Sweet Maple menu.

Sweet Maple is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 1705 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401.

A beautiful dining area with hanging lights.
The posh dining room of Sweet Maple in Santa Monica.
Well-appointed dining area of a Santa Monica restaurant.

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