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Dishes from Cobi’s in Santa Monica laid out with colorful plates and a wood table.
A full table at Cobi’s in Santa Monica
Katrina Frederick Studio

16 Superb Santa Monica Restaurants

All the best places to eat in the city by the sea

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A full table at Cobi’s in Santa Monica
| Katrina Frederick Studio

Famous for its iconic pier and walkable Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica has the right kind of restaurant for just about everyone, from the casual to the fine dining end of the spectrum. While there are tourist traps galore (and a fair amount of restaurants that don’t necessarily stand out), there are also hidden gems and noteworthy destinations to be found all over the standalone city — and not just next to the ocean. From some of the city’s best sandwiches to high-end Italian done right, here now are 16 superb Santa Monica restaurants to try.

Added: Capo, Cha Cha Chicken, Alfalfa, Michael’s

Removed: The Lobster, Socalo, Goodboybob, Cafe Ruisseau

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Golden Bull Restaurant

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Established in 1949, this historic steakhouse off the PCH reopened in 2018 with a refreshed old-school vibe and fine-tuned chophouse menu. The dinnertime menu covers the classics with Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, lamb chops, New York strip, and a bone-in ribeye. Cocktails are equally timeless, with manhattans and martinis on offer.

One of Santa Monica’s most exciting new sushi spots, the tiny eight-seat counter and the smattering of tables set at the side entrance to the Fairmont Miramar hotel are where chef Masa Shimakawa prepares stellar nigiri, sashimi, and other raw Japanese fare. Meaning “storeroom” in Japanese, Soko feels like a literal hole in the wall, but with the quality of a destination omakase spot. Thankfully there’s everything from a chef’s choice omakase to a full a la carte menu in case you want to choose your own sushi adventure.

Soko at Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica.
Soko at Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica.
Fairmont Miramar

Michael's

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Michael’s is more than just a Santa Monica institution with a great art collection and a nice patio. It’s a decades-old icon, a precursor to the modern California cuisine movement, the kind of place that has helped to make countless careers over the years. Stop by for a drink, some of the freshest produce around, and to see what all the fuss is still about after all these years.

Michael’s Santa Monica patio.
The patio at Michael’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

Bryant and Kim Ng's Cassia has been heralded by critics and diners alike for its elevated French-Vietnamese fare. Many of Cassia’s greatest hits include the kaya toast, beef rendang, laksa, and chickpea curry.

Citrin Restaurant

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Josiah Citrin’s namesake restaurant inside the former Melisse has reopened for upscale outdoor dining with a four-course menu priced at $145, though a la carte options are available too (and the bar area can accommodate diners right now). Two Michelin-star Melisse, which now occupies its own space inside the building, runs $295 per person (plus tax and gratuity) for a gastronomical experience.

Lobster bolognese at Citrin in Santa Monica.
Lobster bolognese at Citrin
Matthew Kang

Rustic Canyon

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Rustic Canyon is chef Andy Doubrava’s canvas to showcase Southern California's seasonal bounty with dishes like Pacific striped bass with Weiser family farms spinach and gigante beans or a Peads and Barnetts pork chop with smoked trout roe sauce. One of Santa Monica’s most storied and reliable places for modern California cuisine.

This Ocean Avenue staple is neither cheap nor particularly hip, especially in a standalone city that also has spots like Elephante for the cool crowds to glom onto. That’s neither here nor there for owner Bruce Marder, a longtime LA restaurateur who continues to work this menu of fine wines, robust pastas, and wood-grilled meats to a never-ending stream of Westside customers.

Capo Exterior
Capo’s entrance.

Cha Cha Chicken

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This colorful Caribbean restaurant has been serving up its well-known jerk chicken since the mid-’90s, and fans still line up at lunchtime to score a meal. The restaurant seamlessly moves between coconut fried chicken and black bean soup to jerk chicken enchiladas, veggie wraps, and stewed pork over rice.

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery

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This Italian deli offers what is likely the most iconic sandwich in all of Los Angeles: the Godmother. Bay Cities’ signature sub is filled prosciutto, ham, capicola, mortadella, Genoa salami, and provolone cheese, all contained in a crusty, house-baked roll.

Main Street Santa Monica needed a place like Cobi’s, a Southeast Asian-inspired dinner spot that has all the charm of a grandma’s home (or backyard), along with well-made curries, raw fish preparations, butter chicken, tartare, and grilled branzino that will please a crowd. Be sure to ask the servers for a solid bottle of natural wine to pair with the meal.

Dishes from Cobi’s in Santa Monica laid out with colorful plates and a wood table.
Dishes from Cobi’s in Santa Monica.
Katrina Frederick Studio

Alfalfa

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At first glance, it might look like Alfalfa’s salads, wraps, and gluten-free doughnuts in flavors like lavender and lemon-thyme were engineered for the influencer set, but thanks to impeccably fresh ingredients, good tortillas, and zippy dressings (like the supremely good avocado-tomatillo sauce), the offerings are always on point. Stop in for a casual lunch at the cheery Main Street outpost, and don’t overlook the substantial potato hash-stuffed breakfast burritos, served all day.

Crudo e Nudo

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Main Street Santa Monica is seeing a bit of a renaissance these days, with newcomer Crudo e Nudo striving for simplicity and pristine seafood in its diminutive sidewalk layout. Think fresh oysters, Italian-style crudo, and grilled seafood. The restaurant only operates Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.

Two people shown from overhead with plates of seafood and grilled fish at Crudo e Nudo.
Plates of seafood and grilled fish at Crudo e Nudo in Santa Monica
Ashley Randall

Pasjoli

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Fine dining vet Dave Beran serves up an elevated French bistro experience on Main Street Santa Monica. Favorites like the chicken liver-stuffed foie de canard brioche, steak au poivre, and whole pressed duck remain, while the rest of the menu offers California-inspired takes on classic French fare. One of the most reliable upscale places to eat on the Westside, with the service and ambience to match the amazing food.

Beef tartare at Pasjoli.
Pasjoli
Wonho Frank Lee

Fia Steak

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The Westside has an extravagant new steakhouse modeled very much after Chi Spacca, with chef Brendan Collins leaning into Italian chops like bistecca alla fiorentina and a fantastic lobster risotto served in a clubby, old school banquettes and a secret tucked-away dining room. The meals here will cost a pretty penny, but for all the caviar, truffles, and champagne to go along with the dry-aged meat, it might actually all be worth it.

Dry-aged bistecca from Fia Steak in Santa Monica in a metal pan.
Dry-aged bistecca from Fia Steak.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Birdie G's

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Head to chef Jeremy Fox’s deeply personal restaurant to find soul-warming cooking and really good cocktails that trace his family roots from Eastern Europe through the Midwest, South, and ultimately California. The cast-iron cornbread served with chile-honey butter makes for a great starter, while the wood-grilled chicken never fails to satisfy. Consider the infamously jiggly rose petal pie for dessert. 

birdie
Birdie G’s
Wonho Frank Lee

Ghisallo

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Ocean Park’s handy Ghisallo has some of the best pizza by the slice in the Westside during the day, and an Italian-American comfort menu in the evenings from chef David Rodriguez, including a breaded Mary’s chicken parmesan, smoked ribs, and squid ink lumache with a crab and lemon filling. It’s the neighborhood restaurant this part of Santa Monica needed.

Chicken parm from Ghisallo in Santa Monica.
Chicken parm from Ghisallo in Santa Monica.
Ghisallo

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Golden Bull Restaurant

Established in 1949, this historic steakhouse off the PCH reopened in 2018 with a refreshed old-school vibe and fine-tuned chophouse menu. The dinnertime menu covers the classics with Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, lamb chops, New York strip, and a bone-in ribeye. Cocktails are equally timeless, with manhattans and martinis on offer.

Soko

Soko at Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica.
Soko at Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica.
Fairmont Miramar

One of Santa Monica’s most exciting new sushi spots, the tiny eight-seat counter and the smattering of tables set at the side entrance to the Fairmont Miramar hotel are where chef Masa Shimakawa prepares stellar nigiri, sashimi, and other raw Japanese fare. Meaning “storeroom” in Japanese, Soko feels like a literal hole in the wall, but with the quality of a destination omakase spot. Thankfully there’s everything from a chef’s choice omakase to a full a la carte menu in case you want to choose your own sushi adventure.

Soko at Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica.
Soko at Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica.
Fairmont Miramar

Michael's

Michael’s Santa Monica patio.
The patio at Michael’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

Michael’s is more than just a Santa Monica institution with a great art collection and a nice patio. It’s a decades-old icon, a precursor to the modern California cuisine movement, the kind of place that has helped to make countless careers over the years. Stop by for a drink, some of the freshest produce around, and to see what all the fuss is still about after all these years.

Michael’s Santa Monica patio.
The patio at Michael’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

Cassia

Bryant and Kim Ng's Cassia has been heralded by critics and diners alike for its elevated French-Vietnamese fare. Many of Cassia’s greatest hits include the kaya toast, beef rendang, laksa, and chickpea curry.

Citrin Restaurant

Lobster bolognese at Citrin in Santa Monica.
Lobster bolognese at Citrin
Matthew Kang

Josiah Citrin’s namesake restaurant inside the former Melisse has reopened for upscale outdoor dining with a four-course menu priced at $145, though a la carte options are available too (and the bar area can accommodate diners right now). Two Michelin-star Melisse, which now occupies its own space inside the building, runs $295 per person (plus tax and gratuity) for a gastronomical experience.

Lobster bolognese at Citrin in Santa Monica.
Lobster bolognese at Citrin
Matthew Kang

Rustic Canyon

Rustic Canyon is chef Andy Doubrava’s canvas to showcase Southern California's seasonal bounty with dishes like Pacific striped bass with Weiser family farms spinach and gigante beans or a Peads and Barnetts pork chop with smoked trout roe sauce. One of Santa Monica’s most storied and reliable places for modern California cuisine.

Capo

Capo Exterior
Capo’s entrance.

This Ocean Avenue staple is neither cheap nor particularly hip, especially in a standalone city that also has spots like Elephante for the cool crowds to glom onto. That’s neither here nor there for owner Bruce Marder, a longtime LA restaurateur who continues to work this menu of fine wines, robust pastas, and wood-grilled meats to a never-ending stream of Westside customers.

Capo Exterior
Capo’s entrance.

Cha Cha Chicken

This colorful Caribbean restaurant has been serving up its well-known jerk chicken since the mid-’90s, and fans still line up at lunchtime to score a meal. The restaurant seamlessly moves between coconut fried chicken and black bean soup to jerk chicken enchiladas, veggie wraps, and stewed pork over rice.

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery

This Italian deli offers what is likely the most iconic sandwich in all of Los Angeles: the Godmother. Bay Cities’ signature sub is filled prosciutto, ham, capicola, mortadella, Genoa salami, and provolone cheese, all contained in a crusty, house-baked roll.

Cobi's

Dishes from Cobi’s in Santa Monica laid out with colorful plates and a wood table.
Dishes from Cobi’s in Santa Monica.
Katrina Frederick Studio

Main Street Santa Monica needed a place like Cobi’s, a Southeast Asian-inspired dinner spot that has all the charm of a grandma’s home (or backyard), along with well-made curries, raw fish preparations, butter chicken, tartare, and grilled branzino that will please a crowd. Be sure to ask the servers for a solid bottle of natural wine to pair with the meal.

Dishes from Cobi’s in Santa Monica laid out with colorful plates and a wood table.
Dishes from Cobi’s in Santa Monica.
Katrina Frederick Studio

Alfalfa

At first glance, it might look like Alfalfa’s salads, wraps, and gluten-free doughnuts in flavors like lavender and lemon-thyme were engineered for the influencer set, but thanks to impeccably fresh ingredients, good tortillas, and zippy dressings (like the supremely good avocado-tomatillo sauce), the offerings are always on point. Stop in for a casual lunch at the cheery Main Street outpost, and don’t overlook the substantial potato hash-stuffed breakfast burritos, served all day.

Crudo e Nudo

Two people shown from overhead with plates of seafood and grilled fish at Crudo e Nudo.
Plates of seafood and grilled fish at Crudo e Nudo in Santa Monica
Ashley Randall

Main Street Santa Monica is seeing a bit of a renaissance these days, with newcomer Crudo e Nudo striving for simplicity and pristine seafood in its diminutive sidewalk layout. Think fresh oysters, Italian-style crudo, and grilled seafood. The restaurant only operates Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.

Two people shown from overhead with plates of seafood and grilled fish at Crudo e Nudo.
Plates of seafood and grilled fish at Crudo e Nudo in Santa Monica
Ashley Randall

Pasjoli

Beef tartare at Pasjoli.
Pasjoli
Wonho Frank Lee

Fine dining vet Dave Beran serves up an elevated French bistro experience on Main Street Santa Monica. Favorites like the chicken liver-stuffed foie de canard brioche, steak au poivre, and whole pressed duck remain, while the rest of the menu offers California-inspired takes on classic French fare. One of the most reliable upscale places to eat on the Westside, with the service and ambience to match the amazing food.

Beef tartare at Pasjoli.
Pasjoli
Wonho Frank Lee

Fia Steak

Dry-aged bistecca from Fia Steak in Santa Monica in a metal pan.
Dry-aged bistecca from Fia Steak.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

The Westside has an extravagant new steakhouse modeled very much after Chi Spacca, with chef Brendan Collins leaning into Italian chops like bistecca alla fiorentina and a fantastic lobster risotto served in a clubby, old school banquettes and a secret tucked-away dining room. The meals here will cost a pretty penny, but for all the caviar, truffles, and champagne to go along with the dry-aged meat, it might actually all be worth it.

Dry-aged bistecca from Fia Steak in Santa Monica in a metal pan.
Dry-aged bistecca from Fia Steak.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Birdie G's

birdie
Birdie G’s
Wonho Frank Lee

Head to chef Jeremy Fox’s deeply personal restaurant to find soul-warming cooking and really good cocktails that trace his family roots from Eastern Europe through the Midwest, South, and ultimately California. The cast-iron cornbread served with chile-honey butter makes for a great starter, while the wood-grilled chicken never fails to satisfy. Consider the infamously jiggly rose petal pie for dessert. 

birdie
Birdie G’s
Wonho Frank Lee

Related Maps

Ghisallo

Chicken parm from Ghisallo in Santa Monica.
Chicken parm from Ghisallo in Santa Monica.
Ghisallo

Ocean Park’s handy Ghisallo has some of the best pizza by the slice in the Westside during the day, and an Italian-American comfort menu in the evenings from chef David Rodriguez, including a breaded Mary’s chicken parmesan, smoked ribs, and squid ink lumache with a crab and lemon filling. It’s the neighborhood restaurant this part of Santa Monica needed.

Chicken parm from Ghisallo in Santa Monica.
Chicken parm from Ghisallo in Santa Monica.
Ghisallo

Related Maps