Everywhere You Need to Eat in Santa Monica Right Now
22 SaMo spots that need your support.
Many of our beloved Santa Monica institutions have been forced to close (RIP to Dialogue, Pacific Dining Car, and Swingers) or temporarily pause operations (like Fia, Michael’s, and FIG) due to the COVID pandemic and rapidly evolving state restrictions. Complicating things further is a fast-food ban recently extended by Santa Monica City Council that prohibits any establishment on the popular Third Street Promenade that takes orders at a walk-up window, counter, or machine; accepts payment prior to food consumption; or where food is served in disposable, single-use containers and utensils. Decried by many locals as an elitist move that could lead to less affordable options on the tourist-friendly block, the ordinance impacts almost all Third Street restaurants since the state of California remains under safer-at-home orders that include a ban on in-person dining.
Despite these hurdles, the city’s diverse culinary scene continues to tough it out—with restaurants deftly pivoting their menus to meet takeout and delivery needs, offering expertly curated wine and ready-to-heat meal kits, and enticing us all with new, irresistible specials. The least we can do is support their efforts—which is why we’ve curated a list of 24 amazing restaurants to try in the neighborhood. Some are old, some brand-new, and all are very
One of our favorite places for an elevated beachside dining experience, celebrated restaurateur Josiah Citrin is subverting current dining restrictions with a decadent takeout experience that runs from Thursday through Sunday and changes weekly to shift the spotlight on acclaimed local chefs, restaurants, or a specific ingredient. The current standout is their “Lobster, Lobster, Lobster 2.0” menu with Coleman Farms Vegetables that includes six scintillating courses, the standouts of which are a Lobster Risotto de Petit Épeautre with sunchoke, green garlic, and nettle, and a lobster and shrimp “Navarin” with Hakurei turnips, celeriac, chanterelles and rapini. Diners also have the option to add on courses like the restaurant’s Egg Caviar Kit, Truffle Risotto Kit, or a cheese course.
How to order: Place orders on TOCK by 3 pm Thursday-Sunday for pickup between 5–7 pm.
When Provence-born sisters Chloe and Celine Charlier opened this airy, artisanal bakery, they brought a much-welcomed South-of-France vibe to Montana Avenue. Hailing from a family that’s ditched gluten for three generations, they’re well-versed in how to make superior breads and pastries free of gluten, gums, soy, and refined sugar—ingredients you won’t miss when devouring their soft, springy, buttery-rich brioche or flaky, crispy croissants with endless laminated layers. From the sweet (brioche donuts, scones, cookies) to the savory (baguette sandwiches, tartines, salads) and everything in between (freshly baked loaves that fill the boulangerie with a most enticing scent), everything is made with mostly organic ingredients and meticulous care and attention.
How to order: Pick-up or delivery via Postmates, DoorDash, UberEats, or Caviar.
Not many restaurants could open at the start of a pandemic and thrive. In April, wife-and-husband team Angie and Daniel Kim launched with takeaway fusion eats that have resonated with locals and visitors alike. Although the Korean and American couple have created several Asian-inflected dishes (a bulgogi burger with melted mozzarella, seared branzino steeped in dashi broth, and Sichuan chimichurri prime rib), they happily pay homage to other cuisines and cultures too—so you’ll find Moroccan harissa pasta, cochinita pibil tacos, and a bagel and lox on the deliciously diverse menu. To top it all off, they also make an excellent cocktail or cup of coffee.
How to order: Pick-up via their website; pick-up or delivery via DoorDash, UberEats, and Grubhub.
James Beard award-winning chef Dave Beran recently closed his acclaimed fine-dining restaurant Dialogue, but to the relief of his many Westside devotees, his other concept, Pasjoli is still serving his upscale French fare (in addition to the ultra-creamy, caramelized Basque cheesecake that Beran made so popular at Dialogue). Although Pasjoli’s beloved pressed duck dish isn’t available to go, they recently extended their Sunday Suppers—ready-to-heat meals including a main, veggie side, salad, and dessert—to every night of the week. Options rotate weekly: beef bourguignon, milk rolls, and creme au chocolat one day, or chicken and black truffle vol-a-vent, brown butter carrots, and rice pudding the next.
How to order: Pick-up via Toast; pick-up or delivery via DoorDash and Caviar.
Despite the promise of ocean views, Santa Monica doesn’t have many outstanding rooftop bars. Thankfully, Proper Hotel opened the lushly landscaped, 7,700-square-foot Calabra, which is named for a road on Mallorca and, accordingly, serves up a Mediterranean-leaning menu seven blocks from the beach. For $35 per person, their series of nightly dinner specials includes a daily entree—from whole branzino to roasted chicken—served with three sides and dessert. They’re even bottling up some of their signature cocktails, like the Sandia Punch—a refreshing, sunset-colored mix of tequila, mezcal, Aperol watermelon, fennel, and cracked pepper. All you have to do is imagine you’re nestled in one of Calabra’s poolside cabanas, instead of on your couch.
How to order: Order takeout or delivery via Postmates. Dinner specials available for pre-order via Tock.
The Rustic Canyon family of restaurants—which includes a wildly impressive portfolio of Santa Monica stalwarts like Milo & Olive and Huckleberry—all started with this original establishment, which is hyper-focused on seasonal ingredients, local purveyors, and made-from-scratch everything (even the sea salt!). In response to LA’s recent dining restrictions, they’ve launched a new Grin & Bear It pandemic pop-up—an ode to Southern comfort food (and booze) that highlights grilled, smoked, and fermented eats. Think: sourdough biscuits accompanied by cultured butter, andouille sauce-smothered pork ribs, and fancy mac ‘n’ cheese blanketed with smoked bread crumbs. It’s exactly the kind of reassuringly good, stick-to-your-bones fare you’d want to nosh on in the middle of a pandemic.
How to order: Call 310-393-7050 for pick-up; pick-up via ChowNow and Tock; delivery via Postmates, ChowNow, DoorDash, UberEats, and Caviar.
The An family, who operates celebrated restaurants like Crustacean, Da Lat Rose, and AnQi, is also behind under-the-radar Tiato. Before, this all-day concept mostly catered to the hungry Silicon Beach crowd (you know, back when everyone was still working in an office). Once the restrictions are lifted, their expansive garden patio makes an ideal spot for socially distanced dining, but for now, it’s the perfect place to pick up Asian-inspired eats that are reasonably priced, generously portioned, and consistently delicious—from shaken beef bowls to ginger-glazed salmon and the family’s famous garlic noodles. And if you don’t feel like cooking or grocery shopping these days, Tiato offers prepared meal plans, produce, and pantry staples.
How to order: Visit their website for pick-up; pickup or delivery via Postmates, DoorDash, and Grubhub.
Santa Monica’s most notable Japanese restaurant lately is this charming izakaya and sushi bar, which has an original sister location in Silver Lake. The ryokan-like interior is designed to give you an authentic I’m-dining-in-Japan experience, but until that’s allowed again, there’s a comprehensive menu available for takeout and delivery. Although you can’t go wrong with smokey skewers (especially the harder-to-find proteins like chicken cartilage, gizzard, and beef tongue), rice bowls (heaped with charcoal-grilled eel or soy-marinated pork belly), and hot pot, the sushi and sashimi here are killer: generously sized, outrageously fresh, and absolutely succulent. Pro-tip: Get the premium omakase!
How to order: Pick-up or delivery via Postmates, ChowNow, DoorDash, Grubhub, Caviar, and Uber Eats.
Thanks to COVID, this date-night favorite (back when date nights were still possible) is offering takeout and delivery for the first time ever. With a kinda-New American, sorta-Asian-slash-Mediterranean-leaning feel, it’s got a little something for everyone: melt-in-your-mouth oxtail dumplings, rich bone marrow, Singaporean chili crab cakes, even their famed whole snapper fried to a delicate, golden crisp (part of their T&R Classics Dinner for two).
Plus, they recently launched a limited woodfired pizza menu with the kind of creative, elevated toppings you’d expect from Tar & Roses—like Peking duck confit or a twist on Hawaiian with nduja and roasted pineapple.
How to order: Pick-up or delivery via their website.
Santa Monica’s artsy Bergamot Station is one of the neighborhood’s most underrated areas, but that’s changing—partially accelerated by the arrival of Jeremy Fox’s Birdie G’s last year. Named after both his daughter and grandma, it’s one of Fox’s most personal restaurants, so the nostalgia-steeped menu’s full of American comfort food with a Jewish bent, inspired by what he ate growing up. Right now, you can choose from a number of à la carte offerings—ranging from small bites, like cast-iron cornbread and Szechuan honey-glazed pumpkin, to family-size meals, including fried chicken dinners (available exclusively via direct takeout) and a cheesy noodle kugel that makes for a soul-warming supper.
How to order: Call 310-310-3616 for curbside pick-up or order via Tock (three-course dinners available), ChowNow, Postmates, UberEats, DoorDash, Caviar, and Grubhub.
An Ojai transplant specializing in 100% grass-fed wagyu beef burgers, HiHo has a lean menu with only four main options (the Willie Mae fried chicken sammie is the latest addition to the previously all-beef lineup). Take our word for it and order the HiHo—two tender, beefy patties nestled inside a squishy bun with melty cheese and a slightly sweet jam made with onions that have been slow-cooked for hours. It’s an uncomplicated but irresistibly tasty combination that goes well with crispy, hand-cut, perfectly salted fries and, if you still have room, a slice of made-from-scratch banana cream pie.
How to order: Pick-up or delivery via Postmates; pick-up via ChowNow.
This Southeast Asian fusion spot—which has been lauded a dozen times over by critics from all over the country—has recalibrated its usual menu (think: stunning seafood towers, whole grilled sea bass, and snow crab claws) to focus on more takeout-friendly fare. Local California produce and vibrant Asian flavors are both well-represented here—from Indonesian beef rendang to kaya toast (a favorite in Malaysia and Singapore) and spicy Viet-Cajun crawfish noodles. If you’ve got a lot of mouths to feed, opt for Cassia’s Family Meal—which includes six courses (including a Vietnamese coffee pudding dessert).
How to order: Call 310-393-6699 for curbside pickup; pick-up via Tock or ChowNow or delivery via ChowNow, Postmates, DoorDash, Caviar, Grubhub, and UberEats
Esters started off a stellar wine bar that offered small bites like gourmet nuts and olives, but it’s since expanded to include “real” food, which they’re continuing to do throughout the pandemic. In addition to brews, bottled cocktails, and new, excellently curated wine packs released weekly, you’ll find robust meat-and-cheese platters and booze-friendly fare like DIY garlic bread and wild boar stew. They also host private, virtual Zoom tastings with an in-house sommelier. Perfect to tide you over until you can sip vino on their heated patio again.
How to order: Call 310-899-6900 for curbside pick-up (or free, local, same-day wine and beer delivery for $100 minimum within five miles, $150 within 10 miles, and $200 for more than 10 miles). Pick-up or delivery via ChowNow, Postmates, UberEats, Caviar, DoorDash, or Grubhub.
SocialEats is a food hall within a food hall. Stay with us here: It’s part of Third Street Promenade’s The Gallery, which is itself a food hall. But SocialEats is its own complex of exciting culinary concepts—including Supertoro (build-your-own bentos!), Adelaide (an Aussie-inspired coffee/cookie bar), Street Noods (Asian-inspired night market noodles), and Pop’s Burgers and Shakes (exactly what it sounds like). It’s a lot to take in—but it’s also perfect if you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for and you need a slew of reliably delicious, quick options.
How to order: Pick-up or free local delivery within an eight-mile radius via their website or via various dining apps.
This Italian eatery is famous for serving pastas tossed in giant cheese wheels, like saffron-spiced risotto in grana padano or perfectly peppery cacio e pepe in pecorino romano. But you’d be remiss not to explore the rest of the menu from chef Piero Topputo, who grew up in a small town in Puglia and now whips up fried artichokes, branzino, and panzerotto Pugliese—a mozzarella-stuffed fried pastry that’s a specialty from his region—for the Westside. Until you can dine on his outdoor patio again (specially built for guests during the pandemic), you can enjoy Forma’s fromage at home with build-your-own cheese kits, their renowned pastas, and more.
How to order: Pick-up or delivery via ChowNow, Postmates, DoorDash, and Grubhub.
Downtown Santa Monica isn’t exactly lacking in Italian options, which is why we’re fans of Massilia’s mix of French/Italian/Moroccan flavors. Yes, there’s meaty rigatoni Bolognese and bruschetta, but there’s also fluffy couscous with merguez sausage and lamb, fat Spanish meatballs in spicy tomato sauce you’ll want to sop up with grilled sourdough, and a lamb shank braised for eight hours until its soft, marinated meat basically collapses off the bone. When the time comes, you can sip on peach sangrias and Campari spritzes on their leafy outdoor patio, designed to echo Europe’s alfresco dining vibes. But for now, their to-go menu’s got pretty much everything you need for a delectable dinner at home.
How to order: Pick-up via their website; pick-up or delivery via ChowNow, Postmates, DoorDash, Grubhub, and UberEats.
This Santa Monica Blvd. space has seen frequent turnover through the years, but the neighborhood’s excitedly endorsed this project from co-owners Jeffrey Merrihue and Barbara Pollastrini (who’s also executive chef). The menu stars sandwiches that—dare we say it?—rival nearby Bay Cities, including a talked-about OMG sammie packed with high-quality prosciutto, salami, capocollo, mortadella, porchetta, artichokes, and the works inside a crispy, airy, homemade ciabatta. Rome-born Pollastrini’s skills also shine through in robust Italian fare, like her tasty cioppino and signature seafood pasta of live-spot prawns, fresh uni better, and caviar—all of which are best washed down with one of their to-go wines from California or Italy.
How to order: Pick-up via Toast; pick-up or delivery via Postmates, DoorDash, Grubhub, UberEats, Ritual, or ezCater.
Gone are the days when you’d drive by Second St. on a Saturday evening and watch the line of tanned, toned twenty-somethings trying to get into Élephante, one of the neighborhood’s buzziest rooftop lounges. Thanks to the pandemic, no one’s bar-hopping anymore, but their excellent food and booze is still available for takeout and delivery—just without the ocean vistas. Simple, light, woodfired pizzas are the stars of the menu (get the gloriously cheesy cacio e pepe or honey-drizzled soppressata, a delicious vessel for salty cured pork and tomato), and taste even better washed down with Aperol spritzes and negronis.
How to order: Pick-up via Toast and delivery via DoorDash (a la carte hot, ready-to-eat food available daily; programmed meal kits for at-home reheating available Monday through Thursday).
It’s easy to forget that this OG gourmet Italian deli (which has been around since 1925!) makes over 20 different kinds of sandwiches, because most people only talk about its famed Godmother—and to be honest, we can’t blame ‘em. That salty, satisfying stack of Genoa salami, mortadella, capicola, ham, and prosciutto tucked into a chewy Italian sub that’s made fresh and baked hourly is hard to beat, and well worth the hype. If you’re open to diversifying your sandwich portfolio here, the menu’s got everything else you could possibly fancy, from eggplant parm to caprese and prosciutto.
How to order: Pick-up via their website; pick-up or delivery via DoorDash or Caviar.
Before Uovo came along, there was nothing quite like it in the area: a decently good, traditional pasta bar where you could enjoy a plate of no-fuss tonnarelli all’Arrabiata by yourself in under an hour. Uovo rightly prides itself on its pasta, which gets made in Bologna using special eggs that aren’t available stateside (which give the noodles a rich, deep yellow color) and shipped overnight to be prepped in Uovo’s kitchen. Thankfully, most of their dishes are available for takeout or delivery now, in addition to some delicious supplementary starters, like yellowtail crudo and wagyu beef tartare.
How to order: Pick-up via ChowNow; pickup or delivery via Postmates.
If you’re looking for an authentic taqueria on the Westside, this quick, no-frills joint is it. Owned and operated by the Sanchez family for years, the restaurant hawks tasty Mexican fare that’s easy on the wallet and heavy on the flavor. The massive to-go menu of street-style tacos, burritos, taquitos, quesadillas, and mulitas (most of which are made with corn tortillas and salsa that’s legit spicy) now includes several catering options—so you can order their juicy carnitas, chorizo, guac, tamales, and so much more by the pound.
How to order: Pick-up or delivery via ChowNow.
This classic yet contemporary Jewish deli’s house-smoked fish and bagels have been a neighborhood favorite for years. So a few years back, co-owners chef Micah Wexler and Mike Kassar launched an expanded, exclusive-to-SM menu that’s been a huge hit. In addition to being the only Wexler’s that serves matzo ball soup, this outpost now slings all-day breakfast, including an ultra-rich, gooey French toast made with chocolate babka and ridiculously fluffy pancakes.
How to order: Pick-up or delivery via ChowNow.