Old Main St? Frat bar, pizza, frat bar. New Main St? Ramen! Date Spots! Artisanal coffee! (Frat bar! Pizza! Frat bar!) In just a year, Santa Monica’s most-hopping thoroughfare has gone from Most Common Street Name in America to LA’s Hottest New Food Corridor.
Here’s everywhere you need to eat before the rest of LA finds out.
What you’re getting: Ashland Hill Burger
Posting up at the old Wildflour Pizza space, new restaurant/beer garden Ashland Hill serves up way-better-than-your-average-gastropub fare, like a crisp, crack-level-addictive(-we-assume-even-though-we’ve-never-done-crack) cauliflower dish. Not down with cauliflower? FINE. Hit the Shishito Mac & Cheese; an obscenely juicy half-chuck, half-short rib burger; and a range of well-chosen beers (including an ultra-tasty peanut butter stout) instead. Pro tip: make sure you’re hitting them on its outdoor patio.
What you’re getting: The Benedict Flight
All you really need to know about brunching at Fork in the Road is that the menu features a Benedict Flight, meaning you get not one, not two, but THREE of ‘em smothered in a creamy hollandaise sauce.
What you’re getting: Grilled country-cut Niman pork chop
The unmarked storefront on Main where Joe’s Diner used to be is the brainchild of another Joe... Jonas, that is. Along with several actual restaurateurs, the middle Jonas bro recently opened up this understated eatery, which serves up both Southern-slanting dishes (shrimp and white cheddar grits) and seafood-y goodness (charred octopus salad).
What you’re getting: Ramen. Duh.
Ramen fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally comes to Main St thanks to Jinya Ramen’s latest outpost. You’ll find Westsiders slurping noodles in a thick, rich, cholesterol-spiking broth that’s crazy filling; it's also got insane pork belly buns and a dynamite scallop-and-crab-and-mayo, uh, dynamite.
What you’re getting: Shoops' Famous Bacon Pancakes
Because why wouldn’t you want to go shopping after inhaling thick-cut, house-smoked bacon-stuffed pancakes? Shoops -- the newly renovated neighborhood joint -- also has a market where you can stock up on imported European snacks like authentic Haribo licorice and hard-to-find jams, mustards, caviar, and chocolate.
What you’re getting: Salted Caramel gelato
Speaking of Shoops, its new next-door gelato place is another European import opened by a bunch of Italians who decided Santa Monica needed real gelato in a rotation of flavors like Salted Caramel, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Ricotta, all made in-house.
What you’re getting: Lamb & Rosemary pie stacked with Yukon spuds
In order to maximize Aussie Pie Kitchen’s flaky, meat-filled carb bombs, you’ll want to add a “stack” to your order -- which basically means it’ll be layered with your choice of gravy, mashed potatoes, and more. Hello, hangover cure.
What you’re getting: Miso beef omosubi
This quirky spot slings made-to-order rice balls and froyo by the beach, a random combo that somehow works perfectly. Try the tuna mayo or salmon-stuffed version (of the rice balls, duh), or if you’re feeling even more ballsy, a more traditional Japanese flavor like sautéed miso mushroom or pickled plum paste.
What you’re getting: Whatever, so long as you’re also getting coffee
A local favorite ever since it opened its doors three years ago, Dogtown Coffee serves up good organic-brew coffee, savory burritos and bourekas, and acai bowls -- with zero pretense. Okay, maybe just a little pretense.
What you’re getting: Green Apple Italian ice
Main St clearly isn’t hurting for great ice cream -- which is why you go to Rita’s when you’re in the mood for other kinds of frozen deliciousness, like Italian ice made with actual fresh fruit and velvety-smooth cold custards.
What you’re getting: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup (and, okay, Lemon Cookie)
No, this isn’t a reference to your secret sex fantasy, it’s BETTER THAN THAT, KINDA: an ice cream shop that set up its first non-Bay Area shop on Main last summer, where it’s been scooping delicious classic-with-a-twist flavors like Land of Milk and Honey and Lemon Cookie ever since.
What you’re getting: Anything with burrata
It’s hard to go wrong with pizza, but throw in an open kitchen (where you can watch cooks tossing the dough), a perfectly balanced crisp/chewy crust, and toppings like shaved mushroom with truffle, and it’s even harder to go wrong.
What you’re getting: Huevos rancheros
On any given weekend morning, you can assume the crowds at M Street Kitchen are gathering for under-$6 mimosas, Bloody Marys, and Baileys and coffee -- though the Orange-Chocolate Chip Pancakes and huevos rancheros are also possible culprits.
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1. Ashland Hill2807 Main St, Santa Monica
2. Fork In The Road2424 Main St, Santa Monica
3. Hinterland2917 Main St, Santa Monica
4. Jinya Ramen Bar2400 Main St, Santa Monica
5. Shoops European Market and Cafe2400 Main St Ste A1, Santa Monica
6. Dolcenero Gelateria2400 Main St, Santa Monica
7. Aussie Pie Kitchen2510 Main St, Santa Monica
8. Sunny Blue2728 Main St, Santa Monica
9. Dogtown Coffee2003 Main St, Santa Monica
10. Rita's of Santa Monica2307 Main St, Santa Monica
11. Three Twins Ice Cream2726 Main St, Santa Monica
12. Stella Barra2000 Main St, Santa Monica
13. M Street Kitchen2000 Main St, Santa Monica
Ashland Hill opened in the former Wildfire Pizza space in 2015; the beer bar boasts a massive patio -- perfect to camp out on during the summer -- and a strong-to-very-strong draft list and shareable goodness like shishito mac & cheese and lamb and pork meatballs.
A kitchen fire in 2015 forced Santa Monica’s Fork in the Road to shutter. Over a year later, 2016 brought the restaurant back to life, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, with a refreshing new look for its 62-seat dining room. The New American menu is accented by Mediterranean influence, with dishes like roasted Spanish octopus, a duck prosciutto flatbread with artichoke, arugula, and smoked mozzarella, and a compressed pork belly with mango-tomato chutney. Craft cocktails (virgin cocktails are also on offer) are creative twists on classics like the Autumn Old Fashioned with bourbon, bitters, and apple spice elixir.
This eatery serves southern inspired and seafood dominant dishes, cooked behind a bar that serves quality wine and beer. The small space can get crowded, but there is a chance of a celebrity sighting -- namely Joe Jonas, who was part of the opening of this Main Street spot.
With homemade noodles that have a near-perfect portion of broth, tender pork chasu, fresh garlic you can press yourself, and poached eggs instead of hard-boiled, Jinya takes traditional ramen and takes it right over the edge without hesitation (and without an heft increase in price). Despite its name, this Ocean Park spot offers up far more than just ramen, though, including a few basic sushi rolls. little steamed buns stuff with meats and vegetables, and rice bowls.
Shoops serves European classics, breakfast, and lunch in this family run shop. Bacon lovers, look out for Shoops Famous Bacon Pancakes. They also have a European imports market when you can find all the amazing candy they have in Europe that are so hard to find here, among other specialty items like sausages and cheeses.
The house-made gelato at Dolcenero is made with all natural ingredients is made fresh every day and rotates in flavors including salted caramel, strawberry cheesecake, and hazelnut. They also make an assortment of sorbets in house, including strawberry, lemon, and the dolcenero itself.
Bringing savory Aussie pies to Santa Monica, this unique spot serves pastry pies stuffed with ground beef, chicken & tarragon, and lamb & rosemary (among others). Stacking your order with the likes of mashed potatoes, sriracha, and gravy only adds to the appeal of the pies themselves.
This beach side stop serves the Japanese rice balls known as omusubi, stuffed with over ten different fillings and often wrapped in nori. But, if you're looking for something sweet they also serve frozen yogurt, which maybe almost makes sense.
Though technically a coffee shop, Dogtown serves way more than just local coffee. From breakfast sandwiches, burritos, acai bowls, to more predictable artisan baked good, everything is (mostly) good for you, and can be gluten-free or vegan friendly.
Rita's serves their traditional ices and old fashioned creamy custards all year round from this location. Look out for the signature white and red stripped awning to find it.
This Bay-Area based ice cream brand serves their organic desserts on Santa Monica's Main Street. Their flavors include more traditional combinations like Cookies and Cream, but also Chocolate Orange Confetti, Lemon Cookie, and Dad's Cardamom.
The open kitchen lets you watch the pizza magic, and the cocktail program offers fun drinks to go with your exceptional pizza.
Happy hour during the week, brunch on the weekends. Pretty much everything you could ever need, and the food is great too. The menu includes sandwiches, burgers, tacos, seafood, and desserts, all considered Modern American with a couple twists.