This gem from chef Helene An wasn’t named after a mint-like Vietnamese herb haphazardly: the ingredient is grown in the restaurant's garden and integrated into many of An's fusion plates. The casual all-day space in a Santa Monica office building has a juice bar and snack market that draws a corporate crowd, but the full-service lunch is the real attraction. The menu features both updated Vietnamese standbys like banh mi and stewed beef noodle soup, and tweaked American comfort plates like turkey meatloaf with mashed potatoes. A bar in the main dining room makes good use of the namesake herb, too, where bartenders pour tiato-infused sake that just tastes better when had on the spacious patio.
The sister restaurant to Beverly Hills’ Crustacean, Tiato is easily one of Santa Monica’s largest and most charming venues. The indoor-outdoor eatery offers plenty of flexibility—with a private dining room that seats 16 and plenty of spaces that work for larger parties too. Since owner Catherine An is the daughter of revered chef Helene An, who kickstarted her family’s culinary dynasty, you can expect five-star food that features Asian techniques, flavors, and spices for a new breed of Californian-Asian cuisine. While Helene’s famous Garlic Noodles are on the menu, you’ll also find delicious eats like Sauteed Filet Mignon with coconut rice, Grilled Lemongrass Chicken, and Short Rib Banh Mi.
How to book: Make a reservation via Yelp or inquire about a large party or event.
If you’re more interested in a different take on some traditional dishes, check out Tiato’s Vietnamese-inspired Hanukkah menu, which reads sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure: select between various sizes of proteins and sides while making a decision on what to eat, with choices including pho-broth Matzo ball soup, lemongrass-ginger braised beef brisket, and Thai-basil pan-seared salmon.
Order at Tiato.com