Santa Monica is one of the cities you’ll see in movies all the time, especially near the Santa Monica Pier.
Santa Monica is pretty much the epitome of that picturesque, oceanfront city with palm tree-lined streets and pristine beaches complete with the seaside amusement park on the pier.
All of those things are spectacular and very much worth seeing in person, but what really sets Santa Monica apart from any other city in Los Angeles is its restaurant scene, if you ask me.
No matter what kind of cuisine you’re craving, Santa Monica is bound to have a top-tier restaurant serving up exactly what you’re in the mood for.
Top Santa Monica Restaurants
- Tar & Roses
- Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
- Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar
- Birdie G’s
- Rustic Canyon
- Citrin Restaurant
- Sunny Blue
- HiHo Cheeseburger
- Tumbi Craft Indian Kitchen
- Heroic Italian
- Golden Bull Restaurant
With such a wide range of restaurants to choose from across the city, I thought I might help narrow it down a bit by putting together a list ranking all of my favorite places to eat in Santa Monica for all my fellow foodies out there.
If you want to know where to eat near Santa Monica, just keep on reading down below!
602 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tar & Roses is the first place I want to mention on my list and for very good reason. This restaurant is one of my absolute favorite establishments in the whole area when I’m going out to dinner in Downtown Santa Monica.
What I love most about this restaurant is that everything is moderately priced, but you wouldn’t know that just by tasting it. The food is so delicious that you’d think you were in a fine-dining restaurant.
When you come here, I suggest you bring someone to share with because the whole fried snapper for two is not something to pass up on.
1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Right around the corner from Von’s grocery store is Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery. This is such a great place to eat in Santa Monica when you’re in the mood for some fresh-baked Italian bread.
Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery is an unbeatable stop for sandwiches when you’re in the city. Since it’s a bakery, all the bread is made fresh, so this is going to be unlike any other sandwich in the city.
I always go for the corned beef reuben or the prime rib sandwich on one of their Italian rolls that they bake fresh every hour.
1610 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403
The next place I want to mention on this guide to the Santa Monica culinary scene is called Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar.
You can find this place off of Montana Avenue in the Wilshire Montana neighborhood, not far from the Whole Foods Market and the Aero Theatre.
I highly recommend starting with a few samples from the cheese bar here at Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar. They have countless cheeses of all varieties and no shortage of wines to pair with them.
As far as food goes, this restaurant has some delectable Italian classics as well as a few of their own creations that are sure to impress.
2732 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
What I love about Pasjoli, and what I think you’ll like as well, is the fact that their menu is always changing, so you never really know what will be available that night until you get there.
No matter what’s on the menu, however, you know it’ll be delicious once you smell the aromas wafting from the kitchen.
2421 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Birdie G’s is the next place I want to introduce you to that I think you’re bound to love. This traditional American restaurant is casual and a bit more low-key than some other spots on my list, so when you want a nice place to chill out and have dinner after a day of seeing all the surrounding art galleries in the Bergamot arts center, this is it.
My absolute favorite thing to order here is the Prime, bone-in ribeye that comes with al’s steak sauce, fries, and a mouth-watering aioli to complete the experience.
1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Just northeast of the Christine Emerson Reed Park on Wilshire Boulevard is a small, farm-to-table restaurant called Rustic Canyon that prides itself in serving up nothing but the finest-quality ingredients in all of their phenomenal dishes.
Rustic Canyon is a Michelin-starred restaurant that you do not want to miss when you’re in the area. Even if you’re not in the area, this place is worth a bit of a drive, trust me.
What I love to order from Rustic Canyon is the bone-in beef rib for two with habanada peppers & potato, but I’m sure everything on the menu is divine.
1314 7th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
This next place is called Cassia and you can find them off of 7th Street in Downtown Santa Monica, just minutes away from the Santa Monica State Beach and the Santa Monica Place shopping mall. It’s the perfect destination for dinner after a day at the beach or running around shopping.
Cassia offers fantastic Southeast Asian fare in a hip, chill atmosphere that I think you’re going to really enjoy.
I usually order the raw spicy scallops to start things off, but then I go for the grilled spicy lamb breast. There are plenty of non-spicy options as well, though.
1104 Wilshire Blvd Suite A, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Right on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and 11th Street is a very unique eatery called Citrin Restaurant.
I love this place because it’s a bit different from many other places to eat in the way that their menu is quite limited, yet so wonderfully eclectic.
Citrin has a portion of their menu dedicated to shareable dishes, so if you’re trying to find a nice restaurant for a romantic evening out, then this should definitely be a top contender.
I always enjoy the lobster bolognese if I’m looking for a solo plate, but the almond crusted dover sole is perfect for a date night.
2728 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Sunny Blue is the place to go in Los Angeles for some authentic Japanese cuisine, hands down.
Not only is their food fresh and fantastic here at Sunny Blue, but they are a very environmentally conscious establishment that specializes in omusubi, a type of Japanese rice ball that can be filled with various ingredients.
This is my favorite place to get a bento box when I’m in the city. They come with 2 omusubi, edamame with japanese pickles, and whatever the side-of-the-day is. Bento boxes from Sunny Blue are such an ideal lunch for a reasonable price.
1320 2nd St Ste. B, Santa Monica, CA 90401
This next place is called HiHo Cheeseburger and when you want a burger done right, exactly your way, then there is no other place in Santa Monica that I could recommend any higher.
You can find HiHo Cheeseburger off of 2nd Street, right around the corner from the AMC Santa Monica 7, inside the same building as the Laemmle Monica Film Center.
When you come to HiHo Cheeseburger, prepare to be absolutely blown away by their wagyu beef burgers because they just melt in your mouth.
They even have a vegan/vegetarian burger served on a lettuce wrap as well for a tasty meatless option!
109 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Right next to the Ocean View hotel off of Broadway is Interstellar, an incredible restaurant that overlooks Ocean Avenue and Palisades Park directly across the street. If you want some mind-blowing Korean fusion, then this is the place to visit.
Interstellar serves up some truly out-of-this-world food, so maybe that’s where they got the name from.
In any case, I highly recommend coming here for a phenomenal lunch of their chicken katsu curry bowl, but that’s only one of the countless delicious options on their enormous menu.
If you’re looking for breakfast instead, Interstellar serves that as well, so don’t hesitate to come on by for a bright way to start your day.
115 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Like most of these incredible Santa Monica restaurants, Tumbi Craft Indian Kitchen is located in Downtown Santa Monica right off of Santa Monica Boulevard.
What I love about this place is that it’s modern and refined, yet they serve some of my absolute favorite traditional, unpretentious Indian dishes like the classic butter chicken that we all love.
If you want to branch out a bit from butter chicken, I recommend trying the Afghani seekh kabob or the Goan prawn masala. Everything I have tried so far from Tumbi has been delectable, so there are no wrong answers, really.
101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Soko is up next and this is one of my favorite places to eat sushi when I have the pleasure of spending time in Santa Monica.
You can find this place off of Wilshire Boulevard inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, so if you’re staying at that hotel, you’re always close by to a delightful sushi meal.
The sushi here at Soko is so fresh that you can literally taste the ocean in every bite. Everything arrives at your table so expertly crafted that you almost feel bad about eating it, until you taste it, that is.
516 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Now, I want to talk about another one of Santa Monica’s top-tier Italian restaurants called Heroic Italian.
This place is an unbelievably great dining destination when you’re in the city and you’re craving some good, old-fashioned Italian specialties.
The subs here at Heroic Italian are the specialty, but they also serve a wide variety of wine to enjoy with your sub.
Of course, their dinner menu is a bit more sophisticated, featuring some of my go-tos like their Handmade Lobster Ravioli with Tobiko in Sherry Bisque or the 24-hour Braised Short Rib with Fresh Polenta.
170 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402
This next place, Golden Bull Restaurant, is located off of West Channel Road near the Eames Foundation historical museum.
I absolutely love coming here to eat when I’m in Santa Monica because the steak here is unmatched in quality.
I usually start with one of their refreshing craft cocktails like an old-fashioned or a martini, but that’s just to hold me over until my bone-in ribeye gets to the table, perfectly seared and tender.
If you think you’ve got the extra room, be sure to grab one of their amazing sides like the creamed spinach or the grilled asparagus.
1445 4th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Massilia is up next and, boy, are you in for a real treat when you dine here. This place specializes in modern European fare, taking influence from various cuisines from other countries like Italy, France, and Morocco.
I like to try something new every time I come to Massilia and I highly recommend doing the same.
They serve every meal of the day from breakfast to lunch and dinner, and even a fantastic brunch menu as well, so you can come here pretty much any time of day and eat some absolutely amazing food from Massilia.
1332 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Lastly, I want to recommend to you a restaurant called Élephante. This Italian restaurant is not a place to want to miss out on when you’re in Santa Monica.
You can find this delightful establishment off of 2nd Street in Downtown Santa Monica, right around the corner from the Hotel Shangri-La.
When you get to Élephante, I strongly suggest you start with either the grilled octopus or the fried calamari.
After that, I think it’s best to try the truffle pasta or the cacio e pepe, but if you want something a bit heavier, check out the branzino or the grilled chicken.
Well, now you have a whole long list of places to visit in Santa Monica besides the usual tourist attractions and the beaches.
These restaurants are sure to exceed all of your expectations when you dine with them, just as they did mine. Go ahead and get started on finding your new favorite restaurant!
If you’re looking for a more private dining in Los Angeles, you should check out our list before making a reservation.
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment and we’ll check it out!