The 20 Best Restaurants In Santa Monica

From Hollywood to Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles County stretches across tons of distinct neighborhoods and cities. Each area of Los Angeles has its own niche and style, allowing every kind of personality and palette to find its place. One of the most popular and talked-about areas of LA is, without a doubt, the Westside hotspot of Santa Monica. Santa Monica is home to sandy beaches, an iconic pier, lively bars, and several renowned restaurants.

While seafood tends to reign supreme in coastal areas, Santa Monica has a pretty diverse array of culinary options. That said, it is also filled with plenty of touristy spots that can be relatively disappointing when it comes to the quality of the food. If you know where to go beforehand, however, mapping out a top-notch foodie experience is definitely doable. Thankfully, we've rounded up the 20 best restaurants in Santa Monica that you won't want to miss!

Crudo e Nudo

Crudo e Nudo has become an Ocean Park staple since its opening in the summer of 2020. Since sustainability sits at the forefront of the restaurant's priorities, the menu changes regularly based on what seafood is available and in season. That said, the halibut crudo is a local favorite that you'll want to order anytime it's available. Other regular dishes featured on the menu include tuna tartare toast and caviar nachos.

While seafood is the primary focus, the vegan caesar is a major hit thanks to the fresh croutons and umami-forward furikake seasoning. The low-intervention wines are the ideal addition to round out a light and refreshing meal near the ocean for both lunch and dinner. You can also opt-in for the Neptune's Flight tasting menu, which is a five-course chef-selected meal that showcases the very best of Crudo e Nudo.


Located on Santa Monica's charming Main Street, Pasjoli is an intimate upscale French restaurant led by renowned chef Dave Beran. The menu pays homage to the refined and technical nature of French cuisine while also highlighting the abundance of local produce found in California. The wine list is truly remarkable, offering over 100 varieties of fine wine from around the world.

From the small bites to large plates designed to be shared for two, the careful execution and delicate balancing of flavors shine throughout the entirety of the menu. Start off with the hamachi et pamplemousse, which is a bright and refreshing bite of cured hamachi, grapefruit, winter radishes, red endive, and pea tendrils. The canard à la rouennaise à la presse is an impressive culinary feat designed to be shared by two, making it the perfect date-night meal. The roasted duck breast is paired with a market lettuce and crispy duck skin salad, duck leg bread pudding, and a rich sauce of roasted duck juices with cognac and red wine.


The name Interstellar, meaning between two stars, perfectly exemplifies the mission and menu at this Santa Monica must-try. With an aim to create delicious food that represents the cultural melting pot that is Los Angeles, the menu at Interstellar offers innovative flavor combinations that transcend individual cuisines and instead work to create exciting new creations on each and every plate.

Interstellar is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, meaning there is always a delicious bite or beverage to be had at any time of the day. The uni pasta made with creamy uni butter, Santa Barbara fresh uni, garlic, and seasoned with nuoc mam is a popular pasta option. However, when it comes to entrees, the seared branzino ochazuke is one-of-a-kind and served with a delicate shiitake kombu dashi broth along with a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil.


Savida is another quality seafood spot in Santa Monica. This quaint and charming restaurant has a spacious patio along with bar tops and bar-style seating inside. Chef Dan Smulovitz is constantly changing the menu according to his creative flow, ensuring that even regular guests will be able to find something new and exciting to try each visit. That said, there are a few staple dishes at Savida that you'll usually find.

The hamachi is topped with a variety of herbs that make a single bite explode with flavor. The ceviche is another local favorite that always provides a refreshing start to any meal. Savida also serves a small selection of light wines and sake. If you're looking to enjoy a solid taste of some of Savida's most popular dishes, go for the Savida mixed platter, which can easily be shared by two people.

Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar

Located on Montana Avenue, Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar is serving genuinely authentic Italian food and fine wine. The imported Italian cheeses, handmade pastas, grilled proteins, and wood-fired pizzas are just a few of the highlights at Forma. Swing by during happy hour for discounted wine and beer selections (as well as cocktail deals) at the Venice and Santa Monica locations. The happy hour also allows guests to enjoy many of the restaurant's signature dishes at a significantly reduced price!

Be sure to try the cacio e pepe, a dish where the fresh handmade pasta is placed directly into a Pecorino Romano cheese wheel and coated in a rich layer of cheese, and topped with a generous amount of fresh cracked pepper. Other standouts include the crispy filet of sole served with crispy fried artichokes and grilled lemon.


Another standout spot for handmade pasta in the area is the low-key Colapasta. Located in the heart of downtown Santa Monica, Colapasta specializes in artisanal pasta and seasonal salads made with fresh, local produce sourced directly from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. Led by Michelin-starred execute chef Stefano De Lorenzo, Cola Pasta brings sustainable, farm-to-table Italian cuisine at an impressively affordable price point thanks to the minimal-waste cooking model. Colapasta only accepts walk-ins, so head over for a minimized wait time during the week.

The restaurant's moringa agnolotti is a rich, truffle-forward pasta filled with fontina cheese. The red beet ravioli with brown butter and poppy seeds is another must-order. You can also order a glass of in-house wine or bring your own bottle for a corkage fee of only $10, as of publication.

R + D Kitchen

Another Montana Avenue favorite, R + D Kitchen is a longstanding Santa Monica hot spot. From the same owners of the celebrated Hillstone restaurant, R + D Kitchen serves elevated, fresh American food in a sleek setting. R + D is also one of only a few Montana Avenue restaurants with a liquor license, offering guests a full bar as well as a list of exciting signature cocktails, beers on tap, and an array of nice vino. 

The burgers are must-tries at R + D Kitchen. The beef is ground in-house daily and is then seasoned and cooked to perfection and served on a house-made egg bun. The veggie burger is a great option for vegetarian diners, boasting a house-made brown rice, almond, and mushroom patty topped with avocado, melted jack cheese, and other fresh vegetables. Paired with house-made crispy fries, these burgers are the perfect elevated bar-style meal.

Tar & Roses

Tar & Roses is pushing the limits of locally driven cuisine with a dynamic menu highlighting dishes cooked in an impressive wood-fired grill. Chef Andrew Kirschner takes pride in a menu that is seasonal and always changing, ensuring even regular guests are consistently surprised by new additions. From the warm and welcoming interior to the impressive wine and craft beer list and of course the masterful cooking, Tar & Roses sets out to impress from start to finish

To experience the best Tar & Roses has to offer, check out the T & R suppers, a three-course, family-style meal designed to be shared with loved ones. With options to enjoy the wood-fired goat, Singaporean chili crab, or dry-aged rib rack as an entree, all other dishes are paired accordingly and allow guests to try some of the restaurant's most popular bites.

Heavy Handed

Heavy Handed is one of the newest restaurants to pop up on Santa Monica's bustling Main Street food scene, serving low-fuss smash burgers, fries, and other casual bites with bold flavor. The Heavy Handed menu is concise and simple, allowing the burgers, fries, and classic soft serve to remain the center of attention. The burgers boast a balanced blend of ground short rib beef and marbled fat, cooked alongside grilled onions to create the ultimate flavor and a supremely juicy burger. The patty is then topped with house-made butter pickles, melted American cheese, and signature sweet, tangy, smokey Heavy Handed sauce and served on a house-made bun.

Don't forget to check out the perfectly crispy beef tallow fries, which are golden brown and pair with the Heavy Handed Burger. The quality of the burger and fries will keep you coming back again and again for the simple yet classic duo.


Cassia is a celebration of the bright, vibrant flavors of Southeast Asia, offering a menu that artfully combines these signature soulful regional flavors with the wealth of readily available California produce. Everything from the food, to the impressive cocktail menu reflecting the same local and seasonal ingredients, to the eco-friendly wine list, has earned Cassia recognition from the James Beard Awards and Michelin.

Start off with one of the chef-curated seafood platters to enjoy a variety of some of the restaurant's raw and cooked seafood selections. The spicy scallops are a light yet decadent option that is great for sharing. Pair the meal with one of Cassia's signature cocktails, like the bright and smoky Singapore Smash, which is a balanced combination of Siete Misterios mezcal, lemon, and pineapple.


Soko at the Fairmont Miramar offers an authentic and intimate sushi experience in the heart of Ocean Avenue. With only eight seats in the entire restaurant, patrons are able to enjoy an up close and personal experience with chef Masa Shimakawa. In addition to being able to watch the magic happen while sitting at the sushi bar, diners are also able to converse and ask questions for a fuller and more in-depth experience.

In addition to being able to order a la carte nigiri and sushi rolls, there is also a six-course omakase menu that is 100% chef's selection. Those that are adventurous and looking to enjoy the very best of Soko will favor this option, while more particular palettes might be drawn to ordering the fresh nigiri at their leisure.

Fia Steak

Looking for a cozy and inviting steakhouse on the Westside? Fia Steak boasts a beautiful and spacious outdoor patio with lush greenery, perfect for an elegant dining experience. The menu features a variety of grilled meats and seafood, all cooked to perfection, as well as delectable sides and desserts. The restaurant's ambiance is modern and chic, with an open kitchen and a stylish bar area, making it a great spot for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.

The service is attentive and friendly due to staff members who are happy to offer recommendations and answer any questions for first-time guests (or long-time regulars). Overall, Fia Steak in Santa Monica is a great addition to the LA dining scene and definitely worth a visit for those looking for a more modern steakhouse experience. 

Noma Sushi

Noma Sushi has been a Santa Monica staple since its opening in 1982. With so much overhaul in the restaurant industry in bustling Santa Monica, Noma's unwavering popularity is a testament to the classic yet enticing menu, incredible service, and, of course, high-quality, fresh sushi. From elegant traditional preparations for the seasoned sushi lover to approachable fusion rolls designed for those just dipping their toe in the sushi scene, Noma Sushi has it all.

Check out the signature Santa Monica roll for a balanced hand roll filled with spicy crab meat and topped with salmon, spicy tuna, and perfectly crisp fried garlic. Pair the hand roll with a selection from the small but mighty list of fine hot and cold sake, wine, and Japanese beer.


Looking for an intimate fine dining experience in LA? Melisse is a two-star Michelin restaurant, with a 14-seat dining room, led by acclaimed fine dining chefs Josiah Citrin and Ian Scaramuzza. Guests are taken through an astonishing 18-course pre-fixe meal featuring some of the most unique seasonal ingredients sourced directly from the local farmers' market and along the California coast. The execution of each dish is immaculate, highlighting a beautiful blend of both classic and contemporary cooking. The entire experience is expertly coursed and provides diners with a two-and-half-hour front-row seat to the artistry of Citrin in the Melisse kitchen.

The tasting menu changes monthly and reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to plan ahead and book a table at Melisse for a prime example of fine dining from start to finish.


Elephanté is a trendy hot spot that is sought after by locals and tourists alike. Located on the rooftop level on Second Street in downtown Santa Monica, Elephanté is a bar and restaurant that offers unmatched ocean views from the breezy indoor/outdoor dining space. The Mediterranean-style LA restaurant transports diners to a breezy European balcony, and the three on-site bars serve a delicious array of Italian-inspired cocktails and an extensive wine list.

The vodka sauce Canestri pasta is coated in a creamy tomato sauce with Calabrian chili, basil, and parmigiano, offering a nice kick that is worth indulging in. The burrata pizza is another solid pick and is great to share with family or friends during happy hour. The handmade dough is topped with Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes and basil, giving the pizza a fresh taste that stands out when compared to a typical pie. Add prosciutto or arugula for even more vibrancy and flavor.

Lobster & Beer

Looking for a more casual or affordable spot that doesn't compromise on quality and taste? Lobster & Beer is a delightful seafood spot located in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. Upon entering the restaurant, you're immediately greeted with a cozy and casual atmosphere. The decor is reminiscent of a coastal seafood shack, with wooden accents and charming nautical touches.

The menu features a wide variety of seafood options, but the star of the show is undoubtedly the lobster. Whether you're in the mood for a classic lobster roll or cheesy lobster mac and cheese, the dishes are consistently fresh and flavorful. The beer selection is equally impressive, with a range of local and international beers on draft to choose from.


From the moment you walk into Manchego, you'll be greeted by a warm and inviting atmosphere. The decor is rustic and charming with wooden tables and chairs, exposed brick walls, and beautiful Spanish artwork. The menu at Manchego features a variety of Spanish tapas, all of which are ideal for sharing with friends and family. Some of the standout dishes include the crispy calamari, savory patatas bravas, and tender grilled octopus.

In addition to the tapas, Manchego also offers a variety of larger dishes, such as the succulent roasted lamb or tender filet mignon. And, of course, no meal at Manchego is complete without trying one of their delicious cheese plates, which feature a selection of Spanish cheeses, including the famous and on-brand Manchego cheese.

Caffe Delfini

If you're looking for an authentic Italian dining experience, look no further than Caffe Delfini. This charming place to eat off of the Pacific Coast Highway serves up classic Italian dishes made with the freshest ingredients, all in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu features a wide variety of options, including handmade pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and fresh seafood. Standout dishes include the spaghetti carbonara, the margherita pizza, and grilled octopus. And if you're a fan of tiramisu, you won't want to miss out on Caffe Delfini's version, which is delicate yet decadent.

The restaurant also has a solid wine list with options hailing from both Italy and California. That said, if you're in the mood for something stronger, the bartenders can whip up a mean negroni, aperol spritz, or any other classic cocktail from the full bar.

Dan Modern Chinese

Located just a few blocks from the Santa Monica Bluffs and the bustling Third Street Promenade, Dan Modern Chinese offers a modern take on classic Chinese cuisine. The menu features a range of dishes inspired by the diverse regional cuisines of China, with an emphasis on fresh and high-quality ingredients. Popular dishes include vegetarian mapo tofu, a bright and flavorful kung pao chicken, and crispy whole fish. That said, the soup dumplings are perhaps the most popular dish on the menu. If you're in the mood for something with a little kick, be sure to try the dan dan noodles or the spicy lamb skewers.

The bar menu is equally as enticing, with a range of creative cocktails and a well-curated wine list. And if you're a fan of baijiu, a traditional Chinese liquor, Dan Modern Chinese has an impressive selection to choose from.


Located in the charming and community-oriented Ocean Park neighborhood, Ghisallo is serving authentic Italian food in a warm and inviting dining space. The decor is simple yet stylish, with exposed brick walls, warm lighting, and cozy seating. If you're in the mood for some fresh air, the outdoor patio is a lovely spot to enjoy your meal on a sunny Santa Monica day.

The menu features both classic Italian favorites, as well as more modern takes on traditional recipes. Whether you are craving a high-quality, thin-crust single slice on the go or want to dine in and indulge in one of the rich and filling entrees, such as the smoked Kurobuta ribs served with a fig BBQ sauce, slaw, and a bright charred herb salsa, every Ghisallo bite is ultimately savory and satisfying.