Whether you're looking for a relaxing eatery where you can enjoy some comfort food like chicken wings and piled high sandwiches, or you want a fine dining establishment for a special occasion or just a nice night out that involves white tablecloths, stellar service and top notch cuisine with a fine wine list, you can find it in Santa Monica. From trendy Third Promenade Street to hip Main Street and all along the Coast Highway, you'll find some of the best restaurants in all of Los Angeles in the lovely beach community of Santa Monica that manages to be both laidback and cosmopolitan at the same time. This list of the 10 best restaurants in Santa Monica includes seafood establishments, eateries bordering the coastline, five star fine dining restaurants with savory cuisine and chill bar restaurants where you can grab a pint with an affordable entree and just relax. Though you may find that all these featured Santa Monica restaurants make you more at ease and ready to forget your worries and simply enjoy the southern California beach lifestyle. When you're done eating at the restaurant of your choosing you can go for a leisurely amble down Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade or the Beach Walk.
Sam's By the Beach
Despite being by the beaches of Santa Monica, Sam's by the Beach has a European ambiance indoors with warm colors and wooden tables. Just outside its doors, though, is the golden beach and powerful waves of the Pacific Ocean. The cuisine also matches that ambiance as it offers California cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. The food at Sam's by the Beach also uses local ingredients bought from nearby markets whenever possible. As a result of staying local, the menu changes four times each year with the seasons. Mainstays on the menu include culinary delights such as blue fin tartar, wild mushroom salad, vegetarian crepes and roasted duck. (310-230-9100)
Bistro of Santa Monica
Bistro of Santa Monica is an inviting, unpretentious restaurant that is located in a building dating back to 1890 which still has its original tin ceiling and stained glass accents. Bistro of Santa Monica focuses on authentic northern Italian cuisine without breaking your budget. You'll find a full range of Italian delicacies ranging from antipasto to ravioli pomodoro to pollo picatta. It also has a little bar area that is charming in its simplicity where you can get a glass of Italian wine or another drink from the full bar. Each night, Italian music fills the restaurant, further helping to set the Italian bistro atmosphere. (3104535442)
Library Alehouse is located on hip Main Street in Santa Monica and has an excellent menu of craft beers and gourmet comfort food. The interior has gleaming blonde wooden tables and a long bar that takes up nearly half of the narrow indoor dining area. Old beer bottles and cans line the top perimeter of the restaurant with library ladders reaching up to them. TVs are hung from the wall making this a fun place to watch a sports game. The back of the restaurant has a covered patio with thick trees planted on the side of the patio, providing a peaceful respite to enjoy your beer and food. (310-314-4855)
BOA Steakhouse - Santa Monica
If you love a good, juicy steak you can't pass up dining at BOA Steakhouse while in Santa Monica. As soon as you walk into the restaurant you're embraced in dark soothing hues with red accents. The steak menu consists of just about every cut of meat you can think of: New York strip, bone-in rib eye, filet mignon and more. There are also high quality types of meat like New Zealand lamb and Japanese waygu beef. In addition to steaks, BOA Steakhouse has a surf menu with seafood options like salmon, ahi tuna, prawns, scallops and whole Maine lobster. (3108994466)
Located right at the start of the Santa Monica Pier, the Lobster is a seafood restaurant that – you guessed it – specializes in lobster. But this seafood restaurant doesn't have just any old lobster menu. Choose the kind of lobster you want from multiple options, including steamed American lobster, grilled California spiny lobster, butter poached lobster and lobster ravioli. The Lobster also has a wide range of other seafood options including a raw bar. You can also opt for the few steak or chicken entrees on the menu if you're not in the mood for seafood. The restaurant has large windows that offer great views of the pier and ocean for every table. There is also a terrace for those who want to enjoy the breezy Santa Monica air. (310-458-9294)
Santa Monica Seafood Cafe
Santa Monica Seafood Café isn't just a place to dine, it also has fresh seafood available for you to take home and cook yourself, which is the secret to its success as it focuses on high quality seafood for every facet of its business and those who dine at the café benefit from it. The café has an excellent oyster bar with a variety of different types of oysters from around North America. In addition, you'll find seafood delicacies on the menu like Alaskan King Crab, Mediterranean mussels, New England clam chowder, Alaskan cod fish and chips, lobster roll, grilled swordfish and many other types of fish. (310-393-5244)
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar
The origins of Rustic Canyon has a unique beginning as the idea for it grew from the founder's community dinners he used to make in the neighborhood of Rustic Canyon, a Santa Monica community that managed to be rural despite being in the middle of LA. The founder of Rustic Canyon wanted to bring this familial atmosphere to the public and came up with the idea of Rustic Canyon. The restaurant strives to offer an atmosphere where friends can come and laugh and chat over seasonal farm to table cuisine and fine wine. Rustic Canyon works with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen who have sustainable practices, helping to ensure that it only delivers the highest quality of food to its patrons. (3103937050)
Sonoma Wine Garden - Santa Monica
With its large rooftop patio atop Santa Monica Place, Sonoma Wine Garden provides diverse cuisine in an airy setting that is ideal for soaking up the wonderful southern California weather. The restaurant puts an emphasis on wine, hence the name, with California and international vintages that pair well with Sonoma Wine Garden's locally sourced ingredients. Many of the Mediterranean-inspired menu items have artisanal roots or are made in-house, resulting in delicious flavors for appetizers and entrees ranging from farm fresh cheese plates to creative pizzas to seafood and meat. The latter has options like the California mahi mahi served with beans and mango salsa and the bourbon BBQ ribs served alongside corn on the cob. (4242144560)
Mélisse is one of the top fine dining restaurants in the United States, let alone Los Angeles, and has been awarded with two Michelin stars. The menu is traditional French thanks to the owner and chef who studied culinary arts in France, and it changes with the season in order to use fresh ingredients. Mélisse offers a la carte options as well as tasting menus, including vegetarian ones and a carte blanche option. The ambiance has a romantic vibe with deep purple walls and white tablecloths. This may very well put you in the mood for a glass of top-notch wine, and Mélisse's excellent wine list can help with that. (310-395-0881)
Enterprise Fish Company
Enterprise Fish Company has an eclectic vibe thanks to its multitude of sailor decor and wood paneling that makes you feel like you've stepped onto an old wooden ship. An open wall patio and tanks on display teeming with live sea creatures also help to bring the outdoors inside at this laidback seafood eatery. Enterprise Fish Company puts a strong focus on fresh seafood and has everything from shellfish such as clams, mussels and oysters, to salmon, halibut, swordfish, mahi mahi and many other types of fish. You can also pick out your own live lobster to be cooked up extremely fresh. Enterprise Fish Company also has a full bar. (310-392-8366)
About Gina Douglas Tarnacki
Gina Tarnacki is a freelance writer and marketer and an avid traveler. When she's not busy finding a creative way to squeeze in a few more vacation days so she and her family can explore the world together, she writes about making the most of a destination when time is short at One Day in a City.
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