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Essential Guide On Where To Eat In Santa Monica

Santa Monica, famous for the Pacific Ocean, 3rd Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier, offers locals and tourists a number of dining destinations. From cheap bites, healthy eats, and seafood to fine-dining establishments, there are a ton of great places to eat if you know where to look.
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Longtime Santa Monica restaurant, Michael's, recently upgraded the interior of the restaurant along with appointing chef Miles Thompson at the helm of the historic kitchen. Guests can enjoy the market-driven dishes and drinks in the luscious garden patio or in the dining lounge, elegantly appointed with owner Michael McCarty's museum-caliber collection of artwork. Thompson's progressive menu includes signatures such as the Octopus with burnt butter and Sichuan peppercorn marshmallow, buckwheat sourdough bread and the young chicken.

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Cassia celebrates Chef Bryant Ng's Chinese-Singaporean background and his wife Kim's Vietnamese heritage with French-inspired plates that weave in Southeast Asian flavor profiles. They only use sustainable seafood and feature a variety of options from seafood towers to Vietnamese Sunbathing Prawns, but Chef Ng's signature dishes include a Vietnamese take on the classic French pot-au-feu, grilled steak frites, and an Asian-inspired, house made charcuterie platter.

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Mélisse is led by two Michelin starred chef Josiah Citrin. A neighborhood staple for over 19 years, Citrin has turned Mélisse into one of the city's premier fine-dining destinations for contemporary French cuisine. Serving farm-to-table cooking before it became a trend, Citrin's signature dishes include egg caviar and lobster bolognese.

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Rustic Canyon

The award-winning farm-to-table restaurant features hyper-seasonal, market-driven fare in a stylish and sociable setting. The daily-changing menu from Jeremy Fox at Rustic Canyon is inspired by the Santa Monica Farmers' Market which is down the street. Signature dishes include the Pozole Verde, Beets & Berries and the Flannery Cote De Boeuf for two.

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Tallula's is the latest addition to the Rustic Canyon Family of restaurants where Chef/Partner Jeremy Fox's menu features ingredient-driven, rustic, Mexican comfort food made with fresh, organic, and sustainably sourced ingredients. The restaurant is named after partners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan's daughter and offers a fun and relaxed dining and drinking experience in a colorful space filled with lush plants and beachy, south-of-the-border décor. It's open every day for dinner with Happy Hour offered Monday-Friday from 4-6 p.m.

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Lunetta serves rustic American cuisine in the Pico District of Santa Monica. The restaurant is a collaboration between partners Raphael Lunetta (formerly of JiRaffe) and Divide + Conquer, Inc.'s Daniel Weinstock and Mike Garrett (Maple Block Meat Co.). Located adjacent to Lunetta All Day, the trio's modern diner and first collaboration, Lunetta brings a more refined approach with a menu steeped in local California ingredients and chef/partner Raphael Lunetta's signature touch where simple, clean flavors take center stage.

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Milo & Olive

Milo & Olive is a bakery and pizzeria that serves as the bread baking hub for the RC Family. Known for its wood-fire pizzas and house-made pastas and pastries, the menu also includes seasonal salads and wood-fired vegetables. Favorites include the pork belly sausage & kale pizza, breakfast pizza and the fresh tagliarini bolognese.

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Del Frisco's Grille

Del Frisco's Grille is an American grill located on Ocean Avenue right across the way from the Santa Monica Pier. The restaurant opened in 2013 offering diners' creative twists on American comfort fare and hand-crafted cocktails in their modern, stylish interior or their patio overlooking the Pier. Drawing inspiration from bold flavors and local market-fresh ingredients, the restaurant recently launched new menu offerings including: artichoke beignets, coffee braised pork shank and more along with a new wines by the glass program.

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This neighborhood restaurant and bar located on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica offers California Modern cuisine and hyper-seasonal menus and is a warm place where friends and family come together to enjoy good food, drinks (one of the only full liquor licenses in the area) and desserts. Along with their new seasonal menu debuting in March, they recently debuted a series of monthly interactive mixology classes, led by Margo's Head Bartender Anthony Mylott. Next classes are a whiskey cocktail class on March 10th and a vodka class on April 14th. They are priced at $75 per person and begin at 8:00pm. Purchase Tickets.

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Tar & Roses

Tar & Roses by chef Andrew Kirschner merges classical cuisine with modern sensibilities. Crafting a menu around a wood-burning oven, flavors are globally inspired and preparations are both sophisticated and comforting. Signature dishes include their oxtail dumplings and the whole fried snapper which can be paired with a bold and varied wine program touting as many as 80+ bottles on the list each night.

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Belcampo Santa Monica

Belcampo is a farm, processing plant, and butcher shop all in one, helmed by CEO and co-founder Anya Fernald. At their Southern California flagship location in Santa Monica, they serve rustic, elegant, California cuisine and farm-inspired craft cocktails paired with a full-service butcher shop. Popular dishes include the Belcampo Burger and their Belcampo steak frites. Also, available only at their Santa Monica location by request is their off the menu Belcampo Poutine.

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Mercado Santa Monica was co-created by Jesse Gomez & Chef/Partner Jose Acevedo in 2012 and since has expanded to mid-city Los Angeles and Hollywood. They take pride in offering seasonal items on their menus such as Chef Jose's Farmers' Market Vegetables, Elote, Rajas Poblanas, & Squash Blossoms. A few of their most popular items on the menu are Chef Jose's Carnitas, the Spicy Cucumber/Jalapeno Margarita, and not to mention their homemade flan with Rompope.

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North Italia

Fox Restaurant Concepts debuted North Italia in Santa Monica on May 30, 2017, the third location in Los Angeles. At North, chefs start from scratch to create handmade pizza and pasta using only the best ingredients to craft inspired dishes from the garden, farm, and sea. The Santa Monica menu offers a great selection of both traditional Italian cuisine and lighter fresh fish dishes, bringing the traditions of Italia to life for a modern palate. Try their popular black Mediterranean mussels or bacon & egg and prosciutto pizza and enjoy a cocktail like the Sicilian margarita.

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Serving modern-Italian cuisine, Capo is an organic farmer's market restaurant serving simple but delicious dishes. Pair one of their popular dishes like the prime flannery beef, white corn ravioli or Capo's biscotti chocolate plate with a superb wine list curated by their server/sommelier staff. Seasonal offerings include: white asparagus from Holland, fresh ceps/porcini from Northern California and fresh Extra virgin olive oil from Fontodi Vineyards in Panzano, Italy.

Father's Office
(credit: Rob D. / Yelp)

Father's Office

Sang Yoon, the chef and proprietor of Father's Office gastropub, has been credited for trailblazing the gastropub movement in L.A. and beyond. Father's Office is known for its signature craft brew selection of over 55 local and small-batch varieties and the proprietary "Office Burger". And just like most of Montana Ave being a celebrity stomping ground, stars like Jake Gyllenhaal, Owen Wilson, and Leonardo DiCaprio have enjoyed Father's Office burgers. The simple and casual restaurant, modeled after Spain's tapas bars, opened in 2000 on Montana has become a staple for great beer and burgers. It can also be credited for creating the craft burger in Los Angeles.

Article by Jarone Ashkenazi is a freelance writer who covers: restaurants, bars, dating, relationships, sports and other lifestyle topics. More of his work can be viewed at Connect with him on Twitter: @JaroneAsh.
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