The sophisticated beauty and heavy emphasis on health-conscious activities in Santa Monica pairs perfectly with its lively food scene, leaving no question as to why so many people love planning dinner outings in this coastal city. With a vibe that is seemingly quintessential California, Santa Monica offers airy outdoor shopping on 3rd Street, beautiful sandy beaches like Will Rogers, and a food scene that emphasizes fresh, healthy food.

In creating this list we wanted to capture the range of new and classic spots, diversity of cuisine styles and various vibes offered that reflect the playfulness and sophistication of this city. From Italian eats at Milo and Olive to the new vegan hot-spot Erven, be prepared to treat yourself to a satisfying, yet guilt-free Santa Monica meal.

And if you’re looking to explore more than just the food in Santa Monica, click the Daymaker button next to any item on the list below to use it as a starting point to create your own Santa Monica adventure.

Cassiala3
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

Cassia is a bustling Santa Monica Southeast Asian Brasserie that features an elegant, modern interior with both table and bar seating. Chef Bryant Ng first became famous for his pan-Asian restaurant The Spice Table in Downtown Los Angeles, and his playful approach towards cooking extends to Cassia's menu as well. It's a restaurant where the lines that separate regional cuisines evaporate, resulting in dishes like Egg Custard with Sea Urchin, Vietnamese Pot Au Feu and Jellyfish Salad. Featured in "Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants" list - 2016.


See more about Cassia here
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Rusticcanyon7
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

Rustic Canyon is a restaurant with a changing menu of Farmer’s Market inspired dishes. Some of the dishes are designed as small plates for sharing so you can sample a variety of tastes, while other heartier plates such as the Ora King Salmon or Flatiron Steak make for ideal single-entree meals. Rustic Canyon also offers boutique spirits, cocktails, and an extensive wine list focused on small producers.


See more about Rustic Canyon here
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Erven3
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

Erven combines the best of New American cuisine with artisanal vegan ingredients that, yes, taste good even to the average meat-eater. Some of their standout dishes include a beer-battered, crunchy Tofu Sandwich and the rich Tuscan Bean Soup, while Erven's excellent dessert menu is worth a look too. The downstairs features a marketplace-style counter for quicker bites, while the upstairs provides additional seating for their dinner menu.


See more about Erven here
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True+food+kitchen+5
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

True Food Kitchen makes an expansive, healthy selection of dishes that include quality meat as well as vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options. The food is delicious, and the environment is warm, so sit back and relax with mushroom and tofu lettuce cups, butternut squash pizza, a grass-fed bison burger, or spaghetti squash casserole.

Bonus points for a brunch menu, awesome juice/drinks, and a full bar.


See more about True Food Kitchen here
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Tarandrosesdumplings
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

At Tar & Roses, invention is key. You wouldn't expect all of their dishes to work—you wouldn't expect the lemon ricotta gnocchi to be so ridiculously delicious, or the gamble on scrumptious oxtail dumplings to pay off. Tar & Roses is constantly upending expectations, and doing so in a way that makes other restaurants look timid.

Expect an elegant and intimate dining experience that encapsulates the hip nightlife of Santa Monica.


See more about Tar & Roses here
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Melisse2
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

Melisse is a swank, forward-thinking high dining restaurant with a tasting menu that has blown minds across city lines. The interior is furnished with chic floral arrangements and the service is classic French style to go along with a bold menu. Expect torched Caviar Eggs, damn good Burgundy, lots of Truffle, and fancy dishes like Foie Gras Torchon in a one-of-a-kind space. Closed on Sundays. Featured in "Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants" list - 2016.


See more about Melisse here
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Miloolive aperitivo cappellettibianca pizza photo credit rick poon 2 610x407 c
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

Milo and Olive exemplifies Santa Monica's approach to Italian cuisine: crafty, modern and utterly delicious. The chic interior offers both bar and table seating, with a beer and wine list to go with a menu of wood-fired Pizzas, rustic Pastas and Farmer's Market-inspired Salads. There is also a bakery pumping out scrumptious pastries and artisinal bread throughout the day, in case customers ever want to bring a taste of Milo and Olive's deliciousness home with them too.


See more about Milo and Olive here
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Pono+burger
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

“Pono” means “to do things the right way,” in Hawaiian and Pono Burger takes that to heart using organic, pasture raised, grass fed beef and organic ingredients from framer’s markets. The burgers are served on fresh baked Brioche buns and they have some tasty signatures like the Piku “Fig” Burger with caramelized figjam, brie cheese, bacon, toasted hazelnuts, and arugula. There’s also a non-meat portobello option, french fries, craft beer, wine, and milkshakes.


See more about Pono Burger here
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Santa+monica+seafood+1
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

Santa Monica Seafood is the largest seafood distributor in the southwest and if you want to get their seafood extra fresh you can go straight to the café and market in Santa Monica. The market has a large selection of fresh fish, live shellfish, and frozen seafood in the Southwest, but also a café where you’ll find Lobster Rolls, Crab Louie, Fish and Chips, Seafood Raviolli, Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches, and more.


See more about Santa Monica Seafood Market & Cafe here
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Mercado+2
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

Mercado is a mix of tradition and trend with it’s food and atmosphere. The Mexican cuisine incorporates flavors from the chef and owner’s Mexican roots with classic dishes and some contemporary offerings. Mercado’s bar also has 60 tequilas, as well as mezcal, beer, and cocktails. Happy hour Saturday and Sunday 4pm-6pm.


See more about Mercado here
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Bay+cities+3
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery prepares quality Italian food including a deli counter with fresh baked pasta dishes, sausage, and meatballs, though most well known for their deli sandwiches. They offer a large menu that mixes and matches premium deli meats like Salami, Capicola, Prosciutto, and Pastrami, cheese, and condiments. Seating is limited, but they have a nice outdoor area.


See more about Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery here
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4z7a5207
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

Michael's is the 37-year old restaurant that helped to put the idea of "California Cuisine" on the food map. The restaurant's menu, service, environs and ambiance are all top-notch, resulting in an impressive display of culinary prowess. What's more, young culinary trailblazer Miles Thompson (of Allumette fame), is the latest to step into this esteemed kitchen, tasked with continuing Michael's bold, forward-thinking menu. Enjoy dinner in a verdant courtyard, while sampling from a menu that includes exotic delights like Savory Egg Custard, Crab and Uni Chawanmushi and Burratta with Trout Roe.


See more about Michael's here
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Sweetfin+poke
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

At Sweetfin Poke offers Signature Bowls of poke, a traditional Hawaiian raw salad, like the Spicy Tuna with creamy togarashi sauce, hijiki and avocado, as well as build your own bowls with fresh, raw fish and California produce. They have options for dietary restrictions from paleo to vegan, and some new flavors with crafted sauces and ingredients.


See more about Sweetfin Poké here
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The+op+cafe+1
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

The OP Café serves classic American and Southern California breakfast and lunch made with fresh local ingredients and homemade marinades, sauces, vinegars and relishes. Their brunch is solid, the prices fair, and they opened up their space with patio seating to enjoy. Gluten-Free Friendly and Vegetarian & Vegan Options.


See more about The OP Cafe here
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Oosicilliankitchen1
Santa Monica $ $ $ $

O+O is a new beachside eatery that specializes in Sicilian cuisine. The patio offers a gorgeous view of the nearby ocean and the menu is nearly as impressive. Among the highlights: the Sicilian Eggplant Parmesean, Squid Ink Linguine and their Pizza with Mortadella and Pistachio Cream. Be sure to sample their different kinds of Meatballs, like Chicken and Mushroom, Pork and the "Classic" Version. O+O also does a daily Happy Hour from 4-6pm.


See more about O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar here
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