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A taste of: Santa Monica's best restaurants

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4 September 2012 by Luke McCormick

Santa Monica is a foodie's paradise. California's most celebrated beach city is a repeat winner of the Zagat Survey's 'Best Neighbourhood Dining in Los Angeles' award and is on the Forbes.com list of the world's 'Top Ten Cities for Food'. Here we round-up Santa Monica's best eating.


A stylish downtown spot is The Penthouse, which has won honours in the Los Angeles Zagat Survey, while the Vanilla Bakeshop has bee written up in all sorts of national magazines and even featured on Martha Stewart's TV show.

Another restaurant that is considered one of southern California's best for authentic, upscale Mexican is La Serenata de Garibaldi, loved for its delectable seafood and delicious cornmeal quesadillas.

For Italian, try Locanda del Lago's take on lake region cuisine or for more casual dining, its sister restaurant Café Bellagio. La Botte Ristorante recreates the experience of dining in an authentic wine cellar and its Veneto-style food has earned a Michelin star.


Crab cakes celebs and ocean views are all the signatures of the fabled Ivy at the Shore. The Lobster by Santa Monica pier is known for its seasonal seafood, contemporary design and some of Santa Monica's best ocean views.

Many of Santa Monica's best restaurants are located in the luxury hotels located around Ocean Avenue. Settle into a poolside cabana at The Viceroy's stylish Whist, which earned a mention in Food & Wine's '50 best Hotel Restaurants' or enjoy the refurbished interiors and Cal-Med dishes at Shutters on the Beach's One Pico.

For California-influenced French cuisine, head to The Dining Room at Hotel Shangri-La or try the hot new arrival, chef Ray Garcia's Fig at Fairmont Miramar.

Main Street

Dating back to 1934, The Galley is Santa Monica's oldest restaurant and an old-time Hollywood hangout, while for Italian Via Veneto is one of the Zagat's most highly rated spots along with La Vecchia Cucina.

Montana Avenue

Café Montana's distinctive architecture satisfying food have made it a popular stop for celebs and shoppers, while café Luxxe boats national competition level baristas and a Synesso espresso machine.

Raw food

Santa Monica has a wide choice of raw and vegan restaurants. True Food Kitchen at Santa Monica Place is local a hit, while Planet Raw by Juliano & Ariel on Broadway and 6th Street is one of the nation's best.

Big Dean's Oceanfront café is as popular as ever for beers, burgers and wings right on the cycle path.

For Santa Monica's best breakfast, the casual and beachfront Coast at Shutters on the Beach is simply hard to beat.

Try one-of-a-kind burgers at Josie. At $28, it may be the most expensive burger you'll ever order, but this bison-meat burger with Gruyere and truffle fries should be worth every penny.

Farmers' markets

Santa Monica is also well known for its local Farmers' markets. It's a great chance to mingle with locals, celebs, retirees and renowned chefs who all take the opportunity to browse the stands and graze through the produce on offer.

Downtown Farmers' Market

Arizona Ave; Wednesdays and Saturdays

Pico Farmers' Market

Virginia Park; Saturdays

Main Street Farmers' Market

Main Street; Sundays

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