The Coffee Bean is a small cafe near Palisades Park in Santa Monica. It's kind of a Starbucks copycat and serves a lot of the same stuff: teas, flavored coffees, and small snacks like baked good or sandwiches. All in all, it's not a bad place.
Mariasol is undoubtedly the coolest bar on the picturesque Santa Monica Pier. The large outdoor seating area offers a simply breathtaking view of the harbor, the beach, the bay and the city. The drinks are also good and reasonably priced. Good choice!
An obligatory place to eat while you're visiting any major city in the USA, although don't let this restaurant's "Chain" status fool you. The food is consistently delicious, the service some of the friendliest I have ever experienced, and the atmosphere, while a little on the tacky side, will definitely make you smile. I have been to Bubba Gump twice in Santa Monica and once in Maui and I always order the same thing - Shrimper's Heaven - which is basically 4 different types of shrimp, french fries, and different dipping sauces. It is a giant deep fried mess and it is in no way good for you, but nobody can deny that it is simply delicious. The menu does offer a variety of other seafood items, both fried and grilled, as well as sandwiches, salads, and non-seafood items as well. The cocktail menu is extensive and super playful, and the desserts are delicious as well. Make sure you experience Bubba Gump at least once in your lifetime.
Santa Monica is a nice beach town oddly set in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles and it's where you'll find Loteria Grill. Loteria Grill serves Mexican food and the atmosphere is chic and comfortable. We ordered chips with guacamole for starters and the nice thing was that they were actually made from tortilla, not just Doritos. Then, we ordered two beef tacos (you can order between one and four tacos) with beans and rice. Again, delicious!
Caffe Bellagio is a good choice for breakfast in the heart of Santa Monica. The breakfasts are cheap and plentiful and they also have delicious homemade ice cream for $4.00 for two scoops. The cafe also has a nice little terrace to sit out and soak in the atmosphere of the California coast.
This is one of the best places in town to eat quickly, in the heart of Santa Monica on Third Avenue. There's a wide variety of food to choose from - the big fast food chains, but also excellent quality sushi, and Italian restaurants. But above all, I love their large, well-lit terrace, which offers great views over this lively neighbourhood.
Located on one of the main streets of the seaside town of Santa Monica, Santa Monica Boulevard, Daily Bread is a small shop in the European tradition. It offers cakes and pastries, a welcome change from the American bread and bagels! We especially like their sliced cereal bread and local produce, and the cozy interior is very comfortable.
Located at one end of Third Street, near the beautiful dinosaur fountain, this is a charming shop offering frozen yogurt, with your choice of toppings. We love the freedom to choose, limited only by our greed! Fresh fruit, pieces of cookies, peanuts, chocolate or caramel sauce ... customize your frozen yogurt and enjoy! Ready, set, melt!
Café Crêpe is a small French crepes place not far from the famous Santa Monica Pier. It's not easy to find good crepes in Santa Monica but this place is up to the challenge! The crepes are a bit pricey ($8.00 for a savory one and $6.00 for a sweet one) but they're filling and delicious. The service is good and the cafe has the air of a Parisian brasserie. A little bit of France in Southern California.
Further away from the actual beach city of Santa Monica, the California Chicken Cafe is a small chain of restaurants that offer different chicken dishes, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and a variety of other things. The price is unbeatable and the food is delicious when you're craving that home-cooked feeling on the road. I had the 3 piece chicken meal with two sides (Caesar salad and mashed potatoes with gravy, both delicious) and complimentary shaved ice for dessert. It seemed to be a very popular take-out spot, but there was also a dine-in area as well.
I stumbled upon ShopHouse by accident on our first night in Santa Monica. We were starving and I saw the words "Asian Cuisine" - and that was all I needed. ShopHouse turned out to be quite the little diamond in the rough - I later learned that it would be lined up out the door during lunch time every day. For around $8, you can get a big bowl of brown rice with satay chicken, green beans, green curry and fresh cilantro. They also have other sauces, tofu and beef, noodles, white rice, and a variety of garnishes. And the portions are huge! I had enough leftover for a snack the next day. Plus, all of their ingredients are organically grown and responsibly sourced. You won't want to miss this place!
While Trastevere did not provide the most spectacular food or service that I have ever experienced, what is important here is the restaurant itself. The location, architecture and ambiance are unique, and you can do a ton of people watching down the Third Street Promenade while you eat on the patio. My friend and I both ordered the fettuccine alfredo with shrimp - not very original, I know - and it was decent…lots of shrimp, but nothing spectacular. However, this place is always absolutely packed, so maybe if we had been more adventurous with our menu choices we would have been able to better experience what Trastevere is all about.
A short walk away from the hustle-and-bustle that is central Santa Monica, Urth Caffe is an oasis of real, healthy food in an otherwise over-processed area. I walked up to Urth for breakfast one morning, and took it to go since I was in a bit of a rush. I ordered a regular coffee (which was the best coffee I have had in California to date) and I can't remember exactly what the breakfast was called, but it was essentially two poached eggs on a bed of fresh greens, a side dressing, and two slices of whole grain toast. It was fresh, light, but satisfying…exactly what I was looking for after pigging out the night before at Bubba Gump. I wish I had had time to go back for lunch, the menu looked spectacular!
The only restaurant that isn't in the actual food court of the shopping centre, True Food Kitchen offers a wide variety of healthy dining options such as gluten free items, vegetarian and vegan items, and hearty, raw dishes including grain-fed chicken and organic produce. They also serve a wide variety of fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices, non-alcoholic refreshments, and alcoholic drinks as well. My favorite drink was called "The Natural" - soda water with ginger and agave on ice. Our table ordered a bison burger, the Penang curry, and the quinoa burger. All were phenomenal and left us feeling satisfied and nourished with the nutrients we needed to power through the rest of our shopping!
This hidden gem would be easy to miss if you weren't looking for it. A tiny little shop with a tiny little patio and a tiny little kitchen where a small handful of authentic Mexican chefs will prepare your meal. I was greeted by a friendly Mexican man ve insisted that I sit down while I wait and brought me a big glass of water as he could tell I had been out running. I ordered the Huevos Rancheros to go and was beyond impressed with the flavors of this dish, which can sometimes be disappointing when not done correctly. The prices at Cora's are pretty standard for the Santa Monica area (my breakfast cost about $18 after tax and tip) but the staff are extremely warm and welcoming and the food was, from what I could tell, what brings people in.
Even though it's only two steps away from the most touristy place in Santa Monica, this place is frequented mostly by locals ... The best fish and chips in the city, to be eaten right at the bar, and served on traditional paper.