While Santa Monica is renowned for its iconic pier and pretty oceanfront promenade, the city also has a few gems that are perfect for a quiet dinner for two or a special celebration. Whether you’re looking for a cozy spot to wind down over a pitcher of sangria or a fine-dining experience with a ten-course tasting menu, Santa Monica has something for everyone. Savor California fusion fare, authentic Italian cuisine and freshly caught seafood against a backdrop of spectacular ocean views at some of these romantic restaurants.
© 1 Pico
Based in the Shutters on the Beach hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean, 1 Pico is a breezy seaside restaurant with contemporary décor that serves a seasonal market menu of fresh Californian cuisine and craft cocktails. Boasting an elegant, but relaxed beach resort vibe, the open and airy restaurant has a blue and white color scheme, porthole mirrors, hanging lantern-style light fixtures, and a large fireplace topped with candles and seashells. The farm-to-table menu features simple seaside treats like ahi tuna, Maine lobster, and grilled octopus, as well as landlubber specialties such as heirloom tomato gazpacho, and braised beef short rib. Fine wines and handcrafted cocktails accompany the cuisine, and 1 Pico serves lunch on Monday through Saturday, dinner nightly and Sunday brunch.
1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405, Phone: 310-587-1717
© Caffé Delfini
Tucked away in the Santa Monica Canyon in a historic building dating back to 1932, Caffé Delfini is a family-owned and operated Italian restaurant on the West Side that has been serving authentic Italian fare to locals and visitors alike for more than 25 years. The cozy and romantic spot is ideal for dates and special occasions, the eatery serves an extensive pasta menu mostly contains classic, family style recipes sourced from all over Italy, as well as fresh seafood and prime free-range meats, and Italian specialties like extra virgin olive oil, Tuscan herbs, and home-cured prosciutto and cheeses. Caffé Delfini is open for dinner only, seven nights a week.
147 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402, Phone: 310-459-8823
Capo is an upscale Italian restaurant with a ‘wow’ factor when it comes to an intimate dining experience. Boasting a rustic, yet elegant, dining room complete with a log-burning fireplace, crisp cotton candlelit tables, black and white wicker bistro chairs, walls adorned with eclectic artworks, and a large wooden bar. Specializing in modern Italian fare, the romantic restaurant serves traditional Tuscan fare including fresh, house-made pasta, prime steaks, caviar, and expensive bottles of wine. Signature dishes include white corn ravioli with black truffles, Santa Barbara spot prawns and calamari, and a mouthwatering flourless chocolate soufflé. The hidden Italian gem exudes a warm and welcoming ambiance and is open for dinner only, Tuesday through Saturday.
1810 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA, Phone: 310-394-5550
Located in Shutters on the Beach hotel, Coast is the perfect spot to enjoy an unforgettable dining experience along the Pacific Ocean's coast. The casual beachfront cafe and bar serves a seasonal menu of fresh seafood, catch-of-the-day, and local shellfish along with fresh salads, serve sides, and decadent desserts. Classic cocktails like white peach bellinis and kir royals are the drink to sip as the sun goes down and the Vine-To-Table menu is a must for wine lovers, which consists of a three-course prix fixe menu with wine pairings. Coast is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405, Phone: 310-587-1707
© Estate Restaurant
Estate Restaurant is a stylish eatery on Wilshire Boulevard that specializes in upscale farm-to-table, Asian-fusion fare and signature craft cocktails. The restaurant boasts a sophisticated, relaxed atmosphere and serves a globally inspired, seasonal farm-to-table menu of Asian-fusion cuisine using locally sourced ingredients and regional produce. The full-service bar serves modern takes on classic American cocktails, as well as specialty drinks, a carefully curated wine list that includes a wide range of the best of California along with old world favorites, and a selection of craft beers from the Golden State. Estate Restaurant is open for dinner, seven nights a week.
1519 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403, Phone: 310-394-7722
Located in the Fairmont Miramar - Hotel & Bungalows, FIG is a rustic-chic farm-to-table restaurant that is committed to serving fresh, seasonal cuisine in a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. The friendly neighborhood bistro offers seasonal menus of diverse Southern California cuisine prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and regional produce from local farmers markets and specialty foragers. Signature dishes include Aspen Ridge Braised Short Rib Herb Gnocchi, Dungeness Crab Spaghetti Alla Chitarra Squid Ink, Alaskan Halibut, Maine Lobster Rigatoni, and Mary’s Chicken with Porcini Mushrooms. An extensive list of fine Californian wines are perfect partners for each dish, as well as classic cocktails, and FIG is available for private events and functions for groups of up to 20 people. FIG is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Phone: 310-319-3111
© Hillstone Restaurant
Occupying two levels of a local architect-designed building at Emeritus College, Hillstone Santa Monica is a sleek and stylish restaurant with art-adorned walls and a chic, airy ambiance. The elegant eatery serves a diverse menu of contemporary cuisine with fresh sushi, and creative entrées such as seared ahi tuna with shiitake ponzu and Hawaiian ribeye soaked in pineapple sesame ginger sauce. Open for lunch and dinner; the restaurant also has a full-service bar that offers a wide range of California wines, local craft beers, and handcrafted cocktails, as well as specialty coffees and dessert liqueurs.
202 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Phone: 310-576-7558
8.Ivy at the Shore
© pavel siamionov/stock.adobe.com
Located on Ocean Avenue next to the Santa Monica pier, the Ivy at the Shore is a charming, flower-adorned spot that is well-known for its creative Californian cuisine and inventive cocktails. The eatery serves classic American, Italian, and regional dishes that can be enjoyed on the lovely outdoor patio or in the elegant dining room which boasts an intimate, romantic atmosphere. Popular with celebrities, the restaurant is a good spot for people watching while sipping on cocktails, local craft beers, or a wide selection of fine Californian wines by the glass or the bottle. Ivy at the Shore is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Wednesday through Monday.
1535 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Phone: 310-393-3113
9.La Vecchia Cucina
© La Vecchia Cucina
La Vecchia Cucina has been serving the community of Santa Monica classic Italian fare for the past 20 years and continues to do so with pride. The bustling, vibrant restaurant serves a menu of favorites like handmade pasta and sauces, wood-fired pizza with delicious toppings, prime meat and fresh seafood dishes, crisp salads, and decadent desserts. Dishes are prepared using fresh, locally sourced produce and imported ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, Tuscan herbs, and Italian-made balsamic vinegar and age-old Sicilian recipes passed down through the generations. Boasting a warm and welcoming ambiance akin to that of any family-owned Italian restaurant, La Vecchia Cucina is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
2654 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405, Phone: 310-399-7979
, Michigan beaches
Tucked away on trendy Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, Locanda Portofino is a cozy neighborhood hideaway that offers a fusion of Northern and Southern Italian cuisine in an intimate and romantic atmosphere. Founded in 1995 by Alberto Ferrari and Florestano Caracciolo di Nicastro, the warm and welcoming eatery offers a fusion of Northern and Southern Italian cuisine prepared using local and organic produce and imported Italian ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil and Italian herbs. Created by master chef Florestano Caracciolo di Nicastro, each dish is prepared with passion and flair and reflect the sun-kissed landscapes of Italy. The exquisite cuisine can be paired with one of over 400 wines from the extensive wine list and enjoyed in the charming dining room or on the outdoor terrace. Locanda Portofino is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
1110 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403, Phone: 310-394-2070
Manchego is a petite wine bar with a warm, inviting ambiance that serves authentic tapas and fine Spanish wines in an intimate atmosphere. Located on Main Street, the Spanish-inspired wine bar serves a variety of tapas including sharing plates of chorizo Pamplona, boquerones, crab meat risotto, manchego mac & cheese, garlic shrimps, grilled octopus, blood sausage, and glazed pork belly. The food is prepared with locally sourced produce from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market and the finest imported ingredients imported from Spain. Easy-drinking wines from Spain are the perfect combination for the Spanish cuisine and local flavors of the menu, along with local and Spanish craft beers and jugs of sangria. Manchego is open for dinner, Monday through Friday and lunch and dinner on the weekends.
2518 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Phone: 310-450-3900
Renowned for putting Santa Monica on the fine-dining map, the iconic Michael’s restaurant is an elegant, lush hideaway that promises an intimate and romantic night out. The inventive, upscale, and approachable restaurant features moody and sleek interiors, plush sofas, and a charming bamboo-lined patio surrounded by leafy foliage. The seasonal menu is equally seductive with an array of creative California cuisine including ocean-fresh seafood and catch-of-the-day, prime, grass-fed meats, organic vegetables and herbs, and mouth-watering desserts. Private dining rooms are available for special events and functions, and the full-service bar offers a diverse range of fine California wines, craft beers, and handcrafted cocktails. Michael’s is open for dinner Monday through Friday and lunch and dinner on the weekends.
1147 Third Street and Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90403, Phone: 310-451-0843
13.Tar and Roses
© Tar and Roses
Andrew Kirschner's Tar & Roses is a star on Santa Monica’s dining scene. Famous for its farm-to-table fare and cozy, inviting ambiance, the enduring Santa Monica restaurant is the perfect place for a charcuterie and cheese board and a glass of wine. Boasting elegant interiors with trendy brick and leather accents and muted lighting, a wood-burning oven creates a warm glow and a romantic backdrop for enjoying the delectable cuisine and fine wines. The seasonable menu features small plates of crab cakes, oxtail dumplings, and persimmon salad, and a range of casual, easy-drinking wines, craft beers on tap or by the bottle or handcrafted cocktails. Tar & Roses is open for dinner only, seven nights a week.
602 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA, Phone: 310-587-0700
Located in the Hotel Casa del Mar, Terrazza brings the sun-kissed shores of Italy to the heart of Santa Monica. Boasting sweeping 180-degree views of the Pacific, the stylish café and lounge serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a laid-back and relaxed setting. Inspired by the Italian seaside, Managing Chef Sven Mede’s seasonal market-driven menus feature a variety of small sharing plates of artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, and his signature crudo, along with housemade pasta, hearty salads, and a rotating selection of fresh daily seafood. The restaurant also hosts unique Italian-inspired culinary experiences throughout the month, such as regional olive oil tastings.
1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405, Phone: 310-581-5533
© The Lobster
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, The Lobster is a stylish seafood restaurant located at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier that has been serving some of the freshest seafood in town for nearly 100 years. Beautifully renovated with dramatic wood, glass and concrete accents, an elegant dining room, bar and terrace with drop-dead ocean views, the atmospheric restaurant is always packed to the rafters and reservations are a must. The menu features warm bread served with house-made chimichurri to start, followed by fresh oysters, sophisticated seafood dishes such as pan-seared crab cakes and Hawaiian blue King prawns, and lobster, plenty of lobster. There are steaks, roasted chicken and skillfully prepared vegetable side dishes for landlubbers and excellent selections of fine wines from the California-heavy wine list. The Lobster is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
1602 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA, 90401, Phone: 310-458-9294
16.The Misfit Restaurant & Bar
© The Misfit Restaurant & Bar
Based in the historic 1929 clock tower building in Downtown Santa Monica, the Misfit Restaurant & Bar is a high-energy farm-to-table restaurant and bar that promises a fun night out. Situated just a few steps away from the beach, the casual dining and drinking destination serves seasonal menus of locally sourced health-conscious Californian cuisine, craft beers, casual wines, and handcrafted cocktails. The hip gastropub draws a trendy crowd who come to enjoy great food and wine in a vibrant and welcoming ambiance. The Misfit Restaurant & Bar is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday and Sunday brunch.
225 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Phone: 310-656-9800
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17.The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel
© The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel
Perched atop the elegant Huntley Hotel, the Penthouse Restaurant is a trendy American eatery that is renowned for inventive cocktails, contemporary cuisine, and spectacular panoramic views. Designed by Thomas Schoos, the dramatic 18th-floor rooftop restaurant promises a dining experience like no other with culinary creations presented by executive chef Alex Manos and fine wines from around the world. Savor smoked salmon benedict for breakfast, indulge in mimosas for brunch, snack on fresh salads for lunch or share charcuterie and cheese platters with homemade pâté and freshly caught halibut for dinner. The Penthouse Restaurant serves several menus that can be enjoyed in the dining room, lounge, and rooftop bar for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner.
1111 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90403, Phone: 310-394-5454
18.The Veranda Restaurant
© The Veranda Restaurant
Based on the luxurious Georgian Hotel on Ocean Avenue, the Veranda Restaurant is an elegant restaurant with vintage-glam décor that serves Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and inventive cocktails. Boasting a beautiful terrace at the front of the charming landmark Art Deco hotel, the restaurant is an ideal spot for enjoying a relaxing breakfast and brunch, a casual lunch or a romantic dinner for two against a backdrop of spectacular sunsets. The full-service bar, which was frequented by Hollywood luminaries such as Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, serves an array of wines from around the world by the glass and bottle, craft beers, and signature cocktails. The Veranda Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
The Georgian Hotel, 1415 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Phone: 800-538-8147
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© Upper West
Boasting an eye-catching, urban rustic space with lofty ceilings, comfortable couches, an extended bar, and a charming, spacious patio, Upper West is a contemporary dining establishment that is perfect for a romantic dinner. A favorite with the locals, the restaurant has an intimate ambiance and serves a creative menu of innovative, contemporary American cuisine along with globally-inspired wines and signature cocktails. Signature dishes include pan-roasted sea bass, braised prime rib, chicken tawook, coffee-crusted red wattle pork tenderloin, and blackened Shetland Islands salmon. Upper West caters for private events and functions and can be hired for special occasions such as weddings. Upper West is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday and dinner only on Saturdays and Sundays.
3321 W Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405, Phone: 310-586-1111
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© Via Veneto
Via Veneto is a romantic, bustling Italian bistro on Main Street with an intimate candle-lit setting that serves contemporary Mediterranean cuisine using organic, locally sourced ingredients. Based in a beautifully restored building, the bistro is ideal for a romantic candlelit meal and special-occasion scenarios with crisp white tablecloths and attentive staff. Sip prosecco before tucking into the delicious cuisine which includes dishes like lobster carpaccio, Fritto Misto, and classic spaghetti Bolognese, and of course some incredible desserts. An extensive list of worldly wines are the perfect accompaniment for the cuisine, and other drinks include craft beers, signature cocktails, and imported spirits. Via Veneto is open for dinner only, seven nights a week.
3009 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405, Phone: 310-399-1843
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Tuck into delicious authentic New Jersey-style pizza and other traditional Italian delights Santa Monica’s Vito. The family-run mainstay boasts old-fashioned digs with tuxedoed waiters and has been serving the community for the past 30 years with a menu of authentic Italian fare including favorites such as homemade pasta and sauces, wood-fired pizza, crisp salads and fresh seafood, and prime meat dishes. A full-service bar list features casual wines by the glass and bottle, craft beers, imported spirits, and handcrafted Italian-inspired cocktails. Vito offers catering services for private events and functions and is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday and dinner only on the weekends.
2807 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405, Phone: 310-450-4999
22.Water Grill Santa Monica
© Water Grill Santa Monica
Located in Downtown Santa Monica, the Water Grill Santa Monica is a sophisticated seafood restaurant on Ocean Avenue with a stylish, wood-beamed and leather setting and spectacular panoramic views. A go-to destination for seafood aficionados, the celebrated restaurant serves a seasonal daily-fresh menu of seafood, catch-of-the-day fish and vast piles of raw and chilled shellfish, and features an extensive raw-bar with oysters on the half shell and handmade sushi. Other delights on the menu include crab cakes, fish tacos, and the signature wild Mexican Mahi Mahi entrée, along with sides of mac & cheese and braised kale with Greek yogurt and hazelnuts. The Water Grill Santa Monica is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
1401 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Phone: 310-394-5669
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25 Best Restaurants in Santa Monica, CA
- 1 Pico, Photo: 1 Pico
- Caffe Delfini, Photo: Caffé Delfini
- Capo, Photo: Capo
- Coast, Photo: Coast
- Estate Restaurant, Photo: Estate Restaurant
- FIG, Photo: FIG
- Hillstone Restaurant, Photo: Hillstone Restaurant
- Ivy at the Shore, Photo: pavel siamionov/stock.adobe.com
- La Vecchia Cucina, Photo: La Vecchia Cucina
- Locanda Portofino, Photo: weyo/stock.adobe.com
- Manchego, Photo: Manchego
- Michael's, Photo: Michael's
- Tar and Roses, Photo: Tar and Roses
- Terrazza, Photo: Terrazza
- The Lobster, Photo: The Lobster
- The Misfit Restaurant & Bar, Photo: The Misfit Restaurant & Bar
- The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel, Photo: The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel
- The Veranda Restaurant, Photo: The Veranda Restaurant
- Upper West, Photo: Upper West
- Via Veneto, Photo: Via Veneto
- Vito, Photo: Vito
- Water Grill Santa Monica, Photo: Water Grill Santa Monica
- Cover Photo: slavun/stock.adobe.com