I live in Santa Monica. “What? No one lives in Santa Monica. Well…maybe celebrities, but not real people.” Yes. That is a statement someone said to me, and it made absolutely no sense at the time, but as I have gotten older I started to understand what they meant. Santa Monica has become more and more popular; When we read about Santa Monica, we generally read about celebrity sightings (Like, I once saw Owen Wilson riding a bike down my street. His nose is just as beautiful as it is on screen). Or we see the iconic pier featured in a movie.

We never read or hear about the people who live there. This may shock you, but a lot of people live in Santa Monica. We have a lot more to offer than the glitz and glam of Hollywood that you read about and see in the movies. For instance, Santa Monica is home to a very prestigious Trapeze schoolNow, don’t all flock here at once. We are proud owners of the first Solar powered Ferris wheel (Yay for environmentally friendly Ferris wheels!), and Santa Monica is the last stop on the iconic route 66.

But what Santa Monica doesn’t get enough credit for is the amazing food scene. Many people think that just because Santa Monica is touristy, we don’t have good food, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have lived here for the last 23 years, so I have been preparing to write this post for a while. The places on this list are places I have frequented a lot over the years and are pretty near and dear to my heart. Whether you are looking for crispy tacos, creamy clam chowder, or puffy waffles topped with crispy chicken, this food guide is a must when choosing where to eat in Santa Monica.

The Best Burgers in Santa Monica

Stout Burger

Stout Burger | 111 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

I can’t say I have ever had a bad meal at stouts. Their burgers are some of the best I have had in Santa Monica, and they have an extensive list of beer options to complement your meal. My favorite burgers to order are The Truffle Shuffle, which comes topped with truffle mushrooms and perfectly melted brie; The Stout Burger, which is topped with bacon, caramelized onions, cheese, and a horseradish cream sauce; and The Morning After, which is topped with bacon, egg, and chipotle ketchup.

I always order a side of either loaded tots or fries, which are topped with cheese and smothered in a delicious cream sauce, and then finished off with a sprinkling of chives and bacon bits on top. I tend to order way more than I can eat when I eat at stouts, but the stomach ache I usually acquire from over eating is so worth it. 

The Best Caribbean Food in Santa Monica

Cha Cha Chicken

Cha Cha Chicken | 1906 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Located close to the beach, this colorful shack offers some of the best Caribbean food. Cha Cha Chicken has been around for over 20 years, and when I was a kid, I lived right next door. I ate many dinners there, and even though they have been around forever, the quality has remained the same. Everything they serve is delicious, from their sauce covered and aromatic jerk chicken to the generous portions of Ropa Vieja – all washed down with their signature cantaloupe juice. You may find yourself ordering a few things, and that’s totally okay.

Oh, and Cha Cha Chicken is family run, so you will be supporting a small business!

The Best Breakfast in Santa Monica

Brus Wiffle

Bru’s Wiffle | 2408 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403 | $$

You probably can guess what Bru’s sells based on the name. Yep! Waffles. They have an extensive menu of sweet and savory waffles as well as other breakfast items, but if you eat here, you have to order a big plate of puffy waffles. I ordered the huevos rancheros waffle, which came topped with two HUGE pieces of crispy fried chicken, refried beans, queso fresco, and finished off with a fried egg and a generous dollop of guacamole and salsa. I would highly recommend it.

I have a sweet tooth and totally would have ordered two waffles if the portions weren’t so big, but as you can see, they are ginormous. If you do try one of the sweet waffles, you have to tell me how it is.

Dogtown Coffee

Dogtown Coffee | 2003 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Dogtown coffee is one of our only non-chain cafes, which makes it pretty special. As you probably guessed from the title, their specialty is coffee, but they also serve breakfast. Their breakfast burritos, in particular, are tasty. They have different ones you can order, but my favorite is the munchies burrito, which is filled with eggs, melted cheese, tater tots, avocado, pico de gallo, and their secret chipotle sauce – all rolled into one sexy and delicious burrito.

I usually take mine to go and eat it at home since I live just 3 minutes up the street, but if you have time, I recommend chilling in Dogtown’s outdoor patio, and people watch or take it to the beach, find a bench, and dig in. 

OP Cafe

The OP Cafe | 2003 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

The OP Cafe is an iconic family-run local breakfast spot. They serve traditional American breakfast eats like fluffy pancakes, eggs benedict, and my personal favorite 2 + 2 + 2, which is 2 massive pancakes, 2 eggs, and 2 pieces of sausage or bacon and if you eat way too much like I do, you can order a side of potatoes and biscuits with sausage gravy.

The OP Cafe also serves Mexican inspired eats like huevos rancheros, breakfast tacos, and breakfast burritos. If you want to wander away from the expensive tourist spots, I highly recommend this yummy breakfast spot.

The Best Cafes in Santa Monica

Urth Cafe Santa Monica

Urth Cafe | 2327 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Urth Cafe is one of my favorite cafes in Santa Monica. There is a line out the door during lunchtime, but it tends to move pretty quickly, and it’s so worth it. Everything served at Urth Cafe is the bomb dot com (do people still say that?), but I do have some favorite dishes that I order repeatedly. The sunrise pizza is one dish I order a lot. It comes topped with bacon, sausage, an egg, and gooey melted cheese. 

I am not a fan of salads, but the Urth Salad is an exception. It has garbanzo beans, pine nuts, hearts of palms, feta cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing that the angels must have concocted because, for a vinaigrette, it is heavenly. They also have a bakery with some of the best cakes and pies. You have to try their creamy cheesecakes and fruit pies!

Finally, Urth Cafe has an extensive drink menu serving up creative coffee and tea concoctions. Their most popular drink is the green tea boba, and I could personally drink 10 of them in one sitting (don’t test me! I will do it!).

If you happen to visit during one of the 360 sunny days, we have in LA, and you find yourself with some time on your hands. There is a lovely outdoor patio that, for some reason, plays the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack on repeat – at least every time I eat there.

Cafe Bolivar

Cafe Bolivar | 1741 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

When I found out Santa Monica opened a South American inspired cafe, I had to try it! I was planning a trip to Colombia in a few months, so it was for…uhhh…research. I have never had an arepa before eating at Cafe Bolivar. I didn’t even know what an arepa was, but after my “research,” I concluded that arepas are indeed delicious, and I will probably eat a lot of them in Colombia (which I did). 

I also didn’t realize how big they would be when I ordered, so I ended up with 3 huge arepas. Pictured are the pulled pork, chicken, and cheese arepas with a yummy spicy green sauce.

The Best Coffee Shops in Santa Monica

Philz Coffee santa monica

Philz Coffee | 25 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

If you go to Philz, you absolutely have to order the mint mojito, and you are either thinking what kind of coffee shop sells mojitos…or maybe this is your kind of coffee shop, and if that is the case, you may have a problem, but we can talk about that later. This mojito has no alcohol – just coffee, cream, and a bit of mint. If this doesn’t sound like your thing, they have plenty of other drinks to choose from, although I have never tried any of them. I am loyal to the mojito!


Demitasse | 1149 3rd St, Santa Monica, CA 90402 | $$

Demitasse is a quaint hidden gem with some of the best pastries and hot chocolate. Their lavender hot chocolate is my favorite thing to order, and it comes topped with a big gooey homemade marshmallow.

The Best Mexican Food in Santa Monica

Casa Martin

Casa Martin | 1654 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$ 

If you are looking for some killer Mexican food, Casa Martin is the place to go. The best thing to order is their crispy fish tacos, and during happy hour they are half off! No need to wait until Tuesday. They also have a wide selection of margaritas – Pomegranate is my favorite, and they serve a hot, bubbling queso fundido dip that is a must-order appetizer. 

The Best Italian Food in Santa Monica

Bay Cities Italian Deli

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery | 1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

When it comes to the BEST sandwiches, Bay City wins, hands down. Ask any local, and they will tell you that you have to order “The Godmother with the Works. ” A sandwich that looks so simple yet packs so much flavor. It’s filled with salami, mortadella, capicola, ham, prosciutto, and provolone on Bay Cities’ famous bread. The works include mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, Italian dressing, and hot pepper salad. I haven’t tried anything else from Bay cities’, other than The Godmother, because frankly, I can’t bring myself to order anything else. It’s too good!

Lunch at Bay Cities’ is absolutely crazy because everyone goes there on their lunch break, so it’s best to order ahead of time online and then pick it up, or you will have to grab a number and wait in a line that can sometimes last 30 minutes to an hour or more.

Fritto Misto

Fritto Misto | 620 Santa Monica Blvd #A, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

Fritto Misto has been my go-to place for delicious Italian food in Santa Monica for years. My favorite thing about this Fritto Misto is that I can create my own pasta. I can choose my noodles, sauce, and then several veggie and meat add-ins. I tend to go pretty crazy with the add-ins and order like a million, but my pasta comes out perfect every time. The portions are huge, so you will probably end up taking half to go for another meal.

Another reason Fritto Misto is so great is the ambiance. It’s quaint, cozy and it feels like you are dining in someone’s home, and what’s better than enjoying a home cooked meal with feeling of family.

The Best Seafood in Santa Monica

The Galley

The Galley | 2442 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Established in 1934, the galley is proudly Santa Monica’s oldest running restaurant and bar. They serve up delicious seafood & steaks, but my favorite part is the magical decor. There are multi colored fairy lights strung across the walls, and the nautical theme makes this place really stand out. It almost feels like you are eating on a boat (without the seasickness). The Galley also offers a very affordable happy hour serving up sea-themed cocktails, and they make a fantastic creamy clam chowder.

The Best Brunch in Santa Monica

The Blue Daisy

Blue Daisy | 609 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

Unlimited mimosas and Pancake Benedict are just a couple of dishes you will find at this hip cafe. Unlike many brunch spots, Blue Daisy serves unlimited mimosas on the weekdays, which I absolutely love because fewer crowds means faster mimosa service, and I am all about drinking as many mimosas as possible.

The Best Fast Food in Santa Monica

Sunny Blue

Sunny Blue | 2728 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

If you aren’t familiar with omusubi (Japanese rice balls), you will thank me later. Omusubi is a traditional Japanese snack that has gained popularity in some parts of the US. I am so happy it has made its way to Santa Monica. Ever since Sunny Blue first opened their doors, people have waited in long lines to order. Sunny Blue has a small menu of maybe 15 balls (get your mind out of the gutter). I have tried all of them and honestly can’t pick a favorite, but the most popular ones to order are Sunny Blue Curry, Spicy Salmon, and Miso Mushroom

If you want something small and quick, Sunny Blue is the best!

Reds Pizza

Reds Pizza | 707 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Swedish Pizza was introduced to me a few years ago, and now regular pizza doesn’t have the same spark it used to. Just kidding – I love all pizzas equally well…except Hawaiian, but that is a debate for another time. Now Swedish pizza is like that late-night kebab you may get after a drunken night out but in pizza form. It’s layered with tomato sauce, cheese, sliced kebab meat, and finished off with a spicy yogurt sauce.

Swedish pizza cravings are definitely a thing I can vouch for.

Overview & Map of Where to Eat in Santa Monica

Stout Burger | 111 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

Cha Cha Chicken | 1906 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Bru’s Wiffle | 2408 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403 | $$

Dogtown Coffee | 2003 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

The OP Cafe | 2003 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Urth Cafe | 2327 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Cafe Bolivar | 1741 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Philz Coffee | 25 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

Demitasse | 1149 3rd St, Santa Monica, CA 90402 | $$

Casa Martin | 1654 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$ 

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery | 1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

Fritto Misto | 620 Santa Monica Blvd #A, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

The Galley | 2442 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Blue Daisy | 609 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | $$

Sunny Blue | 2728 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Reds Pizza | 707 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | $$

Tip: Save this map to your phone for offline use. Click here for directions.

I hope this post made your stomach grumble because it sure made mine. I always say how lucky I am to have grown up in such a beautiful place and although the Santa Monica I know now isn’t the same it used to be (gentrification) I am so happy that many of my favorite restaurants have survived.

Which restaurant on this list would you try?

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If you are wondering where to eat in Santa Monica, this is the guide for you. Santa Monica has tons of amazing restaurants just waiting to be discovered. #santamonicatravel #losangelestravel #californiatravel
If you are wondering where to eat in Santa Monica, this is the guide for you. Santa Monica has tons of amazing restaurants just waiting to be discovered. #santamonicatravel #losangelestravel #californiatravel
If you are wondering where to eat in Santa Monica, this is the guide for you. Santa Monica has tons of amazing restaurants just waiting to be discovered. #santamonicatravel #losangelestravel #californiatravel
If you are wondering where to eat in Santa Monica, this is the guide for you. Santa Monica has tons of amazing restaurants just waiting to be discovered. #santamonicatravel #losangelestravel #californiatravel

Helpful Travel Resources

First off, if you want to browse all my favorite travel resources check out my Travel Resources page.

Trip Planning: I have put together the ultimate trip planning guide that will walk you through everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip.

Book your Flight: Check out Skyscanner and Momondo! They can have great deals. Airfarewatchdog is also a favorite of mine. I get notified by email every time there is a good deal from my local airport.

Book your Transportation: Wanderu is usually where I check first. They check hundreds of different transportation companies all over the world and find you either the best bus or train deal. Flixbus is one of my favorite cheap options for Europe. The buses generally aren’t too bad and they go to most countries around Europe. It’s the perfect option for short distances. Train travel is my favorite mode of transportation and I always use Rail Europe to book my tickets. The Eurail pass makes Europe train travel super affordable.

Book your Accommodation: On a budget and looking for cheap accommodation? Hostelworld is my preferred site to book cheap and reliable hostels. Hotels Combined compares hundreds of sites to give you the cheapest hotel deal. If I know the hotel I want to stay at, This is the site I generally use. Hotwire has a fun mystery to it. It’s a great site to use for last-minute bookings. They don’t actually tell you the name of the hotel when you are browsing. You will just get the area of the city it’s in, the price, and how many stars it has. I love the surprise aspect of it!

Book your Travel Insurance: Getting travel insurance is such a crucial part of preparing for a trip. You never know what could happen and why take the risk? Before I travel anywhere I always book my insurance through World Nomads.

Book your Activities: Now, you have planned all the logistics time to think about what you will do once you get to your destination! These are a few of my favorite trip planning sites. I always use Viator when I am looking for tours. I have booked cooking classes, day tours and so much more through them and absolutely love the immense selection they offer in cities all over the world! Pinterest is great to get travel inspiration and plan an upcoming trip or share inspo with friends and family. I use Trip Advisor to plan itineraries for what I want to see & do in each city. I also use them to read reviews on restaurants and hotels too.

Store Your Luggage: Do you have a long layover or a late flight and need to store your luggage? Luggage Hero has got you covered. You can book luggage storage in more than 35 cities worldwide for as little as $1 an hour or $8 for the day.