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Sunset at Santa Monica Pier | © Ian D. Keating/Flickr
Sunset at Santa Monica Pier | © Ian D. Keating/Flickr

LA Westside: 10 Best Restaurants in Venice & Santa Monica

Picture of Audra Clemons
Audra Clemons
Updated: 9 February 2017
Los Angeles is a city known for its California beach vibe, but underneath this outer layer there is a complex underbelly offering authentic international cuisine on every traffic-clad street corner. The culinary landscape of LA reflects a multicultural population motivated to share their vision with the world. From beachfront dining to take-out services, here is our updated guide to the 10 best Westside LA restaurants that offer a variety of cultural cuisine.

 

Farmshop

Located in the Brentwood Country Mart, Farmshop is a farm-to-table favorite among local LA residents. Taking full advantage of California’s sunshine and rich resources to source seasonal, organically grown foods, Farmshop offers service rooted in humility and hospitality. Nominated for the 2013 James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Design and Graphics, Farmshop’s illuminated, spacious interior takes on a rustic look with reclaimed wood furnishings and interior beams reminiscent of a stylish barn. Say yes to the risotto fritters and farm-style fried chicken.

Farmshop, 225 26th Street, Santa Monica, CA, USA, +1 310-566-2400

 

Hama Sushi

As one of the first sushi restaurants in the United States, Hama Sushi has been serving and slicing sushi since 1979. Located on the former Grand Canal in Venice Beach, Hama Sushi is a cornerstone restaurant in the neighborhood. Guests are welcome to imbibe at the bar or enjoy creative sushi rolls and Japanese cuisine while surf films play from a giant projector on the unpretentious patio. Hama is a favorite of A-list celebrities and laid-back locals alike. Order the spicy tuna hand rolls and the dragon roll.

Hama Sushi, 213 Windward Avenue, Venice, California, USA, + 1 310-396-8783

 

Huckleberry Café & Bakery

Opening in 2009 with a trail of accolades, this Santa Monica favorite offers a seasonal menu in a community-based environment. Huckleberry supplies market-driven menu items highlighting the freshest ingredients sourced from the local Santa Monica farmers’ market. Husband-and-wife team Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan believe in supporting independent businesses, so Huckleberry also uses local coffee and dinnerware from stores nearby. This initiative also helped them achieve the 2014 Sustainable Quality Award for ‘Stewardship of the Environment’.

Huckleberry, 1014 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA, USA, +1 310-451-2311

 

Manchego on Main

Manchego on Main is a tapas restaurant in Santa Monica offering small plates in a cozy atmosphere. The seasonally changing menu offers Spanish cheese and meat with vegetarian options and Mediterranean influence. With an indoor and outdoor patio dining option, the restaurant is prime for romantic dates or a night out with friends. Showcasing a specially curated Spanish wine list with small-production mom-and-pop selections from Spain as well as South America, favorite menu items include: crispy empanadas with braised lamb neck, kale salad with Manchego cheese and tangerines, goat cheese en pan tostado with honey, and octopus with house-made garlic tomato sauce.

Manchego on Main, 2518 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA, USA, +1 310- 450-3900

 

Paco’s Tacos

LA’s food culture is entangled with the prolific Mexican culinary scene, offering countless taco shops and stands selling excellent, authentic Mexican tacos. Paco’s Tacos in LA’s westside neighborhood is among the best. Even with its unassuming exterior, Paco’s has a coveted spot on LA’s Californian-Mexican food trail, infamous for its freshly prepared tortillas and refreshing margaritas. What the locals love about Paco’s Tacos are the handcrafted corn and flour tortillas, made to perfection and wrapped around grilled carne, cerdo and pollo.

Paco’s Tacos, 4141 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-391-9616

 

 

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen grew from a series of dinners hosted by founder Josh Loeb inside his beautiful home in Rustic Canyon, an intimate neighborhood carved into the mountains of Santa Monica. Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen is an extension of this — a neighborhood restaurant and wine bar where friends can come together and celebrate the best things in life: great food, great wine, and great people. It offers an extensive wine list to pair with menu items such as the heirloom tomato and burrata cheese plate, the black mission fig crostini and the roasted half chicken.

Rustic Canyon, 1119 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA, USA, +1 310-393-7050

 

 

Sunny Spot

Sunny Spot is the dine-in alter ego of Roy Choi’s popular Kogi BBQ food truck. This relaxed eatery brings the Caribbean vibe to California. The menu boasts options like jerk chicken, shrimp and grits, plantains and yucca fries. With an extensive outdoor patio and an eclectic décor of bold color and deliberately mismatched patterns, Sunny Spot has quickly become a Venice favorite for weekend brunch thanks to its bottomless mimosas. A brunch favorite here is the “muh f’kn mofongo and eggs”.

Sunny Spot, 822 West Washington Boulevard, Venice, California, USA, +1 310-448-8884

 

Tsujita & Tsujita LA Annex

Tsujita and Tsujita LA Annex are located across the street from each other and are both renowned artisan Japanese noodle shops serving some of the best ramen noodles in Los Angeles. Tsujita is said to have introduced LA locals to tsukemen, a trendy style of Japanese noodle culture where the soup is served separately from the noodles, which are then dipped into the boiling hot broth. While Tsujita serves ramen and tsukemen only during lunch hours, Tsujita LA Annex features an all-day menu.

Tsujita, 2057 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-231-7373

Tsujita LA Annex, 2050 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310-231-0222

 

 

Wurstküche

Wurstküche is a self-proclaimed “purveyor of exotic grilled sausages”, and focuses on one thing: sausages. The restaurant imports a German beer hall concept and mixes it with a sunny Californian optimism and casual informality without losing any of the flavors that make Wurstküche’s sausages unique. The industrial looking brick-and-wood interior, which encompass long wooden tables, give it a communal vibe to resemble a traditional German beer garden set in California’s hippest and trendiest neighborhood. From the menu try the mango jalapeño and the chicken apple & spiced sausages.

Wurstküche, 625 Lincoln Boulevard, Venice, CA, USA, +1 213-687-4444

 

By Audra Clemons