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What are the Best Restaurants in Santa Monica 2015 Update

***Melisse 1104 Wilshire Blvd. (11th St.) Santa Monica, CA 90401 310-395-0881
Considered by many as the best French restaurant in the LA area. Everything is high quality here, service and food. The format is prix-fixe, with menus of ten courses ($135 -- Excluding Noted Items with supplements --The Ten and Carte Blanche Menus are for the entire table, There is also a vegetarian tasting menu. Signature appetizers includes the lobster bolognese. Fish course try the black bass"En Ecailles"-- with the scales on which puff up and turn crispy after cooking.
Rated 18/20 at Gayot (Melisse is listed int the Gayot top 40 restaurants in US), 2 Michelin Stars, 28 Zagats

Chocolate -Chocolate-Chocolate
black bass"En Ecailles"
Lobster bolognese with truffle foam

Menu for Melisse Restaurant, Melisse website. -- Yelp reviews (4 1/2 stars)

Joe's 1023 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291-- (310) 399-5811 -- Opened Sunday and closed Monday's. --
So close to Santa Monica and so good we had to include this restaurant in our list. Sample Chef’s Tasting Menu at $68 is a great deal considering the cooking. We feel Chef Joe Miller competes with the best. The lunch prix fixe is at $19 for an entree and dessert. Gayot 15 -- 26 Zagat -- Joe's Website --Menus - Note: Chef Joe Miller runs Pinxto a tapas bar off the beach on Santa Monica Blvd which was recently listed in the Los Angeles Times as one of LA's top 5 tapas places.

***Tar and Roses -- 602 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; 310-587-0700.
Tar & Roses chef-owner Andrew Kirschner earned honors from Los Angeles Magazine as one of LA's top new restaurant. He was also a semi-final runner-up for best new restaurant in America for the James Beard Award. In the short time the restaurant has been opened it has become one of LA's go to spots. Wood plays a big role in the cooking at Tar and Roses, with at least one component in every dish entering the wood-fired oven, and many being finished in it. Excellent dishes include --octopus skewers with pequillo aïoli and grilled lemon, oxtail dumplings wih san bai su and green onions, lamb belly with minted apple chutney, wood oven cooked brussel sprouts

lamb belly from Tar and Roses grilled octupus oxtail dumplings Tar and Roses
Lamb Belly
Octopus with Fennel Fronds -Aoili
Oxtail Dumplings
Photos from Tar and Roses Restaurant Santa Monica

Tar and Roses -- Gayot -14/20 - Zagat - Yelp 4 1/2 stars -- Tar and Roses Website --- Menu Note: Chef Andrew Kirschner will open a fish restaurant in 2015 (in Santa Monica) under a different name.

Josies--2424 Pico Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90405 -- (310) 581-9888
New American/California style cooking. Chef co/owner is Josie Le Balch. Now open is Josie's Next Door with 50 seats of dining. Try appetizers like sautéed frogs’ legs over celery root purée or the bacon-wrapped grilled quail. Excellent chocolate bread pudding. Zagat 26- - Gayot 15 - yelp 4 stars - Josie's Website --

Chinois on Main--2709 Main St. (Hill St.) Santa Monica, CA 90405 --310-392-9025
Chef Rene Mata is served family style in a festive atmosphere that invites the sharing and tasting of a variety of exciting flavors. Crowded but fun place... one of Wolfgang Puck's shining stars. French-Asian cuisine. Reservation needed but seating also at the bar overlooking the open kitchen. Braised Kurobota Pork Shoulder Served In A Hot Pot --Szechuan Pancakes--
Shanghai Lobster.
Gayot 15, Zagat 26, yelp 4 stars, Chinois on Main Street Website

Water Grill -- 1401 Ocean --90401--(310) 394-5669
Water Grill is still considered the go to fish restaurant in Los Angeles. This newly opened restaurant is located on Ocean Avenue right across from the beach- there is a large selection of east and west coast oysters, jumbo crab cake, Moro bay miso sablefish (black cod) with braised eggplant.
Yelp - 4stars - Zagat 25 -- Gayot 14/20 -- Menu

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen 1119 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401 --310-393-7050
Owner Josh Loeb, after organizing regular wine dinners at his house in Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica, opened Rustic Canyon, a California - Mediterranean style restaurant . The menu uses Farmers' Market-inspired dishes with ingredients that come from local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen who practice sustainable agriculture. Executive Chef Jeremy Fox, who earned a Michelin star at Ubuntu in Napa, brings his own vision of seasonality, simplicity, and quality to Rustic Canyon's kitchen. Dishes include: Clam pozole verde made with Rancho Gordo's prepared hominy, , sweet and sour pork belly, fried pork trotter. (Note): Josh Loeb has now opened Milo and Olive which serves Artisan style wood oven pizza.
Zagat -25-- yelp - 4 stars --Gayot --13/20 -- Menu

JiRaffe Restaurant -502 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401 -- 310.917.6671 -- NOTE: JiRaffe will be CLOSING in February 2015 but the owner will be opening a new restaurant in March 2015.
Chef Rafael Lunetta started this restaurant with long-time friend Chef Josiah Citrin (who now runs Melisse Restaurant). Food & Wine Magazine honored Raphael in 1997 at one of the “Ten Top New Chefs”. In 2009 he received the coveted “Fine Dining Award” from Nation’s Restaurant News. JiRaffe Restaurant is one of Gayots 2012| Top 10 LA French Restaurants. Signature main dishes include the caramelized pork chop with wild rice, smoked bacon, apple chutney and a cider sauce, and New Zealand rack of lamb with curried vegetable moussaka and thyme-scented lamb jus.
Uses local ingredients from market as season changes. Prix Fixe menu is available. Monday nights have a Prix fixe for $38
See menu at JiRaffe, website for JiRaffe Restaurant
Zagat 26, yelp 4 stars, Gayot 14/20 ( JiRaffe Restaurant is one of Gayots 2012| Top 10 LA French Restaurants)

Valentino's Santa Monica--3115 Pico Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90405 --(310) 829-4313
Northern Italian Style cooking with a great wine list. One of only 6 restaurants in the nation that has consistently, year after year received the Wine Spectator Grand Award since 1981. 3 course menu for $53 and 4 course for $60. Piero Selvaggio has consistently found the right recipe to keep Valentino shining for over thirty-five years.
Zagat 26, Yelp, Gayot 15 Website with Menus

Via Veneto -- 3009 Main St. Santa Monica, CA 90405 (310) 399-1843
Classical Italians dishes, Tuscan style atmosphere. Tables are relatively close and there can be a high noise level here. Prices on the high side.
Yelp 4 Stars, Zagat 24 Website for Via Veneto -- Menu

Border Grill -- 1445 4th St. Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310) 451-1655
Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken from the FoodNetwork are CO-owners of this restaurant. While the restaurant can get loud the food (a modern style Mexican) has some decent Mexican dishes. Over the years the place though seems to have a lot more misses in dishes. yelp 3 1/2 stars , gayot 14/20, zagat 21, Website for Border Grill

Sugarfish--1345 2nd St. Santa Monica, CA 90401 --(310) 393-3338
Chef Nozawa serves up a straightforward old style sushi including an omakase set. The menu at Sugarfish is the chef’s specialty, -- “proudly upholds the Trust Me-style of Sushi Nozawa, Chef Kazunori Nozawa’s interpretation of omakase... see Sugarfish website for more details.
4 1/2 stars yelp, Zagats 25, Gayot 14/20 Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa Website.

Michaels--1147 3rd St. Santa Monica, CA 90403 -- (310) 451-0843
It seems like Michaels (owner Michael McCarthy) has been here forever. It has a great location and a lovely outdoor seating patio seating. A great romantic place for an outdoor dinner. Yelp 31/2 stars, Zagat 25

Sushi Roku -- 1401 Ocean Ave Santa Monica, CA 90401 -- (310) 458-4771
Located on the beach, a nice view from the restaurant makes this an ideal lunch location. Excellent selection of rolls -- Tako Roll: Spicy Octopus topped with Spicy Tuna $14; Katana Roll Spicy Tuna & Shrimp Tempura Topped with Tuna & Yellowtail $96; Lunch special.
Yelp 3 1/2 stars, Zagat 22-- Gayot 13/20
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