The Westside Hit List: The Best New Restaurants On The Westside

The best new spots to check out in Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Sawtelle, and more.
The booths and food at Si! Mon.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Some say LA's Westside is a vapid wasteland hemmed in by freeways, some say it’s the center of the known universe. And, frankly, some people who live there haven't ventured outside its borders since 1996. But no matter what you think of the Westside—which we’re defining as everything west of Beverly Hills—there’s no denying that it’s home to some of the most exciting new restaurants in the city. Which is exactly why we created a Westside Hit List to keep track. Much like our LA Hit List, you’ll only find places on here that we've checked out and genuinely love. If you think we missed a great new place in the greater 405 area, we want to hear about it.

New to the Hit List (4/2): Layla, B&T's Deli


photo credit: Layla Restaurant


Santa Monica

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightBig GroupsImpressing Out of Towners
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Layla has waterfront views and pretty spectacular food—a rare combination in Santa Monica. The Jordanian grill sits just off the lobby of a historic Art Deco hotel, right along that touristy stretch of Ocean Avenue. Between the glam, candlelit room and easy-to-share charcoal-grilled meats, smoky dips, and baklava mille-feuille, it's a great date spot. So book a table before word gets out. After dinner, you can ride the old-school elevator up to The Coco Club, a new rooftop bar with panoramic views of the California coastline.

This plant-based sandwich shop is a great addition to the collection of lovely little lunch spots that fuel Montana Avenue. B&T's Deli goes all-in on 1960s nostalgia with checkerboard tile flooring and Motown playlists, but at no point will you feel like you’re at Mel’s Diner while eating sandwiches packed with vegetables straight from the farmers market. We appreciate that the combos here don't rely on fake meats of unknown origins. Early favorites include the marinated zucchini and olive-filled Pegasus and the Susie Green, a sweet, briney “whitefish” celery root salad on an open-face Jyan Isaac bagel. Get one of those and find a sunny spot on their peaceful sidewalk patio.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Anybody who hung out in Venice over the last decade has stories about James Beach. The now-closed beachside restaurant with famous fish tacos was one of the neighborhood’s messiest late-night hangs. And while it was fun, this upscale Panamanian seafood restaurant in the same space is an undeniable upgrade. They serve bright, curry-spiced hamachi sashimi, kanpachi wrapped in banana leaves, and some of the coldest martinis on record. By the second course, we were already texting friends to book a table ASAP.

Bludso’s second location in Santa Monica is organized chaos. People hover by the host stand with that “I want meat and I want it now” look in their eyes. Cartoonishly tall takeout orders pile up on a table near the entrance. Everyone’s drinking bourbon, beer, or iced tea. TVs show sports games and hulking trays of Texas-style BBQ and sides sparkle in the sunshine pouring through the windows. The bark and smoke on the meat here are pretty much scholarly—the original La Brea location is a mainstay on our Best BBQ Guide guide for a reason. Come with a hungry group. 

This NYC-based Mexican restaurant from the team behind Damian and Pujol opened a Venice location. Atla may not be reinventing the wheel but they do the classics thoughtfully, like potato and cheese flautas that shatter like glass and a delicate quesadilla with epazote in every bite. Despite its casual lunch and dinner service, Atla ain’t cheap. (We're talking a $16 quesadilla.) The fact that everything is sincerely enjoyable makes a meal here worth the splurge.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightSmall Plates


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A year ago, LA barely had a handful of Spanish restaurants. Now there are over a dozen options, with some even offering specific regional styles. Xuntos in Santa Monica is the latest of the bunch. At this northern Spanish tapas spot, you can snack on Galician tuna empanadas and get buzzed on Basque cider in a two-story space that’s nice enough for a date. Energy levels stay high, tapas dishes come out fast, and sword-yielding employees carve jamón legs by the bar. Rather than standard tapas like ham croquettes (which, yes, are very good here), opt for the less common finds like gigantic, crispy-edged beef ribs, fried anchovies, and scallops on the half-shell bathed in saffron butter. 

photo credit: Jessie Clapp



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There’s an air of mystery surrounding Le Great Outdoor in Santa Monica. The name sounds like it could be an REI surplus store and its Instagram presence, while beautiful, doesn’t give away many details. So here’s the deal: it’s an order-at-the-grill dinner spot in the Bergamot Station parking lot where meat, fish, and veggies are cooked right in front of you. Everybody’s hanging out on picnic tables and drinking chilled wine from Argentina. The whole experience feels like you stumbled onto an impromptu neighborhood block party—but with people who know what they’re doing at the grill.

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