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

photo credit: Xuntos

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 (10/6): Si! Mon


photo credit: Brant Cox


Latin American


$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good Cocktails
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

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. 

photo credit: Jessie Clapp



OpenTable logo

Small plates restaurants in Santa Monica often translate to bad tapas or wagyu sliders that cost more than a good burger. Not at Shirube. This Tokyo-based izakaya works well for snacking on roe-topped chawanmushi, grilled duck breast with a beautiful pink center, and delicate halibut sashimi. Most dishes cost less than $20, which makes Shirube an ideal place to load up on snacky things and drink sake with a date at the bar (where you can watch the kitchen staff swirl udon noodles in salty roe butter).

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.

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. 

This casual A-frame restaurant on Washington isn’t just a nice place to eat pasta and pizza while surrounded by servers in bright red blazers. It’s now our favorite Italian spot in Culver City. Best Bet makes smoked eel pasta rolled in pecorino butter, good brisket meatballs, and wood-fired pizzas with soft doughy centers that somehow avoid sagging under toppings like sausage and miso mayo. Expect to see dates gulping amaretto sours, friends snacking on zucchini blossoms, and families towing $800 strollers. Reservations may be tough, but you can usually book slots a few weeks ahead without much fuss.

Meet the Westside’s best option for a fancy vegan dinner. Planta Cocina's glitzy space is right on the Marina Del Rey boardwalk, and it feels like the West Coast version of the Versace mansion. They serve vegan sushi, pasta, and bar snacks that closely replicate their meat-and-fish counterparts. We especially love the miso-glazed eggplant nigiri, which tastes better than a lot of the sushi we’ve had in LA. If you’re looking for a restaurant to bring that vegan DJ you met on Hinge, book your table on a “Maki Monday” or “Pour Decision Wednesday,” when you can make the most of Planta’s specials like unlimited rolls and half-priced bottles of wine.

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.

If you’ve eaten at Mother Wolf or Felix, you know those places treat pasta like it's a prized possession. Funke in Beverly Hills is an Italian spot from the same team, and they serve a lot of the same popular dishes as their siblings (namely the rigatoni all’amatriciana and tonnarelli cacio e pepe). The difference here is that Funke's dining room looks like the kind of space where James Bond would do spy stuff. It's a bit tacky in its pursuit to feel glam. But if you want a big deal Beverly Hills meal and you're willing to pay for it, go heavy on pasta and Funke will meet expectations. Just make sure to reserve well in advance or plan on snagging a seat at the walk-in-only rooftop bar. 

photo credit: Jessie Clapp


Formally Chez Tex, this cutesy French bistro isn’t too different from its previous iteration. It's owned by the same people, the exposed brick remains intact, and the warm staff turns the sparse room into a rosé-guzzling scene on Main Street. Come when being "out and about" is the night's top priority. As far as food, we like the steak frites best, but there's also a perfectly fine glammed-up “haute dog” and a bistro burger.

Originally opened in 1966 with Frank Sinatra as an investor, La Dolce Vita is one of LA’s most iconic Old Hollywood spots. But this revamped Beverly Hills landmark doesn’t rely on nostalgia alone. You’ll find Italian American classics done right in a tiny, windowless room that feels like a martini-heavy Oscars afterparty. In other words, take all the best elements of Dan Tana’s and throw in food so good it'll have your table arguing over the leftovers. That’s La Dolce Vita. 

This breezy California-ish spot from the Crudo e Nudo people is located on Main Street in Santa Monica mere blocks from the beach. The space is upscale, but still neighborhood-y with banquettes and bar seats around a big open fireplace. Build your meal around the grilled skewers like chicken hearts to kanpachi in orange-koji marinade. They’re small, fall into the $8-$12 range, and are uniformly excellent, so if you’re a table of two, order all of them and fight over your favorites. Round out dinner with citrus salad, crispy calamari with macadamia nuts, and a house gin and tonic or three.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad