Where To Eat Lunch In Santa Monica
Avoid the tourist traps and have lunch at one of these great Santa Monica spots.
Santa Monica is a weird place - full of tourists, and also lots of people who actually work there. All of whom are fairly focused on one thing: lunch. (Although the tourists are also looking for that guy who’ll let you take a photo with his snake.)
Fortunately, there are a lot of good options (for lunch), none of which are the bad “deli” at the bottom of your office building. Whether you’re looking for a quick meal, a leisurely spot with a view, or a place where you can get a sandwich to eat while crying in your car, we’ve got you covered.
Crudo e Nudo
There’s nothing that screams “I’m a young, fun, cosmopolitan person living in a major city” more than tossing back oysters on the half shell while looking like a snack on a Santa Monica patio. And the place to do it in West LA is Crudo e Nudo. The former pop-up has found a permanent home on Main Street, where you’ll be treated to a selection of low intervention wines and entirely sustainable seafood, like daily crudos served with herbs and house-made sauces, a full raw bar, and tuna tartare paired with seeded loaves from Gjusta.
Lady & Larder
In a sunny, colorful building on Pico Blvd., you’ll find Lady & Larder, a wonderful women-owned shop selling cheese, charcuterie, flowers, produce, and bottles of wine. Past the shelves stocked with fresh persimmons, candles, and German lagers is a secret lunch menu, a walk-in-only operation that changes daily. There are usually a mix of hot sandwiches and grab-and-go baguettes, like the “Yes, Honey,” which comes with turkey, ham, cheddar, and shaved gem lettuce on Bub & Grandma’s bread or the royal ham and whipped date butter-stuffed “Franch Girl,” that arrives on a Clark Street baguette. Check their Instagram for the latest updates.
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As expected, there are a ton of bright, leafy salads and CBD drinks to be found at this pastel explosion of a lunch spot on Main Street. But the main stars are their breakfast burritos. There are two on the menu, both of which are behemoths to cherish (seriously, these things weigh as much as an old brick phone, circa 1975), but we prefer the Ancho Hash. It’s the vegetarian burrito, stuffed with eggs, manchego, and Oaxaca cheeses, plus a crispy-crusty caramelized mix of shredded potatoes and peppers, and it’s taken up permanent residency in our groggy morning rotation.
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This tiny omusubi shop is open every day and these stuffed rice balls make for one of our favorite quick lunches in the city. We usually go for the tender miso beef with caramelized onion, the curried chicken, or the spicy cured salmon, and since everything’s under $5, why not get all three? Plus, they have free barley water, which helps us reach peak hydration.
With a menu that swings from Korean to Japanese to Mexican to Italian and back again, even the pickiest eaters will discover something great at Interstellar. This all-day cafe is one of the neighborhood’s best sit-down options - we’ve yet to try anything here that we wouldn’t endorse. Slicing through the crunchy katsu is practically meditative, and paired with a scoop of rice and curry creates the perfect bite. You’ll have similar perfect-bite experiences with the breakfast burrito, turkey club, and bulgogi burger.
Breakfast By Salt's Cure
We’ve always been fans of Hollywood’s Salt’s Cure, and we feel very similarly about their Santa Monica breakfast outpost. Simply put, they serve the best pancakes we’ve ever had in our lives. All of the griddle cakes are made with oatmeal, and you can taste that coarse, almost nutty texture in every bite. We like the OG griddle cakes, but wouldn’t blame you if you added bananas or blueberries into the mix.
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Some days, when lunchtime rolls around, the last thing you want is another g*d damn salad - so instead, head to Joe’s Pizza. Located in a red-brick building on Broadway, this place looks ripped straight from the streets of Manhattan (which makes sense, seeing that as it’s an NYC chain), serving giant pies prepared with house-made dough. Toppings include Italian sausage, fresh Buffalo mozzarella, and whipped ricotta, but they’re famous for their classic slices like traditional cheese and pepperoni.
We came across Edobox because its patio extends into the actual street, with little hanging lanterns up above that apparently double as people magnets. And now that we’ve had a couple of meals here, it’s where we’d eat every Friday night if we were allowed to be lazy and predictable. The thing to order here is the bento boxes - there are a few options, but all of them come with spicy cucumber salad, edamame, fried rice, delicious beef dumplings, and some sort of protein like baked cod or chicken karaage.
We have no idea why a Jewish deli as cool as Wexler’s decided to open in downtown Santa Monica, but we’re glad they went for it. This spot has a lot more space than the Grand Central Market original, so you can sit and enjoy your pastrami sandwich without having to worry about the elbow-shoving battle for your seat that’s happening behind you. Take your time, and definitely save room for the babka.
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Milo & Olive
Lunch is an ideal time to get to this Santa Monica pizza classic because the waits aren’t as long, and there are way fewer people hanging around waiting for their takeout. We’re partial to the mushroom pie, and while we’d normally advise ordering the garlic knots, if you’re heading back to the office after lunch, your deskmate would like you to politely decline to avoid the resulting afternoon of garlic breath.
KazuNori Santa Monica
When making a decision about lunch is the last thing you need to be doing, KazuNori is your place. Show up, order the five-roll menu, and you will be handed excellent handrolls one at a time. This Sugarfish spinoff is just as good as the original but with one important difference - no hour-long waits (yet). It’s an ideal spot when you want good-quality sushi, and need to be in and out in a half-hour.
Santa Monica Seafood
You’re not heading to Santa Monica Seafood for the ambiance - you’ll be sitting next to a seafood counter with a soundtrack of numbers being called as people wait to grab their salmon for dinner tonight. But if you’ve had a terrible day and the only thing that will make it better is a dozen oysters and champagne, the ambiance doesn’t matter. Just don’t expect to make it back to the office.
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Most people think of Huckleberry as that breakfast place where you have to stand in a line for a while, changing your mind ten times about whether to get that berry crostata or not. But this ignores the fact that the line is worth it and that lunch here is the best time to go, especially if you order the turkey meatball sandwich. And you can always still get a crostata too.
Getting lunch for under $10 is a tough ask in this part of town, but Samosa House on Main Street delivers. The three-item combo involves naan, rice, and your choice of three changing entrees, and comes in at just over $9. There are lots of choices for vegetarians and vegans, including the smoky cauliflower curry that shouldn’t be missed.
Cha Cha Chicken
Unless you plan on paying a lot of money for a very average meal, Ocean Avenue is basically a restaurant dead zone. Cha Cha Chicken is a little walk from the center of the action, but totally worth it. There’s a huge patio, lots of space if you’re with a group, and some very tasty jerk chicken. Also: it’s BYOB.
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Bay Cities is home to one of the best Italian meat sandwiches in all of Los Angeles, the Godmother, and it’s served in an old-school Italian deli/market. Yes, we will judge you if you order something other than the Godmother. That said, all the sandwiches here are excellent. Expect a line at lunchtime.
Tacos Por Favor
Are you massively hungover, or simply in need of a burrito? Tacos Por Favor is your spot. We support ordering the California burrito - complete with asada and fries inside said burrito. And yes, do take a quick nap in your car after. It’s fine.
Stop by Andrew’s Cheese Shop for a wide variety of artisan cheeses, olive oil, wine, and fancy grab-and-go sandwiches. This much-beloved specialty store has been around since 2008 and quickly became a staple of the neighborhood, much like the term “farm-to-table” or the flocks of Bird scooters you’ll see speeding around at any given time. There’s always a decently sized line here, their crunchy baguettes are second to none, and you can always count on the people behind the counter to show you something fun and unique.