Santa Monica is a weird place, both full of tourists, but also lots of people who actually work there. It's safe to say that lunch is a pretty big deal around these parts.
Fortunately, there are a lot of good options, none of which are the crappy “deli” in the bottom of your office building. Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch, 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.
Most people (including us) 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 they also have a great lunch, especially if you order the turkey meatball sandwich. And you can always still get a crostata too.
It’s possible that the fast casual restaurant was invented specifically for Santa Monica - all those tourists and office workers need somewhere to eat. A new addition to the scene is Flower Child, which leans a bit heartier than some of the others, but definitely still has a health bent (there are lots of salads and vegan options). There’s also table service once you place your order, so you feel less like you’re in a high school cafeteria.
Ocean Avenue is basically a restaurant dead zone, unless you plan on paying a lot of money for a very average meal. 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.
There’s surprisingly very little sushi to be had in Santa Monica, but that doesn’t really matter because there’s a Sugarfish here. Skip the wait by calling ahead to place a to-go order, and take your box down to the beach or back to your desk.
Erven recently took over the old Real Food Daily space on Santa Monica, and continues on the health kick (although a bit less aggressively than Real Food Daily did). This vegetarian (sorry, plant-based) spot is a really nice lunch option - it’s away from the crowds, but not empty, and the gazpacho soup is really tasty. It’s a salad and sandwich kind of place, and you can do the grab and go thing or sit down in the dining room next door.
The meat pie is a lunchtime staple in Australia, and this shop on Main Street is bringing the tradition to LA. They're definitely a bit fancier than what you'd find at an Australian football game in Melbourne, but trust us that they're still a pretty solid taste of life down under. Order the Classic Aussie - BYO Australian football jersey.
You’re by the ocean, so eating things that live in the ocean seems like a logical option. No matter how you take your seafood, Seasalt has you covered. They have everything from fish and chips to poke, fried clams to fish tacos. We tend to go for a piece of fish done on the grill and served with rice and veggies, for a sort-of-healthy change up to the salad rotation.
We’ll be straight with you: Loteria is not the best Mexican in town, and it’s on the Promenade. But just because both those things are true, doesn’t mean you should skip it. Sure, the dining room is sterile and nothing like the cute Original Farmers Market location, but the shredded beef burrito is still a very good option.
All hail the holy Godmother. If you don’t know, now you know. 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.
Located on the ground floor of the iconic Shutters hotel, Coast is the perfect place if you want a beach view without going broke. They even have an outdoor patio. It’s a cheaper and faster option to Shutters’ swankier One Pico in the hotel’s lobby.
As close to NYC bagel sandwiches as it gets here on the West Side. Not only is the tuna melt on an everything bagel the best in Santa Monica, the man behind the counter won’t judge you if you ask for extra pickles. A perfect spot for rolling solo.
Are you massively hungover, or simply in need a of a burrito? Tacos Por Favor is your spot. We support ordering the California burrito — complete with Asada and fries IN said burrito. And yes, do take quick nap in your car after. It’s fine.
Andrew’s burrata and tomato on a crusty baguette is one of the best food on bread situations around. All the sandwiches, which use the cheese shop’s fancy cheese, cost $9, and are completely worth it.
Poke bowls have quickly become Los Angeles’ essential new lunch move. They’re healthy, without being salad. They’re trendy, but not in a way that makes us angry. Long live the poke bowl. Anyway, Sweetfin is the king of the poke land here on the Westside and is essential in any lunchtime rotation. Pro-tip: make a custom bowl with wasabi coconut flakes.
East Coast build-your-own-salad empire Sweetgreen has started their takeover of LA and we are not at all mad about this. Mostly because the salads are pretty damn excellent (we love the Kale Caesar), and prices aren't insane.
This cash-only spot is tiny and a perfect move for a quick lunch of fish tacos and tostadas. The tacos are known as some of the best on the Westside – rightfully so.
It’s fun. It’s festive. It’s upscale Mexican and great for a bigger group. The President of your company could easily break bread with the interns at Blue Plate Taco. Also, it’s on Ocean Avenue, which adds a beach vibe compared to other Mexican spots in the area.