photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Rustic Canyon image

Rustic Canyon


Santa Monica

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysBusiness MealsDinner with the Parents
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As quintessentially Santa Monica as Bernedoodles or brisk walks down Montana Avenue, Rustic Canyon is a cozy Westside restaurant best known for its close relationship with the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. For the past two decades, this upscale spot has been turning produce from local farms into gorgeous, snacky dishes that belong in a California tourism brochure. And while we can't say if or when they'll stop discovering more ways to serve us squash, we can say that Rustic Canyon in its current iteration is still great, if a tad predictable.

Rustic Canyon image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

This large windowed restaurant is on the upscale side (read: not cheap), but that doesn't mean pretentious. Rustic Canyon is a worn-in neighborhood spot with scratched wooden floors, bare walls, and dangling Edison bulbs that flood the dark wood space with a warm glow. You could book this place for a nicer-than-usual dinner with friends or perhaps that upcoming anniversary that you forget to make a reservation for, neither of which would feel out of place. And like most reliable neighborhood spots, the food at Rustic Canyon doesn't stray much from its usual style. 

The current chef at Rustic Canyon previously cooked at Silver Lake Mediterranean spot  Botanica, which might explain why some of the dishes here lean Levantine, from stewed chickpeas with feta, to a chocolate halva dessert, to grapefruit wedges dressed in Persian lime and tahini. And even though they change frequently, the vegetable-focused dishes tend to be our favorite things on the menu. It's where you'll find the best mix of color, texture, and flavor, as opposed to the main entrees that typically hit the same two notes: meat and whatever sauce you're dipping it into. Some assorted highlights include soft-boiled potatoes dressed with mustard seed and a fishy tonnato sauce, tangy, extra chewy sourdough pasta in mushroom sauce, and a gorgeous, pepita-crusted honeynut squash that nearly candies after it's baked twice. 

Rustic Canyon image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Seasonal produce aside, if you haven't dined at Rustic Canyon in a while, your next meal here probably won't be that different from the last. But it's that consistency that makes this Santa Monica spot a classic, and a restaurant that still does the farm-to-table thing as well as any place in LA.

The menu at Rustic Canyon changes frequently, but here are a few examples of dishes you might find.

Food Rundown

Rustic Canyon image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Lavender Almonds

These are a Rustic Canyon signature that taste like an essential oil diffuser blew up near your face. The roasted nuts come with a crumbly coating that's too sugary sweet and perfumed for our liking. Get the very nice bread and butter instead.

The Garden Of Lettuces

Made with bright greens from The Garden Of farms, this little gem salad with a mustard-y shallot vinaigrette seems like it would be hard to mess up. Order this one for a light bite between courses—it's delicious but not very different from the city's countless other little gems salads.

Weiser Farm Potatoes with Trout Tonnato

These boiled potatoes are the perfect starchy canvases for everything splattered on them: salty fish roe, dill, mustard seed, and a briny trout tonnato that ties everything together.

Rustic Canyon image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Sourdough Linguine

That delicious yeastiness and tang that makes sourdough bread impossible to stop eating is what you'll find in this pasta dish. This linguine is on the denser and chewier side— we're into it, but it might not be for everyone. The version we had came tossed in a rosemary and mushroom sauce that was pleasant but nothing groundbreaking.

Smoked Trout Rillettes

If you've made enjoying tinned fish your entire personality, this dip is your dream come true. It's got the right amount of smokiness and saltiness, with the tangy bite from mustard seeds and cornichons scattered throughout. If you see it on the menu, please order it.

Twice-Cooked Honeynut Squash

Warning: this fresh-from-oven honeynut squash hits the table so hellfire-hot that it will scorch your entire mouth if you're not careful (ask us how we know). But if you're patient, the warm, caramelized squash with pepita crumble is a heavenly experience, with just the right amount of richness and sweetness before it dips into dessert territory.

Charcoal-grilled Marina di Chioggia

Though we love how this squash falls apart beautifully when you poke your fork into it, there are more interesting gourd dishes in the Rustic Canyon repertoire (see above).


This lamb was juicy with a nice crust and arrived spot-on pink in the middle, but everything else fell flat. The au jus was flavorless, the bland spinach and parsnips on the side didn't add much, and it didn't help that the dish came out lukewarm, too.

Honeycomb Ice Cream

This simple honey-swirled ice cream arrives as a relatively small portion, but a little goes a long way—it’s creamy, rich, and all-around fantastic. A few spoonfuls deliver the right amount of sweetness to end a meal here.

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