Santa Monica Yacht Club (SMYC)

Perfect For: Date Night Dinner with the Parents Girls' Night Out Impressing Out of Towners Outdoor/Patio Situation Small Plates
PHOTOS: Holly Liss

If the words Santa Monica Yacht Club strike a visceral fear of enduring 100 guys named Jake standing around in Vineyard Vines name-dropping people their parents know, calm yourself. By the grace of God, that isn’t what’s happening at Santa Monica Yacht Club. This is a stellar seafood joint in the heart of Santa Monica, brought to you by the same people behind another Westside golden boy, Tar & Roses.

SMYC can probably thank its popular, meat-centric sibling down the block for bringing in the initial crowds, but thankfully SMYC stands firmly on its own. The space has a slick retro vibe, making the whole thing feel like a '70s luxury charter to Nantucket where Don Draper sleeps with your wife. And while SMYC wants you, know it’s a mature restaurant, don’t let them fool you too much. With a prime downtown location and a relatively light menu, this is as perfect a spot to impress a work client as it is to rally the lady squad together for a meal and some cocktails before regrettable decisions later at Bungalow.

The food at SMYC ranges anywhere from good to fantastic. Everything on the menu is meant to be shared and you should do that. Because despite the somewhat muted ambiance, the menu has some fairly surprising items in play. Lobster and burrata toast? Striped bass ceviche served in a coconut? All aboard.

They have smartly gone the way of small, compelling plates making a once fussy food nice and easy. Reservations are still tough to come by so definitely plan ahead. Unless you know Jake of course. His dad plays golf with the guy whose brother can totally hook it up.

Food Rundown

Lobster And Burrata Toast

Phenomenal. Light, sweet, savory, and everything else that helps solve the struggles of the world.

Striped Bass Ceviche

You can’t just throw ceviche on the menu anymore in LA and expect people to get excited. But SMYC’s version, served directly out of a coconut, is one of the best in town.

Lamb Kabobs

This is not a prank. Yes, this is a seafood restaurant and yes, you should get the lamb. It’s pretty fantastic and a needed breakup in your underwater feast.

Lobster Rice

Another must-order. Simple and to the point, just let the lobster do the talking.

Whole Grilled Rainbow Trout

The trout comes off a touch fishy, but the swiss chard and chimichurri underneath perhaps still makes it worth ordering.

BBQ Eel Lunch Box

One the most popular items on the menu, and for good reason. Served literally in a box that is then shaken tableside by the server like a godd*amn craft cocktail, this is the only item that disappointed. The eel was fine but the sweet soy is a bit off-putting and far too overpowering.


Served in a green Thai curry, this is remarkably flavorful for a place that has no business making good curry. Works perfectly as an appetizer.

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