photo credit: Jakob Layman

Tumbi  image



Santa Monica

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerFirst/Early in the Game Dates
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

Included In

When it comes to spending any amount of time on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, you generally know what to expect - crowded Anthropologies, invasive street performers, and unexplained dinosaur topiaries spitting water out of their mouths. Also, a bunch of restaurants you can find anywhere else in America. It’s a tourist trap, and for anyone who isn’t a tourist or with a tourist, finding a good reason to go there is harder than avoiding the guy who’s handing out “Free The Aliens” pamphlets.

Consider Tumbi a good reason. In an area where every clothing store, keychain shop, and smoothie bar is a place we all know about, this modern Indian restaurant feels entirely unexpected.

Tumbi is on one of those Santa Monica Blvd. blocks between The Promenade and Ocean Ave. where everybody’s just looking for public parking structures. And because of that, the area’s pretty quiet. This is not a bad thing. Tumbi is smack in the center of everything and yet, it feels like a locals’ spot on a sleepy side street. No one is here because their hotel concierge recommended it or because they just realized Buca Di Beppo is actually at The Grove now and gave up. People are here because the colorful space is easy to hang out in, and because the Indian food is really delicious.

Tumbi  image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Tumbi’s menu is full of Indian street food dishes you don’t see in a lot of other LA restaurants. Like the pani puri - traditional puff pastries that come on top of rosewater shots (you pour those into the pastries before eating them as quickly as possible). Their vada pav is basically a spicy potato slider, served with steamed rice fries that you’ll wish were bottomless. There are two masalas on the menu, and while the Goan prawn is good, the one we wish we were eating right now is the Patagonian toothfish in apricot curry with blistered sweet peppers. And make sure to save enough room for the end. Whether it’s the saffron panna cotta or pistachio-flavored kulfi ice cream served on a stick, the desserts are worth a trip here on their own.

Tumbi isn’t good to just have in your back pocket for when you’re stuck in Santa Monica and hungry. Tumbi is a place you should plan dates around, tell your friends to come meet you at, or drop-in when you simply want to eat great food at The Promenade and not be bothered in the process. Good luck to the alien emancipation guy though.

Food Rundown

Tumbi  image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Papadum and Chutneys

This big plate of thin, crispy bread and house-made chili garlic, basil, and sweet tamarind chutneys are what you need to order first.
Tumbi  image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Pani Puri

Traditional puff pastries served on top of rosewater-filled shot glasses. You’ll never feel more responsible drinking something out of a shot glass in your life.
Tumbi  image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Vada Pav and Idli Fries

The bun seems like a bit of an afterthought, but the spiced potato patty on this slider and the side of steamed rice fries are both excellent.
Tumbi  image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Patiala Chicken

Wok fried and coated in a yogurt/cumin/curry leaf marinade, this bowl of chicken is one of the best things on the menu and will have an incredibly short life on your table. Very shareable with a group.
Tumbi  image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Cheese Dosa

All the dosas at Tumbi are excellent. But it’s hard to pass on the one that’s stuffed with paneer and spiced ricotta. Be sure to add the mango and ghost chili chutney on top for a little kick.

Apricot Curry Patagonian Toothfish Masala

At $29, this is the most expensive dish here, but it’s also the best. Mixed with the apricot curry, the meaty fish is sweet and rich and barely requires chewing.
Tumbi  image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Saffron Panna Cotta

Saving room for dessert is a required action at Tumbi. If you have to choose one, choose the saffron panna cotta. Sweet and fragrant, this is everything you need after a spice-filled dinner.

Included In


Suggested Reading

The Santa Monica Dinner Guide image

The Santa Monica Dinner Guide

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the farm-to-table restaurants. Eat dinner at one of these Santa Monica greats.

Where To Have Brunch On The Westside image

Where to have brunch in Venice, Santa Monica, and beyond.


Al-Noor is an LA classic and a far happier reason to head towards LAX.

Rémy Martin

Bhanu’s is a family-run grocery store in San Gabriel that also serves very good Indian food.

Infatuation Logo


2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.


Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store