Let the warm red and gold hues of La Finestra's décor pique your light lunchtime appetite for a Caesar panino with chicken breast, romaine, Caesar dressing, and parmesan cheese ($10) or a cup of handmade pomodore tomato soup with lemon and garlic ($6). La Finestra, Italian for "The Finestra," really excels at dinner fare. As the evening lights of LA simmer, whet your palate with antipasto La Finestra, a platter of imported meats with cheeses, roasted red bell peppers, and marinated calamari ($12, $18 large); or decorate your date-charming chompers with a rustica salad of radicchio, arugula, endive, mushrooms, and shaved parmesan ($7, $10 large). The veal scaloppini marsala comes basted in wine with fresh-chopped tomatoes and mushrooms ($22)—and is hard not to refuse to refuse if you haven't yet refused concurrent offers from the ravioli aurora (stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach and drizzled with pink sauce, $15) and the thin-crusted pizza portofino (with mozzarella, gorgonzola, and caramelized onions, $15). La Finestra's friendly, accommodating staff will do their best to prepare your pizza any way you wish.
The seafood artists at Hook'd on Fish stultify hunger with a menu of fried fish, wraps, and salads. Charbroiled halibut ($13.95) or Ahi tuna ($9.95) slips into either Kicken Cajun, garlic butter, or virgin Mediterranean sauce before pirouetting across palates like jewelry-box escapists. Pair a glass of wine or beer with shrimp and sea scallops ($9.95) fried in vegetable oil, or smooth out tongue bumps with 1 of 11 fresh wrap choices, such as the succulent swordfish ($13.95), draped with rice, cabbage, tomatoes, and onion, and drenched in a homemade cream sauce. Hook'd on Fish also amalgamates fresh salads ($7.95–$12.95) that come crowned with succulent seafood, such as grilled shrimp ($9.95) or grilled salmon ($10.95). Outdoor seating is available, enhancing the rugged adventurousness of swallowing rare Ahi tunas whole.
Whether they're seated in an oversized booth in the dining room or splitting a plate with nearby pelicans on the outdoor patio, Killer Cafe grants its diners picturesque views of the sparkling marina. Eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes are among the caf?'s morning fare. These dishes can be accompanied by fresh-squeezed juices, fruit smoothies, espresso drinks, and brunch cocktails. Later in the day, the menu is filled with loaded salads, and hearty burgers and entrees to indulge appetites from morning until late night.
Josiah Citrin is one of the country’s premier chefs, a startling accomplishment for someone who never even went to culinary school. After graduating from Santa Monica High School, Josiah took off for Paris instead, where he spent the next three years working in the kitchens at Vivarois and La Poste. Upon returning to LA, he snagged a spot at Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois, and later worked beside Joachim Splichal at Patina. In 1996, Josiah returned to Santa Monica to open his first restaurant, JiRaffe, a California-French bistro, to great success. But his longtime desire to open a fine-dining establishment inspired him to sell JiRaffe and start afresh with Melisse. Josiah opened Melisse shortly after being named one of the world’s Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine, and since then, his restaurant has maintained a highly distinguished standing. In addition to boasting two Michelin stars, Melisse is regularly awarded inclusion on lists such as The Elite Traveler’s Top 100 Restaurants in the World. Josiah brings his stellar talents to the kitchen each day, personally guiding his chefs and taking trips to the Santa Monica farmer’s market for seasonal produce. Melisse is named for an herb indigenous to the Mediterranean, which speaks to the menu’s seasonality, contemporary French inspirations, and strong swimming abilities. Everything is prix-fixe: the standard menu has featured dishes such as Wagyu beef tartare and wild king salmon with stinging nettles, while the vegetarian tasting menu might have broccoli with egg yolk and braised yuba. Guests, particularly those dining in the two private rooms, can also go carte blanche, trusting the kitchen to surprise them with elegant dishes such as soft poached egg with caviar and lemon crème fraîche.
Santa Monica Seafood Café partners with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to ensure that their seafood is sourced within the aquarium’s sustainable seafood initiative. So you don’t need to think twice about diving right into that steamed mussel or grilled swordfish, both of which have been sustainably purchased and crafted.
A temperate New England summer has overtaken Blue Plate Oysterette, and it seems to last year-round. Maine lobster on brioche rolls is the specialty here, though the restaurant’s raw bar delivers a tantalizing variety of oysters in ceviche, grilled, and traditional styles.