There was a time when art in restaurants signified more than the $3,000 ceramic dildo for sale at the gift shop of Bazaar. We have fond memories of the downtown art bar dominated by John Chamberlain's crumpled-automobile sculpture, the big Jonathan Borofsky at the original Katsu, and the rolling art installations at the old West Beach Café.
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But Michael's -- art, the real stuff, Rauschenberg, Stella, Graham, Hockney, all those guys, even in the men's room upstairs -- the exuberance of the 1970s. And the shaded patio, a sculpture garden really, is crammed with every tasteful garden whimsy you could possibly cram into a small Santa Monica backyard. They serve food here, too.
Michael's: 1147 Third St., Santa Monica; (310) 451-0843.
Look for more "Best of L.A." pieces in our annual Best of L.A. issue, out Oct. 7th.