The poké craze shows no signs of slowing, and the continued expansion of Mainland Poké is just proof of that fact. Mainland's fourth location opened last week in Santa Monica (at 411 Santa Monica Blvd.). To celebrate, we asked owner Ari Kahan about the community of restaurants he's joining in Santa Monica.
"I'm really excited to bring Mainland Poké to Santa Monica," Kahan says. "It’s been a neighborhood that we've wanted to be part of for a while."
So where is he most excited to eat in the new 'hood? We asked him for a list of 10 favorites. "Santa Monica has a lot of great establishments, such as Bay Cities, Father’s Office, Rustic Canyon and Tar & Roses," Kahan told us, "but I wanted to head off the beaten path for this." Here are his 10 Santa Monica picks:
10. Tacos Punta Cabras
"Fish tacos are fried to perfection. The fresh homemade tortillas and sauces are awesome. The lines can get long. Pro tip: Order ahead of time for pickup." 2311 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 917-2244.
9. Pacific Dining Car
"Old-school steakhouse with some dope eggs Benedict." 2700 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 453-4000, pacificdiningcar.com.
8. Library Alehouse
"For a great selection of rotating beers on tap in Santa Monica, this is the spot to go. The frickles (fried pickles) are amazing and they have solid burgers. You get the fun pub vibe in the front and they have a great patio in the back." 2911 Main St., Santa Monica; (310) 314-4855, libraryalehouse.com.
"There's a Belcampo near Mainland Poké's Third Street location, and it's great to be neighbors again. The Double Fast Burger is one of the best deals out there and it's delicious. It's off-menu, but just ask for it and you'll be thoroughly satisfied." 1026 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (424) 744-8008, belcampo.com.
6. The Chestnut Club
"The Chestnut Club is a cool place to hang with friends. There are serious cocktails from serious cocktail guys. They have an extensive collection of small-batch craft spirits." 1348 14th St., Santa Monica; (310) 393-1348, thechestnutclubsm.com.
5. Wexler’s Deli
"I’m a big fan of bagels and lox. Wexler’s is my go-to spot and I was excited when they opened up in Santa Monica. The double-smoked pastrami lox is the perfect breakfast option when I’m running around town. I’d also recommend the MacArthur Park. Oh, and the pickles. Don’t forget the pickles. #smokedfisheveryday." 616 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica; (424) 744-8671, wexlersdeli.com.
4. Freddy Smalls
"Great red-sauce Italian food and strong cocktails in this unexpected neighborhood gem." 11520 W. Pico Blvd., Sawtelle; (310) 479-3000, freddysmalls.com.
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"For special occasions, Mélisse is always top of the list. It is an intimate dining experience if you really want to impress a date. If you want to ball out, you can make a night of it with friends."
1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 395-0881, melisse.com.
2. Mariscos Guillen la Playita
"It is an unassuming blue shack on busy Lincoln Boulevard. If you don’t know where it is, you could miss it. There is almost always a small line, but it moves fast. Must order: shrimp cocktail and ceviche tostada." 3306 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 399-7686.
"Shorebar is always a great spot to catch fresh-made cocktails and listen to good music on the Westside. Thursday through Sunday I always seem to run into an old friend." 112 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica; (310) 429-1851, shorebarsm.com.