Street Smart: Montana Avenue

The street has shady sidewalks that encourage window-shopping for designer clothing, fine jewelry, and more

The gas stations and hardware stores that once lined this north Santa Monica thoroughfare are long gone, just as tony mansions have been replacing the old single-story homes in the area. Now among L.A.’s sophisticated retail hubs, the street has shady sidewalks that encourage window-shopping for designer clothing and fine jewelry, kids’ essentials and canine accessories. Cafés set out tables and chairs, preserving a village atmosphere as the merchandise goes upscale. -Kari Mozena

Clare VMontana Avenue
The jasmine-scented Rodin pillar candle smells like a million dollars but costs $125, one of the few non-handbag items at the vibrant boutique from designer Clare Vivier. Architect Barbara Bestor conceived the simple, modern room. » 1318A Montana Ave., 310-395-3079.

Threads on 17th
You’ll find an assortment of Chanel in Nicholisa Contis’s designer consignment shop as well as gently worn and new Prada shoes, Lanvin dresses, and Louis Vuitton bags. The window display changes often, should you be looking for a particular pair of Ferragamos. » 734B 17th St., 310-625-4650.

Courtyard KitchenMontana Avenue
The quaint restaurant is tucked inside the brick-floored courtyard of the Revolution Studio bungalow. Folks who have just burned a few calories (and those who have not) can enjoy the pesto-topped Tale of Green Eggs or a slice of ginger-carrot cake that’s as sweet as the staff. Kids favor the Nutella-banana toast. » 1211 Montana Ave., 310-587-2333.

Montana AvenueAndrew’s Cheese Shop
Don’t believe the sign proclaiming This Place Stinks! The cheeses at Andrew Steiner’s shop are sublime, and the store boasts an array of gourmet goodies such as olive oil, honey, and artisanal chocolates. » 728 Montana Ave., 310-393-3308.

Montana AvenueRuti
Fans of the avant-garde will feel at home inside Ruti Zisser’s shop, which features the clothing of forward-thinking designers based in Tel Aviv. One yellow top comes in a combination of polka dots and stripes. » 406 Montana Ave., 424-272-9232.

Jessica Goldfarb outfits her gift shop according to the season. Expect soaps embedded with four-leaf clovers in spring, tiny spider earrings for fall, and pithy sayings on tumblers and tea towels any time of year. » 1325 Montana Ave., 310-458-1858.

Montana Avenuem0851
This leather goods outpost is only the second in the United States for the Canadian brand. There are handbags and matching iPad sleeves in uncommon hues (deep tangerine, dusty rose, azure) along with buttery leather coats in black and brown. » 1426 Montana Ave., Ste. 2, 310-656-0851.

Art’s Table
No, this is not a gathering spot for patrons of painting but a restaurant named for legendary Santa Monica waterman Art Verge. Locals fill the place to savor short rib sandwiches, lobster mac and cheese, and plates of charcuterie. Drink offerings include cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. » 1002 Montana Ave., 310-395-2500.

Montana AvenueGiggle
Park your pram inside—the meters for strollers are to the left—and browse all things baby. Standouts are the fluffy sheep (their white noise lulls infants to sleep), FEED diaper bags (sales aid food programs), and mamaRoo bouncey chairs (for tykes who fuss). » 8407 1120 Montana Ave., 424-268-4539.

Montana Avenue
Primo Passo Coffee
An ever-present crowd sips double caps and pour-overs in this bright, minimalist coffee emporium. The roaster is Stumptown, and the pastries are whipped up at Suzanne Goin’s Tavern in Brentwood. » 702 Montana Ave.


Street SmartWhy I Love It Here

Jane Kennedy
Owner, Palmetto Beauty Boutique
“I started Palmetto 35 years ago, with 30 years at this location. There were four gas stations. They zoned all of them off the street. It was quite fun for the first few years as the street was developing. The Montana shopper is a little bit older. It’s not twentysomethings; it’s more people in their thirties and over, who have or are starting to establish families. They come here for the small-town vibe. It’s dog friendly, and we give treats every day. I love it because the dogs pull their owners in here. I have a little 15½-year-old crazy-looking mutt. She’s always in the back. She’s a hoot.” » 1034 Montana Ave., 310-395-6687.

Background Check

Local Landmark: The American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre, which showcases classic films, turns 75 this year.
Park It: Store lots are small, and parking is heavily restricted nearby. Head a couple of blocks north on any street to reach open curbs.
Famous Names: Whitey Bulger hid out for 13 years at the Princess Eugenia apartments on 3rd Street, two blocks south of Montana.

Photographs (1, 4, 5, 10,) Photographs by Lauren Devon (2); (3); (6); (7); (8); (9); Illustration by Nigel Buchanan