I don’t expect to keep many New Year’s resolutions, but here’s an easy one I know I can make happen: I’m going to spend a lot of time eating in Santa Monica this year.
While 2014 was a fine year for Santa Monica’s dining and bar scenes, thanks to newcomers like Cadet, Tacoteca, Brilliantshine, and The Chestnut Club, 2015 could be even better. That’s because the wide range of what’s scheduled to open should offer all kinds of excellent daytime and nighttime experiences.
When Belcampo Meat Co. opens its Wilshire Boulevard butcher shop right by Santa Monica Seafood and Huckleberry, it will cement Santa Monica’s status as one of the city’s best neighborhoods for gourmet food shopping. Where else can you find two top-tier butchers (Belcampo and A Cut Above), plus Santa Monica Seafood, the pastries at Huckleberry, and all the Italian-food magic at Bay Cities and Guidi Marcelli. There’s also this Farmers Market that seems to be really popular.
But Belcampo isn’t just a butcher shop, of course. The Santa Monica outpost will also be a restaurant serving specialties like its beloved grass-fed, dry-aged burger and featuring cocktails from Brilliantshine’s Julian Cox and Josh Goldman, an incredibly prolific bartending team whose influence is felt all over the city.
A few blocks down on Wilshire is where Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee, a game-changing Orange County fried-dough purveyor, is opening its LA outpost, hopefully ending the neighborhood’s fascination with Dunkin’ Donuts (not likely, I realize). Sidecar makes its doughnuts fresh daily from ingredients that are as local as it gets, like geranium leaves from chef Brooke Des Prez’s own garden. Plus, two words: s’mores doughnut.
But the most anticipated opening in Santa Monica is probably chef Bryant Ng’s Southeast Asian restaurant, Cassia, in the old Art Deco Verizon building at Arizona Avenue and Seventh Street. Ng, of course, was a Downtown pioneer and nationally renowned chef at The Spice Table, which blanketed tables with comforting Asian street food: kaya toast, Hainanese chicken over rice, beef rendang, and laksa that all brought hawker-stand flavors to L.A. like nothing else had before. He’s partnered with Santa Monica hospitality powerhouses Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, the couple whose empire already includes the neigborhood’s Huckleberry, Rustic Canyon, Milo & Olive, and Sweet Rose Creamery. Don’t expect this dream-team restaurant to be a copy of The Spice Table, but expect Far East flavors new to the Westside, in what could make a case as the city’s top dining neighborhood in 2015.