Santa Monica's Third Street was converted into an outdoor pedestrian mall in 1965 and underwent a major redesign in 1989. Today, the bustling promenade includes a mix of retail outlets and restaurants and is home to the famed Santa Monica Farmers Market, where many of the city's chefs shop for ingredients and find inspiration for their seasonal menus.
Chez Jay: Established in 1959 and officially recognized as a local landmark in 2012, this beloved kitschy dive on Ocean Avenue is known for its decent steaks and stiff drinks. A house policy of no autographs or unwanted photos has long lured a celebrity clientele, and more than one screenplay is said to have been written in the dark, mysterious back rooms.
1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, (310) 395-1741
Dhaba: For more than 40 years, Dhaba has offered home-style, health-conscious Indian food. The staff is friendly and the blossom-covered patio is lovely. Be sure to ask about daily farmers' market vegetable specials.
2104 Main St, Santa Monica, (310) 399-9452
Mélisse: Chef-owner Josiah Citrin opened Melisse, a restaurant dedicated to modern, haute French-American cuisine, on Wilshire Boulevard in 1999. It remains one of the most formal dining experiences in Los Angeles, with various prix fixe menus starting at $135 per person.
1104 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, (310) 395-0881
Border Grill: Celebrity chef-owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (also known as "The Too Hot Tamales") offer their take on gourmet Mexican fare at this boldly decorated urban cantina just steps from the Santa Monica Promenade.
1445 4th St, Santa Monica, (310) 451-1655
Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery: There's a perpetual line at this 90-year-old delicatessen. Nearly everyone is waiting to order a sandwich called "The Godmother," an amazing combination of salami, prosciutto, mortadella, other sliced cured meats, and provolone cheese served on house-baked bread. When the guy behind the counter asks if you want your sandwich with "the works," the correct answer is yes.
1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, (310) 395-8279