Obica ended its LA run back in 2020. The Downtown Santa Monica location of the Italian mozzarella chain, at 606 Broadway Ste 100, has sat empty since at least January of that year. But that’s about to change. An ABC application has recently gone up on the space informing us that this will soon be a branch of Tu Madre. Tacos Tu Madre has four other locations across LA and specializes in creative Mexican food in bright, colorful surroundings.
That didn’t take long… Back in February, I told you about the arrival of SMiZE Cream to the space formerly occupied by Ugo Cafe in Santa Monica Place. You may recall that TV personality and model Tyra Banks was behind the premium ice cream project. Sadly, it appears that they have cleared off from Downtown Santa Monica. Their website says that they are switching to a delivery model.
Lovers of cultish confectionary empire Sprinkles will soon be able to get their fix in Santa Monica. Just outside the sluggish and half-closed food court of Santa Monica Place a brightly painted storefront has appeared almost overnight. I looks like this outlet will only be a home to one of their signature ATM’s, but when you’re desperate for cupcakes, does it matter?
When NY-style coal-fired pizza joint Grimaldi’s closed in El Segundo, it was reported that they were moving to a Santa Monica takeaway operation in the office complex at 2501 Colorado. What wasn’t reported was that the new location will be inside yet another outpost of rapidly expanding ghost kitchen/food hall Kitchen United Mix, making this Santa Monica’s second branch. Currently at address there is an erstwhile Daily Grill and, more suitably, a cafeteria called Colorado Kitchen. Both Santa Monica locations of Kitchen United were shooting for an October opening, but as it stands, little work has been done at either. Nearby Westwood is also getting a branch as well.
King & Queen Cantina appears to be on a mission to spread their signature brand of bawdy fun to Westside. It was last year when I told you that they were bringing a branch of the San Diego party chain to Santa Monica (it has since opened). Now they have their sites on West Hollywood. Signs are already up on the former Tortilla Republic space at 616 N Robertson announcing their impending arrival. Expect a “party, out of the box” with “Latin flavors” set in Dia de los Muertos decor.
I first told you about Kindred Spirit back in June, when I noticed help wanted flyers on the former ISno Cafe and Monsieur Marcel space at 1260 Third Street Promenade. KS opened back in August, but is hosting a Grand Opening event this weekend. The good folks at Kindred Spirit reached out to me and asked me to pass this along to you:
“Kindred Spirit – a new project from the Demitasse coffee geeks featuring an all day menu of alcohol free cocktails, lunch and brunch plates, and a rotating seasonal menu of classic patisserie inspired by the Santa Monica farmers market in a plant filled open air space on the Promenade is now open and will be having a grand opening event this weekend.
Kindred Spirit has been soft open since August but will be celebrating an official grand opening the weekend of October 23rd with a “Sober October” event from 12-4p featuring the launch of of their fall menu, an adult and family friendly mocktail and craft session with Makers Mess (dried floral wreaths like these), and complimentary sampling from the Free Spirits alcohol free spirit brand who are featured in a number of Kindred Spirit’s elixirs. Makers Mess craft session complimentary with food and beverage purchase.
Following that Kindred Spirit has a number of on site alcohol free brand pop-ups planned through the holidays and into Dry January.”
KS Lox of things Bagel /Photo: Carolina Korman
The Gallery, at 1325 Third St. Promenade, managed to survive the Pandemic lock downs but mysteriously closed a while ago, prompting readers to pepper me with questions about its status. The Gallery had gone through a major redo not that long ago and was home to such eateries as Voltaggio STRFSH, Paperboy Pizza, Dialoque, and others. Then it went dark. But now we know what’s coming… There’s a notice up on the front that names the new eating hall as Kitchen United MIX. And what is that? It appears to be a chain of food halls that describes itself as, “the nation’s first ‘Multi-Restaurant Ordering’ to-go experience” that “allows foodie fans who love variety to order meals from 10+ restaurants, all on the same bill.” Kitchen United MIX has a few locations across the US and are planning on a major expansion. There are upcoming locations on the books for Westwood and Torrance as well. This location is aiming for an October opening.
Santa Monica’s branch of Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern disappeared during the pandemic restaurant closures, leaving a gaping hole at 1733 Ocean Ave. But a new contender is stepping forward to give the space a go. There’s a banner off to the side of the patio announcing the impending arrival of Sol-Agave. This will be the fourth location for the Mexican chain that started out as a food truck in in 2014 in San Juan Capistrano. According to their website, it appears that they are also planning on a location at 800 W Olympic #A130, near STAPLES Center. We wish them the best of luck.
Were you wondering what was going on in the tiny space at 321 Santa Monica Blvd? The location has been a number of different incarnations over the years from coffee shops to, most recently, a boba spot. Now it has transformed into something called the Pink Daisy Cafe. As it turns out, Pink Daisy is a sister restaurant to Santa Monica’s perennially favorite brunch eatery Blue Daisy. Now you know…
The Venice Whaler has been the go-to destination in Venice since 1944. Now they are bringing their beachy vibes and fish tacos to the Good People of Santa Monica. Ma’Kai, on the corner of Broadway. and Ocean Ave. in Downtown, closed up shop during the pandemic. A number of months ago plywood went up on the front, and eventually a help wanted notice hinted at what the new bar/eatery was going to be. But now it’s official: Recently installed signs declare that this will indeed be a new outpost of the legendary Beach party spot, The Santa Monica Whaler.
There’s a new ABC application up on the front of the diminutive space at 530 Wilshire Blvd., formerly home to any number of nondescript cafes, that should bring hope to all Santa Monicans. With three other locations across LA, self-described “Neighborhood Lobster Joint” Lobster And Beer is expanding to Downtown Santa Monica. What more do you need to know?
I’ve been out of town for a few days and returned home to a stuffed inbox with messages from perplexed and shocked locals lamenting the quick and unceremonious disappearance of Santa Monica’s branch of Asian-ish eatery and longtime corner of 4th and Wilshire anchor P.F. Chang’s. All signs have been ripped down, and as you can see, the front is boarded over. Disheartened die-hard fans are seeking answers, so if you have more information, let me know…
A big “coming soon” banner has recently gone up on the front of the former BurgerIM space at 1237 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica. And pasted to the front of that is a smaller banner announcing something called Chick It Out and promising hot chicken. Apparently this has been in the works for a while now, and What Now Los Angeles has a lot more on this story which you can read here.
Before the pandemic, window displays went up on the space at 313 Wilshire Blvd. in Downtown Santa Monica announcing that Hollywood Burger would be moving in… and nothing happened. But that arrangement seems to have changed. There’s a new banner over the troubled location letting us know that Papi Tacos & Churros is on the way. Papi’s has a location on Jefferson Blvd. in LA that appears to be “temporarily closed”. I’m not sure if this is a second location or a total move, but in the mean time you can check out their current menu of “authentic Mexican street food” here.
The 400 block of Santa Monica Blvd. in Downtown Santa Monica was hit particularly hard during the melee a year ago. Businesses were destroyed and the north side of the street has sat largely unoccupied since. Long-standing sushi restaurant Sake House by Hikari was set on fire and will not be returning, as evidenced by the for lease sign in the window. But there is a sign of hope: Bay area third wave fave Blue Bottle Coffee will be moving into the space at 415 Santa Monica Blvd.
Check out what they built in the middle of The Third Street Promenade, between Broadway and Santa Monica Blvd. There’s a new beer garden operated by popular local watering hole West 4th & Jane. And just to the north of that is a new oyster bar brought to you by nearby restaurant The Independence. What a great idea!
I’d been keeping an eye on the location that used to house popular tourist restaurant Trastevere at 1360 Third St. Promenade to see what would develop. Recently, an ABC application went up on the front naming the new business. With locations in Woodland Hills and Huntington Beach, HQ Gastropub appears to be moving in. Expect a menu of “Global cuisine”, high quality beer, wine and spirits, and decor with a “motif of musical artists, fashionable design, and classic vintage guitars”.
I’m quietly optimistic about Downtown Santa Monica. During the Pandemic, many of the big chain stores and restaurants disappeared overnight. But there has been a recent uptick in activity, at least as far as restaurants are concerned. Many new projects are in the works: Trejo’s Tacos, Nick the Greek, Ugo Cafe, SMiZE Cream, Jinky’s Coffee, Winston are all moving in. And you can add one more name to that list: Practically overnight, a new charming coffee joint set up shop in the former location of Cafe Crepe at 1460 Third St. Promenade. Cult promises “food.coffee.cocktails” and is on a “mission is to pay homage to the city of Los Angeles, its chefs, dishes, drinks and trends”. Check out their menu here. We wish them the best of luck.
Don’t underestimate Ugo Café! When I told you about the closure of their Santa Monica Place location (which is now in the process of turning into Tyra Banks’ SMiZE Cream), I thought that was the end of their footprint in Santa Monica. But the plucky Italian coffee and food purveyor hasn’t given up just yet… A banner has recently gone up at 1400 Third St. Promenade (formerly home to Caffe Bella) announcing their impending triumphant return.