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.
Santa Monica has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic: 40% of businesses in The Third St. Promenade are now permanently closed. And Montana Ave. and Main St. aren’t faring much better. With such a bleak outlook, I’m glad that I was able to post some good news this week. This is the third post in a row about new eateries moving into Downtown Santa Monica, surely an indication of hope… A new sign is proudly declaring that the space that used to be home for Le Pain Quotidien, at 316 Santa Monica Blvd., will be the future location for a branch of wildly popular and beloved Trejo’s Tacos. This is indeed exciting news for the area.
It looks like popular breakfast/lunch spot Jinky’s Cafe is expanding into the world of coffee and grab-and-go. You may recall that The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on the corner of Second St. and Santa Monica Blvd. disappeared in last year’s mass extinction event that saw so many closures for the beloved SoCal chain. Now there’s a banner on the location, at 200 Santa Monica Blvd., announcing a new java joint: Jinky’s Coffee. We are promised a chai and coffee bar, bakery, sandwiches, wraps, and “empanads and samosas”.
At least one restaurant has been expanding during COVID… After opening a new location in Westwood in November, Nick The Greek Souvlaki & Gyro House is moving into the location at 219 Arizona (Third St. Promenade) in Santa Monica, most recently oppcupied by Creams & Dreams. Nick The Greek has a number of locations in Northern California, and is slowly moving into SoCal. They offer a menu of souvlaki and gyro, as well as falafel, burgers, salads, and soup.
After having sat vacant for ages, the space at 1705 Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica, previously inhabited by H B Daisy and a dubious branch of Joan’s on Third before that, is about to get a new tenant. Window dressing has gone up on the commodious corner shop informing us that this will soon be the home of a branch of popular pastry perfectionist Winston Pies. This will be their third location, we wish them the best of luck.
In the very center of Santa Monica Place is a small, unassuming kiosk that, until last September, used to be the home of Santa Monica’s branch of Ugo Cafe. Now window covering is informing us that something called SMiZE Cream is moving in. And what exactly is SMiZE Cream? Apparently, it is a “Super premium ice cream w/ a hidden, yummy SMiZE Surprize” launched by none other than TV personality and model Tyra Banks. (SMiZE = “smile with your eyes”) Definately an interesting development for Downtown Santa Monica…
I first noticed banners declaring the intended arrival of “shaved snow creation” shop iSno Cafe in January of 2019. It took them a year, but they opened in January of 2020. And now in less than a year, sadly, they have closed their doors at 1260 Third St. Promenade. COVID to blame?
Another sad restaurant loss… Like its counterpart in Beverly Hills before it, Panini Kabob Grill appears to have permanently pulled the plug on its location at 312 Wilshire Blvd. in Downtown Santa Monica. The space is gutted and signs have been pulled down, and a for lease sign hangs on the front. I’ll keep my eyes on the location to see if any brave eateries will give it a go, but I won’t hold my breath.
I first told you about the expansion of Sunnin Lebanese Cafe into Downtown Santa Monica back in 2015. Sadly, it appears that the times have gotten the better of them. All signage has been pulled down and the windows are papered over, a sure indication that they have vacated their location at 525 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 120.
What’s going on over at Burger Lounge in Santa Monica (and presumeably other locations as well?). The windows are papered over at their 213 Arizona location with promises of an evolution coming this fall. A visit to the website explains that a new plant-based menu is on the way. This from their website: “Everything from our burgers, fries and even shakes are going to have a plant-based option that will trick your tastebuds and please your “thought-buds.” And yes, the “thoughtfully sourced” meats will still be on the menu as well.
Sadly, I fear many businesses, and restaurants in particular, will not outlast the current COVID crisis. I’ve been reporting on multiple closures across The Westside. Yet another appears to be the beloved Italian coffee bar Ugo Cafe, set on the first floor of Santa Monica Place. If you’re missing their proprietary coffee or pastries, they still have two other locations.
The emporium of all things culinary, Sur La Table looks like it is set to close at 301 Wilshire Blvd. There’s a giant banner across the front announcing the sad news. This particular branch has long been the go-to for local cooks needing just the right size springform pan or imported dijon and will be sadly missed.
And finally, this last bit of news about the coming attractions to the new development in Marina Del Rey… It almost appears that Downtown Santa Monica is cloning itself in the Marina: The latest to join the list of new eateries is none other that Jonathon Gold’s fave Italian restaurant Uovo, which is opening a location at 4635 Admiraly Way Suite 105. You may recall that the diminutive Santa Monica bolthole has a cult-like following due to their expertly sauced pasta that is flown in daily from Bologna. Along with Kazu Nori and HiHo Cheeseburger, the dining scene in The Marina is about to get a whole lot more interesting.
It appears that Santa Monica’s branch of Steak ‘N Shake has abandonned any hope of returning to pre-COVID life as usual. While their website still lists them as temporarily closed, their location at 1455 Third St. Promenade is gutted and a large for lease sign in the window says they’ve no plans to reopen. Their departure leaves a cavernous hole in the Downtown Santa Monica food scene. I’ll keep my eye on the space to see if there will be any takers…
A few years ago when it opened, Ippudo caused quite a stir with its tonkotsu ramen that was a huge hit in New York. But things have changed. Ippudo is no more. And what’s next for the space at 1403 2nd St.? Why none other than expanding dumpling and noodle chain Dan Modern Chinese. According to their website, they’ll also be opening in Playa Vista and Manhatten Beach soon as well.