The Best Romantic Restaurants and Bars on Ocean Avenue Santa Monica

Updated on May 30, 2024

Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica has a collection of great restaurants and bars with some amazing sunset views.  Although it’s gotten more crowded and touristy lately, it’s still a good bet on off-nights when it’s less insane, especially with Palisades Park right across the street.

If you’re looking for a lively night out with lots to do and see, then consider dinner at one of the restaurants on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica on a non-Friday or Saturday night. Afterward, stroll down Palisades Park, or walk down to the pier.

1. The Veranda at the Georgian Hotel

My top pick for the most romantic restaurant on Ocean Avenue is Sirena at the historic Georgian Hotel.

Opened in 1933, The Georgian Hotel hosted celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin. Today, it’s been restored to its Art Deco glory.

Sirena features Italian cuisine by chef David Almany, who worked under chef Nancy Silverton for almost a decade. In the basement is The Georgian Room, the hotel’s Italian steakhouse also under chef Almany.

It would be hard to go wrong taking a date here for dinner. They also serve lunch and breakfast though!

2. Ivy at the Shore

Next, we have Ivy at the Shore, just across from the pier, featuring New American cuisine. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the interior is super charming, not too noisy, and nicely lit. Perfect for date conversation. Make no mistake though, this place is expensive. But the ambiance is hard to beat for a date.

Ivy at the Shore
Ivy at the Shore may not look like much from the outside, but the ambiance inside can’t be beat for dinner!

3. Layla and the Coco Club at the Sonder Hotel

Another art-deco masterpiece on Ocean is the Sonder Hotel (formerly Hotel Shangri-La).  The ground floor of the hotel has an outdoor pool area with cabanas and a good Middle Eastern restaurant called Layla.

However, another highlight of the Sonder Hotel is the rooftop bar, the Coco Club, which has one of the best views in Santa Monica and is quite happenin’ on the weekends. This is an ideal place to catch a gorgeous sunset after dinner.

The Sonder hotel in Santa Monica with sign for the Coco Club
The Sonder hotel in Santa Monica with sign for the Coco Club

4. Meat on Ocean

Meat on Ocean features dry-aged steak, a huge bar, and good American fare. Great ambiance and food if you’re craving beef. You pretty much can’t go wrong here on a date unless your date is vegetarian.

Meat on Ocean

5. Boa Steakhouse

Another great steak option is Boa Steakhouse, specializing in Wagu beef, prime rib, and filets.

BOA Steakhouse
BOA Steakhouse

My wife decided to bring me here for my birthday dinner. Below is the meal we shared. She’s not big on steak, but she loved the baked potato with all of the fixins. Needless to say, I was very satisfied!

Center cut filet, mashed broccoli, loaded baked potato, truffle lobster gnocchi, and pan seared salmon at Boa

6. Blue Plate Oysterette

There’s usually a line of locals waiting to get into Blue Plate Oysterette. They offer a good selection of fresh oysters and fish. I like the fish tacos. The lobster macaroni is a customer favorite. Be sure to make reservations if you want to go here, unless it’s an off-night.

Blue Plate Oysterette
Blue Plate Oysterette

This place is ideal for a casual date – not an anniversary or anything like that. If you can get seats though, I would grab them without hesitation!

7. Blue Plate Taco

Under the same ownership as Blue Plate Oysterett is Blue Plate Taco, just up from Ivy.  It’s usually crowded with lots of young people and noisy, but I really like the food here.

Blue Plate Taco
Blue Plate Taco

Do not miss the grilled corn on the cobb with cotija! Yes, it’s $7 for corn, but it’s amazing, with cheese, butter, and spices. If you don’t like eating off the cobb, they’ll scrape it off for you and put it in a bowl (highly recommended).

Prices are reasonable for Ocean Avenue, though more expensive than most Mexican restaurants. Great for a casual date night if you don’t mind talking loudly. But do get reservations, even on a weeknight.

8. Sushi Roku

Sushi Roku is a restaurant chain, but they serve high-quality sushi. The ambiance is nice, although more than one reviewer on Yelp complained that the noise level was high there.  If you want a slightly more serene Sushi experience, check out Sugarfish on Second Street. But, if you want to be near the “action” (i.e., Ocean Avenue and the Pier), then Sushi Roku is a fine choice!

Sushi Roku
Sushi Roku

9. The Lobster

Right where Ocean Avenue meets the Santa Monica Pier is The Lobster. This venue has a great 180-degree view of the pier and ocean, but the area can get insanely crowded with tourists on weekends, or even a Thursday night. I would recommend this place only during the quieter weekdays. The food here is pricey, but good.

10. The Bungalow at the Miramar Hotel

The Bungalow

Last but definitely not least is one of my personal favorite hangouts when I was single, The Bungalow, located at the Miramar Hotel, 101 Wilshire Blvd. between Ocean and 2nd Street.  To find the Bungalow once you get to the hotel, walk up the front driveway of the Miramar and make a left before you get to the gigantic tree.

The Bungalow is a very cool indoor/outdoor bar with occasional live music and cozy couches and a beach bungalow vibe.  Crowd is mostly 20-somethings.  

During peak periods (i.e., the weekend), this place is a very popular singles spot and probably not an ideal place to bring a date. But, during off-peak times, it’s a nice hangout. They have good drinks, and if you want dessert, you can get fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies sent from the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, called “Fig”.

There you have it. What did I miss?  Please tell me about your favorite restaurants and bars on Ocean Avenue! – Brian

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