Santa Monica is the destination of choice for Los “Angelitos” looking for oceanside views,  seafood options, bustling beach crowds, or enjoying a ride on the popular ferris wheel of the Santa Monica Pier.  This popular beach area may be considered the most “touristy” of all the Los Angeles beach communities but the locals will tell you it is full of hidden treasures of culinary perfection and pockets of hidden entertainment only known to those who reside in the Santa Monica neighborhood.

Santa Monica

One such treasure is indefinitely the gem of a Contemporary American restaurant “icon” tucked right off the main drag of Wilshire blvd. on 3rd St. owned by Michael McCarty. Known as a Santa Monica institution, Michael’s restaurant has occupied it’s location since 1979 where his staff have been fervently serving up quality innovative intriguing dishes and an award winning wine list to many happy customers over the last three decades.  This foodie find is quite aptly named:  Michael’s.


As soon as you enter Michael’s you are ushered into a more kind and peaceful world where time stops and all that matters are the aromas coming out of your wine glass and the beautifully presented food that is about to kiss your palate. Michael himself described it as a nod to the “the french bistros” of yesteryear. We found ourselves pleasantly without a care as Michael ushered us to the romantic outdoor patio dimly lit to a perfect glow and served us a glass of his very own Pinot Noir made at his Malibu Vineyard.  It was surprisingly earth, complex, and reminiscent of the old world flavors found in the South of France – The Malibu Vineyard Rambla Pacifico Pinot Noir 2010. It’s simply delicious.


Michael’s beautiful food plating and original atmosphere make you feel as if you are in a museum of discovery. Both, the patio and their upstair private lounge, are laden with contemporary art work from notable artists such as:  David Hockney, Robert Graham, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Jim Dine, and Kim McCarty.  Their second floor has three private rooms that can accommodate up to 40 guests.

Here is a peak at some of the dishes currently on Executive Chef Michael Sterns’ Menu.

Our group started our meal off right with some Octopus Terrine with Chimichurri & Arugula Herb Salad.



Owner Michael McCarty suggested enjoying a cold glass of Sancerre with the delicious P.E.I. Mussels with Roasted Garlic Lardons, Fennel, & Pernod.



Our tastebuds danced over Local Halibut Crudo with Sunchokes, Salmon Roe, and Citrus.

Everyone raved over this Michael’s staple:  The Michael’s Burger.

Ground Waygu Beef, Bacon Onion Compote, Tomato, Butter Lettuce, Russian Dressing, laced with White Cheddar.

We happily traveled back to the French countryside with this Grilled Mary’s Chicken dressed with

Creamy Polenta, English Peas, and Tendrils, Taragon Jus

The Pork filled our belly with happiness:  Heritage Duroc Pork Chop with Parsnip Agnolotti,

Cipollini Onion, and Whole-Grain Mustard Emulsion.  The Parsnip Agnolotti was a delightful favorite.

A special last minute splurge ended up being a surprising favorite of both the Vegetarians and the Carnivores in our group:

Vegan Veggie Japchae Sweet Potato Noodles. It’s an absolute must for enthusiasts of flavor twists and spices.

It was time for a little bite of something sweet.   First up we tried a deconstructed version of the

summertime favorite “S’mores” – The S’Mores Bar:

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff, Dark Chocolate Ganache, Butterscotch Blondie, and Graham Cracker Ice Cream

This “de-light-ful bite left us perfectly satisfied with the unique balance of the pomegranate’s semi sweet acid cutting the perfectly rich Panna Cotta Creme .

A spin on traditional Italian Summertime Favorite:

Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Prosecco Gelee and Poached Asian Pears

Finally it was time for coffee with Michael’s delectable Cookie Plate (not pictured) that is a must when sharing deserts and with the perfect pairing to our cafe the Ube Doughnuts.

Cream Cheese Glaze, Vanilla Sugar, Sweet Potato Rum Ice Cream and Candied Walnuts.


Thank you to Executive Chef Michael Sterns, Michael McCarty, and the entire staff at Michael’s for helping us escape reality with your culinary innovations and warmth.   We will definitely be back soon!

Do you know a place you consider a favorite hidden Los Angeles Foodie treasure?  Tell us about it below.



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