Socalo: Best Mexican Food in Santa Monica

I recently visited Socalo Restaurant in Santa Monica for a girls night and was was taken on a gastronomical experience that left me full but still wanting more. If you prefer restaurants with an elevated experience where the food is unique, interesting, and effortlessly delicious, you will fall in love with Socalo.

girls night out in santa monica

The California-Mexican cuisine focuses on local, conscientiously-sourced, and seasonal ingredients. Each dish is served with artistic and fancy flare and Socalo only serves sustainable protein. 

best mexican restaurant in los angeles

Upon arrival we were shown to our table and the name of our reservation was beautifully hand-written on a place card which made us feel fancy from the start. The freshest homemade chips, guacamole and macha and quemada salsas were waiting on the table.

socalo is the best mexican food in santa monica
GUACAMOLE & CHIPS with macha and quemada salsas

The signature salsa macha with a smooth and nutty deep chili taste is magical (we bought a jar home!) and the guacamole is spiced to perfection. Their cocktail menu is unique AND extensive and filled with refreshing clean cocktails. My ‘Diego and I’ was scrumptious consisting of smoky mezcal, aperol, fresh citrus, and mango guajillo shrub. Although the Jamaica Gimlet with gin, lime, hibiscus coulis was a strong contender for best cocktail.

smokey mezcal cocktails in santa monica
DIEGO & I – vida mezcal, aperol, fresh citrus, mango guajillo shrub

Over the course of a couple of hours we enjoyed lovingly prepared dishes that included tempura shishito peppers stuffed with mexican cheeses, serrano and roja salsas, and (sustainable) wild yellowtail ceviche tostada that was simply bursting with fresh seafood and a hint of lime.

top mexican restaurant in los angeles
CHILITOS RELLENOS – tempura shishito peppers stuffed with mexican cheeses, serrano and roja salsas
WILD YELLOWTAIL CEVICHE TOSTADA – sustainable wild yellowtail, avocado, lime, jalapeño aioli

Socalo also offers large plates for sharing and the tomahawk port carnitas with smashed fingerling potatoes, peaches, herb salad, chimichurri, and roasted garlic mojo sauce was a highlight.

TOMAHAWK PORK CARNITASsmashed fingerling potatoes, peaches, herb salad, chimichurri, roasted garlic mojo sauce at Socalo in samta monica
TOMAHAWK PORK CARNITAS – smashed fingerling potatoes, peaches, herb salad, chimichurri, roasted garlic mojo sauce

Each ingredient elevates and compliments the dish delivering a unique taste with a perfect presentation.

It’s important to save room for authentic Mexican dessert at Socalo. The strawberry tres leches cake is heavenly, and a perfect way to end your meal.

STRAWBERRY TRES LECHES CAKEwhipped cream, passion fruit and prickly pear sauces
STRAWBERRY TRES LECHES CAKE with whipped cream, passion fruit and prickly pear sauces

Most dishes at Socalo are designed to be shared as the portions are more than generous. The staff are amazing and they don’t advertise this enough, but this is a Susan Feniger and Sue Millekin  (aka the Too Hot Tamales) restaurant. Chef Susan Feniger is world famous yet humble and lovely.

Socalo is a beachy, California canteen and Mexican pub from award-winning chef/owners Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.

Susan took time to share her story and information about each dish. It was evident by her passion and warmth that she’s a true artist who wants each and every person who walks through the door to be dazzled. It’s rare to find that personal touch these days, and this is what sets Socalo apart from other restaurants. Susan made me feel like I was at my favorite Aunts home and she was looking after me – I cannot wait to return with Hot Hubby for date night!

Socalo is a beachy, California canteen and Mexican pub in santa monica

Best night ever and the evening swept me away to the warm beaches of Mexico. The drinks are fabulous, the food is fresh and unique, and the decor and ambience is so hip and SoCal cool. Oh and one of the highlights is the 90 minutes free parking (which is unheard of in Santa Monica.) Give Socalo Restaurant a try, you won’t be disappointed!


*** This article was sponsored but all opinions are my own***

Have you been to Socalo restaurant?

Let me know in comments below and Join me on Instagram and Twitter!

About The Author


I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *