Santa Monica // FOOD & DRINK

Santa Monica’s menu is healthy, playful, exciting and diverse – just like the city itself. Of course, Mother Nature takes centre stage here: all that sunshine (300-plus days a year, to be precise) makes for delicious, vitamin-packed produce, and the local waters are home to delicious fish and succulent seafood. Come hungry and thirsty: Michelin-star restaurants, relaxed taquerias, bustling farmers’ markets, beachfront wine bars, nocturnal bars and enticing delis await.

The good news is, Santa Monica’s relaxed spirit prevails throughout – gents don’t have to don a tie and jacket anywhere (unless they want to, of course). In addition to noteworthy cuisine, California is famous for its world-class wine: sign up for a Wine and Hiking tour with Malibu Discovery to familiarise your palate with the region’s best bottles.

Santa Monica, the birthplace of Cali-Fusion food, has always had a soft spot for farm-to-table produce. To meet the region’s friendly farmers and artisan producers, visit one of the weekly markets. There are worthy contenders on Main Street and Pico Boulevard, but the Wednesday Farmers’ Market in Downtown Arizona Avenue is particularly ripe for the picking. Head here and you’re likely to see celebrity chefs stocking up their larders and scouting for next-big-thing ingredients. Get tips from the pros by having a cookery lesson in Santa Monica: the Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savouries offers a range of excellent classes. You’ll learn about classical cookery techniques and be introduced to a tastebud-tempting array of local ingredients.

WHY EAT IN SANTA MONICA

We don’t have enough room to put all of Santa Monica’s gourmet lures on your metaphorical plate, but here are a few more morsels to whet your appetite. For fine dining and unforgettable flavours, visit Cassia on Seventh Street, which pairs Southeast Asian flavours and a Californian philosophy; kick proceedings off with a drink at the wine-shop-cum-deli opposite. Fancy something a little more casual? Enjoy Caribbean-style jerk chicken – and rum-splashed cocktails – from Cha Cha Chicken, a relaxed beachside shack with buckets of character. (Make sure you get the jerk sauce, which stars fresh mango, pineapple and habanero pepper.)

If you love street-food, don’t miss the city’s Food Truck Tuesdays, when an array of gourmet food trucks tout their tasty wares at 2612 Main St. Trusted favourites include Roll’n Lobster, India Jones Chow Truck and Straight Outta the Grill. Since Santa Monica is rightly famous for its sunsets, don’t miss a scenic sunset dinner: try The Lobster restaurant on the pier, or head to Mexican-fave Mariasol for huge portions of guac, hefty burritos and unforgettable views. Of course, LA has its own bounty of world-class restaurants, all within easy reach from Santa Monica: try Italian seafood at Cal Mare, Peruvian cuisine and pisco sours at Rosaliné and ambitious fine-dining at Vespertine…