I try to avoid touristy restaurants whenever I travel.
I run in the other direction when I see a hostess standing outside trying to usher people in. Whenever I'm in Santa Monica, I'm always puzzled about finding a great, casual and reasonably place to dine with a good cocktail menu and small share plates. I prefer variety over quantity, so I was thrilled to attend a tasting at The Independence in Santa Monica. The restaurant hit all the checkpoints I was looking for and I swoon over any bar that uses fresh-squeezed juices in their cocktails.
Here are a few of my favourites from this newly-opened gastropub:
I will not say no to Grilled Octopus ($16) – especially when it sits on a bed of smoked beans, grapes, celery and pickled chili. The tentacle was oversized and perfectly tender – no rubbery-ness here.
Tortellini Duo ($15) – I dove right into one of these delicate tortellini pillows filled with either herbed goat cheese. The pasta is made fresh daily in-house and perfectly chewy in texture. The duo refers to a mix of the goat cheese ravioli and spaghetti squash filled ravioli – which is lovely that you get a variety in one dish. The pasta floats atop a simple sage brown butter sauce with parmesan cheese.
Toast is all the rage right now in Los Angeles and The Smoked Whitefish Toast ($8) with pickled shallots, apple spheres and fried capers did not disappoint. This is an easy appetizer to share and spread thick with their delicious smoked fish.
I could easily piece together the perfect meal from the small plates on offer. The Kale Chopped Salad ($11) would most definitely be in that round-up featuring a smoked egg, baby carrots, green beans, feta, candied walnuts and a lemon mustard vinaigrette.
Overall, I was really impressed with the food – such a contrast from Buddha’s Belly which used to occupy the space. Considering the prime location across from Santa Monica Place, the prices are incredibly reasonable with good portion sizes to share. In the touristy restaurant landscape of the surrounding neighbourhood, The Independence already feels like a local spot without the touristy prices. It’s a true taste of California with a well-curated menu and cocktail list.
To learn more visit: The Independence Tavern – Santa Monica
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Lisa Ng is also the Editor-in-Chief of This Beautiful Day, a lifestyle blog for smart women. You can follow her online @helloLisaNg + on Instagram @ThisBeautifulDay.