June 07

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James Respondek

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Exploring the culinary gems and social hotspots of Pacific Palisades

Beautiful table decor

Pacific Palisades has long been known for being home to some of the most sought-after real estate thanks to its coastal location by the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California, the top-rated schools in its periphery, its relative proximity to Downtown Los Angeles, and the excellent quality of life it offers to its residents.

On top of all these remarkable characteristics that make Pacific Palisades one of the best places to live in the Golden State and the rest of the country, it also makes headlines for its wide array of restaurants that offer anything from authentic Italian dishes to dining with an ocean view. From quaint cafes and breakfast places and Michelin-starred restaurants to bars and lounges serving your preferred spirits and brews, there’s always something to tickle your taste buds and raise a glass/goblet/mug/can to with every food adventure in Pacific Palisades.

Ready to hit the Pacific Palisades dining and nightlife scene? Below are some great recommendations for your food crawl.

WELCOME TO PACIFIC PALISADES

Pacific Plisades

Nestled on the western edge of Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades is a prime spot along the glistening shores of the Pacific Ocean. It’s like a hidden treasure, just a few steps away from the glitz of Hollywood but tucked into a serene, nature-infused enclave.

One of the most affluent communities in California and the rest of the country, Pacific Palisades is home to a population that consists of executives, personalities, and urban sophisticates at the top of their respective careers from the entertainment industry to the retail and medical sectors. A good number of these residents travel in Audis, BMWs, and the like and go on vacations out of the country. Most of all, they crave the more private, exclusive, and subdued surroundings that Pacific Palisades provides. That’s why it’s not uncommon to bump into a Hollywood celebrity while doing groceries or eating lunch at one of the restaurants in the area.

PACIFIC PALISADES’ FOOD AND BEVERAGE SCENE: AN OVERVIEW

While not as bustling as the restaurant scene in neighboring coastal communities like Santa Monica or Malibu, the restaurants and other places for social gatherings in Pacific Palisades are diverse enough to provide a rich and rewarding exploration of various tastes, aromas, and culinary treats.

Thanks to its nautical location, you can savor meals at any time of the day in Pacific Palisades restaurants with an ocean view. Moreover, you and your food crawl buddies can enjoy an international feast of flavors with the presence of Italian, Asian, Mexican, and other region-specific restaurants in Pacific Palisades.

Come sundown, Pacific Palisades has a bevy of great social hotspots for a laid-back and low-key nightlife scene. Given this Los Angeles neighborhood’s tranquil suburban setting, you won’t find the typical dance clubs and party places that are a thing among its more party-centric neighbors. Instead, you’ll be soaking in the more casual and relaxed vibe of the gastropubs, bars, lounges, and live music venues found in the area.

Recently, a movement towards sustainability and conscious eating has taken root in the Pacific Palisades’ dining scene. Restaurants now embrace eco-friendly practices, promote organic produce, and support local farmers. This reflects the community’s passion for taste, ethics, and genuine care for the environment.

YOUR CULINARY JOURNEY IN PACIFIC PALISADES STARTS HERE

A female chef pouring souce on salad

Serving exceptional food and drinks is the primary goal of every restaurant but a truly great one offers an experience that transcends beyond what’s on the plate. Listed below are the attributes that make a great food and beverage venue:

  • Ambiance: It’s nice to eat at a restaurant with perfect lighting that sets the mood, decor that tells a story, and an atmosphere that whispers comfort and elegance at the time. From cozy corners to chic interior design, the ambiance sets the stage for the dining experience.
  • Customer service: It’s not just about taking orders – it’s about creating an experience. Attentive yet unobtrusive, friendly yet professional, great service ensures that you feel like royalty.
  • Efficiency: Once you enter the restaurant, everything from the seating to the payment should be easy and stress-free.
  • Consistency: Great restaurants don’t just shine on special occasions – they should sparkle every time you walk through their doors. Consistency in quality, taste, and services is the hallmark of a place that knows how to retain its patrons.
  • Passion and personality: Behind every great restaurant is a team of chefs, managers, and staff who pour their hearts into what they do. It’s the genuine smiles, the personal touches, and the love that they share with their clientele that make a dining spot a popular and well-loved one.

With these in mind, here are some of the best restaurants to visit on your Pacific Palisades food crawl.

Hank’s
1033 North Swarthmore Avenue

This restaurant’s interiors effortlessly blend modern chic with rustic charm, creating an inviting space where you feel at home.

With outstanding burger offerings like the Double Diamond, the Single, and the California Burger, it’s no surprise that this restaurant has bested other burger joints for the title of Best Burger in Los Angeles. A crowd favorite, the Double Diamond consists of a meaty blend of brisket, short rib, and wagyu complemented with Tillamook cheddar, butter lettuce, grilled onion, tomatoes, and the special house sauce.

For relatively early risers (meaning too early for lunch but too late for breakfast), this Pacific Palisades favorite offers a brunch menu featuring filling favorites from Avocado Toast to New York Steak and Eggs, salads, desserts, and their special burgers. But any time of the day, you can wash your Hank’s delights down with your preferred ales and spirits from lovely Pinot Noirs to a Heineken alcohol-free malt.

Café Vida
15317 Antioch Street

Another Pacific Palisades restaurant that offers brunch, Cafe Vida caters to just about anyone from meat lovers to those with special diets. Its menu features fluffy omelets, decadent French toast, and tasty salads.

Cafe Vida takes pride in sourcing organic, locally grown produce and ethically raised meats, ensuring every bite you take is not only delicious but also supports sustainable practices. Enjoy the rest of your meal with freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, house-made beverages, and organic caffeine fixes like Golden Turmeric Latte, La Colombe Cold Brew, or Artisan Hot Tea.

Gladstones
17300 Pacific Coast Highway

Serving lunch and dinner, this coastal gem embraces the essence of seaside dining and celebrates the bounty of the ocean. It has become an institution in its own right, having been in operation for more than 50 years. Its raw bar and chilled shellfish are crowd-pleasers from the Tuna Tartare to the Malibu Seafood Tower. It also has offerings apart from seafood dishes like Handcut Ribeye, Filet Mignon, and Mary’s Roasted Chicken. Pair your meals with your choice of drinks from their extensive list that includes cocktails, draft beers, wines, and other spirits. For young diners 12 years old and below, Gladstones has a special kids’ menu for them.

Casa Nostra Ristorante
Two Pacific Palisades branches along Sunset Boulevard and in Highlands

The Sunset Boulevard branch of Casa Nostra – named the Casa Nostra Trattoria – is the most recently opened among its three branches which are all in Los Angeles County. (The non-Pacific Palisades branch is in Westlake Village.) No matter which location you visit, you’re sure to enjoy the rich flavors of authentic Italian cuisine made with only high-quality, imported Italian products plus locally grown produce.

Interestingly, you can visit any of this Pacific Palisades restaurant’s three locations and bring your own wine to complement your orders sans the corkage fee from Sundays to Thursdays.

Blue Ribbon Sushi
15201 Palisades Village Lane

This food spot’s minimalist decor with subtle Japanese touches sets the stage for the highlight of your visit – the sushi bar filled with a mind-blowing variety of sushi preparations made by master chef Toshi Ueki and his team. Together with brothers Eric and Bruce Bromberg who are chefs themselves, they present “outstanding Japanese cuisine based on tradition and passion.”

Apart from sushi, other Blue Ribbon offerings include appetizers, salads, main dishes like Filet of Beef and Pacific King Salmon, wagyu dishes, maki rolls, yasai (vegetable rolls), platters, desserts, and impressive sake and wine selections.

WHEN THE SUN SETS

Group of people drinking

The moment the sun sets, this is when Pacific Palisades’ roster of bars, lounges, and gastropubs take over to light up the evening. Whether you’re out to mingle or simply enjoy toe-tapping beats with your ice-cold beer, you don’t have to go far for a relaxing nightcap in this L.A. suburb.

Here are awesome places that define Pacific Palisades’ laid-back nightlife scene.

The Draycott
15255 Palisades Village Lane

The plush interiors of The Draycott evoke a classy SoCal vibe with a European touch. Even its menu is composed of California favorites with a British twist. While it opens in time for brunch, this Pacific Palisades restaurant has all-day breakfast meals to look forward to like Warm Goat Cheese Salad, Steak Entrecote, Baked Raclette, Angels’ Eggs, and more.

A French bistro, Belle Vie, forms part of The Draycott for a limited time and takes charge of the various food and beverage offerings here. You can choose to stay indoors or enjoy your food and drinks amid sweeping views of the Palisades Village Green on their outdoor terrace.

Porta Via
1063 North Swarthmore Avenue

A contemporary California bistro and bar, Porta Via presents a fresh, inviting atmosphere with its delightful pastel interiors bathed in natural light during the daytime. Open for lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on weekends, it pulls all the stops in the variety of dishes it serves. On the menu are seafood, meat, pasta, greens, chicken, and even vegan and kid options, so that you can partake of this food spot’s scrumptious meals no matter your dietary requirements or cravings.

The selection of beverages on weekends is also extensive. Whether you need a cuppa Joe, a cool smoothie, or sassy cocktails like Lychee Fizz or Coco Latte, you’re in for a wonderful surprise.

Cinque Terre West Osteria
970 Monument Street Suite 110

Inspired by the Italian region of Cinque Terre, this food spot boasts a wide array of offerings from pasta and pizza made fresh daily to cornetti – Italian pastries that look like croissants. For a deep dive into the restaurant’s remarkable wine and beer options, you can join the prestigious Enoteca Cinque Wine Club and get invited to special wine tastings and food pairings, have access to the restaurant’s secret wine list, and enjoy meal discounts.

Bel-Air Bay Club
16801 Pacific Coast Highway

While not necessarily a nightspot, Bel-Air Bay Club is particularly favored for garden weddings, especially with the venue’s manicured lawns, spectacular ocean views, and a lovely Mediterranean-style mansion serving as a backdrop and site for receptions. The Club also boasts its own catering services and has an extensive list of wedding vendors from photographers and florists to musical entertainment, making it a one-stop nuptials preparation shop.

The Club is also available for other types of gatherings from bat mitzvahs and birthday parties to corporate events and team-building exercises. It can also serve as a filming location and, in fact, has figured in scenes of several films and TV series like NCIS: Los Angeles and Woody Allen’s Cafe Society.

LOCAL EVENTS

Fireworks

There are several other opportunities for Pacific Palisades residents to get together and socialize. Throughout the year, this L.A. neighborhood plays host to various events and festivals that showcase its welcoming nature and unique personality.

4th of July Parade

Just like in many parts of the country, the 4th of July is a significant date that deserves celebration. To mark this important date, Pacific Palisades has its very own parade featuring colorful floats, marching bands, and a range of participants from various community organizations and groups. The day is capped with a spectacular fireworks display.

Pacific Palisades Farmers Market

Thanks to the efforts of community market organizer Raw Inspiration, it has come up with the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market. Open on Sundays from 8 A.M. to 2 P.M. along Swarthmore Avenue and Antioch Street, this market features local organic produce, specialty foods, and products from local farmers and artisans. It’s a great opportunity to purchase the freshest produce and support small businesses while interacting with the rest of the community.

Palisades Village Green Concert Series

Held every Sunday evening during summer at Palisades Village Green, these concerts allow residents and guests to converge in this pocket of green space and listen for free to great live music.

Pacific Palisades Art Walk

This event features various works from local and regional artists, from paintings and sculptures to mixed media. Here, you can discover your new favorite artists, perhaps purchase artwork, and relish the community’s talent and colorful culture.

LEARN MORE ABOUT PACIFIC PALISADES

The luxurious lifestyle in Pacific Palisades has many facets – its dining scene and social hotspots are just some of them. For a more detailed overview of what to expect from this L.A. coastal neighborhood, there’s only one luxury Realtor to call: James Respondek.

As one of the top agents in Pacific Palisades, James has built a successful career and a stellar reputation for helping clients realize their real estate goals in the City of Angels’ Westside. He has been in the luxury real estate industry since 1979 and has since accumulated over $1 billion in sales. Now, along with his team at The Respondek Group, he can not only give you a rundown of the things that make Pacific Palisades unique but also assist in finding you the home of your dreams.

Get in touch with James today at 310.488.4400 or email him here!