OCEAN AVE — Running a daily newspaper with a full-time staff of only three is stressful and time consuming, so when I do get a chance to kick it one of my favorite things to do is post up on a patio, take in the ocean breezes and people watch with a cool craft beer in hand.
I’ve found that the Blue Plate Oysterette on Ocean Avenue or Rick’s Tavern on Main Street are great for that, as is The Commons on Broadway. But thanks to my friends Rosalind Napoli and Kim Koury of Spin PR, I think I’ve found my new hangout — the recently opened Del Frisco’s Grille, located at the coveted corner of Ocean and Colorado avenues.
Those familiar with that corner know how awesome it is for people watching. Literally thousands cross Ocean Avenue daily to visit the internationally known Santa Monica Pier and take pictures of its famous sign and ride the solar-powered Ferris wheel. It’s also a significant transit hub, with several bus lines intersecting.
The geniuses behind Del Frisco’s take advantage of the location with their ceiling-to-floor windows, spacious patio and bar that provide great views of the action just outside. From my perch with my Stone IPA in hand and some scrumptious ahi tuna tacos on my plate, I could see folks from all walks of life, providing me the perfect fodder for my wild imagination and off-beat humor.
Executive Chef Daniel Tiger, who resides in Santa Monica, has crafted a menu that provides many of the comfort foods we Americans love like shaved prime steak and fried chicken sandwiches, a New York Strip with balsamic reduction, grilled cheeseburgers, flatbreads (basically haute pizza) and a steaming chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream.
But he’s also incorporated some of the local Farmers’ Market fare to keep the menu fresh and unique to the Del Frisco Restaurant Group’s lone Southern California location. Case in point: the steamed brown bag fish with organic vegetables, seasoned with white wine and a basil pesto.
“We want to offer something fresh and fun for the locals,” Tiger said as I munched on some of the crisp and creamy ahi tuna tacos.
Tiger, 31, a tattooed culinary mastermind who has experience with sushi and pastries, said the restaurant caters to all types, from the surfer to the executive. I saw people in suits as well as young ladies in Daisy Dukes. There was even a dude with a T-shit and tie. I wasn’t a fan of that odd combination, but I did fall for the the cheesesteak egg rolls. You get all the gooey, salty goodness of a Philly cheesesteak and the sweet and spicy chili sauce of a traditional egg roll.
The restaurant’s open floor plan makes it so you can have a conversation with the table next to you and potentially make new friends. You can also enjoy the views from pretty much every seat. There’s also hip music and classic rock playing and cute waitresses in tights and short skirts. Sorry, but I am a man, after all.
There’s an extensive wine list and a decent selection of craft beers on tap and in the bottle. If you’re looking for something stronger to take the edge off, try one of their signature cocktails like The Morning After, which features Smirnoff coconut vodka, coconut water, lemon sour and Sprite. Coconut water is one of the best ways to hydrate.
After stuffing myself, I took a look around and soaked in the atmosphere. I noticed a slogan painted over the area where the flatbreads are made and the cooks put on the finishing touches. It read, “Do right and feed every man.”
With an accessible menu featuring comfort foods at decent prices and a casual vibe, the folks at Del Frisco’s Grille are doing just that. Stop by at sunset and experience it for yourself. There’s plenty to see — and eat.
We’re so blessed to have as many quality restaurants as we do in Santa Monica. I just wish I had more time to enjoy them.
If you go
Del Frisco’s Grille
1551 Ocean Ave. #105
Santa Monica, Calif.