Celebrated seafood pop-up restaurant Isla, which has been alternating between two Santa Monica sites for over a month, has found its forever home on Main Street. Focussing on a wood-fired seafood and fowl menu, the outlet plans to open on March 29. It will move into the space currently occupied by Little Prince at 2424 Main Street, sandwiched between two already popular eateries, Augie’s on Main and the Jinya Ramen Bar.
Isla is the second successful collaboration between chef Brian Bornemann and designer Leena Culhane, the duo that created Crudo e Nudo, another post-pandemic pop-up turned permanent restaurant. Ever since the Enterprise Fish Co. on Kinney Street fell victim to the pandemic and closed its doors in 2020 after 41 years, the Main Street strip has been missing a signature seafood restaurant, but thankfully that has begun to change.
Working in collaboration with Little Prince’s current owner Shane Murphy, the plan is to undertake a quick overhaul that includes pulling out a temporary wall and restoring 20 seats in that space. Despite the City’s significant outdoor dining fees, the site will retain 30 parklet seats for a total of 80 covers.
The menu promises an assortment of skewers, pasture-raised birds, sustainable locally-caught seafood, charcuterie and lots of grilled vegetables. It will also feature a full bar as unlike Crudo e Nudo, which only serves wine, Little Prince has a full liquor license, which means you can enjoy a delicious cocktail with your equally-as-delicious meal should you be so inclined.
“We are a raw bar inspired by the ethos of the Italian coast and the spirit of Los Angeles,” the website says. “Seafood is sourced from sustainable purveyors between Santa Barbara and Baja, and vegetables and herbs are from Santa Monica Farmers Markets. We believe in sustainability, beauty, and community.”
Prior to this arrangement, Bornemann and Culhane had attempted a business partnership with nearby Chez Tex in October of last year, but that didn’t work out.
“We are so excited for Isla to open, especially with Shane and many of our other friends from Little Prince. We see it as the next evolution for the space, our progressive goals, labor models, our culinary goals as established at Crudo and for Main Street in general,” Bornemann said.
Back in August, the culinary-focused website Eater suggested that Santa Monica’s Main Street was fast becoming the coolest place to eat in Los Angeles, “And now it’s getting even better,” Bornemann said. “We are especially thrilled to add the wood-fired element to our food, so if Crudo is our ‘sashimi’ bar, one can think of Isla as the ‘yakitori’ element.”