The Santa Monica Canyon is a rich area with an incredible history. It has served as a center for creativity for over 100 years. In its early years, pioneering producers filmed movies on the beach, and some industries accompanied these trailblazers by providing services to support the staff, including a well-known BBQ. As time went on more restaurants and bars opened. A popular gay bar with the front of a ship at the entrance is still there. For a while, there was a terrific French restaurant, “Les Anges” which was quite popular until the chef decided to move to Hawaii. At the corner of the Pacific Coast highway, there was a bar that was popular with folks from the light opera. At night, some musicians would bring their instruments and there was literally dancing on the tabletops.
Later, famous people moved into the neighborhood, and the locale became especially attractive to area artists. The most famous California artist, Richard Diebenkorn, lived on lower Amalfi. Perhaps the second most famous area artist, Sam Francis, lived on Entrada Drive, just up from the Golden Bull. The whole neighborhood gathered around his place in pain and terror when his house burned down. Later the artist David Hockney moved in on the south rim of the canyon and painted a picture of the doomed Patterson house which slid down the hill onto the Coast Highway during an earthquake. A new house is under construction on that promontory.
In 1949 the Golden Bull restaurant opened. Much of its clientele back then was the local gay community. The Golden Bull in those days was loved for two main reasons: its dedicated waitresses, who knew the customers by name, and the roast beef with a baked potato on the side. You can still get that delicious roast beef and excellent baked potato at the new iteration of the Bull.
The restaurant today is nothing like it used to be, except perhaps for the roast beef. It’s transformed into a wonderful steak house with a broad menu, and a delightful outside patio – one of the most comfortable in town. The bar is hopping, full of friendly people and quite loud. You need a reservation to get an inside seat most of the time. But there is usually room on the patio, and that’s quiet and comfortable. We regularly walk down there, and we love the filet mignon with peppercorn sauce on the side, and the baked potato.
We also like the Caesar salad, the crispy crab cakes, and the onion rings. For lunch there’s a good fish and chips, club sandwich, and hamburger – and my favorite, the BBQ pulled pork sandwich. There’s a good brunch on the weekends, with huevos rancheros and buttermilk pancakes. Just about every popular dish is on the menu, but the top choice for us remains the steaks. And the chef seems to be able to cook them exactly as ordered!
The Canyon remains a great place, with a lot of famous people still in residence, but the renaissance of the Golden Bull is one of the best things to come along.
170 W CHANNEL RD, SANTA MONICA, CA 90402
MON – WED 4PM – 12AM
THUR – FRI 4PM – 2AM
SAT 11AM – 2AM
SUN 11AM – 12AM
SAT – SUN 11AM – 3PM
MON – FRI 4PM – 5:30PM
Merv Hecht, like many Harvard Law School graduates, went into the wine business after law. In 1988, he began writing restaurant reviews and books. His latest book “The Instant Wine Connoisseur, 3d edition” is available on Amazon. He currently works for several companies that source and distribute food and wine products internationally. Please send your comments to: email@example.com