Stretches of Pico Boulevard, a main artery connecting Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles, look more like an art exhibition as of late: The local business improvement district, paired with the award-winning nonprofit Beautify Earth, has adorned buildings here with a variety of striking murals. The people bustling through the area are equally diverse, drawn to a mix of small galleries, live music venues, shops and a variety of restaurants offering temptations for almost any palate. Accessible from the three Metro Expo Line stations in town, Pico ends at the beach and links Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and Virginia Avenue Park, where a beloved Santa Monica farmers market takes place each Saturday.
Pico Boulevard Restaurants
Celebrating 44 years serving Santa Monica, Gilbert’s El Indio serves up all of the scrumptious classics, from albondigas soup to carne asada plates with all the trimmings. Try to drop in on Margarita Monday or Taco Tuesday.
Lunetta All Day at Lunetta has a split personality. Visit the “All Day” section for a neighborhood diner experience or step into the adjoining “At Night” area after 6 p.m. to be part of the dinner-and-drinks crowd and indulge in sophisticated cuisine served in a social atmosphere.
Customers wax poetic about the hundreds of creamy desserts created at Rocco’s Cheesecake and sold whole or by the slice. Go simple with a Rocco’s N.Y. Classic or get adventurous with the Jasmine Milk Tea White Chocolate Lavender—either way, it’s a sweet experience.
The Upper West is proud of its ever-changing, ethically inspired menu of apps, plates, soups, sandwiches, salads and veggie sides. Here, Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Italian and American dishes are gloriously fused and served as diners gaze upon the work of a different featured artist on its walls every month.
Established in 2013, the cozy, family-owned eatery, Z Garden, prides itself on its fresh Mediterranean dishes designed to satisfy the appetite without breaking the bank. Tip: Don’t overlook the appetizer section of the menu, which features 15-plus tantalizing options.
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Pico Boulevard Shops
Whether you’ve just learned to thread a needle or you’re a seasoned seamstress, Sewing Arts Center has you covered with a full inventory of supplies (including machines and cabinetry) and classes in sewing, embroidery, quilting, pattern making, tailoring, fashion design and even home décor.
Jewelry designer Sofia Kaman is known for her eclectic signature collections and ability to reimagine period design, from Georgian to retro. The store also carries rare vintage items and specializes in custom work to help you create your own one-of-a-kind piece.
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Pico Boulevard Attractions
Experience the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as provided and taught by an authentically trained and certified practitioner at Acu Massage Center. Many clients experience resolution of their chronic pain and emotional stress with specialized modalities such as acupressure and Tui-na.
Taught in individual sessions or small groups, the practice of Pilates can transform any person’s physique, regardless of their fitness level or age. The Good Body Pilates studio is equipped to do just that, replete with essential Pilates apparatus and a staff of experienced instructors, including the founder/owner.
The Morgan-Wixson Theatre draws rave reviews for its balanced offerings of plays and musicals presented on its Main Stage and via its Y.E.S. (Youth Education/Entertainment Series), through which it develops and showcases young talent.
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In honor of the people, places and experiences that make Santa Monica the premier beach destination it is, we’ve made a mini video series highlighting a sampling of Santa Monica’s small business community and the stories behind the storefronts. Here, we visit the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, Gilbert’s El Indio Mexican Restaurant and McCabe’s Guitar Shop on Pico Boulevard.