It's a good sign when a new restaurant/nighttime party spot is a tough ticket to get into, so things are looking very happy for Santa Monica's Élephante, the latest from famed restaurateur Nick Mathers. Rare (for the Westside) rooftop location, chic crowd, pretty views, and a yummy menu make this a standout foodie attraction. Élephante bills itself as a beach bar and the scenic views of the Pacific and the city back up that claim. Vibe is chic but casual, a blend of coastal California influences with a little European sophistication thrown in. The décor is simple and uncluttered, with muted colors that maintain the focus of attention on the company you keep. The crowd is young, hip, and social media savvy - this is a restaurant that shows up on a lot of popular Instagram accounts.
The menu is a seasonal take on “the Pacific meets Italy,” with an eclectic mix of pizzas, pastas, and random small plates that emphasize sharing and socializing. Among larger dishes, the homemade lobster spaghetti and gemelli with Dungeness crab is a fave, as is the robust Aspen Ridge rib eye.
Beach bar vibe carries through into an artisanal drink menu that is heavy on blending innovation with cocktail classics - even old school favorites like the Moscow Mule or Old Fashioned are composed with a flair that takes them beyond the traditional. The beer and wine list is small but well-curated.