Upper West is the perfect restaurant. The End. Ok not really “the end“, but I whole heartedly meant that in my humble yet wise opinion Upper West in Santa Monica really is just one of those restaurants I truly consider to be perfect? Ambiance, food, crowd, location, space, drinks, attitude, menu, everything, it’s all well above any standards of an exemplary dining experience.
I’ve been a frequent visitor to Upper West for over 2 years, but let me tell you, it was funny the way I actually discovered this place. I lived down the road in West LA on Bundy, but had zero knowledge of its existence until a friend from home (SF Bay Area) was in LA visiting. I was really hoping to impress her, her boyfriend, and friends by taking them to some cool/hip joint in Santa Monica but for the life of me I could not figure out where to go. We both worked in the fine dining industry at the same restaurant in Danville while we were in high school, therefore we then both developed quite a taste for great restaurants. This was no friend I wanted to take to Swingers or El Cholo, not to say we wouldn’t have enjoyed it! But she’s my kindred food spirit, my fellow appreciator of the more fattening things in life, and I was failing her on her first visit to check out my new neighborhood. But this girl, who wasn’t even living in LA, managed to impress ME in my own town when she discovered and made a reservation at Upper West.
I’ll never forget it. The six of us sat at the big long community table over by the bar area and I can’t say it enough, the whole meal and experience was perfect? Sure it had a lot to do with my amazing company, old friends, new friends, significant others, but none of us could shut up about how amazing the place was. For me it was love at first wine list, I’d never seen/heard of quite a bit of what they had to offer and when I asked our waiter for help he was more than knowledgeable and willing to find exactly what I had in mind. I don’t remember exactly what it was I ended up ordering but it was certainly some red blend I’d never had before, and of course it was memorable.
Speaking of wine key thing to note: Tuesdays = 1/2 off all bottles of wine… !!!!!
Luckily my guests like me we’re big on sharing so we all shared the burrata, ahi crispy tacos, burgers, a grilled cheese, one of every side veggie dish, and several, I’m talkin’ several desserts. Now that I think about it we probably got at least one of every dessert… standard situation with this friend. Anyway, I repeat quite a bit of what we got that night, and the most memorable dishes I still crave today were (which may be surprising to some) the vegetable side dishes, particularly their caramelized cauliflower with sage apple and parmesan. The menu as a whole is very clearly “Americana” with hints of global sophistication with the spices and play on tastes. In other words, it’s all your favorite familiar foods with hints of unique and new flavors.
So maybe you’re thinking, “where was she going with this place being perfect, sounds just like a pretty good restaurant…”. Well, I suppose you’ll just have to see for yourself, but for me, a place that I can take my parents/go out with girls/go out on a date, with an urban rustic decor, a refined and seasonal Americana menu, an unbelievable wine list and cocktail menu, a warm bustling environment, huge windows, and a black and white movie being projected on a wall… are the essential ingredients for a perfect restaurant. Maybe these are just my ideals for dining perfection, I don’t know, but have I steered you wrong yet? Most important thing I think to note here is you can’t go wrong walking in to a restaurant that has “There is no sincerer love than the love of food” largely painted on their wall. I love that quote, so if you too share our sentiment, you’ll understand what all the fuss is about at Upper West.