Dining on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica has generally speaking been “alright” – minus Loteria and some of the restaurants at Santa Monica Place, most of the dining options along this beach side shopping destination are a bit on the tired side. Sure there’s plenty of noteworthy restaurants surrounding the area within walking distance, but in terms of options located directly on the Promenade there isn’t exactly a restaurant concept that I believe accurately represents the culinary chops LA possesses. That is until recently when a group of bold visionaries came along, saw, and conquered a 10,000 sq foot two-story space, put a fantastic chef in the kitchen, hired a cocktail crafting genius, and there we have it: 1212 was born.
1212 opened only just two weeks ago and already they’re in the full swing of a busy bustling business. Even though the space, just 10,000 teeny tiny sq feet as mentioned, seems like it’d be quite the task to fill, 1212 seems to be maximizing it seamlessly. Even at around 5 pm the bar and patio area was already buzzing with imbibers from groups, dates, and tourists alike. As the night went on the restaurant provided live tunes to set the ambiance for diners and by 7pm the main dining room was just about full.
Outside of the ideal location for passerby and the incredible usage of space/decor, what really stands out about 1212 and does me proud is the food and beverage programs. The full bar is helmed by Fred Ghiassi (formerly Cassia) and the menu is inspired by a fresh ingredient/”farm to glass” concept. Fred was kind enough to let me taste test a few cocktails and I can hardly properly express just how talented I think Fred is, and how insane and insanely inventive all of these beverages are – all of them. 1212 is definitely the place to start with a cocktail, have some dinner, then stay for maybe one more cocktail. The dinner menu, crafted by Chef Walter Greenwood was also so cohesive, well put together, and totally on-point for being so “new”. The one thing I kept thinking about the entire experience at 1212 was that there were so many aspects, from cocktails to dishes, where I’d thought “I can’t believe I’ve never seen these two things paired together before, but it makes complete and total sense”. Whether it was mint/jalapeño, or caprese/proscuitto, everything about 1212 says “we’re really f*cking trying and we really f*cking care.” And you know what? It’s really f*cking working.
Favorite Beverage | Since I’ve already professed my love for all of the cocktails this is clearly a difficult decision, but I think the Electric Daisy (pear, raspberries, jalapeños, hibiscus infused agave, Lillet Rouge, amethyst lavender infused gin, Szechuan buzz) was one of the most fun cocktails I’ve ever had – and I don’t even like gin. The “Szechuan buzz” is a little yellow flower that comes as the cocktail garnish, but this garnish you’re actually supposed to eat – when you bite it your mouth goes a little numb and makes for a really fun and interesting way to enjoy a cocktail! Other standouts were the A Lo Cubano (mint, demerana syrup, fresh lime juice, cucumbers, jalapeños, De Leon Tequila Blanco, caviar lime) and the 24 Carrots cold (carrot juice, organic ginger liquor, Zacapa 23 rum, raw cane syrup, egg white, toasted pepitas).
Must Order | In terms of small plates order the Duck Confit & Black Truffle Dumplings and the “Bacon & Eggs” (bourbon & maple glazed pork belly, egg yolk, micro greens) – 100% order both. Following those I absolutely LOVED the Caprese & Procuitto Tower (vine ripe tomato, mozzarella, procuitto di Parma, pesto, balsamic syrup) and the Smoked & Fried Jidori Chicken (southern smoked and fried Jidori chicken, braised kale, roasted purple potatoes). If you save room for dessert, make sure you order the banana/chocolate/peanut butter crepe cake – it’s not only real easy on the eyes, it’s easy on the taste buds. It’s one seriously impressive dessert that takes a lot of effort to create every day!
Perfect Spot For | a really good place to have a meal on the Promenade // craft cocktails // global fare // lunch meeting // dinner date // late night bites // big groups // private parties (they have a few rooms) // live music entertainment // a buzzy environment
Pro Tip | keep an eye out for all of their events and live music entertainment! They’ve got live jazz every Saturday this month, but check in on their “Upcoming” Page for the full run down.
1212 // 1212 3rd St Promenade, Santa Monica 90401
HOURS // Sun – Sat: Lunch – 11 am – 3:30 pm, Dinner – 5 pm – 10:30 pm
LATE NIGHT LIVE ENTERTAINMENT // Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10 pm – 2 am