Socalo

4.6
456 Reviews
$30 and under
Mexican
Located within Santa Monica’s Gateway Hotel, Socalo is a beachy, California canteen and Mexican pub from award-winning chef/owners Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.

Socalo serves conscientiously-sourced, seasonal SoCal Mexican fare with quick counter service during the day while dinner shifts to full-service dining alongside cocktails, craft beers on tap and Mexican wines.

We are open for indoor and outdoor dining. Please note your seating preference in the notes and we will do their best to accommodate. We also offer takeout with curbside pickup, delivery, and family meal kits Tuesday - Sunday at socalo.com.

For large parties (5 or more), please call 310.451.1655 to talk to the manager onsite to discuss accommodations, or contact us at socalo.com.

Experiences

  • Valentine's Day Weekend

    Feb 11 - Feb 13, 2022

    Celebrate Valentine's Weekend with a romantic dinner in our beautiful indoor dining room or heated outdoor patios. A la carte specials will include Oyster Shooter, Duck Mole Taquitos, Sweet Corn Tamales, Camarones Calientes, Negra Modelo Braised Short Rib, and Café de Olla Cupcake. Regular dinner menu also available.

Offers

  • Taco Tuesday

    Multiple dates available

    Tue 4:00 PM - 8:30 PM

    Join us all day, every Tuesday for $4 tacos, $5 beer, and $8-$10 cocktails and wines from Mexico. Taco Tuesday menu is available from 11:30am to 9pm for dine-in only. Tacos include vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options!
  • Happy Hour

    Multiple dates available

    Wed - Thu 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

    Voted best happy hour in Santa Monica! Join us Wednesday - Sunday from 3pm to 6pm for happy hour on the outdoor patios or inside the restaurant. $5 tacos, $8 cocktails, $8 - $10 glasses of Mexican wine Dine-in only.

Safety precautions

Cleaning & Sanitizing
  • Surfaces sanitized between seatings
  • Common areas deep cleaned daily
  • Digital, disposable or sanitized menu provided
  • Sanitizer or wipes provided for customers
  • Sealed or wrapped utensils used
Protective Equipment
  • Waitstaff wear masks
  • Diners must wear masks unless eating or drinking
Screening
  • Sick staff prohibited in the workplace
  • Staff temperature check required
  • Staff is vaccinated
  • Proof of vaccination required to dine indoors
What 456 people are saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.6
food
4.5
service
4.4
ambience
4.3
value
Noise · Moderate
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E
Elizabeth
Chicago
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great tacos and great cocktails. Back patio was lovely.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Palm Springs
6 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always a wonderful meal! I wanted to try the fish tacos, but I couldn't tear myself away from the lamb tacos once again!

AL
AveL
1 review
Dined on January 15, 2022
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Such good food, outdoor seating and lovely ambiance. Highly recommend.

MB
vipMarkB
Los Angeles
73 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2022
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Another great happy hour on the “big” patio, shared with our cousins from out of town. Great service, food and drinks. This time we tried the sea bass fideo. Really, really good. Our cousin gave the fish tacos a big thumbs up, too. Next time. We have been several times and the food has always been special and delicious.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Philadelphia
1 review
Dined on January 9, 2022
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always the best experience at Socalo! Love this place

WN
WilliamN
Los Angeles
18 reviews
Dined on January 2, 2022
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We enjoyed, as usual, dining at SoCalo. The food was great and the outdoor seating venue was particularly safe yet warm.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on January 1, 2022
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love love this restaurant, Big Fans of a order Grill.

MG
MonicaG
Dallas
7 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2021
Overall2food3service2ambience2

This restaurant offered a New Year’s Eve menu. At the instruction they were adamant that they would bot wait for more that 10 minutes to hold the reservation and they made me put on a credit card for it. When we arrived it was pretty empty, just a couple of tables. I thought it was because it was only 9:00 pm.
When we sat the waiter informed us that we needed to hurry because the kitchen was about to he closed and he didn’t want us to go without food. That the chef decided to stop receiving reservations at 9:00. This is marked as a Mexican Restaurant and we all chose the day’s special menu. It was supposed to be arrachera with shrimp al mojo de ajo. The food was ok buy nothing mexican about it. When we were eating the other tables emptied and they started to clean the restaurant around us. Making noise with tables, chairs and trays. Also they put loud tropical music in the kitchen that we heard every tine they cane out if it. The waiter came with an early check but we wanted another round of drinks so they had to wait to get rid of us. Not a very good experience. I don’t live in San Diego and I am just passing through, but I would never go back there.

FF
vipFoodieFamily
Los Angeles
7 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Wonderful as always! We count on Socalo to exceed our high expectations, and the staff has delivered again this past NYE. The drink and food specials were fantastic, as of course were the usual menu items. Will continue to support as frequently as possible for how far away we live; worth the effort every time!

k
vipkahn
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

New year’s

H
Heyjude
Los Angeles
8 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

New Years all day

LL
LawrenceL
1 review
Dined on December 23, 2021
Overall3food4service5ambience1

Our family was hoping to have a "quiet" dinner, and enjoy your very creative dishes. The food was good, but the noise bouncing off all the hard surfaces made having a convrstion very difficult.
Our server was great, and our order was promptly delivered, though one taco short, since we order an additional taco, three rather than two. .

But the noise was the big thing.

AL
AndrewL
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2021
Overall3food2service5ambience4

been a big fan of these chefs for so long.... came by with the family last night to try this iteration of their obvious talents. unfortunately, i found the food lacking inspiration. simply put, there are many better options for much less money available throughout LA. most surprisingly, the fun factor that was always a part of the border grill experience was nowhere to be seen. obviously socalo is a different venue at a decidedly different time. the pandemic has been hard on everyone. however, i would have hoped that some of the old magic found its way here. i discovered last night it did not. best of luck to a couple of true pioneers in all their future endeavors.

C
Cam1313
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on December 21, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Loved every minute. We arrived early for our reservation and expected to wait, however they had a great table for us and we sat right away. The restaurant was full and had a really great buzz about it. Fantastic ambiance and such great decor. Now the food, AMAZING! Everything was so yummy! Lamb Birria Tacos, the BEST! We tried so many things. Service was excellent! I highly recommend this fabulous restaurant!

j
vipjeffmeistermusic
Orange County
14 reviews
Dined on December 21, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Cool environs & casual servers bring original Mexican street food variations.

MS
MariaS
1 review
Dined on December 18, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great place and customer service! Loved it. Definitely going back…

m
macbones
Los Angeles
37 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Had take-out a few times, this was my second time with dine in. Could not have been better (unless I had a second stomach could I could have kept eating the food was so good!).
Service was fast and exactly what we ordered. The food was a trip to Disneyland in my mouth.
Parking was easy and free, everyone was super nice.
Will be going back many times more.

EL
ElliottL
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on December 14, 2021
Overall4food5service5ambience4

High quality California-inflected Mexican dining.

MB
vipMarkB
Los Angeles
74 reviews
Dined on December 11, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

We love eating on the back patio, especially during happy hour. Drinks and tacos are a bargain, and you can still order off the full dinner menu if you like. This is Mexican food flavor gourmet style. Have not had a menu item here that disappoints. The chicken tacos are great and also the steak (tacos or big plate). The patio is comfortable and 90 minutes free parking in the hotel garage with validation. Margaritas and other drinks delicious.

BB
vipBethB
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on December 10, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great night at Socalo with friends. Sat on the outdoor patio. It was private, comfortable, and nice and warm with multiple heaters. The Chinola Margarita, made with passion fruit liquer was wonderful, hard to have just one. Shared a number of appetizers, including chips and guacamole (best I've had), smoky roasted cauliflower, corn equite and crispy baja shrimp. Two shrimp tacos for dinner, followed by an amazing guava empanada. The service was top notch. Very happy to have Socalo in Santa Monica. Highly recommend the restaurant to all that are looking for exceptional, creative, high quality, SoCal style Mexican food!

BE
BiancaE
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on December 10, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Ricardo P. Was our server and was FABULOUS! We were dining with our 3 year old and he was great at entertaining and working with his picky preferences. Thanks for making our night out so pleasurable and fun!!

JK
JeanneK
Phoenix
5 reviews
Dined on December 10, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

So wonderful! Food service atmosphere parking excellent! Brought my dog to the patio with us and the staff was so kind to him too!!! Thanks for a great experience

g
goodeats
Los Angeles
6 reviews
Dined on December 5, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This is our second time here. Food and Service is excellent!

M
Mary
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on December 4, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Great service and food

F
Fredvis
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on December 4, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent as always. First rate food and service! Don't walk, run to Socalo!

J
vipJoey
Los Angeles
26 reviews
Dined on December 4, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

It was our first time there (and won’t be our last!) The Manager was super accommodating and friendly. Our name was handwritten on the table. Our server, Maria, was friendly and super knowledgeable. She gave us great recommendations. The food was delicious. Highly recommend!

E
vipElspeth
Los Angeles
6 reviews
Dined on December 4, 2021
Overall4food2service4ambience4

We had a mixed experience at Socalo. We started with Margaritas, chips and guac, and street corn. All very good. The entrees less so. I ordered sea bass, it had a strong fishy odor and the meat was chewy. The pesto pasta that formed a base for the fish was tasty, although somewhat overcooked. My partner got beef brisket enchiladas, he said the meat flavor was overwhelmed by everything else going on in the dish. All in all, disappointing.

We've had good experiences on other evenings so we will probably go back.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on December 3, 2021
Overall2food3service1ambience3

Terrible service. Took 20 min for anyone to take our drink order. We asked to switch tables (to be closer to an additional heater). They never responded to our request and then sat another party of 2 at the table we requested to be moved to 30 min later. Our salad came with our entree. Food was mediocre. Fish tacos did not use fresh fish. It took 20 min for them to process our credit card. It’s too bad as we had a god experience previously, but the owner was there that occasion. They need a serious overhaul of their service and management. We won’t be returning.

TS
vipTedS
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on December 3, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

One if my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles!

OT
OpenTable Diner
Orlando
4 reviews
Dined on December 3, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The chips and guac, ceviche, and tacos were all outstanding.

EB
EmilyB
1 review
Dined on November 30, 2021
Overall4food4service5ambience3

Tasty food. Great service. Very loud from road noise.

PA
PAVEL
Detroit
13 reviews
Dined on November 21, 2021
Overall3food3service3ambience3

Considering the history of the two owners and years of experience with their Frontier Grill, we had high hopes perhaps if we didn’t know what they can do we’d have come away more pleased. Then again, probably not. The two apps were the best part of an otherwise bland meal. The fish tacos were bland and forgettable and the hangar steak was mediocre, at best. We skipped desert, being unimpressed by the offerings.

Our server was nice but forgetful and inattentive.

Simply not what I had hoped for and a huge slide from Frontier Grill.

DS
vipDanS
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on November 21, 2021
Overall3food3service2ambience4

Guac was under salted and under seasoned. Server had no clue as to what the fish of the day was, gave the wrong fish and told me after the dish arrived, she gave me the wrong Aqua Fresca, and didn't know what the sorbet flavors were. Santa Monica bowl was good but Salsa Verde wasn't right so the dish was lacking. Maybe an off day for the kitchen and servers, but disappointing. Agua Fresca was delicious as was at the brownie sundae.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Dallas
2 reviews
Dined on November 18, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Lovely staff

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Los Angeles
5 reviews
Dined on November 17, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Wonderful Latin fusion food in the innovative mode that Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken made famous.

J
vipJunie
Orange County
16 reviews
Dined on November 12, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Great overall experience. Customer service was excellent, nice little touch with my name on our table. Cocktails were great and the tomahawk carnitas was amazing, not what I expected but it turned out great. It was more of a pork chop, but with the flavor of carnitas, creative and delicious take on a popular Mexican dish. We can’t wait to go back.

JL
JoanL
Los Angeles
5 reviews
Dined on November 9, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent food and service!

GD
GustavD
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on November 7, 2021
Overall3food2service2ambience3

Even though we were 4 at the table, ordering different things the food was cold when brought to the table.
Drinks arrived after the food.

SK
ShelleyK
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on November 7, 2021
Overall3food4service1ambience3

Food delicious, I take out from there often. Ordered cocktails, appetizer and entrees. Before drinks and app, they brought entrees. Not good

S
vipSuz123
Los Angeles
8 reviews
Dined on November 6, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great experience. We sat outside on a cold night but the heat lamps kept us warm. The tables are well spread out and the staff was amazing. Drinks and food are delicious. Overall great experience!

FAQs

You can order delivery directly from Socalo using the Order Online button. Socalo also offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (310) 451-1655.

Socalo is rated 4.6 stars by 456 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable. Due to local restrictions, this restaurant may not be accepting reservations at the moment.