For those who know and appreciate history, Michael’s is sacred ground. The groundbreaking restaurant on Santa Monica’s Third Street north of Wilshire redefined the dining scene in L.A. when it opened in 1979. Today, Michael McCarty’s maverick spirit still invigorates the joint, keeping it as fresh as the cuisine he helped invent.
With spring upon us, it is al fresco season once again, and one would be hard-pressed to find a garden patio with as much charm as Michael’s. For 36 years, this tucked-away nook has hosted dinner parties under the stars — and often enough, with the stars. It is often cited as one of the best year-round outdoor dining locales in Southern California.
“The main reason I decided to become a restaurateur was that I love to entertain people, to show them a really wild time,” says McCarty. “And when things are going right at a party or in a restaurant — great food and great service with the right mix of people in the perfect setting — nothing beats it.”
Last week, I launched the spring season at a communal banquet table in the lush surroundings of this famed patio. An eclectic mix of diners shared stories and bites as Pinot Noir from McCarty’s own Malibu vineyard was immodestly imbibed. The restaurateur himself greeted his guests and shared his infectious enthusiasm.
“The context of indoor-outdoor dining is such an iconic California way of life, and the garden is just more beautiful, spacious and lush than ever,” McCarty says.
Michael’s was doing farm-to-table before it became a novel concept. And because seasonal California cuisine is never out of style, this landmark is built to stand the test of time.
All photos courtesy of Michael’s Santa Monica.
1147 Third Street
Santa Monica, CA 90403
310 451 0843
Scott Bridges is an L.A.-based journalist who has worked as a police-beat reporter, a community newspaper editor, and a food and travel writer. He currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to The Huffington Post and Bizjournals.com, among other sites. He is a native Californian who lives on the Westside.