michaels santa monica restaurant by michael mccarty

Michael McCarty reinvents his acclaimed eatery.

By Kate Nelson

Michael’s Santa Monica, 1147 Third St., Santa Monica, 310-451-0843, michaelssantamonica.com

Michael McCarty’s eponymous Santa Monica restaurant, Michael’s, helped pioneer what we’ve come to know as California cuisine when its doors opened back in April 1979. Regulars came for the stellar service, the gorgeous garden and of course the farm-to-table fare (long before the concept had caught on). The roster of culinary talent who’s come through the kitchen here reads like a who’s who of American cuisine: Ken Frank, Kazuto Matsusaka, Gordon Naccarato, Mark Peel, Billy Pflug, Nancy Silverton, Jonathan Waxman and Brooke Williamson, among others.

Last year, McCarthy took a chance on promising young chef Miles Thompson — who, if anyone is counting, is nearly a decade younger than the eatery itself. And like many risks the restaurateur has taken over the decades, that bet is paying off in spades. Critics and customers alike are drooling over Thompson’s forward-thinking, thoroughly delectable fare that simultaneously modernizes the menu and honors the Santa Monica institution’s history.

Some things haven’t changed. The walls are still adorned with museum-quality works from its proprietor’s private collection (think artists like Dennis Hopper, Jasper Johns and Frank Stella). McCarty still roams from table to table to introduce himself and thank diners for their patronage. And much like it did back in the seventies, his restaurant is once again experiencing an incredible culinary revolution.

Photography by Michael’s Santa Monica

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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