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Red O

1541 Ocean Ave. (Colorado Ave.) Send to Phone
Dine with a backdrop of palm trees and the ocean at chef Rick Bayless’s modern Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica.


Dinner nightly, Brunch Sat.-Sun.

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Red O, Santa Monica, CA

Even as cities re-open businesses, some restaurants may remain temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Be sure to contact the restaurant to find out its operational status.

Red O Restaurant Review

: For this Red O location, chef Rick Bayless has gone as far west as he can: on the shores of the Pacific, across from the famous neon sign of the Santa Monica Pier. The restaurant’s décor is enhanced on one side by the tropical backdrop created by the palm trees and the ocean, and on the other by the illuminated bar showcasing a myriad of tequilas --- 163 to be exact, ranging from $10 to $300 (Clase Azul 'Ultra' Extra Añejo and AsomBroso 'Collaboration'). There are various seating options: high tables, regular ones with white tablecloths, and a few outside in the alley. Of course, the ones in demand are the spots on the veranda by Ocean Avenue. Before your meal, indulge in a craft cocktail. While you browse the four pages of choices, you can dip the light, fresh homemade tortilla chips in tomatillo, three-chili or the very spicy habanero salsas. Now it’s time to start with the tasty corn and goat cheese tamales or the ahi tostaditas, bites of yellowtail ahi tuna laid on a small nacho with chile-cumin oil, avocado, Napa cabbage, harissa aïoli, pickled red onion and habanero. The proximity to the water calls for a “grand” seafood platter, and ceviches like the yellowtail aguachile (hamachi yellowtail sashimi soaked in a spicy lime broth, with avocado, red onion and cucumber). Bayless’s interpretation of Caesar salad takes a nice turn with the Parmesan replaced by cotija cheese, the croutons by a grilled white tortilla crisp, and the addition of toasted pepitas. If you like lobster, order the garlic marinated Maine lobster tail served with cilantro-fennel rice, charred Mexican knob onions and slow-roasted baby fennel. Ask your waiter about “el pescado del dia,” unless you want to try the scallops or the sea bass, which are among the regular menu items. There is quite a large selection of steaks, though we tend to prefer the more creative carnitas (slow-cooked pork in orange-guajillo chile sauce, accompanied ayocote beans and jícama-citrus salad). From the sides section, Mexican Street Corn, deconstructed with cotija and serrano-cilantro crema, is the winner. Finish with the goat cheesecake (skip the chocolate ganache).

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