SERVING EXCELLENT FOOD & LIVE MUSIC
NIGHTLY IN SANTA MONICA
Santa Monica’s Dakota Lounge, located at the same location as the former Temple Bar on Wilshire Blvd, books cool, eclectic live music and is known for giving acclaimed artists like Grammy-award winning R&B/soul songstress Janelle Monae, along with infamous country crooner Shooter Jennings, and local up-and-coming rock group Ringside (a personal favorite) their starts, but you might also be surprised to find out it is a must-visit for fine foodie fare.
In fact, Executive Chef Zachary Saunders has put together an excellent tasty menu of first-rate meals that go hand-in-hand with wonderful pairings of beer and wine (this is a club with a full bar after all). And the Chef is happy to recommend what drinks go best with each order so feel free to ask in order to get the best possible dining experience.
Make sure to note that the menu clearly states “Substitutions and modifications are politely declined,” as the Chef has taken extreme measures, using only the freshest ingredients handpicked from locally grown markets, to make sure each order comes perfect.
Word to the wise, since Dakota Lounge doesn’t open until 7pm, the venue serves a late happy hour nightly from 7-9pm which is a great deal since most happy hours tend to be done by the time most people actually get off work. Happy Hour consists for $5 well drinks, $4 draught beers, $5 Guinness, $5 house red and $5 house white.
Door cover varies at the club but chances are, at least during the week, if you book a dinner reservation in advance, you can bypass the admission fee as long as the table orders a minimum of $25 (barring special events or other exceptions), a truly great deal.
Reasonably priced for excellent eats, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The Tapas items include Chips & Dip, roasted garlic and lemon hummus served with a variety of market vegetable chips, a great starter as well as an excellent dish to share. This is also a discounted item during Happy Hour.
The Fish Tacos (three miso-marinated black cod tempura battered tacos with homemade kimchi and watermelon radish) are also an excellent choice. These are a definite Happy Hour favorite.
Another fave is the hearty Mac & Cheese (Rigatoni with wild boar bacon and English peas in a cheesy mornay sauce). Talk about comfort food at its best.
The Sliders, as well as the 8oz Beef Burger entree, are made with Niman Ranch all natural beef and are sure-fire hits. The Sliders are prepared three different ways: Classic, Hawaiian, and English style. You just can’t beat a slider on tasty Hawaiian bread! The Beef Burger is served with confit onion, a fried quail egg, boar bacon and bloomsdale spinach on focaccia with a side of shoestring fries.
Do yourself a favor and make sure to order the Sweet Potato Fries. They are killer! These hand cut sweet potatoes are sliced and fried and tossed in togarashi, nori, sesame and flour de sel. An order is $8 and it’s huge. This one is a must.
Other Tapas items include Sake Wings (tender chicken wings tossed with sesame and spicy miso glaze), Jerk Chicken (six brined, grilled and pulled chicken marinated in a spicy jerk sauce, served with black bean puree in a fried plantain cup topped with mango salsa…brilliant), Shrimp Ceviche (Mexican tiger shrimp with fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice, sweet corn and Serrano served with sweet potato chips), and Margherita Flatbread (classic pizza, house made, rolled thin and grilled with an uncooked tomato and herb sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella and handpicked basil).
Discounted Tapas during Happy Hour include the Classic Sliders, Chicken Skewers, French Fries and Sake Wings.
The Entrée items, in addition to the Beef Burger, include the Hawaiian Big Eye (Coriander, sesame, espolette crusted, served rare with bok choy, homemade kimchi and wasabi whipped potatoes), as well as the Hangar Steak (8oz Hangar steak grilled and sliced thin, served with chimichurri sauce and shoestring fries), and the delicious Curry Shrimp Sandwich (large Mexican tiger shrimp tempura fried with curry tartar sauce, coleslaw on focaccia bun served with shoestring fries).
If you’re looking for a casual night of Tapas and drinks you can’t go wrong with the Fish Tacos, Sliders, and Sweet Potato Fries, although the Jerk Chicken (with its wonderful plantain cups), and the Shrimp Ceviche are also favorites. If you’re really hungry then you can’t go wrong if you throw in the Curry Shrimp Sandwich or the impressive Hawaiian Big Eye.
And make sure to try some of the bar’s signature drinks that include the Onolicous (Ron Centenario and Dr. Pepper), Amazon Caipirinha (Leblon Cachaca, sugar and lime muddled), Tiki Torch (spiced rum, Orange Curacao, sour served up with a cinnamon sugary rim job), Alex and Sabrina’s Hawaiian Style Mai Tai (Bacardi, Malibu, OJ, Pineapple Float Myers cherry garnish), and the Blue Makua (UV Blue Rasberry and soda with lime), in addition to a slew of other specialty cocktails.
A cool, Santa Monica haunt, the club’s vibe, with its dim, red décor, emits a casual, laidback atmosphere, often filled with lush live music. Currently, singer/songwriter Malea McGuinness is a favorite having just celebrated a two-month long Tuesday night residency.
The bar has a very scaled-down dress code (no gym attire and no bare tops or toes) and is a perfect place to eat a savory and sensational meal while discovering some new and exciting acts onstage.
Dakota Lounge is located at 1026 Wilshire Blvd (between 10th and 11th) in Santa Monica. Call 310-393-8200. Parking in lots behind the club and easy street parking. To see the venue’s current Calendar of live events click here.