If you haven’t already been to Élephante, the super-hip, vibey local rooftop hotspot, you are missing out. The Mediterranean inspired restaurant sits atop the old Lemmles Theater in downtown Santa Monica with spectacular ocean views. Seasoned Aussie restaurateur Nicky Mathers and the “Wish You Were Here” Group are the visionaries behind this groovy gastronomic getaway and they have all the street-cred to back it up. Other local venues the Group own and operate are the Kassi Club, a Greek Islandthemed WeHo hotspot, Eveleigh, a California coastal-feel wine bar and the recently opened tiki bar-chic Belles Beach Club in Venice Beach. The Group operates a number of popular New York eateries as well.
The Élephante experience is not only a foodie haven but an aesthetic delight. The venue is designed to transport you to your favorite vacation spot, wherever that may be. Indeed, it does. It’s like a collage of favorite holiday memories – Tulum, Mykonos, Waikiki and Tunisia are a few that come to mind. It has a kind of universal vacay feeling which is part of its allure.
The cocktail menu is fun and unique. The signature cocktail is the Élephante, which I highly recommend. It’s a tropical, spicy, passion fruit-based concoction that can be made with either tequila, vodka, gin or rum (I prefer tequila). Optionality by the glass or by the jug – small and large, which can be great fun if you are with a group and sometimes even more fun if you aren’t.
The food is predominantly Italian and off the charts tasty. Must-tries include the arancini, the diver scallops, the broccolini, the burrata and any of the pastas. If you are there for brunch, the avocado toast and prosciutto scramble are great choices. Oh, and if you are ever looking for an excuse to abandon your low carb lifestyle, if only for a few hours, the pizzas here are it. This is a fantastic place to order up a variety of dishes and share everything family style.
Élephante is, in many ways, a quintessentially Australian dining experience: the al fresco dining room, the cool but welcoming vibe, the friendly staff, the attention to detail both on the menu and in the hip and inviting decor. This place is a true culinary treat and If you haven’t been already, I’d highly recommend the experience. I promise, it’ll be a G’day.