Santa Monica's recently opened The Independence might be the coolest restaurant to open Promenade-adjacent since... forever. Dangling, exposed lightbulbs? Check. Colorful walls? Check. Somewhat odd, Tim Burton-esque, with anime touches, artwork? Check. Windows for days? Check. And, most importantly, a fun, New American menu with far-spanning global touches and a fancy as eff cocktail menu? Check. And check.
Stereotypes aside, The Independence is an ideal addition to area. It's the sort of restaurant you can grab a bite and drink with friends AND it's a restaurant you can meet your weird visiting cousins from Tuscaloosa at. Named after the former railway from Santa Monica to Downtown (some awesome pictures of its old wharf stop OUT IN THE PACIFIC here), the restaurant in the former Buddha's Belly space offers an intriguing, fresh, if sea-heavy, cuisine via Chef Tom Block (formerly of ACME Hospitality). Block's menu also, although appearing very similar to many around town nowadays, includes some neat-o surprises (roasted, tart apple balls with the tortellini, for example). Wide-ranging, you can get a rack of lamb, or you can order Cincinnati-style chili cheese fries.
I found this out first hand recently when they extended an invite to a rather epic, double-digit coursed menu tasting that spanned a large swath of their normal bill of fare. From that sampling, these are the five foodstuffs I highly recommend you order on your next trip aboard The Independence. Sorry, that was cheesy. It was a train reference. I shouldn't have made it. Please forgive me.
Smoked Whitefish Toast With Pickled Shallot, Apple, Fried Capers, Radish, Cilantro Flowers.
Kale Chopped Salad With Purple Kale, Iceberg, Smoked Egg, Roasted Carrots, Green Beans, Feta, Candied Walnuts, Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette.
Roasted Wild Mushrooms With 62 Degree Egg, Brioche, Yuzu Kosho Hollandaise.
Tortellini Duo, 2 Types: Herbed Goat Cheese and Spaghetti Squash With Sage Brown Butter, Roasted Apple, Parmesan Shavings.
Venison Ragu, House Made Pappardelle With Marsala, Truffle, A Mountain of Pecorino.
205 Broadway, Santa Monica.
Open Tues-Thurs, 12-10pm; Fri-Sat, 12-11pm; Sun, 12-10pm.