Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Layla: Santa Monica's Newest Restaurant

A Fusion of Middle Eastern Delights and French Culinary Artistry

Santa Monica's dining landscape welcomes a captivating newcomer: Layla, conceived by Chef Chris Sayegh and the Boulevard Hospitality Group. Paying homage to his grandmother Layla, this enigmatic eatery draws inspiration from cherished family recipes and the conviviality of shared meals. Layla presents a fresh take on Middle Eastern cuisine with a menu infused with refined French techniques, crafting dishes that tantalize the taste buds and linger in memory.

Courtesy Layla Restaurant Santa Monica

Mains at Layla

Doors officially opened on March 8, following an exclusive preview on March 7th. Dining alongside loved ones-including Grandmother Layla-and media members, privileged guests enjoyed experiencing this culinary gem and indulging in a special recipe menu showcasing Layla's culinary prowess. Many exquisite dishes we sampled are permanent fixtures on Layla's menu, promising an unforgettable dining experience.

Nestled discreetly on the ground floor of the newly reimagined Sonder Beacon Santa Monica Hotel-né the Shangri-La Hotel before its new ownership earlier this year. The ambiance exudes warmth and sophistication. Its prime location across from the beach means diners can enjoy a picturesque backdrop as they savor Dushan Zaric's one-of-a-kind craft cocktails and diverse wood-fired dishes inspired by Chris' Jordanian grandmother and her secret recipes.

Courtesy Layla Restaurant Santa Monica

Layla Dirty Martini, Paloma, Layla Collins

Our evening began with creative cocktails crafted by mixologist "D.", each featuring multiple ingredients, spices and herbs. The Matahari Milk Punch boasted Remy 1738 cognac, Chai-infused sweet vermouth, Lemon, and Pomegranate juice, served with sage smoke. The Layla Collins combined Fakra Arak, Chareau Aloe Liqueur, Mint Syrup, Clarified Lemon, and Cucumber Juices, while the French 95 impressed with Butterfly pea-infused Roku Gin, lemon juice, cardamom syrup, Champagne, and Passion fruit foam. These cocktails garnered unanimous praise for their bold flavors and impressive potency, setting an exciting tone for the night ahead.

Layla's dinner menu is designed for sharing among friends, with the first course featuring a mezze platter. It is presented on an enormous silver platter with a large dish shaped like the Hamsa Hand, a symbol of protection and strength, and several tasting bowls. The mezze included colorful crudites and lavash flatbreads. Diners enjoyed velvety Smoked Eggplant Dip, airy Aerated Hummus Dip, creamy Avocado Dip with spicy green chermoula, and tangy Leben Dip reminiscent of Lebanese lebni. Before sampling the flavorful bowls, Our waiter explained that the bread should be dipped into olive oil, then aromatic Leben Zaat & Zaatar spices. Double-dipping was encouraged-with separate bowls for each of us-enhancing the vibrant flavors and fostering connection at the table.

Courtesy Layla Restaurant Santa Monica

Marinated Kohlrabi

Subsequent courses showcased Chef Chris's adeptness at infusing Moroccan influences into traditional dishes, exemplified by the Caesar Salad. The salad featured little gem lettuce, crispy chickpea croutons, and Parmesan, with a classic Caesar dressing recipe incorporating spices such as coriander, cumin, and black pepper.

Although incredibly rich, the Marinated Kohlrabi was the standout dish for me. It had sheets of kohlrabi marinated in harissa and yuzu atop a bed of manchego and smoked labneh espuma, sprinkled with hemp seed and toasted yeast dukkah.

Courtesy Layla Restaurant Santa Monica


Our friends raved about the Preserved Lemon and Olive Chicken, a succulent confit chicken breast and thigh served with a zesty lemon and castelvetrano olive sauce. My friend and I opted for the Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass, a dry-aged whole branzino cooked over an open flame with its skin intact and spicy gremoulata. While delicious, I was grateful for the satisfying mezze and decadent kohlrabi beforehand; I suggest opting for individual portions of this dish rather than sharing between two hungry individuals, as the serving size may not fully satisfy appetites.

Sides like Seasonal Vegetables and Triple Fried Kennebec Potato Fries, served with parmesan garlic and thyme aioli, complemented the main courses with satisfying textures and flavors.

Courtesy Layla Restaurant Santa Monica


We indulged in the Baklava Mille Fuie for dessert-a decadent treat consisting of layers of crispy puff pastry filled with luscious whipped white chocolate ganache. Served alongside a spiced pecan nut sauce, it was a truly delicious finale to our meal.

Food lovers will be thrilled by this new hotspot in Santa Monica, where an inviting atmosphere and diverse menu await. Layla isn't just about delicious food; it's a loving tribute to cherished grandmothers and their passion for cooking. Layla brings people together through its family-style servings, capturing the cozy essence of home-cooked meals shared with loved ones. Beautifully embracing Middle Eastern traditions in every dish, Layla skillfully blends authenticity with culinary skills. It's a truly immersive and memorable dining experience that brings the beauty of Jordan to your plate.

Courtesy Layla Restaurant Santa Monica

Layla French 95

If you go:


Located on the ground floor of the Sonder Beacon

1301 Ocean Ave Santa Monica, CA 90401

(424) 268-7200


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