I think most people know that the greater Los Angeles area possesses its fair share of fantastic restaurants, but compared to true dining sensations like New York City, Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco it is, well, subpar. Because my wife and I live in Newport Beach, an hour south of Los Angeles, we find what we can to enjoy in Orange County, we travel a lot and always find dining loves where we go, but the “big city” to our north doesn’t excite us much. Many years ago we found the exception to that rule in Santa Monica, and have dined at Capo’s at least once a year ever since. Capo’s is a tiny little rustic place (15 tables) up the hill from Shutters on the Beach resort near Ocean and Pico in Santa Monica. It is tough to get a reservation, and walking in is an exercise in futility. But at the end of the day, it is well worth whatever effort you must exert to experience this dining treasure.
The menu at Capo’s is a work of art, and as they keep a large grill fire going in the back of the restaurant you can see and experience some of the culinary creations in real time. For appetizers last night we both went to the grill, Joleen with a shrimp scampi of sorts
Speaking of char, a little romaine lettuce on the grill with caesar dressing is the way salad ought to be served.
Speaking of which, you do not want to ignore their pasta (or risotto) dishes when you order here, but they are a meat restaurant. Therefore, I heartily recommend adding a pasta main dish to your meat main dishes so as to not deprive yourself of all Capo’s has to offer. We have actually done a risotto most times we have been here as well but bypassed risotto last night for the linguini with clam sauce. No overpowering flavors here – just perfect ones.
Speaking of meats, Joleen went with the Branzino which is coated in the perfect amount of salt and seasoning, giving me phenomenal variety in what I ate last evening.
It is a salty treasure but you really can’t imagine it being prepared much better. I went with the staple of the rack of lamb, and you will see that the exterior char with the perfectly lush medium rare middle made this as scrumptious as any lamb I have ever put in my mouth (that is saying something).
Dessert is less important when you have had four or five courses, but when they say “homemade blackberry crisp”, I take it very seriously. The picture hopefully says it all.
Would I drive from Newport Beach to Capo’s every single weekend for dinner? Maybe not, though if more places like The Ritz and Arches and Sage keep going away (or going downhill), I’ll do what I have to do. Capo’s is the best spot in LA County, and I would bet my rack of lamb on it …
(And if you want to get your money’s worth with the drive, feel free to stay overnight and enjoy some short rib tacos at their adjacent coffee shop, Cora’s, the next morning. ALSO worth the trip).