Santa Monica, California’s Red O Delivers Killer Views and Upscale Mexican Cuisine

The beachside location of Rick Bayless’ restaurant includes surf and turf

Red O Santa Monica’s front dining room.

Red O Santa Monica, the third location of Rick Bayless’s upscale Mexican restaurants following the original on Melrose Avenue and the second at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, has opened on Ocean Avenue. 

The atmosphere is reminiscent of a modern ocean cantina with aged floors, wood beams, sand and rock textures and a side patio providing lots of light and views of the beach. The ceiling design is a modern take on a Palapa with the interior housing aged walls, Moorish lanterns, and rustic tiles. Inside, the Red O signature tequila wall display greets guests as they enter through the bar area.

Dan Oliver, Red O’s Director of Wines and Spirits, provides original cocktails with fresh seasonal ingredients, house-made syrups and bitters including Summer Heat with vodka, mango, lemon, and habanero honey; Old Fashioned with tequila, Clement Creole shrub, sugar, and bitters; and the El Rac with reposado, sherry, chocolate bitters, and absinthe. There is also an extensive beer and wine list.

Meals begin with chips and a choice of spicy habanero, three-chili and tomatillo salsas.  Appetizers include fresh corn and goat cheese tamales; braised short rib tacos; duck taquitos; albacore, shrimp, and calamari ceviche; a grand seafood platter; Caesar salad with cotija cheese; and a variety of oysters.

Main courses lean towards a surf and turf theme with meats including carne asada, filet mignon, ribeye, and lamb, each accompanied by Bayless’s signature Mexican sauces. Seafood options include Maine lobster tail, jumbo scallops, grilled Mexican white shrimp, and sea bass.

Traditional entrees include polla asado, carnitas in red chile guajillo, braised short rib, chicken and Mexican shrimp enchiladas, and suckling pig with black beans. Side dishes such as Mexican street corn, cotija mashed potatoes, black beans, fried plantains, and Mexican red rice are also offered. 

You can end your meal on a sweet note with desserts like a passion fruit butter cake, dark chocolate ganache, caramel flan, churros, and a goat cheese cheesecake.