Making its home at the tony new Shore Hotel, next to illustrious neighbors like Ivy at The Shore, Blue Plate Taco is the third outing by Westside restaurateur extraordinaire Jennifer Rush Morton, who launched her foodie fiefdom with Montana Avenue mainstay Blue Plate, and followed that up with seafood sanctuary BP Oysterette before setting her sights on Mexican cuisine.
On any given night, Blue Plate Taco fairly buzzes with well-to-do Westsiders out for their guacamole fix and some fresh fish tacos. The intimate but energetic space seats just 40 diners inside with room for an additional 45 on the front patio. The overall look by designer Tim Clarke features beach-chic touches such as basket-woven overhead chandeliers, chairs fashioned from burnished saddle leather, colorful vintage European floor tiles, and an open kitchen that make you feel as at home as though you were dining in your best friend’s beach-house kitchen.
Guests will find familiar comfort foods like a burnt sienna-toned tortilla soup garnished with Technicolor-green avocado slices, as well as gooey quesadillas and chips and guacamole, but remember, Morton knows seafood, so be sure that among your chosen specialties you order the ceviche, which is heaped with shrimp, squid and chunks of sweet Maine lobster.
While you’re on the starters, have house-made fruit agua fresca like the one made from prickly pear, or start with a specialty cocktail like the refreshing Medicina Latina with tequila, ginger, lime, agave, and mezcal.
The selection of single-serve tacos includes carnitas, but the restaurant’s signature is the hard shell tacos, heaped with lobster and creamy Panella cheese laced with truffle oil (but all tacos can also be served flaco style—wrapped in lettuce—if you prefer). It’s like eating aromatic lobster Thermador… in a taco. For a main, the butterflied, Baja-style fried loup de mer is the hands-down favorite.
Desserts tend toward the lighter side, like Mexican shaved ices flavored with seasonal fruits (to which you can add a shot of tequila, rum or vodka), but don’t skip the deep-fried churros served with cream and caramel sauces. 1515 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, 310-458-1515