by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

A recent private press tasting at The Curious Palate at Santa Monica Place had my taste buds bubbling with delight. Five courses of truly fresh fare, all completely produced and perfected in their kitchen, was an authentic, eye-opening revelation…simply that real, whole food with no awkward surprises could be done with consistency, and without cutting a single corner. Absolutely unlike any experience (at least that I’ve had) to date. There really is something extraordinary happening here. And it’s sitting right under the very noses of health and taste conscious Santa Monica residents and tourists. What excited me most about this restaurant also got me thinking…

Do you really know your food? Do you know where it comes from? What goes into that gourmet holiday feast, soulful stew, romantic refection, plain flavorful fixin’ or gastro grub?

Sure, we’re all very woke these days about choosing organic meats, non-hormone pumped poultry and environmentally safe-caught fish and obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables that give us a nutritional edge to our health, beauty, and conscience. If nothing else, most of us can add ‘label snob’ to our life resumes when it comes to shopping and carbon footprint awareness.

But how much thought are you really giving to the chain of growing, raising, catching, harvesting, processing, and getting it all to market? All that time! So much effort!

And cooking! The chore of decisions every step of the way from menu-to-meal on the table. Have you actually ever thought about all the pinches of packeted or bottled extracts, seasonings, zests and essences that round out or thicken or add that finishing touch of gusto to the perfect recipe?

‘Do you know your food?’ is the question that adults are asking a whole generation of kids subsisting on a diet of fast foods and plastic wrapped edibles from super shopping centers and quicky marts.

Comestible aficionados will insist they know all they know when it comes to their favorite epicurean delights and where to obtain stuffs for cooking at home. Somehow though, that doesn’t always translate when dining out.

Insist to the contrary all you want, but many of us who have worked in the restaurant business know what really goes on in commercial kitchens. I’m not talking sketchy, just not entirely transparent. You know, the kind of ‘oops we skipped that part’ kind of menus that even at vegan and vegetarian establishments have customers questioning potential allergic reactions to ingredients.

So, is it really possible to know every single addition to your favorite restaurant prepared meal?

Yes, absolutely! That is if you are dining at The Curious Palate. This is your fantasy casual, couples, friends and family-friendly dining experience so available you might feel like if you blink it might disappear. (Not if we have anything thing to say about it!). And they’ve taken on ALL of the work involved to serve their community.

For co-founders Elliot Ruben and Mark Cannon who pride themselves on whole foods and sustainability, cooking is all about connecting with people – and the earth. That means they are always exploring new ways of supporting artisans and local producers who can provide them with fresh, natural ingredients.

Here are a few important facts about The Curious Palate:

  • All sauces and condiments are hand-made in-house (includes jams, peanut butter, ketchup, coleslaw, sauerkraut, etc.).
  • All meats are antibiotic free and hormone free and come from sustainable agricultural farming.
  • Fish & shellfish are sustainably harvested and delivered fresh daily.
  • Produce is pesticide free and majority organic; purchased at local farmer’s markets at least 3 times per week for freshness and availability.
  • Only wholesome, natural ingredients are used (i.e. non-bleached flour, no corn syrup, rice bran oil, no artificial additives or preservatives) and that includes the pastas made in their kitchen daily.
  • The Curious Palate uses paper straws and compostable to-go cutlery and cups.
  • Compostable waste from the restaurant is sent to a composting facility

Both the lunch and dinner menus are filled with incredible variety. In addition, they have 20 taps of craft beers, cider, and kombucha direct from independent local brewers. There is a kids’ menu. They are currently partnering with Tutti Frutti Farms, Cadoro Bakery, Wong Farms, and Valdivia Farms – all family owned/operated businesses.

They also recently were added to GrubHub, making their food more accessible to the public through delivery.

Here’s what we sampled! Visit for your own experience!

All photos by Lily Fassnacht.

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