Santa Monica packs a lot into a mile of Main St. - a dog dentist, three different electric bike stores, a shop that exclusively sells fedoras, and some 40-odd restaurants and bars. Whether any of those spots are particularly necessary probably depends on how often you’re in the market for a new hat, but none are what we’d consider to be a true neighborhood essential. Apparently, the people behind Little Prince noticed - because that’s exactly what they deliver.
We’re not talking about the kind of place you take someone to the second they land at LAX, or one that requires you to decide between making a car payment or ordering dessert. We’re talking about a decent, dependable Tuesday night restaurant, a comfortable spot where you can sit for a while and enjoy some good food, a glass of wine, and a knowing glance or two with the waitstaff. Little Prince is that spot.
On the “good food” front, their garganelli pasta is perfectly al dente, and with the addition of merguez sausage, Aleppo peppers, and Castelvetrano olives, it’s sweet, salty, and spicy at the same time. The lamb shoulder is also highly worth your time. It’s crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and rubbed with Szechuan peppers that give it a really nice heat (which is balanced out by the accompanying cucumber yoghurt). In fact, nothing you eat at Little Prince will disappoint you - the beet and burrata toast is vinegary, earthy, and creamy, and the octopus is cooked to crunchy-but-moist, light-and-airy pulpo perfection.
The only real knock is that Little Prince will seem awfully familiar if you’ve been to an LA restaurant at any point since 2015. The industrial-chic interior features mismatched lamp shades, exposed wood beams and pipes, subway tiles, and so much foliage that you feel like you might have just been Honey, I Shrunk The Kids-ed into a terrarium. You’ll immediately notice the communal table full of tech workers getting rowdy on natural wine and mezcal cocktails, and feign surprise when your server tells you that everything is served family-style, then recommends you order two or three small plates per person. And the menu you’re ordering from, while full of solid, straightforward food, is never very adventurous.
That’s not to say Little Prince isn’t good, or isn’t a place where you’ll find yourself often (especially if you live in Santa Monica) - it’s just not very surprising. But surprises aren’t something you want, or even need, in a neighborhood restaurant. You just want it to be good. You’re not exactly surprised when you see a French bulldog with a Gucci bandana walking out of a dog dentist - but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make you smile.
Hiding beets under burrata is a good way to pretend you’re still being healthy. This thick-cut bread comes with pureed beet, burrata, marinated plums, and pistachios. It’s a good balance of earthy, creamy, salty, and sweet.
Incredibly simple, but one of our favorite things here - soft, marinated peppers, crunchy croutons, and whipped labneh underneath.
Garganelli is without a doubt the most underappreciated pasta shape. It’s like if you took a shell, and wrapped it up like an open-ended burrito. Little Prince’s garganelli has the added bonus of being sausage-y and great.
Fun fact about black garlic: It starts out as regular garlic, and is heated up over the course of a few weeks until it’s black and molasses-y. It complements the crunchy octopus very well here.
The most substantial non-steak option here, and our favorite main. You’re never going to be mad about having a huge lamb shoulder, especially when it’s rubbed with Szechuan peppers and perfectly crispy.
The best thing on the brunch menu, and maybe at the restaurant - this smoked salmon tastes like it belongs in sashimi at a high-end sushi spot. It comes with seaweed Hollandaise and crispy potatoes, and you should order it.