On The Menu: Socalo in Santa Monica offers customers a variety of Mexican dishes

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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Socalo in Santa Monica offers customers a variety of Mexican dishes
Two longtime friends and chefs share their love for Mexican cuisine at Santa Monica's Socalo restaurant.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Two chefs and longtime friends ditched their French roots after they fell in love with Mexican cuisine.

They decided to share their love for Mexican cuisine by bringing the flavors to their restaurant, Socalo, in Santa Monica.

Socalo, located within Santa Monica's Gateway Hotel, serves seasonal SoCal Mexican fare that's fresh and vegetable forward.

"We kind of love the idea of being the neighborhood hangout," Socalo co-founder and chef Mary Sue Milliken said.

Customers can expect to find a variety of tasty foods for lunch and dinner, along with some drinks and cocktails to go with their dish.

Some of the plates they offer are chicken dorado tacos with potatoes and roasted peppers, a rib eye with a squash puree, lamb birria quesadillas, vampiro tacos, corn esquite and more.

Looking for something sweet to eat in the morning, noon or night? Order the churros or the guava and cream cheese empanadas.

The women behind the success of Socalo are cofounders and chef owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.

"This is a place where people need to come and feel like it's their home," Feniger said.

They opened the restaurant in December of 2019 and have been business partners and dear friends for decades.

It's no surprise that they both met while working in a kitchen. Their original focus had been French cuisine, but that all changed when they visited Mexico.

A trip south of the border to Mexico inspired them to change directions and start cooking up a new idea for a restaurant.

"We were blown away...This is an amazing sophisticated cuisine and from that I think our passion just continued to grow," Feniger said.

There is so much to choose from on the menu, including vegan and vegetarian items like the kale pomegranate salad with quinoa, nuts and garbanzo beans and tasty veggie tacos.

One of the best things is you can pair your meal with a glass of wine or beer imported from Mexico.

Though the hairstyles have changed throughout the years, Mary Sue and Susan's commitment to a quality dining experience is a constant.

"We can't resist taking care of others. It's in our DNA," Milliken said. "So the fact that the viewers want to hear from us and know more about our food is very satisfying."

And just this week, Milliken and Feniger opened a brand new restaurant in Palm Springs called Alice B. They say it is American with a Mediterranean twist.

Socalo is located at 1920 Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica and is open from Tuesday to Saturday.