Now Open: Tender Greens

Since opening their first Culver City location in 2006, the popular chef-driven, Tender Greens has steadily been gaining a mini cult following among health-conscious foodies. From the start, mastermind chefs Erik Oberholtzer, David Dressler and Matt Lyman had a goal of filling a void that was missing in Los Angeles – creating a healthy, farm-driven, and affordable, fine dining experience in a relaxed, eco-friendly space. This newly opened location is a perfect extension of their ever-growing mission.

Known for their market friendly, locally acquired produce, they also feature humanely raised, hormone free meats and sustainably caught seafood. This new location will encompass everything that the Tender Greens model is known for: sustainability, fresh and healthy farm-to-fork dishes at reasonable price (there’s nothing over $11).

Location, location, location. The long-awaited, Santa Monica Tender Greens is perfectly situated just off the Promenade. It’s nestled on the corner of Arizona Ave and 2nd Street. I got to chat with the very nice and incredibly passionate, Executive Chef Rian Brandenburg about what makes this location special. First off, this venue along with the Pasadena Tender Greens, are the first to go completely bottle-less, meaning all drinks are available on tap. From sparkling water to house made agua frescas, lemonades and ice teas, all are made fresh daily. They also feature various keg beer and wine. As for their site, along with acquiring their greens fresh daily from Scarborough Farms (as with every Tender Greens), they also have the advantage of securing the best local produce directly from the source. This restaurant is positioned just 2 blocks from the Santa Monica farmer’s market. Can’t get more local than this!

Chef Brandenburg is a San Diego native and has an extensive background in the California fish market scene.  He explained to me that while the core menu always stays the same, each of the seven Tender Greens locations offers unique dishes inspired by their respective executive chefs. For example, at this particular site, Brandenburg introduces his three dishes, which are appropriately inspired by their “beachy” environment. The Grilled Octopus and Thai Shrimp Salad are expertly sea-minded, while The Salad in the Raw features fresh produce direct from the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

Grilled Octopus Salad

Okay, I’m not going to lie; octopus is probably the most odd-looking creature you may ever eat. However, the Grilled Octopus Salad was incredibly tender, slightly salty, crispy and grilled to perfection. It was darn good. If you’ve never tried octopus before, I implore you to try this salad. It will blow your mind. Likewise, the Salad in the Raw was so delicate and delicious too; it’s a nice reminder of just how scrumptious fresh veggies can taste when left alone to do their thang. My favorite dish of the day was actually the Thai Shrimp Salad. Along with the tender and juicy shrimp mixed together with little gem lettuce, Thai basil, green papaya, hints of citrus, coriander and a chili lime vinaigrette, every ingredient lent a subtle touch that was so refreshingly delightful.

Fans of the classic Tender Greens menu, as always can still order their popular “big salads,” “hot stuff from the grill,” “comfort soups,” sandwiches and “simple salads” as well.

Everything about the Santa Monica location is very eco-friendly. The custom-made art shows the journey of their produce from the farm to your plate. The décor is bright with large windows, airy, clean and inviting. The designers utilized the original exposed brick (from the previous Lighthouse Buffet tenants) and everything from the tables, counter tops, floors and chairs were built from the broken down and rehashed wood material from the very building they inhabit among other recycled sources. The bamboo is 100% recyclable and the roof is made from compressed hay. They provide triple-filtered recycled water and their cups and bags are biodegradable. “It’s where the world is headed,” says Chef Brandenburg, he explained how it’s important for Tender Greens to “do what’s right for our earth” they don’t flaunt their eco-ways they’re just passionate about what they do.

“I really like dealing directly with farmers and being able to source locally,” says Brandenburg. “I can walk over to the farmer’s market and show the farmers, look, this is your tomato and this is what I did with it.” Here, they really want to “drive the message home” explains Brandenburg. It’s really about “accountability and responsibility.”

Check out the new Santa Monica, Tender Greens location and taste the difference for yourself. It doesn’t get any more natural than this.

View More Pictures

Tender Greens
(310) 587-2777
201 Arizona Avenue Santa Monica CA, 90401

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About the author
Amy T. Shuster is an actress, writer, singer and food enthusiast. Her blog is,, which focuses on creating positive content to help generate awareness of local independent foodie “gems” in the Los Angeles area. Amy lives and dines in Los Angeles, CA.

All pictures taken by Buy Local Market photographer, Da Xu.

Posted on September 20, 2011, in New Businesses, Promenade / Downtown and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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