Belcampo Meat Co. is one of my favorite stalls at Grand Central Market downtown. It’s an upscale butcher shop (part of a Northern California chain) that also serves some of the best burgers in the City. So I was really excited when I heard they were opening another location in Santa Monica that included a full-blown restaurant.
The new Santa Monica eatery has the feel of private club dedicated to hardcore connoisseurs of exotic game. Located behind the butcher shop, the windowless, dimly-lit dining room is sleek and art deco-esque with “animal hide” art hanging on the walls. A large illuminated bar is manned by gregarious hipsters who craft unique and tasty cocktails such as a House Bloody Mary with clarified tomato juice, bacon pepper vodka, celery ice cubes and candied bacon garnish, and a BBQ Old Fashioned garnished with housemade beef jerky.
But while Belcampo’s ambiance and menu signal an exotic food adventure, it has unfortunately been a disappointing one for me each time I’ve gone. I absolutely hated the fishy-tasting Beef Tartare made with smoked oysters. The bland Lamb Tartare was a little better, but I wouldn’t recommend that either. Other disappointments included the Grilled Beef Heart, a dish I’ve enjoyed before at other restaurants but missed the mark here, and a very gamey plate of Mutton Chops. My recommendation if you visit the restaurant is to sit at the bar and order the super tasty Cheeseburger with Beef Tallow Fries. Sometimes simplest is best.
Belcampo Meat Co. is located at 1026 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica. Its original Los Angeles location is still Downtown in Grand Central Market. A third location serving mainly burgers and hot dogs recently opened at 8053 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles (Mid-City).