118 Entrada Drive.
Santa Monica, CA 90402
By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
With Safer at Home orders across Los Angeles extending into May, Palisadians are finding themselves spending more time than ever in the kitchen preparing meals. But sometimes it’s nice to take a break—all while supporting a local business.
The Palisadian-Post typically runs a dining review every two weeks, covering both longtime staples and up-and-coming hot spots across the Westside and beyond. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, we are shifting our focus to local restaurants that continue to offer takeout and/or delivery options to keep Palisadians fed.
For our first review, we sampled dishes from Tallula’s, a Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica Canyon that has been open since May 2017. Co-Owners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan report that they both grew up visiting Marix Tex Mex, which once stood in Tallula’s place.
Tallula’s is part of the Rustic Canyon Family, a collection of dining that is geared to seasonality and making as much as possible in-house. Other members of the Family include Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe, Sweet Rose Creamery and Milo SRO.
“All of our restaurants are neighborhood restaurants at heart, and Tallula’s happens to be our neighborhood’s restaurant,” Loeb, who has roots in Santa Monica Canyon, shared with the Post. “We love it deeply. Our goal in keeping Tallula’s open during this time was to continue to feed our community and keep as many staff actively employed as possible, not to mention to keep everyone on their company-provided healthcare.”
Tallula’s is adhering to social distancing by only offering food and drinks for curbside pickup and delivery through third-party platforms. No guests or drivers are allowed inside the restaurant when picking up food—instead a takeout window has been set up in the doorway and bags will be brought out to cars.
“If handing to someone through a car window, the guest or delivery driver must wear a mask,” Tallula’s policy reads.
Orders and credit payment can be taken directly over the phone, with pre-orders beginning at 1 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays so that customers can pick up food as early as 4 p.m.
We picked up Tallula’s on a Wednesday afternoon ahead of dinner time at 5:30 p.m. Everything about the process was smooth and easy, with ample parking readily available for a quick grab and go.
After arriving home and removing the items from their containers and plating them, I started with a sip of my Tallula’s Margarita—blanco tequila, fresh lime, Leopold orange liqueur and agave. Serving the drink was easy: The margarita came in a single-serve, to-go container (which we rinsed out to re-use) and just needed to be poured over ice.
The result? I was transported back to a restaurant setting. I have been making cocktails at home to accompany certain meals while staying in, but none have met the mark. Tallula’s iteration of a margarita filled a void I did not know that I had.
I dined at the restaurant once in 2018 and the to-go version of the margarita boasts the same flavor as if you are dining in. The drink is potent, but well flavored and fresh.
Next was the Farmers Market Lettuces salad, with radish, cucumber, corn tortilla strips and an oregano-lime vinaigrette. This starter had a successful journey home—even after being in the car for a bit, the tortilla strips remained crunchy. A real highlight of the salad was the dressing, which, even though it was simple, tied the ingredients together nicely, a good balance of oil and seasoning.
Though the salad is vegetarian by default, organic chicken verde, pork carnitas, grass-fed carne asada or sautéed Yucatan chili shrimp can be added for meat-eaters. There is a vegan mushroom chorizo option as well.
Then came Nachos “Sencillo,” salsa roja, spicy giardiniera, crema and “lots of cheese” served over tortilla chips. The nachos come in two sizes—small or large—and can be topped with chicken, mushroom chorizo or grass-fed curried beef.
The nachos also held up well on the drive home, the ingredients remained fresh, the chips crunchy. The spicy giardiniera, a blend of pickled vegetables, was not so spicy that it over-powered the dish. Instead, I thought of it as a well-done substitute for the pico de gallo that typically tops a plate of nachos.
Customers have the option to order the nachos deconstructed, with cheese sprinkled atop chips to throw in the oven when arriving at home. Toppings can then be added to taste.
Last up, and a personal favorite, was a Potato Masala Taco Plate, featuring mint-tomatillo chutney, peas, fried shallots and pea tendrils. The two soft tacos are served in handmade corn tortillas, which feature Masienda organic masa, with a side of vegan-friendly rice and beans.
Taking a break from the traditional beef, pork or chicken tacos, these potato-based tacos were somehow crispy and soft, perfectly balanced with toppings. A standout ingredient here were the fried shallots, which were sliced fairly small and made each bite pop.
Though everything I dined on was individual size, another way that Tallula’s is trying to fit the needs of customers is by expanding its menu to include Family Size meals. Options here include four- or six-piece taco platters, a dozen grass-fed beef-pork meatballs, organic chicken noodle soup sold by the quart, and quarts of organic pinto beans and red rice. You can also take home a dozen handmade corn tortillas or a half-dozen chicken enchiladas.
“We feel so grateful for the neighborhood’s response,” Loeb concluded, “and an extra special thanks to the city and state government for letting us sell margaritas to go in this time!”
Tallula’s has shifted its hours to 4-8:30 p.m., seven days per week.
Editor’s note: These dishes were really consumed at home, despite the pictures selected. Tallula’s supplied photos that were prettier than what was shot at home in the kitchen.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.