1920 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404


Photos by CONNOR BOCK| Special to the Palisadian-Post

Tucked into the lower corner of a Santa Monica Best Western is a time machine to the 1980s.

Part New York delicatessen, part vintage-pop lounge, Rudy & Hudson evokes a sense of cinematic nostalgia for the East Village joint where young, thriving artists and musicians stop in to recap the evening’s successes.

What differs from greasy spoons of the past, however, is Rudy & Hudson’s far leap away from traditional flapjacks and stale coffee to a sustainably sourced “classic” diner menu by former Michelin-starred Chef Joe Miller and co-owner Lawrence Rudolph.

Westside diners may know Miller as the former chef who ran the quarter-century Abbot Kinney mainstay, Joe’s, in Venice.

And while the food selection may come with a modish twist, Rudy & Hudson is entirely old school.

“Our name comes from a combination of Joe’s grandfather and mine,” Rudolph told the Palisadian-Post. “We were both driven by our grandfathers. They had style, flair, and taught us what we know about food and art.”

Dutch baby pancake

And it certainly shows: The pair took an old IHOP and somehow transformed it into a hip Santa Monica hangout.

In the front, the restaurant opens to a retro countertop suitable for breakfast and newspaper reading or nighttime indulgences over glasses of wine.

(The wine list is small but houses some great locally sourced options like a Malibu Blanc and a Cabernet Sauvignon made in Topanga Canyon).

On the back wall, artist Donald Robertson has spraypainted multicolored “pop art” lips that match the diner’s ketchup and mustard bottles.

The restaurant’s double-page, all-day menu includes a handful of omelets, eight varieties of pancakes and French toasts, and an entire page dedicated to house-smoked deli sandwiches.

Chicken and coffee waffles

From the breakfast griddle we tried the Coffee Waffles and Fried Chicken, which came topped with freshly toasted pecans and warm Vermont maple syrup. It did not disappoint.

Other morning delights include Applewood Smoked Bacon Pancakes and Coconut French Toast filled with banana and passionfruit coulis.

If it’s lunch you’re in the mood for, Rudy & Hudson is likely to have something up your alley.

“I like to think all our food is top-notch,” Rudolph told the Post. “With that being said, where we  really excel is with our sandwiches.”

The restaurant smokes all of their sustainably sourced meats in house, so be sure to try the R&H Reuben—a quintessential New York deli sandwich made with pastrami, sauerkraut, Gruyère, mustard and a housemade pickle.

For vegetarians, Rudy & Hudson offers an Avocado Sprout Sandwich: On toasted whole wheat with tomato, sprouts and yogurt, this stack is a graduated take on California’s avocado toast trend. There is also the Grilled Cheese, made with smoked Gouda, Gruyère and white cheddar, and Tomato Soup with Parmesan croutons.

Those with heartier appetites are recommended to order from the diner’s Entrees menu, but should be forewarned: You better be hungry.

Sweet and smokey BBQ ribs, a favorite

Entree offerings include Barbecue Baby Back Pork Ribs, served with potato salad and coleslaw, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, with smashed potatoes and shallot gravy, and Flatiron Steak, with herb butter and potato fries.

Be sure to make room for a slice of Rudy & Hudson’s Southern Pecan Pie with a cup of Verve coffee. The rich, brown sugar pie is made with chopped, house-roasted pecans and earned my southern-grown stamp of approval.

Bottom line: Those visiting Rudy & Hudson for more than coffee should consider booking a room upstairs—anything more and you might just slip into a food coma.