Check Out Santa Monica's New Middle Eastern Hotspot Layla

Making grandma proud…

The westside just got a whole lot more flavorful.

Boulevard Hospitality Group recently opened Layla, in partnership with New York-born Jordanian Chef Chris Sayegh. As Santa Monica’s newest culinary addition, the restaurant pays homage to Chef Sayegh’s greatest culinary inspiration: his Jiddeh (grandmother in Arabic), Layla.  

Layla serves as an ode to kitchen-loving grandmothers who create nightly feasts for their loved ones. Served family-style, each dish will celebrate and reflect family-favorite Middle Eastern dishes and ingredients, perfected over generations, prepared using French techniques.

Located on Santa Monica’s iconic Ocean Avenue within The Beacon by Sonder,  the restaurant spotlights the genuine love and nourishment found in the heart of family kitchens, ensuring a dining experience that resonates with cherished memories and time-honored traditions. Influenced by Chef Sayegh’s fine dining background—which includes positions at restaurants including Chef Josiah Citrin’s Mélisse, and several other Michelin restaurants across the US—each dish tells the story of his global culinary journey.

The Earth-toned interior ambiance of Layla takes guests on a textural journey, from 40-year old marble slab hand cut into tables to the soft and sensual Roman clay finish on the walls. Each element of the design is inspired by the comfortable feeling of enjoying a meal in Jiddeh’s dining room. Custom felt chairs call back to memories of Sayegh’s childhood, directly inspired by the couch in his family’s home.

The historic building from 1939 is one of the last examples of Streamline Moderne architecture in Los Angeles, a style of Art Deco that emerged in the 1930s. With original architecture by William E. Foster, the design evokes the form of a grand ocean liner. 

The realization of Layla’s concept happened serendipitously when Chef Sayegh, in collaboration with his grandmother, hosted one of his monthly pop-up Secret Supper Clubs. Boulevard Hospitality Group’s Managing Partner, Spencer Kushner, happened to be among the guests at dinner. This encounter, and appreciation for the unique marriage of French and generational Middle Eastern cuisine created what we now know as Layla. 

“As a Santa Monica native, I am thrilled to witness what Layla can bring to my hometown,” says Kushner. “I was moved by the way Chef Chris was able to transform his grandmother’s rustic recipes, and we are excited to share this cuisine with everyone.”

Executed predominantly in an outdoor open-fire grill and bread oven, Layla’s dishes showcase farm-fresh, locally sourced ingredients treated with meticulous care. The culinary experience begins with warm, freshly baked bread paired with the delightful Aerated Hummus Dip—think rich flavors of confit garlic, shallot, and turmeric. Shareable small plates, like the Wurrung Dawali, offer grape leaves sourced locally, stuffed with a savory blend of lamb, rice, tomato, and a unique seven-spice mix directly from Jordan.

Each dish at Layla not only tantalizes the taste buds but also narrates a captivating story, blending tradition and innovation in a sensory journey. Diners can feast on entrées such as Bone-in Ribeye aged in wagyu tallow, Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass with a fresh herb salad, and Dry Aged Lamb rack tagine, which are grilled over an open fire and served with house-made condiments. The melding of Middle Eastern flavors and French techniques is celebrated throughout the menu and can be found in the Chickpea Beignet to the Cilantro Potato Mousseline.

“Layla embodies the harmonious blend of my classical French training and Jordanian heritage,” says shares Chef Sayegh. “Presenting a distinctive culinary journey for guests that marries centuries-old Jordanian ingredients with modern techniques.”

He continued, “Among the dishes on the menu, I take immense pride in the Kibbeh, the Kohlrabi Creation, and the Lamb Rack Tagine. Each is not only delicious but also uniquely prepared, leaving everyone fully satisfied and fostering a newfound appreciation for Middle Eastern cuisine. While my Jiddeh may not fully comprehend how significant of an influence she is on my culinary journey, this restaurant serves as a tangible testament to our shared love of food.” 

Other signature dishes include the likes of Kibbeh which is Confit duck stuffed inside of a ground beef and bulgur wheat shell, served with spiced yogurt and the Marinated Kohlrabi which is sheets of kohlrabi marinated in harissa and yuzu layed on top of a manchego and smoked lebneh espuma, hemp seed and toasted yeast dukkah.

Desserts such as the Baklava Mille Feuille and Chebakia Ice Cream Sandwich, crafted with saffron ice cream, beautifully blend the flavors of two distinct culinary traditions. 

Layla’s beverage program further shines a light on the authentic spirit of Middle Eastern cuisine. Conceptualized by Chef Sayegh in collaboration with renowned bartender Dushan Zaric of Employees Only, the cocktail menu showcases spirits such as Fakra Arak which is used in the Layla Collins, a refreshing take on a classic with  aloe liqueur, clarified cucumber juice, mint syrup, and tonic water.

Signature cocktails include the Mata Hari Milk Punch made with Remy 1738 cognac, Chai-infused sweet vermouth, Lemon and Pomegranate juice served as a milk punch straight up with a cleansing dose of sage smoke, the Arak Collins made with Fakra Arak, Chareau Aloe Liqueur, Mint Syrup, Clarified Lemon and Cucumber Juices served tall with fever tree Mediterranean tonic water and a float of Green Chartreuse and Clarified Baklava made with Laird’s Apple Brandy mixed with PX Sherry, Honey-Vanilla Syrup, Lemon super juice and Black Walnut bitters served as a clarified milk punch using pistachio milk and served with a side of baklava.

Layla is just the latest addition from Boulevard Hospitality Group, renowned for their highly concepted restaurant and bars across Southern California. The opening follows BHG’s most recent launch of Kodo, the modern American-Japanese restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District.

Additional outlets from the group include hilltop sushi restaurant Yamashiro, speakeasy upscale Hollywood dive bar, Adults Only and multi-level restaurant, Cork & Batter, located in Inglewood’s sports district. 

Layla Details

1301 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401


Open Wednesday – Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Reservations via RESY