A Taste of the UK in Santa Monica
Los Angeles is a great city of diverse cultures.
You can get authentic Chinese food in Chinatown, great tacos at Olvera Street and buy Japanese delicacies at Little Tokyo. But did you know that Santa Monica also offers a look into another culture from across the pond?
Santa Monica is one of a few American cities that has an especially large United Kingdom population; many expatriates from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland reside here. With these ex-pats come restaurants and shops that sell British imports like their famous lagers and beers and their sinfully delicious chocolates and sweets.
If you choose to partake in the pub experience near the 3rd Street Promenade, The Cock ‘n Bull on Lincoln, The Brittania Pub and Ye Olde King's head on Santa Monica Boulevard are good places to have a lager while cheering for Manchester United (or Newcastle) and mingling with some Brits.
If you choose to expand your palate, Ye Olde King's Head is the perfect place to divulge and learn what an authentic British breakfast is. No pancakes are served for breakfast, but grilled tomatoes and baked beans are among the food items included with sausages and potatoes.
If that doesn't entice your palette, the basic "Fish and Chips," or fried fish and French fries, might be the best thing. You can also try "Bangers and Mash," which is two sausages and mash potatoes with peas and gravy.
If you thought that the only place to have tea was at Starbucks, think again. The Tudor house on Second Street and Santa Monica Boulevard is a tearoom which regularly serves "afternoon tea" with traditional tea sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries.
You can get a good British meal at all these places, with drink, for around $20, significantly less than a flight ticket!
But if $20 is a little steep for you, there are still ways to experience Brit food for cheap. Ye Olde King's head, the Tudor house and The Continental shop on Wilshire all have groceries from the Great Britain and Ireland at an affordable price.
Cadbury chocolates are sold alongside the many "crisps," or chips, flavors like prawn, onion and sauerkraut. Also sold are sodas like Irn-Bru, a popular carbonated beverage in Scotland. Even British beauty products are available!
With so many of these British businesses so close to each other, you may call it "Little London Town", but these businesses are so hidden, you have to know where to find them.
"I found out about this place because my boyfriend is English," said anglophile Tracy Newsom of Ye Olde King's head shop. "It's such a great place to find products from the U.K., I love the chocolates and I even bought a boomerang from Australia!"
The community even has its own weekly newspaper, "The British Weekly," started in 1984 by a Welsh expatriate. "The British Weekly" has a local circulation of 25,000.
When asked why Brits would want to come to Santa Monica, "British Weekly" managing editor Neil Fletcher said it has more to do with coincidental location than outright intent.
"It's historic, many of the leading Brits in entertainment made their homes here in the 1930s," said Fletcher. "Christopher Isherwood, Stan Laurel, W.H. Auden, Charlie Chaplin…I also think the weather has something to do with it. Brits love what they call ‘the seaside', and after cold, grey England, the temperate weather here makes for an easier transition for the newly arrived."
So, if you'd like to experience a bit of English culture without breaking the bank, check out Santa Monica's U.K. novelties!