Churros Calientes owner Sandro Finocchio grew up in his parents’s Caracas Italian Restaurant. As a boy, he visited the local churrerías where churros are served Spanish-style, with a little cup of chocolate for dipping. Santa Monica now has the equivalent of a churrería in Churros Calientes, with slender churros for dipping and fat churros stuffed with sweet fillings.
The little bistro with “chocolate” handprints on the wall reminds diners that churros con chocolate is the star of the show. Yet the simple, organic-leaning lunch menu holds its own weight with offerings like the filet mignon panini and the tortilla Española, a vegetarian frittata. Fresh mango and orange juice flow straight from the juicer, and regulars love the Venezuelan favorite “tres en uno,” a flavorful combo of beet, orange, and carrot juices.
Wide variation in coffee and tea lists recall menus at local coffee houses, including espressos served Venezuelan- or Cuban-style. The café mocha comes with free artwork--chocolate drizzled creatively across a pool of whipped cream. Spanish-style hot chocolate contrasts favorably with the usual American fare. The “secret ingredient” of masa adds richness and substance to create the perfect dipping chocolate.
Despite all else the restaurant offers, people come for the churros. Long, thin churros calientes stand deliciously alone, or catch thick rivulets of chocolate caliente in their crispy ridges. Diners can also top or fill churros with dulce de leche, chocolate, strawberry, guava, cream-cheese guava, condensed milk, and Nutella. The flavors of the guava-cream cheese filling/topping alone have the power to instantly transform ordinary customers into loyal regulars.
This tiny restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevards makes a great date night dessert spot or satisfying lunch destination when a little sweet is required to get through the day.