10 Best Restaurants in Venice

You’ve drooled over the food Instagrams, tracked the celebrity chefs and concepts moving in, and witnessed flocks of Eastsiders making their way toward Abbot Kinney. Maybe you’ve even tasted some of the big hitters, mourned the loss of classics like the original Hal’s, and debated the merits of culinary gentrification in this previously grungy L.A. neighborhood.

But in Venice’s highly saturated culinary scene, it can be difficult to figure out which restaurants stand out. Think of this list as the best place to start. From a hip vegan eatery with an emphasis on house-made everything to a local watering hole that serves sushi with a side of surf videos, these are our 10 favorite restaurants in Venice.

Interior of Superba Food + Bread
Interior of Superba Food + Bread
Anne Fishbein

Superba Food + Bread

Restaurateur Paul Hibler’s second restaurant in the Superba family (the first, on Rose Avenue, has since closed) is one of those places that embodies the personality and carefree style of Venice so perfectly, it became that city’s de facto living room — or maybe breakfast nook. A former auto body shop, the space was opened up and glassed in so that it feels as if the building is made of pure air and light — an accomplishment that's all the more impressive considering the jumbled urban streetscape of Lincoln Avenue is just outside its door. An all-day affair, Superba Food + Bread is not just a restaurant — it’s a cafe, a patisserie and a bread bakery, as well as a pretty great place to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are house-baked bread and pastries, and the kitchen turns out the kind of pseudo-healthy, ultra-fresh California cuisine that makes full use of grains and veggies. There are things on toast, small plates and (often Mediterranean-influenced) larger plates, wood-grilled vegetables and meats cooked on a rotisserie. Mainly, it’s just a laid-back place to hang out and sip a macchiato or glass of wine while basking in that oh-so-Venice vibe.
—Besha Rodell
1900 Lincoln Blvd., Venice; (310) 907- 5075, superbafoodandbread.com.

Tacos and chips at Tacos Por FavorEXPAND
Tacos and chips at Tacos Por Favor
Erin Doll at ChowNow


Tacos Por Favor

To be fair, Tacos Por Favor doesn't belong solely to Venice. This mini-chain actually has three Westside locations. But the popular Mexican eatery has settled right into the neighborhood and has found its following with a loyal fan base of locals looking for some post-surf (or post-shopping) grub. The menu includes a variety of authentic soft and hard tacos, burritos, quesadillas, sopes, tortas, tostadas and nachos — pretty much covering all your beans, cheese, and rice needs. —Nile Cappello
826 Hampton Drive, Venice; (310) 392-6700, tacosporfavor.net.

Squash blossom pizza at Gjelina
Squash blossom pizza at Gjelina
Anne Fishbein

Gjelina

There may be no restaurant as emblematic of the breezy, stylish Venice lifestyle as Travis Lett’s Gjelina, no place where the people are more beautiful, the vibe more Cali-chic, the food more true to our gourmet/carefree aspirations. The pizzas have crispy edges and are topped with ingredients such as burrata and wild nettles; the vegetable dishes might include roasted fennel with white wine, blood orange and fennel pollen; the rib-eye is from Niman Ranch; the wine list is long and engrossing. The magic trick of Gjelina is that food this serious (and it is seriously good) can be served in a room so effortlessly casual, the brick back patio all leafy and twinkly, the crowded dining room looking like a wood cabin met the beach and they fell in love. Walk past this restaurant and see the crowds of people waiting outside, and peek through the windows at diners snacking on charcuterie and bowls of house-made pasta, and you’ll find yourself thinking, “I want to be them. I want to be there.” You’re going to have to wait a long time for a table, but the good news is that you, too, can be part of the fantasy. —Besha Rodell
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 450-1429, gjelina.com.

Uni at Hama Sushi
Uni at Hama Sushi
Hama Sushi

Hama Sushi

One of the OG Venice restaurants, Hama Sushi has been serving up fresh sushi and Japanese-inspired bites from its Windward Circle location for almost 40 years. The eatery offers two experiences: a sushi bar, where patrons can order “whatever’s fresh today” and chat with the friendly chefs, and the patio, where surf videos play on an outdoor movie screen. The simple ingredients and fresh flavors balance between traditional and modern, and the extensive menu offers something for even the pickiest eaters. —Nile Cappello
213 Windward Ave., Venice; (310) 396-8783, hamasushi.com.

Rigatoni Bolognese
Rigatoni Bolognese
Anne Fishbein

The Tasting Kitchen

The Tasting Kitchen is a bit of a fantasy, the type of impossibly trendy yet welcoming place that might appear in an expensively made romantic comedy, the type where a gaggle of good-looking offspring return to Diane Keaton’s breezy Venice house, wear a lot of cashmere and fall in love with various hunks who stare into their eyes over candlelight at a beautiful restaurant, just like this one. Casey Lane’s Abbot Kinney eatery is still a tough reservation in Venice, years after opening. The reasons are many: the room, which envelops you in its warm glow; the cocktails, which are seasonal and so carefully made; Lane’s cooking, which merges Italian inspiration with the best of California’s bounty. That means a wide selection of charcuterie, a full list of gorgeous pastas, and entrees such as porcini-crusted hangar steak or roasted duck and liver with apple marmaletta. Book early, don your most effortlessly beautiful cashmere and indulge in the fantasy. —Besha Rodell
1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 392-6644, thetastingkitchen.com.



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