Marina del Rey goes all out with their annual 4th of July show, launching fireworks from a barge in the waters of the main channel between the Breakwater and Fisherman’s Wharf. The show lasts about twenty minutes and can be viewed many places throughout the area, depending on the weather, specifically the variable marine layer. One option is Burton Chace Park, where speakers will be set up so you can listen to synchronized music on KXLU 88.9 FM.
Before the show begins, why not make a night of it with dinner in the Marina or in neighboring Culver City and Venice? Here are some great options, in alphabetical order, from inexpensive to pricey, from romantic to festive. Because sometimes the fireworks can also be on your plate.
6. C & O Trattoria and C & O Cucina
Two things immediately knock you upside the head when eating at either C & O Trattori or C & O Cucina, both on Washington about a mile apart: the enormous amount of food and the generous amounts of garlic involved. C & O is the kind of joint where you order a full- or half-sized portion and the half-sized is still enough for two people. The pastas are decent and the garlic knots will practically sit up and beg you to eat them. The Trattoria is right near the beach, with access to fireworks on a clear night, and the Cucina has the bonus of having a full bar on the premises. Trattoria: 31 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey; 310-823-9491. Cucina: 3016 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey; 310-301-7278.
5. Celadon Thai Kitchen
The flavors at Celadon Thai Kitchen are as clean and light as the color celadon (pale green) implies, with a surfeit of vegetable options to choose from, as well as plenty of choices for the carnivores among us. The Siamese fish, a striped bass served whole and crispy, is just spicy enough — with a generous amount of ginger, garlic and tamarind-chili sauce — that you'll probably want to lick the plate. The sweet basil eggplant is also very good and lighter than the usual take on the dish. For dessert, try the traditional mango with sticky rice. 13364 Washington Blvd., Culver City; 310-823-8100.
4. El Tarasco
One block up from the Southern tip of Venice Beach, El Tarasco has a few tables and a bar for staying inside, or the nearby beach or canals to use as an outdoor dining space if you’re looking for more of an adventure. This Mexican restaurant offers considerable seafood options, appropriate for the location, including shrimp soup and ceviche de pescado. There's even a Jaiva (fake crabmeat) ceviche if you like your fish on the vegan side. The giant, homemade chips come in crunchy discs the size of corn tortillas and the salsa is good enough to ask (nicely) for extra. The old standbys, like the Jr. Super Deluxe burrito, and the beef tacos with rice and beans are cozy and delicious. 109 W. Washington Blvd., Venice; 310-306-8552.
3. Irori Sushi
When you walk in to Irori, you take off your shoes and notice the tables on the floor with space underneath for your legs. The seating arrangement changes your perspective and, like eating outdoors, is somewhat exhilarating. The sushi itself is fresh and straightforward. The scallops in the hand roll nearly burst the nori and spill out over the top. Irori also serves numerous dishes from the kitchen, like the luscious black cod saikoyaki. 4371 Glencoe Ave. B4, Marina del Rey; 310-822-3700.
2. J. Nichol’s Kitchen
For some people, 4th of July isn’t 4th of July without burgers and franks. J. Nichol’s Kitchen combines fresh ingredients to make updated versions of your favorite American cuisine dishes. There's the classic burger – with hickory sauce and optional bacon and, at the other end of the spectrum, the housemade veggie nut and grain burger. And the burger parade continues with a lamb rosemary version with Greek relish and tzatziki, a turkey burger and a salmon burger. J. Nichol’s also serves up a three mini hot dog board. Decorated with a variety of toppings (BBQ pulled pork, Sriracha, green tomato corn chow chow), these might possibly be the best-dressed hot dogs in town. Also delicious is the blue cheese wedge salad, which comes studded with bacon. 4375 Glencoe Ave., Marina del Rey; 310-823-2283.
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Combining flavors in new ways makes chef Ricardo Zarate’s Paiche a fun and adventurous night for those who have not yet had the pleasure — and a consistent delight for those who have eaten his brand of Peruvian izakaya food before. The small plates make it easy to order a lot of things to try — and there are a lot of things worth trying. Like the Wagyu beef with aji amarillo vinaigrette and black truffle; sweet potato gnocchi in brown butter; and a terrific quinoa salad. Also, don't miss the great cocktail list, including a frothy pisco sour. 13488 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey; 310-893-6100.