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.
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.