Venice is experiencing an electric renaissance on the dining scene that is frenetic with celebration. A tidal wave of new restaurants has risen from the pandemic ashes and tried and true standards have found new life from the boardwalk to Abbot Kinney. Beatniks, tip your berets to these 11 buzzing Venice Beach spots that will rejuvenate your soul.
Steps from the beach, Beach and Brew has an exciting and diverse seafood menu as well as a data-driven state-of-the-art self-pour beer wall and wine dispenser with 40 different selections in addition to a full bar. In addition to a large raw bar selection, there are lobster rolls, the Nashville hot fish sandwich and a take on the traditional boardwalk hotdog on a stick – the crab cake corn dog. Another house specialty is the cheddar biscuit, a heavenly creation served with honey butter. It’s worth a visit for just biscuits and a beer. The bustling scene pours out onto Washington Blvd.
Belles Beach House on Windward under the Venice sign is the latest addition to the neighborhood. A throwback to ‘70’s tiki culture, which originated and has all but disappeared from the westside, the Hawaiian-inspired menu features a full sushi program and modern take on traditional tiki favorites like char siu pork ribs in a pineapple glaze tickled with a touch of fennel and cassia bark. The delicate loco moco spring rolls are stuffed with Kobe beef, egg, scallion, chives, mustard, sunflower hoi sin, aged cheddar and dashi gravy, served with a watermelon sweet and sour sauce. The sushi platter for two is a delectable dramatic sculpture of sashimi, nigiri, hand rolls and spicy tuna tacos. Or take it over the top with their tiki burger.
The buzzing beachy space is full of art and design pieces ranging from vintage Hawaiian upholstery to retro surfboards, full of natural light and oversized palms, with lots of lounge furniture and plenty of bar space and high tops. Interior designer Tara Bean sourced an oversized tiki statue hand carved in Hawaii which greets guests at the door. The cocktail program includes favorites like mai tais in a tiki mug as well as party punch bowls made from any of the drinks on the menu like the Local Hang, a mix of vodka, pineapple juice, lime and kiwi.
If you’re in the mood for mezcal and an Alta California-style menu, Chulita onRose Ave. is a cozy favorite of Venice locals. With its light Tulum beach shack vibe, the tortillas are hand-made and pressed from scratch using Masienda heirloom corn from farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico. Try them in the grilled nopales tacos with cotija, blistered tomatoes, avocado salsa or the silky vegan mushroom carnitas made with marinated mushrooms, radish pico de gallo and vegan yuzu crema. The hangar steak is a standout. Get an order of super cheesy coliflor fundido with Milliken Farms shishito peppers to go with any of the margaritas, the mezcal negroni or flights from the extensive tequila and mezcal selections.
Fig Tree Venice is the best on the boardwalk. It’s one of the oldest Venice haunts, having originated back in 1978 at the onset of guitar man Harry Perry’s international fame, and hasn’t missed a beat since. The family-run business takes its inspiration from owner Jose Bunge’s Argentinian roots, starting with breakfasts (one of the first to open early on the boardwalk at 8 a.m.) like a savory florentino ariza toast topped with market tomatoes, a seven-minute egg, white anchovies and chimichurri. The kitchen and full bar are open through 9 p.m. for lunch, happy hour and dinner. Try a sausage plate or fried chicken mole at sunset alongside a La Palma Verde – cucumber vodka and coconut water muddle with lime and basil as the carefully curated and romantic Latin playlist serenades in the background.
There’s always a floor show at the expanded Venice outpost of Santa Monica’s Forma. Front and center in the main room of the former Chaya space, dalla forma pastas are prepared with flair in a line of enormous hollowed-out parmesan wheels creating an incomparable sauce. In addition to a rich fettuccine Bolognese, there’s also risotto Milanese and tortellini with mushrooms prepared in the dalla forma technique. Famous for their extensive cheese selection, you’ll find some of the best charcuterie boards on the westside – or create our own.
In the heart of Abbot Kinney Blvd, Gjelina always draws an energetic crowd. Chef Juan Hernandez’s love of fresh produce and access to the best farmers markets in the country is what has inspired dishes like roasted eggplant with tahini, red onion and cherry tomato in a sweet and sour agrodolce, grilled dragon tongue bean with romesco and pecorino as well as braised corn off the cob with fermented chili butter and feta. Buying from 173 local farmers at least twice every week, Gjelina is the biggest farmers market buyer in Los Angeles. Indulge in one of their signature pizzas – like the mixed mushroom with rosemary, garlic confit and olive oil – on the rooftop overlooking the mile-long strip named after the man who opened Venice of America in 1905.
Speaking of pizza, Great White is the spot for breakfast or takeout for a picnic on the beach. The smoked salmon pizza with dill, red onion, capers and creme fraiche sprinkled with everything seasoning next to a mimosa is a great way to kick off a Sunday morning. The seasonal all-day menu highlights organic produce from California growers and features fun smoothies, salads, sandwiches and burgers. If you’re on the other side of town, a second cafe has recently opened in Larchmont Village.
Superba Food + Bread on Lincoln Blvd. is equally good for dine-in as well as to go. With a steady flow of activity, the all-day menu features a variety of pastries baked in-house and toasts on Superba bread topped with kale, prosciutto, cheesy eggs and avocado. They bake more than 20 varieties of pastries and 10 different breads several times a day at the Venice Bakehouse. Grab a loaf and a tub of their signature smoked trout spread with pickled onions and roe to go. A second outpost of Superba opened up in the historic Cat & Fiddle space on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood last week. There’s a raw oyster bar with a separate dining room as well as a walk-up coffee counter that features daily breads for sale from the bakehouse.
Music and comedy fill the air over the golf course on Wednesday nights at The Penmar. Bring along a jacket and a blanket to sit on, the patio gets pretty crowded. Skip the line for food and order one of their cheese and charcuterie boxes, a bottle of wine, bucket of beer or salads, which can be ready in 15 to 20 minutes. Breakfast (available all day) on the patio is more chill as you watch squirrels race up and down the towering pine trees and the golfers leisurely teeing up. Try Mama’s Mulligan Huevos Rancheros, made with hand-pressed masa shells, black beans, two sunny side up eggs, topped with ranchero sauce and queso fresco crumble.
With a constantly changing seasonal menu, there’s always something new at The Tasting Kitchen. While dinner is always a showstopper with the option of their “TTK Dinner” coursed tasting experience, lunch has been added on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. The lunch menu features both a champagne and crudo bar. The new fall menu includes Pollo All’Erbaluce, served with handmade gnocchi on the side, radicchio with pomegranate, blu di Bufala and chives, and honeynut squash with porcini mushrooms. The New York strip steak comes with sauce Italienne, prosciutto, chanterelles and tarragon.
For the ultimate in electricity, check out the newly opened Venice West live music venue on Lincoln Blvd. Named after the beat scene in Venice and surrounding areas during the late 1950s and early ’60s, where places like “The Gas House” and “Venice West Cafe” created a haven for beatniks – poets, musicians and eccentric locals to share their words, sounds and creativity. Shows feature acts like The Mother Hips and Coco Montoya. There are ‘80’s vs ‘90’s dance parties with Neon Jeans and Cardiac arrest and a Spookapalooza party planned for Halloween. Dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and includes classic cocktails, sandwiches, burgers, salads, pizzas and main dishes like slow-roasted lemon garlic chicken and fish & chips.
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