NFT Los Angeles Venice

Venice

Essentials
Here it is: LA's Coney Island, Woodstock vs. Myrtle Beach, a carnival and an American microcosm, home to billionaires, bombshells, hustlers, and drifters. On the boardwalk, Venice bustles all day (and gets dicey at night). Along Abbot Kinney, Venice is a cozy bohemia, with ample eateries, bars, and boutiques. And with Lincoln Boulevard right there, you don't have to venture far to get that pesky smog check.

Sundries/Entertainment
Venice is an artist colony striving to survive amid the juxtaposition of million-dollar homes and drug houses, walk streets and canals. For those with some disposable income, head to funky Abbot Kinney for great shops and restaurants. Joe's French-California cuisine is one of the best fusion spots in LA, while wine and tunes go hand-in-hand at See more.

>The Other Room's exposed-brick wine bar. See also, The Tasting Kitchen and Gjelina. Venice Beach is okay for surfing, if you can dodge the swarm of dirty needles, but don't confine your voyeurism to Venice Walk--Washington Boulevard has more memorable characters.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Alisha Miranda

Ananda
I've found my dream store. The perfect travel inspiration. And the perfect street to live on. This is Ananda on Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach, about an hour from LA. The ultimate shopping experience for hippies, eclectic artists, and decorating fanatics, Ananda boasts a unique collection of boutique furnishings and fashions that will leave your wallet empty. No spot is left untouched as shoppers sift through just about every inch of the store in search of the perfect purchase. Be prepared to fall in love.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Café Collage
Venice Beach actually is weird. You might get tired of hearing bohemians rhapsodize about their glory days and finding naught but Bluetooth yuppies in their old haunts. If that's you, this is where you fit in. This is the place in which to sip a (decent) cup of mud and nibble at a (decent) sammich, and listen to a street-corner bard wax philosophical about "the treasure chest...the booty..." in the general direction of a teenaged skate-punk. This is the place to see birds fly in and land near people meditating in public. This place may not be exceptional, but it is awesome. And it's never far from the palm readers, the roller-skating guitarist or the "Jingle bells, jingle bells, help me get drunk" guy. Cafe Collage has everything Starbucks and CB&TL don't--to wit, a fearless personality.



Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Primitivo Wine Bistro
As always, screw the wine. It's the food here that's important. Imagine four snotty New Yorkers ordering tapas in Los Angeles. We ordered the following: Arugula Salad, Golden Beet Salad, Bacon-Wrapped Dates, three Artisinal Cheeses, Tuna Tartar, Potato Gnocchi, Crab Cakes, Seared Diver Scallops, Lamb Chops, and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember. When I asked "do you think that's enough food?" the waitresses' eyes simply got wide. We ate it all. And it was all excellent. Every single dish. That's batting a thousand, folks, for those of you keeping score at home. Primitivo, your contract is renewed.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Townhouse
This Venice neighborhood tavern was never the seedy shot-and-a-beer joint it appears to be from without--from within, it's spacious, furnished like a Mafia-owned restaurant, and hides a swanky little "speakeasy" downstairs. It could almost pass for a "club." And, as the night progresses, it starts to feel more and more like one, until there's a rope outside and, inside... it isn't so much "crowded," but it hosts too many large groups of obnoxious, unattached males (i.e., "choad crystals"), which can make it hard to maneuver, much less shoot a game of pool, without getting your feet stepped on and your drink jostled. The mixers are cheap and the staff is often gratuitously moody, but Townhouse is just posh enough to attract the runoff from other, more pretentious spots in the area. Drinking here from happy hour through last call can seem like watching one of those high-speed films that show all four seasons passing inside of a few minutes.



Posted By:  Susan Milam
Photo:  Susan Milam

The Terrace Café
Back in the 1920s Abbott Kinney envisioned a Venice, CA quite like its Italian counterpart. Didn't quite pan out but there are still a few canal remnants left threading through town and some of the best are off of Washington Boulevard just above its intersection with Ocean Park. It's cool (both in terms of mindset and--if you're there in the morning--climate) with canals that are still navigable (if your boat be small), blue winged ducks and gorgeous, colorful flowers and very Gehry-esque homes lining the canal. Rent a bike in the parking lot leading out to the pier and pedal the whole way from the edges of Marina del Rey through the Venice Beach Boardwalk to Santa Monica--from yuppies (somebody help me here, what's a modern day yuppy?) to hippies to retirees and tourists. Then stop in at The Terrace for a mildly upscale meal of the best French toast: fat slices, thick in egg batter with just a slight taste of vanilla. Claims to be the only restaurant on the beach serving a complete meal until 1 am and it's open for Thanksgiving which I'm sure is what the Pilgrims had in mind all along.  




Posted By:  Susan Milam
Photo:  Susan Milam

Starbucks
This must be the one Howard Shultz is talking about--you know, the Starbucks with the warm communal atmosphere, that third place where you want to go between home and work. Yep, I think I've found it… not that I drink coffee. However, I do go in here after buying my white hot chocolate at Cows End up the way and get a cup of Joe for a friend before meeting said friend for fried egg sandwiches at Thomas Hamburgers next door. So, I can comment--and quite favorably--on the warm communal atmosphere and friendly customer service to be found at this small, drive through-less Starbucks. In fact, I think this place along with the aforementioned Cows End and Thomas Hamburgers make this stretch of Washington Boulevard the perfect trifecta of breakfast drink and food.




Posted By:  Susan Milam
Photo:  Susan Milam

Thomas Hamburgers
This side of Washington Boulevard is a veritable Mecca for cheap breakfast eats. There's Cows End (no apostrophe, must be multiple cows' rumps, although that would have an apostrophe, too wouldn't it) where you can get the best white hot chocolate for a buck and now I've discovered Thomas Hamburgers. At 7:30 am on a recent Sunday, I had a fried egg sandwich with lettuce and tomato and a Coke (in a cup, not on the fried egg sandwich) for a little over $4 which leaves change for the tip jar. Seems to be a police favorite which means you get to listen to police band radio at no extra charge. You can also get huevos rancheros and other breakfast food, hamburgers and what is advertised as "world famous chili." Small TV on the wall at the front, little bit of quasi-outdoor seating at the back to the left of the counter. Friendly service, can take a few minutes to get your food but that's because there's a real cook in the back frying the eggs.




Posted By:  Susan Milam
Photo:  Susan Milam

The Cow's End Cafe
Venice Beach on a cool fall morning is one of my favorite places on earth. The tourists are either back home or in bed and a lot of the more commercial sidewalk salespeople don't make the trek since the crowds are so sparse; so you're left with the true Venice Beach vendors: hippies. Go before eight and park in the lot at Rose and Ocean Park Boulevard for only four bucks (unless you're prepared to make an illegal left turn, you have to go one street beyond Rose and turn back). The guys with their ancient paint-bedecked rec vehicles will just be pulling in, dozens of pigeons alighting on the tops of their RVs. Make the walk all the way down Ocean Park. Stalls and stores will mostly still be closed. Note that the building for the famous outdoor Muscle Beach workout area is shaped like a dumbbell. Walk out the length of the pier and, if you're lucky, wet suited surfers will be bobbing up and down like seals as they wait for a wave to roll in. Now is the best time to visit The Cow's End, before the late risers crowd in.



Posted By:  Jake Williamson
Photo:  Jake Williamson

The Other Room
It's dark, comfortable, and has that strange sense of intimacy despite the blasting music. Essentially, it's a hip NYC happy hour. Then why the hell is The Other Room in Venice and why is it so goddamn busy all the time? For the past few years gentrification has reigned supreme in Venice, slowly pushing out the old hippies and wannabe Bukowskis (I'm not complaining). Now Abbott Kinney is bombarded by new overpriced restaurants and desperate-to-be-cool bars like The Other Room. How does this place manage to succeed while others fall by the wayside? It has a tried and true formula for appealing to the 20-30 independent set because it is... drum roll please... a chain. What? Blasphemy! Run for the hills Venetians, next thing you know Chili's will build across the street. But I will stay, drink my wine, listen to good, loud music and not have to deal with the phonies. And yes, I will move to the front of the line because my driver's license has a Venice address. Independent spirit of Venice be damned, I like the place.



Posted By:  Jake Williamson
Photo:  Jake Williamson

Casablanca
More reminiscent of a Disneyland ride than traditional restaurant, Casablanca's decor emphasizes (to say the least) its ties to the great movie and its North African setting. Rick, Ilsa and even Captain Renault murals are on the wall. There is traditional phone booth in the corner and a piano. All it is missing is Sam at the piano bench and Rick's office upstairs. But things get weird when you see ladies making tortillas over a stove. Then you look at the menu and see more types of tequila than couscous. And then you see burritos and enchilada combos. What the hell? This is a Mexican restaurant? I have yet to figure how or why Casablanca serves Mexican food but I know it is authentic, even though it strays from the standard burrito/taco fare. Instead, they have tequila-marinated steak dinners and fresh fish specials. Yeah, it's all a bit confusing, but better than the traditional place across the street.



Posted By:  Rin-rin Yu
Photo:  Rin-rin Yu

Lilly's French Café
Part French, part Californian and part Abbott Kinney is the theme at Lilly’s French Café and Bar. The white-walled, butterscotch wood floors and artwork makes the restaurant look more like a museum than a dining establishment. The food, however, is art for the taste buds itself. Crisp white linens make for a very polished dining experience but its atmosphere, however, is anything but rigid. The large garden patio out back is adorned with white tablecloths, stone floors and colorful round Chinese paper lanterns. It’s a good reminder why we chose to live in southern California. Try the monsieur croquet sandwich—ham and cheese smothered on top of bread (as sandwiches should always be), or if you’re a mussels fan, the mussels in broth with pommes frites are delicious. In the evening, the bar is open for martinis and wine. The menu is very French with rack of lamb, steaks, and fish that won’t leave you hungry—except with a tiny room for delectable dessert.



Posted By:  Rin-rin Yu
Photo:  Rin-rin Yu

Situated right off the bike path, the Terrace Café is a great lunch spot on the corner of Washington and Pacific Ocean. Because of gnarly beach traffic on Washington, make this a lunch break from a bike ride or rollerblade trip. The food is your typical Californian cuisine, with seared tuna ahi sandwiches, fish and chips, salads and even steaks and burgers. The restaurant’s colorful décor in the dining rooms is its highlight—creating an atmospheric blend of casual and flirty. The patio area is the best for lunchtime seating— especially if you’re still wearing Rollerblades, you can probably get first dibs on a patio seat right by the door. Butterflies drawings, Chinese paper lanterns, and ivy plants hang from the ceilings. There’s a full bar inside for the happening evening hours, and the spaces can be rented out for rustic parties of different formalities. Food isn’t the biggest reason to come here, but its quality is surprisingly high for Venice beachside dining. The bright, friendly ambiance makes for a very inviting, relaxing meal before strolling out to the sand afterwards.



Posted By:  Rin-rin Yu
Photo:  Rin-rin Yu

Hama Sushi
Only in Southern California does exotic Japanese sushi blend right into surfer culture. At Venice’s Restaurant Hama, rolls exist in three ways—hand, cut, and in ocean wave videos projected the walls of the restaurant. Dining can be enjoyed inside with the sushi chefs in view, or “outside” in the white-tented covered bar area. Definitely try the Chef’s Special roll, which is like butter—beef tenderloin (cooked) atop a California roll. Celebrities like to dine there for its low-key, non-pretentious hideaway effect (we spotted Chris Klein on a date). Monday nights feature happy hour drinks and food during Monday Night Football (specials end when the game does). For those who enjoy strange brews and blends, the Joshisan is a strong concoction of green tea mixed with soju. It was named after one of the restaurant’s very frequent regulars, an over-worked attorney named Joshua who required the health benefits of green tea combined with the after-work benefits of alcohol.



Posted By:  adam c. marshall
Photo:  adam c. marshall

Just like the Material Girl, if Jesus were living in 21st Century Los Angeles, he’d have to update his parables to stay relevant. And I think the “Give a man a fish. . .” parable would go something like this: Introduce a man to a good Italian restaurant in LA, and he’ll eat good Italian for a day, but teach a man how to cook good Italian, and he’ll never go hungry for Italian again. But, I looked in the Bible today, and it doesn’t say anything about him cooking. I mean, seriously, he was a carpenter. Not a cook. So, ever the bachelor, he’d probably eat out a lot. And if he wanted Italian, one of the few places I’d point him to would be C&O Trattoria in Venice. I’d say, “Jesus, here’s what: good food, large portions, good prices, free little garlicky rolls while you wait, it’s Venice in a good way, it’s an open air restaurant off of the freakin’ ocean, the wine by the glass is on the honor system (dude) where you draw little hairs on a smiley face drawn on your butcher paper-covered table by your waiter, and that wine is on tap. Word.”



Posted By:  Rin-rin Yu
Photo:  Rin-rin Yu

Joe's
Chef Joe Miller has taken fusion cooking to a whole new plateau that few others in LA can reach. His Abbott Kinney location makes this casually hip French-Californian restaurant a hot spot in a nonpretentious manner, as local Venetians prefer. Securing a table is nearly impossible without a reservation, but the long wait for a walk-in can be filled at the glowing blue bar with a drink from his impressive and extensive wine list. Waiters might bring by not just one, but two amuse-bouches, compliments of the kitchen. Diners can choose from either a prix-fixe tasting menu or a la carte. Joe’s accents on the very French, with truffles in almost anything (even dessert). The foie gras is mouth-melting, and delicate handling of entrees—with potatoes Anna shaped to resemble fish scales on an actual red snapper filet—illustrates the dedication and high level of detail Joe’s staff puts into its dishes. Many a celebrity has dined here, but the staff—from table host to Joe himself—makes the rounds to every table to give each customer the star treatment.




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