California’s beach-loving paradise is also a culinary hotbed. Here’s where to find the best treats.
For some, California dreaming is all about bikini bodies and Beverly Hills shopping. Not you. You’re focused on the things that really matter, like great food, low-key celebrity sightings, and funky hotel outposts that keep you close to the action. Luckily, for every Hollywood “can’t miss!” there’s a Venice Beach “I could eat” equivalent. Save time on your next LA visit for the latter and be good to your gut at these local hotspots.
Australia never tasted so good. From the fresh muesli to the corn fritter tostadas sporting that California avocado goodness, you’ll find Great White’s coastal California menu is best when paired with a proper Australian flat white. The crisp, natural decor is a perfect match for the mix of surfers and locals who slide through. Die-hards are easy to spot. They’re the ones who’ve tattooed the store’s logo on their arms — literally. Out front, you’ll spot the famous Venice Beach welcome sign that changes on a whim. Take your coffee to go and you can stroll past Muscle Beach, peer out at the ocean or watch the skateboarders flip while you sip.
The Tasting Kitchen
Closed by day so the chefs can hit the local markets, this popular foodies’ paradise opens its doors and floor-to-ceiling windows each evening to show off the day’s harvest. Want to see the rapture on your date’s face as they bite into handmade pasta, nibble on cured-in-house meats, or slice into a perfectly filleted fish? You’ll need to lean in. The Tasting Kitchen is all about ambience and the dim lighting and flickering candlelight are all part of the new American dining experience. Want to linger? Do. Polishing off a bottle of wine long into the night is encouraged. Thinking you’ll return to repeat your meal tomorrow? Unlikely. Everything here is made and sold on the same day. Tomorrow will bring its own adventure.
Beyonce. Need we say more? The Houston bombshell and her hip-hop hubby are fans of this seemingly simple spot on the corner of a mural-laden shopping strip. Step inside Gjelina for a Moroccan baked eggs breakfast, an afternoon G&T at the bar, or a grass-fed bison ribeye for dinner. Pick a spot in the window to watch the action on the street or opt to dine al fresco in the back. Open from 8 am through midnight most days (Sundays they close at 11pm), you can stay as long as it takes to become Bey’s bestie.
If you don’t swoon at the gorgeous artwork painted on the walls outside of this classic neighbourhood café, or at the living vines above the shared work table inside, or at the green-walled, open-air patio out back that offers the perfect combination of shade and swagger, then the food will get you. This is no time to go carb-free. Rose Café’s on-site bakery means that everything, from your butter croissant to the to-die-for vanilla malt beignets, is made fresh on the spot. Bring a friend, if only so you can sample a few extras.
Great food is one thing, but when you find a restaurant where the food is fresh and delicious, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and everything is served in a setting that feels like you’re in the Mediterranean? Well, that’s heaven on earth. Dine on perfect mussels, crisp toasts, light salads, or grilled octopus in Salt Air’s serene setting. No one will fault you for snapping photos of your meals here or posing in the window-side banquettes for the perfect shot. Add a glass of sparkling rosé and voilà: lunch made perfect. (1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd; www.saltairvenice.com)