Instagram-worthy Venice Beach is one of the most exciting and colorful destinations in Los Angeles. Famous for its eccentric mix of street performers, surfers, bodybuilders and a wide variety of shops and restaurants, Venice Beach is a gem for locals and travelers alike.
Whether it’s your first time to LA or your fiftieth, after you’ve spent an afternoon perusing the boardwalk, here are some must-visit places to eat and drink:
Venice Ale House
For those who enjoy both healthy food and a solid sampling of craft beers, Venice Ale House is for you. An easy walk of the beach, visitors have their choice of organic food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with organic, sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. The beverage list is local as well, because as the founders aptly ask, ‘After all, why ship beer and wine halfway around the world when we can support great breweries and wineries right here in California?’ Venice Ale House has distinctive, high-quality brews on a rotating list. The restaurant boasts an atmosphere where locals and tourists alike can relax with friends, enjoy great food and drinks, and catch the sunset.
A trendy New American restaurant in Venice, Gjelina (pronounced Jewelina) is a favorite among locals. Show up on off-peak times, as there’s often a wait to get in – but trust me, it’s worth it. If you don’t want to wait, check out GTA (Gjelina Take Away) right next door, and grab a bite for a picnic on the beach. GTA was originally designed for anyone who didn’t want to wait it out at Gjelina, but it’s become a cult classic of its own. Gjelina’s other sister restaurant, Gjsuta (from the same owners) is also a must for anyone who’s into farm-to-table dining. All three restaurants serve classic American food with a Californian flair, and the menus are filled with fresh takes on traditional dishes – of course, all crafted with the highest quality local ingredients. For all the dessert lovers, save room for the Butterscotch Pot de Crème with salted caramel and crème fraîche. You can thank me later.
La Isla Bonita
The food truck craze is far from over, and LA’s food scene is a testament to the trend. High-end and gourmet street food is in abundance (there are more than 400 in the city), and one of my personal faves is La Isla Bonita, which parks on Rose between Third and Fourth in Venice. Far from a new contender to the scene, La Isla Bonita has been a favorite among locals for almost 30 years, long before food trucks became hipster-trendy. La Isla Bonita specializes in Mexican seafood, such as fish tacos and burritos, and food comes fast and hot, with tostadas starting at just $3.50. It’s also famous for its ceviche, a traditional raw fish dish that’s popular throughout Latin America. LA Weekly ranks this as one of the city’s best food trucks, and it’s a must for anyone looking to grab a taco while at the beach.
Salt & Straw
If you don’t like ice cream, I’m really not sure if we can be friends. If you do like ice cream, we will get along just fine, and you should be sure to swing by Salt & Straw – a haven for extraordinary, handmade ice cream. This gourmet ice cream company started in Portland, and now has a shop in SF in addition to several LA locations. They’re known for innovative flavors and you can never predict exactly what will be on the menu when you arrive. S&S has a rotating list of new and innovative flavors every much (which are different at each location), and include samplings such as rhubarb crumble with toast anise and a sarsaparilla and dandelion root beer float. The ice cream shop also offers classic flavors in each location, for those who appreciate tradition and opt for the same time flavor each visit. Salt & Straw also has a Pints Club, which is, as they put it, magic in a box – a delightful surprise every month of five new flavors highlighting what’s seasonal and uniquely local.
Do you have a favorite food destination in Venice?