Where To Eat On Abbot Kinney Blvd.Yes, the busiest street in Venice is a giant tourist trap. But it's also home to some excellent restaurants.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is one of the rare tourist traps that locals actually use. Sure, the dingy smoke shops and mom-and-pop stores have been replaced by wandering “foodies” from Finland and Boohoo influencers chugging matcha lattes. But if you’re looking for things to do and eat in Venice, chances are you’ll still end up on this famous street (or infamous, depending on your tolerance for floppy sun hats and Snapchat vlogs of the sunset). Here's where you should be eating on Abbot Kinney.
Major restaurant openings are sparse on Abbot Kinney, which is why Atla’s arrival feels like a big deal. This NYC import is from the Damian and Pujol team, but the Mexican food and the breezy dining experience skew much more casual here. With an all-day menu, a zen baby-blue space, and people in loose-fit jeans ordering tequila cocktails at lunch, Atla makes complete sense for the neighborhood. Expect well-executed staples like stringy quesadillas on soft blue tortillas, adobo-marinated fish, and potato flautas that shatter when you cut into them.
A Saturday night reservation at Felix used to be the second hardest thing to find in Los Angeles (second to maybe a dog without an Instagram). That may not be the case anymore, but Felix is just as good as ever. It's essentially a pasta church (from the same chef as Mother Wolf and Funke) where you can watch your orecchiette being handmade in a climate-controlled room in the middle of the restaurant. Get the rigatoni all’amatriciana and the pesto trofie, and as many orders of the sfincione as you deem acceptable. For us, that’s two.
If you’ve managed to avoid hearing about Gjelina until now, it’s possible you’re an alien in a host body and please enjoy your time here on Earth. Gjelina is the original big-time Venice restaurant and an Abbot Kinney staple. It’s the perfect example of whatever California Italian cuisine means (i.e., incredible grilled vegetables with a side of pasta). Think blistered zucchini in a creamy turmeric sauce and Japanese sweet potato that gets an edge from jalapeño yogurt. We usually load up on vegetables and throw in Gjelina’s excellent lamb sausage pie and the bottarga-dusted saffron spaghetti.
Gjelina is a very good restaurant, but trying to walk in without a reservation can still be a pain. If all you want is a bubbly, charred pizza, head next door to their takeout spot to scratch that itch. Eat your pizza standing or find a spot on the bench outside. In either case, the entire meal will take much less time than dining at the mothership. And while the 11-inch pies are great, we like the sandwiches even more—especially the meatball (always get this on baguette, not brioche.)
This a friendly reminder that Abbot Kinney doesn’t end at Venice Blvd. In fact, one of its best restaurants is located in a strip mall on the corner of Washington. Rather than attracting brimmed-hat tourists throwing up peace signs, South End is for locals who want excellent pizza and a generous pour of syrah. This small, busy pizzeria serves Neaoptilian-style pies with slightly thick crusts (think something on the lines of Pizzeria Mozza) and familiar toppings. We usually get the “Boardwalk” with crushed tomatoes, speck, and a runny egg in the center.
The Butcher’s Daughter might be from NYC, but it leans into every Venice cliché. There are wellness lattes, regulars who can’t shut up about their gut microbiome, and enough indoor plants for the space to qualify as a greenhouse. But even with all of these annoying elements, the restaurant manages to serve great vegetarian American food like mushroom calamari, egg sandwiches punched up by harissa mayo, and a surprisingly interesting avocado toast topped with mustard seed and turmeric-pickled shallots.
Just like Salt & Straw up the street, Blue Star is a Portland kid trying to make it in Hollywood. And also like Salt & Straw, Blue Star has succeeded. The lines at this donut shop can be long, and the pace is, well, we'll call it gentle. Not to say Blue Star has bad service—it’s just that every single person at the counter is having an emotional crisis trying to decide whether they want a crackly creme brulee donut or “the glossy O.G.” that tastes like creamy horchata.
Compared to how much this street has changed in the past decade, Abbot’s functions like an ancient relic. For over 25 years, this neon-lit slice shop has been supplying skaters and hangry start-up employees with a quick pizza fix. No, this will not be the best slice of your life. But it’ll be tasty, filling, and just what you need to carry on with your day of shopping. We like the "Bianco" with big dollops of ricotta, but if the “Popeye’s Chicken Pizza” is hot and ready when you walk in, grab as many pieces as you can.