LAGuide

The Best Restaurants In Venice

From Abbot Kinney to the Boardwalk, these are the best spots to eat around Venice Beach.
The Best Restaurants In Venice image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Spend enough time in Venice, and you might end up committing to a "rollerblading phase," or at least attending 6am meditation classes in someone's beachside condo. We have no guidance for you there. But we can help with restaurant ideas. Despite the tourist crowds and the weekend brunch circus, there are plenty of great restaurants in Venice, including the famous places that start with the letter G, casual post-beach hangouts, excellent bakeries and seafood spots, and one pasta place that requires—and is worthy of—making a reservation way in advance. Whether you live in the neighborhood or have friends visiting LA who insist on a boardwalk tarot reading, here's everywhere you should eat in Venice.

Looking for more great restaurants on the Westside? Read our Westside Hit List for all the best new options in the area.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Latin American

Venice

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good Cocktails
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At first glance, Si! Mon has many features typical of Venice restaurants: There’s a leafy, tropical patio, strong margaritas, and a crowd populated by floppy-hatted people. What sets this upscale Panamanian restaurant apart, though, is the food. Come here for a quiet date night in the dimly lit dining room, or a boozy Friday with friends at the upstairs bar, and you’ll find yourself fighting over dishes like shrimp dumplings in coconut bisque, rum-filled crab stew, twice-fried chicken, and tuna carpaccio on yuca tostadas with sweet pepper aioli. Getting to this canal-adjacent part of Venice is painful for just about everyone, but if the destination is Si! Mon, the struggle will be validated.

Atla fits right in with Venice's stereotype of being breezy and casual. This NYC-based Mexican restaurant from the Damian and Pujol team does classics well enough to make a quesadilla the most exciting part of your day. We also like the potato and cheese flautas that shatter like glass, and juicy al pastor gringas that pop from tart pineapple butter. Yes, Atla is casual, but this all-day menu ain't cheap. (That's a $16 quesadilla, friend.) But the fact that you can show up for a leisurely lunch featuring tequila cocktails and crispy flautas makes Atla a pleasant splurge. 

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Gjelina is where the Venice-as-a-food-destination thing all began. It’s loud, you usually have to wait, and don’t you dare ask for a substitution. But we still put up with all of this because they are undisputed magicians with vegetables, and know how to make an excellent pizza, too. And though Gjelina has matured like a fine wine since its early days, the crowd is still peak Abbot Kinney. If it's a bit much, just go next door to GTA for a slice of pizza or a sandwich to-go, or to be eaten standing up at a counter overlooking the street.

After an hour at Dudley Market, you’ll feel like you’ve joined a club of sommeliers who also know a lot about fishing. This fun seafood spot is about a block from the beach and it's a great place to show off LA to an out-of-towner or potentially just someone with cool shoes. The restaurant team operates its own boat. So if you see something fishy on the menu, there's a good chance it was swimming when you woke up this morning. We especially like the bluefin tataki, clam and pork toast, and whole-fried fish, but the buger with bacon-onion jam—decidedly not from the ocean—is one of our favorite burgers in the city.

Unless you’re new to eating in Los Angeles, you probably don’t need us to tell you about Gjusta. This Venice bakery/deli/restaurant has graced every Instagram feed, list, and lifestyle blog on earth. And it's worth the hype. Most days, you'll have to wait in line to place your order at the counter. But that just gives you more time to plot and scope out a table on their giant, canopied courtyard. Decide between the tomato confit sandwich or tuna conserva (honestly, order both). If you're with a group, make sure to get a healthy mix of salads, cheese, and cured meats for the table. 

Restaurants don’t open all that often on Abbot Kinney. So the entire neighborhood was lined up in advance when Italian spot Felix showed up at the beach end of the street in 2017. Fast forward to now and Felix is still consistently packed and still very good. It’s essentially a temple of flour and water, complete with a climate-controlled pasta-making space in the middle of the dining room. This is pasta and focaccia worth crossing the city for. 

A visit to the original Willie Mae’s in New Orleans can result in two-hour waits. That's longer than we’d wait for pretty much anything (Din Tai Fung included). But now there's a West Coast location in Venice with a fast-casual model, meaning it’s easy to get your hands on their fried chicken. Picture a flaky crust that crackles and shatters the moment you bite in—the thin, slightly spicy crust seals in all the chicken juices, which end up running down your arms between bites. There’s also a long list of sides like gumbo, red beans, and candied yams. The chicken will outshine anything in its path, though.

A kid takes over his parents’ family Thai restaurant on the Sunset Strip and turns it into one of the best Thai restaurants in LA before proceeding to expand to Venice, Silver Lake, and Las Vegas. Tale as old as time, right? Night + Market is the only party restaurant in LA that we also shortlist for takeout. We like all three Night + Market locations in LA, but Venice currently has our hearts. It’s cramped and loud in a way that forces you to let loose, and even though they don’t have hard liquor (like they do in West Hollywood), the wine list always introduces us to something new. Make sure some form of larb, fried chicken, and noodles are on your table and you’ll be in for a great time.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

$$$$Perfect For:Cheap EatsLunch

We once picked up ceviche from this mariscos truck on Rose and brought it down to hungry friends on the beach. The only problem was, there were more friends than expected and we forgot to ask for forks. Never have we seen such a carnal feast take place. Tortilla chips disappeared in a flash. Hunks of fish were scooped with sandy fingers, and pools of fishy citrus juice were slurped like soda from the bottom of the containers .. All of which is to say, getting in line for ceviche, cocteles, and campechanas at La Isla Bonita is always a good idea. Especially since lunch for one won’t cost you more than $20, if that. 

People come to Barrique in hopes of getting laid. It's an objectively romantic setting (an old, yellow bungalow on Main Street) and everyone inside happens to be stunning. We don't quite understand how this works, but it does. Is their squid ink linguine with lobster the most inventive Italian food on the Westside? Of course not. But you’re not at Barrique to debate al dente execution. You’re here to drink a bunch of red wine at a candlelit table, flirt with waiters and/or your date, and feel what Venice might have felt like four decades ago.

Ospi is an excellent Italian restaurant one block from the boardwalk that comes from the same people behind one of our other favorite Italian restaurants on the Westside, Jame Enoteca. You come here to eat razor-thin pizzas, vodka sauce-covered pastas, and big plates of crispy scaled branzino and butter chicken served parm-style. There’s also a wrap-around front patio that works for almost any occasion, whether it be a first date or a rowdy, wine-drenched party with friends. Be sure to make reservations well in advance—Ospi gets incredibly busy on weekends.

We imagine that when McDonald’s opened their first location, the burgers looked and tasted a lot like what you’ll find coming out of American Beauty’s burger window: they’re a quick, cheap (a single cheeseburger is $4.25), and deliciously compact homage to the California roadside burger. Grilled on a flat top with onions, topped with american cheese, pickles, and house sauce, and served on a potato roll, the burger is low-brow but high-quality. The meat comes from American Beauty next door, and while there are no martinis at the window, there is a chilled-out patio, perfect for grabbing after a day at the beach.

It’s hard enough to find a restaurant by the boardwalk with decent food, let alone one with good food and a crowd you actually want to hang out with. But Gran Blanco has both. It’s from the same owners as Great White across the street, which used to be a solid option for a breakfast burrito and flat white before it got mobbed by the daily brunch set. Gran Blanco takes the same low-key, Aussie beach energy and blends it with (overdone) Tulum-esque decor to create a fun bar with good drinks across the board. The Celery Southside is a lovely cocktail, but the real reason to gather here is the bar food, including a juicy smashburger and whipped feta topped with crispy, charred eggplant, and chili crunch.

Charcoal has the appeal of a generic American restaurant in a hotel, the kind of concrete-floored place that charges you $18 for a negroni with half-melted ice. But that's fine because Charcoal makes very good steak. If you're looking for rosy-in-the-center ribeye on the Westside (and maybe a charred cabbage appetizer soaked in smoke and brightened up with zippy sumac yogurt), come here. And make sure to take advantage of Charcoal's excellent table sauces, like the vinegary chimichurri, with a healthy dose of dried oregano. 

More burgers for you to eat in Venice. This time at Hinano, a super casual, sawdust-on-the-floor, pool-cue-in-your-ribs beach dive that’s been a local dive since the ’60s (back when those locals included Jim Morrison). Their burgers are super traditional, grilled right behind the bar, and come in a basket with a bag of chips on the side. Needless to say they’re best enjoyed with a cold beverage (or many) of your choosing. The chili is also good, and they serve breakfast starting at 8am if you’re looking to start your day the Lizard King way.

This Rose Ave spot serves excellent steakhouse classics, like a killer dry-aged 32 oz. porterhouse and the requisite sides (namely, a big potato pancake stuffed with onion and sour cream). There’s also a front patio adorned with colorful chairs, planters, and of course, that sweet Venice sunshine. It’s the perfect place to drink a cocktail, like the spicy tequila and celery-filled Friend Of The Devil, or our personal favorite, a dirty martini with bay leaf-infused vodka.

When the craving for a big margarita and bottomless chips and salsa hits, Venice has a few options that deliver just that. But if we had to choose between Casablanca and other institutions like La Cabaña, we’d go with the former every time (the food is better). The menu at Casablanca has barely changed during 40 years of business. The signature dish is the surprisingly solid calamari steak, but the grande burrito with birria or the build-your-own fish taco situation are the main highlights. Food aside, Casablanca is a dependable good time. There's a tortilla-making station in the middle of the dining room and if you stick around long enough, someone will probably wheel the tequila cart up to your table.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Coucou feels like a halfway point between a wine bar and a French bistro. The menu has plenty of American twists, which is why you'll see diners in fitted merino wool sweaters guzzling rosé and eating "haute dogs" zhuzhed up with french onion marmalade. Overall, the food is perfectly decent (except for a beautifully cooked steak frites, that's a stand-out dish), so use Coucou if you're in the mood for electro-pop playlists and soft serve with a side of martinis. 

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