The Best Restaurants In Venice
From Abbot Kinney to the Boardwalk, these are the best spots to eat around Venice Beach.
Whether you have friends visiting LA who insist on a Venice boardwalk tarot reading, or you live in the neighborhood and are deep into your "rollerblading phase," eventually you’re going to need to eat. No matter the situation, Venice has great restaurants for every need, including the famed Gj’s (a.k.a. Gjusta and Gjelina), casual spots for post-beach hangouts, excellent cafes, fresh seafood spots, and one fantastic pasta place that requires making reservations way in advance. Here is everywhere you should be eating in Venice.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
After an hour at Dudley Market, you’ll feel like you’ve joined a club of surfing sommeliers who also know a lot about rod-and-reel fishing. This fun, crowded seafood spot a block from the beach is a great way to show LA off to an out-of-towner or insinuate you are in fact cool without relying on silly shoes. The interior is dark and romantic, but casual enough to encourage chit-chat between strangers. And it's impossible to be grumpy if you're sitting out on the patio during Happy Hour staring at the ocean. When it comes to seafood, most of it is caught on the restaurant-owned boat, so if it’s on the menu today, there’s a good chance it was swimming in the ocean that morning. The bluefin tataki, clam and pork toast, and whole-fried fish are all some of our favorites, but the decidedly not-from-the-ocean hamburger with bacon-onion jam is one of the best burgers in the city.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
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. The menu is filled with razor-thin pizzas, vodka sauce-covered pastas, and big plates of meat like 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 feast with friends. Whoever you roll in with, be sure to make reservations well in advance—Ospi is one of the hardest weekend tables to snag in the neighborhood.
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photo credit: @HungryinLA
A visit to the original Willie Mae’s in New Orleans can result in two-hour waits, which is longer than we’d wait for pretty much anything (Din Tai Fung, included). But after trying their first West Coast location in Venice, it all makes sense: this is some truly spectacular fried chicken. Luckily, there aren’t long lines at this casual spot (yet), meaning it’s easy to get your hands on these golden wings and thighs that arrive hot from the fryer. Each order is coated in 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, but they’re all secondary. This chicken will outshine anything it shares a plate with.
Night + Market Sahm
A kid takes over his parents’ family Thai restaurant on the Sunset Strip and turns it into one of the greatest Thai restaurants in LA before proceeding to expand to Venice, Silver Lake, and Las Vegas. Tale as old as time, right? Hardly. 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.
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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. The front patio is the perfect place to take advantage of one of the many excellent cocktails on their menu, like the spicy tequila and celery-filled Friend Of The Devil, or our personal favorite, a dirty martini with bay leaf infused vodka.
The Win-Dow at American Beauty
We imagine that when McDonald’s opened their first location in San Bernardino in 1937, 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 $3.95), and deliciously compact homage to the California roadside burger. Grilled on a flat-top with onions, topped with American cheese, pickles, and house sauce, 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 are lovable burgers and fries on a chilled-out patio, perfect for grabbing after a day at the beach.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
For all its “coolest street in America” buzz, 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, and while it’s still consistently packed, Felix is also as good as ever. It’s essentially a temple of pasta, complete with a climate-controlled pasta-making space in the middle of the dining room, and a pesto pasta that shouldn’t be missed. This is pasta and focaccia worth crossing the city for.
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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. It's famously order-at-the-counter, so on most days, you will have to wait in line. But that just gives you more time to plot—scope out a table on their giant, canopied courtyard. Decide between the tomato confit sandwich, banh mi, or tuna conserva (honestly, order them all). And when you finally head inside to order at the counter, make sure to get a healthy mix of salads, cheese, and cured meats for the table.
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 but now feels like a local mini-chain where you’ll still wait hours for a brunch walk-in. Gran Blanco takes the same low-key, Aussie beach energy and blends it with (overdone) Tulum-esque decor to create a fun, disco-heavy 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.
Speaking of burgers, they don’t get any better than the ones 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). The burgers are super-traditional, grilled right behind the bar, and come in a basket with a bag of chips on the side, so needless to say they’re best enjoyed with a cold beverage (or six) of your choosing. The chili’s also good, and they serve breakfast starting at 8am if you’re looking to start your day the Lizard King way.
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The boardwalk is a tricky place if you’re hungry during lunch—or any meal for that matter—which is why Fig Tree is so important to know about. The sunny, all-day cafe is open every day (except Tuesdays) from 8am-9pm, and whether you’re alone at 10am with a laptop or on a first date that you have a good feeling about, this place gets the job done. The Latin-leaning menu is full of highlights like rockfish ceviche with coconut milk and whole grilled fish with mole morado, plus cocktails that come with interesting ingredients like mole bitters and agave rum.
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, frankly, just better, and the menu at Casablanca has barely changed through 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. Aside from the food, Casablanca is a dependable good time filled with fun little details, like the tortillas being made in the main interior dining room. Plus, if you stick around long enough, someone will probably wheel the tequila cart up to your table.
A good percentage of Barrique’s charm is the army of good-looking Italians that make up the waitstaff. The other elements include an objectively romantic setting (it’s located in an old, yellow bungalow on Main Street) and a menu full of delicious pastas like squid ink linguine with lobster and red beet tagliolini topped with quail ragu. Is this the most inventive Italian restaurant 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 those waiters and/or your date, and feel what Venice might have felt like 40 years ago.
Where the Venice-as-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, mostly because Gjelina are the vegetable experts and they know how to make an excellent pizza. Can’t be bothered with the whole thing? Go next door to GTA for a slice of pizza or the blackened fish sandwich to-go, or to be eaten standing up at a counter overlooking the street.
La Isla Bonita
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 $15, if that.
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Wallflower is a mostly-Indonesian restaurant that makes some of the best craft cocktails we’ve had in recent memory. Besides the excelllent, golden, flaky duck lumpia, everything else on the menu is fairly good and flavorful without necessarily blowing us away. But this solid Rose Ave. spot serves a very important purpose in this part of town, which is offering a much-needed alternative to Venice’s abundance of Italian and “New American” restaurants. Come here for some family-style dining, a nice outdoor patio, and a cool, dimly-lit bar that’s perfect for drink dates that potentially spill into dinner.
photo credit: Matt Gendal
Market feels more like a bumping apartment party than an Italian restaurant. Apart from the lively crowd and great nu-disco playlist, this dimly lit aperitivo spot serves small plates with a solid cocktail menu featuring lots of amari. Market might not be the beachside restaurant you had in mind, but instead a place to feel seen by tables of well-dressed people somehow managing to carry a conversation over the blaring music. The fresh pasta is the main attraction here, including a perfectly al dente strozzapreti in a nutty white pesto sauce, but what really steals the show is the saucy steamed mussel toast with a saffron-infused sofrito.