A weekday lunch in Venice looks pretty similar to a weekend lunch in Venice: crowded. Home to Silicon Beach and about one million “serial entrepreneurs,” Venice is filled with a lot of people looking for a place to network or brainstorm their new startup over a sandwich. Luckily, Venice also has a lot of restaurants - some are good, some are bad, and some are more about being seen at a cool spot than actually eating the food.
So we’ve gathered together the ones that are best for lunch. Whether you need a long break to escape from your coworkers, a place to can get work done, or somewhere new to eat on a weekend, here’s your guide to navigating the Venice lunch scene.
Lunch at Gjusta probably isn’t a spur of the moment thing if you don’t want to wait in an infinite line. But strategize right and you’ll be eating some of the best sandwiches on the Westside without having to deal with all the craziness. The expert approach is to call ahead and a place an order, run inside, and you eat your tomato and burrata baguette on the beach. Or at your desk, while pretending you’re at the beach. Alternate plan: show up at 2:30pm after everyone’s left and get your food and a seat in record time.
If you’re staring down a fourth day straight of stalking around the Whole Foods salad bar, mainly because you can’t think of anything else easy, know that you have options. Like walking out the door, crossing Rose, and eating a delicious banh mi. Banh Mi (the shop, not the sandwich) is a tiny spot that serves a small menu of pork, chicken, beef, vegetarian, and even breakfast banh mi (the sandwich). We like the pork belly or tumeric chicken, but really, nothing here will be a bad choice.
Dune might be just off the Boardwalk, but this low-key falafel spot is a world away from the sunglasses vendors and guys walking on glass to entertain tourists. It’s bright and quiet, and home to the best falafel you’ll find on the Westside. And it’s not just the falafel here that’s great - the hummus and lamb plate lets you make your own lamb sandwich, and the fried chicken shawarma has so many vegetables in there that you’ll feel like you’re doing something good for your health. (You’re not.)
Want to know what Venice was like before all the tech people and tourists moved in? Have lunch at Hinano. This dive bar is just off the Boardwalk on Washington, and has sawdust on the floor, regulars always in residence, and a very good, very simple burger: lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, and a patty grilled right in front of you. Throw in a bag of potato chips and a cheap beer and cheers with the regular down the bar who just ordered the same thing.
Your dreams of being a pro surfer and moving to Australia might not be all that realistic, but you can still dare to dream at Great White. This cafe is run by Australians who may or may not be surfers, but who do know how to make the kind of all-day everyday brunch food that’s the real reason to move to the Southern Hemisphere. They do grain bowls, fish tacos, and a burger, but really, you’re here for the breakfast burrito, no matter the time of day.
If you have time to sit down and eat, Salt Air is a dependable seafood restaurant on Abbot Kinney that’s mostly comprised of locals looking for somewhere not full of tourists. That makes this place an excellent lunch choice: it has a relaxed, beach-house feel, you’ll never have to wait for a table, and your food is always going to be solid. Stick to the small plates - the entrees are a little heavy, and even though the weekday scene here can be sleepy, you might rather not be.
Zelda’s is the greatest sandwich and donut place in Venice you’ve never heard of. That’s probably because it’s right off the Boardwalk, but if a bad location is what it takes for this place to not be slammed at all times, then so be it. Your order is a bag of donuts (yes, a brown paper bag), and the turkey, cheddar, maple, and apple sandwich that we’re surprised they don’t have patented. While you wait for your order to come out, you can watch as the sugar donuts make their way down a conveyer belt, get dumped into hot oil, and fry right in front of you. It will be the best moment of your day. Until you eat them.
A lot of people in Venice seem to have the kind of job that allows them to take three-hour lunches (probably because they just sold their new networking app to the cloud, or however it works). If you are not one of those people, you will probably not be having lunch at Gjelina today. But if you’re in the mood for one of their sandwiches or pizza, there’s hope - skip the lines and order from GTA next door. The slimmed-down menu has most of the Gjelina classics, as well as some stuff you can only get there - so you can take your pork meatball sandwich back to your desk and eat like your IPO depends on it.
Whatever kind of lunch you want to have in Venice, the Rose Cafe probably can accommodate you. This giant, all-day spot has a full-service restaurant, a coffee shop, a patio for working from and a patio for eating on, a bar, and an escape room. Okay, it doesn’t have an escape room, but Rose works for pretty much everything. If you need to scarf down a salad while you finish that report, you can use the wifi and work away in a much nicer setting than nearby coffee shops. But if you want to have a proper long lunch, you’ll probably have a good time too. Get the grilled cauliflower t-bone, which is a thing, and is actually delicious.
Wurstkuche is a big, warehouse-y restaurant on Lincoln that may be the only spot in Venice to get a good hot dog. If you’re in the mood for a solid bockwurst - or even alligator - you won’t be disappointed, and the french fries are excellent. The long, communal tables are never too crowded, and it’s the kind of place you can hang out in for a long lunch with friends, or a quick break from whatever non-hot-dog related thing you’re doing.
Tocaya is supposedly a Mexican restaurant, but it really just uses ingredients you might find in Mexican cuisine and puts them into salads and grain bowls. Those grain bowls are pretty solid though, and the tacos are better than we thought they would be. The space kind of looks like a cafe that gets set up at Burning Man and can easily be disassembled in minutes - there’s plain floor, exposed wood, and fairy lights strung up over the simple metal tables. That, and the fact that those bowls are very easy to carry, makes Tocaya a good, easy lunch option.
Maybe you just sat through a three-hour meeting and need to go stare at the ocean and not think for a while. Maybe you got dragged to the Boardwalk by your visiting cousins and you’re drawing a hard line at eating another bad beachside burger. El Huarique is the miracle of a ceviche stand that somehow exists on the Boardwalk, and also serves good food. Get the Venice Beach or the Leche de Tigre ceviches, walk 10 feet to the beach, and go think about life for a while.
There’s a Zinque in West Hollywood that we would never advise you go to. But the Venice location is way less of a tourist trap, so you can actually enjoy the all-day spot for a relaxed lunch. The menu is pretty straightforward, with decent salads and sandwiches. Try to get a seat out on the leafy patio.
Abbot’s has been around forever. The old-school pizza spot on Abbot Kinney is the best place for pizza-by-the-slice in the area. You should get the Popeye’s chicken pizza if they have it, but if you want something kinda healthy (but still pizza), they have a salad slice that’s actually pretty great.
If you’re hungover at work and your fourth cup of coffee has done nothing, it may be time for a California burrito from Tacos Por Favor. The interior of this small spot near Abbot Kinney is pretty bare bones, but there are some good booths in the back to slouch in and let your french-fry-filled burrito carry you out of that mental hole.
There are plenty of places to get poké in Venice, but Wild Poké is some of the best. Bowls here are made with high-quality, big chunks of sushi-worthy tuna, and the spicy option has a sriracha mayo that we’re big fans of.
This health food place started in New York, but it’s right at home on Abbot Kinney. The Butcher’s Daughter (we assume she’s a rebellious one) serves juices, wellness lattes, and healthy versions of comfort food. Altogether, it reads like a parody of Venice. But the food here is actually pretty good, and also ostensibly good for you.