Where To Eat In Marina Del Rey
photo credit: Reuben Bedingfield / Flickr
Most people think of Marina del Rey as a sleepy stretch of waterside restaurant/bars with bad food and bland vibes. And they’re not necessarily wrong. But things are definitely changing. No longer just a kitschy, man-made harbor where you take your parents when they want to go on a whale-watching cruise, Marina del Rey has some great places for waterfront dinners, exceptional plates of seafood, and much more. Here’s our guide to the best spots in MDR.
Venice Ramen is a small ramen counter on Washington Blvd. that's smack dab on the Marina Del Rey/Venice border. The Tokyo-style ramen here isn’t flashy, but the deeply flavored broths and handmade noodles make this one of the best bowls of the Westside, if not all of LA. Tonkotsu ramen is the house specialty, but if you want something lighter, try the fantastic Chuka Soba: tender-chewy noodles in a clear pork broth topped with chashu, scallions, bamboo shoots, and a hard-boiled egg, which the owner will tell you is the way it’s done in Shibuya.
Much like the cast of Three’s Company, Kazunori, Uovo, and HiHo are a trio with tons of loyal fans. The three restaurant concepts are all local mini-chains run by the same team, and in Marina Del Rey they conveniently are located in the shopping complex (with parking) right along the waterfront. Together, they form a very solid 3-in-1 pick for a quick lunch near Pier 44, with each place offering something distinct, whether it’s lobster hand rolls, cacio e pepe, or a wagyu double cheeseburger. Even if you're with a group of indecisive eaters, there will be a waterside option to satisfy everyone.
Located on the bottom floor of the Marina del Rey Hotel, Salt has one of the best views of the marina, and their outside deck is the perfect place to watch the boats go by while pretending you’re Gwyneth Paltrow. They do a good breakfast and brunch, but the best choice here is dinner, when you can order a seafood tower, lobster pasta, or more adventurous dishes like “kung pao” octopus. This is a great spot for a group birthday dinner or when you want to impress out-of-towners.
First opened as a diner in 1974, J. Nichols is the kind of good-at-everything spot every neighborhood needs. The casual space got a major facelift in 2011, but the food remains as dependable as ever. From pulled-pork pancakes with maple pecan butter to a selection of Benedicts and burgers that are surprisingly creative, J. Nichols is at its best during breakfast and brunch (expect to wait for a table during the latter), but you can find something good no matter the time of day.
This tiny Italian spot has been a well-kept secret for nearly a decade, thanks almost entirely to their location on a nondescript stretch of Lincoln Blvd. But as soon as you step inside, you’ll forget there’s a car wash next door. From the Fiat-sized bar, stocked with Italian aperitivos and wines, to the low-lit dining room, Locanda is ideal for an intimate meal, and the menu is filled with pastas that are perfect for sharing. Our favorites include the pappardelle with braised wild boar, and the ravioli in a rich truffle sauce, but if you need guidance, the gregarious owner is there to help—and more than willing to pour you another glass of wine, too.
Tucked between a jeweler and a taco shop in a weird shopping-center cul-de-sac, Irori has long been Marina del Rey’s best-kept secret. Well, the secret’s out: From their massive $25 bento box lunch to their 12-piece omakase (for $80), this is one of the best bang-for-your-buck meals on the Westside. The fish is always high-quality and the rolls are creative (get the blue crab and salmon roll with truffle), plus, they make you remove your shoes when you enter, if you’re looking for a little bit of tradition, too.
A true Marina del Rey original, The Warehouse is a sprawling spot right on the water that first opened in 1969. Fittingly, the outside is a tangle of frayed rigging lines, corrugated metals, and all manner of wharf ephemera, while the inside feels like you’ve stowed away on a shipping freighter (or are waiting to tee off at a Polynesian mini-golf course). The food isn’t anything special—it’s the usual assortment of seafood and steaks—but locals don’t flock here for the refined cuisine, they come to take in marina views on the patio, drink rum-based cocktails served in souvenir barrels, dance to live music, and get their fill of crab legs at the Warehouse’s Sunday brunch. Follow their lead.
Mendocino Farms is a solid upscale sandwich shop with locations all over LA, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that one landed not far from the paddle board rental place and the old-timey shops that line the marina. If you’re thinking of hitting up Mendocino for a sandwich or a salad and heading to the marina for a picnic, it’s always a good idea to avoid the obnoxious wait times and just order online.
A lot of dining options in MDR are located in hotels. We fully recognize this is weird, but given the price of real estate here, you should probably just accept it. Beachside is located inside the Jamaica Bay Inn and is a more-casual alternative to Salt. With a solid Happy Hour (Monday-Friday, 4-6pm) and brunch every day, it’s almost better than a trip to the actual beach. Almost.
One of the better casual options in the area, MidiCi is an open-kitchen Neapolitan pizza chain with locations from Sherman Oaks to Hawthorne. Their Marina del Rey outpost opened in 2018, and serves some standout pies on chewy-yet-crispy crust, including The Devil’s, with spicy sausage, Calabrese salami, and red chiles, and the Four Cheese, which skips the tomato sauce in favor of layers of mozzarella, ricotta, gorgonzola, and parmesan, with a hint of garlic. The rest of the menu is a mix of salads and stuff like calzones, and it isn’t quite as strong, but if you’re looking for a quick lunch or dinner, make it MidiCi.
There are just a few things you need to know about C&O, a casual Italian spot on Washington Blvd.: Order the garlic knots, choose an entree to share because the portions are big enough to feed several people, and sit outside on the very pleasant patio. This charming neighborhood hang is the perfect spot to bring your parents after you finish driving them around the marina and briefly show them the Venice Boardwalk (from the comfort of the car, of course.)
Although most people associate it with Venice, Scopa is technically in Marina del Rey (so says their 90292 ZIP code). This common mix-up is understandable considering it's has all of the elements of a Venice restaurant: it's located just off of Abbot Kinney, it's always crowded, and it has a swanky cocktail bar in the back. Regardless of where you place it geographically, Scopa is an ideal spot for a loud, sceney dinner with friends or a hot date. From a solid assortment of antipasti—get the rice ball and the crispy squash blossoms—and pastas like the chitarra with pecorino cheese and black pepper, to great cocktails, you'll have a great time. They also have a great brunch menu if you're ever looking to day drink and eat carbonara pasta on a Sunday afternoon.
The original Coni’Seafood in Inglewood is one our favorite restaurants in the city, so when the Mexican seafood spot opened a second location on Centinela at the edge of Culver City/Del Rey (y’know, Marina del Rey adjacent), there were plenty of reasons to get excited. From the fresh shrimp ceviche and grilled whole snook to marlin tacos we would drive across town for, this is tremendous seafood that is hard to find anywhere else in LA. The modern, industrial space is ideal for a casual midweek dinner with friends.