In a city so defined by its streets, there might not be a more polarizing one than Abbot Kinney. Venice’s glittery strip has either become the poster child for beautiful urban renewal or the devastating effects of gentrification, depending on how deep your trust fund goes. But no one can deny the street still attracts a pretty interesting crowd. Want to start a marijuana popsicle stand? Or crowd-fund your spiritual trip to Bali? Did you name your child after a complex carbohydrate? Then you love it here!
And we don’t blame you. Love it or hate it, you’re lying to yourself if don’t experience a slight sense of fascination strolling around Abbot Kinney on a Saturday afternoon. And while the shops and galleries have all upped their game in recent years, so have the restaurants. Plenty of smoke and mirror spots still dot the strip, but the great ones have cut through the fat, and we’re here to help identify them. Here is where you need to be eating right now on Abbot Kinney Blvd.
If you haven’t heard of Gjelina by now, we’re assuming you’re an alien in a host body and please enjoy your time here on Earth. Gjelina isn’t just the best restaurant on Abbot Kinney, it’s one of the finest in the city. And that means anyone in arms reach of a fedora (all of Venice?) has a reservation. But if you can’t deal with the hassle, their Gjelina Take Away concept next door has a slightly shortened but equally great menu for all your “I’m not waiting for this sh*t” needs.
The cult-fave Portland donut emporium recently made the trip down I-5 and the crowds are ravenous. The lines are long, and the pace is gentle. Not to say Blue Star has bad service. No, it’s just every single person at the counter having an emotional breakdown trying to decide which donut they want. It takes time.
Abbot’s Habit wins the award for best coffee shop on Abbot Kinney not completely filled with girls updating their lifestyle blogs. This no-frills corner cafe is a Venice staple and one of the best places to simply order a sandwich and a cup of coffee and get some actual work done in relative peace and quiet.
Directly next door to Abbot’s Habit is its pizza restaurant, and one of the most underrated pizza-by-the-slice places in the whole damn city. Locals know of Abbot’s Pizza of course, but how this place doesn’t get more attention is beyond us. Their Popeye’s Chicken pizza is astonishing, and if it’s hot and ready when you walk in, grab as many pieces as you can and run.
One genre that Abbot Kinney hasn’t been particularly kind to is Mexican food. But a block off the northern tip of the strip is the Santa Monica staple Tacos Por Favor and we like their chances. The gigantic, hard shell tacos here are delicious and an on-the-go Mexican spot should appeal to the wandering phone app employees looking for lunch and a Local Story.
Best known as the place you go to when you can’t get into Gjelina, The Tasting Kitchen often gets forgotten. But we’re big fans of their fairly expansive mediterranean menu, laid-back back patio, and a brunch that hits in all the right places. (We see you short rib hash).
Despite its proximity to the water, Abbot Kinney has an odd void of solid seafood spots. Enter Salt Air and its seafood-inspired menu with all the Abbot Kinney-ness Lana Del Rey could dream about as she stares and sings blankly at you. Skylights! White beams! Bohemian vibes!! Oh, and a Monkey Bread dessert that is certainly worth saving room for.
Just as you were starting to get concerned there weren’t enough minimalist, sorta-French coffee shops in the area, Zinque swoops in and saves the day. But there’s one distinct difference here. Zinque opens every day at 6:30 am with a no-frills breakfast menu under $8 and closes most nights well after midnight. That’s plenty of time to decide which insta filters work best for your foraging tumblr.
Hello boozy brunch. We meet again. 3 Square Cafe is a solid spot at any point in the day, but their brunch service is where you need to be. The obvious go-to is the German Apple Pancake which is souffled and will remind you of great sex. But don’t sleep on the fried egg burger either, with a pretzel bun courtesy of Rockenwagner Bakery next door.
When it comes to mediocre vegan spots, Abbot Kinney is a tempeh chicken safe haven. But Plant Food and Wine is far from mediocre. The hyper-modern interior is a tad stark, but that back patio is as good as any you’ll find. And the food? Great. And not even relatively. Their tomato sandwich tastes like a grilled cheese dipped in tomato soup, and we can’t figure out how they do it.
Definitely not a restaurant, this monthly food/drink/instagram extravaganza has become all but synonymous with Abbot Kinney. And it’s also earned the reputation of having the best food truck lineup in the city. On the first Friday of every month, everything from Kogi beef to lobster rolls to nitrous ice cream line the street and it’s magic. TIP: Come early. Crowds get bad and there’s only so many girls in sun hats we can take after the sun has set.