The west side beach towns of Santa Monica and Venice are a nice respite from “there is no there there” Los Angeles urban sprawl.
The west side beach towns of Santa Monica and Venice are a nice respite from “there is no there there” Los Angeles urban sprawl.
L.A. is a car town. It’s also a traffic town. Try getting from one end of the city to the other and you’ll find yourself crawling along in bumper-to-bumper traffic while trying to figure out their ribbons of freeways. Yes, freeways. Don’t call them highways or they’ll know you ain’t from these parts. Throw in the term "Sigalert" and you're on your way to being an Angeleno.
The west side beach towns of Santa Monica and Venice are a nice respite from “there is no there there” of this sprawling sunbelt city. You can walk or ride a bike to get around. If you do decide to drive, you can take side streets - with stop signs and kids crossing the streets going to school. You might be tempted to use the word quaint, unless you’re on Abbot Kinney and then you might utter something more like “f*#kin’ hipsters!”
Here are suggestions for your 24 hour visit to Santa Monica and Venice, from sunrise to sunset to late night noshing, all recommended by local chefs, sommeliers and bartenders. Download the Find. Eat. Drink. iPhone app to get the full Los Angeles guide.
"It’s such a luxury to have this market in the middle of a big city. I like to come here on Wednesdays. It's the day that everyone goes. It’s cool to see all the other chefs out shopping." - Chef Steve Samson of Sotto Restaurant
"The abundance and selection of produce is just amazing. There is always some new and unexpected find to discover." - Chef David Lentz of The Hungry Cat
"The best day to go is on Wednesdays. They carry the best fresh produce you could find." - Chef Suzanne Tracht of Jar
"The Wednesday market is bigger, there are side streets and side walks. Their fruits and vegetables are so easy to work with." - Chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis of Bestia
"Sunday mornings for fresh fruits and vegetables for the week. I also love bringing my kids along." - Chef Wolfgang Puck of Chinois, Cut, Spago
Various Locations on Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday | www.smgov.net/portals/farmersmarket
Artisan bakery and cafe where everything served is made on-site. The menu changes with the seasons and the baker's whims.
"Get the poached eggs with tomato sauce and white beans." - Chef David LeFevre of M.B. Post, Fishing with Dynamite
"When you walk in it has a sense of home. There are fresh baked breads and pies with a warm comforting atmosphere." - Chef Joshua Whigham of The Bazaar by Jose Andres
1014 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401
T: 310.451.2311 | www.huckleberrycafe.com
Renovated classic coffee shop serving Italian / California cuisine. Great al fresco dining outside on the covered porch. The brunch crowd loves this place, so expect a wait on the weekends.
"For the burrata caprese omelette, orange pancakes, fresh blueberries (when available), and maple syrup." - Chef Josiah Citrin of Mélisse Restaurant
1802 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401
T: 310.451.9562 | www.corascoffee.com
This is a bakery and pizzeria serving fresh-baked pastries and breads, wood-fired pizzas, pasta, farmers market salads and small plate dishes. In the morning, they serve breakfast from eggs and coffees to cereal and yogurt and fruit.
"I come here after the Santa Monica Farmers Market. They have killer artisan breads." - Chef David LeFevre of M.B. Post, Fishing with Dynamite
2723 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90403
T: 310.453.6776 | www.miloandolive.com
Chef and owner Jeff Cerciello was the Culinary Director for Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc; French Laundry; El Bulli before opening this Brentwood Country Mart restaurant serving a menu made up of artisanal ingredients.
"Jeffrey Cerciello does the best brunch in the city." - Chef Andrew Kirschner of Tar and Roses
Wait in line for your coffee concierge to serve you at the barista station when you come here. "Their coffee is awesome. It's what we pour at the restaurant." - Bartender Noah Ellis of Red Medicine
"I come here almost every day." - Chef Kuniko Yagi of Hinoki and the Bird
1331 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
T: 310.399.1233 | www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/location/venice-coffeebar
Custom built motorcycles, hand-shaped and hand-glassed surfboards, vintage clothing and an espresso bar all in former gas station.
"They are running a great coffee program in the context of a gorgeous retail space selling vintage motorcycles, clothes, and just cool stuff." - Barista Tyler Wells of Blacktop Espresso Bar (formerly of Handsome Coffee)
1001 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
T: 888.515.3387 | us.deuscustoms.com
Andrew Steiner worked as the Maitre d’Fromage for Joachim Splichal’s legendary restaurant Patina. After 24 years of working in restaurants, he opened Andrew's Cheese Shop in 2008.
"It is a great find. An ex-pat of the restaurant business, Andrew runs an excellent program. He also teaches classes and does tastings." - Chef Andrew Kirschner of Tar and Roses
728 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90403
T: 310.393.3308 | andrewscheese.com
Italian purveyor that sells mainly to the restaurant trade. Find everything from salumi, pasta and cheeses to coffee, candies, wine and beer.
"We get a lot of our Italian stuff here. They have a small retail outlet that’s attached to their warehouse with really interesting Italian products. It’s cool that the public can come here to shop." - Chef Steve Samson of Sotto Restaurant
1649 10th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404
T: 310.452.6277 | www.guidimarcello.com
A Santa Monica classic since 1925. Aside from Italian cheese, cannolis and pasta, they carry other specialty foods from around the world. But it's their sandwiches that people line up to order.
"If you come at lunchtime, you have to fax in your order or you wait for an hour. They do a sandwich called The Godmother, it’s truly fantastic. It’s all sorts of Italian cold cuts, loaded with mustard, mayonnaise, some sort of acidic spicy sauce and cheese." - Chef Susan Feniger of Border Grill, Mud Hen Tavern
"This is my favorite place to grab a bite during the day. The line is quite daunting, so my tip is to order online or call it in, you don't have to worry about ordering side items, because you can always pick them up when you walk in, and always, order The Godfather, the sandwich is amazing." - Bartender Derrick Bass of Willie Jane
1517 Lincoln Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401
T: 310.395.8279 | www.baycitiesitaliandeli.com
Classic late 50s diner. It not only looks like a movie set, it's been used many times as a back drop for shoots. Bottomless coffee cup. Cash only.
"Rae's Diner is definitely a gem. The best club sandwich in the whole world, perhaps. Get the #1 club on white toast with mayo, a side of fries and a side of ranch dressing, which you will obviously dip both the sandwich and fries into." - Chef Kris Yanbamroong of Night + Market
2901 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405
East Coast seafood shack meets West Coast vibe. Oysters, steamers, seafood towers and lobster rolls. They also have dishes like Bouillabaisse and Crab Louis.
"This is a wonderful little fish place with quintessential classic beachside food and as good as it gets. My favorite dish is the Ipswich Clams with tartar sauce. They also have a wonderful wine list." - Chef John Sedlar of Rivera
Taku and Keiko Shinomoto sell beautiful imported goods from Japan. Make sure to stop in their sister store down the block.
"They have more in the shop besides culinary related items, but they sell H.S. Glassware which is a Japanese line of glasses that we use at Hinoki & The Bird. They also sell these adorable crane ginger graters that I love. I have one at home, but they are also great little gifts." - Chef Kuniko Yagi of Hinoki and the Bird
1208 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
T: 310.314.8448 | www.tortoiselife.com
Small batch house-made ice cream using organic milk and cream from Clover Farms, organic eggs and sugar. No stabilizers or ice cream bases. They also make their toppings, cones, sauces and ice cream sandwiches from scratch daily.
"I’ll make an excuse to drive here if they have Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream on the menu that day." - Pastry Chef Jaime Cantor of Platine Cookies
Brentwood Country Mart, 225 26th Avenue, Suite 51, Santa Monica, CA 90402
826 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405
T: 310.260.2663 | www.sweetrosecreamery.com
"I love coming to Casa Del Mar at sunset and enjoying a proper Manhattan while snacking on their Happy Hour menu." - Bartender Derrick Bass of Willie Jane
"This is my favorite place for a cocktail. It is a treat to come here. The view is great, the seating is comfortable and the people watching is even better!" - Pastry Chef Jaime Cantor of Platine Cookies
1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405
T: 310.581.5533 | www.hotelcasadelmar.com
Market-driven American cuisine in a homey meets industrial setting.
"I try to show visiting chefs what California cuisine is in my eyes-- so I typically take them to Gjelina, which is in my neighborhood. It exemplifies California and our market-driven nature. The ambience is great, and Travis, the chef, is a great chef in the local community." - Chef David Myers of Hinoki and the Bird, Comme Ça, Pizzeria Ortica, Sola
"It's food I crave." - Chef Suzanne Goin of A.O.C., Lucques, Tavern
Chef and owner Josiah Citrin's two Michelin star rated restaurant. He is dedicated to sourcing ingredients from local farmers for his seasonally-inspired French cuisine.
"Lobster Bolognese is one of my favorite dishes on the planet! The Bolognese is my favorite dish, such a beautiful dance of tomato, fresh basil and truffles with house-made pasta and succulent lobster." - Chef Nyesha Arrington
"Mélisse is a high-end restaurant that delivers day in, day out. Chef Josiah Citrin does a fantastic job and it’s worth the trip to eat here."- Chef Hans Röckenwagner of Cafe Röckenwagner, 3 Square
Seasonal small plates, rustic pizzas, house-made pasta and fresh pastries, by Chef Jeff Mahin.
"Jeff Mahin’s pizzas are exceptional. His other plated dishes are too - simple but thoughtful with each ingredient having a purpose. The Smoked Grapes with burrata and sea salt and the Kale pizza are musts." - Chef Josh Whigham of The Bazaar by Jose Andres
The menu changes regularly depending on farmers' market finds. The dishes are meant for sharing while you sip hand-crafted seasonal cocktails, or drink artisanal beer and small producer wines.
"Chef Jeremy Fox is one of those chefs who does things that are not ordinary. His Beets and Berries salad is amazing. He makes it with quinoa, pistachios, avocado, dried pear skin and beet juice. A lot of weird things going on, but really tasty." - Chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis of Bestia
1119 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401
T: 310.393.7050 | www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com
Just steps from the beach, this is an upscale market and farm-driven restaurant. Chef Jesse Barber, who worked at the Tasting Kitchen, creates an Italian menu with California ingredients. The dishes range from gnocco fritto with uni to boudin blanc to cavatelli with squid ink.
"It is run by a group of my friends from good old Tasting Kitchen days, but even beyond the very creative and amazing food they have a stellar wine list. Jared, their sommelier, is crushing the show here and does regional specific menus which let me dive into the world of Northern Rhone or Alto-Adige. Basically for someone like me who loves flavors and nuances, it’s a dream come true."
FED Pro > Bartender Ryan Wainwright
9 Dudley Avenue, Venice, CA 90291
T: 424.744.8060 | dudleymarket.com
Mediterranean cuisine with handcrafted pastas and farm-fresh seasonal ingredients. There is a choice of an a la carte or tasting menu.
"The crew at Tasting Kitchen has it down." - Bartender Eric Alperin of The Varnish
"Everything from the food to the bar program and the atmosphere is what makes this restaurant a favorite of mine. Abbott Kinney Boulevard was named coolest/trendiest block in America a couple years back, and this restaurant is a great example of why. They also do Saturday and Sunday brunch. I’m always in the mood for their burger or chicken and waffle brunch dish." - Bartender Brendyn Tepper of Hinoki and the Bird
Chef David Lentz describes his restaurant as progressive American seafood using seasonal produce and fresh seafood from Southern California.
"When I'm not drinking wine this is my favorite place for a cocktail. Their cocktails are so yummy that it's hard to have just one. They juice everything to order so the cocktails are super vibrantly flavored." - Sommelier & Restaurateur Caroline Styne of Lucques, A.O.C., Tavern, Larder on Maple
The cocktail list is tailored to what barman Vincenzo Marianella sources at the Santa Monica Farmers Market for his hand-crafted drinks.
"Vincenzo Marianella will make you cocktail concoctions with jams and mustards." - Bartender Eric Alperin of The Varnish
217 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401
T: 310.576.3030 | www.copadoro.com
The East Coast small beer bar's Venice outpost.
"I come here when I am not in the mood for cocktails but still would like some nice ambiance and a nice pint. This is by far my favorite place to be. The exposed brick, dim lighting, and different nooks are great to bring a date, the beer and wine selections are phenomenal. My local tip: go right at four when all of the floor to ceiling windows are open or after ten, if you're up for trendy star watching and a cooler hip crowd." - Bartender Derrick Bass of Willie Jane
"I love coming here because I really like the vibe." - Chef David Myers of Hinoki and the Bird, Comme Ça, Pizzeria Ortica, Sola
1201 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
Lots of sharable plates and beer to choose from on the menu. Most opt for the dry-aged Office Burger with caramelized onion, applewood bacon, gruyere, maytag blue, and arugula on a French roll.
"We love to come here. They have a great beer list and it's a fun place." - Chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke of Republique, Petty Cash
"You could eat the cured olives and Marcona almonds for hours, but you want to save room for the juicy burger." - Restaurateur Piero Selvaggio of Valentino Restaurant Group
Open until 2am on weekends
1018 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90403
T: 310.736.2224 | fathersoffice.com
WEATHER | 5 day weather report.
WALKING | Venice Canals.
READ | Trip Reads for Los Angeles -- Inspirational reading lists for today's traveler.
Wolfgang Puck -- chef and owner of Spago, CUT, Chinois in Los Angeles.
Caroline Styne -- sommelier, wine director and co-owner of Lucques, A.O.C., Tavern, Larder at Maple Drive.
Eric Alperin -- bartender at The Varnish in Los Angeles.
Noah Ellis -- bartender and co-owner of Red Medicine in Los Angeles.
Brandyn Tepper-- bartender at Hinoki and the Bird in Los Angeles.
Derrick Bass -- bartender at Willie Jane in Los Angeles.
Ryan Wainwright -- bartender with Bombet Hospitality Group in Los Angeles.
Tyler Wells -- barista at of Blacktop Espresso Bar (formerly co-owner of Handsome Coffee) in Los Angeles.
Piero Selvaggio -- of Valentino Restaurant Group in Los Angeles.