Just block s from the ocean, the six-block strip of Abbot Kinney Boulevard epitomizes the sun-drenched, lazy-afternoon surfboard vibe of Venice Beach. Though parking can be tight, you can usually find a spot; if not, try the valet at Joe’s. Either way, you won’t need a car to explore the cafés, upscale restaurants and funky shops.
Start on the northwest end of Abbot Kinney near Westminster and enjoy a leisurely weekend patio brunch or lovely lunch at JOE’S, the neighborhood pioneer known for its stellar Cal-French food, reasonable prices and hospitable chef-owner Joe Miller. Next door at PRIMITIVO WINE BISTRO, fans of less formal dining can have a glass of Riesling and a petite salad for lunch, a glass of Bordeaux and steak frites for dinner or a glass of Vin Santo and the warm bread pudding with Calvados, caramel, and vanilla bean ice cream at any time. A few doors down at LILLY ’S FRENCH CAFÉ, the ethereal île flottante (caramel-drizzled floating meringue islands atop crème anglaise) is reason enough to linger in the lush outdoor garden, but the reasonably priced croque monsieurs, heaping bowls of moules frites, and good-value happy hour don’t hurt, either.
Those with heartier appetites can head across the street to GLENCREST BAR-B-QUE, where the smoky pork ribs are best taken to go for a picnic, unless you can nab one of the rickety stools. Don’t bother with the sides; instead save room for dessert. N’ICE CREAM provides you with excellent gelati and sorbets, made fresh daily by a lovely Danish couple. Made with organic milk and fresh fruits, all the flavors are creative and delicious.
One block further on you’ll find HAL’S BAR AND GRILL, an artists’ hangout where the menu is packed with solid California salads, pastas and grilled meats. But it’s the massive 40-foot bar that’s the real draw. Order a round of cocktails made from freshly squeezed juices and a platter of fries to share, and take in the scene—on Sunday and Monday nights there’s even live jazz.
If you’re more in the mood for caffeine, cross the street again and head down one block to ABBOT’S HABIT for a strong cup of java (skip the food). Next door is ABBOT’S PIZZA, the beloved home of the self-named “bagel crust” pizza. New Yorkers, don’t knock the California-inspired pizzas laden with such ingredients as spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss back a slice at the tiny stand-up counter, or order a whole pie to go.
You might be needing a sugar pick-me-up by now, so try to score a table in the back walled patio at ultracool GJELINA and order the astonishing butterscotch pudding with sea-salt caramel. Come back another time for a relaxed lunch or romantic dinner.
If it’s happy hour at WABI-SABI, where the sundown specials are too good to pass up, order some sake and a round of spicy tuna rolls. If you spend the evening doing some more serious drinking at THE BRIG, watch for the rotating roster of hipster food trucks that park out front—from Kogi to the Grilled Cheese Truck, they all stop here sooner or later.
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310.450.1429
1146 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310.399.9641
Hal’s Bar and Grill
1349 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310.396.3105
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310.399.5811
1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310.314.0004
1800 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310.305.9800
1410 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310.396.7161
Primitivo Wine Bistro
1025 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310.396.5353
1637 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310.314.2229