Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Venice Eats

One will never go hungry when visiting Venice. There are a plethora of delicious restaurant options to choose from and pretty much any restaurant you walk into is fabulous. I could go on and on about places to get your grub on in Venice but ill start by offering my four top eats while I am in town.

1. GJELINA:  Gjelina restaurant is located on the “Coolest block” in America (deemed so by GQ magazine), Abbot Kinney. Since its opening in 2008, this farm-to-table restaurant has never been lacking of customers. In the early days it was easy just to walk in without a reservation. These days you have to book almost four weeks out to get a dinner reservation (and you must have a dinner reservation, no walk-ins). My favorite times to eat at Gjelina are for brunch or lunch. Gjelina only takes brunch or lunch reservations for parties 6 or more however I always get seated pretty quickly when coming for lunch (unless it’s the weekend). They have a wonderful lunch menu and serve beer and wine all day. You can usually spot your favorite celeb dining at the table next to you as Gjelina is not only delicious but a trendy place to "see and be seen".  If you can, try and reserve a seat on the patio and take advantage of Californian dining al fresco. If you don’t feel like waiting for table at Gjelina (but are craving one of their signature pizzas), not to worry as Gjelina has recently opened GTA (Gjelina take away) which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Great lunch menu!
A classic Gjelina Pizza:  mushroom, fontina, truffle tremor goat cheese, & thyme
2. AXE:  Pronounced “ah-shay”, this clean airy minimalist setting is ideal for a Californian culinary experience (especially for those vegetarian-conscious folks). Commissioning high quality organic and local ingredients on a well-tailored menu, this Venice Beach staple is a local favorite. Although they serve dinner, I like to go for their brunch and lunch menu. I always try and take advantage of their back garden to eat when available (which is so tranquil and relaxing). They also make their own almond milk so I like to top my meal off with a café latte almond style. You can make a reservation on their website or you can call in.

Who knew macrobiotic could be so delectable?! 
A bowl
Bread Salad
3. Tasting Kitchen:  If you only have one night for dinner in Venice beach, the tasting Kitchen would be the place to eat. This upscale, “supa kewl”, trendy, beautiful-people filled Venice Beach restaurant has killer food and killer cocktails (be careful on the cocktails! they are just as lethal as they are delicious). With a fantastic space (although very tightly packed), this is a great place to meet with friends and share plates. On my recent trip to Venice we shared 3 mains and several sides between 4 people (+ 2 deserts of course) and it was just the right amount to taste everything and feel satisfied. Every dish was a fun and delightful experience-even down to the bread and butter (so yummy!) But if you are planning to have a romantic and intimate meal, this isn't your best choice. With loud acoustics, noise levels rise as the night continues. This is also not the place to have dinner when on a budget but they offer a great brunch menu that is a bit more forgiving on your wallet (make sure you call to make a reservation for both brunch and dinner!)  

Tasty eats at the Tasting Kitchen
Great dishes to share (or just save all for yourself!)
4. Oscar's Cerveteca:  I absolutely love Oscars. Oscar Hermosillo, a Venice local (and a super sweet guy) also the owner of teeny tiny always super packed Venice Beach Wines, opened up Oscars Cerveteca in 2011.  A Spanish beer bar that serves Veracruz-style eats, its one place I always meet up with friends and have dinner when in town. Although they take reservations, I often show up without them. If I have to wait it’s never longer than 15 minutes (so I usually go next door to his wine bar and get a glass of something while I wait). Located on Rose Avenue Oscars is a great neighborhood joint and seats 30 inside, and 30 outside (always best to sit outside- great patio space). I always share the beer battered Baja tacos and the “Jardin burger” with my friend as I can never decide between the two (both phenomenal). We also share sides for the table (the plantains or Quinoa ‘n Kale, Roasted Corn, Spiced Cashews are always appetizing).  Although Oscars offers up a mixed batch of 150 beers, I always get a fresh young coconut to quench my thirst!

Outdoor patio
Don't forget the homemade sauces Oscar makes! Chimichurri and homemade Jalapenos yum!!
Make sure you ask them to crack that nut open when you are finished with the milk!
Bon appétit!!!! 

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