Venice Beach Guide | Watson & Watson
Our go-to dog friendly guide to eat, drink & shop in Venice Beach, California!
I'm so excited to bring to you our home base of Venice Beach, CA!
It's 75 and sunny most of the year, we're a few blocks from Abbot Kinney where most of the action is, and there's of course the beach. We feel so lucky to live here! Venice has changed quite a bit in the past few years - a la gentrification. Some of it's good (amazing restaurants and shops) and some of it's bad (people and businesses are being forced out by increasing prices). Geek moment: if you're interested in learning more about gentrification, this documentary is really informative.
The other great thing about living in Venice is some of my best insta-friends live here: my first and bestest floof @fezziktheakita, my neighbor I don't see enough @palomaperrystreet, and my boy @life_with_bowieb. Special shout out to my homies one town over, Bart & Mika.
WARNING: THIS POST IS LOOOONG! We love Venice!
What to Do:
- Go to the beach!! - this should be first priority on your list. It's awesome. Do it.
- Rent a bike and take it down the bike path! - you can rent a bike all along the Strand, so really pop into any spot. There are all the Metro Bike Share stops now everywhere.
- Skate Park - you haven't experienced Venice Beach until you've been to the skate park. There are some really good skaters of all ages that practice and hang out here. Especially if you can get in around sunset, imagine the photos!
- Rent a boat - this activity technically starts in Marina del Rey, however you can take your boat to Venice and beyond! We've done this a few times for summer days and it's the best. You can pack some snacks & the pooch and cruise along the coast! [dog friendly]
- Ride a Bird Scooter - another thing I haven't tried, they're literally EVERYWHERE now though. On every corner on my way to work. I see at least 5 a day. It's really taken over!
- First Friday's or Abbot Kinney Fest on Abbot Kinney - admittedly as a local I hate this evening, as everyone crowds my neighborhood and available parking spaces (lame-o I know). First Friday is the first Friday of every month, and gathers food trucks up and down Abbot Kinney. Normally all the galleries will open their doors and the bars will have discounts or activities.
- Work out at Barry's Bootcamp - I'm a recent convert to Barry's, thank my lucky stars they arrived in Venice (and that my bestie got me a gift card for my birthday). This is a KILLER workout and has a parking lot! And a smoothie bar! And you can order the smoothie before class and it'll be ready after!!
- Take a yoga class at Yoga Nest - my other workout go-to in Venice! It's hard to find a good yoga studio, and Yoga Nest is great :). Namaslay.
- Join a club! - I play dodgeball at the Oakwood Rec Center via The Yacht Club, it's the best and how I met my boyfriend. But there are SO many options! Kickball, soccer, softball, karaoke, ping pong, skeeball .. it's the best way to meet people if you're new to a city.
- Other honorable mentions:
- Last but not least... Go on a mural crawl, duh!!
Where to Eat - Brunch:
- Great White - I'm OBSESSED with Great White! Welcome to the neighborhood! It's gorgeous inside, crisp white with beach vibes. And it's situated smack dab staring at the Venice lights, one block from the beach. Must have their charcoal latte!! [dog friendly]
- Flake - Flake has our favorite breakfast burritos, so we order take out from here pretty much every time we're hungover. Pretty much everything is delicious on their menu though! We prefer take out because there aren't a ton of seating options, but if you get there early or have good karma there are spots outside for the pup. [dog friendly]
- The Butcher's Daughter - I'm not even mad that New York had her first, because she's on Abbot Kinney now, and we love her. The Butcher's Daughter is as if pinterest decided to open a beautiful, bright, boho brunch spot. Indigo dyed cloth & macrame hangs from the ceiling, the interior coffee bar has blue tile and white carerra marble tops. Pretty much my dream come true. The food is also quite delicious, but anything would taste delicious in that atmosphere! [dog friendly]
- Gjusta - Gjelina's little cousin, Gjusta, is an incredible bakery. Not so much brunch spot, if I'm to be totally honest. There's a "take a number" system, but it's all chaotic inside, and there's no one to help you make a decision about what to eat. We've had success with some of their options - read chia pudding!! - but my favorite way to do Gjusta is to grab a loaf of bread & cheese from the express counter, and order a nut milk cortado to go ;). [dog friendly]
- Nighthawk - even though nothing on this menu is healthy, it's really flipping delicious. Nighthawk's whole shtick is a "breakfast bar," so imagine cereal milk cocktails & decadent french toast.
- Cafe Buna - right across from 26 Beach, which most people would direct you to, is Cafe Buna. They serve what I could consider traditional American breakfast, and they do it pretty well for a pretty good price. Plus normally a shorter line than their neighbor across the street! [dog friendly]
- Sunny Spot - you go here for one reason: bottomless mimosas ;) [dog friendly]
Where to Eat - Dinner:
- Scopa - I used to be team Tasting Kitchen until I had Scopa. You cannot beat this Italian food on the westside!! My favorites are the Rice Ball & Cavatelli :).
- Shima - most people mention Wabi-Sabi when they talk about sushi on Abbot Kinney, but we much prefer Shima! Minimal decor and menu, but purely authentic Japanese cuisine.
- Wurstkuche - typical German beer & brat house! Long tables with paper tablecloths and crayons to draw on them, an assortment of mustards for your brat. Oh and DELISH fries. It gets pretty turnt up with a live DJ later, but not to the level of dancing. You really can't go wrong here, it's a perfect Friday night outing.
- Felix - newest hot spot on Abbot Kinney and I'll admit, I haven't eaten here yet, because it's SO busy. But everyone tells me it's worth it!
- Salt Air - if you're in the mood for seafood, you want to go here! (ha that rhymed). Beautiful interior, lots of rosé on the menu & every dish is great.
- Wabi-Sabi - as mentioned above, you probably want to check this place out, even though it isn't our favorite sushi-wise. They renovated in the past year to have an indoor / outdoor front bar vibe and a dark dramatic floral interior that's very insta-worthy (cringe, sorry I said that)
- C&O - last but not least, the best place for a drunk feast for 20 of your friends, C&O. We go to this place exclusively after beach days of volleyball and drinking. Really well priced pasta dishes and all you can eat garlic knots, need I say more?
Where to Eat - Anytime
- Rose Cafe - another recent reno project, you'll just want to live in their interior! We've been here for brunch & dinner and loved both. It's pricey so beware, but I think more than worth it. [dog friendly]
- Gjelina - you'll be pressed to find someone who doesn't love Gjelina. All American deliciousness, tapas style. I don't even like mushrooms but their mushroom toast is a must have! Dog friendly patio outside, and expect to wait if you haven't made a reservation [dog friendly]
- Tocaya - every since Tocaya moved into town I go here about twice a month, it's that good. You can go for the 2 taco + 1 side combo for $12.95 which is a real good deal 1 block off the beach. I also love the Chop Chop salad. We tend to bike here, but there are a few parking spaces available too!
- Gjelina Takeaway - if you don't feel like waiting for Gjelina, pop over to the takeaway portion! Much more limited menu but you can grab a woodfired pizza & really good salad in 10 mins ish. Then you can eat in the little area around the corner or truly take it to go! [dog friendly]
- Plant Food + Wine - it may sound weird to go to a raw / vegan restaurant, this place is extremely tasty though. You honestly won't be able to tell. Similar to Rose we like this spot for brunch & dinner, especially since they have a dog friendly outdoor patio. I took a cooking class here with my mom too, shout out to Alice it was AWESOME! [dog friendly]
- Abbot's Pizza Co - this might be one of the last standing Abbot Kinney originals, home of the bagel crust!! I love their pizza. Enormous thin slices with some ready to go and some you can have baked fresh.
- Cafe Gratitude - You Are Effervescent. You Are Dazzling. You are Magical. These are just a few of the "mantras" for dishes you can order. It's reallll kitschy and a little spiritually overwhelming for some, but they have real good healthy food, which is hard to find.
- Zelda's Corner - this little known sandwich shop right on the beach has been my favorite since I first moved to Venice. They make all their sandwiches with Boar's Head meat / cheese and make delicious mini donuts & chocolate chip cookies. A+ from me.
- Simmzy's - it's weird but I love delivery & take out from Simmzy's, it still miraculously tastes great upon arrival! Fun to sit in here too, since it's just a block up from the Venice Pier (right by C&O actually).
- Pie Hole - I was so excited for Pie Hole to move to Venice that I actually TWEETED at them about it (I don't really use Twitter). You may have seen these guys listed on my Arts District wall crawl before. Their mac & cheese pie is TO DIE FOR.
- Charcoal - everything in this restaurant is grilled (hence the name), so you can imagine how good it is.
- Lemonade - this spot is perfect for a quick bite to eat. You order in different stations: there's a tapas-style bar with lots of pre-made side goodness (hello broccoli with ricotta salata!), sandwiches
- Larry's - after a day of biking on the Strand, you can't beat a stop at Larry's. There's an extensive beer list and outdoor patio with string lights, swoon! And great food, read: fries.
- Kreation - besides a great juice selection and fresh juicery / smoothie shop in the back. Kreation has a delicious restaurant too! It's Mediterranean-esque menu has a range of flavors while still being pretty healthy. My personal fave is the hummus wrap. [dog friendly]
Where to Eat - Dessert:
- Salt & Straw - I feel very bittersweet about how good this place is, because while it's the bomb diggitiest ice cream, the line is SOOOO long. Like an hour sometimes for ice cream. Most of the time I just run into the side to grab a pint (or 3..) but then you don't get to taste all the delicious flavors or get a cone. It's mostly worth the wait, I dunno if I would wait an hour though...
- Moon Juice - Rahim and I got featured in an article about how many juices we drink a day in Bon Appetit a few years ago! Just for being in the store that day. Famous for 0 seconds! But in all seriousness I really like the juices here and these tiny little donut things that are healthy maybe?
- Jeni's - rival ice cream shop, dunnndunndundnnn! TBH, I prefer Salt & Straw, but Jeni's is also REALLY good, especially the PB&J combo (you get a scoop that's PB-y and a scoop that tastes like J)
- Blue Star Donuts - everyone was all hyped when Dunkin Donuts came to Venice (well Marina del Rey).. but F that. It's all about Blue Star! Really unique variety of flavors (passionfruit!!) that I have not enjoyed elsewhere.
- Pressed Juicery - you can't go wrong with Pressed juice! Recently they've been having 4 for $5 per sales which is a great deal in LA. I'm a big fan of the Golden Milk.
Where to Drink - Coffee:
- Menotti's - it's hard to pick just one, but this has to be my favorite coffee shop in Venice. Their coffee is like crack, in the sense that you can't get enough of it, and the caffeination is crack levels. I'm also pretty much obsessed with their cheddar bacon scones. Oh and dogs allowed inside, heyyyoo! [dog friendly]
- Groundwork - runner up for fave coffee in Venice, and there are luckily several of them around town! Biggest attraction for Groundwork is that they make their own cashew nut milk, and it's bomb diggity. They don't charge extra for non-dairy milks either, so you aren't paying $6 for a freaking latte! I'm also a big fan of their burrito bites which are tiny little breakfast burritos filled with their homemade pico de gallo & avocado.
- Deus Ex Machina - this delicious coffee spot is a 7 minute walk from our house, so we find ourselves here a lot. They've got a really cute outdoor patio that's perfect for working and allows the pups. Their food menu is pretty great too, my go-to order flip flops betweens their bacon cheddar everything bagel sando, and the granola berry parfait cup. Deus is actually an Australian motorcycle company, and their Venice spot houses a mini shop for motorcycle accessories in addition to the cafe. Funny story: a few years ago I was in Australia on a family trip. At Manly Beach I saw someone wearing a Deus shirt so I walked over and asked if they were from Venice Beach too! Cue suuuuper awkward stare as he turns around and I see "Deus Sydney" on the shirt hahaha. After that I learned Deus started in Australia, not Venice Beach hahaha #fail [dog friendly]
- Flowerboy Project - you would never think to go in here at first, since it's smack dab in the weirdest part of Lincoln Blvd, but it's a must see in my opinion! I've honestly never had anything besides the Lavender Boy, which is basically a latte w/ homemade lavender syrup, and the Rose Steamer, just almond milk w/ homemade rose syrup - you don't need anything else though. They also sell the most beautiful locally made artisan goods; I'm personally obsessed with the candles (from them!) that smell like a certain "neighborhood" in LA (here's Venice!).
- Intelligentsia - it wouldn't be a "Venice go-to guide" if Intelligentsia wasn't on it! Even though this isn't my favorite coffee in the hood, they basically started the fancy coffee experience movement. You get paired with one of several possible baristas and they're all wearing bowties and probably Warby Parker's. Regular coffee doesn't exist there, it would be pour over or something else fancy. It's got a great atmosphere though and really is worth the experience!
- Zinque - if we're not at Deus, we're at Zinque, because it's 5 minutes from us! Zinque is a really cute French cafe with indoor and outdoor patio seating (but no pups allowed on the patio :(). You can work here until I think 5pm and then it turns into a pretty lively happy hour spot. I cannot get enough of their fries, we normally get at least two baskets while sipping rosé there.
- Blue Bottle - ohhhh Blue Bottle! So so delicious and used to be my favorite, but they've majorly increased their prices lately so it's $6.50 for an almond milk latte :(. Nestlé bought them recently so not sure if that's part of it.
- Superba Food + Bread - I put Superba in the coffee category because I'm not the biggest fan of their brunch food (although the bread IS delicious..), but they have GREAT coffee. The latte with homemade macadamia milk is one of the best latte's I've ever had. Comes in at a price - I want to say this one is $8 or 9 - but worth every frothy sip. [dog friendly]
- Tom's - not just a shoe store on Abbot Kinney, they've got a coffee shop & really cute outdoor patio for working and petting your pup. [dog friendly]
Where to Drink - Alcohol:
- The Other Room - long live The Other Room! At this point this is one of the longer standing spots on AK, so we're hoping it stays. It's dark and sexy bar with an an extensive beer list. We like to sit in the upstairs lounge-y area, but the front is fun too for outdoor people watching.
- High Rooftop Lounge - you absolutely cannot beat this view at sunset! Each table has comfy benches with fire pits in the middle, and they offer blankets if you get cold. Make sure you get a reservation online beforehand because it absolutely will be full at sunset.
- The Lincoln - the arrival of the Lincoln on Lincoln was very exciting, because there really isn't much else to do right around here. This bar is perfect too, with old world vibes and an outdoor front patio. The only downside is there aren't really food options, just hot dogs and popcorn. Also we've been to many events here during the day on the weekends where dogs are welcome! [dog friendly - sometimes. Check beforehand!]
- Venice Ale House - when you inevitably ride your bike along the strand, Venice Ale House is a must stop! You can choose from a plethora of beers and it's right on the strand, so prime beach / sunset views. They offer food but I wouldn't make this your dinner choice ;)
- Townhouse - I feel obligated to put Townhouse on the list, even though I personally don't frequent this spot anymore! There's an bar upstairs for chatting and downstairs bar that often has live comedy or music to listen to. It's also right by the water if you feel like walking the beach at night!
- Hinano - this place is a true Venice staple! Cash only, $5 burgers and cheap pitchers of beer. Sometimes they have live music, but the vibe is always happy and lively.
- Firestone Walker Brewery - it's a true bummer that there aren't more breweries around Venice (you have to go to the Arts District for more), but this'll suffice. We like it here but it's not as good as Arts District, just being honest ;). They have really good pretzels though and I love their booths made out of kegs!
- Neighbor - I'm DYING to try this brand new spot, but haven't made it over yet! On the North end of Abbot Kinney, Neighbor looks like a house off of Rainey St. in Austin.
- The Brig - also a last standing Abbot Kinney staple, gotta mention The Brig! You'd find your typical bar scene here and it's quite loud. If you go early it's not too bad, but personally not my style in the deep evening!
Where to Shop:
- Anywhere on Abbot Kinney really, but especially..
- Urbanic - this card store is my JAM! Urbanic has all the cutest stuff in addition to the cutest greeting cards; they've got candles, party favors, stamps, notebooks and desk accessories. [dog friendly]
- The Modern Dog - Watson's teal leash is from this store! We love buying dog accessories from the Modern Dog. Plus they've got a really cute lime green staircase perfect for posing on! [dog friendly]
- Ilan Dai Venice - luckily this is right next to Urbanic so you can hit my two favorite spots at once! They have the cutest home goods and plant accessories. I buy pretty much all of my gifts from here! [dog friendly]
- Cuyana - I hadn't heard of this brand until they moved onto AK, but I love Cuyana now! Really nice leather purses and wallets with a monogram station. [dog friendly]
- Current Elliot - I love how extra dog friendly this store is! Everyone who works there is a dog lover for sure. I really like the way their jeans fit me too. [dog friendly]
- Aesop - Aesop got me hooked via their samples at first, and I've sworn by their face cleanser and parley seed moisturizer ever since! [dog friendly]
- Sweaty Betty - adorable workout clothes in bright colors. [dog friendly]
- Shinola - this store is a favorite of ours because it started in Detroit! My boyfriend and I are both originally from there, so it's a nice treat for us. They also sell really nice leather goods, so watches, wallets and bags. [dog friendly]
- Burro - Burro has a lot of similarities to Urbanic, but is slightly even funkier. Really cute home goods and crafts with a unique flair. [dog friendly]
- Illesteva - I LOVE these sunglasses!! [dog friendly]
- Marine Layer - this store is just super cute, oh heyyyyy! [dog friendly]
- The Piece Collective - adorable shop with boho vibes, and best of all the iconic triangle wall out front (formerly yellow, now gold). [dog friendly]
- Will Leather Goods - I really love everything that Will Leather Goods makes. I bought my boyfriend a wallet from here for Christmas a few years ago, and got it monogrammed by them. [dog friendly]
- Warby Parker - last but not least, the amazing online retailer's brick & mortar spot! I've bought 3 pairs so far.
Non Abbot Kinney spots:
- The General Store - this store looks like it could be straight out of a Pinterest board! [dog friendly]
- Linus - you can't go wrong with a Linus bike! They're really attractive and easy to ride around. Plus they make tons of accessories you can add on, like bikes and wine racks :). [dog friendly]
- Late Sunday Afternoon - rustic chic women's clothing store, new-ish on Lincoln. [dog friendly]
- Iron & Resin - pure motorcycle dude perfection! My boyfriend loves this store. They throw really good parties too! [dog friendly]
- Bruno's - adorable pet store on Lincoln! The gamut of everything you'd need for your pooch is here, from food to toys to rope leashes.
- See Flowerboy Project above - you can get home goods and flowers there too!