Is Venice the Best LA Restaurant Neighborhood of 2019?

Checking in on all the new and noteworthy spots that have fueled a foodie renaissance by the boardwalk

The Patio at The Waterfront, a sprawling new indoor/outdoor spot on the Venice Boardwalk
The Patio at The Waterfront, a sprawling new indoor/outdoor spot on the Venice Boardwalk
The Waterfront
By Reuben Brody / October 10, 2019 8:56 am

Venice has always attracted the bohemian crowd: skateboarders, photographers, Jim Morrison, all manner of vagabond and grifter. And like all things American, that status as a countercultural icon can be — and has been — bottled for profit.

But that doesn’t mean we’re gonna stop visiting.

The hood is still popping with honest experiences, eateries and drinkeries worth your time, and 2019 has seen an excellent slate of newcomers open their doors. Here’s what’s new in food and drink in our city’s most laidback hood.

The Flannery 30-Day Dry Aged Porterhouse at American Beauty (Image via American Beauty)

If you’re looking to drop some coin…

Yours Truly (1616 Abbot Kinney) makes food that’s sensationally textured in both figurative layers of flavor and actual layers, as in the chicken liver mille crepe, a 20-layer pastry in which rich liver is delicately sandwiched between thin rye dough like a cake. If you’re looking for something more classic, American Beauty (425 Rose) is a steakhouse with a handsome, horseshoe-shaped bar that backs the street that serves up gorgeously marbled cuts that melt in your mouth. And after a brief stint as Dune, The Dudley Market(9 Dudley) recently reopened and is serving a seafood-forward menu with Mediterranean flavors — though do beware that they’re currently closed up for construction (they’ll be back on 10/22; reservations here).

Outdoor seating at Neighbor (Image via Neighbor)

If you’re looking to get after it…

The Waterfront (205 Ocean Front Walk — aka the Boardwalk), which opened a few doors down from Venice Ale House, is a clarion to the Boardwalk’s potential. It has a patio with a view of the beach and mountains, buckets of cold wine and beer, seafood tacos and nachos, and it’s casual enough that you can stroll up from the beach or have it be your first stop on the way out. Roosterfish (1202 Abbot Kinney) has a tight dance floor, strong drinks and queues both for entry and the bathroom. On the swankier side, Neighbor (1031 Abbot Kinney) is an all-day spot for a wider range of tippling, while Gran Blanco (80 Windward) is a stunning newcomer with sexy, pillow perches and low tables like you’re in some Moroccan manse. They’re both ideal for starting your night or dates. And The Little Friend (822 Washington) is the best late-night play on the Westside, with a gold and marble bar, drinks that’ll buzz and DJs who keep the floor popping past last call.

The vibrant interior at Night + Market Sahm (Image via Clare Vivier)

One place for growth? Casual evening dining.

Chef-driven spots with a cool ambience where you can get a great meal and a drink without breaking the bank are few and far between; therein lies the rub of Venice. Other hoods — DTLA, Silverlake, Hollywood, WeHo — offer more on this front. Venice has room for growth here, but high rents present a big challenge for entrepreneurs. There are a few standouts: the candle lit wooden, plant-lined room at Wallflower (609 Rose) evokes a Buddhist vibe, and their Indonesian food is approachable both in price and flavor. Night + Market Sahm (2533 Lincoln) meets this criteria, too, but can have a long wait. Clutch (427 Lincoln) and Venice Ale House (2 Rose) aren’t new, but they are perhaps the best example of this type of spot. If only there were more — vagabonds need to eat, too.