The Other Venice
Venice’s rough-and-tumble edginess has gentrified into a carnival of beach and boho culture where haute couture, progressive food, cocktail theatrics, and pop-up art merge. Skateboarders weave between Range Rovers and Priuses, past million-dollar beach
If you want to be in the heart of it all, Hotel Erwin (1697 Pacific Avenue) rules as the only place to stay in Venice, but it’s a bit of a party scene with a rooftop bar and close proximity to the Venice Beach Boardwalk. The 100-plus colorful retro guest rooms offer superb ocean and street scene views. For a more upscale retreat, head north to Oceana Beach Club Hotel (849 Ocean Avenue) in Santa Monica. The newly remodeled 70-room boutique hotel is radiant with high design, warm soft-paletted suites, ocean views, and a heart-shaped pool. Two Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin oversees the culinary program—enjoy a smoky mescal margarita and fresh tuna tartare with avo mousseline. Take advantage of ocean-view yoga classes in the park across the street and free beach cruisers. (Hint: If staying in this ’hood, be sure to try LA’s best new restaurant, Tar & Roses (602 Santa Monica Boulevard), where chef Andrew Kirschner makes magic serving up wood-roasted English peas sprinkled with mint, sinful lamb belly with apple mint chutney, and an off-the-charts strawberry ricotta crostata.)
Start your day at Café Gratitude (512 Rose Avenue) an airy-white haven for delicious vegan eats like chia seed porridge with goji berries or flax pancakes with cashew whipped cream. At Moon Juice (507 Rose Avenue), superfood smoothies and cold-pressed 100 percent organic juices also kickstart the day. For non-vegans, head to Superba Snack Bar (533 Rose Avenue) where papas bravas (crispy potatoes) are draped with duck confit, a fried duck egg, and truffle vinaigrette. Sip rosé on the sunlit patio and soak in the passing parade, then dive into the deconstructed s’mores. FEED Body & Soul (1239 Abbot Kinney Boulevard), a dolled-up eatery with Italian marble counters, calls for salmon salad or design-your-own organic bowls of grain mixes and roasted veggies. On the more casual side, Local 1205 (1205 Abbot Kinney Boulevard) features a wood-fired pizza oven, gourmet deli, juice bar, old-fashioned market, communal dining, and line-out-the-door takeout counter. The new kid on the block is Willie Jane (1031 Abbot Kinney), chef Govind Armstrong’s low-country-style eatery. Think sweet tea-brined pork chops with wilted greens or toasted farro in a grilled leek porridge. Epicureans shouldn’t miss celebrated locavore eatery Gjelina (1429 Abbott Kinney). Its rustic flatbreads, wood-roasted veggies, composed small plates, and savvy wine list draw crowds. End the evening at The Otheroom (1201 Abbot Kinney), where aspiring actors and Google brainiacs guzzle craft beers. And, of course, if it’s 2 a.m. and you’re starving, you’ll find food trucks along Abbot Kinney.
Scandinavian chic sets the tone at Huset (1316 Abbot Kinney) with its Marimekko tea towels, colorful graphic trays, and stylish Molo kids’ clothes. Eclectic gifts stock the shelves at Firefly (1409 Abbot Kinney), like cool glassware, Turkish hammam towels, and aromatics. TOMS (1344 Abbot Kinney) has its flagship store in a craftsman house, where you can get kitted out with shoes, give a pair to a kid in need, and even order a coffee. Heist (1100 Abbot Kinney) has lovely diaphanous blouses, wedges, and cotton jodhpurs for summer. Guys will dig GANT (1308 Abbot Kinney) and Will Leather Goods (1360 Abbott Kinney) for handcrafted belts, bags, and wallets.