The Best Restaurants in Venice Beach Right Now
The Rose Venice
The Rose Café (now simply known as The Rose) is a Venice institution. Created in 1979, it was a funky neighborhood hangout that’s fought to retain some of its bohemian sensibilities through new ownership and the culinary direction of a celebrity chef (Jason Neroni). Colorful prints from skateboard artist C.R. Stecyk III adorn the walls. Plants hang from the ceiling in macramé holsters. And longtime patrons still pop by for breakfast burritos and avocado toast capped with a fried duck egg. In its own way, it still feels like a piece of old Venice. Come for Neroni’s Killer Bee pizza (pepperoni and honey) and the excellent cocktail program at night. Then maybe swing by the next morning for pastry chef Joshua Graves’s already-famous biscuits and croissants. Who knows, you might just find yourself becoming part of The Rose’s latest generation of regulars—if only for the weekend.
Initially built as a commissary kitchen for one of chef Travis Lett’s other Venice restaurants (Gjelina, another of our Venice must-visits), Gjusta has since blossomed into one of the most influential restaurants in the country. Part deli, part pizzeria, part bakery, and part hipster juice bar, Lett’s expansive concept encapsulates our current infatuation with artisanal food halls—albeit under one singular, ambitious vision. Hence why this has become the place to eat around Venice Beach, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Expect big lines, but the best possible results. From the porchetta melt on a crunchy house-made baguette to the rotisserie plates (don’t skip the chili-seasoned chicken served with tzatziki and harissa) and the wide selection of smoked fish, there are no weak links on this impeccable smorgasbord of a menu.
Travis Lett (of the aforementioned Gjusta, and Japanese izakaya MTN) might have ushered in the small plates movement and the current fixation with char-roasted vegetables, but in so many other ways he’s also an outlier. For instance, the modern, chef-y trend toward short, highly curated menus? Lett goes in the exact opposite direction at Gjelina, opting for a vast catalogue of greatest hits (and they’re all hits here). Yes, there are those seductively smoky veggies, like earthy parsnips doused with pistachios and an herby gremolata. But there’s also killer West Coast oysters, various charcuterie spreads, salads showcasing the best in California produce, and over a dozen mind-numbingly good pizzas. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone, which is why, in just over a decade, Gjelina has already established itself as a bona fide classic in Southern California cuisine.
What would happen if you invited a Michelin-starred chef (two, to be exact) to your weekend backyard barbecue? Well, that’s the hypothetical scenario presented at Charcoal, chef Josiah Citrin’s (of French restaurant Melisse) more casual, live-fire restaurant. Located just blocks from the beach, Charcoal specializes in the type of splashy, well-sourced comfort fare (think giant ribeyes and dry-aged duck) that would work even if it were nowhere near the shore. Yet with Citrin and chef de cuisine Joseph Johnson’s handling of everything not protein-laden, it’s so much more. Case in point: cabbage and other seasonal vegetables roasted right on the coals until they’re sweet and tender; exquisite tartare, like the smoked mushrooms with crème fraiche and currants; and inventive salad combinations, such as grilled heirloom figs layered with arugula, burrata, and pomegranate molasses.
Chef Evan Funke is a pasta savant. Need convincing? If you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation at his latest restaurant on the north end of Abbot Kinney (not an easy task), you can watch him pressing orecchiette and rolling out sheets of tonnarelli from a dedicated, glassed-in, pasta-making room. But Funke knows that if you’re going to include a design feature that’s ostentatious, you better deliver. And boy does he ever, with springy pappardelle slicked in a classic Bolognese; short, twisted trofie dyed bright green from a pesto Genovese; and a sharp and bracing cacio e pepe. And we haven’t even gotten to the non-pasta portion of his menu. The former Rustic Canyon chef has a number of ways to wow you, not the least of which is his 60-day dry-aged bistecca alla Fiorentina, a mammoth 40-ounce prime porterhouse hefty (and pricey) enough to feed four.
Superba Food + Bread
Before helming the revitalized Rose Café, chef Jason Neroni was consulting on another Swiss Army-concept that combined the breezy, beachy charms of a neighborhood restaurant with an all-day café, patisserie, bakery, and healthy-ish lunch spot. Neroni has since moved on, but the second Superba concept from restaurateur Paul Hibler retains its all-purpose canteen charms with a design-forward, 5,000-square-foot space that’s a popular draw any time of the day. Seasonal pastries, like the churro croissant and pear-pistachio crostata, are available to grab and go. Lunch calls for excellent salads and sandwiches (the fried chicken with jalapeno aioli has become a Venice must-eat). Or just sip on a cortado and save your appetite for the nightly showstoppers like smoky lamb ribs with shishito peppers and harissa yogurt.
A new-school biergarten spun through a SoCal lens, Wurstkuche specializes in craft beer and all things tubular. Here, sausages of every possible stripe are tucked into freshly baked rolls and tricked out with a variety of toppings, including sauerkraut, caramelized onions, and five types of mustard. “Simple” is not a part of Wurstkuche’s brat lexicon, as you can choose from a glass case offering everything from veggie-wurst and Louisiana hot links to more exotic options such as pheasant sausage flecked with herbs de Provence. Pro tip: for a more subdued experience, opt for a quick lunch, as the space leans toward the boozy and boisterous at night.
The hours-long wait at Eggslut’s first brick-and-mortar spot in L.A.’s Grand Central Market are almost as legendary as chef Alvin Cailan’s coddled egg served atop silky potato puree, a dish simply known as the Slut. But Cailan has helped alleviate some of that perpetual (and well-deserved) congestion at this newish address right next to the Venice Beach Boardwalk sign. Opened in 2017 in an industrial-chic space, Cailan’s slow-scrambled egg sandwiches (try the Gaucho with wagyu tri-tip and chimichurri) and brioche-cradled lunch burgers have never dipped in quality. That is to say: the same yolky creations that earned Eggslut so much online hype are still worth getting waking up for … even if it’s a little bit earlier than you’d like.
Inspired by the sights and smells of mid-20th century Tahiti (which the original seafaring owner visited in 1959), this revered dive bar has now been slinging some of Southern California’s best burgers for over five decades. But beyond the juicy flattop burgers served on a griddled, sesame-studded egg bun, you come to Hinano for the history. The wrap-around bar where Jim Morrison used to tip back beers and Billy Idol could often be found playing pool are still unchanged. The eccentric vibe, captured so many times in film and television, is unmarred by years of rapid gentrification. Quite simply, a visit to the Venice Pier wouldn’t be complete without popping into this Washington Boulevard mainstay for an inexpensive breakfast sandwich, that beloved burger, and/or a cold pitcher of beer.
Night + Market Sahm
After two years in the works, the third iteration of Kris and Sarah Yenbamroong’s celebrated Thai street food (sahm translates to three in Thai) has finally launched on Lincoln Boulevard. Like their West Hollywood and Silver Lake locations, the Venice space retains its 90s-homage feel, with neon-colored walls, beaded curtains, and the kind of pop posters you’d find in your local mall’s Sam Goody (here, Slash from Guns N’ Roses). Picture Zack Morris’s bedroom, except with platters of fiery Northern Thai larb (a spicy minced meat salad served with herbs and sticky rice), tart papaya salad, and pad kee mao packed with Langer’s pastrami. As Kris will tell you: it’s the kind of bold fare that works well with acid-driven natural wines—a big focus of their beverage program.