The Best Local Restaurants In Venice, California

Megan Grocutt

Finding new favorite spots can be comforting and grounding in your life. It’s all part of being a member of a community, meeting new people and, of course, eating good food. Venice, the seaside escape west of Los Angeles, is loved for its uniqueness, diversity and ever-growing mercantile scene. Here are our top culinary picks for this popular area.

1. Mao’s Kitchen

Restaurant, Chinese

With its original location right in the heart of Venice Beach, this veteran Chinese spot serves up homemade country-style dishes and does not skimp on either portion or flavor. Many locals dub Mao’s as the best Chinese take-out in town. Try the lettuce cups with minced chicken and vegetables, they are the more affordable version of the same menu item at Mr. Chow’s. Make sure you have the coconut curry as your main dish; paired with a protein of your choice, this is one of the most savory curry dishes you’ll ever have. Don’t let the sub-par service deter you, as you’re going there for the culinary experience and nothing more. Added bonus: it’s BYOB.

Squash Blossom Pizza at Gjusta ©Megan Grocutt

Gjelina Takeout/Gjusta

These are two Venice hot spots both started by the same owner-chef, and both are culinary gems for a few reasons. First, they source locally as much as possible. Secondly, they’ve reinvented the way we use basic ingredients, putting a sophisticated and contemporary twist on what would normally be a simple vegetable side dish. We sense a prime opportunity to get that picky eater in your family to each their vegetables.
Gjelina provides ambiance and a social setting and has a popular artisanal pizza list, but you can’t beat the chocolate chip cookie at Gjelina Takeaway. It has the perfect combination of dark chocolate, butter, gluten, oats and sea salt in every bite. It’s so thin and chewy that it must be consumed in one sitting; Sorry, no left overs.
Gjusta either doesn’t want to be found, or likes its customers to drive around in circles before finding the main entrance. Even with its large fanbase, this spot is anything but trendy: it has a glass case specifically for homemade pickled condiments, thoughtfully-layered sandwiches, old school desserts and fresh meats either whole or by the slice. Ten or more chefs are situated behind beautifully elongated deli cases, where they patiently wait for supplies to arrive and devise their next gastronomical masterpiece. The employees are happy here because they know that they are serving their customers quality food. Try the tuna conserva sandwich for a spin on the classic tuna melt or the squash blossom pizza with manchego cheese.
Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA, 1+(310) 450-1429
Gjusta, 320 Sunset Ave, Venice, CA, 1+(310) 314-0320

Original – Barlo Burger

Barlo at the Hotel Erwin

Most people don’t realize that if meat is procured properly and from a reliable source, the meat should have loads of flavor on its own. Barlo takes pride in working with local proprietors and consistently creates a flavorful, perfectly-constructed burger. From the browned bun to the side of truffle fries, this is a burger not to be passed up. If you’re feeling adventurous and want rich and complex flavors, you can add foie gras to your burger for an upcharge. You’re sure to leave satisfied.
Barlo, 1697 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA, 1+(424) 214-1063

Fish Tacos at Oscar’s

Oscar’s Cerveteca

People like to go to James Beach for fish tacos, but we strongly suggest you branch out and check out this spot that knows how to make them in style. Oscar’s is located on Rose, a famous street in Venice that offers some of the best dining and trendy cocktail spots. Get the fish tacos, which come either beer-battered or grilled. And if you like those, go back for brunch. Highly recommend are the huevos rancheros with a side of patatas bravas. While the tables are small and the place is usually packed, this little Latin-American joint is always worth the wait. You’re bound to overhear entertaining conversation and perhaps even make a new friend or two.
Oscar’s Cerveteca, Rose Ave, Venice, CA, 1+(310) 310-8937

2. Larry’s

Bar, Gastropub, Restaurant, American

©Megan Grocutt

Located steps away from the beach, this self-proclaimed gastropub offers an extensive craft beer list and is in competition for the best burger in Venice. It helps that the owner, Larry, and the team behind Hotel Erwin are responsible for this local yet touristy spot. The burger is a popular item on the menu, but just about every dish is equally delicious. Must-try dishes include the arugula salad and the brussel sprouts pizza, even people who hate brussel sprouts love this pizza. One final recommendation is a simple side: the fries, either regular or sweet potato. It’s the condiments that make the dish; they come with three different dipping sauces: chipotle aioli, infused ketchup and a house aioli.

Hama Sushi

An overly enthusiastic welcome is exactly what you get when you walk into Hama Sushi. They do it so well that it makes you forget for a brief moment that you are walking into a literal hole in the wall. Hama’s sushi is excellent, and they also make a killer butter garlic edamame appetizer, which is great for sharing. The tuna-lover will want to add in an order or two of the crispy rice cake. Topped with spicy tuna and shaved, pickled jalapeno, this is a treat that goes against what sushi is all about, but it’s a worthy indulgence.
Hama Sushi, 213 Windward Ave, Venice, CA, 1+(310) 396-8783
Crispy Rice Cake at Hama Sushi ©Megan Grocutt

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