Watch out, Abbot Kinney. There’s another block in town. The once sketchy stretch of Rose Avenue in Venice between 5th and 7th Avenues is really coming along with the recent influx of restaurants and shops. In fact, it’s already kind of blown up with a full-on residential complex (think pricey apartments that should come with an ocean view for the rates they’re charging) and retailers like LA & Joe and Trim Salon. Yep, the area has cleaned up nicely with nary a lingering waft of Venice grit. Welcome to the neighborhood…
Hostaria del Piccolo – www.hostariadelpiccolo.com
Salmon mascarpone pizza on squid ink crust WHAT?!!! The latest outpost of the Hostaria del Piccolo empire is where you’ll find gastro creations like this along with perfectly al dente pasta and other modern Italian dishes. The crispy and fluffy crusts on the gourmet pizzas come courtesy of the dough (according to the menu Hostaria is the only resto in the US that uses stone-ground flour from the Petra mill in Italy) and the mescolata salad?? It sounds so simple–almost boring–with seasonal greens, oven dried tomatoes, almonds and a creamy lemony dressing, but it’s soooo good you’ll want to order two.
Superba Snack Bar – superbasnackbar.com
Superba Snack Bar is the shiz. A collaboration between Pitfire Artisan Pizza creator Paul Hibler and chef Jason Neroni, this corner unit of floor-to-ceiling windows, vaulted ceilings and giant open kitchen isn’t just a cool space. It’s a superb spot for deliciously combined ingredients, handmade pastas and lots of seasonal produce that will blow your tastebuds’ mind (if your tastebuds had a mind). Get ready for the so-crispy-they’re-charred Brussels sprouts with scallions, dashi broth (which gives it a distinctly Japanese flavor) and poached egg that you pop and scramble all around. These just might dethrone Cleo from having “Best Brussels Sprouts in LA” status.
The Golden State – thegoldenstatestore.com
No, the Golden State isn’t that burger and beer joint you’re thinking of over on Fairfax. This place shares the same name but it’s an altogether different story. Think of the ultimate insouciant-chic boutique with a little boho Native American flair thrown in and you’ll get the idea. Let’s see, there are scrimshaw pendants and natural stone rings; earthy Heyoka leather bags; cool hand-carved tables and sheepskin rugs; studded Sugarhigh + Lovestoned tees; posters and silkscreened totes from local artist Deedee Cheriel; framed artwork that would look so perfect in my apartment; coffee table books, cozy Golden State sweatshirts, housewares, even furniture. The Golden State is pretty much everything I love about the Cali lifestyle channeled through the eyes of a luxe-loving hippie.
Cafe Gratitude – www.cafegratitude.com
Everyone I talk to can’t get enough of this organic vegan temple to all things good for the body and soul, and you know what, they’re right. The space itself is very clean-cut Cape Cod-ish as opposed to patchouli Berkeley-esque (thank you God … maybe they saved that for the actual Berkeley location) and the food is so delicious even animal eaters will love it. (Trust, I’m one of them.) Try the “I Am Pure” ginger-tahini kale salad with avocado, sea palm, nori, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, basil and green onions topped with sunflower sprouts teriyaki almonds — so good, even for breakfast.
Venice Beach Wines – venicebeachwines.com
This cozy wood-lined wine bar and resto is packed nightly with locals (which is why I had never been inside–it’s so dang busy!) but during lunch you have a much better chance of actually getting a table in the tiny space. My friend and I each had the $15 lunch special, which comes with choice of drink, side and sandwich. Very nice. There’s also a rotating wine list and menu of said sandwiches, cheese + charcuterie and daily small plates for dinner.
Oscar’s Cerveteca – cervetecala.com
If it’s cold beer and Mexican eats you’re after, Oscar’s is a local favorite. Sandwiched right next to Venice Beach Wines, this place has a decidedly different flavor (and more breathing room) with plenty of menu options ranging from chipotle beer shrimp and grilled salmon tacos to about 10 different brews on tap.
Me & Blue – meandblue.com
Originally a boutique in Philly, this cute bungalow right next to the Golden State is another shopping option for locally produced dresses, blouses and other girly wearables in bright prints and cheery colors. There’s also some vintage stuff and accessories. Oh, and beautifully wild shrubbery outside for you to enjoy. Kinda like shopping at your girlfriend’s cottage.
Moon Juice – moonjuiceshop.com
This pint-sized juice spot is where to get 100% organic cold-pressed juices and creamy Moon Milk made from raw almonds, alkaline water and any number of customized ingredients. There are also little packets of organic fruit snacks and the like. But let me warn you: If you’re not prepared to shell out $4 for a teeny packet of sulfur-free dried apricots or $9 for a bottle of the super-special drinks, best go get juiced elsewhere.
Flake – veniceflake.com
This breakfast and lunch joint offers standard fare like omelets, paninis, sandwiches, salads and wraps. As for the name Flake, that refers to their selection of 20+ cereals and granolas ranging from old-school sugary classics like Apple Jacks and Froot Loops to more grown-up options like Grape Nuts and organic hemp crunch. Choice of milk included.
Big Red Sun – bigredsun.com
This gorgeously lush space on the corner of Rose and 6th Avenue is all about green living with lots of color. The enchanting compound has a landscape design studio, a nursery and garden shop brimming with exotic (and pricey) succulents, plus a boutique stocked with the kinds of things you’d want to get as a birthday present. Speaking of, there’s also an event space that can host your dinner party, birthday bash or wedding reception. Dreamy.
Groundwork Coffee Company – groundworkcoffee.com
This coffee house isn’t much to look at (there are six other locations, fyi), but I fully support any biz that takes care of its peeps. Groundworks is the biggest organic coffee roaster in LA and they’re all about sustainable, fair-trade goods. You can get everything from a cup of tea to a five-pound bag of coffee. It’s caffeine with a conscience.
More info on this cool neighborhood: www.lincolnandrose.com