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The 15 best Venice bars

When you're looking to have a drink—or two, or three—by the beach, look no further than these Venice bars

By Wilder Shaw and Stephanie Breijo |
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The Boardwalk
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

There’s an idea that Venice is nothing but tourists, skateparks, dispensaries and Bob Marley flags. While this is might be slightly true on the boardwalk, if you venture through the many twists and turns that Venice has to offer, you’ll find a treasure trove of incredible places to eat and drink as you take in the beachy scenery. When it comes to tipples, Venice has it made with one of the cutest wine bars on the Westside, not to mention great frozen cocktails and perfect date-night destinations.

RECOMMENDED: Check out more in our full guide to Venice.

The 15 best Venice bars

1
Restaurants, Cafés

Dudley Market

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Dudley Market is the kind of wine bar you’ll wish you had in your neighborhood, no matter how many incredible wine bars your neighborhood already has. It’s the kind of casual, cute, well-curated wine bar where you can slurp oysters with a briny chablis throughout the day, then tuck into heartier fare like crispy pork pho and whole rockfish with a glass or bottle of gamay at night. Situated just off the main thoroughfare, this charmer is all about wine in a trendy but low-key setting, and the freshest seafood available—some of it caught by owner Conner Mitchell himself. The impressive wine list always spotlights new and trendy names, and neighborhood-friendly events like Sunday bring-your-own-vinyl nights keep the tables packed. Like we said: Why don’t we have a Dudley Market in our neighborhood?

2
Bars

Old Lightning

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You’re going to need a reservation to get into Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix’s intimate, spendy creation, but once you’re in, you may never want to leave Old Lightning. The speakeasy hidden behind Scopa Italian Roots boasts midcentury-modern vibes and 25-or-so seats, which is precisely the right vibe and setting for their rare, vintage, impressive (and occasionally astronomically priced) spirits. Servers are knowledgable and cocktails are thoughtful; this is a liquor lover’s bar, so if you’re looking for somewhere you can sip, learn and savor, you’ve found it. Well, you’ll have to make a reservation and then check in at the Scopa host stand, but then you’ve found it.

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3
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Little Friend

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Silver Lake’s the Friend was already one of our neighborhood favorites, so imagine our delight when the charming, fun-loving cocktail bar launched a location in Venice. Sporting the O.G.’s signature baby pink and brass motif, the sibling spot is cute, charming and just as playful as the first André Saraiva, Jared Meisler and Mickey Madden venture—in fact, maybe even more so: You have to find the entrance, back around the Sunny Spot (just look for the mural of smiling stick figures all clamoring to get in). From there, it’s all bright and seasonal cocktails with local and organic ingredients, plus dancing under a disco ball. See? Cute, charming and playful in spades.

4
Bars, Dive bars

Hinano Café

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Famously one of Jim Morrison’s favorite Venice haunts, Hinano has earned a reputation as one of L.A.’s best dive bars. Completely unpretentious and genuine, no day spent at the Hinano is a wasted one. They open bright and early at 8am, so you can jumpstart said great day. Though they have an extensive food menu—you’ll definitely want to try the classic-style burger, as some consider it to be the best in the city—the place is really a bar: Note the sawdust floors, pool tables, jukebox and minimal seating. Expect colorful regulars, frequent live music and a couple TVs for game-watching. The place only serves beer and wine and is cash-only, so leave your credit cards and hard-liquor hankerings at home.

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5
Restaurants, Cafés

The Waterfront

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Think of Venice’s Waterfront restaurant and bar as a hyper trendy beach club sans membership fees: You’re practically on the sand, everyone’s attractive, and there are thirst-quenching libations galore—and you can’t get much beachier than sipping frozen drinks right on the Venice Boardwalk. The downside? On weekends, the line can wrap around the block because it’s fast become the trendiest spot on the strip. Once you’re in, you’ve got plenty of options: You can perch on the front patio, or head indoors to one of its two bars. To the right is more of a party zone, complete with a mini surf and merch store in an old shipping container, while to the left is a gorgeous trellised side lounge. Wherever you choose to hang, you can expect plenty of wine, pitchers of beer, frozen cocktails, fresh-pressed juice and even a handful of fermented cocktails, to keep things interesting.

6
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Lincoln

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Upon crossing the Lincoln’s threshold, you’ll find yourself in an enclosed open-air patio where industrial light fixtures hang over reclaimed wood tables dotted with ubiquitous succulents. The post-industrial theme continues inside, where designer Matt Winter—of Melrose Umbrella Company and Power House—and his creative touch are evident in the seamless incorporation of the forever-trendy warm-vintage aesthetic. The cocktail list here leans rugged, focusing on whiskey and mezcal for much of the handful of cocktails on offer, but that’s not to say the cocktails aren’t fun and colorful. They’re on point and not too pricey (all of them are only $12 a pop). One more Exit Drug, please: a mix of mezcal, kumquat and a lime-and-habanero tincture.

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7
Bars, Wine bars

Venice Beach Wines

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Known just as much for its fresh pizza as its sprawling wine collection, this charmer from Norma Alvarado and Oscar Hermosillo is one of Venice’s best-kept secrets, no matter what you’re in the mood for. The staff takes excrutiatingly detailed notes on all varietals in stock to make sure they’re up to muster whether you’re going glass or bottle, with most hailing from France, California, Spain or Italy. Leave yourself in the hands of your knowledgeable bartenders, who’ll also be happy to pour you one of their weekly wine flights—then sip alongside fondu, charcuterie plates, cheese boards and salads, plus glasses of sake and local beers.

8
Bars, Cocktail bars

High Rooftop Lounge

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When your drink matches the sunset... 📷 @losangelesoffroad

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Beachside rooftops are in surprisingly short supply in L.A., making this an in-demand spot for sun-kissed Venice locals who help the beachy community live up to its name. Even if you’re staying at Hotel Erwin, where the lounge is located, be sure to make a reservation; after all, there’s nothing like a multi-hued sunset over the Pacific with a cocktail in hand, and it’s no secret this is where you come to find it. Drinks here are fun to match the vibe, which means sangria, frozen cocktails, champagne and boozy lemonade, all rounded out with inspired bar bites and programming such as DJ sets and boozy yoga class. Don’t forget your shades or sunscreen—but if you do, they sell those, too.

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9
Restaurants, Gastropubs

Venice Ale House

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This spot is so Venice that the vessel for your beer flights is an old wooden skateboard. Truly, Venice Ale House is as California as they come: organic food, local craft beer and a view that looks out onto the Pacific. It’s an Instagram dream waiting to happen, but you shouldn’t spend your time here glued to your phone. You’ll find more than 25 beers on tap, with even more in bottles, as well as a full liquor cabinet for all your harder needs. The fully organic food menu is not to be skipped either; there are drinking staples like burgers and fries, or more upscale dishes like bruschetta and seared scallops. Order at the bar when the patio is packed (and it probably will be), and watch the sunset for a very L.A. outing.

10
Restaurants, Italian

Barrique

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When you’re a Michelin-starred chef, the obvious move is to open a high-profile restaurant that’s nearly impossible to get into. But that’s not the case here, as Italian chef Antonio Murè decided to instead lend his talents to a wine bar only a few blocks from the ocean. Look for the bright and charming yellow house, then forget the pretentions you’d expect from a bar of this caliber, and head in for some drinks and outstanding small plates. His tuna tartare is a necessity, as are the handmade pastas and top-notch cured meats, all paired perfectly with an almost-exclusively Italian wine list and a moody, candlelit setting perfect for date nights or dinners with friends.

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11
Bars, Wine bars

The Otheroom

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Wide-open windows welcome you into this industrial, sexy wine and beer bar that sits right in the middle of the action. The curation here is all about independent makers, and local ones when possible; you might find California Coast pinot noirs on offer, or a pilsner from Long Beach’s own Smog City Brewing Co. Get here early for a mellow conversation and snag a spot near those windows for prime Abbot Kinney people-watching, or swing by later for moody, dark candlelit vibes.

12
Bars, Cocktail bars

Townhouse and the Del Monte Speakeasy

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Townhouse and its basement bar, the Del Monte Speakeasy, are some of the most bustling spots to grab a drink in the neighborhood. Maybe it’s got something to do with the programming, which brings live comedy, burlesque, DJ sets and bands to the building every week. Or maybe it’s got something to do with the ambiance, where dark wood and antique lamps and classic-leaning cocktails make you feel right at home in the 100-plus year-old space. Whatever the case, it’s somehow both modern and a total timewarp, and we’re into it.

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13
Restaurants, Contemporary European

Wurstküche

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If you’re on the Westside, you don’t have to drive all the way to the Arts District to enjoy Wurstküche thanks to the Venice outpost. The German and Belgian beer list here is gigantic—try the notoriously tart Duchesse de Bourgogne or sweet Aventinus Eisbock, which packs a punch—and with the communal tables, you’re sure to make a few new friends. You won’t want to leave without trying the rattlesnake-and-rabbit sausage, which is spicy, snappy and not the least bit gamey. Grab some friends and post up outside in the sunshine.

14
Bars, Dive bars

The Brig

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Once a dive bar, the Brig underwent a successful facelift a few years ago and now it’s, well, clean, modern and far from divey. The pool table and the solid jukebox remain as reminders of its seedier past, but the Brig is now more a happy-hour neighborhood hang than the kind of place you end up late at night for a $3 beer. Still, despite the facelift, it can be both: The Brig truly has one of those vibes that fits any scenario, plus it’s got nightly DJ sets and usually a food truck or two nearby, so it’s always a trusty choice at the start or finish of any great Venice crawl.

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15
Bars, Wineries

Venice Whaler

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Located smack dab on the pier, and as one of the oldest surviving bars on the Westside, the Venice Whaler is a bit of a local icon. It’s become one of the biggest go-to bars along the water, which means it gets busy—especially on game days, weekends, and warm nights (did we mention that outdoor patio is perfect?). This stalwart hosts rowdy sports events, karaoke nights, stand-up comedy, live DJ sets and a killer happy hour with a quintessential view of the water, which means that once you’ve finally secured a table, it’s time to savor it and sip margaritas and pints, pitchers and bottles of beer until the sun goes down.

Looking for a drink just up the coast?

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