Wedged between Venice and Culver City, Mar Vista has been a relatively sleepy neighborhood that many Angelenos have a hard time placing without a map. But that’s all changing—and fast—with the growing buzz over new additions to the neighborhood and long-running favorites. With stylish new restaurants and cafés plus fun and quirky independent boutiques, Mar Vista offers plenty of excellent options to eat, drink, shop and explore.
The neighborhood, which is primarily centered around the stretch of Venice Boulevard on both sides of Centinela Avenue, also features an excellent weekly farmers’ market, a regularly occurring art walk and huge colorful murals painted by local artists. The area is also one of the first in L.A. to undergo improvements as part of a pilot program for the citywide Great Streets Initiative, and recently received new crosswalks, protected bike lanes and more to make the neighborhood safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Restaurants & Bars
If you remember the long-shuttered, divey music venue and bar Good Hurt you’ll be astounded to see the beautiful transformation the space underwent to become The Mar Vista. The stylish dinner and weekend brunch destination is helmed by chefs D. Brandon Walker, Jill Davie and Jorge Rivas, who utilize seasonal farmers market ingredients and global influences to create self-dubbed “progressive Angeleno” cuisine. Highlights include the mushroom fundido, bay scallop ceviche with aji amarillo-fresno chili, the black rice and farro hot pot and the pork osso bucco. Stop by for the daily happy hour for light bites with beer and wine specials, grab lunch during the week or indulge in a leisurely brunch with low-key live music and DJs often paired with live painting on the weekends.
The team behind The Mar Vista launched this casual all-day spot across the street for breakfast, lunch and family-style dinner pickup. The morning lineup includes breakfast tacos and sandwiches, frittata wraps, and full plates with eggs any style. At lunch, don’t miss the Frico-style tacos with the addition of a crispy cheese to the tortilla and a fried egg to fillings like brisket, carnitas and veggies. The “Dillas” (corn tortilla quesadillas) are great, as are the sandwiches like the green chickpea falafel, and a range of salads. Other highlights include the torn potato poutine and cold-pressed juices (best enjoyed on the spacious patio in back) as well as the daily family-style dinner specials to take home.
This bustling neighborhood favorite (formerly Status Kuo) serves up addictive Taiwanese comfort fare like three-cup chicken and scallion pancakes, and updates on Chinese takeout classics like kung pao chicken and walnut shrimp. Excellent vegetarian options include General Tso’s cauliflower and vegan fatty noodles. Chef/owner David Kuo, whose childhood nickname was Little Fatty (“Xiao Pang”) also offers lunch boxes that include Hainan chicken and fried sweet potato bao. They also offer weekend brunch, featuring dim sum classics like shumai, har gow and congee, plus brunch hits with a Taiwanese twist like fried hainan chicken and waffles, a mooshu breakfast burrito and eggs with five-spice bacon.
The dark interior of this sleek cocktail bar offers a fun contrast to the bright tones of Little Fatty, the adjoining restaurant from which hungry drinkers can order a bite. The talented Gaby Mlynarczyk and her team serve superlative renditions of classic drinks alongside irreverently creative and seasonal riffs like This Is Not A Tiki Drink (with mezcal, five-spice orgeat, pineapple, passionfruit and sherry) or the Aperol Spritz (with carrot juice, yuzu, orange, vanilla and sparkling sake). You’ll also find rotating wines and craft beers, and a great happy hour (Mon–Fri 5–7pm).
This family-owned Latinx eatery serves fresh takes on Oaxacan specialties, plus other Mexican and Guatemalan hits. With vibrant local artwork adorning the walls, the casual spot prepares a wonderfully complex mole negro, available on enchiladas and even nachos. For breakfast, consider the chilaquiles, and taco options include grilled fish with mango salsa and the Soul Taco with sweet potato, kale, roasted corn and ground turkey. And don’t miss the Pepian, a hearty Guatemalan stew with roasted sesame and pumpkin seeds. There are also plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options as well, and seasonal specialties.
For years, Eric Stogsdill built a loyal following of coffee lovers, peddling his single origin beans at farmers’ markets around L.A. Now the passionate coffee roaster has a permanent home with fellow coffee expert Erin Ward. Named after Ward’s daughter, the sleek space allows you to see the entire roasting process, enjoy a cup inside or on tables outside, grab some beans sourced directly from farms around the world and get expert brewing advice. In addition to pour overs, cold brew, tea and espresso drinks made with the coffee-nerd–approved Slayer espresso machine, you can also get specialty drinks like the Big Time with grass-fed butter and coconut oil or a Pirate’s Chai made with matcha.
The funky covered patio of this French-inspired spot is the perfect place to enjoy a laid-back brunch or while away the hours for a leisurely lunch. Nibble on a pain au chocolat or an omelette with French ham and gruyere in the morning while admiring the local artwork. At lunch, you’ll find classics like croque monsieur, a merguez sausage sandwich and French onion soup, as well as plenty of great salads and flatbreads.
This family-owned café, market and wine bar re-emerged after a fire that nearly wiped out the whole block. Grab a seat on the side patio for hearty brunch fare like the lemon ricotta pancakes or the savory Italian breakfast bread pudding. Later in the day, dig into the braised short rib panini or fried green tomato sandwich, order up a trio of sliders or keep it light with the kale salad with blackberries and goat cheese—and definitely get the avocado fries. The well-curated wine list is extensive with choices by the glass and bottle, as well as flights, and there are plenty of craft beers. They also frequently host winemaker dinners, and you can provisions to go for a picnic.
This charming and colorful ice cream shop is the second from Top Chef winners Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts after their first location at Playa Provisions. You’ll be treated to handmade scoops of classic and seasonal flavors, plus imaginative twists like Thai tea, banana cream pie and the “Cereal Killer” with Fruity Pebbles, along with vegan options. Toppings include fun variations like almond butter, Sour Patch Kids and Cookie Crisps. And if you’re feeding a crowd, consider the decadent Unicorn sundae with 10 scoops, loads of toppings and, of course, a “Unicone” and sparkler.
It’s impossible to talk about food in Mar Vista without mention of this long-running, hugely popular Japanese supermarket. In addition to aisles of imported pantry items, specialty produce, fresh fish and meat, sake, sushi to-go and more, you’ll find excellent dining options in the small food court. Chief among them is the cash-only Santouka Ramen, beloved for their hearty bowls of noodles and rice combos. Other tempting options include tempura from Hannosuke, tonkatsu (breaded and fried pork cutlets) from Misasa and udon from Sanuki Sandou, plus sweets from Hamada Ya Bread Bar and Coffee. You’ll also want to stop by the adjacent Kinokuniya for Japanese books, magazines, toys, stationary and more.
Beneath the vaulted ceiling of a former hangar, this hidden gem features a huge, carefully curated selection of unique contemporary furniture and home decor. Owner Corinne Weber also sells works by emerging and established L.A. artists, including the typed musings of WRDSMTH and the iconic angel wings of Collette Miller, and occasionally hosts artists receptions and “sip and shop” events. Weber regularly brings in new pieces to the store, and can even help you track dow
At this long-running favorite you’ll find a fun collection of thoughtfully chosen and well-priced vintage and handcrafted treasures. Whether you’re on the hunt for midcentury furniture or home decor, kitchen and barware, jewelry and accessories for women and men, or a tight selection of funky and stylish clothes and shoes, you’ll find it here, along with knickknacks and surprises. Friendly owner Marti Milakovich and her team are always bringing in new additions, so it’s worth checking in regularly and following them on Instagram.
The last of a dying breed of year-round costume shops, the sprawling Robinson Beautilities is worth exploring, whether you’re going out for Halloween, a costume party, or, you know a Tuesday when you feel like dressing up. Get lost searching through an extensive array of rentals—many of which include one-of-a-kind, handmade costumes and masks that date back decades (hello, creepy vintage Disney characters!)—as well as new costumes, countless wigs and accessories, professional makeup and more. And don’t forget to bring extra quarters for the vintage arcade games up front.
Previously located on Abbot Kinney, husband-and-wife duo Keiko and Taku Shinomoto's Tortoise offers three experiences in one: Tortoise General Store with design-focused Japanese home goods; Tortoise Hasami Porcelain, showcasing Taku’s sleek modern ceramics; and a gallery space. The gallery features Taku's personal collection of art, furniture and other design inspirations, and also functions as an active workspace, space for events and workshops, and a place for visitors to get inspired themselves.
Transplanted from its original location in Venice, the tiny boutique Inland features a stylish and eclectic collection of men and women’s clothing, accessories, handmade hats and more. Run by stylist and artist Kristin Fedyk and her partner Alberto Hernandez, a third-generation millner, the couple carefully curates the shop with under-the-radar and sought-after designers, many of whom they count as friends. Hernandez’s big, bold and colorful custom hats, which have graced the heads of some major celebrities, are made with care (and flourish) in the shop, so if you don’t see one for you, he’s happy to craft one.
The epitome of the classic bookshop—and one of the handful of greats remaining—Sam: Johnson’s Bookshop is the place to lose a few hours browsing well-priced rarities, out-of-print and first editions, and other used books in great condition. Originally opened in 1977 in Westwood by Larry Myers and Bob Klein, longtime friends since high school, the shop migrated to Venice Boulevard in 1987 and has been a coveted destination for bibliophiles and the curious since. You’ll find a wide range of books from scholarly works to science fiction, and even books published by the owners themselves.
For vinyl geeks and music lovers of all stripes, Timewarp Records offers an excellent selection of records, as well as CDs and tapes. The shop frequently hosts live music, and also offers vintage stereo components and record players for sale. Musicians will want to head across the street to sister shop Timewarp Music, where they’ll find a wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling collection of used and vintage guitars, amps, drums keyboards, pedals and plenty of other assorted gear. In addition to buying and selling instruments they also do repairs, and there’s a chance you may see one of your favorite musicians stopping by to pick up gear before playing a show across town.
Things to do
This fun neighborhood stroll highlights the numerous artists, musicians, shops and galleries of Mar Vista, where huge vivid murals brighten exterior walls everywhere you look. Since launching in 2015, the quarterly event has dramatically expanded, now featuring several clusters of activity along Venice Boulevard. Catch local musicians and performers throughout the evening, artists selling their works as well as creating new ones on the spot, grab food from trucks, and browse galleries and shops that stay open late. The walk takes place the first Thursday of March, June, September and November, each time featuring a different theme and the artists are curated by Monique Boileau and Mitchelito Orquiola.
If you’ve ever wanted to travel through time, purchase dinosaur eggs or astronaut sunscreen, and help tutor eager young minds at the same time, this is the place for you. The Mar Vista outpost of Dave Eggers’s 826 tutoring and writing centers recently received a stunning remodel and now welcomes students and volunteer tutors with a whimsical Victorian era shop that includes a poetry phonebooth, writing materials and time-travel–themed gifts. Behind the shop, the tutoring center is always looking for volunteers to help kids with their homework, as well as help them develop creative writing projects that are eventually turned into books and sold in the shop. It’s a fantastic way to give back and have a blast at the same time.
Los Angeles may be blessed with a bounty of great farmers’ markets, but the Mar Vista one truly stands out as one of the best in town. Sure, it may not have the celebrity flash or scale of some other markets, but that’s part of the charm: It’s a neighborhood market, where you can actually get to know the vendors and not feel overwhelmed by the size. You’ll find an abundant mix of colorful produce, baked goods, cheeses, sustainable meat and fish, and freshly cut flowers, as well as prepared artisanal goods to take home (don’t miss Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food and Seabold Ginger Beer), plenty of excellent food options to eat there, plus great DJs, crafts, activities for kids and more.
Longtime Mar Vista residents and visitors who recall the well-worn lanes of the former AMF Mar Vista—and the hearty diner fare of Pepy’s Galley there—may not recognize the glossy revamp of Bowlero, but thankfully the neighborhood bowling alley didn’t wind up in the gutter. With a redesign inspired by a California road trip circa 1970, the stylish, neon and black-lit destination offers plenty of family-friendly fun with 28 lanes, arcade games and billiards. Plus grownup kids can hit up the full bar or order drinks and food that’s delivered right to the plush seating of your lane.
While at first glance the Mar Vista Art Department might appear to be just a stylish boutique, the space serves as merely an introduction to what is also a gallery, artist studio and home for artisanal workshops. Browse the retail space, which features works from a collective of makers, including jewelry, clothing, home goods and more with plenty of SoCal, desert chic vibes. Further back, the second half of the space showcases the works of local and visiting artists, and it hosts watercolor portraiture and calligraphy classes, as well as yoga sessions.
For the bicycle enthusiast—or really anyone who wants to learn a bit more about how to fix or put together their own bike—this volunteer-run community repair shop is a must-visit. Bikerowave offers the tools, space, and equipment, along with guidance from one of their many skilled volunteers to help you repair and maintain your bicycle. Workshop rates are inexpensive and go by the hour ($7) or half hour ($4), or if you ride a lot you can save with the 10-hour card ($55) or the annual card ($100), which allows for unlimited visits. Whether you’re fixing a flat or looking to completely overhaul your ride, this is the place to come. They also frequently host workshops, clinics, potlucks and group rides. If you’re looking for a brand new bike, try across the street at LA Brakeless.