Venice isn’t just home to one of the best beaches in Los Angeles: It’s also where you’ll bump into colorful characters, stroll down a boardwalk with great things to do outside, and peruse trendy boutiques—and where you’ll find some of the best food in L.A. We all know Venice Beach’s Abbot Kinney is a mecca for shopping lovers, but lately, the restaurants have taken over with ramen, Nashville-style hot shrimp and gourmet ice cream. Between Venice’s busy streets and its bungalow gems, this beach city’s full of ideal meals. Just be sure to pack sunscreen—after all, you’re here for the food, but a boardwalk stroll is perfect for a little post-pasta walk.
RECOMMENDED: Check out more in our full guide to Venice.
The 17 best Venice restaurants, ranked
Forget some of the best pasta in Venice—Evan Funke makes some of the best pasta on the West Coast. Rolling, cutting and forming noodles from behind a pane of glass, the chef and his team give you dinner and a show in the cozy bungalow restaurant. Handmade pasta is the name of the game here, but Funke’s mission to bring incredible Italian fare to Venice also extends to the phenomenal sfincione focaccia, the blistered-crust pizzas and the antipasti so good you’ll be tempted to make a whole meal out of them. Years in, and it’s still packed—so make a reservation before heading over, or brave your luck at the cozy bar stools near the entrance.
Chef Vartan Abgaryan’s Abbot Kinney restaurant is a buzzing, exciting and incredibly popular little bit of everything: It’s an ideal spot for a date night, it’s a perfect gathering place for dinner with friends and it’s definitely someplace refined—without being stuffy—for bringing parents. The menu is just as chameleonic, with California produce, seafood and meat taking cues from Mexican, French, Italian and Middle Eastern influence. Our tip? Share the plates so you can try a little of everything (especially when there are roasted carrots with burrata involved).
Jason Neroni helped build the all-day café of our dreams. Stepping into the Rose is a little like a choose-your-own-adventure experience: fresh pastries and expertly brewed coffee in the morning and well into the afternoon, a gorgeous raw bar later in the day, stacked gourmet sandwiches and salads in the case around lunchtime, a verdant bar area, multiple stellar patios, and an Italian-leaning New American menu that’s full of surprises, if you’re in the mood for full-service. It’s been serving the community since 1979, but with Neroni at the helm, it’s modern, chipper and exactly where we want to hang out all day (and so, apparently, does the rest of Venice).
MTN is distinctively moodier than the other outposts in Travis Lett’s (Gjelina, Gjusta) Venice empire, but it’s just as accessible—and dare we say it, it’s the best of the bunch. All wood, metal and dark hues, the izakaya and ramen-ya brings a bit of depth and intrigue to the chef-restaurateur’s roster, not to mention the entire neighborhood. Charcoal-grilled skewers are not to be missed, and neither are the cauldrons of ramen brimming with crab, belly chasu, marinated mushrooms, garlic chives and any other seasonal ingredients the kitchen can get its hands on. Sit at the bar overlooking Abbot Kinney for a side of excellent people-watching.
Just minutes from the shores of Venice Beach is Charcoal, the friendly neighborhood restaurant from the same chef who brought us Melisse, one of the city’s best tasting menus. Here, Josiah Citrin’s menu is all about comfort and familiarity, centered around dishes that are all cooked over a live fire. The concept makes for a true home-style feel, whether you’re dining on grilled chicken or smoked oysters (and the family-sized portions will make you feel like you’re eating in your own back yard, too).
You might miss Gjusta if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Travis Lett’s so-popular bakery and upscale deli operates out of a nondescript warehouse, but you can usually spot it based on the crowd waiting outside. Step inside and you’ll find a long, narrow corridor with glass cases of sweet and savory treats on the left, and a working bakery behind it. On the sweet side, slices of fruit are folded into sugar-glazed dough for a morning indulgence; a banana chocolate tart, while pricey, is worth a post-lunch splurge. On the savory side, sandwiches and salads make for an ideal lunch spot, with cuts of meat and fish to go.
If there are trees sprouting up throughout the dining room and there’s a tantalizing plate of pasta hitting someone’s table every minute, you must be in Tasting Kitchen territory. But it’s not just about the pastas (though those are a must-order): American classics are done well here, too, whether it’s biscuits and gravy at brunch or grilled flat-iron steak with potatoes and bone marrow at dinner. Bustling on bright Venice weekend mornings but moody and low-lit in the evening, it’s one of the best (and most popular) day-or-night spots in the neighborhood, so snag a reservation ahead of time.
This is the house that Top Chef vet Antonia Lofaso built, and it’s a cozy brick-and-wood neighborhood Italian joint that leans just as heavily into Italian-American classics as it does the more traditional dishes. (Rainbow cookies to-go? We thought you’d never ask.) The pastas are top-notch, the meatballs are some of the best on the Westside, and the cocktails might just be the best restaurant drinks in the neighborhood (of course their other bar, Old Lightning, isn’t too shabby either).
If you find the Venice Boardwalk to be a total scene, then Dudley Market is your escape from it. Situated just off the main thoroughfare, this charmer is all about seafood and wine in a trendy but low-key setting. Here you’ll find oysters, photo-friendly boxes of shellfish on ice, roast chicken and the catch of the day for breezy, casual fare that’s a little more, let’s say, refined than a hot dog on the Boardwalk. An impressive wine list always spotlights new and trendy names, and neighborhood-friendly events like Sunday bring-your-own-vinyl nights keep the tables packed.
Pack in with the beautiful people at one of Abbot Kinney’s most iconic restaurants, and one whose seasonally focused menu seems to always bring the sunshine—even in the dead of winter. There’s almost always a wait, but the scene is buzzing and the food is excellent here at Travis Lett’s full-service flagship. Order plates to share—you can’t go wrong with any of the vegetables and pizzas baked in the wood-burning oven—or claim the beloved smoked-fish plate all for yourself. We’re partial to the back patio for weekend brunch, while the communal table feels cozy and warm at dinner.