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Abbot Kinney Festival 2014
Photograph: Jakob N. LaymanAbbot Kinney Festival 2014

The definitive guide to Abbot Kinney

Your go-to guide to the best bars, restaurants and shops along Abbot Kinney, the coolest boulevard in Venice

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
Contributor
Kate Wertheimer
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While Silicon Beach gentrification and longtime area bohemian beach culture might be Venice’s current competing claims to fame, the Westside neighborhood is also home to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, where you can find some of the city’s trendiest boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Named after Venice’s first real estate developer, the full length of Abbot Kinney runs from Washington Boulevard to Santa Monica’s Main Street, but the bulk of its shops and restaurants are located where the street meets Venice Boulevard.

Starting at upscale health grocery store Erewhon on its eastern end and ending around L.A.'s only Everlane at its Main Street terminus, the bourgeois chic, beach-adjacent street offers a full day’s worth of people-watching, shopping and dining. Throw on your best “effortless” athleisure and hop on your beach cruiser (or let’s be real, your e-scooter): Here’s our guide to the best spots along Abbot Kinney.

RECOMMENDED: See our full guide to Venice.

Restaurants & bars

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

Forget being the best pasta on Abbot Kinney—Felix’s Evan Funke makes some of the best pasta on the West Coast. Rolling, cutting and forming noodles behind a pane of glass, the chef and his team give you dinner and a show in this cozy bungalow restaurant. The focus here is handmade pasta, but Funke’s mission to bring incredible Italian fare to L.A. 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.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

No matter how you cut it, chef-owner Travis Lett’s full-service Abbot Kinney flagship is probably the one restaurant that started the street’s full-tilt shift into gentrification and ensuing mainstream cultural significance. Even in the dead of winter, Gjelina’s seasonally focused menu, eaten alongside a mix of tourists, locals and influencers, can’t help but bring in the sunshine. Order plates to share—you can’t go wrong with any of the vegetables and pizzas baked in its wood-burning oven—or claim the beloved smoked-fish plate all for yourself. 

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  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

If there are trees sprouting up throughout the dining room and plates of pasta are hitting a table every minute, you must be at the Tasting Kitchen. Though those are a must-order, the small plates and mains are done well here, too, whether you’re in the mood for a grilled New York strip steak with chanterelles and prosciutto or a more delicate striped bass. Moody and low-lit in the evenings, with a smaller greatest hits menu at lunch, it’s a tried-and-true upscale Italian neighborhood spot worth visiting.

The Butcher’s Daughter
  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Venice

Like many things in L.A., this all-day vegetarian restaurant and juice bar is a New York transplant. Unlike most transplants milling around Venice, however, the Butcher’s Daughter actually fits in on Abbot Kinney, where its white-washed, sun-lit space plays host to Venice's yuppie weekend brunch crowds. At night, when you’ll find several pairs of diners perched precariously on stools, its curbside patio set-up transforms into an oddly romantic en plein air dining experience. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Venice

Brought to you by Heather Tierney, the founder of nearby NYC vegan import The Butcher’s Daughter, this outdoor pop-up just down the street from the latter specializes in margaritas and plant-based Mexican food. Situated in a converted parking lot, De Buena Planta manages to turn what was once asphalt into a cheerful, Tulum vacation-like atmosphere worthy of a date or much-awaited catchup with old friends. Pro-tip: Make a reservation on holidays and weekends, when this buzzy pop-up draws most of its foot traffic.

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Venice
  • price 2 of 4

Once a dive bar, the Brig underwent a successful facelift a few years ago. The pool table and the solid jukebox remain as reminders of its seedier past, and the stainless steel fittings are a little less lustrous these days. Still, it remains sleek, and continues to draw a happy-hour neighborhood crowd. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Venice
  • price 2 of 4

An unpretentious pizza and wine bar, South End serves swoonworthy thin crust pizza in a strip mall, the perfect place to unwind away from the crowds on the boardwalk or the tech bros and influencers milling about on Abbot Kinney’s main drag. The wine list is impressive, and a day spent with some charcuterie, any of the rustic, Neapolitan-style pizzas, and a bottle of wine is never a wasted one. If you love wine and pizza in a low-key, casual atmosphere, South End is for you.

Shops

  • Shopping
  • Lifestyle
  • Venice

Grow Venice, an outdoor-and-Southern California-inspired gift shop, is likely to catch your eye as you walk by with its broad array of home goods, children’s toys and other small, stylish accessories. Located close to Venice Boulevard, this small store is full of fun, colorful little gifts, including crystals, planters, seasonal home decor and other small, eco-friendly tchotchkes.

  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

When you’re in the mood to shell out on a piece that you’ll wear for years, we recommend heading to Heist, which has our favorite range of women’s designer brands in all of Venice. Owner Nilou Ghodsi has an eye for modern classics, pulling in a cadre of brands such as Golden Goose riding boots, Henry Cuir distressed leather weekender bags and Raquel Allegra knits. Like the store itself—which is kitted out in brick, leather and wood—everything in Heist is comfy and understatedly chic.

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  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

Perfect the modern Scandinavian look for your home with a stop at this Venice boutique, which features furniture, fine art, housewares and kitchen products as well all-ages clothing and knick-knacks for little ones. The stylish boutique, which also sells its goods online, draws its inventory from over 60 Scandinavian designers with standouts including brass-wire baskets, matte black stoneware, textiles featuring hand-drawn designs and luxurious, abstract jewelry. Indulge in the Swedish pastime of lördagsgodis, or Saturday candy, in the store’s extensive sweets selection. You can also get your laptop repaired at the Mac Studio Shop, the third-party Apple repair service located inside the store.

  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

The Venice-based shop combines style and function with European vintage-inspired bicycles from cruisers and 8-speeders to limited editions in luxe colors like cream and sage. The tiny back bungalow storefront also carries Brooks leather saddles, waxed cotton saddlebags and brass bells to accessorize your two-wheeler.

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  • Shopping
  • Gifts and stationery
  • Venice

This charming shop on Abbot Kinney offers a catch-all selection of gifts: clothes, books, homeware and letterpress cards. It’s perfect if you’re in need of a gift or housewarming present, and is also a cute little spot to do some casual browsing for household knick-knacks. 

  • Shopping
  • Venice

The only L.A. outpost of this sustainable online fashion brand, Everlane's Abbot Kinney shop is a conscientious millennial shopper's dream come true. Designed with an online-first consumer in mind, this brick-and-mortar features knowledgeable employees, in-person returns and plenty of fitting rooms for items from the brand's collection that are harder to size from its online store alone.

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  • Shopping
  • Eyewear
  • Venice
  • price 2 of 4

Whether you’re looking for stylish sunwear or everyday optical lenses, this beachy eyewear haven has it all. Emulating the coastal ambience of Venice’s chic Abbot Kinney boutiques, this West Coast flagship store boasts a minimalistic, breezy interior with artistic touches from colorful minimalist designer Geoff McFetridge.

Things to do

  • Shopping
  • Grocery stores
  • Venice

Where does one begin with Erewhon? Now known nationwide for its palpitation-inducing prices, vast array of wellness products and famous clientele, this upscale market’s Abbot Kinney location is a downright people-watching scene most days of the week, as well as a purveyor of delicious, health-conscious prepared deli and hot foods at prices comparable to other fast-casual restaurants. Those grabbing a quick smoothie or daytime bite from this L.A. wellness mecca’s deli and hot food counters can sit on its Venice location's charming vine-covered patio or the additional bench seating at the edge of the parking lot—all the better to listen in on nearby conversations straight off of @OverheardLA.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Venice
  • price 2 of 4

This artisanal ice cream import from Portland may now be a veritable mini-chain in L.A. but its Abbot Kinney location still draws crowds, particularly on weekends. Their extensive menu boasts flavors both sinful and curious—many of which feature ingredients exclusive to Southern California, reflecting the company’s “farm-to-cone” philosophy. Rotating seasonal flavors keep things interesting each month, from their July Summer Berry series to spooky October flavors. The best part? You don’t have to choose just one. Guests can opt for an ice cream flight including your choice of four flavors from both classic and seasonal menus.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Venice
  • price 2 of 4

Situated at the westernmost end of Abbot Kinney, Alfred Coffee’s Venice location isn't as conducive to people-watching or casually sipping as the millennial pink coffee company’s other L.A. locations. With only a few indoor and parklet tables, it’s more of a stop-and-go spot for some of L.A.’s most aesthetically pleasing caffeinated specialty drinks. Still, you'll find the mini-chain's high-quality matcha lattes and zippy cappuccinos in its now-iconic “But First, Coffee” cups (plus a neon sign of the same slogan inside), as well as one or two of Alfred’s fun seasonal or collaborative drinks on the menu at any given time.

  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs

The Venice outpost of this artisan/craft-focused flea market mini-empire brings records, vintage and vintage-inspired clothing, cosmetics, jewelry and more to the outside of Westminster Avenue Elementary School. A handful of small batch confectioners provide sweet treats to snack on or take home, while food trucks and nearby restaurants provide heartier bites. Though relatively small in size, owing perhaps to its prime location bookending the famed Abbot Kinney stretch, vendors hawk a diverse range of hand-made and expertly curated wares that seems to simultaneously fit in and stand out in one of the nation’s most unusual neighborhoods.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

The Westside location of L.A.’s most famous coffee bar is only marginally less of a scene than its sibling in Silver Lake. With long lines, a menagerie of dogs tied up outside, and the best-tasting brew available by the beach, Intelligentsia is crowded but decidedly worth the hassle; and a nice respite from a sunny day of shopping. 

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Venice
  • price 1 of 4

This Portland doughnut shop's Abbot Kinney outpost brings creative, gourmet flavors like BBB (blueberry bourbon basil), orange olive oil and lemon poppyseed alongside Stumptown coffee for prime doughnut dunking. While Blue Stars’ prices might be a far cry from most of L.A.’s iconic pink box doughnut shops, they’re a worthwhile investment the next time you’re in the mood for an indulgent sweet treat, particularly the BBB flavor, which the brand is famous for. Whether ordered as a yeast-raised or cake doughnut, the BBB’s nuanced flavor brings just enough grown-up sweetness to a simple carb canvas that typically plays host to simpler childhood favorites like chocolate and maple.

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  • Things to do
  • Venice

Tucked between the grittier Venice Boardwalk and more bourgeois Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the Venice Canals offer a completely different side of the famed beachfront neighborhood. Take a stroll through these three canal-lined blocks—hence the name, Venice—and you’ll discover an historic multimillion dollar real estate idyll: arching pedestrian bridges, charming beach houses, bunches of ducklings and the occasional paddle boarding bulldog. Though you won’t find boat rentals anywhere along the canals, you can bring your own non-motorized vessel to tour the neighborhood at water level (enter via the launch ramp at Venice Boulevard).

Head north for more beach town exploration

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