Dining alone in Venice Beach (visiting from MSP)
I will be visiting LA (from Minneapolis) later in the month and will be spending two days in Venice Beach, without car. I will be eating at least one or two breakfast/lunch/dinners alone. At night, I prefer a bit of atmosphere with great food, maybe a place where the bar gets some traffic and offers the full menu. During the day, anything goes. Any suggestions for dining solo?
On a side note, I will have access to a car for one evening and one day (Saturday) so what else should I try that is a short drive away? I'm sure I can do some research on the LA board to get answers to this one.
I've never been to LA so I'm looking for some signature LA dining experiences (esp. things that might not be easily had in the Midwest). I'm pretty open to types of cuisine (sushi, Mexican, any types of Pacific Asian cuisine, regional American, etc.) and no special needs like being veg or anything.
For one of the nights you should go to Hal's (on Abbott Kinney st) and sit at the Bar. They have live jazz on Sunday's and Monday's. Half price wine list on Tuesdays. The restaurant is modern, lively and fun. Personally I think their turkey burger is amazing, but they also offer some other goodies like their chicken and a penne pasta dish. If you are there over a weekend, have brunch at Joe's (also on Abott Kinney). Great bloddy mary.
For breakfast, try 3 square bakery and cafe on abbot kinney
For a bar with action, father's Office in Santa Monica is crowded. I personally don't like it due to the owner's ignorance and attitude, but the food is good, as is the beer. Supposedly one of the best burgers in town. Also in SM is the Library alehouse. Good food, less attitude than FO, easier to get through the door.
I second the recommendation for 3-square (breakfast) and Joe's (lunch or dinner).
Father's office offers a phenominal burger (get it medium). It's very crowded, so you'll either feel trapped or make new friends, depending on your personality. Also, you won't be able to walk there from Venice. It might be worth a cab ride, though...
Sushi Mori on Abbot Kinney is decent Sushi, steer clear from the horrible place on Winward Circle. For mind-blowing sushi, try Sushi Zo, it's about a 10 minute drive from Venice. What it lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up for in taste.
Mao's Kitchen offers inexpensive but tasty "Chineesey" food. It's on Pacific near Venice Blvd.
If you feel like taking a cab, The Lobster in Santa Monica is a great choice for a tasty lunch with a view of the ocean and Santa Monica Peer. It's not cheap, but you also get to check out the peer.
Also, although it's not the best frozen yogurt, you should get something at Pinkberry, which is on Abbot Kinney. It's become a craze in Los Angeles lately.
Finally, for a taste of Venice, to go Zelda's Deli, which is on the Venice Boardwalk on Westminster. Their mini-doughnuts are the perfect "day-at-the-beach" snack. I recommend the powdered sugar and the cinnamon sugar. Wash the doughnuts down with a juice from the juice shop next door. They'll hack open a cocoanut and let you slurp out the milk!
Actually, I think you may have meant Wabi-Sabi since Mori is much farther (Gateway and Pico) and much better. Another sushi option on Abbott Kinney is the semi-hidden Shima (brown rice sushi), better than Wabi-Sabi but also very low key. For the O.P., in addition to some of the suggestions already made by others, it might be worth a walk (or cab, depending on where in Venice Beach you will be) up to Main Street Sanata Monica to try Chinois (Wolfgang Puck's very expensive but excellent take on Chinese--full menu available at the counter so you can chat with fellow diners or watch the food being prepared as you prefer) or Chaya Venice (Pacific Rim cuisine--I don't recall if the full menu is available at the bar or just sushi is). For a fun lunch along the Venice Boardwalk, grab some sausages from Jody Maroni's and watch the street scene.
Zelda's Deli is on Westminster Ave. on the first floor of the brick apartment building that touches the Boardwalk. For reference, the street has a peace sign painted on it, and it is directly West of that gothic looking apartment building with all the gargoyles and statutues on the roof. The deli's entrance does not touch the boardwalk, rather, it touches the alleyway that is perpendicular to the boardwalk. The juice shop is also on the first floor of this building, as is the Common Grounds (or is it Higher Grounds?) coffee/tea shop.
Ditto on Beechwood. Also, you should know that Santa Monica's "Big Blue Bus" is a very easy way to get around the area, including parts of Lalaland.
For your Saturday driving day, I'd recommend lunch at Lucque's (still a best kept secret) and then adventure to downtown to eat at Blue Velvet. The downtown trip on Saturday night from Venice won't take more than 20 minutes. Pretty close to your experience probably at 112 Eatery.
In addition to seconding Father's Office (some say the best burger in the country, and the people there always seem particularly friendly and open to talking to whomever is sitting by them), Hal's, and Beechwood, I'll also suggest Chaya Venice. Great bar scene especially during happy hour. I'm not sure if they offer the full menu there (I don't think they do), but they definitely offer at least a good sized sushi/bar menu, good sake list too. I also had some great pita/hummus and fried calamari when I was last there. They classify themselves "French-Japanese cuisine."
Hal's is probably the only good one for a solo lunch (Chaya is pretty quiet during lunch, and I don't think Father's Office and Beechwood are even open for weekday lunch). I'd also suggest for your solo lunch(es) to just wander along the Venice beach strip. There are several dives along there where you can grab a quick bite and sit outside for some great people-watching - I doubt you'd see as many odd sights in Minneapolis! There is also Jody Maroni's famous sausages there too - yum!
Welcome to Venice. I third or fourth the rec's for breakfast/lunch/brunch at 3 Square and dinner at the bar at Hal's. The bar at Joe's, also mentioned above, is small, but they serve the full menu there and have some really good bartenders - I definitely recommend it for dining solo. Next door is Primitivo, a wine bar and small plates place with so-so food but a fun atmosphere - also a comfortable place to dine by oneself at the bar. (There's an awful yet hysterical thread on here from last week about someone's bad experience with a birthday cake at Primitivo). Continuing down Abbott Kinney, there's also Jin Patisserie for tea and fancy desserts in a pretty garden setting, Abbott Kinney Pizza for very casual but tasty pizza by the slice, Stroh's Gourmet for fancy sandwiches, and Abbott's Habit for mediocre coffee and food but great local color. Also the Firehouse on Main Street and Rose for a protein-packed breakfast with the body builders.
I think most of the restaurants on Abbott Kinney are good. I haven't been to them all, so there may be a klunker in the bunch. But you might want to just stroll and see what grabs you. (although I will also say Hal's is a good place for a meal at the bar, perhaps a celebrity sighting even? Lilly's is a nice French place, very cozy.) Abbott Kinney is a nice walking street, cool shops to pop into, places for a little snack or a meal.
Father's Office is a little far by cab, it's in S. Monica, not Venice. Once you get there you may have trouble getting a cab to take you back. Good burgers though.
Have a great time, Venice is fun!
haven't been to hal's but sounds good from the above posts. and just pasted by there the other nite while they were playing jazz.
had abbot's pizza recently, and it's famed for having a bagel crust pizza, don't worry it's not really a bagel pizza. it's good.
f.o. on montana is good too, esp, for some beers and hit up a hamburger at the bar if you can grab a seat. definitely very LA.
also, danny's venice deli is pretty good, whether at a bar or table. some nice sandwiches, beers on top, and other cal eclectic foods such as a falafel burger and turkey meatloaf etc.
jody maroni's is good for a sausage, but alas it was better in the past, big daddy's is decent for a slice of pizza.
and on the waterfront cafe, closer to santa monica, more north than venice, is great for a bunch of german beer hall beer, nice hifewiezens, erdinger and something else in really long schooners and some nice swiss dishes like rosti, sausage, etc. and if you're single diner here, it's great if you want to talk to the locals, a very chill refreshing place with very refreshing beers.
3 square cafe is also a good idea for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. the burger with swiss with the pretzel bun is really good. or get a burger here and go next door to the other room for a wide variety of artisanal beers, that's a great combo.
also, chinois on main has a counter which is the best seat in the house, for wolfgang pucks now classic and long running interpretation of cal-french-chinese cooking (bascially, a la PF chang's if you've been to that chain before but eons better).
On the westside, I think Taxi Taxi is reliable and really prompt. To keep this on the subject of food another option might be to dine outside at Figtree Cafe on the boardwalk basically right at the border of Santa Monica and Venice. Good omelets, scones, chai lattes and unbeatable people watching. Plus, you're right at the Ocean. I also agree that you can't go wrong with 3 Square or really any of the places people have mentioned. But if I was in Venice from out of town I would want to spend at least one of my meals with an ocean view.
In addition to 3 square, I'd suggest Firehouse for breakfast, especially if healthy is your thing.
I'd recommend getting Thai one night; if you don't drive over to Thai town, you can still do pretty darn well at Thai Boom, right there in Venice area.
If you could swing it (car or cab), Jiraffe's Monday night bistro is a steal.
The day you have a car, instead of Father's Office, I'd say do Bay Cities on Lincoln... or both if you can stomach it :)
Chaya Venice might be a good nighttime venue with a bit of hustle and good for sushi as well as other fusion dishes.
For Mexican, Guelaguetza
Some others to consider...
Baby Blues BBQ
Lilly's French Cafe