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Abbot Kinney Top 5 List....GO

After a bad night at Lilly's last night, its off my top 5. Having not been to Axe yet (menu ain't doing it for me), here's my Top 5. Let's hear yours.

1) Joe's (never had a bad meal)
2) Hal's
3) 3 Square (really unique breakfasts, and a good burger)
4) Beechwood (ok food, good atmosphere)
5) Primitivo (even less ok food, good atmosphere)
Relegated: Shima, Lilly's, Wabi Sabi

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  1. Joe's is the indisputable champion. Hal's, however, does not seem like a top five pick to me. I would put 3 Square in the #2 spot, especially when you include their bakery in the calculations. That cheese/bacon twist and pretzel roll are outstanding. I would go with the following...

    Joe's, 3 Square, Beechwood, Axe, Jin Patisserie.

    1 Reply
    1. re: glutton

      Mine would be the exact same in the exact same order!

    2. Now that 3 Square doesn't make a turkey burger, it's fallen down my list. I would put Wabi Sabi in #2, always have had good meals there. Hal's is too loud, for me. Abbots Pizza deserves a top 5 place.

      Joes
      Wabi Sabi
      Beechwood
      3 Square
      Abbots Pizza

      1 Reply
      1. re: yogachik

        yogachik- to say the 3 Square doesn't make a turkey burger is not really fair. They do make turkey burgers, but it's just that it comes as a Trio of Mini burgers of beef, turkey, and salmon (see my post: http://gourmetpigs.blogspot.com/2007/...) ...

        And my top 5.. no,4, not in any order (well, maybe it some sort of order
        )Jin Patisserie
        Joe's
        3 Square
        Abbot's Pizza

        --burumun
        http://gourmetpigs.blogspot.com

      2. I know the menu at Axe sounds too hippy-turned-middle-class, but actually, it's delicious. don't know if they still have it, but their chicken soup rocks.
        3 square is chill, reliable cafe food.
        Jin would be in my top 5 places to avoid on AK. sad looking cakes with fridge condensation... no thanks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: e_ting

          I agree. El Jeffe, don't let Axe's menu deter you from the great flavors - especially if you live near-by. I think so much of Axe's food is much tastier than Lilly's,Hal's or Primitivo.

        2. Joe's
          Hal's
          3 Square
          Tortilla Grill
          Lilly's

          17 Replies
          1. re: anothernotch

            Cool. I left off the Abbot's pizzas & Stroh's Gourmet off the list to focus on more upscale, sit-down dining. Never been to Tortilla Grill. What's the story with that place?

            Stroh's Gourmet also has really strong reviews. Are the sandwiches that good (using Bay Cities as the bar)?

            1. re: ElJeffe

              how was your dinner at lilly's the other night? anything to report?

              1. re: NYCnowLA

                Nothing much other than I've continued my lifelong streak of poor fish entrees from French restaurants. Transferred from Yelp....

                Went on a Tuesday night. Primativo & Joe's were hopping, but Lilly's was very mellow.

                The mussels were excellent, a huge bowl with lots of juice & flavor, some of the best I've ever had. Everything else, however, was so-so. The black cod special was oversalted, overbuttered, and over-cooked. The sauce overhelmed an otherwise nice piece of fish. The branzino special was a huge filet, but the anise flavor also overwhelmed the fish. And the lobster bisque was very tomato based, and light on the lobster, so definitely came up short.

                Oh, and average to below average bread for those of you few LA-types not on the South Beach or Atkins diet...it's a French restaurant for Christ's sake!!

                Overall, better French to be found, but if you have a mussel craving or you're looking for a more relaxed, intimate atmosphere on Abbot Kinney it may be worth a shot. I'd recommend it for lunch over dinner.

              2. re: ElJeffe

                Sort of like apples and oranges (Bay Cities vs. Stroh's) but the last sandwich I had from Stroh's was very meh. Maybe I didn't order the best one. If people have a favorite there, I'd love to hear it.

                1. re: mollyomormon

                  It was very good when it first opened--nice variety, interesting combos--but, of late, the selection has become far less interesting and varied and the quality has slipped.

                  1. re: New Trial

                    When Stroh's opened, it was AMAZING. Recently, they've slipped. They have less to offer, too, cheese case is dwindling, and they don't carry all that great candy anymore (like their jelly beans).

                    1. re: yogachik

                      The cheese case at Stroh's just makes me sad. I ran by the space on Montana where the ex-Patina cheese guy is set to open shop. Any word on when that's supposed to open?

                      1. re: mollyomormon

                        I'm always asking about the new cheese place and keep getting told "soon". I'm also waiting for the new place in the old Montana Space - looks months away.

                        Back on topic, I'm not a fan of Tortilla. The tacos are much better over on Main, at Holy Guacamole. Also, maybe someone from Stroh's will see this thread and step it back up.

                        Axe is hit or miss, for me. They took away that great pasta (simple, but theirs was great) with pepper flakes, loads of garlic (Musha has something similar, also good), and olive oil, so I rarely go anymore. They also took the chicken sandwich off the menu which used to be the best chicken sandwich in town. They do make the best lemonade I've ever had, though. Overall, I find the place overpriced.

                  2. re: mollyomormon

                    Agreed -- Stroh's is a very different creature from Bay Cities. I had some toasted sandwich with brie that was tasty but not particularly memorable. By contrast, I can recite the Godmother ingredients from memory.

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      They are very different. One difference, among many, that I'd like to point out is that the employees are actually helpful and efficient at Stroh's. The sandwich makers at Bay Cities could all use a swift kick in the ass, especially when they are not crazy busy.

                      1. re: glutton

                        I totally agree - those guys behind the counter at Bay Cities do tend to sit a little too high and proud in the saddle... Jason and the guys at Stroh's on the antithesis of the service generally received at BC - they treat you at eye level there... Stroh's was on fire when they first opened - pretty much a locals hangout now. I think the competitors that have opened since have chomped away at Jason's business, and he's now a dad so he seems to be spending more of his time and energy with his son - and rightfully so...

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          Totally agreed. But, the new online ordering system is a quick and painless way around that. I've used it 3 times now with no problems.

                          1. re: ElJeffe

                            I'd better wake up and check my calendar... Wow - it is the 21st century! Great end-around move to bypass the interference... Thanks for the tip...

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              The two secrets to Bay Cities are on-line ordering and the "cash only" line. I gave up several times on the counter guys before a friend clued me in.

                  3. re: ElJeffe

                    I have only been to Tortilla Grill twice, and would not send you there. Too many other good options on the street, and too many "better" Mexican choices near-by. Although, my vegetarian friends like it - maybe because the restaurant uses less lard (guessing here.)

                    1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                      Your guess is right -- vegetarians like Tortilla Grill because they use less lard. Meat eaters like myself, however, find it to be fairly conventional stuff. If I were in Boston or Kansas City, I'd probably love it. But in Venice, it doesn't compare to the taco trucks and La Playita.

                    2. re: ElJeffe

                      While a review of the posts reveals that opinions differ, I find the burritos, particularly the fajita burrito, combo plates and taco salad quite tasty. Tortilla Grill is not life changing but for the price its tough to beat and the food always tastes fresh.

                  4. First thought is Wabi Sabi,2nd. I love Hals brunch (good bread basket)3rd. 3 Square (chicken salad) 4th. Capri 5th. Abbots pizza.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: potofood

                      So, I dragged two friends to Wabi Sabi last week, on your and yogachik's recommendation. This was such a dissapointing food experience. We ordered edamame (fine, but cold), vegetable tempura (flavorless), yellowtail with jalapeno (mushy fish), tuna sushi (tasted fishy and plasticy), and a dragon roll (drowned in a sweet sauce.) We were hungry, but ended up eating about half of what we ordered. To be fair, it was late on Sunday night - never a peak sushi-eating time. And, we liked the sake and ginger tea a lot.

                      1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                        Wabi Sabi is miserable. Hama, a few blocks away, is sublime.

                        1. re: ElJeffe

                          Hama is really truly awful. The sushi at Wabi-Sabi isn't worth ordering, but the cooked dishes are very good. Shima on Abbot Kinney has the best sushi in the area.

                          1. re: hrhboo

                            Sushi to sushi, Hama blew Wabi Sabi out of the water on two different occasions.

                            I found Shima very bland and with little passion in the experience from the staff. Shima's certainly the healthiest, but walked away with a very forgettable experience.

                            1. re: ElJeffe

                              But isn't arguing over the best sushi in Venice really missing the point when there is unbelievably good sushi in West LA? Sasabune, Kiriko, Zo -- they're all a short drive away and worlds better than Hama and Wabi Sabi.

                        2. re: ElissaInPlaya

                          Agree - Sunday night is not the night (especially late) for Sushi - and, although it's no excuse, Wabi Sabi is all about the cooked food menu. They have a chicken with wasabi that is amazing - yum.

                      2. Does anyone know what's up with the newer place on the west side of the street just south of california? It's a new loft-like building, they have an A in the window but no menu/sign......very confusing.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: dotrat

                          That is probably Shima. Its been there a while actually and, as I recall, there is a piece of plain paper on the gate with the restaurant name typed on it. The specialty is brown rice sushi (better than it might sound), though they offer a variety of other Japanese dishes as well. I like it better than Wabi Sabi but Shima is definitely more sedate if you like a little scene with your sushi.

                          -----
                          Shima
                          1432 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                          1. re: New Trial

                            There also seems to be something new going in across from Otheroom?

                            1. re: yogachik

                              There will also be a new charcuterie/tapas restaurant further down on AK in June--Pascho. There's a chef from the W that will be taking the helm. I hear that the design of the place (OUTDOOR PATIO!!!!) is great, and am eager to hear about the food. Enough of ordering delivery at the Otheroom!

                                1. re: glutton

                                  I believe it's on the corner of AK and Milwood... where French 50s and 60s used to be and will be returning once the remodel is complete...

                                2. re: BunnieBear

                                  That's great. I figured it was just a matter of time until AK south of Venice got developed.

                                  1. re: ElJeffe

                                    I think that's still north of Venice Blvd by the Brig,

                          2. In varying order (restaurant status is no permanent thing in my book): Joe's, Axe, Lilly's, Primitivo and Hals.

                            Seems like not too many people mentioned Primitivo. The steak frites there are great, and they usually have some good special tapas plates to experiment with. Had really good braised short ribs the other day. Their desserts are delicious. I often go somewhere else for dinner and then stop by there for dessert and a glass of port or Tokaj at the bar.

                            Joe's is definitely number one for great meals.

                            Lilly's has my favorite salad - frisee with lardons (french bacon), a poached egg and croutons. I crave it.

                            Axe is great too, although I love it for lunch - there brown rice bowl sounds dull but is very flavorful and their homemade ice creams are delicious.

                            Hal's has a duck confit salad that is phenomenal, their late night bar menu is great, and a steal, but it is loud and I hate their bread (but I just don't like sourdough.)

                            Last but not least, 6 words about Stroh's: breakfast burrito with chorizo and avocado
                            It is soooo good. And the staff is great.

                            1. Joe's
                              Shima
                              3 Square
                              Beechwood
                              Primitivo