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Looking for a Venice/MDR restaurant for a nice Sunday early evening dinner with son-in-law

He's flying in to town on business, and we will have only a few hours to schmooze and eat a nice dinner. He's a mid-westerner, so Venice or the Marina is really a treat for him. We've been to Hal's, and he really liked it, but we want to mix it up a bit and go somewhere else. Any suggestions?

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  1. How about joe's in Venice on abbot kinny or Cafe del ray in MDR..both nice

    1. guidelines in terms of your budget and/or cuisine preferences would be helpful. but without knowing any details, i'd also suggest Axe on Abbot Kinney or Chaya on Navy St.

      1 Reply
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        We don't have any real guidelines...I thought about suggesting something, but changed my mind when I realized that this is my son-in-law. How could I put a limit on it? (someday maybe he'll be taking care of me, in my dotage...) Thanks for the rec.

      2. A hidden gem in Venice.


        5 Dudley Ave, Venice, CA 90291

        1. i strongly second cafe del rey.
          the view of the boats will be lovely
          the decor is nice
          the food will be good
          the wine list is great
          the service will be great

          you will not be rushed through,
          the place is quiet enough to hear each other speak
          there is a comfortable lounge with couches and a fireplace should you decide to have an after-dinner drink away from the table.
          if not, you can stroll around the boat docks without needing to move your car.

          3 Replies
          1. re: westsidegal

            Cafe Del Rey is my favorite place to take out-of-town guests on the way from or to LAX. Their website is excellent, including their various menus with prices: www.cafedelreymarina.com

            My other recommendation would be Chinois on Main in lower Santa Monica. Wolfgang Puck's original fusion restaurant is delicious and a lot of fun, with bold flavors and all dishes served to share. Concentrate on the starters and small plates, and share just one entree -- either the sliced filet in szechwan sauce or the whole fried catfish with ponzu. Excellent service, a real buzz, and the over-the-top '80s decor.

            1. re: nosh

              i love chinois on main too. (That catfish is the stuff of my dreams.)

              Chinois opens for dinner at 6pm.
              I don't know how early a dinner Golem was wanting.

              Cafe del Rey is open straight through from lunch to dinner.

              1. re: westsidegal

                i just looked at their website and saw that chinois opens at 5:30 on sunday for dinner.

          2. 26 Beach Restaurant www.26beach.com I have seen the owners of Hals eating there.

            26 Beach
            3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

            1. Since you mentioned Abbot Kinney, I'll suggest a couple winners near there:

              Gjelina (local/farmer's market small plates & pizzas) - no website, (310) 450-1429
              AK (new american with swedish touches) - http://www.akinvenice.com/

              1. Venice Wines on Rose is a killer place to relax early with some wine, either before dinner with some charcuterie or after with cheese...

                1. Chaya Venice is always a big hit with out of towners. Consistently good and has a real LA vibe.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: yogachik

                    one caveat about chaya venice:
                    if you go on a sunday night, skip the sushi.

                  2. I'll cast my vote for Cafe del Rey in the Marina. I take my out of town quests there and they always give it praise. The food, service, ambiance are all first rate and a view of the marina including its beautiful boats. Ive been maybe a dozan times and have never had a bad experience. I alway look forward to going back.

                    1. Thanks to all Chowhounders! Lots of good recommendations, here. I'll let you know what we did and how it was. Thanks again!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Golem

                        I just ate at AK last night and it's a really beautiful space. They have a four course prixe fixe dinner menu on Sundays and I'm considering going this week because the food was very good last night...

                      2. Ak Rocks. New Restaurant on Abbot Kinney next to Venice is great with comfort food and comfortable decor. Amazing Swedish specialties by the Chef at AK. A lot of fun, food and wine, on the fancy side, but generous and really nice and pleasant people. And you gotta get the brussels sprouts, and schnitzel, and drink champange and have herring cause you can't get it anywhere else on this side of the world. Chef driven restaurants are the best, when they get to show off, we benefit, rock on AK. We all loved the house cured salmon and mustard sauce with a pinch of coffee. Christmas is more special in Sweden, certainly compared to here, at least they have snow, anyway thanks for bringing some of these treats to the table.

                        1. 26 Beach (very SoCal). Or Pasta Factory.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MichelMechant

                            Have you had their new Veggie Burger, they make it there. Try their new appetizer, it is chilaquiless with out the egg, AWESOME!

                          2. I want to thank all Chowhounders for their great comments and recommendations. We had a great day, starting on the Venice Boardwalk, and ending up our walk on Main Street Santa Monica. We watched the Steelers squeek to a victory over the Ravens at McCools Irish Pub, with a very fun and funny crowd of football enthusiasts, and then drove over to Cafe Del Rey, in the Marina.

                            Ahh, Cafe Del Rey...
                            Okay first of all, valet parking is $5.50. Thats..well..too much! Valet didn't even open the passenger door! I tipped him for nothing, but I did tip him.

                            The restaurant itself is pretty, but quiet it is not. The piano is loud and the acoustics are poor. We could not hold a conversation without "what? what?"

                            Still, the food was good. We had the fish. Mahi Mahi was fresh and delicous. Salmon a bit dry, but still good. I shared the lettuce leaf salad which was quite good and very sharable. The wine selection was adequate. Wife and son-in-law both had a glass of a pretty good California Pinot Noir. $13.00 a glass! For $13.00 a glass, I want very good. I was driving so I had the diet coke. Good vintage...

                            Overall, it's a pretty restaurant, but a bit loud. It's comfortable and has a nice view of the marina. Service was friendly but not as attentive as I would prefer. Still, we weren't neglected, and I'm not complaining.

                            It's a bit overpriced. The fish entrees were $32.00, each. They were well-prepared and we left satisfied. I don't know if I'll go back, however. There are plenty of good choices near the beach and for the price, it's a coin toss. Still, son-in-law had a good day (his Steelers won), and we had the opportunity to talk.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Golem

                              Golem, thanks so much for coming back and sharing your impressions. It is such a rare thing to have happen, and so very much appreciated. We have many of the same thoughts about Cafe Del Rey as your review. We don't end up going too frequently because of the same concerns.

                              1. re: Servorg

                                Thanks for the review and your experience. It certainly looks like they raised their prices since the last time I was there and I dont recall the hefty parking fee. There is really no where else to park. I'm sure your son-in-law appreciated your treat.

                              2. re: Golem

                                out of curiosity, to what "good choices near the beach" are you referring?
                                especially, which ones would you consider to be a "coin toss?"


                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  There are several "good" (i.e. pricey) places in Malibu and Santa Monica. My favorite is not necessarily a great place for food, but has an excellent location and decent drinks: Dukes of Malibu. We've had a lot of fun meals, there, and where they don't shine on high-quality food, they more than make up in being a happy locale.

                                  Hal's in Venice was also good, a tad pricey, but worth the cost. Still, son-in-law remembers the fun times more than the food. I don't want to "cheap out" by picking a dive, but I don't care so much for frou-frou food if we have to fret over a high bill that may not be worth the effort.

                              3. I wanted to revive this post and see if anyone has additional recommendations for taking the in-laws but rather at a midpriced range. :) I'd go to Chaya or Chinois on Main, but, you know, it's the economy, stupid.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: geekbruin

                                  i second Burger Boy's recommendation of 26 beach restaurant.

                                  1. re: geekbruin

                                    It isn't in Venice/MDR, but my go-to restaurant for outstanding value is Nook Bistro, in W.L.A. tucked into the back corner of the minimall on the S/E corner of Santa Monica at Barry, a block east of Barrington. Nice place, excellent service, really good food and generous portions. Share some great panko-topped mac'n'cheese or mussels to start, then go for the potroast, their gourmet burger, or a fish dish new to the menu. Almost all entree prices are within a buck or two of $20, topping with a ribeye for $26 and starting with the burger and fries at $12 or 13. I think the place is as good as places costing twice as much, and also figure in free parking. Complete menus with prices available at their website: www.nookbistro.com

                                  2. Had a great dinner at Gjelina last week. It's a bit of a scene, to be sure, but fun for someone coming in from out of town, if he's in the mood for that sort of thing. Food was so good. Especially loved the brussel sprouts with bacon. The faro salad w/heirloom tomatoes was very fresh and tasty. Waitstaff was friendly but overworked, I thought. But stay away if you don't like noise or celebrities. Adrien Brody, Michael Bay, Seth Rogan all there the night we went, and we had a hard time hearing each other.