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Sep 21, 2009 08:22 AM

venice beach boardwalk suggestions

so i've got out of towners to entertain for an afternoon and of course they wanna check out venice beach. i'm sure they'll wanna have lunch at a restaurant with a patio where they can people watch, soak in the atmosphere, and relax over a pitcher of sangria. any suggestions?

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  1. Do they care about the quality of the food? Or is that of secondary concern? If food is not the primary motivator then someplace like the Sidewalk Cafe would do fine (not sure about sangria, but they have a full and inventive bar):

    1. The only restaurant that I know of that is in the thick of things on the Boardwalk, where you can sit in a patio and people watch is The Sidewalk Cafe and it is awful, truly awful. It doesn't need to be good, considering its location. If that's okay with you, it is an excellent people watching location. By the way, the bookstore behind it - Small World Books - is a wonderful bookstore, lots of small press, interesting books, a great selection of other stuff, and a very good selection of odd cookbooks (by way of relating it to food) as well.

      3 Replies
      1. re: estone888

        The better food option (while not being as "front and center" for the passing zoo / parade) is James Beach. They have a patio and their food is usually pretty good, especially considering their location:

        One caveat: Lunch/Brunch only Wednesday through Sunday (so if this is a Monday or Tuesday this suggetion won't work)

        1. re: Servorg

          Food is definitely better at James Beach, but it's a block off the boardwalk and the only people watching is your fellow diners. Still, far better to eat there, then go walking around.

          1. re: estone888

            It is a little bit off the boardwalk, but there is still a large passing parade as it's on the very southern end of the walk and the hordes go right by as they stroll up Venice Blvd. on their way to gawk at the show or return to their cars...

      2. venice bistro has a nice patio and serves beer, wine, and liquor. their food is variable as the staff changes a lot. but it's never been bad.

        next door to venice bistro is another place with pretty good burgers -

        venice bistro and candle cafe are fun b/c musicians usually set up in that area of the boardwalk and put on a good show. there are also street performers who wander by both bars.
        the sidewalk cafe, imo, is too enclosed to make very good people watching. you can get stuck in an area where it's hard to see the boardwalk.

        and - as another poster said re james beach - this is completely off the boardwalk and is a traditional restaurant. so - no people watching.

        1. Although not on the "boardwalk" per se, you can sit on the patio, people watch and get a pitcher of sangria at Mercedes Grille on Washington Blvd a few doors up from the beach. The cuban(ish) food is pretty good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: junipero

            Totally agree on this. I've had surprisingly good shrimp scampi there numerous times and they have both a patio and sangria (although it's a half a block off the boardwalk.


          2. Get off the boardwalk and eat on Abbot Kinney, or better - on Main Street. There are so many good restaurants to choose from.

            2 Replies
            1. re: yogachik

              great suggestions all around, now what about suggestions for off the boardwalk? personally, the boardwalk/tourist food scares me and if my guest tire of the scene or smell of venice i need some off the boardwalk options in venice.

              1. re: camajise

                Gjelina is one of the obvious first places to come to mind. The front area has a communal table/food bar where you can usually grab a seat fairly quickly if in the middle of the afternoon and not during the lunch or dinner rush. The back is an outdoor patio.

                1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA