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south Venice / Marina Del Rey options

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Yes, I live here, but I still need some specific help. What would be your choice for a casual weekday dinner for a group of 6-8 within walking distance from the canals and the pier (i.e., Abbot Kinney is too far east and north)? I think I've been to most of the places on Washington and found them to range from poor to decent, but nothing outstanding. So what would you pick as the best of an ok bunch? Or maybe there's some place outstanding that I'm missing. Thanks.

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  1. my first thought was Gaby's - i like it for what it is, but from your comments i'm guessing you don't.

    - El Tarasco is popular for cheap, casual Mexican.
    - Canali Cafe is nearby too - i haven't heard much about it, but i dug up one positive report here on CH.
    - Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch isn't the best soul food in town, but it falls within your requested area.

    one last possibility- the new Vu Restaurant at the Jamaica Bay Inn...though early reports from fellow Hounds have been somewhat disappointing.

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    Aunt Kizzy's
    519 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

    El Tarasco
    109 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292

    Gabby's Mediterrean
    20 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

    Canali Cafe
    123 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292

    Jamaica Bay Inn - Vu Restaurant
    4175 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292

    1. If you are on a budget Lemonade on Abbot Kinney and Venice, if not Gjelina.
      http://gjelina.com/

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

      4 Replies
      1. re: wienermobile

        gotta play by the rules, wiener - OP said AK is too far North & East...otherwise this would be easy! ;)

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Hahahahaha!!! You're good, GHG!!

          What about Sauce on Hampton?? You would probably have to reserve in advance, or at least call ahead to find out if they had space,since it's tiny. But it's within your parameters.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Lemonade and Gjelina are only a few blocks farther.

            1. re: wienermobile

              hey, i'm with you - i'd go the extra distance to Abbot Kinney. i was just trying to stay within the OP's request.

        2. What about Mercedes' Grill? To me, that's the best right in that area, although I haven't been in a couple of years.

          1. Is Beechwood too far East? If not, that would be my pick, especially with Jamie Lauren in the Kitchen. Although it has fallen out of my regular rotation since the opening chef, Shari Robbins, left, I used to like James' Beach. Mosto is ok but over-priced and 8 people sitting together would probably be tight in that small space. There is also Hush in the Irwin, though the menu was not appealing enough to me to linger to try it.

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            James' Beach
            60 North Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

            6 Replies
            1. re: New Trial

              Thanks for the recommendations everyone. Given the parameters that I've set for myself on this particular occasion, I'm leaning towards Gaby's (good food, zero atmosphere) or Mercede's Grill (hit or miss for me in the past).

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              Mercede's Grill
              14 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

              1. re: cookie monster

                If you're talking about the Gaby's on Washington by Lincoln, I hope they've improved. I personally was not impressed with their food when I tried them a few times months after they opened. If you are willing to walk that far, why not consider all the options on Abbot Kinney, particularly the area around Venice Blvd? Walking from the north end of the canals, it would be closer and the options would be better. The walk is a little better as well. A few places that weren't mentioned are Marla's on the corner of Abbot Kinney and Victoria, French Market Cafe (across the street from Marla's), and Tlapazola on Venice, just east of Abbot Kinney. And if you even consider the walk to Gaby's, you'll be walking right by 26 Beach. If I were to pick one of the four mentioned, I'd go to Marla's. Low key, nice heated patio in back, and Marla is great in the kitchen.

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  we're actually talking about the Gaby's at the end of Washington by the pier. it's better than the one at Lincoln.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Wow - didn't even know there was one there. Thanks.

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      I was very impressed with gaby's close-to-water/quality-of-food ratio!

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        it's a couple of buildings West of Cow's End & Cabo Cantina. not much atmosphere to speak of, but the food is solid, the servers are friendly and it's a few steps from the beach.

              2. Can you all just go get burgers at Hinano? Sorry to be flippant. This is a really tough part of town for a chowster. Island's for cheese fries? Okay, now I'll get serious. There isn't a lot to work with down here but here are a couple more options.

                If you can get all 6-8 people to wrap their minds around Thai, Siamese Kitchen is workable Thai food. Located literally right next door to Baja Cantina, if you can't find it, just ask the Baja people.

                You could also try Pasta Factory. Very basic pasta joint, but if you order properly, it can be a functional meal.

                Charthouse? Just saying.

                And while it is a little bit of a walk (but so is Beechwood) Cafe Del Rey?...While most wouldn't say casual, it is the Marina and I see people in shorts and flip-flops there all the time.

                Good luck!

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                Cafe Del Rey
                4451 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

                Hinano Cafe
                15 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292

                Baja Cantina
                311 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

                1. So after much internal debate, I've given up on the idea of walking to dinner (I should have specified in my original post that for some in this group anything more than a 10 minute isn't happening). We're going to go to 26 Beach. I know everyone (including me) will enjoy the food, and if we're lucky the patio will be full of kitschy Christmas decorations.

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                  26 Beach
                  3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cookie monster

                    sometimes a compromise is necessary in the quest for good chow :) i hope everyone enjoys it!

                  2. Brief report back - once again, 26 Beach did not disappoint. Most of the group went for burgers (big surprise). I wanted to try something new, so I had a burger off the specials list which included prosciutto, brie and fig compote. It was good, but definitely not my favorite of the many variations I've tried at 26 Beach. The brie wasn't melted, and the fig compote had some huge chunks of fig which overwhelmed the prosciutto and everything else. Someone else ordered the special burger that I almost picked - blue cheese, bacon and pear chutney. I had a bite of that one and it may be my new favorite. A couple of my friends hedged their bets by ordering the peanut butter and jelly burger and another more "normal" burger to split. Once again, the pb&j burger was a surprise hit - people seem to order it almost as a dare, and then discover they really like it. The one special that no one dared to order was the hot fudge sundae burger - sorry, but that just sounds wrong to me. The other big surprise was the chocolate layer cake. This was a birthday celebration, so even though everyone was already stuffed we had to order dessert. My expectations for the cake were pretty low, but it turned out to be one of the best traditional layer cakes I've ever had. Not too sweet, with a deep chocolate flavor. The cake was moist and light and really fresh-baked tasting, with just the right amount of fudgy frosting. Just writing that makes me want to go back for more.

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                    26 Beach
                    3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cookie monster

                      I had some of that chocolate layer cake at my birthday at 26 Beach, it is indeed spectacular, and a monster.

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                      26 Beach
                      3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292