Tips for1st First Fridays Venice
Has anyone been and can you provide tips? 1. time to get there; 2. where to park; whether there is a good source of published info re when they are and aren't happening?
Each time I google it, at best I get generic descriptions or descriptions of past events (or those spammy websites that don't actually contain any useful info).
I'm planning to go and dragging friends across town - want to be prepared!
Is lobsta truck always there? That is the one I most look forward to trying... If there are other regular trucks, which are great and which are busts?
Agree this was a fun event, but more fun earlier, when the sidewalks weren't so packed. Split a cheesesteak from the South Philly truck and a grilled cheddar from the Grilled Cheese Truck with a friend. Both tasty, but I couldn't help thinking the grilled cheese was no different that what I make at home. What is the fuss with this truck? Is it the glammed up sandwiches?
Also had a korean pork taco (not from Kogi - do want to try that sometime) and a cherry/passionfruit italian ice.
Are there any similar regular truck gatherings in other LA neighborhoods? I know about the ones that park on miracle mile during lunch, and wheel wednesdays in Pasadena (pretty small maybe 4 trucks).
I work in the area but I haven't been to First Fridays in a long time because the crowds have been too much for my liking. Many nine-to-fivers who work in the area try to get out on this day as early as possible to avoid the crowds. First Fridays always happens on the first friday of the month. Since yesterday was the 31st, next friday will obviously be First Friday.
Retailers will stay open later. Many of the stores that have recently opened on the street are primarily boutiques offering clothing or accessories for women, lesser for men. Most are very unique and offer clothing not easily found outside of Europe or Asia. Still, there are stores on the street that aren't so garment-oriented/gender-specific. Off the top of my head, A+R, Tortoise, Firefly, Jack Spade, Altered Space, Huset, C.A.V.E. Gallery, Modern Dog, Surfing Cowboys, G2 Gallery, and Urbanic are either interesting to browse/offer very unique products. The Quicksilver/585 Boardriders shop on Venice, behind Lemonade, is also worthy of a visit. It's a huge shop and definitely one of Quicksilver's flagship store. Aside from offering a lot of their product, they have a good selection of boards, the video setup is nice, as is the revamp of this building.
Elvino is a nice wine and beer shop owned by a local - Bart. He's very approachable and has a nice selection. He does tastings on the weekends. He is probably the only non-eatery/bar shop on the street that can legitimately offer drinks to the public. Many of the non-restaurant/bar businesses were offering booze to entice customers in to linger and buy when First Fridays initially started up. The event soon got out of hand with the booze flowing so freely. The LAPD moved in, culled out the drunks and went store to store to inform the business owners on the alcohol issue. Still, you might find an art gallery promoting a new artist (the galleries open and close on this street with some frequency). There are a few businesses on the street that do PR work as well, and they will occasionally hold events that happen on First Fridays and are often open to the public.
Jin Patisserie is located on the same stretch. They offer some very nice pastries/desserts for there or to go. Jin is high on the priority list because they are in the process of moving out. The landlord jacked up their rent eightfold, so Jin will be gone very soon. This pushing out of tenants has been the trend on this street now for the past decade. The area's popularity has made many of the businesses that made the street popular victims of this kind of exorbitant rent increase.
I personally can't give you any food truck updates other than the fact they they do start showing up at 1PM or even earlier to position themselves for parking on Abbot Kinney. First Fridays is a huge opportunity for the food trucks. But at the same time, conflicts with the brick&mortar businesses have been ongoing. The food trucks take up valuable street parking, block the businesses from street view, draw crowds which make it hard for others to pass or get into the businesses, and create messes from dropped food/drink and litter. Some food trucks (about eight) are allowed to park in the parking lot next to The Brig (Abbot Kinney and Palms Blvds). These tend to be the more popular ones, as the bar owner who allows them to park there is active in the food culture himself. Big Foot Entertainment was supposed to allow food trucks to park in their lot (they own a few properties on Abbot Kinney) but I don't know if this ever came to fruition.
Time to get there is as early as possible. I know that sounds obvious, but if you do, your parking situation will be much easier if you plan on parking either on one of the streets in the adjacent neighborhoods or the public parking adjacent to Electric Avenue. Both of these can be very limited and random, as the ratio of parking spots to people working or visiting in the area is not very good. The street starts to get really busy around 8-10PM but I can assure you that street parking is already impacted much earlier.
Depending on the time that you arrive, you need to be aware of the posted parking restrictions. This area can be pretty thick with parking enforcement and they are very strict; e.g., do not park with your car even an inch into the red, impede someone's driveway, park in a loading zone, etc. - you will get a ticket and maybe even towed if they observe this.
Venice has gotten a lot better r.e. crime over the past decade, but petty crime is still around. Do not leave anything visible that can be perceived as potentially valuable. Work associates and folks living in the neighborhood are still occasional victims of car break-ins.
To avoid the parking hassles, you can park in the paid parking lots directly on or adjacent to Abbot Kinney. The building which Lemonade is located (corner of Abbot Kinney and Venice), the building where 3 Square is located (Abbot Kinney and San Juan), a paid lot behind Joe's (btwn Broadway and Westminster - enter off Electric) and a valet service at 1410 Abbot Kinney, directly across from Abbot's Pizza and Firefly. All of the bus lines pass through this area often. It may be worth considering this option as well. Venice Blvd is the major thoroughfare, but the Santa Monica busline drives down California Avenue to Abbot Kinney - I think it's Big Blue Bus Line #2. Bikes are an option, but finding a place to lock them up might be a bit difficult. The usual spots are on Abbot Kinney, but the crowds along the street on First Fridays would deter me personally from considering this.
Just got back from First Friday. My partner and I got there around 7PM and totally lucked out w/ parking. The lots along Electric were completely full, but one car was pulling out as I was driving by. Tip: drive slowly through the lot! Safer for everyone involved, and you might just get lucky to get a spot. Also prevents you from having to drive along Venice Blvd. itself, which I imagine is a nightmare.
My partner and I estimate that there might've been upward of 25 trucks. When we got to the lot, the crowds were significant but were civilized and not off-putting. By 9PM, the crowds for the more popular trucks (i.e., Kogi and Grilled Cheese) were intolerable. And the crowd later at night was noticeably, er, YOUNGER.
At any rate, tried the Lobsta truck (again.... yummy! I got at least 6 bites this time!), Texas Chili Pie (or something like that; the spicy queso tater tots were tasty), and India Jones (the "$10 deal" w/ lamb roti and butter chicken was surprisingly flavorful).