I go to Los Angeles a lot. I have loved it since I first visited when I was 18. I find the key to enjoying L.A. is befriending a handful of California natives who have great taste. They’ll be able to tell you how to avoid traffic and always find a parking spot. I’m actually headed there this week, so I asked two of my favorite Californians, artist David Kitz and stylist and View From The Topp founder Kate Brien (above), to tell me about their favorite places to eat in the Venice neighborhood they call home.
La Playita (Mariscos): We’ll admit that ordering seafood from a hole-in-the-wall sandwiched between two auto repair shops might take a little courage the first time around. But locals know that Mariscos, a small Mexican stand on Lincoln Boulevard, serves up some of the freshest ceviche in town. If you’re not into seafood, try the chicharr&$243;n, carnitas, or asada tacos. They won’t disappoint. 3306 Lincoln Boulevard.
Superba Food + Bread: Our newest local haunt would have to be Superba Food + Bread, which just opened this past April. Its tasty menu, clean-yet-cozy decor, and free WiFi make this café and bakery a great place to do work during the day or have a fun dinner out with friends at night. Superba is known for its assortment of toasts, but every item we’ve tried has been a hit. Our favorite? The everything croissant with a cream cheese center. What could be better? 1900 Lincoln Boulevard.
Shima: Although it’s been around for more than 10 years, Shima still feels like a hidden treasure. Perhaps that’s because there is no sign outside, or maybe it’s that, when you walk in, you feel like you’re going to eat dinner at your chic Japanese friend’s modern loft. The brown rice sushi and organic Japanese fare doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth every penny. Be sure to ask Yoshi, the head sushi chef, what to order that day. Chances are he’ll convince you to get the Santa Barbara Live Shrimp. Do it. 1432 Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
Axe: If we could suggest one restaurant in Venice, it would have to be Axe (pronounced ah-shay). Its organic, farm-fresh ingredients and devotion to sustainability make it not only an environmentally conscious place to eat, but a delicious one, too. It’s a neighborhood staple, and you can always count on running into friends or making new ones at the communal table in the garden. Try it out for Sunday brunch—the nine-grain pancakes are more famous around these parts than Axe’s high-profile clientele. 1009 Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
Menotti’s Coffee Stop: Less than a year old, Menotti’s has quickly become our favorite coffee shop in Venice. Maybe that’s because it uses high-quality Fourbarrel coffee beans, but we suspect it’s got more to do with the fact that the best (yet least pretentious) baristas from Venice Intelligentsia quit and brought their skills over to Menotti’s when it opened its doors. Half a block from the boardwalk, this place has that old-school charm that made us fall in love with Venice in the first place. 56 Windward Avenue.
Photos: Courtesy of David Kitz & Kate Brien