Venice Beach is the place breakfast dreams are made of. You wake up close to the ocean, the sun is almost always shining, the dog-watching is impeccable and the food is some of the best in LA. If health and wellbeing are on your agenda, head to Cafe Gratitude. This plant-based eatery takes mindfulness to the next level. Dishes have names like "Open-Hearted" (aka buckwheat flax pancakes) and "Grounded" (smashed red potatoes with toppings) and a cold brew coffee is called a "Focused". You order by saying "I am Open-Hearted and Focused" - 15 minutes later you'll be sipping coffee and eating some of the best pancakes of your life.
SoCal hippie mindfulness aside, the food is very good and offers a great break from some of the other not-so-healthy American fare. More wellness lattes and cold-pressed juices can be found at the Butchers Daughter. Yet another plant-based eatery (welcome to Venice) that serves up delicious food all day long. For something slightly closer to our beloved Kiwi cafes, head to Superba Food + Bread on Lincoln Blvd. Their Grain Bowls put them on the map but the entire menu is great, and the coffee here is absolutely up to NZ standards.
If breakfast on the beach is in order, head to Gjusta - filled with locals it's the perfect place to grab a croissant or breakfast sandwich to take away. When you inevitably find yourself strolling down Abbot Kinney Blvd, head to Intelligentsia for coffee that will not disappoint. Fans of Supreme Coffee in New Zealand will feel right at home here.
Wurstküche - literally meaning "Sausage Kitchen" - is Venice's answer to a German beer hall. Weiner options are vast, everything from your classic Bratwurst to the more exotic Duck with Bacon, and even Rattlesnake & Rabbit with Jalapeno. The Belgian fries are a crowd favourite and beer lovers will be happy with the extensive European and American options on tap.
Taco Trucks are a staple in this part of town. While there's many good options, some would argue La Isla Bonita Taco Truck is home to the best burritos in Venice. The Kogi BBQ Truck puts a Korean twist on taco truck favourites. Both are Venice regulars, so keep an eye out or look them up online, they both generally post updates on their planned locations. Near the Venice Boardwalk, Eggslut serves up egg-centric options that somehow elevates eggs to a whole new level. Think hardwood smoked bacon with chipotle and eggs in a brioche bun. Delicious and very "saunter along the boardwalk" friendly.
Gjilena on Abbot Kinney Blvd has a great vibe and is filled with locals. We often find ourselves here as the last stop before heading to LAX to fly home. Serving up woodfired pizzas that have my mouth watering as I write this, we're talking smoked mozzarella with chilli and garlic and a good dose of fresh rocket (or arugula as our American friends call it). The salads are great and the wine list tight but on-point. It's worth waiting if you have to, you just pop your name down and peruse the shops.
Right next door is The Tasting Kitchen. Beautifully sun-filled, the space is great as are the cocktails. The food is mostly Italian but not exclusively. If you're here for brunch the Chicken and Waffles gets rave reviews. For a little bit of movie trainspotting head to James' Beach. Remember that scene in I Love You, Man where Jason Segal introduces Paul Rudd to the greatest fish tacos of all time? Well this is where you find them. That scene was filmed here and the tacos are still on the menu of this super-kitschy Mexican restaurant. At the risk of being a killjoy, I actually enjoyed the chicken tacos more than the fish.
Though not technically in Venice, if you find yourself shopping in neighbouring Santa Monica, True Food Kitchen at the base of the Santa Monica Place mall is worth a visit. Yet another health-conscious spot with plenty of vegan options, the edamame dumplings and kale guacamole went down a treat when we last visited.
I'm a sucker for a good rooftop bar. For stunning views over the Pacific, head to the High Rooftop Lounge at Hotel Erwin - a particularly great spot at sunset. If cute and cosy is more your thing, Venice Beach Wines on Rose Ave is a great spot. The wine list is extensive, the staff can give great recommendations and though the vibe is good, you can still hear each other talk. If you're looking to jump straight into a bar with a bit of a scene, head to The Lincoln. The space is relaxed but cool, epecially on the patio. The drinks are very very good, so go ahead and treat yourself to a cocktail.