In 1905, real estate developer Abbot Kinney founded a beachfront neighborhood and named it the "Venice of America." Fifty years later, counterculture artists and Beat Generation authors flocked to the area, infusing it with an alternative vibe that still defines the neighborhood today. Upscale clothing boutiques, art galleries, and modern home goods stores line Venice's central boulevard (named in honor of Abbot Kinney) and there's no shortage of good food.
La Isla Bonita: Years before the Kogi taco craze spurred national interest in food trucks, this humble truck with its hand-painted menu was already serving tacos, burritos, and ceviche tostadas to hungry Westsiders from its semi-permanent parking spot on the corner of Rose and 4th Avenue.
4th Ave. & Rose Ave., 310-663-6603
Groundwork Coffee Co.: In 1991, Groundwork started as a coffee and tea shop that also sold rare books. Today, there are eight Groundwork cafes around Los Angeles, a booth at the Sunday Santa Monica Farmers Market, and a 5,000-square-foot roastery in North Hollywood. The flagship location in Venice has the most personality; it's a terrific place to people-watch.
671 Rose Ave., 310-664-8830
Joe's Restaurant: Executive chef and owner Joe Miller's culinary philosophy hasn't changed much since he opened Joe's Restaurant on Abbot Kinney nearly a quarter century ago. Farmers market ingredients continue to inspire the California-French menu.
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310-399-5811
Gjelina: This chic and casual restaurant may be a relative newcomer to the hip corridor of Abbot Kinney, but it's one of the most popular places to dine. Stylish patrons crowd the photogenic patio and order wood-oven pizzas topped with farmers market vegetables. If the loud space is fully reserved (as it almost always is), head next door to Gjelina Take Away or venture about a mile northwest to the newest Gjelina outpost, a sister deli-bakery called Gjusta.
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310-450-1429
La Cabaña: Established in 1963 eight blocks from Venice Beach, La Cabaña serves unpretentious, generous portions of old-school Angeleno Mexican favorites, including tableside guacamole and more than a dozen different kinds of margaritas. Sink into a worn leather booth, admire the colorful tiles and murals, and stay till the restaurant closes at 3 a.m.
738 Rose Ave., 310-392-7973