Welcome to Venice Beach, CA!
Here's The Best Bars In This Funky L.A. Town
With two patios and views of the sea, the Venice Whaler is a whale of a spot for beers.
By PubClub.com Bar Reviewer The Bar Blogger
No place says "quirky L.A." like Venice Beach.
Venice possesses a certain freakish atmosphere, colorful seaside performers and a laid-beach life with a bit of Harley and Hollywood sprinkled in for good measure – in short the entire outdoor experience that defines Los Angeles.
Where else in the world has an outdoor gym with strong-armed bodybuilders working their muscles before the eyes of thousands of gawking tourists?
Venice Beach's sidewalk scene is part carnival, part festival.
A few steps away, people are playing basketball, beach volleyball, paddle tennis (paddle tennis!?), surfing, sunning, running, biking and rollerblading. There's more physical activity happening every few minutes Venice Beach than in most health clubs in a week.
The only workout most tourists get is with their eyes. This is one of the few beaches in the world where most of the action takes place away from the shore. In addition to sports, an array of performers dazzle visitors. They line the boardwalk and most are quite talented. There is a man who walks on broken glass, one who juggles chainsaws and a human statue, just to name a few of the acts.
Venice Beach is a big hangout for locals and an attration for tourists.
Add bargain shopping – three T-shirts for $12, paintings, pocketbooks, shoes – to this scene and it's little wonder that Venice is hopping any day of the week and SRO on weekends.
Venice is also a good place to pick up tickets to tapings of TV shows. On weekends, shows seeking live audiences pass out flyers along the boardwalk.
The beach area is best visited in the daytime as it can get a bit dicey after dark.
Venice is located adjacent to Marina del Rey, home of the world's largest man-made marina. The dividing line is Washington Blvd., which includes a splattering of bar stops and European-style restaurants. In between the two sits the Marina Peninsula, along a canal at the north "finger" of the MDR harbor, one of the new hot spots for celebrity homes. At night, Main Street on Venice/Santa Monica border roars.
– Venice and Washington Blvd. Bars –
Bikes are parked at the Pier while thier owners are havin a beer in the Venice Whaler.
There are Euro-style cafes at the Venice Pier on Washington Blvd.
All this activity eventually makes many visitors hungry, if not thirsty (if not both) and the Sidewalk Cafe along the boardwalk is Venice's the most popular eating spot. Behind the patio is a bar that can get elbow-to-elbow on weekend afternoons. Further down, and almost to Santa Monica, is the Waterfront Cafe is a Swiss dive bar with small patios front and side.
Later in the day, the Venice Whaler is the place to be. It has two levels and attracts the surfing crowd fresh out of the water at sunset. There's a small patio on the first level, mainly for those wanting a bit to eat, and another one upstairs that overlooks the Strand and ocean. There's not much to the place as far as decor and such but it's a popular locals hangout and is particularly popular on Sundays.
The patio view from the Venice Whaler.
The Whaler is located at the end of Washington Blvd., and is surrounded just one of many cool spots in the area. Within two blocks are cafes, a dive bar and a rocking cantina.
PubClub really likes the somewhat offbeat flavor of The Terrace, the restaurant across the street with the yellow awnings. It just has a good, "been here forever" kind of vibe to it. The bar is just a few seats at the bar, but you will instantly feel comfortable here.
The Hinano Cafe is no cafe; it's beer-drinking dive bar.
For those who like dives, Hinano Cafe fits the bill. Named after a Tahitian beer, it's dark, has a pool table and patrons dressed in old t-shirts. It's locally famous for its burgers and they are indeed good – almost worth the trip in here alone. This is a beer-drinking bar.
The Mercedes Grille is a the most popular restaurant also known for its sangria throughout L.A. It is next to Bin 73, a wine bar that features one-ounce wine samples for $1.
Across the street is 26 Beach Cafe, which is a restaurant that is also a cool spot to stop in and have a few drinks.
Even the house margaritas pack a good punch at Cabo Cantina.
For anyone who has ever been to Sharkeez in Manhattan, Newport, Huntington or Hermosa, Cabo Cantina will look and feel quite familiar. The look is all Sharkeez, down to the flyers. This is a Mexican-themed bar with food, huge margaritas (even the house ones pack quite the punch), a relaxed attitude and plenty of specials such as all-you-can-eat tacos on Tuesdays and bottomless mimosa and bloody marys for $9.95 on weekends until 3 p.m., to keep patrons partying until the real crowds arrive at night.
Cabo Cantina has a small downstairs bar and something any Sharkeez – especially the one in Hermosa Beach – would give its first-born margarita to have: An outdoor patio upstairs overlooking the street with a view of the beach.
There was a time when Baja Cantina was a given in this part of L.A., especially on Sundays. But that's not the case anymore and it's mainly families having lunch or dinner.
– Bars On Abbott Kinney Blvd. –
James Beach is a cool bar in Venice for the casual mingling crowd of the area.
Abbott Kinney Blvd., has emerged as an off-the-beaten-path destination for neighborhood locals. Primitivo is a wine bistro with tapas. It has a good, mature 30ish crowd and a back garden courtyard that opens up at night. Venice Place is a popular bar, especially Sunday evenings. Hal's is popular for those in their late 30's-plus with a jazzy attitude.
The Other Room is a lounge micobrewery with more than 60 beers on tap. Dark and cozy, it's also a wine bar that is intoxicatingly popular. What we really like about the place is it's "locals first" policy. As the colorful doorman Caesar will tell those lined up on weekends, those with Venice identification get in first. "We don't take money and we don't take sexual favors at the door," he says. But The Other Room does take care of locals. The place does need to turn up the lights and turn down the music; it's a relaxing mingling bar but too dark and a bit too loud for long conversations.
A good bar that's in the area but not on Abbott Kinney is James Beach. It's a cool, 20-30's casual bar that's a great place to meet out friends for a few drinks. Or, with its mingling potential, to meet new friends.
Abbott Kinney also hosts a very popular First Friday (6-9 p.m.), where shops open their doors to the public and offer snacks and drinks. It's a highly popular attraction for locals and people from other parts of Los Angeles savvy enough to check it out.
– Marina del Rey –
The turtle races at Brennans pack the patio every Thursday.
On the lighter side, a rustic Irish pub with a big outdoor deck hosts – are you ready for this – turtle races every Thursday night. That's right, turtle races. It's dumb and fun at the same time, but Brennan's has been doing it for nearly 30 years, so it obviously works. The emcee is especially colorful – just don't point! Believe it or not, it packs in a crowd and a band entertains people between post times (10:30 and midnight).There's some good tail in there, and we're not referring to the turtles. Mostly, it's a mix of old-style pubbers, party-minded professionals and college students.
The new player in town may well turn out to be the best. It's the Yard House on Maxella and it has 150 beers on tap, great food (the cheeseburgers and Korean BBQ beef are two of PubClub.com's favorites) in a clean, modern, open-air atmosphere. Frankly, it's what the area has needed for some time, an everyday hangout and destination for the many youthful minded people in MDR.
For sports viewing, Tony P's Dockside Grill has a huge bar area with 50+ beers on tap, more in bottles, dozens of TVs and a view of the marina out the back door (good for reflecting on the finer thinkgs in life after that drive-killing interception or turnover). It's the home of the University of Florida alumni. For Gator games, the place is packed.
VENICE/MARINA DEL REY BARS LOCATIONS & PHONE NUMBERS
• 26 Beach Cafe:26 Washington Blvd. (310) 821-8129
• Baja Cantina: 311 Washington Blvd. (310) 821-2252
• Brennan's, 4089 Lincoln Blvd. (310) 821-6622
• Hal's: 1349 Abbot Kinney. (310) 396-3105
• Hinano Cafe: 15 Washington Blvd. (310) 822-3902
• James' Beach: 60 N Venice Blvd. (310) 823-5396
• Mercedes Grill, 14 Washington Blvd. (310) 827-6209
• Primitivo, 1025 Abbott Kinney Blvd. (310) 396-5353
• Sidewalk Cafe: 1401 Ocean Front Walk.(310) 399-5547
• The Other Room: 1201 Abbott Kinney, (310) 396-6230
• Tony P's, 4445 Admiralty Way, (310) 823-4534
• Venice Whaler, 10 Washington Blvd. (310) 821-8737
• Waterfront Cave, 205 Ocean Front Walk (310) 392- 0332
• Yard House, 13455 Maxella Ave. (310) 822-7690
• Santa Monica/Nightlife. A look at the best bars in Santa Monica.