When it comes to grilling (as opposed to generating energy), charcoal is king. Somewhere along the way, someone realized that this would translate into a great restaurant concept. Thus, the world was given Charcoal in Venice. Charcoal, like most BBQs, is pretty meat-centric and great for unvegans. Nonetheless, there were definitely veggie options for those who prefer not to enjoy life as much.
I’ve always been a little wary of meals in which you cannot choose your food. This is, of course, the case with pop up restaurants. Yet, when I saw Foodshop‘s latest menu, filled with the flavors of the Caribbean, I was convinced to give it a shot. Thus, we took the long drive to Venice to grab some food at an undisclosed location.
Just when you think you’ve eaten every important burrito LA has to offer, a coworker comes along and tells you that you have to try La Cabana in Venice. I’m sure this has happened to everyone and just like me, everyone else probably thought taking a trip to La Cabana was a good idea. After all, while I had never read about it anywhere, I trust the word of real people more than anything.
In a location that once housed Beechwood in Venice, the legendary Roy Choi has taken on the cuisine of the Caribbean and given it the name Sunny Spot. You may remember Choi as the man behind Kogi and West Side delights Chego and A-Frame. When I first learned about Sunny Spot, I marked it down for a bike brunch visit and just happened to make my way there this past weekend. I had heard the Yucca Fried were something special, but what I found went way beyond what I had imagined.
With a friend in town for the summer and staying in Venice, we headed out to Centanni, an Italian joint in that part of town. The menu wasn’t too big, but had some basic sandwiches and pasta dishes. As per usual, my eyes drifted right to their gnocchi, which came with a pesto sauce. Soon enough, my meal was served and all looked well on the surface.
In the movie, I Love You, Man, a pivotal scene occurs when the Paul Rudd character and Jason Segel character bond over fish tacos at a place called James’ Beach. Jason Segel’s character declares them “the best in the world,” which is quite a claim. Fortunately, James Beach is a real place in Venice and last weekend I took a bike ride with my lady and her lady to see just how great those fish tacos were. Jason Segel hadn’t led me wrong since Freaks and Geeks (except for Bad Teacher) and I hoped he wouldn’t this time.
Ever walk into a “pizza parlor” that actually functions as more of a full-on Italian restaurant? Or how about a “Japanese place” that only serves sushi? We are constantly being misled into restaurants that either offer a lot more than expected or a lot less. And then there is Hinano Cafe in Venice, which only a crackhead would consider to be a cafe. You see, Hinano is pretty much the definition of a dive bar. Sawdust coats the floor, there are maybe five real tables and the two guys behind the bar take turns dishing out beer or flipping burgers on the lone griddle in the middle of the bar.
Walking into Lemonade in Venice is at first quite frightening. This is because the place is set up sort of like a buffet/cafeteria and while that alone can be frightening to someone, the real frightening part is that the entire first section of the lineup is salads. And while these are more like your creative sweet potato or radish than lettuce and tomatoes, there is certainly a staggering amount of veggies. I quickly looked around to see if they had anything I could eat and found a nice menu that detailed some of the real food that Lemonade had to offer.
After what feels like years of hearing about the deliciousness that dwells within Mao’s Kitchen in Venice, I finally found myself an opportunity to try the place out. A big perk of the place was that it was BYO, so I grabbed a sixer of tasty beer and brought it along to see if Mao’s could really be good Chinese food. Before delving into the meal itself, let’s take a moment to consider the name of Mao’s Kitchen. Honestly, I’m not so sure I would want to eat whatever Mao would have served. Most likely it would have involved mass atrocities and a side of untimely death. Cultural faux pas aside, I was still drawn in by their reputation for culinary goodness.
Recently, a Facebook burger competition (very scientific) crowned 26 Beach in Venice as the best burger in LA. Now you may be asking yourself, “What the hell is 26 Beach?” and you are not alone, because even I had no idea what the place was until contest began. Somehow this unknown burger contender topped my personal favorite, Umami Burger. I couldn’t let this stand, well at least not without trying it myself, so off I went to 26 Beach to see what sort of witchery pushed their burger to the top of the heap.