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.
With our original lunch plans spoiled by a champagne brunch, we found ourselves at the Marina Del Rey Fisherman’s Village without a plan. Off in the distance, we heard some classic soul music and wandered in that direction to find Sapori, an Italian restaurant. It had a nice view of the marina, with that soul music played by a live band in the courtyard next door and we decided to give it a try.
There’s nothing worse than walking into a sandwich shop and discovering recycled ideas and sandwiches less inspiring than the local Subway. Okay, that might not be the worst thing, but it’s moderately terrible. Walking into Mendocino Farms, however, is an altogether different experience. Rather than featuring droll, overused sandwiches the amount of delicious-looking sandwiches is almost overwhelming. And I mean that in the best way.
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.
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.
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.
EDIT: This Souplantation is no more, but if you’re into salad bars there are plenty others carrying on its name.
As a man who loves all-you-can-eat, I was very excited at the prospect of heading to Souplantation (also known as Sweet Tomatoes in some places). I knew that they had an 80-foot salad bar, which sounded terrible, but I had also been told they had some REAL food. When I walked in, I hadn’t totally comprehended what an 80-foot salad bar would look like, and it bothered me deeply. Tucked in the recesses of this foul bar, I found some pastas that seemed pretty decent. I decided to start with these and took them back to my table for some tasting.
Heading into Beechwood, I was feeling a bit skeptical. Bars in Venice can tend to be a bit trendy, especially the food-serving kind. Once inside, part of my skepticism was confirmed, with strangely shaped lounge seats and a half hour wait even though we had reservations. Oh well, at least they had a pretty sweet beer menu so I could have a little something to drink while waiting. They had a pretty cool-looking wheat beer called Moosbacher from Germany. Since I like moose and wheat, I figured these would outweigh my distaste for Germany, and I was right. It was quite good and came in aÂ huge bottle.
Not to be confused with C & O Trattoria, C & O Cucina is just down the street in Marina Del Rey. Although the location is completely different, the menu seems to be the same as the other C & O. One thing it is missing, though, is the fun outdoor atmosphere. Nonetheless, I had a restaurant.com gift certificate so I had to try it out.
Tucked away in an unassuming strip mall in Marina del Rey is Antica Pizzeria. Based on it’s location, you wouldn’t expect too much out of it, but it happens to have quite the reputation. It apparently uses some good old fashioned dough straight from Naples.
I scoured the menu for a while, having trouble finding a good pizza without vegetables. In the end, despite their reputation, I ordered the calzone instead of the pizza. I figured this was okay because it still has all the dough of a pizza, just better ingredients. The calzone here came with ricotta, mozzarella, salami and basil.
When it came, it was just massive.