Venice, California’s Upscale Renaissance
Once home to artists and bohemians, Abbot Kinney Boulevard is experiencing its most upscale renaissance to date, with one-of-a-kind boutiques, galleries, and sidewalk cafés.
This Bavaria-inspired restaurant has the weekend brunch crowd hooked on pretzel burgers, German apple pancakes with crème fraîche, and elderflower Prosecco.
The West Coast outpost of an intimate New York wine and beer bar will soon satisfy late-night snackers when its organic café and market opens next door. Expect made-to-order sandwiches and a raw bar, available until three in the morning.
Elizabeth Paige Smith Atelier A+R
In addition to designing the space for neighboring Dewey, Paige Smith is one of Abbot Kinney's top gallerists, exhibiting everything from watercolors to short films. 1423 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/392-8060; elizabethpaigesmith.com.
L.A.'s first denim line (from 1895) has been resurrected; its namesake parlor sells rugged workman jeans amid turn-of- the-century antiques such as a vintage Silvertone phonograph. 1625 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/399-7200.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
The epicenter of boho-chic in Venice Beach, this one-mile boulevard is a colorful collage of independent boutiques, art galleries, vintage shops, and sidewalk cafes. Abbot Kinney is also one of LA’s few walkable streets, inviting visitors to take a stroll on a sunny afternoon, ducking into the G2 Gallery to see the latest exhibit before splurging on gorgeous Kendall Conrad handbags in her namesake boutique, and then stopping for sweet treats from N’IceCream. Events are forever popping up along the boulevard, as well, from wine tastings and fashion nights to the annual Abbot Kinney Festival.
Three Square Café + Bakery
Hans Rockenwagner brings 30 years of cooking experience in Germany, Switzerland, Chicago, and Los Angeles to this small café and bakery in Venice. Given his background, it’s no surprise that many of the items on the menu derive from Europe before he adds his American twists. The pretzel bread cheeseburger stands out as the local favorite. The cafe serves more than just a mean burger; there are egg concoctions for breakfast, unusual sides like avocado fries, and artisan salads. The bakery offers up fresh-made breads, elaborate scones, fruit strudels, and savory options like baked jalapeno and cheese bread.
Owner Chris Weiss brought his New York- and Miami-based beer and wine bar to Abbot Kinney in 2005. The candle-lit room has high-ceilings buttressed by iron posts, and cushioned couches fill a more private room in the back. Paintings for sale by local artists decorate the exposed brick walls, and exhibits change with the seasons. The beverage menu is scribbled on a chalkboard above the bar area, with a rotating selection of 56 microbrews. There are also 44 wines from 23 countries, as well as champagne and sake. Venice Beach residents and their guests go to the head of the often long outdoor line by showing identification.