Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Wrap #2: Good Eats in Venice!

Believe it or not, I did more than just yoga in Venice.  Mostly, I ate thanks to the zillions of yoga calories I was burning.  There was a ton of fresh, local, and mostly organic food within walking distance of our apartment.  

On most days, we ate breakfast at home, went to a class or two, came back and ate lunch on the roof before heading back to the studio for and afternoon and/or evening class.  

Our view from the roof deck--which was loaded with lots of comfy lounge chairs, a table, and a grill.

We asked around and got so many recommendations for fabulous restaurants, we ate dinner out almost every night.

Here's a quick run-down of our dining out experiences in Venice:
  • On Monday, I met up with some of my L.A. area friends at Stefan's at L.A. Farm. You can read all about the experience (and salivate over the photos) on my friend weezermonkey's blog.  As you will soon learn, weezer's palette will never steer you wrong.  She picked a great restaurant--all of the food (and fun cocktails) were absolutely wonderful, but the restaurant wasn't very crowded so the noise level was low (except for the exuberent laughter coming from our table.)
  • Sauce on Hampton was recommended to us by Kyra, one of the Exhale yoga teachers (and by a few other people as well.)  The restaurant was small, but the food was delicious, seasonal, and organic fare; K really enjoyed the sides.  I'm not a sweet potato fan, but apparently the roasted sweet potatoes are very simply prepared but absolutely delicious.  They also had a great selection of whole leaf teas.  It's definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.   
  • We ate several meals at Firehouse--which was especially great for breakfast at any time of the day!  I didn't eat at the "other side" of the restaurant, but they serve dinner and also sushi.  The breakfast side has a nice outdoor patio where you can enjoy your meal in the beautiful Venice weather.  If you're into the "Muscle Beach" scene, they also have a special section of their menu dedicated to bodybuilders, which involved a lot of egg whites, spinach, and plain chicken.
  • La Fiesta Brava was recommended to us by a local at a coffee house--but we all thought the food was just okay.  Not worth going out of your way for.  You may also want to note that they don't serve alcohol, but you can BYOB.
  • Oscar's Cerveteca had only received a liquor license about a week before we arrived--so the place was absolutely packed when we went for dinner!  The food was really fresh and delicious... but I might try calling ahead so you don't have to wait as long as we did.  Here are some of the highlights:
Squash Blossom Quesadillas with Grilled Cactus
Normally I'm a sucker for anything with squash blossoms, but these were rather disappointing.

Mama's Fresh Halibut Ceviche Mandinga
Fresh and citrusy--really well-prepared and delicious!
Chicken and Cheese Empanadas
Well-seasoned and flavorful. 
Picadas "Mexican Pizza"
Fresh ingredients make this simple dish something special!
Fried Pickles
Who can resist fried pickles with garlic aioli? 

  • While we were waiting to get in to Oscar's, we headed next door to Venice Beach Wines, a wine bar serving small places which also happens to be owned by the same Oscar for whom the Cerveteca is named. Venice Beach Wines was also packed, but we enjoyed some small plates (dates wrapped in bacon = delicious!) and some wine and chatted with some locals until the waitress from Oscar's came over and got us (which I thought was really courteous!)
  • We enjoyed great salads, sandwiches, and fun cocktails at the Venice Ale House.  The food was great, although the service was a little slow.  We sat outside and were thrilled that they had heaters to keep us warm as the temperature dropped.
  • Sunday was a day of hamburgers for me.  J took a trip to Umami Burger, located inside of Fred Segal, on Saturday.  She came back and raved about it--so we had to try on Sunday.  The burgers were amazing, but weezer was right about the fries--they weren't anything to write home about.  I wasn't a huge fan of the house-made ketchup either--but that's just me.

 I had the namesake "Umami burger"

Meaty & delicious with a parmesan crisp on a brioche bun.  Mmmm...

Check out the cute little stamp on the top of the bun!

Umami also serves desserts--and based on weezer's recommendation, I had to try to ice cream sandwiches from Milk.  As always, she was spot on--the cookie was soft, so it didn't fall apart while I was eating the sandwich. It was a great end to a great meal.  (Thanks, weezer, for never steering my tastebuds wrong!) 

I'm a sucker for coffee toffee anything, and this little baby didn't disappoint.

  • Finally, what trip to the West Coast would be complete without a stop at In-N-Out  Burger?  On Sunday, after taking one last class with Kyra, I packed up my suitcase and called a cab.  My driver's name was Eugene and he was WAY nicer than my cabbie on the way in.  Eugene drove me to the In-N-Out in Culver City on my way to LAX.  He even offered to wait for me so I didn't have to call another cab--so I invited him to come inside and have dinner with me.  It was nice to have some company for dinner!  

Double-Double Animal Style, you're my only friend.

At this point I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that, despite taking 22 yoga classes in a week, I came home having GAINED 2 pounds.  But I don't care--every bite was worth it.  I hope you get a chance to head out to Venice/Santa Monica sometime to taste all of the delicious offerings that I did!

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