Local Flavor in Los Angeles, CA
Hinano Cafe is surprisingly still a hole-in-the-wall haunt for locals. It sits at the end of Washington Boulevard, right by the Venice Pier. It famously had Jim Morrison as a patron back in his heyday. Morrison's name is carved into a table, right by the pool tables, and amongst the sawdust-speckled floors and a jukebox. It's a classic dive bar with a specialty that makes it a solid restaurant–the simple hamburger. It's a "standard" burger that makes other restaurant burgers look bad. From the melted cheddar cheese to spicy yellow peppers, it's a yummy local restaurant worth making that trip out to Venice for.
Famous in the beach town it occupies, James' Beach received its first round of big time publicity with the 2009 film “I Love You, Man." The movie boasted that the restaurant's fish tacos are "the best in the world." James' Beach is not a new location, and since 1996, owners Daniel Samakow and James have consistently served up fresh and local fusions of California cuisine. James' Beach recently added a new chiffon board, Scott Yada, but the yummy the menu is the same fresh mix of seasonal American fare. The ambiance is light and open, with the breezy and white walls make for a light beach feel. Two recommended favorites: Fig Carpaccio and Venice Artist Salad.
Why go to an overpriced restaurant if you can get the same delicious sandwich at a more casual spot? Get a customized sandwich at The Sandwich Spot, conveniently located by many business offices on Ocean Park Blvd. The business crowd knows their sandwiches–and creations range from the creatively names Hope for Bob, The Candy Sandi and The Great One, to name a few. The Sandie is perfect for pastrami lovers, a combination of salami, roast beef, and of course pastrami. Insider tip: choose the sourdough bread. For a fast meal on the go–it's a healthy and well made option, worth the lunchtime splurge.
All too easy to miss while zooming past Pacific Boulevard, China Beach Bistro is worth the stop on the way to the beach. You'd never guess it from its small and hidden place on a packed street, but the authentic Vietnamese and French recipes are to die for. The owner, Hiep Thi Le, grew up in Vietnam, just south of China Beach. She chose to showcase her family's traditions in this quaint location, that, while there is not much room to sit, is full of brightly colored and welcoming decor. Be sure to catch the egg rolls and beef kebobs, some of Hiep's best dishes.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard has a reputation to uphold, and Chef Joseph Miller's Joe's Restaurant is part of it. Known for local dishes priced competitively and prepared deliciously, the desserts at Joe's are the real treat. The list rotates regularly, and the tempting desserts range from seasonal fruits and flavors like blueberries to the indulgent chocolate variety. After lunch and dessert, stop by the little boutique shops on the same street, and enjoy the Abbott Kinney ambiance. Insider tip: ask about their baked chocolate mousse.